Monday, November 21, 2022

Well, that was a trip!

Was on the road for 10 days for a conference, and learned a lot of things. It's a good thing when I come back with at least a hundred hours of homework to do in order to dig into information and implement what I learned. Some of the panels, I was definitely behind on the power curve... and some, I was nodding along and going "Yeah, we already do that."

Then I went to lunch, and got propositioned and my bag got stolen.

I should explain. I met up with Kacey Ezell, who is an awesome person as well as good author, and a mutual friend of ours, whom I'll call B. We decided to go to a restaurant in the casino next door, where the ladies had a wonderful steak the night before. The easier way to get there from where we were was to actually go outside and get a little sunshine, while walking around the sidewalks of Vegas... something that none of us were eager to do alone. As we walked along the entry/exit drive to our hotel/conference center/casino, a car started pacing us and the driver calling out. I looked in confusion at him as what he was yelling made no sense. He didn't have any Uber markings, wasn't a taxi, so why was he calling for me to get in the car?

B looked at my confused face, and broke the obvious news to the slow one in the group. "He's propositioning you."

"Oh! It's been so long, I didn't recognize it!" (Middle age. It's a thing.) "No thank, you. I'm married!"

This did not discourage the man, who switched to imploring that he needed more of my big booty in his life, and other salacious requests. After we parted ways from where he could easily follow (with some muttering of unhappiness at the fact that none of us were carrying, and we all now regretted that decision), I looked at the other two ladies. "Great. Now I feel very self-conscious about the size of my ass. After five years of weightlifting, I may have done too many squats, presses, and rack pulls."

The response was a teasing grin. "Or maybe... you've finally done just enough!" (With friends like these...)

So lunch in the Very Nice Cafe proceeded apace, and all went well, until we finished off a baguette. They came in little paper bags, and I flattened and folded the sack in to clearly show that it was empty, and encourage the waiter to bring another while we were distracted by talking. None of us were anticipating that it might trick the recognition filter of a pickpocket, but it got neatly swiped off the corner of the table by one just the same!

(In retrospect, it might have looked, from the wrong angle, like a flip wallet by the way I folded it. Wish we could have seen his face when he realized what he'd gotten!)

...While it was wonderful to network, learn things, and get hugs from friends, frankly, I won't miss that town.

Once we Escaped From Vegas (thankfully with less traffic jams, inane and insane drivers pulling stupid human tricks, and GPS misplacing itself than on the way in), we regretfully decided there wasn't enough time in the day to properly see the Grand Canyon, and made our way to Flagstaff. 

I know humans can acclimatize to anything. Not just because my life has moved from Alaska to Texas, but because people appear to happily live in Flagstaff, and elevations even higher. I, on the other hand, was winded just standing up. Thank G-d for oxygen in a can. 

That said, the food was lovely at The Northern Pines. As for the company, it was even better. We met up with Larry Lambert, who blogs at Virtual Mirage. You know, for a man I'd never met before and only seen a picture the size of my pinky nail that may or may not be an inaccurate avatar... I had no problem looking out the window as he walked up, and going "That's him." There's something about the breed of men my Calmer Half knows and enjoys spending time with that you can just immediately pick out from the body language and the walk. 

The conversation ranged all over the map, from firepower to philosophy to politics to pictures of an elk who's fond of visiting (quite the handsome critter) and flying. I'll just say that it'll be worth going back to Flagstaff to visit with Larry again, and he gives good hugs.

On the way home, Calmer Half yielded to my plea for a side trip, but told me I had to pick one: the petrified forest, or the meteor crater. ...of course the crater won! I'd love to fly over that thing and see the ripples in the bedrock from a good height, because just what I could see standing on the lip of the rimwall was amazing. 

Albuquerque was not so bad the second time, not after Flagstaff. Well, and the second time it didn't have seriously sketchy and twitchy gent eyeing the van while Peter was checking into the hotel that had me making a slow smooth movement for a piece of hardware... A night without incident and a morning with excellent coffee have me thinking better of that city than first exposure. All the same, I was very happy to get back to our tiny town where "youth run wild" means the cows have gotten out, and are eating my neighbor's roses.

Not that I had to get back to Tiny Town, Texas to see youth run wild. Just north of Claude, two black angus yearlings who were clearly in high spirits after finding or making a break in the fence came pelting at I-40 in the that bouncing full-tilt run of "you can't catch me!" Calmer Half hit the brakes, as did everyone else - Thank G-d the semi behind us had Very Good Brakes - and the beeves stopped just short of the asphalt, so close to the hood of our vehicle I could see the snot flying as they snorted. 

...Getting chewed out by the cats for being gone was kind of anticlimactic after that. 

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Everything's fine

Kili-Cat occasionally expresses Strong Opinions with vocalizations that would school an irritated sailor, if only we could translate. Sometimes, it's with an ungentle nip that doesn't break the skin. And sometimes, with a well-placed bit of vomit. Which, hey, at least she doesn't say it with scat.

At least, that's for Calmer Half and myself. From vets I have heard "Come get your hellion!" and "that furry little buzzsaw" and her folder at each new vet sprouts fluorescent stickers saying things like DO NOT TAKE TEMPERATURE RECTALLY!! 

I like the latest Vet; when I warned her with the dreaded phrase, "She's usually very sweet at home, but..." they took me seriously. And mirabile dictu, Kili has yet to go into attack mode around them, and it's been 3 years. 

Well, we had to leave for an overnight trip (one of those "do you want to leave the house at 4am, and fight the metromess's finest rush hour traffic, to make it to this appointment? Or overnight in a hotel nearby?" decisions), and came back to find 6 piles of vomit around the house. I suspected Strong Opinion about us pulling out The Luggage of Feline Lamentation, but that was a bit excessive, so off to the vet we went. 

Besides, I've had her on new food for a while: I wanted to check she was actually doing fine on it. 

Kili was Not Happy about this. In fact, she sounded like a little serial killer with a chainsaw still distant in the smoke and fog, with occasional pauses to hiss at the vet tech. 

According the Vet, she has gained a pound, "which is just fine in a geriatric cat; we're worried about them losing weight at this point, not gaining it." She also has "beautiful clear eyes, nice ears, lovely well-taken-care-of coat, a little tartar on her teeth but not unexpected at her age, everything's fine on her internals, a little arthritis but also not unexpected at her age, and the vomiting is well within normal for cats, especially ones who eat a dry food diet, given her age..."


"...and disposition."

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Canned debate

 Or, how my Calmer Half wins the fight we didn't have. Because old age not only brings treachery, but patience and cunning.

A few years ago, my love bought some kitchen jars for me that he thought were what I wanted. They were beautiful, with olivewood lids and silicon seals (things I like). They also sucked, because the lids come straight off when I pull up, so any attempt to grab from the top results in broken glass and spilled grits. Also, the mouths were too small to get a half-cup measure in. 

So, rather than get more of them, I promptly started using quart and half-gallon mason jars for other grains, sugar, and ground flours. I didn't get rid of them, because I wasn't going to waste money already spent. Same reason for the mason jars: I had them, and why waste money when I've already got something that will do? 

It wasn't an ideal solution, but it was the duct tape and safety wire solution of kitchen organization. My love got these lids for the canning jars to make it easier to pour, clearly designed to turn the jar into a sort of sippy cup, and they made it better. However, the flours still clump, and the much smaller hole means it's a pain when things clump.  

A few days ago, my darling overheard the smothered yelps of pain and growl of frustration as I smacked the glass jar into an arthritic hand, and hurt myself more than it moved the clumped almond meal inside. I was grumbling (endemic to weather change and arthritis acting up, not this particular jar) as I then started rolling it on the cutting board to try to break up the clump so I could pour out a third of a cup.

He came out of his office and asked if he should get better lids, or more of the pretty jars instead? I recognized a "problem! fix problem!" air about him, and decided truth would be more useful than tact. Unfortunately, I didn't so it in a gentle, kind, or loving manner. 

You might even say I attempted to bite his head off and gnaw on his jugular. My darling simply waited it out, like a stone calmly letting a wave break over him, as I snarled that I did not like either alternative, and did not want him spending more money to improve makeshift containers I already disliked in the first place. When I was finished, he simply asked, "What do you want?"

That was the right question.

I finished pouring the almond meal, and cradled my hands to my chest as I grumbled that what I really wanted were vacuum-sealed plastic containers, but I wasn't going to spend the money on them, which is why I was making do with the glass jars in the first place. 

I got this puzzled look, completely ignoring the way I was snarling and focusing on the single relevant fact. "I've never heard of these. What are they? Can you show me?" 

So I limped over to his computer, pulled up amazon, typed in kitchen vacuum storage containers, and then informed him that I hadn't done any research because I wasn't spending the money, and I was going to go get a painkiller now.

As I made a cuppa to take the painkiller with, I heard faintly from his office, "Ouch! Yes, I see what you mean about the price!"

I thought this would be the end of it, but no.

An hour later, he's in my office. "Love, I just sent you three links, to three different sizes. Which would you prefer in the pantry?" 

As I was in much less pain by then, I was much calmer, and just looked at him with puzzled disbelief. "Love, didn't you see the price tag on them?"

He gave me this look like when I'm supposed to be somewhere in fifteen minutes, and haven't started drinking my tea or finding my clothes yet. "If I'm going to reorganize the pantry, then best we start with the containers we'll be using when we're finished. Decide what you want, so I can get that out of the way." As I opened my mouth to object, he shifted to a guttural tone of pure command. "You are NOT hurting yourself again."

...and that is how he preemptively wins the fights we don't have.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Teaser art...

 I've been sending snippets to Cedar Sanderson, as she's one of my alpha readers. About the point the team is far underground inside the ruins of an alien city, she sends me this feedback:

Saturday, August 27, 2022

getting ripped

I finally experienced the rite of passage for female weightlifters: I popped a shoulder seam on my shirt.

Women’s shirts are not make for significant upper body muscle. Once we start to develop muscle in our pecs, lats, delts, biceps, and triceps, the women's cut shirts with the cute capped sleeves get tight, and then it give way at the weakest seam.

So I carefully deployed a seam ripper… wait, no, couldn’t find mine. So I grabbed the lovely hand-forged damascus knife that was an anniversary present from Calmer Half several years ago, and used it as a seam ripper to remove the sleeves to make a tank top.

Fittingly, the shirt has a line drawing of a feline all curled up, with:

I don’t want to adult today.
I don’t even want to human.
Today, I want to cat.

Sounds about perfect for someone who works swing shift lifting heavy things too bloody early in the morning, eh?

May you all find time to cat, and your own sunbeam.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Shopping, not Buying

The Farmer's Market in Itchy Paw Falls recently had a large number of vendors split ways with its old location, so this morning I met up with two friends to check out who decided to move to the new location. 

Some days, you go shopping with Serious Intentions and a list to buy. 

Some days, there's mochas and strawberry lemonade popsicles and salsa and a sticker of an armed kewpie doll (glock in a shoulder holster) and a little ceramic whistle that sounds like a song bird...

One of the candle vendors had been next to CV Walter when she was selling her books at the art walk. When we checked out his booth (first time he & CV had seen each other since then), he had a new candle based on her books. Cross-pollination happens in the arts! How cool is that?

We also met a friend's kid, who is now an adult and an artist in her own right, holding down her own table. Which was another layer of fun, because first, we weren't expecting to see her there - we'd been referred by another vendor as "you've got to check her art out" and "She's cool." Second, because this meant four artists could stand there and talk shop about table rents and intellectual property and markets... And walk away having bought stickers she made, because we really liked them! (And now I have an easy and clear identification mark on my new laptop.)

We briefly lost Cedar Sanderson when we hit a table selling botanical things... It wasn't the dried flower wreaths, the floral bath bombs, or even hibiscus sugar, which I found really intriguing (I've seen vanilla-doped caster sugar for dusting the tops of pastries and cocktails, but never hibiscus-doped caster sugar before.) No, it was the vintage botanical being used as a prop for the goods. Next thing you know, she and the vendor are geeking out about old herbals and other antique botanical books and where they've found them... 

Given that I had stopped to have a conversation about what blooms at what time of the year and how much you had to hold back in the supers for overwintering a hive in TX vs. North Carolina with one of the local apiaries, I just stood back and grinned. Okay, and egged CV Walter into getting a little ceramic whistle that sounds like a songbird. 

Because cat harassment!

Friday, July 29, 2022

Want something new to read?

If you liked the other things I wrote, you might like this. It's not so much a romance, really, as it is about the problems that come after the happily ever after. Like meeting the family that he doesn't talk to, and finding out that there's more than one feud going on. It's about finding out the hard way that when you've been out defending the homeland, and not being there, home changes until it isn't home anymore, and the people there become strangers with a shared history in the thirty years Between Two Graves.

Of course, there are a couple firefights as well, because it's me. 

The blurb:

He swore he wouldn't be back while his parents lived...

Now, almost thirty years later, AJ is going home.

Ordered to attend his mother's funeral in the rugged northern border of the Empire, AJ is baring old wounds to his new wife, and burying familial feuds.

But the past won't die that easily, and grave secrets will threaten all the survivors and the women they love. Because the Feds are after AJ's unwanted inheritance...

And they're willing to risk a war to get their hands on it.

Currently available in ebook, print edition to follow very shortly (I accidentally introduced a formatting error and it spread. The cleanup to get chapters and page numbers to agree is tedious, and I love my detail-oriented husband very, very much for all the assistance he's giving on this.)

Saturday, July 23, 2022

All bank angle and speed

 As below, so above...

This morning, there was a swarm of gnats hovering above the front yard like a bait ball of feeder fish. Unfortunately for them, they were swarming directly in the approach path the barn swallows use to get to their nest on my front porch.

The air was full of flashing wings zooming in and out like dolphins taking out the bait ball, right outside my front window. 

And Ashbutt-cat in the windowsill was losing his everloving fluffy little mind...

It did not get better when I opened the window so he could hear the excited twittering of birds maintaining comms for situational awareness and coordination. No, it got worse. Much worse. 

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Formative books of my childhood

The subject came up, yesterday, of formative books from childhood. Everybody usually has one or two they can think of... I promptly went and pulled my favorite off the shelf, because it has been following me around all these years. 

Yes, Dad gave this to me when it was brand new. See the publication date. 

Yeah, that might explain a thing or two about how I turned out...

Love you, Dad. And thanks.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

When did I turn into my grandmother?

 ...So, I'll have you know there were reasons.

But yes, yes, I did just feed a small child Blue Bell ice cream and pineapple chunks for breakfast.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Overload flavour.

...with a little vanilla to stretch it, in case her brother also wanted ice cream and pineapple chunks for breakfast.

You see, one of her parents was still crashed out in the guest bedroom, and the other was getting precious introvert alone time on my back porch, while her brother was still al imp towheaded bundle on the couch.

Besides, they'd been asked, when they came in wearily after the Very Long Roadtrip, if they wanted ice cream now (after dinner), or later.

Breakfast absolutely counts as later!

A wave of confusion

 You know, I know better. I do it anyway.

Yes, I wrote a story involving radiation when I have friends who are actual nuclear scientists and military what worked with the stuff. The level of detail and analysis brought to bear on those scenes may resemble using a sledgehammer to swat a fly, but I am grateful for their input.

Unfortunately, getting steeped in the difference and the types of emissions from various sources with examples leaves me looking at a post talking about men in romance genre and going "alpha males? Very weak, can be stopped by a thick skin? Beta males are stronger, more likely to affect the heroine, but why do we stop there? She's not going to get knocked off her feet by a gamma male?"

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Roses, Part 3

Gunny was clearly slowing down. AJ shouldered him out of the way and finished the edge of the bed where he’d been digging, while the older man straightened painfully and groaned. “The things we do for women.”

That set AJ laughing hard enough Gunny noticed, and just waited until he felt like speaking. “Used to have a matched set of scars to remember her by. The thorns tore the shit out of me when I salvaged them for her. Had to put ’em up against my skin so they couldn’t puncture the suit. Her nails did the same to my back when she thanked me.”

“Have a few mementos of my own, like that.” Gunny chuckled, and leaned on the shovel handle. “Where’d you find ’em?”

“Inshi Q-ship. Did a thorough search for intelligence before we dismantled and disappeared it. Couldn’t tell her that, since it was never here.”

Gunny grunted. “And now the evidence will be growing all over the planet.”

“Can’t prove it, though. Lots of horse trading among hydroponics techs. Even the most close-mouthed family trader will happily start comparing plant pedigrees and where they’ve been, when they’re swapping starts and cuttings. Might have been why I was hanging around Amanda in the first place.”

“Right.” Gunny drawled out the word, and grinned at him.

AJ shrugged, and started cutting open the burlap bags of soil amendments, laying them out to mix with the original soil so it went back in the hole in the right ratio. “I was getting toward the end of a hitch. Thinking about getting out, taking a permanent posting with her.”

“She dump you?”

AJ shook his head, and moistened a dry mouth. This was the part that hurt. “The Mining Hab war went hot, and while I was gone, Doing Things, ThreeFree blew out. It was a dead wreck by the time they called me back to salvage. I looked for her in every corpse… didn’t know she made it, ’til today.”

“Ah. Damn.” Gunny didn’t have to say more.

AJ shoveled, because work was better than standing there doing nothing but feeling. “I hope she was happy. Bet she was, down here, where she could put her feet in the soil and her face turned to the sun. Growing.”

Gunny grunted, and joined in. “She’ll live on as a legacy of weird miscoloured roses.”

AJ smiled at the friendly jibe. “She will. Skid would laugh his ass off at his namesake having to harden for three days before he could be planted.”

(Yes, these are the same Inshi mentioned in Business Not Bullets, in this anthology. It’s a very big galaxy out there, and entire wars can go on unnoticed by people on the surface of on one partially-terraformed planet.

…Thanks for reading.)

Monday, March 21, 2022

Roses, Part 2

Jenna had a list of everything she needed for the rose bed, and everything but the roses themselves piled on a cart. She looked around. “Where’s AJ? I want to make sure he likes the ones I’ve picked out.”

“He’ll like anything you decide. He always does. As for where he snuck off to… over there. Huh. Face down in the flowers.” Gunny was looking off toward the table of miniature roses, and Jenna realized AJ was crouched so low his head was even with the taller plants, face actually down in a rose plant.

The shop assistant who’d been helping them spoke up as they approach. “Oh! Those are officially called Hearts of Space. They have this lovely spicy scent.”

AJ did not look up from the black roses with a startling red-orange center. He spoke just loud enough for them to hear. “Like Amanda’s clove cigarettes.”

Jenna wondered who Amanda was. From the way Gunny wrinkled up his forehead, he was wondering, too. The shop assistant, though, kept right on going. “These have only been on-planet for… wait, you know Amanda Grimsley?”

That brought AJ’s head up, eyes wide open and locked on. “Amanda’s alive?”

“No, she died in a car accident about five years ago.” A hesitation, then, “Did you know her, Upstairs?”

AJ froze – a hesitation so slight Jenna knew no one else could see the way he reflexively cooled down at the unwelcome news. “Damn. Yeah, I met her up on ThreeFree.”

The assistant nodded awkwardly, and tried to fill in the silence after the unwelcome news. “She was the most amazing horticulturalist. She actually named that rose breed Strykers, you know? Because they have cold edges as black as space, but with a warm heart. Rumour says the original grafts she brought down, each one had individual names. The nursery that hired her, they didn’t want to call the breed that because, well, you know, the growers in the Fed… She took the secret of where she got them from to the grave. Do you know where they came from?”

AJ shrugged, hands spread out in what looked like a natural gesture. But he never made natural gestures; they were always premeditated. “Can’t say, ma’am.”

That was enough to make Jenna bite her tongue. Can’t say was a world different, in AJ’s careful speech, from don’t know. Before things could go south, she spoke up. “We’ll take… four?” She’d been planning on four roses in a trial bed.

“Six.” AJ said it firmly, and she followed his lead.

“Six. And everything we need for the bed, if this isn’t enough.”

As they loaded up the truck, Jenna paused to put a hand on her protesting lower back, and looked at the pretty little plants. “I’ll call the best one AJ.”

Her husband looked at her, looked at the roses, and resumed loading. “No. The best one’s Skid. He better not be the first one to die, this time.”

There was nothing she could say to that, except to give him a long, silent hug.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Roses, Part 1

 As they headed in from the loading area, past piles of mulch and tangles of yard decorations, Jenna looked at Gunny, and back at AJ. “Thank you for coming with us. I know you hate plants.”

Gunny snorted. “Doesn’t matter if he hates them or not. He’s the one who’s going to be doing the grunt work of digging the bed and putting them in. You get to do all the maintaining afterward, unless the chore requires enough muscle you need to call in backup. That’s what husbands are for.”

Jenna thought about that, and put a hand on Gunny’s arm. “I thought you liked roses? You grow such beautiful ones!”

“My late wife’s fault. I just put them where she told me, like he’s going to do for you.” Despite the disclaimer, there was a smile sparkling in his eyes that was working its way down to his mouth.

“I like plants fine. In their place. Properly controlled.” AJ replied. He was not a fan of mowing the lawn, but that came with the house, and damned if he’d let strangers go poking around and leaving gates unlocked for them, just because he didn’t want to deal with it. As they walked through the crowded shop, full of scents of earth and loam, pottery and greenery, he fought not to sneeze to clear his nose. And then they walked through the doors beyond. Warm, humid air wrapped him in its welcome, filled with the vibrant smell of lush growth and blooms. Light poured in from the translucent roof and wall panels, high overhead and braced with a minimum of framing, with dangling water lines run along the bracing… it felt like home, like the hydroponics sections of the larger space stations and mining habs, right down to the tables with all the greenery in their proper trays. “Oh. This is magnificent. Look at all the constant-g adaptations!”

An employee who’d come in on their heels giggled at him, and paused with her cart of things being returned. “Can I help you find anything?”

“Are you doing hydroponics sets on the tables? There aren’t nearly enough water lines…” AJ was still caught up in the overwhelming infrastructure, so very like what he knew, but so very different.

“No, no, they’re set in potting soil. Very controlled soil, lighting, and water mixtures, but not pure hydroponics. Are you looking for your ship’s greenbox? We cater to the general public who’s planting on planet, but our sister nursery specializes in spacefaring strains.”

“No, we’re here because my wife wants roses in her yard.” He looked up at the roof. “That’s cleverly passive. You don’t even have to run diurnal cycles, because the planet does it for you! How do you handle seasonality?”

“Carefully extended with heaters, but when it’s winter, we’re resting, too. Roses are this way! Do you want tea roses, rosebushes, or climbing roses?”

Jenna looked utterly confused. “Roses climb?”

AJ laughed. “Oh, do they ever! Given the faintest hint of the wrong genetics, and low gravity, and they will promptly try to take over the entire greenspace, and the tendrils, they get in everything…” He shook his head. “Given physical space and usefulness constraints, we never should have taken them to space in the first place. They’re finicky, prone to molds and blights, eaten by every bug out there, and will wilt at the drop of a degree. They’re volume hogs, picky with their chemical mix, and utterly inedible. They also all have thorns, to rip you open when you’re trying to maintain them!”

“Um…” Jenna was looking like she was questioning the wisdom of the whole madcap gardening adventure now.

As they came around the side, to another door, AJ’s nose told him what awaited beyond. His voice got soft. “And then they bloom, and you realize we no more could have left them behind and called ourselves human than if we hadn’t taken our shipcats and dogs.”

Before them was an entire greenhouse full of roses, in all their multicoloured, fragrant glory. And the look on his wife’s face… he knew why Gunny kept the yard full of roses alive. He’d learn, even in as messy an environment as in-atmo could be, to do the same.

(This is not in the next book. This is purely spawned by one of my alpha readers claiming that AJ hates plants. AJ, I protested, does not hate plants, when they’re in their proper place and controlled. Now I have two chapters, of which this is an excerpt, in which Jenna, AJ, and the resident expert on roses (well, Gunny has them, and they’re not dead) go shopping. He may have consulted with a certain widow hastily before the madcap adventure commenced. Something about digging in rosebushes recently because he lost a bet… but that’s a different story for another time.)

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Rules for domestic disputes (salvaged)

These were gleefully lifted from a couple whom I love and respect, and who survived The PCS From Hell (Not only was it in 2021, but along the way, their personal vehicle broke down. Twice. Was broken into, and everything inside stolen, including the kid's clothes and the servicemember's uniforms. Snowstorms. Landslides. Fires. Illness. The housing reserved for them unavailable when they arrived, so no place to stay, but a quarantine order for staying where they couldn't. You name it.)  They arrived on my doorstep with an intent to RON, and it turned into a bit longer than that as they took a breather.

Despite everything, they were still bearing up well under the challenges, loving each other, and working together to parent their very bright and energetic littles. As I was working on I Didn't Sign Up For This at the time, we got to talking about rules for relationships. Theirs aren't much different from ours, but they'd actually taken the time and trouble to formalize, codify, and write them down. So I gleefully had 'em write theirs down. 

Unfortunately, despite writing them down, it appears that this was one of the pieces of paper the cat was enthusiastically chewing when he got into my filing cabinet. So, here's what I can salvage of the rules:

1. Speak only for yourself. (Say what you have observed, and how those actions make you feel, but no putting words in other parties' mouths or affixing motives.)

2. Relationship is more important than "winning", and being right isn't worth damaging the relationship.

3. No fair being mad about something that isn't their fault.

4. Silent mode is stupid and not an option. If something is bothering you, you have to deal with it and fix it.

5. You pick your words on purpose, assume they do too. (Take what they say at face value without "interpreting.")

6. Each party gets a turn to speak / lay out their case. No interruptions during this! At the end you give a readback of what you understand them to mean, and allow corrections if there is a mistake.

7. No name-calling or insults. No pet names, either; those are for in bed during the make up process.

8. No superlatives or absolutes; they are nearly never correct. 

Will there be future stories of the hijinks and hilarities of  Lee, Bet, and their kits? (Or from his point of view, the trials and tribulations of Chief Smith?) ...possibly. I don't have anything planned right now, but I hadn't planned on this story, either! (There's more than one reason I shot it off to Jim Curtis with the title I Didn't Sign Up For This.) 

Right now, I'm working on more AJ & Jenna, and then there's a sorta sequel to Shattered Under Midnight that's 14K in, and waiting in the shadows. And then there's this story about a vineyard, that I want to get back to... but other things keep creeping in.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

New Tales For A New Year!


Tales Around The Supper Table 2

Joining such other awesome people as Alma Boykin and Cedar Sanderson, Old NFO and my husband, I have a story in this new anthology!

It's the tale of cross-cultural communication (and miscommunication), unexpected consequences, research, hilarity, and a navy chief being told he can't have any more coffee... May also contain honeypots and pirate machinations, as well as embarrassed newlyweds.

And that's just my story. There are many not at all like it, but this blurb is mine!

Tales Around the Supper Table - Volume 2!