Friday, September 28, 2018

Newsletter Sneak Peak

     A sneak peek at the first chapter of a short story is going out to newsletter subscribers.  (Look at the Newsletter page if you'd like to sign up.

I wrote Bait Girl a few years ago, with a different plan for how this story would be sent out into the world. I attended a private school in Montgomery County, Maryland, a fact I have always been proud of, but that wasn't particularly interesting to those outside the DC surrounding areas, until just recently, when the specific elite culture of those private schools became really newsworthy.
This was the story I needed to tell myself right now. 

Content Note:
This story contains descriptions of drunken teen partying, and references to off page assault. It also contains a reference to an off page death due to depression. 
Please take care of yourself. I hope this story leaves you feeling empowered but if it triggers you please stop. I can recommend stories with puppies for you instead. 

If you need help, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), is available in the US by phone - 800.656.HOPE (4673) and online at

The suicide prevention lifeline is available in the US by phone:  1-800-273-TALK (8255) and they have chat available at

All proceeds from this story will go to RAINN. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. I happened on to this video with a medley tribute of Lin-Manuel Miranda's work so far and it is delightful, if you are into that.  (Video plays sound and all of that.) 
2. I do love a story about activist nuns.  These ones are working on gun manufacturers to think about the weapons they make. 
3. Canadian teens are protesting for better sex ed and better indigenous peoples education

Monday, September 24, 2018

Serials are like MKALs

I have participated in a lot of Mystery Knit Alongs (MKALs) over the years.  Some have been awesome. Some less so.  Part of that is what you sign on for, the project is a mystery after all.  Some turned out to be more or less work than I was ready for.  And some - were just not meant to be mysteries.  
See, the idea with a mystery knit, is that you are getting the clue in pieces.  Not every pattern needs to be modular or pick up and turn from a circle to a square, but part of the mystery element is that it won't look exactly like you might expect if they just gave you the first clue and said, go forth and knit.  
So, quite honestly the worst mystery knit I ever did was the one where clue 1 was do X with colors 1 and 2 and then clue 2 was do X with colors 2 and 3.  
I think serials are often like this.  I think most authors understand that a serial installment should leave you curious about the rest of the story, but sometimes they do that rug pull thing at the end and then undo it right at the start of the next thing.  And you can only do that so many times before I know that everything you tell me (much like reality show episode teasers) is going to be less bad than you are pretending and now I don't care.  But the opposite is also true.  If you write a book, and just break it into equal parts, that's not really a serial either.  That starts to seem like you are trying to get me not to notice how much the whole book cost.  Now Serial Pub has some serials where each episode, focuses on different characters, so in that case it's less rug pull and more, oh, now I get to find out what the gardener was up to, which is another approach.  
But the overall message I have for both pattern designers and authors is that not everything is ready to be a serial or a mystery knit.  And it doesn't have to be.  You can give me a normal pattern, a novel or series of novellas, and I will happily decide it it's for me.  Using a format your story or pattern isn't suited to, does no one any favors. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1.  I have a slight quibble with the Noah's Ark comparison, but this man rescues pets from natural disaster areas, so he was busy last weekend. 
2. Vallery Lomas won a baking show that got cancelled (due to the host being involved in sexual harassment) before her win ever aired.  The good news is, she's still baking. 
3. Alisha Rai wrote a sexy short about consent for Refinery 29. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

"Turn Me Loose" at Arena Stage

"Turn Me Loose" flips back and forth through moments in Dick Gregory's life. While there are time/place markers projected onto the back wall, the clearest mark was actually watching Edwin Lee Gibson (playing Dick Gregory) shift his body into that of an older or younger man. The show provides a good primer for anyone not versed in Gregory, showing his wit, is willingness to be outrageous in order to talk truth about how this country was (and is) treating many of it's citizens, and his belief that fighting for people was the greatest legacy he could leave behind. For much of the show the audience acts as the comedy show audience and there are moments of direct interaction. 
There is one other cast member who plays a heckler, a cab driver, and a radio host, but 99% of the show rests with its star. 
Several audience members near me were murmuring in agreement, often commenting, "Yes" or "Oh that was deep" at certain points, lending more to the feeling we were just at several sequential comedy shows. 
There are some references to Obama and to the current president, but otherwise it stays farther back covering Gregory's direct work with Civil Rights leaders and also his work to be able to be treated - wherever possible - like a comic, and not just a Black comic.  
It's a wonderful show, and I was pleased to see it. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

I Believe Victims

I believe victims. As I've said before no one has ever gotten money or fame from claiming sexual assault (think how many of us would be rich and famous) from claiming sexual assault. So when people take great personal and professional risk to come forward to say, hey, maybe this person shouldn't get even more power, I believe them. 
I beleived this accuser before I had her name or credentials. And I know some people think that sounds like blind faith, and well it kind of is. Innocent until proven guilty is supposedly the premise of justice and similarly I believe people who tell stories of harm done to them unless and until I have a reason to not believe them. 
So, I believe Christine Blasley Ford not because we share an alma mater, not because she's got a cool job. I believe her because the only possible thing that could come out of her being thrust into the spotlight on this is that maybe her accuser won't get more power. That's it. 
And if that's not enough for you, think about why. Why isn't a victim's recounting of what was done to them enough for you? Why do you believe the man who isn't saying I remember it differently or gosh, I was super drunk, he is saying nope, nothing happened at all. At the very least it suggests he is lying again. 
Also, this has been such a hard week for sexual assault survivors
Take care of yourself and remember RAINN is just one of the resources available to you if you need help. Call 800.656.HOPE or chat at Para ayuda en espaƱol,

Monday, September 17, 2018

Love and Laughter

I spent the weekend in Colorado for a family wedding. It was a great opportunity to meet family members and reacquaint myself with others. A number of family members had made big changes be it starting college or changing jobs and/or states and it was great to see that and to catch up with folks. 
I had a wonderful time and was thanked profusely for coming when honestly it was a joy for me. As much as the logistics surrounding family trips can take up a huge amount of my brain space, it is always such a great thing to see end enjoy their company. And it was a good reminder of this. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. David Simon got Twitter banned for, among other things, suggesting that Twitter was a cesspool for trolls.  His very colorfully worded discussion of what happened to the Tweet he refused to delete is an interesting look at Twitter's growing problem. 
2. Brittany Packnett talks about how watching Serena Williams demand an apology caused her to reflect on how, as a black woman, she had been trained not to demand such things. 
3. Local DC schoolkids got a chance to perform their own works about the founding fathers, chat with the cast of "Hamilton", and then see it themselves. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Ripped Bodice Bingo 2018

I did Ripped Bodice Bingo again this summer, and this year, I actually remembered to submit.  I did not fill in the whole board.  I ended up reading a lot of historical that I had lingering in the TBR in search of carriage sex, and then kept finding other qualifications, so would read another.  I also read two that would have been perfect in May but had nothing queued up fill in those slots.  And one of these books was also the Romance Book Group pick for the Politics and Prose group, so that was nice.  There were no books I completely hated, there were certainly some (that I have indicated) that I would not recommend whole-heartedly just because there was some alphaholes or some dated jokes about gender stereotypes and such.  It was a lot of fun, and while yes, a couple of these books were purchased just to fill a spot, most I already had in the TBR, so it was a good chance to get to them.  

Crossing Hearts by Rebecca Crowley - soccer, older heroine
Lone Star Cinderella* by Maureen Child - fairytale retelling 
My Favorite Mistake* by Chelsea Cameron - forced proximity
Heat Exchange by Shannon Stacey - firefighter, older heroine
Savage Blue by Zoraida Cordova - YA Paranormal, mermaids

Destiny's Embrace by Beverly Jenkins - Buggy sex
Bay Side's Most Unexpected Bride* by Kerri Carpenter - fashionista, forced proximity
Seal Camp by Suzanne Brockmann - camp, damsel in distress
Running with Lions by Julian Winters- soccer, enemies to lovers, summer camp

The Harlot Countess* by Joanna Shupe - birds, mermaids, enemies to lovers, carriage sex, damsel in distress
Whiteout by Elyse Springer - forced proximity, extreme location 
Contracted Defense by Piper J. Drake - HEA 

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon - will be a movie
How to be a Proper Lady by Katharine Ashe - hero smells like man, birds, carriage sex, forced proximity, birds 
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandyha Menon - tech in the big city, summer camp

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang - heroine older, fashionista, smells like a man, tech in the big city
The Surgeon's Secret Baby by Ann Christopher - Baby on cover        
Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne - birds
The Viking Queen's Men by Holley Trent - return to hometown
Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn - damsel in distress

Not used, but also would have worked: 
Forget You by Nina Crespo - HEA
Falling for the Right Brother by Kerri Carpenter - smells like a man
Rogue Hearts - Anthology - Return to Hometown
Love is All - Anthology - smells like a man
Cities: A Novella by Carla Guzman - time travel
The Ruin of a Rake by Cat Sebastian - Queer Historical

*gender sterteotype jokes  
*alphahole behavior, rape jokes
*homophobic stereotype joke

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. The perfume company in question has decided to pull this item, but this explainer about cultural and spiritual theft very interesting. 
2. This article on the many uses Cubans are finding for condoms, which seem to be more available than some other things, is fascinating. 
3. Teen Vogue talks about how the current prison strike ties into our larger history of slavery. 

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

National Book Fest

I am always thrilled when it's National Book Fest time.  I found this year the schedule made a lot of choices for me, such that I didn't make it to either of the Children's stages.  I also found the Fiction room already at capacity twice, and am sad that they've now shoved a bunch of authors into genre fiction, and yet genre fiction did not include romance. 
But, the event is free, and amazing nonetheless.  Because I couldn't get into Fiction, I got in line for the third floor, where they had the main stage.  The line was large enough that it stretched out across a good portion of the second floor too. My backup plan was to go down to children's but partly curiosity had me seeing if I could get into see Amy Tan.  I could, as it turns out.  She talked about how the writer's memoir was born, and how she learned all these things going through old family papers.  
In the Teen room, Elizabeth Acevedo talked about the genesis of Poet X, and also read from both it and the "Ode to the Rat".  She talked about that at the book launch too, how when she had told a professor she would write about a rat being from New York, he had told her he thought she needed more experiences.  She said, as a former teacher herself, she always tried to be very careful because small things we say to students and mentees can cut you and stick with you.  When an audience member asked what he said when she turned it in, she said he did not remember having said it.  He said wow, where did this poem come from.  
Justina Ireland read from Dread Nation and talked about how zombie stories were almost never really zombie stories, and if they were, that was almost a failure.  Ireland also wanted to look at the "not like other girls" phenomenon and why girls in similar situations are often told they need to compete with each other.  So this book let her look at that, look at racist structures, but wrap it in a package for zombies. 
I went to the Poetry Slam next, and as always these kids did some amazing things.  The Baltimore team had originally been going to participate, but could not, so they showed a video.  I snuck out at one point to see if I could get into the Fiction room for one more author talk, but it was not to be, but it meant I got to see the full second round of the slam, so really, good stuff.   

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Sandya Menon at One More Page

Christina June talked with Sandya Menon on Friday.  Menon said that From Twinkle With Love had existed as a darker book that she had already written and then when  When Dimple Met Rishi sold and was happier rom-com there was the idea to make the stories match tonally.  She also said her agent had suggested that a nice unifying thing was the fun names in the title and she said she made a whole list, thinking there are tons of Indian American names like this.  Apparently people (non-Indian generally) have accused her of making up such names, and actual Dimples, and Twinkles, and so on have shown up to explain that no, these are real names. 
Menon said one of her favorite scenes is where Dimple throws the coffee.  Menon watched a lot of movies as part of her research for Twinkle, and found some great stuff. She also mentioned that her next book will feature Rishi's brother which sounds like a lot of fun.