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. 

Thursday, June 01, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. I confess I pay a limited amount of attention to college sports, but this look at the portal, where athletes can offer to switch schools is fascinating.  
2. This farmer, who passed away, became a meme, but also left behind another legacy.  
3. And this look at textiles and the history they carry is interesting. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2023


One of my dayjob coworkers told me Friday it was her last day on the contract and she had mixed feelings about the case she was handing off to me being the last, because she enjoyed working with me.
As writers we spend a lot of time trying to figure out an ending that addresses all the pertinent things, and doesn't seem to easy, and also feel like it fits. And we look for these things in life too. 
We look for signs that things are wrapping up or pivoting or leading us somewhere. Now of course part of this is because it would be very clear if a dude with a light saber showed up and said, "Follow me." Like I have questions, like what about my cat, but okay, dude with a light saber is a sign, right? You don't ignore that. 
But should I keep doing this, quit that, or try to seek out something else, or stay the course, and also dinner should be what? There is so much. 
Even books or movies that have unclear endings have to signal appropriately so that - hopefully - even if the audience is shocked in retrospect they go, ah yes. (I am still mad at one movie. Argh!) And we've all read or watched some thing we loved until they did that one fatal thing at the end. 
But with my coworker,  the important thing was that we got to chat at the end and wish each other well. 

Friday, May 26, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. So, it looks like one of the text datasets for AI training contained a number of indie published books.  It does not currently look like those books were legally purchased. 
2. This chat with an abortion doula on what changes now that the state they work in has further restricted abortion was interesting.  
3. And I know Lei Day was weeks ago, but still this chat with the owners of an airport lei stand was lovely. 

Thursday, May 25, 2023

New Release: 7 Things About Of Kings and Queens

1. I started thinking about Hawaiian holidays in DC, and while King Kamehameha Day is a holiday I have complex feelings about (monarchies bad, flowers good), it is a chance in the DC area for local Hawaiians and people who enjoy Hawaiian culture to gather up with flowers, music, and dance. 
2. I do like putting folks in food and hospitality, which has made the pandemic a tough thing to incorporate. There are brief references to past pandemic cancellations included in this. 
3. Another thing I seem to enjoy doing is picking two overworked, never have time to date folks, and giving them a sudden attraction and a bit of free time to explore. 
4. And, yes, they do find time to go to a museum too. 
5. I have been intentionally focusing on characters that were not lawyers and not politicians, and well, the streak ends here. There is a politician who appears, and Ken is a lawyer. 
6. Also Diana, Adriana's florist colleague from Aloha to You is Ken's aunt, and she shows up and there is mention of Adriana. Aloha to You is not required reading to understand anything that happens in Of Kings and Queens.
7. And here's the blurb and buy links.
Jia has been focusing on work.  Working somewhere that is not either of the rival restaurants that helped her parent's divorce make the news.  
But the DC celebration for King Kamehameha Day brings her Ken, someone who seems unconnected to the family drama.  
Ken's been making some life changes, so his mom volunteers him to help his aunt at her flower shop.  He finds himself with a box of lei at a new to him celebration trying to impress a woman he just met.  
Fate seems to have brought Ken and Jia a little fun.  But maybe, they aren't as unconnected to each other's drama as they thought.   

Monday, May 22, 2023


Remember that time I got yeast? Well, I decided I needed to make manapua. Manapua, like a lot of foods is traditionally one thing, but has expanded to be more. So, not being much of a pork eater I made some with a paprika mushroom and pea filling.
I make a lot of more traditional dumplings (though still veggie based, so I guess it depends what tradition you mean). My folding technique is still middling, but the good news is even inexpertly folded dumplings taste amazing. And I confess, while there are many many things, I will happily buy pre or partially made, I have come to thing of making dumpling dough part of the process. (There are many great recipes out there, though for the most part it's flour and water, I'm a fan of this one from Hetty McKinnon.)
Manapua is slightly more ingredients, since you want to give the yeast a bit to work with, but well, you can relax a bit on crisp folds because, the yeast is going to puff up and disappear your folding anyway. 
And, I froze about half, so future me has got more manapua in store. 

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. I found this piece on the Boot Girls of Atlanta an interesting look into parking enforcement.  
2. This analysis of Animal's drumming skills was fascinating.  
3. I love rhinos, so this piece on a new way to set up safari also contains rhinos.  

Monday, May 15, 2023


In my last grocery order, I got active  dry yeast instead of nutritional yeast, which is very much not the same thing. 
But I decided the universe very clearly intended me to bake, and went with it. So I made manapua - using mushrooms sauted in a smoked paprika sauce and peas, hardly traditional filling, but yummy nonetheless. 
I made orange bread. 
And I still have one packet left. 
I usually suppress a lot of the substitutions, even though it sometimes means I get buns but no veggie dogs, mostly because I am particular, and would rather work around items, than have one that is so clearly not what I wanted. But this one turned out nicely. 
Although I do still need to get some nutritional yeast. 

Friday, May 12, 2023

New Short Story: Tattoos and Amnesia

Hey folks, 
I've got a new short story published over on Ream. It's an author subscription service, and while this one is available for free this month, after that, additional content is going to be subscriber only. 
The story is called Tattoos and Amnesia and is very short, like eating one cookie short. 

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. Alex Brown wrote about how book bans affect all of us.  
2. This interview with the owner of longtime restaurant Cactus Cantina fascinated me, as someone who has eaten there over the years with both family and friends. 
3. And a pasta dump turns out to be part of a larger story about local services. Yes, pasta.  

Monday, May 08, 2023

7 Things About Prologues

I am in edit mode, which means I'm thinking a lot about writing structure. Here's the deal, I'm about to list a bunch of things, they are not rules, because you can find an example of a great story that breaks every rule. 
And, not to be all you haven't seen what I have seen, for the reader folks among you, let me tell you - if you've done contest reading, slush pile reading, or anything where you are exposed to a bunch of unpublished possibly newbie writers, there are so many more prologues out there. So, if your sample of prologues is published prologues, consider those Olympic caliber prologues. 
1. I believe it was Jennifer Crusie I heard say readers are like baby ducks, looking to imprint. 
If the first character is not a main character, it can be disorienting. You spend all this time with this character and wait, they are the villain? They are dead now? They are just introducing us to magic? Now I have to learn about their great great grandkid?
2. Similarly if the setting is different, the reader may be very excited to hang out in ancient Rome, except in the next chapter we're in China and now they need to adjust. 
3. And if the time period shift - anywhere from 6 days to six millennia, you are leaping your reader to a new place. Yes chapter 1 and chapter 2 can often be from different POVs or locales.  But each switch requires resetting on the part of your reader.  
4. If the prologue is there because the prologue is more interesting than the chapter that follows it, this is a tricky thing to pull off. In some circumstances it works great. It's so cool. But you also run the risk of losing the reader because if the sample that got them excited was full of intrigue, but the mood of the story is different, well, maybe I didn't want that. And the length of time I will care to get back to the place you promised me is limited. 
5. If the prologue is the same character but at a different age, there are two issues I see. One is a craft issue. Not everyone is as adept at writing six year olds as they are adults. 
6. The other issue is not every reader enjoys six year old characters, teen characters, 400 year old characters, so they may opt out, thinking this wasn't the story they wanted. 
7. And yes, I know I wrote 7 things, and then gave you six that boils down to, if your prologue doesn't match the rest of your story, you are potentially confusing the audience. And look, readers are smart. I see tips out there like call your prologue chapter 1. I have read books that did this, and I still knew, once I turned to chapter 2, and saw we were changing to a new POV, that I had read a prologue. 
So what are my fixes? First of all, as I said some stories do all these things I complained about and are still great. Some stories are actually better told in an unusual order. (Though I think it's worth noting, if your story isn't good in chronological order, jiggering the timeline only disguises so much.)
I confess, I have a huge peeve about extra POVs. I'm not against an ensemble cast, but gosh, if all your extra POVs die, then so does my trust in your extra POVs. But, there are plenty of books I've read that do it and make me care and make me feel so fast that I go with it. 
It's a little bit like the length argument. I won't care if your movie is three hours long if it's three amazing hours. I won't care that you had a prologue, or disguised your prologue as chapter 1 if it's a great prologue that enhances the story. 
But sometimes, the prologue is for the author, so the author can get into the zone, the background, or foreground of the story. And in those cases, it should be snipped. 

Friday, May 05, 2023

Thursday, May 04, 2023

Three(ish) Interesting Things

2. Obviously the rain in California has not been great for everyone, it has led to a surfeit of wildflowers
3. Let's pair these two items together, though yes, nothing is stopping me from adding another item. A woman appeared to - shall we say - really, really, enjoy the LA Philharmonic and unrelatedly, except perhaps in my brain there (or was, because things melt) an iceberg that for reasons has been nicknamed the dickie berg.  (The images if you click through will only be of orchestras and icebergs, but the headlines may not be what you want folks reading over your shoulder, so, you know, click responsibly.)  
Also, it's AANHPI list.  Jackie Lau has curated a list of reasonably priced Asian romance authors.  
Malia Maunakea has curated a list of Pacific Islander authors.  
And of course, reminder that I have a list of Hawaiian authors - diasporan and not, that does include me.  

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

RIP Sally Alexander

I wrote two letters to two teachers I felt had been especially important to me when I graduated high school, and one of them was to Sally Alexander. The vagaries of how English teachers were assigned in when I was in high school are now foggy to me. But I know that I had heard Ms. Alexander was tough. I wasn't afraid of tough, but also didn't always want to challenge myself unnecessarily. I ran into a recent grad at the pool the summer before my senior year. She told me the best thing she ever did was get herself into Ms. Alexander's English class. I had had great English teachers already. There's a reason I thank my English teachers in the acknowledgements of just about everything I write. But I became determined to get myself into Ms. Alexander's class. And I did. And it was great. And hard. But great. The senior English at the time was focused on a ton of personal writing. I ended up using one of the pieces for one of my college essays. The class was great because Ms. Alexander was an alumna, she seemed to get so many things about our lives, and was so interested in getting us to express ourselves clearly and firmly. And she also knew when to throw out the lesson plan, and let us have a deep discussion about school rules.  I later discovered - because she was an alum, that we were on the same reunion cycle. So I've had the chance to see her over the years, to catch up with her. She didn't fully retire until 2012, and even then, she ran a book club, that alums were invited to until last year. I am quite certain amazing English teacher and fellow alum was just a small piece of her legacy, but hope knowing of this, brings some measure of comfort to her loved ones. 

Monday, May 01, 2023

Spring, Books, and People

One of the things I love about where I live is that I can walk to a bookstore. A bookstore that carries poetry, YA, romance, non-fiction, and a really fun selection of cards too. 
Independent Bookstore Day was on Saturday. If I involve more forms of transportation I can - and have - get to five different independent bookstores. (Some of you are gonna tell me there are more than that in the DC area, and I am going to tell you that I focus on the ones that carry genre fiction, and also, eventually I get tired.)
One of the things I love about spring, despite all the pollen, is that people are out and about. They are ready to linger, not just goal oriented. This particular weekend in DC there was also a big event downtown, and a reader con just across the river. In other words, there were crowds, such that I was going to limit my travels to the neighborhoods near me. But of course, there was a protest, a string of local concerts, on top of all the normal street vending and other outdoor gatherings. 
There is something so delightful about seeing people who are out and about for fun. About having the leisure to stop and grab snacks. I remember someone saying that was the thing they missed most in the early days of the pandemic, to get able to wander. 
Now, masked, and vaccinated, the ability to wander a bit, to linger a bit, to have a day where you get to take off your sweater as you wander around was just a delight.
Plus, I came home with more books. 

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. Harry Belafonte passed this week, and his legacy is worth pondering.  May his loved ones find some comfort in the indelible mark he left.  
2.  They are testing out a way to revive coral reefs in Hawai'i.
3,  I caught up to this story about Leslye Penelope, whose Monsters We Defy I loved. 

Monday, April 24, 2023

Library Journeys and Sidequests

So, the joy of living in this city with surrounding suburbs is that many of the surrounding suburbs allow city dwellers like myself to get library cards there too.  This has been true for some time.  Growing up we went to both the Tenleytown library, and the Little Falls library on the regular.  Later they rebuilt the Bethesda library and we often went there.  (So a few years ago when they remodeled the Bethesda library and gave it a new name, I had one of those didn't they just - oh, yes, that over a decade ago.  Okay.)
I acquired a card I had been meaning to add to my repertoire during the pandemic when said library system allowed for online applications due to COVID.  Woot! Pandemic policies meant that I also hadn't had to present myself in person to renew anything in a while, and then this year, the lovely DC library asked me to present myself.  (I found it a little amusing, since I do a lot of virtual borrowing, but had been in there regularly to pick up free COVID tests, but they didn't swipe my card for that.  So I look like I'm never there.)
Anyway.  Said county offered me the option to renew online, which I gratefully accepted.  And then about a week later I tried to borrow one more thing and I could not.  I chalked it up to timing, but eventually determined that I had been sent a subsequent communication that actually, I could not really renew online.  Or like I could, but the online renewal would not give me access to the books, which let's face it is the thing I was after.  
So, fine.  I hopped on metro and decided to go visit one of the libraries in the system.  So it's worth noting that I made the rookie error of getting off a stop too soon.  But I decided to walk it.  This mostly worked.  It was the suburbs, so of course the sidewalk just up and disappeared on me at one point and while I was wandering and navigating, I mostly knew where I was, though I did at one point have to turn around.  (In my defense, I knew pretty quickly I was off track.)  
It's worth noting I had a functional phone with access to cell service the entire time, so while there was a danger I was going to walk much more than I had planned, the idea that I would be lost was not really on the table.  Also, this whole area was near where I had a friend who lived for several years and not too far from where I had worked, so I knew not only the main roads, but many of the side roads.  But more as a driver than a pedestrian.  
And of course, this particular area has changed a bit over the last decade.  So there were moments where I would be like, oh I remember driving by that church parking lot, or oh, I spent hours once in that drug store, and also oh, that's where I had to go pick up that thing.  Also, it was a really nice day.  I found the library.  Got my card and was out of there so quickly and efficiently I thought about hanging out in the AC a bit longer.  
(Oh it's also probably worth mentioning I had a great audiobook.)  And I stopped and grabbed some beverages at a shiny new grocery store (which was across the street from another shiny new grocery store.)  There were benches outside the store, and I got to sip my drink and watch some bumblebees get their pollenation on.  And then I headed back home.  
And promptly updated my card info so I could grab that library hold.   

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Three Interesting Things

So, content warning for reference to rape.  

1. I became aware that "Beef" - which I shared an article about last week, involved David Chloe, who either confessed to rape on a podcast, or made a joke about raping someone, Reappropriate has a description of the situation here.  As you can see from the post date, this happened a while ago, so far, the folks involved with the show have not commented.  
2. And there was a situation where an author was asked to license her book for an AANHPI collection, if she removed the reference to racism.  The mentors of the collection have asked for the whole process to be revisited.   
3. The Merrie Monarch competition was held recently, and there are tons of performances available to watch.  Here are some.  

Monday, April 17, 2023

Let's Talk Colorism

Folks, I swear I had a cute post planned for today. And then. Well. 
So as you may know, Disney's been doing live action versions of things. As such, they have been rolling out announcements of casting for the live action "Lilo & Stitch". 
An open call was apparently held for Lilo, and a relatively unknown actress was cast. And then they announced the casting for Nani, Lilo's sister/guardian. 
Now first, obviously comparing real people to cartoons is fraught, but Lilo and Nani are pretty visibly brown in the cartoon version. The actresses cast are both of Hawaiian descent (yay!) and both grew up in Hawai'i (yay!). 
It's worth noting that in the cartoon, one of the voice actors for these two characters was raised in Hawai'i and neither were of Hawaiian descent so, if we are grading on a curve, we could call this improvement. 
It is also noticeable that the two actresses hired are pretty pale compared to their cartoon counterparts. This doesn't make them less Hawaiian. It does however speak to a different problem often found in media, where folks who are more visibly brown are often overlooked even for roles where being brown is part of the experience. 
And look, to be clear, I am a pale complected person of Hawaiian, Chinese, and European descent myself. I am not saying that lighter Hawaiians can't or should not play Hawaiian characters. They should! But to say that Hollywood in general and Disney specifically have often leaned towards a lighter choice is not really a bold or hot take. There's lots of data. 
These may really be the best two actresses for these roles. But it is fair for people to comment on and notice that the casting choices would have fit in equally well in a live action "Snow White". 

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1.  In my ongoing interest in reading about TV I have not watched, this discussion of the portrayals of Korean American church in "Beef" was really interesting.  
2. I realize science discoveries can be a little like construction in that progress often means actual stuff you can use is still a bit away, but this news about vaccines for heart disease and cancer was just amazing. 
3. And NPR leaves Twitter.  I know I keep saying I will be there less, and then not doing a great job of it.  The decimation of it as a reliable place to get news and information is helping. Or hurting.