Driving Lessons

1968 Dodge Charger R/T Avatar - Orangelight II Driving lessons with the Princess proceed apace. Also, since I have a manual (the Sooper Subaru, who I christened Carlyle for a number of reasons now lost in the mists of time) I’m also teaching her friends about the joys of shifting.

Poor Carlyle’s clutch will never be the same.

Among the many lessons parenting will teach you (keeping a straight face, how to become completely inured to all sorts of bodily fluid spatter, everyone will panic if you do so keep up a good front) is a certain form of non-attachment. “Yeah, got a teenager, clutch is gonna be wrecked. Yep, have nice wineglasses, those are gonna die soon. That houseplant isn’t long for this world. Mmmmh, lovely sheets, someone’s going to barf on them. Nice pair of heels–dog’s going to eat them.” The Princess’s friends can’t get over how calm I am. “She drove right into the bushes and her mum didn’t even blink!” “If my dad was here he’d be screaming by now.” I haven’t explained to them that I’ve already consigned my soul and my car to the gods, because neither’s getting out of this unscathed.

In other news, Ruby’s story might be the book I write non-linearly. *headdesk* Just when I start to get comfortable with a process, I start another damn book and the process goes out the window. The Muse certainly loves to keep me on my toes.

Also this week, I’m structuring some other editing packages! Stay tuned for details, that’s going to be fun.

And now it’s time to go pick up the Princess from driving school…and maybe let her drive partway home. *keeps a straight face*

*but just barely*

Finally, Summer

Popsicle SUMMER! I’m over at SF MindMeld talking about love during apocalypses, along with some other fabulous authors.

Yesterday was the last day of school for the Prince and Princess. Which means the Princess had a math final (poor baby!) and I spent the two hours of the Prince’s last day helping corral a bunch of fourth-graders as they bounced around signing yearbooks and each other’s clothing (and arms, faces, and whatnot) and said their summer goodbyes. The Prince, his teacher and all his classmates will be together again next year–the teacher is “looping up” with her class, which is amazing and awesome. The Princeling loves his teacher with a deep abiding love, and I like her quite a bit as well. I’m pretty stunned by her ability to put up with twenty-odd kids all day. God knows I’d implode into a pile of cinders.

The Prince has had a big year, what with his school burning down and various other things, but he’s come thought beautifully. All the same, this year is the first that he’s actively looked forward to school ending, because, as he tells me seriously with big brown eyes, “I need a break, I think.”

The other big thing is…well, a while ago I gave birth to this beautiful baby girl, and this summer she’s learning to pilot tons of moving metal.

Yep, the Princess is going to driving school. WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN.

It’s an exotic feeling to look at this absolutely beautiful young lady, and think my God, where did the time go, and how did she turn into an almost-adult? She’s got a tangy, sarcastic sense of humor, like mine, and the other day she made her first off-color joke in front of her mother. I laughed until I cried and hugged her. Maybe that was the wrong thing to do? I don’t know. What I do know is that she’s a marvelous human being, and it’s been a privilege to watch and marvel and keep her safe as she grows (mostly) up. (She’s still got some ways to go, but you can see the shape of the awesome adult she’s going to be.)

Most of parenthood is keeping a straight face, and there’s a lot of getting out of the way and letting these fantastic little beings be who they are without your interfering or baggage.The latter is so, so hard. I know I’m nowhere near finished, and that I’m going to be Mom for the rest of my life before I’m anything else…

…but sometimes, I look at where these kids are, and I think maybe I haven’t done half bad at all. Most of the credit goes to them, of course, but I deserve maybe a little for not getting in the way.


Body, Detente

Little Darling Yesterday I wore a tank top.

Well, to be fair, I was in pyjamas all day, for Sunday chores and because I didn’t want or need to leave the house at all. (Emphasis on the want.) It was the middle of the afternoon before I realized I’d been wearing a tank top the whole day, without another shirt over the top to cover my arms.

My stomach turned over, and I felt a familiar bite of shame and self-disgust. Body loathing’s been with me since I was about eight, and even running hasn’t washed away the last vestiges of it. It’s insidious, hating your physical container, and the Photoshop-mutants all over the media we’re saturated in doesn’t make it any easier. I’m thirty-seven this year, so that makes almost three decades I’ve been at war with my own body. Or, mostly at war, slowly coming to an armed detente.

Every so often I get the urge for more tattoos, partly because of the endorphin rush and partly because once there’s ink in the flesh, I finally feel like it’s mine. For a very long time my body was not my own, it belonged to whoever had the power to do things to me, and those scars–and the disassociation that becomes necessary when you’re helpless and violated–run deep. Right now I have the huge involved back piece, and the tiger and dragon on my hips, and the scorpion, defending certain places. My back, so I can see what’s behind me, the scorpion as gatekeeper, tiger and dragon to keep the balance. Phoenix and crows, tree and spiderwebs, they all mean something deep and protective.

Therapy helped, of course. Running helps. Still, I wonder who I’d be if I could wear a tank top without feeling ashamed of the perfectly reasonable, perfectly healthy, reasonably perfect body I have for this go-round. I hope like hell my own children will never feel this way, that I’ve managed to raise them to be proud of their beauty. Even if I can’t see any beauty I possess 98% of the time.

Mostly, I feel like a hideously ugly monster. But at least yesterday, I resisted the urge to put on a cover-up. It was too warm for one, and my natural intransigence made me dig in my heels. I realized I could wear a tank top inside my own damn house no matter how ugly I am, and it helped. A little.

A small victory, but I’ll take it. Hopefully it’s a landmark on the road to peace.

GoT Season One, or, Westeros Soap Opera

Bonfire So I watched Season One of Game of Thrones over the last couple days, trying to make my brain quit eating itself after I pushed hard to get revisions done early. I don’t watch a lot of telly and have somewhat lost the trick of it, but I managed.

My takeaway? In this universe there are pretty colors, the highborn have apparently been bred for poufy lips and high cheekbones, motherhood makes women into monsters or idiots, Jon Snow’s direwolf is way smarter than he is and this surprises absolutely nobody, Arya’s name should be Plucky Token Hero Girl Tomboy, Tyrion and Bronn are Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser (the series should be about them), every time Cat Stark says “_____ would never _____” it’s a sign that indeed they will, Danaerys Inbred McVioletEyes has a romance novel heroine’s magic vajayjay, it took a lot of work to stay clean in medieval settings, Sean Bean dies with better grace than most actors mimic living, and killing Syrio Forel just means, as Cleolinda said, this is why we can’t have nice things.

Also, I’ve dated a lot of guys who looked like GoT characters. It was like a gallery of past relationships. Except Jason Momoa. Never dated one of THOSE before. I’d be afraid of breaking him–the big ones are usually soft and cuddly and cry a lot. Oh, and Jaime Lannister, that one was more personality similarity than tall and blonde. “There are no men like me.” YES THERE ARE, THEY LIVE IN SWEDEN AND/OR DATE SOOKIE STACKHOUSE.

All in all, an enjoyable gory soap opera. I have to finish writing another book before I can watch Season Two, though I’ve seen YouTube clips. And don’t worry about spoilers, I know about the Red Wedding. I’m pretty prepared for everyone to die. I’m pretty much thinking it’ll be a regular Hamlet bloodbath in there, and I’m waiting with anticipation for Danaerys’s marriage to Gendry after Arya kills all the Lannisters (even Tyrion) and dies in the process. Oh, and I’m waiting for Shae to betray Tyrion and Bronn to kill her, or vice versa.

The scenes I enjoyed the most were Tyrion and Bronn. We really need a spinoff where they go and have adventures and end up ruling a country or something. Also, Littlefinger and Roz, that gave me chills. I’m quite fond of Varys–“[I serve] The Realm. Somebody has to.” Joffrey reminds me of a rabid Prince Humperdinck, and of course Jorah Mormont is in love with Inbred McVioletEyes and will never ever get to have her because he’s her FRIEND and besides, he was a slaver and oh yeah, he got a royal pardon by siccing assassins on her. Which, you know, someone else would have told someone sooner or later and someone would have sent assassins because that’s how this universe rolls, but still.

One full-frontal male nude shot (unless I missed a few?), lots of (of course) female nudity, Theon Greyjoy is telegraphing being a jerk so hard that his eventual betrayal of Robb will surprise nobody, lots of men transacting through the bodies of women.

I tried the books a long while ago, but found them pretty ponderous and circuitous. Which isn’t the books’ fault–it takes a lot for an epic fantasy to hold me. In any case, brain candy, and it managed to make my revision brain stop eating itself for a few hours, letting that sparking flywheel come down to rest. Good enough, and worth what I paid for it. Would have been worth it just for the costume design and wigs, and the horses. Pretty, pretty horses. And in case you think I’m too hard on Danaerys, I’ll admit eating a raw horse’s heart is pretty damn badass. Emilia Clarke makes her believable.

Even the magic vajayjay bits.

Laughing Incredibly Ungracefully

Egypt-10C-010 - Rameses II A very soggy weekend was had by all. It did not stop the Little Prince and Princess from requesting hot dogs for dinner yesterday. Fortunately, a Foreman grill does a respectable job of cooking them. Boiled hot dogs are kind of gross. *shudder*

It also didn’t stop some serious gardening from happening. Lots of stuff went in the ground: hostas, dicanthus, coleus, toad lilies, calla and canna lilies, Tibetan Blue poppies; nasturtium, poppy, California poppy, and hollyhock seeds. We set up another temporary greenhouse for gardenia, hot and bell peppers, basil and parsley. In a couple weeks the yard will stop looking scraggly and torn-up and start looking actually planned. It’s like big cleaning or DIY projects–there comes that point where everything is messier than ever, and you despair of it ever coming together, right before it does come together and start getting exponentially neater by the moment. I was also seduced by some epiphyllums. (They didn’t have to work very hard.) And a ton of greenhouse-started stuff went into the vegetable garden. If the plants survive we’re going to be rolling in tomatoes come July.

I’d forgotten how happy being elbow-deep in dirt makes me. Life is once again worth it.

Also, a group of women writers made the local newspaper. There’s also a picture of me laughing incredibly ungracefully. (Also, I do sneak a few references to Dune into Bannon & Clare.)

I’ve discovered that I can handle more editing than I thought on a month-by-month basis. Come June I’ll have more slots open on the wait list, but you can sign up anytime.

Today is the day I go back to the treadmill for my rest-day runs. I take one day off a week for complete rest and letting my body rebuild, never fear. I had to scrap the training plan. Apparently I’m great when self-directed, but put someone else in charge and I start resisting immediately. (This will surprise absolutely NOBODY who knows me.) Dragging my ass through a run is hard enough, no reason to make it more difficult. Plus, the treadmill’s gotten lonely. I used to use it daily. Of course, it’s in the garage looking out a back window…so if there’s fresh squirrel hijinks I’ll be able to see them.

That’s all I got this morning. Most of the day is going to be eaten up with revisions for Wayfarer. Getting in and dealing with the fine mechanics, going bit by bit and tweaking structure, dealing with each separate part of the line edits…there’s also that short story to do revisions on and send back. No shortage of work, which is how I like it.

Over and out.

Whistling To Breakfast

Winter Tree In the middle of second-pass revisions for Wayfarer, the second Beauty & Madness. I finished this book during the nightmare of buying a house and having everything that could possibly go wrong…go wrong. It’s odd to read it now and remember how I was feeling when I wrote a particular scene, certain turns of phrase bringing back waves of uncomfortable feeling from that time.

Regular spring weather has returned, and the rain makes me happy. In the old house, you could hear every drop hitting the roof. In this one, it takes a reasonably heavy downpour to whisper inside, and I was curled up warm and safe in bed with Miss B and the Mad Tortie, who has taken to sleeping in my room lately. (Odd Trundles prefers his crate, and given his habit of emitting…certain smells…at night, it’s probably best.) It was by far the most content I’ve felt in a long while. The new cat–long story–can be coaxed upstairs during quiet times, but prefers the basement. Probably because that’s where the kibble and litterbox are located, and because Odd can’t negotiate the inside stairs. (Too topheavy, poor thing.) She would like very much to come upstairs, though, judging by her yowling at certain points. Eventually she’ll get lonely enough to creep upstairs at other times, and we will welcome her.

They took out a tree at the house behind us, so the crows have moved into my firs. They don’t quite taunt the dogs–for one thing, Miss B is pretty unflappable–but they do comment upon all sorts of things, all day. The old house had mourning doves that weighed in on every event, gossiping like bored elderly men, but the crows take a more direct approach, yelling about pretty much everything and keeping the entire neighborhood updated. Also, I caught Josephine!Squirrel building a nest the other day.

Yes, I’m looking at reclaiming my squirrel stories. And that’s all I’m saying about that at the moment.

Anyway, today is going to be gray and damp, thank goodness. Miss B needs a nice hard run to settle her nerves, and so do I. Then it’s time to dive back into the revisions and layer in more description. I can see everything I’m writing so clearly inside my head–a sort of total-body hallucination–that I often forget the reader can’t, and so an editor’s gentle reminders that they can’t see inside my skull are pretty priceless.

I suppose that’s all the news that’s fit to blog.

*wanders off whistling to breakfast*

Monday Hives and Sunday Cupcakes

golden moment Monday starts out with stress hives. I expected them, but still, the itching is maddening. It is very unsettling to have the urge to scratch all over like a monkey. I can’t wait for my morning run–I’ve found that after a half-hour, I get a gush of sweat full of stress hormones I can smell, a metallic-chicken-soup burst, as if one has opened a can of Campbell’s. Of course, then my skin is even more irritated, but the good news is when I get home and wash all the sweat off, the hives decrease by a good ninety percent.

I can’t wait.

Anyway, it rained last night, to the great hallelujahs of my garden AND my back, because lugging the hoses around, while a price I cheerfully pay for having a decent garden, does not for a happy lumbar region make. I always think better when it rains, too. I fell asleep last night while reading, mid-sentence, and the book–an examination of mystery cults in antiquity–fell on my face. Despite this, I like hardbacks and tend to prefer them when it comes to research reading.

Today’s for making some wordcount on Jeremy Gallow, because tomorrow I go into serious second-round revisions on Wayfarer, the second YA fairy-tale retelling. (When we have a cover, cover copy, and a firm publication date I’ll update the book page.) I also need to comb the text and update the series bible. I’ve taken to putting notes etc. for series in a binder; I used to keep it all in my head but I need my RAM for other things nowadays. Maybe I’m getting old.

Mother’s Day was beautiful. The Princess got up early and made cupcakes.


Seriously, she did all that before noon. I’m agog. And this is the year she learns to drive. My baby, my goodness.

Anyway, time for some breakfast–NOT cupcakes, though I’m tempted–and restraining the urge to scratch like a mad monkey. Monday, so far you’re better than the weekend, but not by much. Let’s be gentle with each other, okay? I will if you will…