Monday, December 18, 2023


I did a tea advent calendar this year and I have to say, I have had several mornings where I had to check the date on my phone because the days left in the box didn't seem to match the day I thought it was.
Time is so odd, and talking about time and the passage thereof becomes a weird conversation much like, how was traffic, or this weather huh, that used to seem as a kid like why are adults obsessed with this? And yet, now I am that adult. 
One of the things I really enjoy is the isea that if you follow all the various traditions, the end of the year, comes three to four times. New starts are always there. 
And of course both writing and reading fiction make clear that where and how you start a story is honestly a constant choice. 
But in the northern hemisphere we approach the smallest amount of daylight, it is nice to pause and note the end of that cycle and the transition back in the other direction. 
Whichever side of the world you are on, may you find the light and warmth you need. And also cookies. 

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Smashwords Sale

Just a quick heads up, a number of my books are on sale in the Smashwords end of the year sale:
If Smashwords is not your etailer of choice, my books remain available on other sites, in paper, and of course, can be requested from your library: Happy reading!

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. A friend alerted me to this news story about a man who arrived in LAX without documentation and apparently without memory of how he ended up on a plane. 
2. I recently took training offered by DC Health in providing Narcan to folks who may have overdosed, so found this story of this woman who has become a safe hub of sorts for folks in her community. 
3. And in a nature vs. nature sort of plan, they are using sea urchins to help with invasive seaweed in Kaneohe. 

Monday, December 11, 2023

Peaks, Valleys, Blooms, and In Between

Author Hannah Carmona once talked about how cherry blossom trees reminded her that incredible things sometimes require a lot of prep. Cherry blossom trees may bloom earlier than they used to with climate change, but they bloom once and then they move on to other phases. Because not every season is meant to be bloom season. 
Similarly I saw someone on social media talking about how you cannot build your productivity plan around your best day. 
It's funny, because I think in capitalism we've all seen this. How hiring freezes and other measures that show up in times of economic uncertainty become our normal staffing, and three years later everybody is tired and burnt out and you suddenly remember, oh yeah, there used to be more of us to do this. That's why we're tired.
And yet, I will call myself lazy for not writing every day, or finishing a draft and wishing to read for a few weeks. 
And look, I know for some people a break from writing longer than an hour is too much for them. 
And to be clear, there is still writing work happening. My first drafts are often written in a giant long string with a quick indent for new scenes, and so the first thing I do with a draft is break it into scenes and figure out what I have and take a big picture look at the pacing. And a lot of that is hard to quantify. The draft looks less like a giant brain dump and more like a draft. 
But pondering pacing and other things, well, that kind of looks like me playing games on my phone. 
Everyone has different processes, and many many people wish their process was some variation of better, faster, cooler, or let's face it, easier.
But if the social pressure of NaNo helped you be productive and now you are less productive, that isn't you backsliding. If you finished your draft (at least for now) you have earned that rest. Your brain often needs time to process, so you can look the draft with fresh eyes.
If you did not finish your draft, you have a few options here. You may need to rest. I know all these people have been telling you you can build a habit of writing just by writing, but your process may need more than that. If it benefits from social pressure, finding drafting or writing groups that continue on might help you.
It may also be that the NaNo pace is not sustainable for you for more than 30 days. Even marathoners don't run a whole marathon every day. So maybe work on finding a good pace for now. 
And you may also just need a rest. December may not be a good month for you. But the good news if you did write for 30 days straight, you can do it again. But maybe not now. 
Kind if like that old video with Stephen Covey talking about planning for family and vacations first. Make space for your writing, certainly. But also make space for you to not write, so that when you go back to it, you've had time to gather up the energy and excitement to go at it again. 

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Three Interesting Things

The Washington Post Guild has selected a historically newsworthy day - ie today - for a one day strike, so none of the links are to them today. 
1. Five folks talked about ways they are trying to think sustainably about clothes
3. I am interested that Penguin is taking legal action against one of the legal book laws.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Credit Where Credit is Due

I once spoke to someone who started the interaction with something to the effect of, the last person I spoke to about this obviously didn't know what they were talking about. It's always a weird spot to start. 
And so I looked into this person's stuff, saw the very detailed comment left by the prior person, and related that info. 
They were pleased. And wondered aloud why the last person couldn't have told them that. 
I told them the last person had left clear info, and that was how I was able to give them such a quick and clear answer. 
I thought of this, as I had several calls with a place I was doing business with. And when one call led to my needing to call back, I decided to just go in as if the time between was for them to fix everything for me. And they did. 
We all hear these stories about how frequently we share bad customer stories instead of good ones. And I think sometimes its easy to be like oh no, this one not great call means everything is doomed. But sometimes, it just means, oh, let us work on this. And then all will be resolved. 

Monday, December 04, 2023

And Some News

I had the chance to narrate a flash story "A Girl Bikes Home Alone at Night" written by Georgie Morvis for the Cast of Wonders podcast. The link to the episode is here:

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. I appreciated this look at the OWL sex ed program in Oklahoma, where the schools are not providing comprehensive sex ed.
2. I was fascinated to see this look at how the National Gallery skating rink gets made.
3. I honestly did not know Debrett's still existed, but they have some message tips.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Writer Goggles

One of the things that happens as you write, is you develop writer goggles. You can do this even if you aren't currently writing. 
For example, the other day I watched a small child stage a very dramatic "I don't want to go!" moment in the lobby of my building. The small child lay on the ground, hands clutching the parental figure's ankles, while an elder sibling waited with impatient stance. 
I participated in a series of flash fiction challenges, and we all used the same prompt. None of our stories were remotely the same, even the ways we used the prompt varied widely. 
Newbie writers often worry about people's stealing ideas, and as many have said, they can't. Ideas can be precious and sometimes need time to percolate. But no one is going to that idea the same way. 
But one way to exercise your writer goggles is to go forward and back, expanding the story. 
Does small child do this every weekday? Does elder child have morning events that get interrupted on days this happens?
Does the parent have to be at work at a specific time or are they lenient? 
Does small child have a specific concern, or a general hatred of school or daycare?
What tiny details change the experience of the story? 
What if I tell you small child peeked up to see what reception they were getting? 
What if elder child tried this? 
What if small child just switched the school or daycare they go to?
There are lots of ways to shift or expand the story. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

The Point is Solidarity

I remember someone once asking why anyone would protest a seemingly correctly elected politician. I responded that protest has many purposes and sometimes it is to say, I am here, I disagree, this is not okay. 
I read a book once about a second child of g-d appearing on earth, and found part of what was fascinating about it was things like, now she would go on talk shows. Her third grade teacher and her first boyfriend would both write memoirs. 
And sometimes, because I have a writer brain that can't help but wonder, I wonder what would happen if World War II was now. Because social media has changed the speed of info, the ability of governments to provide the only info their citizens have. 
And of course, I don't really need to move past atrocities to the present, because, we actually have enough current atrocities. 
People have been protesting all across the world. Asking for change, even when their country's leaders have tried to tell them what's going on is okay.
And these are the things that give me hope as we enter a week where in the US we celebrate a political gathering of folks trying to negotiate cohabitating on the same continent. 
There have always been people pushing for more peace. It can be hard to see it when you only look at what the world leaders say. But there are many of us. 
May your week bring food, friends, family, and whatever relaxation you are able to carve out. 
And if you want to call your electeds so your message will be waiting when they return, you can do that too.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. This poem "I Grant You Refuge" by now deceased poet Hibu Abu Naba, has been translated into English and it is breathtaking.  
2. Sarah Kendzior wrote about a stretch of land in Missouri. 
3. And this story of a 100 year old woman adopting a senior dog is just adorable. 

Monday, November 13, 2023

Choose Your Pace

I did a 5k over the weekend. It was a very tiny one. I told people my intention was to walk it. I found another participant, who said, yeah, I'm just walking too, I'll stick with you. 
And then the race began, and she turned to me, and said, I'll think I'll go fast for a bit. And she - still just walking - was ahead of me in no time. 
I could have sped up to catch up with her, but I also knew the pace I was at was sustainable for me for the whole thing. So, I kept going at my pace. I was technically not the last to finish. But the group that came in behind me took a detour, to look at something else. 
But in the end, we all finished. Some people ran, some people walked, many did both.
And whether it's NaNo or a knit-a-long, or group exercise, often you do it with others for the camaraderie. Only one person can finish first. But if you finish, you still finished. And if that was your goal, then it's all good. 
You can try moving at other people's pace. Sometimes you will discover you can go faster than you thought. Or that slower actually gives you time to look at the trees, to smell the smells. Finding your pace, knowing what it feels like when you are pushing too hard or just enough, these are all great things to know. 
The camaraderie comes from the shared experience not from finishing first. Finishing first, or in the too ten, or whatever is super cool. I'm not saying that can't be your goal. But if your goal was to get to the end, then the pace may not need to be the fastest, it just has to get you to the end. 

Thursday, November 09, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. This news story caught my eye.  There is a huge rise in babies in the US being born with syphilis, which means, there are a number of adults in the US with untreated syphilis.
2. Once upon a time, I was in a car with a school friend and her mom, and we passed a sign about Luray Caverns.  I said, "What's a cavern?" and well, about fifteen minutes later, we walking to the Caverns, because my friend and her mom thought it was an experience I should have.  So this story about the organ in the Caverns caught my eye, and brought back that lovely first experience. 
3. This teenager works as a juvenile defense attorney
Also, there is a Books for Palestine auction going on right now with a ton of items. 

Monday, November 06, 2023

The Good and the Bad With Mantras

I know the social media loop means that sometimes people, myself included, have a tendency to temper or provide caveats for happiness. Like, "I had a delicious beverage. So privileged to have funds for such a beverage. Hope everyone involved in making this beverage earned a fair wage."
I hope I'm avoiding that, but perhaps not. 
I recognize that mantras can be incredibly useful. I've talked before about how I still chant, "Relax, relate, release" to myself. 
I took a writing course that encouraged us to repeat, "I am a great writer". 
But I participated in an event where we were encouraged to chant, "I'm sorry. I love you. I forgive you." And it was compared to the Polynesian principle of ho'oponuponu*. Now I would love to tell you I would have noticed this if they hadn't used a Polynesian principle. But they did. 
Now first, the lovely folks at SorryWatch already wrote a whole book about apologies, and howntheybshould work, I do recommend that. But basically, saying 'I'm sorry' by itself is not meaningful. Being sorry involves knowing what you are sorry for, and making steps to either address the harm, or not repeat the harm. USian culture in particular often looks for people to say they are sorry, to be followed by immediate forgiveness and scoot past all the other steps. (And yes, not all USians.)
The only thing faster than expected immediate apology, is turning it into a mantra where the words just follow each other, with again, no attachment to what they are or mean. 
And ho'oponuponu is similarly not a magic wand that gets waved at harm. It is a process of exploring, discussing, and redressing harm. The forgiving and moving on happens after those steps have occurred. 

*Ho'oponuponu is Hawaiian, but similar concepts of seeking reparation exist throughout Polynesia. 

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1.  I generally do not attend Rhineback and the associated events, and this year had a family event the very same weekend, but it is a very big weekend for yarn folk, so I was sad to hear the Woll & Folk portion of it did not go well on a number of levels.  If you are a yarn person, or may be shopping for one, there are a number of vendors who are having post festival sales, since they have quite a bit of stock. 
2. This article is DC focused, but had a number of suggestions for efforts to address issues in DC right now that I found useful. 
3. And I was interested to learn a lot of folks are falling out of love with dating apps

Monday, October 30, 2023

7 Things About NaNo

1. Having a goal can be useful. I went for a walk on the weekend and set the goal that I was going to walk without pausing until the end of the podcast I was listening to. It helped me push through and walk a smudge further than I might have otherwise.
2. The number is arbitrary. I like the 50k goal. But it's not going to be the right pace for everyone. If what you cone away with is learning your best pace, that's great info. 
3. Community helps. Try a write in - virtual, in person, whichever. Knowing all those other people are writing can help. There are enough virtual ones that there is almost always one happening somewhere. Last year, my work schedule let me do one in the mornings. This year I'm going to be looking for more evening ones. 
4. Sleep, food, hangouts with people who quite honestly don't care that much about your writing - though the like you, these things are all so good for you. Consider all your people interactions writing research. 
5. Move, stretch, hydrate. Take good care of yourself so you can keep coming back and making words. 
6. I'm a big fan of trying new things. Dictation, writing by hand, writing in the morning, writing at lunch, writing on my phone, writing with special writer snacks. But the flip side is I also quit a lot of things that turn out not to work. So it's be afraid to try new things. But also don't be afraid to quit the ones that aren't working.
7. There will come a point when the tracker you are using seems to have it in for you. It suddenly tells you, you won't finish until January, or that your daily average dropped. I think tracking helps. But, if you need to look away from the tracker for a few days, and focus on the words you can get, do that. All of this is to support you writing more words. The words are the priority. 

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. I had not been paying attention to the progress on the malaria vaccine front, but as someone who mosquitos find very tasty, this is promising. 
2. This LifeKit Guide to exploring non-monogamy also has good tips for anyone trying to navigate relationships better. 
3. With the disclosure that I work for an organization that is, among other things, piloting a similar program in DC, this article about a program in Michigan designed to address the teacher shortfall
Bonus thing: This poem by a Palestinian poet was brought to my attention. 

Monday, October 23, 2023

Writing and Center Out Blankets

I have been pondering writing and knitting because these are two things I have spent a lot of time doing. So I have a lot of thoughts about how they can be similar. 
When you knit a blanket center out you start, at the center, as the name implies. Often you start with some very small number like 8 stitches. And then as you go and it gets bigger. 
One of the things I like about center out is that it starts small, so it doesn't seem like a big commitment. If you start knitting a blanket along one edge, even a shorter edge, it takes more than eight stitches. It pretty quickly becomes a large project. 
Whereas center out, you can sort of pretend, well maybe I'm only knitting a small thing. Because in theory, if you stop and bind off, it is a thing. A knitted napkin perhaps. And then it gets to baby blanket sized. And then lap blanket. And if you keep going, then adult blanket sized. 
And writing, particularly if you pants, can be like that. Some stories are just flash or short stories. Some are novellas or novelettes. Some are epics. And sometimes you start out writing what you think is a small thing, but the story expands. And sometimes what seems like a very grand idea wraps up quite quickly. And then you have to decide to either accept that, or add more yarn/plot to make it bigger. 
And, when you are knitting center out, often, unless you have endlessly large needles, you can only sort of see how big thr project has become. And then you begin binding off and discover you have made this large thing. 
And sometimes, sitting down and telling yourself you have only committed to a small goal, is how you get ready for a big, epic project. The story ends when you say it does after all. Any time you want it too. 

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. I confess I have become too reliant on my cards of late, and this post was a reminder of how expensive that can be for the business where I shop.
2. One of the challenges of the secret baby trope, is that there's so much awkward, and of course, it happens even when everyone is trying to do their best. This Ask A Manager post shows one such scenario.
3. Having just finished Kerry Washington's memoir (I went audio, can recommend) - this interview where Washington talked about how sharing a family secret has been helpful.  (I went in cold, and if you love a good surprise, save the article for after.)

Monday, October 16, 2023

Tasting the Food

My cat eats dry food in small bits, like a tastings. The wet food she either scarfs down immediately or eats in stages. The stages still add up to an hour at most. But she will eat a little, then walk away from the bowl. Often flop down somewhere else like now she's moved on. But a few minutes later she will return and eat more. 
I tend to be like that. Having had jobs where food time was exactly 30 minutes, and honestly they would prefer it to be less, and then jobs where, are you sure you even need lunch? So when I'm alone I am often focused. Evening if am also reading while eating. 
But when I have someone to chat with and no schedule to adhere to - I can nibble for hours. It's fun and also, the food often does taste better when you take time. The slow food people are onto something. 

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. If you've noticed a change in the USA Today Bestseller list as it returned this year, this post looks into why. It is referencing less data at the moment. 
2. A local resident wrote wonderfully about how a local bookstore featured into a bit of her DC dating life
3. I don't just love this episode of "Code Switch" because they talked about amnesia (but you best believe academic amnesia has me very intrigued) but this look at what it means to remember, the ways we suppress and push back against the telling of some stories is fascinating.  (Content note: discussion of genocide, forced displacement, death threats.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Open Letter to the NHL

Dear NHL,
I tend to be quiet during the season, just happily watching or listening to games and okay cheering or cursing, so quiet is in the eye of the beholder. 
So, I didn't comment on y'all letting a few players mouth off about Pride Nights last year, or teams happening to change planned warm up jerseys the day of the game night so it wasn't as obvious who was refusing to participate in said event. But it sucked. 
Hockey seasons are long and the theme nights are a thing. I know there are players who are from countries where freely acknowledging being LBGTQIA+ is, shall we say, punishable. 
But look, there are also players from countries that have clashed with the US militarily, and I assume they are expected to play along with military nights. I know they are expected to listen to a national anthem and sometimes two, regardless of their country of origin. 
But now, I hear the NHL is not only not doing Pride nights, but forbidding things like rainbow tape? Rainbow tape?
Hockey is not the only sport with a diversity problem, and I am well aware that half assed Pride nights do not make things more inclusive. But this choice is regressive. Hockey cannot claim to be for everyone if players are not allowed to express solidarity or allyship. 
And meanwhile, the Washington Capitals have a Hawaiian shirt night on the schedule, and the NHL has yet* to have a Hawaiian player.
So hockey can celebrate cultures it won't invite in. But apparently players cannot be or express solidarity with LGBTQIA+ folks, and somehow hockey expects to expand the fanbase this way? Because right now, I am thinking hard about my commitment to hockey fandom. 

*Happy to be proven wrong on this.

Monday, October 09, 2023

Delightful Memories

I was reading a book (TJ Alexander's Chef's Choice) and one of the characters lives in Paris, so they end up in Paris, and for their first meal the Parisien character goes and buys fruit, and bread, and cheese, and wine, and meat, and they go sit on a spot along the Seine and eat. 
Because I was in college in Scotland, heading to Paris for spring break was comparatively easy and cheap. And so I went with two friends who had both lived in Paris for a time. And for our first meal we went to a small grocer, and bought bread and cheese and strawberries and then sat alongside the Seine and ate the food while staring at the river. 
It was a delightful way to start the trip. And while we did and ate other delightful things, it stuck in my memory as a standout moment. 
Of course I live in a city with a river (and also a channel, and another river). And I do try to make sure to go see it. To remind myself of the waterways. 
And while I eat less dairy during peak allergy times, bread and cheese and fruit is always a great choice. 
And so in addition to a fun food centric romance, I got to ponder a really great memory. 

Thursday, October 05, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. Them spoke with 5 trans students about their thoughts on this fall at school.  
2. NPR had an article about making cities spongier to help with flooding.  
3. Atlanta magazine spoke about romance authors in and near Atlanta.  

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

New Story in CommuterLit

Hey Hungry Readers, 
I've got a story appearing in CommuterLit this week. It's an ezine that focuses on fiction or poetry that is commute sized. (Your commute may vary.) My story is about a mermaid with a little grudge. So not so much a romance this time, but there is some emotional closure to be found:

Monday, October 02, 2023

"Monumental Travesties" at Mosaic Theater

Content note: reference to recent parental death, onstage urination, references to COVID, reference to police brutality, imprisonment, gunshots

I talk a lot about conversation plays, plays where the idea is to stimulate conversation, to ask more questions than it answers. "Monumental Travesties" I think falls firmly into this category. 
Chase is a performance artist and in his most recent act, he has severed Lincoln's head from the statue in Lincoln Park. The action takes place entirely in Chase and his wife Angela's living room. Their neighbor Adam appears having discovered a Lincoln head in his rosebushes. The action takes place over a single evening. There are discussions of grief, allyship, treaties, a moment where Chase uses Adam to recreate the poses found in the statue to discuss if the statue is demoralizing or embarrassing. There is talk about code switching, and so, so, many lies that the three have or choose to tell. 
The performances are wonderful.  I had seen Louis E. Davis and Jonathan Feuer previously at Mosaic in "Charm". (Renee Elizabeth Wilson grew up here, and has been in several local performance, so me not having seen her before is a failure on my part.) The set design was amazing. 
There is no intermission which I think suits the bonkers pace of things. 
Also, worth noting, because I love it in all it's forms, there is amnesia. Yup, they make time for amnesia and it's not even the wildest thing that happens. 

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. Alexander Chee talked about bibliomancy, a way to find inspiration in your bookshelves.  
2. The Non-Profit Quarterly took a look at what a COVID outbreak at a writing conference can teach us.  
3. Apparently social media for certain football teams had Old Bay on the mind on Sunday, but they made fundamental errors.  

Monday, September 25, 2023

Rainy Days

I spent the second weekend in a row factoring a tropical storm into my plans. Now of course, I was never in the direct line, so it is easy for me to be a little flip about the weather. There was rain, there was wind, I stayed inside. 
I played games, I cooked food. Last weekend I hung out with family.
As much as I complain about rain and wind, sometimes it is quite nice to have a good reason to stay indoors and cook delicious food. To catch up with people, to read. 
Here in the DC area, we also could really use the rain, though all at once comes with its own concerns. 
So, here's to rainy days. 

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. This ranch that was featured in movies and TV burned in the 2018 fires and they are figuring out next steps for the space.  
2. I realize climate change has far worse effects, but poison ivy flourishing in it is one I had not expected.  
3. Continuing my tradition of enjoying articles about TV I do not or have not watched, this is an oral history of the British Baking show that has different names depending on where you live.  

On the Newsletter: Available Again

Hey folks, 
Repeat news for newsletter and Ream folks, but I made Cocker on the Porch available in e, free, across retailers. ('Zon readers, it may take a smidge to update.) 
It's single POV, closed door romance, two neighbors who are brought together by a dog. It now includes a bonus epilogue where Wendy and Tuan meet my other dog owning couple, aka Rafe and Felicia from Undercover Bridesmaid. (The only spoilers for Undercover Bridesmaid would be that Rafe and Felicia get together and get a dog, and honestly, only Felicia should be surprised about that.) 

Monday, September 18, 2023

Playing the Game

We played card games with family old and new this weekend, and it was fun. Seeing who just plays, who tries to plan a perfect win, who apologizes or often fauxpologizes for a move that creates in issue for another player. Who talks trash, who plays quietly, until they win. Who quits after a successful or unsuccessful round. Who tells tales about how the game did or did not go. 
I grew up in a family that did not believe in letting kids or newbies win, so had to accept either learning to lose gracefully or learning to at better or both. This is not to say I have never walked out on a game. I have. In my defense, the rules were getting bent in only one direction and I was like, okay, then please carry on without me. I was probably less graceful than that sounds. This last weekend I never once won, but I also hoped I played well. Like a lot of things in life, there are more losers than winners in most card games, so you have to enjoy the process. Otherwise, why do it at all. 

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Over on the Newsletter

Hey folks, it turned out I had a few more topics to discuss for Let's Talk About Fictional Sex. The posts are linkied in the newsletter or if you purchased the ebook, uploads of the adddtional contet have been pushed out to retailers.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. Maggie Tokuda Hall wrote more about her experience being asked to redact the reference to racism her author note for her book about Japanese internment.  
2.This family's house on Maui is standing, but things are still tough.    
3. Folks watching a view camera in Alaska spotted a lost hiker.  
Also if you wanted to provide some assistance to folks in Morocco, Laila Lalami suggested the food bank.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Adventures in Baking

My toaster oven died. I discovered this as I tossed what was going to be my dessert in and came back 30 minutes later to discover I still had batter. 

I did some online research, discovered my model is online only these days, but I could buy a somewhat fancier one at the store in walking distance. There was of course a much fancier one, but with the intention of being frugal, I went for just a bit more fancy 

Decided to be bold and just bring a large shopping bag and not a cart. I got to store, they were out of the model the site said they had, but they had a slightly fancier model. (Still cheaper than much fancy, but close enough that I pondered going to the other store.) 

Bought it. Carried it home. Two people along the way asked me if I was okay. (Very kind. It wasn't too heavy, but the humidity was high, so hard to carry a rectangle with sweaty hands.)

Got inside and scraped myself on my own chair. (The betrayal!)

Fancier also means larger, so had to find a different spot to set it up. 

But now. Now. I have dessert. 

Thursday, September 07, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. Tressie McMillan Cottom wrote about the 'Bama Rush TikToks.  (NYT link)
2. DCist went to talk to license plate swappers.  
3. And Olivia Dade wrote about how motherhood and writing romance helped change how she saw her body. 

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Freezing Summer

A friend of mine once talked about freezing cubes of pesto so that in the winter she could have the taste of summer. I confess I buy tons of berries in summer, when they are plentiful and often on sale, and freeze them. 
And last week I made a lemon coconut butter mochi that turned out perfectly, and I'm freezing some of that too. 
I like to have some soup or cooked beans in the freezer. To stock up for moments when you just cannot face cooking. 
And I usually have some frozen dumplings in there too. As a mostly vegetarian, it has recently become much easier to find delightful dumpling recipes that have more interesting fillings than fake meat. (I am not against fake meat. But I am much more interested in a variety of veggie fillings.) 
Last summer I froze some dumplings with a corn tomato filling. They were a delightful treat one winter day. 
Global production means we can certainly find many things out of season, but I find particular delight in getting things in season, and storing them up for a treat later. 

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. DC has added a vending machine that can help dispense various lifesaving items to folks, including condoms and narcan.  
2. There were two shootings that made headlines recently.  Black Girl in Maine has a thoughtful piece on some of the work needed to stop racist shootings. And the Daily Tarheel had a memorable print edition in the wake of their on campus shooting. This links to their digital front page, but the upper left corner has a link to the print edition. 
3. There are now 98 metro stations in the DC area system - these folks from Chicago came and set a record for hitting all of them in the shortest time (so far).   

Monday, August 28, 2023

My Own Ripped Bodice Bingo

I read a lot this summer. And yes, I binged a few authors in particular. 
Since there is also a 23 for '23 push, to suggest folks try to read at least 23 authors of color this year, I have starred any that fit this qualification. No reviews in this post, they are all good books. I'm a big fan of reading things you like, not because they are good for your reading challenge. But you can do both!
Also, there were some other suggestions in my earlier post, including some of mine. 
Some of these books are in multiple slots, obviously for bingo I trimmed it down, but left it this way in case any of these are a particular fave for anyone.

Kissing for Science -Second Chance at Paris by Cole McCade*, The Mane Squeeze by Shelly Laurenston*, We Are Totally Normal by Naomi Kanakia*, Mixed Signals by B. K. Borison
Cover has a body of water on it - Year of Cecily by Lisa Lin*
Fae/Fairies - Surrendering Saul by Holley Trent*
Prohibition - Love's Serenade by Sheryl Lister*
Train - Zero Day Exploit by Cole McCade*, We are Totally Normal by Naomi Kanakia, An Island Princess Starts a Scandal by Adriana Herrera*
Farm - Between Then and Now by Zoe York, Mixed Signals by B. K. Borison
Librarian - The Coyote's Cowboy by Holley Trent*
Bachelor(Ette) Party - Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston*, Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston*, Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh* 
Long Distance Relationship - The Comeback by Lily Chu*, Something Wild and Wonderful by Anita Kelly, Year of Cecily by Lisa Lin, Rock Courtship my Nalini Singh*
Vigilante sh*t - The Mane Squeeze by Shelly Laurenston, Big Bad Beast by Shelly Laurenston, Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston, Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston, Breaking Badger by Shelly Laurenston, Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales 
Grazing hands gently - The Comeback by Lily Chu
Left at the altar - His True Alpha Janine by Chencia C Higgins*, Fall Into You by Georgina Keirsten*, The Coyote's Cowboy by Holley Trent, Year of Cecily by Lisa Lin
Protagonist smells like citrus - I'll Come Back For You by Charish Reid*, The Rules of Forever by Nan Campbell
Reunion - Second Chance at Paris by Cole McCade, The Beast in Him by Shelly Laurenston, Love's Serenade by Sheryl Lister, Year of Cecily by Lisa Lin, Dos and Donuts of Love*, Capture the Sun by Jessie Mihalik, Never Ever Getting Back Together by Jessie Gonzales, The Rules of Forever by Nan Campbell
Makeover - The Mane Squeeze by Shelly Laurenston, Fake Dates and Moon cakes by Sher Lee*, Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales
Outer space - Second Chance at Paris by Cole McCade, Capture the Sun by Jessie Mihalik, We are Totally Normal by Naomi Kanakia
Alliterative Title - Big Bad Beast by Shelly Laurenston, The Coyote's Cowboy by Holley Trent, Breaking Badger by Shelly Laurenston
Choreographed Dance - The Comeback by Lily Chu, On Rotation by Shirlene Obuobi*, Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh
Relationship of Convenience - Bet On It by Jodie Slaughter*
Character acknowledges romance novels exist - On Rotation by Shirlene Obuobi, Bet On It by Jodie Slaughter, Going Bicoastal by Dahlia Adler, Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh
Fainting Couch - Going BiCoastal by Dahlia Adler, What the Hex by Alexis Daria*
It was supposed to be one night - Zero Day Exploit by Cole McCade, The Wolf's Joy by Holley Trent
Swimming - Big Bad Beast by Shelly Laurenston, Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston, Fake Dates and Moon cakes by Sher Lee, We are Totally Normal by Naomi Kanakia, Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales, Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh
We have the same job - Big Bad Beast by Shelly Laurenston, Dos and Donuts of Love, Capture the Sun by Jessie Mihalik, For Butter or For Worse by Erin La Rosa

Friday, August 25, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. This story of how a hip hop club became a place for teens to hang out was interesting as we are in another period where teens are so rarely allowed to gather in groups without spending money.  
2. This one house in Lahaina looks okay, due to a quirk of winds or yard materials.  
3. Something about the headline about a spotless giraffe tickles me, but a spotless giraffe has been born.  
And there is another bookish auction to raise funds for Maui.  This one was put together by kidlit folks, and there are a number of Hawaiian items, school visits, and other goodies.  

Thursday, August 24, 2023

7 Things: New Release - Troubled by Love

1. I mention this in the acknowledgements, but the original idea for this story came along from an idea that Jackie Barbosa had for a series of stories, so of course thanks go to her for this. 
2. I wrote the original version of this before Roe v. Wade was struck down. DC remains a place with somewhat easy access to abortion, so a lot of changes on that front were not needed to the story. But of course having to ponder access to medical procedures, and the funds and associated time off work are not easy in our world, even when funds, and access are available. 
3. Did I get another museum date in here? Yes, yes, I did. 
4. Does someone (it's Dan) in this story work in food and show up with food a lot? Yes. 
5. This story stands entirely on its own, but does a character appear from another story? Yes. I apparently can't help myself. Lillian, who is Zane's sister in Undercover Bridesmaid shows up, as does Xavier. Do I have additional plans for them? Stay tuned. 
6. Will there be texting and maybe flirty texting? You know it. 
7. And here's the official blurb and order links. 

Amy's now ex sent Dan to her instead of himself. Living in a new city and having to go get an abortion and dump her ex was not how Amy imagined this new chapter of her life going. 
Dan has been working hard to get his food truck going. Picking up ride shares, bartending, and barely sleeping, has all been to support that goal. Amy is the first person to make him wonder if he should be finding time for things that aren't work. 
After a few months of texting they decide to make a go of it. But when her ex shows up, Amy will have to figure out have things really changed? 

Monday, August 21, 2023

Romance and Inventions

Saturday was Bookstore Romance Day, so I watched a number of the panels, and also made a trip to the local bookstore, and maybe bought some cards and things too.  
And then yesterday was the last day of the Da Vinci exhibit at DC Public Library, so, I went. My friend had been warned that it was popular, and they were limiting people in the room, so we'd be wise to get there before opening. 
And I gotta tell you, DC, the town that lines up before the library opens is kind of on brand. 
The exhibit included several of his sketches of various machines, all kept in a darkened and climate controlled room so that these ancient drawings can be preserved as well as possible. There was an actual clock too, which was fun to look at.  
It's kind of amazing to look at these sketches and doodles from a few hundred years ago.  Humans are often such wonderful dreamers, and seeing evidence of that was really an interesting opportunity.  
And yay to local libraries!  
Also, last reminder - the Romance for Maui auction closes today.  My item is still somewhat affordable. If things have exceeded your budgets, there are also stickers you can pick up to participate.  

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. I read Michael Oher's memoir Beat the Odds, but had not paid much attention to the conservatorship, so was saddened to hear that he feels misled about what that meant for movie rights and such.  Along with listening to Sheryl Lee Ralph talking about the small amount she signed over rights to the "Dreamgirls" character she helped create, we really need to take a look at story rights more carefully.  
2. Naka Nathaniel talked a little about how water rights on Maui have been leading in the direction of catastrophe for a while. 
3. Some senate interns set out to take a selfie with all 100 senators.  
Also, the #RomanceForMaui auction blew past it's goal, but some items, including mine are still reasonably priced.  I know some kidlist authors are also doing an auction next week, and I'll post about that one too.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Auctions and Things

This is a repeat for my newsletter buddies, but a couple of things are happening now and/or soon. There is an auction to raise money for folks affected by the fires in Hawai'i. I have donated a custom short story to it - info here. There are also other cool things from books to crafty things to chats with cool writers and so on.
Also, a reminder for folks that if you Kobo Plus, and are looking for some fun reads, there's a list here of authors (including me) with books in Kobo Plus.
And, Troubled by Love is complete and ready for it's debut to the rest of the world next week.

Monday, August 14, 2023


I don't know if you've heard, but it's been hot in the northern hemisphere of late. I met up with a friend to eat ice cream and sorbet and she joked that since we do this in winter quite frequently, it was sort of funny to be doing it when it was actually hot.
The nice thing about eating ice cream in cooler weather is that the logistics of bring extra home are easier. 
I confess, I had paid little attention to the temperature for the day, had only focused on confirming it was not expected to rain. And so I planned an errand before meeting up, and also after, and walked home and was surprised that I was feeling so toasty. 
I had just gotten a haircut and so expected to feel magically cooler. I tend to hydrate early and often, but of course when consuming sugar, you need more. When running errands in high heat, you need more. 
I was also wearing a new hat, and had perhaps not chosen my most breathable fabrics to wear. I slathered myself in sunscreen but forgot bug spray. I console myself that I probably would have sweated it all off. 
Of course I told myself I survived tennis days hotter than this, and here I could standing in the shade much of the time. But of course it was still hot. Hot in the shade is still hot. 
Heat tolerance helps, but it is still hot.
And as there are no prizes for withstanding heat, maybe one should space out one's errands. 
I have hydrated more. I am okay. But I think sometimes we forget that endurance earns you very little. And really accomplishing slightly less might be okay on a heat advisory kind of day. Unless napping in the shade after eating ice cream is what you are trying to accomplish. 
Stay cool, folks. 

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. The WaPo used recent events in hockey to discuss some hockey romances.  (Also I had missed much of the drama until it reached a head, so had not been commenting.  But basically hockey players, and other athletes are real people.  What you imagine to yourself or amongst your friends is fine and good.  But tagging actual people in your fantasies about them is sexual harassment. Their spouses should not have to ask you to stop.  They should not have to ask you to stop.  And their teams should not be egging you on.) 
But, there's only a short list of hockey romances in that article. There are plenty more if you want suggestions, contact me.  
2. Jane Friedman's particular issue with books she had not written being posted to Amazon has been resolved, but she's correct that this will likely be an ongoing issue.  There are two other authors who publish under some variation of Tara Kennedy. All of them come up when you search my name of Amazon.   One of them gets listed as me all the time on Goodreads, and yes I have tried correcting it, but it gets linked back each time.  In my case, as far as I know these are real people publishing under their also real name.  But with more AI books being posted, it would not surprise me if they try to piggyback on the name of existing authors.  Much the way in the early days we saw a lot of Nora C. Roberts books.  
3. And I was pleased to see that Yilin Wang, the translator whose work was used without permission or attribution in an exhibit has reached a settlement with the museum.  
And one additional note.  As I mentioned to newsletter folks, I'm doing a group promo with some other authors in Kobo Plus.  If you have a Kobo Plus Subscription (or are in your free trial period) and were looking for authors who have books in there, there's a list that includes me if you click here.  

Monday, August 07, 2023

Fanning is a Collective Effort

So, things were hot out there over the last few days again. Sports stadiums often have less shade that one might want when there's a heat advisory afoot. Some people drank or ate cool things. And many many people had fans. 
Now you, like I have, may have heard the rumor that fanning yourself actually expends enough effort that you end up making yourself hotter. As far as I can find, this may not be true, or may be dependent on a large enough set of factors that it's hard to predict. 
But if a bunch of people sitting all together are all fanning, well then it helps. Somewhat like a massage chain. If many folks are fanning, then the collective breeze cools down many people, and so the efforts of the group benefit the group. 
Sure, choosing to fan myself is a thing I do for me. But if the people on either side of me are also fanning, I'm going to be cooler than what I could do alone. We all will.
And keeping cool is important in these toasty times. 

Thursday, August 03, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. Elizabeth Acevedo was interviewed as her new novel released this week. 
2. This article suggests we can parade better.  
3. This piece on Reappropriate is about the stories families tell, and I enjoyed it.  

Monday, July 31, 2023

Tennis Thoughts

I decided to take advantage of the fact that the DC Open (which has a longer name) is well, in DC. Where I am. And so tickets were procured and the weather was on Saturday predictably steamy. I briefly wondered if the display in the corner of the court was the current temperature, but no, that was the serve speed. (They were close though.)
There are many things that are wild about sports events these days, the clear bags, versus the tiny bags. Water bottles if sealed, or if reusable empty. Metal detectors. 
And then you are released into the wilds and there are courts here, there and there. The sounds of people and tennis balls bouncing and rackets. 
There were apparently puppies in the players area, which was probably because puppies need AC but also why were the puppies hidden? Yes, yes, AC. 
It was kids day on day 1, which meant many parents were in the stands narrating tennis facts for their kids like paid commentators. 
My tickets, through sheer luck, get some shade in the morning, which has been a delightful discovery. Shade is not often easy to come by in a tennis stadium. 
I have been slathering myself in sunscreen and hope to remember the bug spray. 
It's also a little amusing going to a local event, because all us locals are like, oh, we have to go that way for the entrance, we can't just go here? I also saw signs for where to await your rideshare, which quite honestly is likely more common these days. 
As local peeps know, we had a wicked thunder storm Saturday night, and yet, Sunday morning everything was ready to go. So kudos to the folks who must have worked hard to make that happen. Tennis stadiums are not always on the edge of a giant park (though it does make wandering about on a hot day a little nicer). So I'm sure there's a lot to be done after storms.
I am going to be a tennis fan for a few more days. 
And then return to my life as an occasional watcher on TV of the tennis. But there is something really amazing about seeing and hearing it all in person. And realizing that if I am hot sitting here, whew. 

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. I enjoyed this article about "Joy Ride", a movie I have not yet seen.  
2. This opinion piece on the two Hollywood strikes is interesting.  
3. And, as part of a celebration of 50 years of rap, this piece looks at the DMV - including Virginia Beach role in rap.  

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Bonus Short

Hey, Hungry Readers,
I posted a bonus Short story featuring Jia and Ken from Of Kings and Queens on both Ream and the newsletter. It's subscriber only, and maybe shows a sneak peak of a character or two from the upcoming Troubled by Love. 
Both books can be read on their own without the short story, so if you want to save it for later, it's going to stay up in both places. 
Happy reading!

Monday, July 24, 2023

Bandaids on Feet

In the ancient days, I read a magazine article that I believe was written by a dude, in a woman's magazine, whose purpose was to explain the dude brain to the readers of the magazine. 
And in this column, the writer mentioned that wearing visible bandaids on your feet was a weird thing, that in his opinion women (and possibly though he did not specify) all people should stop doing.
And I remember that years later because it made me, furious seems hyperbolic, but here I am fuming years later, so let's go with that. 
Because of course there is the history of shoes for the femme amongst us, that tend toward pretty over functional. (You may feel differently about heels.) The idea that feminine shoes were initially (at least in the twentieth century) designed to be worn with pantyhose. And then as pantyhose were recognized to be uncomfortable for many, flammable for all, and also not great in certain climates, it changed to bare feet. 
Now yes, there are shoes that are designed for people seeking a feminine look that use socks.
But many of them are not designed to be worn with skirts and dresses, if that is a thing that you are into. 
I had to wear a closed toe shoe for a twenty minute walk outside in 90+ degree heat a few weeks ago, and let me tell you, even with the bandaids, I had pre-applied, there are now seven injuries on my feet as a result.
Blisters happen when there is friction and moisture, and even I, who know to plan ahead with bandaids and deodorant, cannot plan for the fact that feet expand and change shape in the heat. That deodorant can only do so much when it is that hot. 
And so the question I always wanted to ask this columnist who likely doesn't even remember this small part of this one column, is are bandaids weirder to you than scabs or blisters? Oh and also, maybe, just maybe, what people do or do not do with their feet is up to them and not you. 

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. This article talks about the danger of viewing orca behavior through a human lens.  
2. The news of Inkyard Press closing was sad because they were publishing some stuff I loved.  
3. NPR has a summer book list that includes some books I love.  

Monday, July 17, 2023

Let's Talk Data

One of the things about the idea prevalent in the corporate world that one doesn't discuss salary, is that data makes it easier for you to negotiate for your worth. 
(To be clear, I said prevalent, but more correctly I mean the reason corporations like this logic, not necessarily the folks in those corporations.)
For example if worker buddy and I are hired within two weeks of each other, have similar experience, and yet are not being paid the same, we're gonna wonder why. 
And so, one of the things that has happened as part of the rise of streaming entertainment, is that they don't share the data. Creators on a show that airs on broadcast or cable, have access to ways that the viewership of these shows are measured. (And yes, those measurements, are imperfect, but they are at least consistently imperfect.)
And sure, in the early days of streaming, most streaming was subscription based, not ad supported, so the reasons for needing to share externally such numbers were not there. 
But they also, weren't sharing them with the creators. Not often. So, if they wanted to renew your show and you wanted to come back but also wanted a raise, you were just kind of groping at what they should give you.
And so, now we are years into the thing we call streaming, and now basically all of them are ad supported, and yet the numbers are still ???. Some things, like Emmy nominations, or even the idea that they want to renew you, are some indication. But not numbers. 
And so, much like encouraging you not to discuss salary with your co-workers, these folks all have to negotiate without data that the other side has. 
And so now we have actors and writers on strike.
And I have to think, and look, I am not the first to suggest this either, that the studios are going hard line on this because the easiest way to resolve some of this, would be to share data. 
In the early days, due to the no ads, and also the startup nature of streaming, there was likely some reason beyond, lol, and they won't even know if their show is loved. 
But now, the studios like their creators not knowing, like being able to make renewal decisions and salary decisions when they have data that other people don't. 
So anyway, I love TV and movies. I hope the actors and the writers get the data they need to make their careers more viable, and not something only someone with three other jobs or a small inheritance can do. 

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1.  This article looked at how "Joy Ride" counters stereotypes about Asian American women.  
2. This article touched on something I have been thinking about, even as I bought tickets to a local sporting event, the cost of attending has gone up so much, between tickets, ticket fees, security protocols that mean you can't come straight from work in a lot of cases, the cost of the food, it's a lot.  
3. Isabel Allenda guest answered for Dear Prudie, and I really enjoyed her advice.  

Monday, July 10, 2023

7 Things I Have Learned From My Cat

Since it's National Kitten Day, even though one might argue my cat is no longer a kitten, I accept the excuse to talk about her for a bit. 
1. Ask for what you need.  My cat figured out that when I am in the desk chair, or, um sometimes when I am sleeping, I may not realize there is a cat standing near me who is in dire need of attention.  (The horror.) And so she had figured out that she can gently tap my shoulder and I will (usually) respond by petting her.
2. Observe routines.  My cat has also learned that I am busy if the water in the sink is running, but when the water goes off I usually turn around and also sometimes a meow can helpfully remind me that there might be a cat who needs attention.  Or water.  Or both.  
3. It's important to be cozy.  My cat is good at finding spots in the squishiest part of the pile of blankets, or on the pillow on top of another pillow on the couch.  
4. Don't eat food you don't like.  There are exceptions for humans, some social scenarios where one probably should eat some of the food.  But if she tries it and it's not her thing, she just walks away.  There are a few flavors she's tried and after a few minutes come back to.  But in many cases if it's nother thing, she just won't eat it.  
5. Ask again and again.  Sometimes when I am say writing, my cat will jump up beside me, and ask for pets.  I will give them, but them go back to writing.  She will walk away and then leap up beside me again.  And so we repeat the process.  
6. Sometimes you need a break from all that stimulation.  My cat is very good at taking herself away from all the noise and curling up under the bed or more often in a spot in the closet.  And then when she's ready for attention again, she will reappear.  
7. Nap if you need it.  Cats eat a lot of protein and their digestive systems require a lot of energy to digest.  So they nap a lot.  Napping is a good practice.   

Thursday, July 06, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. So it turns out that the men are hunters, women are gatherers stuff is not supported by the data we have. 
2. This piece on the things that footpaths tell us is just amazing.  
3. This debate about ketchup is fascinating.  In the interest of full disclosure, I actually don't keep ketchup in my house, but growing up it was always in our fridge even when one of my siblings went through  ketchup goes on all the things phase.  (I am not against ketchup, I just don't consume the things at home that I feel ketchup goes best on.) 

Monday, July 03, 2023

Additional Meaning

One of the things I love about big ensemble numbers in cast albums, thought is can be true of other things too, is that different parts are noticeable on each listen. 
There's a saying along the lines of when a student is ready, a teacher will appear. My interpretation of that is that when you go looking, the answers and/or the teacher will be there. After all, there are so many things to do and learn, we all tend to tune out a lot of it. But when you look around for it, there it is. Sometimes it's hiding on a corner of the internet, but it's there.
Even sometimes when listening to the big numbers with the lyrics in front of you, part of it skate past. You know the words, you've heard the words. But maybe you like humming along to that bit over there.  And one day you will notice that these two lines, actually mean this and you have an oh wow moment. Sometimes over a song you listened to a gazillion times. 
What's funny, is about half the time it's so obvious once you see it. And you find yourself trying to explain to someone, well yes, I know they say, "the stars are out tonight," I wasn't confused about that. I just hadn't connected to the part about the stars from earlier. 
There are so many delightful things to read, watch, and listen to that repeats sometimes seem silly. But there are new delights to be found even in familiar things. 

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. I have been following this story of an exhibit in the British Museum that failed to credit the translator of some of the poems displayed. 
2. It looks like there may be military pollution in the Potomac
3. This interview with a gardener in a patch of land in DC is fascinating. 

Monday, June 26, 2023

So Many Words

I am participating in #1000WordsOfSummer which I expect to roll into or bundle with Camp NaNo in July because I do love to write alongside people. There are daily newsletters, and pep talks and some days I try to write before I read them, and some days I read them as a reward after.  
The more things I read about writing the more I learn about the very many different ways we all approach writing, and of course the ways that feel very much the same.  Writing is often solitary in the sense that the writer and the page - however that writer chooses to get those words onto the page.  
But knowing that other people are on the journey with you, even though they are on their own path, can be useful.  Just as seeing others posting all their word counts can inspire you to get back.  
Not every day of course.  And of course, as writers, we love a conclusion, a story about battling the distractions and getting through, but some days you do not succeed.  But if you show up again the next time then that day or days where progress was less clear can turn into the cool montage of eventual success. 
But it helps to have fellow writer to wave at as you climb back into the boat.  

Sunday, June 25, 2023

New Story: Troubled By Love

Newsletter subscribers already got the heads up, but I've got a new story for you. I'm going to be releasing it as a serial over on Ream, and then releasing it as a full ebook in August. (Preorders are still going up to all the sites for that.)

But I wanted to share the first scene with you here.

This story is a standalone romance novella. Still set in DC. Their might be a cameo from someone in one of my other series. There might be a museum. There will be food.

Content notes - This story contains on page abortion, and references to parental cancer and death that occur prior to the book.  

And the blurb:

Amy's now ex sent Dan to her, instead of himself. Living in a new city and having to go get an abortion and dump her ex was not how Amy imagined this new chapter of her life going. 

Dan has been working hard to get his food truck going. Picking up ride shares, bartending, and barely sleeping, has all been to support that goal. Amy is the first person to make him wonder if he should be finding time for things that aren't work. 

After a few months of texting they decide to make a go of it. But when her ex shows up, Amy will have to figure out have things really changed?

Troubled By Love

Chapter 1

Amy He Metcalfe didn't believe in New Year's resolutions. January was no better month than any other to start changing your life. But four months ago, she had decided to focus a little more on her own goals, and when she was offered a job DC, she had said yes.

DC wasn't far from Philadelphia, where she had gone to college. It was a great opportunity, and her boyfriend Ryder traveled so much she'd see him about the same amount anyway.

She had not counted on finding herself pregnant of course.

Ryder: What time is the appointment?

Amy: 10 am

Amy held onto the phone for another second, but there were no more bubbles indicating he was texting back.

Ryder's job as emergency communications strategist kept him on the move. About six weeks ago, a sudden storm had him in town for an extra day, and they had run out of condoms. Their plans to just use hands and mouths had disappeared.

Amy purchased Plan B at the pharmacy the next day. But she had read all the fine print, and knew Plan B didn't work if you were already pregnant by the time you took it.

Amy knew a lot of stats about both contraception and abortion. She was the eldest of seven kids. Amy had bought her first pack of condoms at ten, placing them prominently at her mother's bedside.

Lots of siblings, especially female siblings knew a lot about middle of the night feedings, diaper changes, making lunches, or back to school shopping on an extreme budget. Amy had gotten any desire to raise kids out of her system well before the school sex ed program came to scare her about teen parenthood.

The sex ed program in Nevada suggested abstinence. Teen Amy had known she couldn't convince her mom of abstinence. Her mom never opened the condoms Amy bought her. The pill, in addition to being expensive, had turned out to have a terrible effect on her mom's depression.

Amy had discovered while she herself as an adult had not previously shown signs of depression, she inherited the same reaction to the pill. She and her ob/gyn had gone through a few of them, before her ob/gyn suggested that condoms had no such side effects. Plan B as a backup was probably better for her mental health.

All of this added up to Amy making a dreaded call to Ryder. She explained she was pregnant, she had an appointment to get the medication necessary to end the pregnancy. She didn't like ultimatums, but he could either get his butt back here or they were officially over. He had agreed to everything.

Then a hurricane hit the Caribbean. Amy had learned to hate hurricanes for many reasons - evidence of climate change, destruction wrought, but also because those bastards sent Ryder places without warning. Ryder should be off the schedule, of course, for the next few days.

Her phone rang and there was a knock on the door. Figuring Ryder had made it from the airport early, she threw open the door without looking, only to find an unfamiliar dark-haired, brown-eyed man standing there. "Next door," Amy said. Her neighbor had a lot of friends and often they knocked on her door by accident.

"Amy?" he said.

Amy stopped swinging the door closed. She knew better than to confirm her name to a stranger, but the folks looking for her neighbor Helena never knew her name.

Her phone chirped one more time and then went silent.

"I'm Dan," stranger dude said, "and I think that was Ryder calling to warn you. I made good time."

Amy wanted to slam the door now. It wasn't stranger dude's fault. Dan. Stranger dude's name was Dan. If Ryder had sent a stranger to her door, he wasn't on a plane. Not to here at least.

"Is it the hurricane?" Amy asked. It wasn't a question that would make sense to anyone who didn't know Ryder.

Dan shook his head. "Mudslide in Japan."

"So, Ryder sent you to what - spend the night?" Amy asked. Part of her, a stupid hopeful part, was still crushed that just this freaking once, Ryder hadn't taken himself off the schedule. He could. His other coworkers did. Amy was nothing if not an expert at looking strong when she was crushed inside.

"I think the idea was for us to chat a bit before tomorrow. To make it less awkward." Dan grimaced a bit, as if he realized the awkward train had long ago left the station.

"Darling," Helena said, leaning out of her door, long strawberry blonde hair loose. "As fascinating as this has all been, could you either let him in or kick him out. Any minute now, Mrs. Overgaard is going to email the whole building."

"Thanks, Helena," Amy said flatly.

Helena smiled and shut her door.

Helena was right though. The building was old enough that the soundproofing between apartments was good, but hallway conversations carried. Mrs. Overgaard often sent emails to everyone in the building reminding them of courtesy and decorum. "Come on in, I guess," Amy said.

Probably, Ryder's friend Dan wasn't a serial killer. And if he was, well, Amy didn't have a plan for that. Her plan for Ryder not showing up had been to go to the clinic herself. She'd been assured the pills were fairly painless, and had stocked up on super-strength pads, a bunch of microwave meals, and sports drinks. She had a streaming list of silly, lighthearted comedies, and dark revenge dramas, for her every mood.

She sat dead center on the couch, in her partially unpacked living room. Having to find the Planned Parenthood clinic her first week in DC had not been on her to do list. Nor had asking for a planned sick day before she'd had a chance to accrue any leave. Her boss had been great about it, made sure Amy had enough funds. But Amy had hoped that was it. That was enough awkward and uncomfortable at least for the month, but she should have known. The universe had endless wells of awkward and uncomfortable, and when it decided it was your turn, it was like a mudslide.

If you want to read more - the first two chapters are available to subscribers on Ream.                 

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. This article looked at how Juneteenth and horses are intertwined.  
2. I have begun reading Maureen Ryan's Burn It Down, and this chapter - which focuses on "Lost" - does dive into both the issues and the ways the systems of Hollywood can lead to toxic work environments.  
3. And this is an older story, but it looks into one Alaska town's history of cat mayors

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Cake Expectations

Nerdette announced a cake contest and I like making cake and so I was excited. And then I realized I like making and eating cakes, I don't really get excited about decorating them. 
Now partly this could be that my mother went through a phase of amazing cake decoration. Off the top of my head, I recall a boom box cake, a pizza cake, and a hamburger cake. There were many more. The pizza cake had tiny icing pepperoni. The hamburger cake had icing lettuce peeking out from the bun. So, in my head, decorating a cake is a lot of work. And honestly, I tend to be just as happy with naked cake. 
Naked cake is gorgeous but hard to be on theme for much more than naked cake. 
So I thought about getting some decorator tips and attempting something, but in the end I decided to just attempt something with powdered sugar.
(It probably didn't hurt that someone had already suited an amazing cake decorated to look like a book cover, and so a standard had already been set high.)
But I like cake. I went with the swirled jam cake from Snacking Cakes, which I love, even though the jam tends to get a bit lost. And I made my own stencil using paper. 
I baked the cake. I put together a cinnamon sugar topping. And then I unveiled my stencil and shook on some powdered sugar.
It kinda worked. Like you can tell it was intended to be an N, but the sugar tipped on one edge and it was not as crisp as I had hoped. 
And yes the lighting is not great, but I also was not going to wait until the next day when I could just eat some of the cake.
So my dreams of some cute decorations for this cake were not up to par. But there was cake. And cake is good. 

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. My sister played Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" growing up a lot, such that I discovered every lyric was still embedded in my brain as I read this lovely piece about the song.  
2. A woman banged on her coffin during the wake.  
3. NPR spoke with some Broadway photographers about the job of getting still images of shows that move.  

Monday, June 12, 2023


Okay, the Ripped Bodice released this year's bingo card, and I have some suggestions. Not for every category just yet, some like smells like citrus are not details I hang on to past reading, but I included them for perusal. 
But I do have some thoughts. And yeah, some of them are things I have written. 
Kissing for Science - The Hookup Plan by Farrah Rochon
Cover has a body of water on it - Sorry, Bro by Taleen Voskuni
Fae/Fairies - Bitter Medicine by Mia Tsai, also Holley Trent's Afotama series
Prohibition - Slippery Creatures by KJ Charles is set in this time period, though in the UK.   
Train - Oh hi, I have a book called Bored By the Billionaire that has an Amtrak train. 
Farm - Season of Love by Helena Greer
Librarian - Desire and the Deep Blue Sea by Olvia Dade
Bachelor(Ette) Party - Oh hello, may I suggest Undercover Bridesmaid
Long Distance Relationship - Love boat Reunion by Abigail Hing Wen, Meet Me in Madrid by Verity Lowell
Vigilante sh*t - I Think I Might Love You by Christina C. Jones
Grazing hands gently
Left at the altar - The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa
Protagonist smells like citrus
Reunion - The Reunion by Kayla Olson
Makeover - If we get a little esoteric about what kind of makeover, Token by Beverley Kendall works here. 
Outer space - Jessie Mihalik's books will work here.  
Alliterative Title Oh, hello, may I suggest Bored by the Billionaire again. 
Choreographed Dance - Jana Goes Wild by Farah Heron
Relationship of Convenience - Not Your Valentine by Jackie Lau
Character acknowledges romance novels exist
Fainting Couch
It was supposed to be one night - This one seems almost like a free square, but Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo 
Swimming - Fish Out of Water by Holley Trent
We have the same job - Astrid Parker Doesn't Fail by Ashley Herring Blake, A Taste of Sage by Yaffa S. Santos, The Spy in 3B by Nana Malone

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. This story about some Maryland license plates that are now touting a gambling website, is an interesting look at what happens when domains expire. 
2. This story is from two years ago, but apparently a whale might chomp your boat and you can be okay, though obviously the better option is to observe the whales from very far away.  
3. I do love E. Alex Jung's profiles and this one of Drew Barrymore is fascinating.  

Monday, June 05, 2023

My Tonys Prep

Last I heard, the ways and means of the Tonys broadcast was still being negotiated with the WGA. Currently I am expecting to catch up to the Tonys later this year, myself. 
However, even as someone who has not been in New York in the last year, there are some things one can do to get ready
Also, no reason not to do my one sentence describe a show badly thing.
"Some Like It Hot" - Girls train trip!
"Shucked" - Corny love. 
"& Juliet" - Okay, but what if Juliet got a happy ending.
"New York, New York" - There are so many songs about New York. 
"Kimberly Akimbo" - She looks old, but she's a teen. In the 1990's. (Yes, I am aware that's two sentences. But for those of us old enough to recall the 1990's, I just wanted you to be aware that this is where a Tony nominated historical musical is set. You're welcome.)
Leopoldstadt - Nazis ruin everything.  
Fat Ham - Hamlet at a BBQ.
Cost of Living - Being disabled is expensive. 
Between Riverside and Crazy - Rent control is important.
Ain't No Mo - What if the Black Americans just left? 
Worth noting that if you live somewhere with local theater, many of these plays worked their way through regional theaters.  Sometimes it feels like you miss out on things until much later if you aren't in New York, but I know two of these plays had runs here in DC.  
And well, now more regional theaters will put these things on.  Live theater is cool like that.  

If your favorite part about the Tonys is some number that mashes up a bunch of Broadway references, might I suggest "Great Performances 50", which includes a number mashing up all the musicals from the 2000's so far.

And if you like the performances, one of these had Tiny Desk concerts where they performed four songs: 
(These are all Youtube links, some of which will make you watch an ad or two first.)
Kimberly Akimbo at NPR Tiny Desk
Independently Owned from "Shucked".
Also this Ham4Ham has folks from both "Shucked" and "Some Like it Hot" 
This Ham4Ham has folks from the nominated revivals, and "& Juliet", which I think provides a sense of the energy of "& Juliet". It also includes a performance from "New York, New York." 

Also several have performed on morning shows. It's worth noting, with all due respect to the sound folks at the talk shows, that talk shows often have to set up sound quickly, so the mix is sometimes less ideal, but it at least gives you a taste. 

And, because the modern era is amazing, all of the nominated cast albums are available at your music platform of choice.  

I realize this post does not give proper attention to plays, but plays are great. Things that get nominated often get put on regionally if you are not in New York, so it's worth perusing this list so that when they show up near you, you can be ready.