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.