Wednesday, February 29, 2012

the unruly piglet and the animatronic raccoon




Once upon a time, I worked in a very badly planned museum and was forced to wear a polo shirt with an embroidered animatronic raccoon on it. The building was a former Southern Living home, and therefore most visitors wanted paint swatches and tile-maker business cards, not a ten minute long, standing-room-only slide show about the evolution of jug-ear pots in rural South Carolina.

The museum was so nonsensical and boring that it made children cry.

Seriously. Children walked in, sat down, and CRIED.

So I did what any seriously bored person with no power does: I drew an educational coloring book about the raccoon on my shirt. And then I won a grant to get it printed. And then they wouldn't let me buy any crayons with the grant money, so the kids just looked at the coloring book and sighed, so *I* cried.

Then one day, I stopped to save a turtle from the middle of the road and thought... YOU. YOU WILL BE MY NEXT ATTEMPT TO KEEP THE CHILDREN FROM CRYING.

I borrowed an old aquarium and set the turtle up as an exhibit. The museum was in a botanical garden, and we had a naturalist on staff, and the turtle was the most exciting thing that had happened in months. We named him Dozer and pointed to him proudly whenever children showed up. They didn't smile, but at least they stopped crying for a few minutes.

Then Dozer laid eggs, and we released her into the wild before she got depressed, and things got boring again.

And then one day, my husband called me at work.

"There's a pig in the road," he said.

"I'm sorry, I think I'm hallucinating. Could you repeat that?"

"A pig. There's a pig running down the street. What do I do?"

"Is it Cute? Big? Small? Miniature? Pocket-sized?"

"I don't know. It's pig-sized."

And I had another stroke of genius.

"BRING ME THE PIG."

It took him over an hour to wrestle that poop-spewing hog into his vintage Jaguar and drive it over to me. When I opened the car door to welcome the sweet baby piggie to the garden with open arms, it shot past me, spraying crap, and promptly dug up the heritage sunflowers and went to sleep in a corner of the garden.

That vile, antisocial pig was not the answer to making the museum less boring.

So I did what any self-respecting museum director does before her boss finds out about an illegally imported pig.

I called the police.

They directed me to animal control, where the operator laughed at me and said, "That's free bacon, honey. Welcome to South Carolina."

So I did what any self-respecting once-vegetarian would do.

I called the butcher.

No, just kidding. I called the local goat farm to ask if they were looking for a new pig. They weren't, but they were too nice to say so. It only took three hours to herd the pig into a dog crate, tie it shut with twist ties, and drive her over to her new home knuckle-deep in her own crap.

They named her Carolyn. She got really, really big. As far as I know, she lives there to this day.

As for the museum, I quit shortly after that.

The only thing worse than being bored is watching other people be bored.

*

The moral of this story?
The answer to your problem is rarely a pig,
unless it has been turned into crispy, crispy bacon.

*

Bonus:

Here's a page from my failed coloring book.

Do we see the seed of my future steampunkery?

Top hat. Pocket watch. Frilly dress.

I think we do.


*

Monday, February 27, 2012

a morning with t.rex

5am

t.rex: I WAN OUT. I AWAKE. I HUNGY. G.I. JOE DA MAN.

me: It's 5am. It's night time. Go back to sleep.

t.rex: NOOOOOOOOO!

me: *collapses on his bed and falls into coma*

t.rex: *lays down, pats my head, rubs snotty nose all over my face crooning the theme song to G.I. Joe until 6am*

*intermission*

9:31am

me: I should probably consider showering. I smell like con.

t.rex: I WANNA WATCH A MOOBIE.

me: Okay. Which one?

t.rex: Rapunzel Transformers She-Ra He-Man Shrek with Puss in Boots Sky High.

me: Choose one.

t.rex: NO I WATCH ALL DA MOOBIES.

me: Choose one, or no movie.

t. rex: PUNZEL PUSS.

me: Okay. Here's Tangled.

t.rex: NOOOOOOOOO I WANT SKY HIGH!

me: Too bad. You get Tangled.

t.rex: *has fit*

me: *puts in movie, waits for him to settle down and become catatonic*

t.rex: (5 minutes after start of movie) I HUNGY.

me: It's 9:30. You've already had two breakfasts. You can have a cheese stick or a banana.

t.rex: NO DAT'S GOSE. I WANNA BAR.

me: You can't have a bar for breakfast. You get one bar a day, when Sister gets home from school, or else you turn into an annoying little granola bar junkie who poops sand.

t.rex: I WAN TWO BARS.

me: You can have some toast.

t.rex: I DON WAN TOAST. I JUST WAN BUTTER.

me: You cannot eat a stick of butter.

t.rex: DEN I WAN A SPOON FULL OF JELLY.

me: You are the most ridiculous human being I've ever met, and you're only 3.

t.rex: NO I NOT. I AMB FIVE!!!!!!

me: Awesome.

t.rex: ALSO I AM PUSS IN BOOTS DUKE AND YOU ARE KITTY SOFT PAWS SCARLET. *gives best hug in the world* I WUB YOU, EVIL KITTY SOFT PAWS SCARLET.

me: I love you, too, Evil Puss in Boots Duke.

t.rex: AND SISTER IS LADY JADE AND DADDY IS EVIL FLINT AND KIKI IS HE-MAN'S CAT.

me: Wait. What are you wearing?

t.rex: I BEING HE-MAN. HE DUDDN'T WEAR PANTS. HE JUST WEAR UNDERWEAR AND GALOSHES AND HAS A GUN. *gesticulates at crotch like I'm a moron*

me: I think you are deeply confused.

t.rex: NO I IZZN'T! I AM HE-MAN! BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL, G.I. JOE IS DERE! A WEEL AMERICA HERO! G.I. JOE DA MAAAAAN! *charges off in Thomas the Tank Engine underpants and blue monster galoshes with a pistol holster around his waist and a Clone Trooper gun in hand*

me: Well, maybe I can get something done now...

*CRASH IN OTHER ROOM*

me: *sigh* Maybe not.

*

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I'm joining the steampunk Dark Side


Steampunk Darth Vader?

Not my father.

Still, very awesome.

As was AnachroCon, the alternative history convention I went to in Atlanta today. Seriously, everything about it was fantastic. I met so many wonderful people, saw amazing costumes, heard cool music, and caught one entertaining panel by the artisan who did the leather armor for some of the Saw and Resident Evil movies.

More tomorrow.

As for now, I just took off my corset for the first time since 8am.

That means it's cookie time.

*

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

help pick my steampunk costume for AnachroCon!

Please help me.

I'm going to my very first steampunk con this Saturday, which means I'll be wearing a costume for the first time. And... here's where the clockwork deer gets caught in the headlights.

I don't know what to wear.

I have 3.5 outfits photographed. I can mix and match the pieces and am not 100% sold on any one look. I also know that a big part of steampunk is accessorizing, and I don't have a lot of those yet. Hence, the con. There's even a hat-making class!

So, if you will, please let me know what you think would look the best for AnachroCon, an alternative history con in Atlanta. Mixing, matching, head shaking, and suggestions are all welcome.

1.
Brown and black.


2.
Kinda steampunk pirate. Needs accessories.


3.
Steampunk libarian, shirt open.


4.
Same, shirt closed.


*

Available pieces:
purple/gold pirate corset, brown steampunk corset
white renfaire blouse, black renfaire blouse
white collar blouse, brown and white engineer blouse
big circle skirts in plum, tan, black
stagecoach skirt in shiny green

*

Halp!

*

what, pray tell, is a geek?

(Um, that is?)

I was asked a fascinating question at my Writers Group last night. After several of us laughed until we cried at one man's short story about Dragon*Con, a confused woman in her forties simply had to know.

What is a geek?

The word used to have negative connotations. Originally coined to describe a sideshow freak who bit the heads off of live chickens (honest, ask Wikipedia), it was synonymous during my youth with nerd, dork, and neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie. No one would ever have admitted to being a geek, back then.

But the term has resurfaced and is now considered by many to be positive. I like this definition the best: A person with a devotion to something that places him or her outside the mainstream. This could be due to the intensity, depth, or subject of their interest.

I admit to being a geek and consider it a badge of honor.

I'm a Star Wars geek. A steampunk geek. A book geek. A Firefly/Joss Whedon geek. A Harry Potter geek. I love Battlestar Gallactica and Dune and Starship Troopers and Star Trek and Labyrinth and Lord of the Rings and the X-Men and the Avengers. I like zombies and vampires and werewolves and pirates. I never stopped dressing up for Halloween.

In short, I like being a geek.

We're like a club. A club of people who may not love all the same fandoms but understand and respect each other's obsessions. We're kind of like the Masons. We have secret passwords. Subtle hand gestures and turns of phrase that spark a feeling of fellow geekdom.

But I think one of the greatest things about geekdom today is that we've in effect taken it back from those who mocked us when we were younger. Oh, you think I'm a geek? I am, and I'm proud of it, and I aim to misbehave. So run along to your socially acceptable sports. I'll be over here talking costume plans for Dragon*Con.

Even after we attempted to explain our geekery last night, I still don't think she understood it. Because if you completely understand it... you're one of us. At the table, we had a tinker geek, a drama geek, a history geek, and two all around scifi/fantasy geeks. And that one lady-- the normal one? She was outnumbered. And that's okay. Geeks don't make fun of people for not being geeks.

Think you're a geek? Awesome!

Don't think you're a geek? Awesome!

Don't understand why I would cop to being a geek? That's okay, too.

Because I have this theory. I think everyone has some little area, some subject interest outside the mainstream. Whether it's cooking with hog jowls or making your own jewelry or collecting expensive sneakers, there's probably a little geek in you, somewhere.

And you never have to come out of the geek closet. We're not going to call you out. We're not going to give you away. We're just going to wait for that day that your eyes shine with obsession and smile, knowing that deep down, you're one of us, too.

*

Anyone else want to cop to geekdom? What's your flavor?

*

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

we can rebuild her.



Lasik: THE REAL DEAL

1. During your annual eye exam, mindlessly say something about, "I wish I had Lasik, SIGH." When your optometrist points out that he had Lasik and loves it, begin to think that your grandmother might be wrong. Lasik could be a viable option and not a one-way trip to Blindsville courtesy of a knife-wielding maniac, especially if you go to the Dr. Woolfson, who did Lasik on the Atlanta Falcons. Those guys would totally beat him up if his work wasn't perfect, right?

2. Schedule an appointment at your optometrist's Lasik specialist. Do lots of research. Specifically avoid the descriptions of knives and lasers and eyeballs.

3. Go to the appointment, go through lots of tests, and learn that you're a perfect candidate and there's no reason to wait.

4. Wait.

5. Do insurance research and figure out the smartest way to handle expensive surgery.

6. Schedule the appointment and be really surprised that they're just like, "Great, see you then!" without any mention of, "AND BRING YOUR SEEING EYE DOG, HA HA!"

7. Get really excited. Psych yourself up. Wear glasses for three weeks and realize how much you hate glasses and how you're almost blind while driving. Schedule childcare and freak out and show up to your appointment in a cozy sweater and ass-kicking boots.

8. Wonder why the office is empty and the receptionist looks worried.

9. Try not to cry when they tell you your surgery was rescheduled and no one bothered to tell you.

1o. Try not to scream when you realize that you're going to have to wait another month and reschedule ALL THE THINGS and re-psysch yourself up.

11. Make everyone else reschedule ALL THEIR THINGS so you can have surgery tomorrow. Feel smug and worried and annoyed.

12. Show up at 10am. Almost fail some weird test that involves widening your pupils, which even you can't control. Put a towel over your head and pass the test and take 10 more tests and convince your nurse to read your book.

13. Go into a room and sit in a circle with a bunch of strangers who can't see each other because none of them are allowed to wear glasses or contacts. Have numbing drops put in your eyeballs. Feel your eyeballs go numb. Wear a blue surgical hat, blue booties, and a little green sticker on your forehead that tells them who you are and what they're supposed to chop up on your eyes.

13.5. Decide you need to use the restroom. Be unable to find it. Have a nurse lead you. Accidentally spray mouthwash all over your hands instead of soap because you can't read the pump bottle. Find your way back to THE ROOM by touch.

13.75. Wonder if the other blind people recognize that you reek of mouthwash.

14. Watch everyone else go into a secret door AND NEVER RETURN. One by one, they disappear. Realize that this situation is a lot like that hunch you got at Epcot in 5th grade that every now and then, they dumped someone off a ride and they died in a tangle of animatronic teeth. Get nervous. Try not to yark.

15. They call your name. You smile. You go in THE DOOR.

16. The room is dark, with several operating stations set up. You lay down where indicated and hope your little green forehead dot is accurate.

17. Things start moving very, very quickly. No one tells you what is happening, and you realize that this is because if you knew what was about to happen, you'd stand up and run like hell. All you see are gloved fingers, machines, and flashes of light. Consider bolting but realize that you are too blind and also not a wuss. NOT A WUSS.

18. They tape your eyelids to your forehead. You think CLOCKWORK ORANGE OMG!

19. They squeeze down your eyeball with a plastic frame. You start screaming inside.

20. Lights flash. Things go dark, then bright. You look into the Eye of Sauron and want to scream ONE CANNOT SIMPLY WALK INTO LASIK. You feel like you're in a scifi movie. You do everything they say, because you know that if anything goes wrong, you will never, ever be able to do this again. You smell your own cornea burning, and it smells like a curling iron singeing hair. Then you see the doctor's fingers brushing your eyeball with a paintbrush, and you realize this is possibly the most surreal thing that will ever happen to you in your entire life.

21. They release the eyeball frame, untape the eyeball, and start on the other eye, and you realize that the second one is both harder and easier than the first, because you know what's going to happen, but IT SUCKS.

22. Repeat 20.

23. More eyeball painting.

24. They help you up and take your picture in your fabulous hair net and forehead sticker and some very stylish sunglasses so that they can post it on Facebook and maybe you'll win an iPad and you're all, FINE, WHATEVER, I AM SO MESSED UP RIGHT NOW.

25. Then you realize you can read the clock across the room.

26. YOU. CAN READ THE CLOCK. ACROSS THE ROOM.

27. You think about crying with joy, but your eyes feel like a cat scratched them open and took a gritty crap therein.

28. You are told not to look at a computer screen for two days, even though it's your livelihood, escape, and entertainment.

29. You are handed an iPad and asked to log in to Facebook, and you are deeply confused.

30. You go home and spend the rest of the day on sleeping pills and muscle relaxers with plastic shields taped over your eyes.

31. You wake up at 4am and peel the plastic off your eyes and realize your eyelashes are stuck together like Aeon Flux and you drizzle eye drops in them until they open and you realize that YOU CAN SEE. YOU CAN SEE EVERYTHING. YOU CAN SEE THE ALARM CLOCK FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YOUR LIFE, AND IT IS AWESOME.

32. Ten days later, you realize Lasik is one of the top 10 best decisions of your life.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Life moves pretty fast.

If you don't stop and look around every once in a while,

you might miss something.

*

For example, right now?

I am looking at a kid with the flu,

which means time is moving veeeeeery slowly.

And barfily.

Much like Ferris Bueller, I need a day off.

*
Stop laughing.

*

Sunday, February 19, 2012

iCUP



Every year, I paint a mug for Dr. Krog.

He eventually breaks it.

Which gives me a reason to paint one for him the next year.



So I present this year's mug.

"Back off, man! I'm a scientist!"

Because, technically, Dr. Krog is a scientist. A statistician.

And, secretly, he's always wanted to be Dr. Peter Venkman.



The crowning touch.

I can't let him get too comfortable, can I?

*

Friday, February 17, 2012

state of the blog union


It occurred to me yesterday that I might be doing you a disservice.

Some of you are here for this:


And I keep shouting about this:


Which is only natural.

I mean, I started this blog over 1100 posts and four years ago when I had a new baby and not much to do. My pictures were of a frazzled mom and a chubby little girl, and I ranted about motherhood, society's wrongs, and trying to find yourself after becoming a mom.

And then I got pregnant and ranted about pregnancy. And then I had another baby and blabbered on about the perils of having two children and losing weight and, again, trying to find yourself.

And then? I found myself.

And you guys were here for that, too. I talked about writing my first book, about querying, about failing, and failing again, and then, after much hard work, about succeeding. Sure, every now and then, there were cute conversations or photos of t.rex and the biscuit hugging each other or beating each other with lightsabers, but the tone of the blog definitely began to change.

And now here we are. I have a five-year-old and a three-year-old, and writing has become a full-time job. And I think I may have gotten a little too excited about the time leading up to my first book launch. When I scroll through the blog, all I see are picture after picture of a half-naked vampire dude and me squealing about things that most of you probably don't care about. I've been sharing what makes me excited right now, but I'm guessing that not many of my 329 followers can relate.

So I want to know. If you're still reading, what do you actually like to read about? Why do you come here? Would you keep coming here if it changed?

This blog started out as an escape for me, as a way to share and connect with people and remember as much as I could of the dizzying years of early parenthood. I'm so grateful to everyone who read then, who reads now, who comments and tells me I'm not alone.

I hope you'll keep coming here.

I hope I'll give you a reason to do so.

*

Thursday, February 16, 2012

a hat, a brooch, a postcardactyl


So I need to make a hat out of postcards, a sandwich board out of my poster, and some sort of corset out of my remaining cover flats.

Then I'll really start self-promoting.

But silently.

*

These guys are en route (via dirigible) to Captain Donna and the fine folks at Clockwork Couture, to be sent out in their packages of luscious steampunk goods. Thanks to Clockwork Couture, and thanks to Pocket for whipping up such lovely cards!

*

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

on dialing it to 11


I used to have this ritual.

Every evening, just after dark, I would go upstairs. I took off my boots, put on ridiculous pajama pants, twirled my hair up in a bun, and took out my contacts. And then it was time to relax.

As soon as I switched from contacts to glasses, the world went from sharp and alert to dull, comfortable, and safe. It was like being wrapped in a cocoon, a blanket. With my glasses on, I had a limited sphere of vision. The edges were blurry, and it signaled my brain to chill out and go to sleep. I've been wearing contacts since I was 15, and I can't even remember much about life before then.

But now!

Now, after Lasik, everything is different.

My vision is perfect, sharp, clear. All day long, whatever I'm doing, I can see. Every evening, I find myself standing in the place where my contact lens case used to be, feeling like there's something important I need to do.

Every day now, at least ten times a day, I think, "OMG, I need to take out my contacts before they disappear under my eyelids and I have to pry them out with chopsticks!"

And that part of my life is gone.

Which is awesome and amazing and miraculous, don't get me wrong.

But it's really freaking weird.

My world is dialed up to 11 constantly now. I can't turn my brain off. I feel... superhuman. Like, you think of how awesome it is that Superman can fly and is super strong, but he probably jerks doorknobs off of doors and breaks people's ribs when he hugs them. Once you make a permanent change like this, no matter how wonderful it is and no matter how it improves your life, you have to alter your way of thinking.

Which, personally, I dig. I want my brain to stay active and constantly making new connections. So although, in a sense, I've lost a source of comfort, I'm excited to know that the world is full of new possibilities.

As Oscar Wilde said, "To be on the alert is to live; to be lulled into security is to die."

Here's to being more alive.

And to hopefully developing X-ray vision and other useful superpowers.


*

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

a beautiful thing


Those are the two main characters in Wicked as They Come as imagined by the oh-so-talented StrangelyKatie. I've tried again and again to capture Tish and Crim, but alas... my own creations elude me. I can draw them much better with words than with a pen... or a digital tablet. Thanks a lot, art degree!

*

And speaking of beautiful things, today marks the one-year anniversary of my book deal, and I can't imagine how I could possibly be happier.

Thank you, everyone. Thank you, world. Thank you, fate. Thank you, family. Thank you, writing friends. Thank you, agent. Thank you, editor. Thank you, copy editors and publicist and cover artist and beta readers and writing group and reviewers and bloggers and soon-to-be-readers.

And thank you, Strangely Katie, for the perfect Valentine.

*

p.s. She takes commissions, and her rates are unbelievably reasonable.

p.p.s. Would anyone like an actual, physical belated Valentine? I'm thinking of sending some out...

*

Monday, February 13, 2012

big phone pimpin'

As it's 2012 and I'm a big-time author, I decided I needed some bling for my phone.

We're talking big pimpin', as the kids say.



Awwwww, yeah.

If anyone would like a similar sticker for their own post-2005 tech gadget,
please hit me up in the carpool line.

I'll be the one listening to a boombox and writing with a fountain pen.

*

Sunday, February 12, 2012

meditations on burning corneas

The 10 Worst Things about Lasik

1. The actual surgery was like a flashback from Clockwork Orange.

2. Did I mention that I smelled my own corneas burning?

3. I haven't been able to write for three days.

4. I had to spend an entire day in bed, asleep.

5. Then I had to spend two more days not driving, being fed and coddled, and napping constantly.

6. My eyelashes got all stuck together last night while I was asleep, and I woke up at 4am and couldn't open my eyes, and I dreamed I was that chick from Aeon Flux, but I couldn't chase the plasticky German scientist because my superhero eyelashes were malfunctioning.

7. I keep finding myself standing in front of my contact lens case, feeling confused.

8. I have an entire box of unopened contacts left over. THEY DON'T REIMBURSE FOR THAT, YOU KNOW.

9. I can't wear eye makeup for a week.

10. The world has now seen what I look like in a poofy blue hat and funny sunglasses.

Oh, wait. There are really on 3 bad things on that list, aren't there?

I guess that leads us into the...

TOP 10 AWESOME THINGS ABOUT LASIK

1. Numbers 4 through 7 above.

2. I CAN SEE.

3. No, really. I can see. I can see all over the place. I can read the alarm clock. I can read the drawings on the fridge. I can drive without blurry bits in my peripheral vision. I'll be able to scuba dive and swim and ride horses, all while SEEING.

4. I CAN SEE.

5. I CAN SEE SO GOOD, Y'ALL, OMIGAH. 20/15 vision.

6. There's still a little bit of blurriness around light, and it feels all religious and glowy, like someone should be singing a chorus in the background whenever I gaze out a window.

7. Now I can write again. I just have to blink a lot and put in eye drops.

8. Next time I go on a plane, I won't have to wear my glasses and then lose them and find them and get off the plane and put in my contacts in the airport bathroom before I meet people. So I should probably go on a nice trip soon to test that out.

9. I CAN SEE.

10. For the first time since third grade, I feel that I'll actually have a chance when the zombiepocalypse comes. Well, except for in regards to my thyroid, but whatever. I'll get a lot of exercise, running from all the zombies.

In conclusion: LASIK IS AWESOME.

And Dr. Krog is awesome for taking care of me and the wee monsters for three days. He's a trooper. And he brought me almond croissants, too. That's love, y'all.

*

Saturday, February 11, 2012

another dream come true


Yesterday, they drew on my eyeballs with Sharpie, then taped down my eyelids and... then there were lots of flashes and clicks and the smell of my corneas burning.

Then I went to sleep for 17 hours.

Now I can see.

I've needed glasses since 3rd grade. I wore glasses from 6th grade to 10th grade. Ever since, it's been contacts every single day.

Now, for the first time in my life, I can read the alarm clock from across the room.

Thank you, Dr. Woolfson. Thank you, mysterious and possibly insane inventor of Lasik. Thank you, Dr. Krog.

Finally, when the zombies come, I'LL BE READY.

*

Thursday, February 9, 2012

the abs I always wanted...




...are on Criminy Stain.

He looks good. He smells good.
In 52 more days, you'll get to read about *all* the things at which he excels.
Ahem.

Until then, you can come over and stroke his abs with me.

And dream.


Much thanks to my publisher, Pocket/Simon & Schuster,
for sending this utterly delicious foamcore poster.
Look for him at the launch party and, hopefully,
various cons around the South.

And on my kitchen island.

*

Lasik at 2pm. Wish me luck!

*

This is my first pre-arranged post. I suspect tomfoolery will occur.
I will blame Criminy.

*

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

a glimpse of the carnival


Oh, squashblossoms.

I had so much fun last night that I don't even know where to begin.

The launch party for BLOOD AND BULLETS by local urban fantasy author, tattoo artist, and all-around nice guy James R. Tuck was a *FANTASTIC* success. Loads of folks came out to buy a book, get it signed, and listen to several local authors James was generous enough to invite out just for the purpose of reading their work.

And I am honored to be one of them. So that picture? It's my first public reading of WICKED AS THEY COME. I read an excerpt of Tish's first fortune telling practice in which we learn that the strong man is being plotted against, the horse-faced girl has a secret under her hat, and the lizard boy just needs some hand lotion.

I met so many wonderful people, and I was thrilled to see so much support for local authors. My friends Heidi and Betty came out, not to mention some of my talented pals from the Red Door Writing Group, including Ericka, Crystal, Seth, and Kevin. Thank you all so much!

Readings, signings, hand-shaking, card-handing-out-ing, and red wine were followed by the best pizza I've ever had at Vingenzo's, a marvelous Italian restaurant just a few doors down from FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, GA. I will definitely be making a date for another Pugliese.

In the words of Zoe Soldana's character in Center Stage, "THAT WAS THE MOST FUN I'VE EVER HAD!"

Thanks so much for inviting me, James. And thanks for having us, FoxTale. And thanks to everyone who came out to support local authors and an independent bookseller.

Now just make sure to come back on March 30 at 7pm for more excerpts, books, sexy vampires, cake, and wine at the WICKED AS THEY COME launch party. James is hoping to be there, too, so you can get a copy of BLOOD AND BULLETS signed while you're at it.

And maybe some pizza afterward, if you're good. Because DANG.

*

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Want to hear an excerpt? YOU CAN!

Tonight, I've been invited to read an excerpt of WICKED AS THEY COME at the book launch party for BLOOD AND BULLETS, an urban fantasy by Woodstock author James R. Tuck.


Leather, handcuffs, and tattoos are greatly encouraged.

As for me, I'll be dressed in black lace and reading a scene from the carnival.

There could be funny voices, including my famous British accent.

7pm, FoxTale Book Shoppe in downtown Woodstock, GA. Be there or be extremely square. Also, James is a bouncer, so he might mess you up if you don't show.

*

on glasses and mugs


Age 6: I fell in love with coffee.

I'd had little tastes before then, always on vacation. A sip here, a sip there. Finally, while spending a week on my aunt's house boat, I was allowed my own small cup of coffee. It was tan, filled with too much cream and too much sugar, and it was hot and beautiful and delicious. I still remember sitting on the couch, feeling the wet touch of morning fog on my forehead and the edge of the boat under the ball of my foot. I felt so grown up and content, and it's as if the world slowed to a crawl while I drank. I wasn't allowed seconds.

I'm 34 now. The world still slows down when I drink coffee, always with too much cream and too much sugar.

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6th grade: I got my first glasses.

I played softball and had been in a hitting slump for a year. They finally took me to the optometrist and learned that I wasn't dropping my shoulder-- I was going blind. I picked out two pairs of glasses. At first, I was excited, because I like change. Then I realized that glasses made me feel less pretty, gave me headaches, and narrowed my view of the world.

I grew to hate my glasses.

When I was 15, I got my first contacts and never looked back. Since then, I've really only worn glasses at home, at night, when sick. I've been wearing them steadily for the last two weeks, leading up to Thursday's Lasik.

I'm so excited I can barely function. To think-- I'll be able to watch a midnight movie! I'll see the alarm clock without squinting! I'll be able to wear heavy eye makeup!

And all they have to do is cut open my eyeballs for a little while.

If all goes well, that picture will be the last one you see of me in glasses.

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Coffee forever. Glasses no more!

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Monday, February 6, 2012

*insert thing here*



I'm out of it. I have no idea what to blog about.

Anybody have a question? Want to know a secret? Or something?

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In lieu of actual content, there's a better picture of my new steampunk corset.

In the background is one of the last paintings I did. It's called Goodnight Horses.


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Friday, February 3, 2012

unruly rant: reading = fun + duh + mental

My daughter brought home a "Reading Log" today.

And believe it or not, I'm pissed.

"Reading books is a sweet treat!" it says. And then it encourages my child to color in a cupcake every day that she reads a book. At the end of the month, I sign it, and she takes it back to school, and they give her a certificate for a child-sized pizza at Pizza Hut.

And you know what?

I threw it in the trash.

I mean, I get that we're not normal. I spend 95% of my free time either reading or writing. There are towering stacks of books in every room. And we buy books for the kids, too. I almost never turn down an intelligently worded request. There are books on the floor and the kitchen table and the stairs, books under their beds and in designated book boxes and stuffed between the car seats in my car.

No one in our house can walk three feet without encountering a book.

And I know that we're incredibly, incredibly lucky, and that not everyone has the access to books that we do.

But coloring in cupcakes and turning in worksheets and earning $3 worth of pizza? That's not how you turn a kid into a reader.

If you want your children to read, you buy them books. You read them books. You ask them to read books to you. You let them see you reading. You make sure that books are always around, waiting to entertain and delight. You make books into friends that you can turn to again and again.

You make books a priority and a fixture.

This worksheet is not a philanthropic way to encourage children to read. It's a great way to sell pizza to parents rewarding their kid for coloring in cupcakes. After all, your kid's pizza is free, but mom and dad and the other kids are going to want to eat, too. So basically, you save $3 on your kid's pizza and spend $30 on unhealthy food for the rest of the family instead of spending that money on, say, BOOKS.

So yes, books are a sweet treat.

But please don't pretend that your ad from Pizza Hut is encouraging reading.

I deeply resent the fact that public schools allow this crap into my life.

You know what's getting my kids excited about reading?

It's not pizza.

It's reading.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

further steampunkery



Sorry, but when I get a corset in the mail, I just *have* to post pics.

These things are like luscious, waist-wittling crack.

And, of course, it's by the lovely Michelle at Damsel in this Dress.


My first corset from her was a sleek, glistening, piratical thing, so I wanted something extra steampunky that would go with almost everything. I love how this brown one can be dressed up posh or dressed down for that "my airship just crashed and I need a ride to Constantinople" look.

After another trip to my favorite thrift store, I have a long khaki skirt with lace, this long black skirt, this engineer shirt, and a floofy black poet's blouse. Added to my plum skirt, white blouse, and black pinstripe vest, I basically purchased an entire steampunkable wardrobe for under $25. Well, and the corsets. But those are worth every penny.

Now I just need someplace to wear them to...

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