Saturday, May 14, 2016

Working mom, dreams, and little kid basketball

Hi, how are you all doing? 

I thought I'd start with that since I've been out of touch for months. My writing dream took a hit this winter when I got a new job. Not just because I was too dang tired after work to be creative, but because the new job came with the discovery of a new dream, one that will actually pay me (after a bit of schooling). I kept at the writing (and editing) because I realized writing isn't just a dream, it's part of my soul to see the world and recreate it, retell it, sometimes just keep it for myself until I'm ready to share it. You can have more than one dream, maybe you'll move slower, and success will have to be measured in happiness and not accomplishments, but there is no finish line I'm thinking. 

In the meantime, I've been doing the mom gig. Meaning figuring out how to motivate a teenage boy with autism who is in the grips of puberty and sullenness that it is in his best interest to do his school work, not beat up his brother, and lend a kind word to his mother once in a while. Oh he drives me crazy. I asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up and he said, "Live with you." I told him I'd annoy him and he needed to live on his own. "No Mom. You only annoy me some of the time." The kid makes me laugh. He's also a Special Olympics Gold Medal athlete in swimming! He swam his butt off this spring and gets to go to State.

My youngest is on a basketball team and there is nothing cuter than watching a bunch of little kids running around playing basketball. He doesn't race off the court to give me a hug anymore, but he did give me a "What the heck?" look when a kid was defending him by way of holding him in place and then throwing him. The parents next to me were shouting, "Give it back to em!" while I was shouting "Good sportsmanship!" I'm thinking I don't have the sports mom role down. And maybe during practice while I was listening to Mercy Thompson be an awesome coyote on my audiobook and I noticed the coach teaching the kids to fight back when the defense plays street ball, I jumped off the bleachers and told him sportsmanship is primary, it's basketball creedo man! No one rallied behind the creedo bit. 

I'm still here folks. I'm working on Anna 4 and a novella from Eric's POV, both beyond the second draft stage. I'll try to hop around blogs and visit with you all. I miss you guys.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

When life's kicking your butt, how about a theme song? December dancing and January beginnings!



Happy holidays! I say this with a bit extra cheer. A couple weeks ago I was feeling pretty sorry for myself while sitting at the longest stoplight known to man. It was pouring. A Christina Perri song was promising that life was big and wonderful and we're all stronger than we think. Through the windshield wipers across the massive intersection danced a bright blur wearing a yellow rain slicker, sweats, and a gym bag. Shake shake shake. The movements kept going as cars drove past. After a minute I started laughing, not at the enthusiastic pedestrian, but in celebration. A black man walked up the sidewalk next to my car and stood on the opposite side of the crosswalk to the dancer. The yellow raincoat person pooped out after another minute but then the man started dancing and just like in a music video about living life no matter what's pressing down on you the two moved to their own beat facing each other on opposite sides of the street. I sat in my car clapping because it was so good. I thought for a second maybe they knew each other, but when the light finally turned green they crossed paths with grins, no hugs or high fives. Strangers, all of us, but I felt that music.

So let's dance ourselves into the next year and sing no matter what comes our way in 2016. I have goals, but that's not new. I could use a few less goals, so maybe that's a new goal of mine, to chill a little. Probably not. No matter.

Alabama Shakes - Hold On

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Friendship, fangs, and a bit of gore of course! #Review of E.J. Wesley's Devil's Snare



5 STARS!!!

Before I fangirl over Devil's Snare (my absolute favorite in the Moonsongs series), here's a taste of my first encounter with this story with Blood Fugue...

Jenny does her best to be your typical hostile gaming hermit. Then she opens a seemingly innocuous email. Suddenly she has a living grandfather she believed long dead, commits to doing a favor that involves bullets, and discovers a destiny that will test her tendency to push people away. You can read more of my review here.

Jenny is all sass and toughness as in the girl sports a purple mohawk and feels naked without her tomahawk. But Jenny isn't whole without her best friend Marshal. He's the bee's knees (in designer loafers). They come across some seriously gruesome baddies and they survive with a healthy dose of fear and an even healthier dose of humor. I love them! In Devil's Snare we see through Marshal's eyes at the start, which rocks the planet because Marsh isn't just sitting back being the gay sidekick. In E.J.'s world of monsters, you sink or swim or get eaten. He can write gnarly things that bite. I'm telling you. 

After a suspenseful glimpse into what Marshal is going through, we dive into Jenny's precarious situation. Back to the suspenseful glimpse for a second...I was reading my kindle at the window of my favorite coffee place waiting for my drink. In the few minutes it took them to make my white mocha I had sunk so deep into the story that I jumped when the barista reached toward me with my coffee. The writing is that good.

If you haven't started the Moonsongs series, dive in. They're divided up into short novellas E.J. calls episodes. 6 episodes so far and I cannot wait for the next one! 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

When life's kicking your butt, how about a theme song? It's all about the ukulele!

I just realized it's November! It was the spectacular show of color this morning that clued me in. Plus the very unhappy kid raking a mile of yellow on the sidewalk. I smiled huge at the thought of sending my petulant teenager to rake and scoop leaves. My mind jumped from that thought to the first fall I spent in Washington. I was homesick and surrounded by strangers, but the colors fed a part of my soul that has never gone hungry since. There was this one day I was determined to rake leaves just like in the movies. Since I didn't have a lawn because I lived in the dorms I walked and walked looking for some old person who should not be raking leaves in the first place. Apparently, Tacoma is filled with spry elderly because I had not a single taker. So happy fall! Here's to yummy hot coffees and colors that make our hearts sing. And on that note (I'm killing with these puns!), here's my November theme song. It's all about the ukulele (for no good reason).
Joe Brown singing I'll See You In My Dreams

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Writer or collector?


Video archiveThis week while I measured and cut a thousand times making flashcards for the team I work with a teacher down the hall read a story to his class. Maybe his door was open, probably not. The man can project. But while I counted and cut, I smiled and kept smiling because he was creating memories. He was cementing his presence as a teacher who loves teaching and I cataloged him for my writer shelf alongside my eighth grade math teacher who told my mom not to worry about my grade. "She'll get it."

It got me to thinking about the rest of the memories on my shelves. A hoarder of feelings and senses ready to be dusted off and carefully held in a story of my choosing I sometimes feel like I should come with a disclaimer: I will collect you in some way. Sorry.





By mat Walker from Brighton, UK (Video archive) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Grit


Tacoma Narrows Bridge, by trainThere's this hill at the end of my weekend bridge runs I call John's Hill. My 6 year old told me I can make it up the hill, but I have to think I can. So I named it after him. It's a beast and I am not a graceful runner. My blindingly bright shoes clop. My lungs crush air into this terrible sawing noise I do my best to hush if another runner crosses my path. My undermining thoughts try to convince me I could walk the dang thing faster. Then I remember one word. Grit. I'm running the hill because I decided to. Nothing more is needed. I figure reaching certain dreams are like that too.






"By RustyObjects (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons"

Sunday, October 4, 2015

When life's kicking your butt, how about a theme song? Movie trailers have the best songs!

Happy October! I drive by a park on my way to work with the best trees for fall. Tall and ancient, standing stoically beautiful in a tight traffic zone. Last week the colors took my breath away and had me daydreaming at the start of my day. So I think it's time for a wistful dreamy kind of song. The second I heard it during a preview for the movie Pan, I was hooked (haha, get it, hooked, Peter Pan). Here's I Believe by Christina Perri.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Domestic Camp, I made it up and now I'm camp crazy! Plus a movie soundtrack for September's theme song!

I had a fit one day after my youngest made the biggest crumb mess possible. Really, it was like some snack bomb went off. My problem wasn't the mess, not really, it was my brain jumping to a thousand scenarios in my future where this was my world, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, and it was my brain throwing in the upcoming school year with work, trying to write, homework with reluctant learners, exhaustion. So it was a real fit you see. Then quiet little words sifted through the chaos, "Mom, I can help you. I'm a good helper." It all stopped. The whirlwind thoughts, the pounding of blood in my head, the vacuum cleaner. I looked at John totally coated in crumbs. "Let me help."

After some time cleaning together, I shouted across the room, "Next week we're having Domestic Camp!" John heard camp and cheered. We worked through what he should learn to do around the house and what fun snacks he should have (Gatorade, Doritos, and cookies). 

Since this was supposed to be a genuine camp we needed to do crafts. I jumped on Pinterest (not a hardship since I'm addicted) and checked out the board I created in case I ever fell into fantasy land and became a crafty person. I sent out an SOS to Bookworm Brandee for ideas on the camp and she mentioned creating badges and licenses. Ha! So I made "Super Clean" Superman style badges I attached to lanyards. After they learned a certain task I made them licenses, like a license to vacuum the floorboards or mop the floor or carry the laundry upstairs. Oh and every morning John got to have fried bologna for breakfast. 

I did not include my 13 year old in the planning process because he's currently working very hard at being 13. That means he's moody, hostile, and perfecting the fine art of calling everything lame. He did not appreciate his badge as much or enjoy leaning how to fold and put away his laundry (day 1), but he loved the rewards. He liked vacuuming and mopping and cleaning the windows in my car. Yes, I did take advantage of camp to get my car cleaned. But we did get to go to the car wash and we all enjoyed that. He also took it as a personal affront to do any type of crafts. 

Even with the 13 year old telling me I was crazy every time I gave him a directive, the camp was a huge success in all the ways I hoped, but also in ways I never imagined. I'm a get it done kind of girl, always have been. Meaning I don't share tasks well...meaning I didn't even know how, but Domestic Camp opened my eyes to a whole new world. I liked doing chores with another person. Pretty neato, you know.

I got a little camp crazy once I realized I could create my own kind of camp. We moved onto "catch up camp with a bit of adventure." My 6 year old named it. We brushed up on math and vocabulary and paired that with an adventure we wanted to do this summer but never got the chance. Tomorrow we're having "Cyber Monday Camp" where we'll work on computer skills and play computer games together.

So if you have a to-do list to do with the kids, if you keep saying to yourself, "I need to teach them that," create a camp. And then another one. They're like tattoos. I'm telling you.

Now for some music! I just watched the movie Song One. So dang good! The music is the movie and the characters are just a way to give us the songs. I loved it! 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

More Kristen Ashley Love! Buddy read time with Fire Inside!


Fire Inside by Kristen Ashley rocked. Laney Heron decides it’s time to start living again, at least the hot steamy sex part of living, and chooses Hop Kincaid to volley her into this new world. Hop’s never touched class like Laney. She’s always been this untouchable beauty and then he touches her (and more). He’s upfront with her. She’s explosive with him. Honesty and drama. It’s an addictive combination once you throw in a motorcycle club and romance. Bookworm Brandee and I buddy read it, which means we ignored our family, holed up and went on a reading bender, and then tore ourselves away from the book long enough to gush about it with each other. Here’s our chat.



(Brandee) I've been waiting for you to start this conversation but I thought I throw a few of my thoughts your way. :)

Can you believe how Lanie just propositioned Hop? This woman...she has cajones. And she definitely bit off more than she thought she could chew. I liked that Hop really had to consider the ramifications of what would happen if they got together. I'm still waiting for the shit to hit the fan.

I don't remember how far I was into or what exactly Hop was saying, but I thought that I love how simplistically he looks at things. Not like everything is simple but that in his world, things are this way or they're not. I like his way of looking at the world and his place in it.

I adore Lanie's inner monologues. Getting to know her history, what went down that was alluded to in Own the Wind, I can see why she was fighting Hop. And I could see why her brain was "fucked up", as Hop said. So getting to hear her thoughts on how she saw herself and why she thought she had nothing to give...yeah, that was some good stuff.

Hop's kids are AWESOME! Sometimes when authors put kids in a story, it feels wrong or like it's a plot device. But seeing Hop with Molly and Cody, seeing how they all interact, seeing Lanie with them...it feels right. And it shows this whole other level to Hop. One that I like A. LOT. And I agreed with Lanie when she told him, "You're a good man, Hopper Kincaid."

I'm really liking that although Hop and Lanie come from different worlds, and kinda live in different ones, they just work. I know it's because they both don't give a shit what people think - and that's an attitude I'd love to adopt - but don't you think it's something that a badass biker, who's obviously all Alpha, can deal with the fact that his woman is a corporate success? That she can provide things for herself? Most men would be intimidated by that. But Hop is all "Anything you need, lady, I'm there for you one way or another."

Which reminds me about when he first started using "lady". I didn't quite know what to think and was thinking it was kinda derogatory. When he explained, I melted. MELTED.

Lanie has a backbone, which I really like. Her standing up to her Dad? That was excellent!

Oh, and getting Hop's life story was also excellent. I melted some more when he told Lanie he didn't learn from his parents...he'd learned from doing. But he *did* learn and knew what he wanted to keep forever. *swoon*

Okay, I don't want to go on and on...I hope you're enjoying this as much as me. I have a good feeling that you are. You're so right...KA just does *not* disappoint.
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Two more things....

The mustache...you know I'm not a huge fan of facial hair. And I have to say that I didn't imagine Hop looking like he does after meeting him in OtW, but he's sex on a stick, even with the 'tache.

Aaand, he's my new book boyfriend. Because... "Music is poetry, babe. Each note is a word that's uniquely crafted to go with the next note. For me, the only way it gets better is if you put that to lyrics." Yep. Gotta love a man like that. ;)



(Rob) Oh, KA, I love you so much. Okay, now that the fangirling is out of the way...I could not believe Lanie's boldness when she walked up to Hop and propositioned him. And then the no strings attached bit was so convincing I was taking it one day at a time with them. Hop's reaction, his respect for her and ability to see trouble walking won me over immediately. When he walked through her place and told himself he didn't get to have a look around and get to know her that way, the gesture was generous in a way I wasn't expecting. He wasn't going to take what wasn't given to him. Book girl crush time.

It's a strange layout again with this one where we get bits and pieces of this big drama in Lanie's past but it worked even better in book two. The bits we were given we needed to understand the push and pull she was doing with Hop (and herself). Didn't you just love Hop's role as shield? He wasn't down with her losing all that beauty and life to the "monster." He was all about being part of a team in whatever way he could support her. And you are so right that her money didn't seem to play a factor with him just as much as him being a biker and member of an MC didn't bother her.

What about Hop's honesty? I was so shocked the first time he brought up a previous hookup and than even more shocked at her ultra grown up reaction. Do you think she could be like that because he made it so clear she's a lady to him and nothing less and he's never had anything but less? I'm thinking I'd tell the guy not to tell me about a bathroom stall bang. There is the age factor. He's 40, she's 38. Gotta say, that rocked! Plus he's a dad. You don't get that very often and the kids were awesome. There wasn't a forced parent makeover for a few pages in the book whenever Hop had his kids around.

Oh, the freaking tache! I'm so annoyed that KA has finally done it. I actually find it hot that Hop has a tache. Ugh! But he is so hot and man. I hated it on Luke and pretended to miss all facial hair references. Man!

Okay, I'm off to read more. Love being back with Chaos!
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I finished! It feels like I went on a reading bender and read it in a single day, maybe it's just that the story is right there, taking over my thoughts.

The music is poetry business was huge! Epic! In book one I wasn't impressed with the tidbits we learned about Hop, which was through Shy's and Tabby's eyes. I remember Tabby hoping the best for Lanie and it's so cool at the same time Lanie was thinking the same thing. That's one of the neat things about KA and always has been, girl solidarity. I loved the part early on with Lanie doing that stupid thing going to that rough neck bar and being sold out by a fellow girl. She was mostly pissed about that. And then how Lanie didn't like Hop's early descriptions of Mitzy. What a piece of work that one. Even Lanie's mom who has a long way to go to redeem herself never lost her girls' support when she needed it. KA also gives men credit too, not just with the brotherhood, but she lets them be deep and shallow at the same time and she lets them be so over the top alpha they get what they want, but boy do they work/pay for it.

Did you catch the part about the song doesn't have to be eternal, but if you have a rhyme to share, a story to tell, it's worth it? That had to come out of the heart of an indie writer. Well, and Debbie Macomber because she says the same thing.

For whatever reason I got a Rock Chick Revolution vibe, Ally and Ren's story, not the action, but the push and pull of the relationship maybe. Not sure, but now I want to re-read that one.


(Brandee) So, I had to wait until you were done because there were things I wanted to say but I couldn't remember where these things were in the timeline and I didn't want to spoil anything. :)

I believed Lanie when she said 'one night' too. But that admission she makes towards the end. Damn! That and all the things Hop had to say had me tied up in knots. Oh, and the "I don't get this" that they both felt - I broke my heart, honestly, because we could see how much they both wanted all those things they didn't feel they 'got' because they didn't have *that* kind of relationship. Even though they totally did.

The layout was similar but I didn't get lost in the timeline this time. I think it was because it was usually 1 week or 2 weeks later. I did like how KA presented the backstory in bits and pieces. I liked that those bits were usually given when Lanie and Hop were sharing honest moments and were laying it all out. It was interesting that they both had monsters that needed slaying - and that they were both able to help one another slay those monsters...they gave each other that.

So I was wrong about Lanie's job not being mentioned because it did end up being mentioned but that they each accepted one another, respected one another, just how they came was something. I think we *all* look for that in our friendships and relationships. Those two could definitely jump into the deep end over words, but I admit to being irritated when Hop told Lanie she should know what kind of man he is. Yes, that's true and she did, in her heart. But her monster would of course raise it's head over the information she'd learned because of her history. And yes, she pulled a drama over it - but Hop knew her and her reactions, so even though her words were awful, it shouldn't have surprised him.

Hop and Lanie were very intense...and although they kept certain things from each other, at least initially, they were nothing if not honest. No, I wouldn't want all his honesty if it were me. But I like that you said Lanie reacted in a grown up way. Because she absolutely did. I'm not sure I could be that mature. *ha* His words about how he'd never do her in a stall because a lady shouldn't be treated that way...crude but sooo swoonworthy!

And I was absolutely tickled about their ages being so close to ours. It's nice to read hot romances with couples who are 'mature'. *winks* I loved watching both Hop and Lanie with his kids. And you're right - he was always just Hop whether he had his kids or not. I admired that about him. But with Hop, you got what you saw.

So KA won you over to the dark side, huh? I admit I kinda thought Luke rocked the stache but Hop...H.O.T. I have such a vivid image of him in my mind and he rocks a 'tache like no one else. Mm-mmm!! (not that I want my man to grow one!)
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I'm still thinking about Lanie and Hop too and I've had to move on! But I gotta say I have a heckavu book hangover. KA always does that to me...

I'm glad you enjoyed the music element as well. I had to youtube You'll Accompany Me because I didn't recognize the title. And it must be said that after listening to the lyrics, it made that scene all the more poignant. I'd have been standing up in my chair yelling to Hop that he's the shit too! Man!! KA knows how to incorporate good music, doesn't she? It meant to much that Lanie was spending every night drinking wine and listening to Bob Seger when she and Hop were apart. Seger's lyrics really speak volumes about those two.

I have to tell you something...when I finished and I told my kindle to 'go to' the beginning, I realized that my copy of Fire Inside was an ARC from Netgalley. So those extra things you talked about with what Hop said about music? They weren't in my copy. And I'm thinking I'm going to have to buy a copy just so I can read it again - and see what changed. (yeah, that's totally the only reason why *winks*)

KA does have a way of conveying the importance of sisterhood - how did you say it? Oh, girl solidarity. Yeah. I do like how all her heroines have their girls at their backs. It is important. And girls should always back their girls - whether they know each other or not. You're right that she does the same for her Alphas. She stresses the loyalty factor between them and they do all have each others' backs...maybe more so than the girls, at times. I've not experienced a 'family' of friends having my back but I like the idea. And chickie, I've ALWAYS got YOUR back, distance be damned.

I didn't get the Rock Chick Revolution vibe while reading but I can see where it would have come from. There was a lot of push and pull between Lanie and Hop, just like with Ally and Ren, if for different reasons. I liked the push and pull between Lanie and Hop better because it wasn't just a matter of a misunderstanding or just being plain ornery. (sorry, Ally!) Lanie and Hop had been through a lot of shit. They had their monsters to contend with. But they had something special and I was so glad they fought for it. Although, I had my doubts a few times.

I'm thinking the second week of August for the next Chaos book. What do you think? My kids have band camp that week and it'll be a nice to lose myself in the Chaos world and not have to think about the fact that my kids will be scarce for the next 2 months. :)

(Rob) So you thought Luke rocked the tache? Luke. Mmm. Okay, back to Hop. When he went up on stage, weren't you right there with Lanie saying What? What? How could you add rock star to the already long list of awesomeness? I had to youtube the song too. You're right about KA knowing her music. She always seems to incorporate music into her books and in different ways.

One thing I'm still missing is the zaniness. I want some crazy and not just Lanie's brand of crazy that makes her break up with Hop a million times. But I get it, this is a motorcycle club and they can't all have a thing for fancy coffees and old bookstores. We did get a RC world cameo. Teeny cameo and it still made me grin.

Now we have book 3 calling out to us and this massive book hangover that is still hanging. So mid-August and we'll see who these two new characters are since they are both a mystery to us. Lexxie gave it 5 stars though. Oh, last thought, isn't it always a surprise how many pages KA's books are because we read them like they're novellas?

More KA. More buddy reads. I hope we get more of the Beneto storyline because I'd like to see his ass severely kicked. He is not nice.


(Brandee) I did think Luke rocked his 'stache. Man, he's all kinds of yum. Yet still not my favorite Hot Bunch guy. ;) I'm thinking Hop is my favorite Chaos guy though. But it is a close race because Shy...that is all. But Hop has so much going for him - his age, his kids, his honesty, his former rock star status, his knight in leather armor status...see what I mean? Totally my newest book boyfriend. :)

The zaniness is not there - I don't count Lanie's behavior - and I do miss it. I think KA tried to inject some of it with Elvira but since she's seen so little, it's not much zaniness. But I also like that there's a little more seriousness in this series. The Chaos brothers set a different tone than the Hot Bunch. They don't have a Tex or a Duke. But I'm thinking that's okay. I do really, really like that KA gives us glimpses of those characters though. ;)

Mid-August baby. We'll hit #3. I admit I'm kinda nervous since it's new characters but hey, I was nervous to start this series and it's been an amazing ride so far. I was glad to see Lexxie gave it 5-Stars because that means KA is *still* rocking. I don't know how I'll feel if she ever disappoints me. I don't even want to think about it, honestly. Oh, and yes I am always shocked at how long her books are. Because they absolutely do *not* feel long. I inhale and devour them and I know you do too. She's just that good. And I'm looking forward to a good ass kicking of Benito. He is not a good guy...