Updates and Appearances and Anthologies, Oh My!

I just got back from a quick trip down to CA to visit family with my two children and these are the things I learned:

  • CA gets crazy flooding when there’s a monsoon-style downpour.
  • Dramamine makes my children almost catatonic.
  • In N Out is still delicious and the best thing ever.

I seem to have caught a cold while I was visiting, however, which is kind of a bummer because I’ve been invited back to do a guest lecture for the Writing for Publication class at Northwest University and I have this weird feeling like I’m going to need my voice for that. I’m getting really excited about it.

I had the chance to do this a couple years ago and it was a blast. There’s something invigorating and inspiring about discussing the craft of writing with other people who are as passionate about it as you are, and I fully expect to have a fantastic time (assuming, of course, that I have use of my voice and will not have to conduct the lecture via semaphore).

From one of my favorite Monty Python sketches, Wuthering Heights by Semaphore.

I’ve also recently applied to participate in the LitQuake Festival in San Francisco this fall, so fingers crossed for that, and I’m most likely doing a book singing on Bainbridge Island at the Eagle Harbor Book Company in late July as well. All told, 2017 is shaping up to be a very busy year, which is great because there’s almost nothing more frustrating than trying to get the promotional wheels spinning only to have nothing happen.

Oh! And I almost forgot the coolest thing that happened last week: I got invited by my writing buddy AC Fuller to participate in a thriller anthology that’s coming out in the fall! How cool is that?! Doing an anthology is on my writer bucket list, so I’m delighted the timing worked out for it.

I’m submitting a short story about what happens when Bai goes home to visit his parents after the events of Take the Bai Road. Hint: stuff happens. Lots of stuff.

I had a blast writing the story, and I think it’ll be a fun amuse bouche for those of you looking for something to read in between Take the Bai Road and book number three, which will be called Bai Treason. (Oh, man. Bai Treason is GOOD. I can’t wait to get started on revisions for that one after I finish Take the Bai Road and the anthology short story).

All in all, things are looking busy in a good way. Full steam ahead!

Post-Vacation Opinion Dump

Raise your hand if you’re as confused about this whole December business as I am! How’d that happen? And why am I never prepared for December? No matter what I do, I always end up feeling like December was waiting around the corner to steal my lunch money. Given how expensive Christmas shopping can be, that’s actually not a half-bad analogy.

Ok, fine. We weren't on another planet, but there was a Space Needle there.

Ok, fine. We weren’t on another planet, but there was a Space Needle there.

As for Wes and myself, we opted to spend the first few days of December in hiding to celebrate our anniversary. Sort of. We were actually in Seattle, but as far as real world things went, we were off the map. Incommunicado. Unreachable. We went dark, in intelligence terms, and, while we weren’t far away from home in distance terms, we may as well have been on a different planet while we were gone.

You take two driven, somewhat intelligent people, turn their phones off, and tell them to go relax, and you know what’s going to happen? RELAXING. At one point, Wes shook his head and said, “I was just thinking that I feel kind of tipsy, but I haven’t had anything to drink yet today, and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me until I realized I was actually relaxed for the first time in forever.”

Given the ease with which we slipped into a life of leisure (one day, we watched Game of Thrones in bed until 2:30 in the afternoon), we’ve decided we will be very good retirees someday.

dinnerSo what did we do? A little bit of everything. We started at the Salish Lodge, a very nice hotel on top of a huge waterfall. Once there, we turned our phones off and got some massages. After that, we lazed around until dinner, which we ate at the Dining Room on the main level of the hotel.

Now, you might be asking yourself why Wes is wearing a casual video game t-shirt and mussed hair in the restaurant of a very fancy hotel. The answer is that he’s doing those things because they honestly do not care what you wear there. It is so liberating. Wes wasn’t even wearing shoes in this picture. He called the restaurant and told them he was too mellow to put on shoes and they were like, “Lolz, that’s ok we don’t care.”

Once we were satisfactorily chill, we left Snoqualmie for Seattle. The Hotel Monaco in downtown Seattle, to be specific. Some friends of ours recommended this hotel to us last year and we loved it so much we simply had to come back.

One of the things we love about it is how it smells. The lobby smells freaking amazing. Plus, we always stay in December so everything in the lobby is all roaring fireplaces, sparkly Christmas decorations, and comfy places to sit.

We didn’t stay indoors the whole time. We went for walks, spent one afternoon walking around in search of the perfect martini (needless to say, that was a fun afternoon!), and even managed to catch a show at both Teatro Zinzanni and PNB’s The Nutcracker.

This may have been after our afternoon sampling martinis. We regret nothing.

This may have been after our afternoon sampling martinis. We regret nothing.

My two cents? Teatro Zinzanni is excellent, as always. I’ve seen their show three times in fourteen years, so I’m far from a regular, but we have so much fun every time we go. If you’re in town and want to spend a few hours being enthralled and entertained, it’s definitely worth the money.

Especially if you enjoyed The Birdcage. Then you should definitely definitely go see it.

As for PNB’s The Nutcracker? Eh, this is a tough one. I love ballet. LOVE it. Could watch it all day. I only saw the previous iteration of PNB’s Nutcracker twice (the Stowell/Sendak one) and I was absolutely enraptured by it. The way to tree grew, the grown-up Clara, the heart-breakingly beautiful pas de deux at the end. Absolute perfection.

The new one, with choreography by Balanchine and set design and costumes by Ian Falconer, was hit and miss for me. The sets and costumes are remarkable and amazing, but the growing tree effect was kind of underwhelming compared to what came before.

Likewise, there were some dances (The Waltz of the Flowers is almost worth the price of admission just by itself) that were breathtaking, while other parts of the show that left me yawning. The whole first act is almost entirely danced by children who are acting out a Christmas party which, while adorable, is kind of a snoozefest. If I’m paying to see a professional ballet production, I’d like to see professionals doing incredible things, you know?

So anyway, those are my two cents. Should any of you be planning a visit to Seattle in the near future, I hope you find my¬†post-vacation ramblings somewhat helpful. As for me, I’m going to try to remember how to balance a writing career with the needs and wants of the young people in my care. I reckon if I get overwhelmed, I can just remember that, no matter what, Seattle is out there, with all its martinis and hotels and good coffee and nice people.

That ought to do it.

Highlights and Hijinks

IMG_3581We survived! Even better than survived, actually. We had fun. Lots and lots and lots of it. Turns out, the beach is a really fun place to hang out as a family. I wasn’t sure whether building sandcastles and exploring tide pools would be quite as much fun as a parent as I remembered it being as a child, but man, it so is.

To my immense delight, we also managed to survive the drive, though I will admit things got a bit dicey on the way home. Right around Olympia (halfway-ish) the kids started getting a tad feral, engaging in the same hijinks and generalized naughtiness kids the world over have always pulled out when bored on long road trips.

I saw a sign for a Safeway off the freeway and implored Wes to pull over, which he did, though a tad grudgingly. You see, we were having a bit of trouble with Google Maps, who had just informed us that the freeway ahead was a trafficked-up nightmare. I was trying to manage the kids, who were a few miles short of turning our backseat into the Thunderdome, trying to figure out an alternate route to avoid the traffic, doing my best to avoid getting carsick, and also? I had to pee. Irritated husband aside (I’ve never met a man who didn’t mind pulling over for a pit stop on long road trips. Every guy I’ve ever spent long periods of time in the car with has always had a ‘let’s push through and make it in one straight shot’ mentality. Why is that?), Wes pulled over and let his hot mess of a family out of the car.

Once we’d stretched, walked, used the grocery store’s bathroom, and obtained some inappropriate starches (hat tip to Joss Whedon), everyone was back in the car and more or less quiet.

“Thanks for pulling over for a rest stop,” I said to Wes while the kids contentedly crunched on Pringles in the backseat. “I was about to need a new pair of pants and I thought the kids were going to go Mad Max back there.”

“That kind of stuff doesn’t bother me,” he replied, eyes on the road.

I blinked at him. “Wait. What part doesn’t bother you? The peeing all over the car part, or the savage children tearing each other apart?”

He shook his head. “What? No, I just meant I would have just kept driving.”

I’m pretty sure he’s going to stock up on Depends for me and tranquilizers for the kids the next time we have a four hour car trip ahead of us.

Hijinks and upholstery destruction aside, we had a great time. I’ve definitely got the post-vacation blues now. Our home is lovely and all, but it isn’t walking distance to a beach and that, my friends, is just super sad all the way around. Everything should be within walking distance to a beach.

Oh! Hey! There’s the bright side to global warming! Within a few decades, I bet just about everything will be walking distance to a beach! Thanks, fluorocarbons!

Heading Out Into the Great Blue Yonder

Posting might be light this week, as Wes and I are strapping the kids into the car for a four-hour drive down to the Oregon coast, a trip during which, hopefully, none of the following will happen:

  • Vehicle breakdown. Not likely, but would definitely be a bummer should it happen. I can think of many things I would rather do than try to help Wes fix the car on the side of the road by fanning his face and answering what would surely be the millions of questions asked by our four-year old son.
  • Multi-state tantrum. Please God, no. Let them sleep. Does Dramamine believe in you if you believe in it?
  • Realizing I forgot something crucial once we’re too far away to turn back.
  • Natural disaster. That’d be kind of a downer on our first-ever family vacation. It happened to my family once when I was growing up, though. We were camping in the middle of BFE, way past nowhere and square in the middle of no-one-can-hear-you-scream. One night, my parents woke me and my brother and told us to hustle everything back in the truck because there was a forest fire coming right toward us. We broke camp and hauled ass out of there, driving the one-lane road back to civilization past burning hillsides while my brother and I scarcely contained our excitement over how cool it was. I think we even stuck our heads out the window to better see the flames as we drove past. We were not smart.
  • Injuries of any kind. We’ve had a rather expensive year when it comes to medical expenses. It’d be really great if all of us could avoid breaking, straining, injuring, and/or scraping anything. Especially given that Wes broke his leg during a trip to the Oregon coast as a kid when he visited with his family.

In making our lists for the trip, Wes and I compared essentials. Can you guess which list is Wes’s and which one is mine?

  • Bacon, steak, Pringles, rum, fruit juice to mix with said rum, beach chairs
  • Chocolate covered macadamia nuts, brownie mix, chocolate-covered peanut butter cups, vodka, lazy beach read books

Wish us luck and fun as we embark on what will hopefully be a fun adventure. My kids have never seen an actual beach with actual waves before. As a former Californian who spent much of her childhood on the beach, getting road rash from wiping out on the beach after boogie boarding and inhaling oodles of sea water from looking the wrong way when a wave came to clobber her, this is inexcusable to me. My children need waves in order to be well-rounded human beings!

See you on the flip side, my friends.

Vacation Eating

There's no way I'm picking an apple for breakfast when these are just sitting on the counter in front of me. I mean, come on. What am I, a cyborg?

There’s no way I’m picking an apple for breakfast when these are just sitting on the counter in front of me. I mean, come on. What am I, a cyborg?

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume I am not the only one who falls so completely off the eating healthy wagon while on vacation that not only does the wagon hit her while it rumbles by, it backs up and promptly collapses on her, too.

What is it about vacation that brings out the competitive eating side of me? It’s like no sooner are we out the door than I’m like, “Hey Wes, you know what would be great? If we could find a bagel sandwich to tide us over until we can get our hands on some Frappuccinos and donuts!”

There’s just something about the relaxation, limited time window, and overabundance of junk food in my nearish proximity that converges into this perfect maelstrom of dietary apocalypse. I wouldn’t want to live like that forever (I like it when my pants fit), but man is it fun to not give a crap while you’re on vacation.

Then again, you have to deal with the post-vacation letdown when you get home. There’s just something dispiriting about sitting down with an afternoon snack of almonds and string cheese when you’ve spent the last week whiling away the afternoon with Hershey’s bars and hard apple cider. I don’t care who you are, getting back into healthy habits is kind of depressing. I mean, sure. Yeah. Vegetables are good, and I definitely like how I feel when I’m eating well, but in no way does chomping down on baby carrots compare with the irresponsible, negligent pleasure of eating Pringles and hot dogs for dinner.

For the record, though? My knee hurt worse on vacation than it has in months. My mouth was happy, but the rest of me? Pretty pissed.

Just goes to show you, no self-destructive deed goes unpunished.

Oh, on a related note: I’m feeling pretty repentant for my many and obvious dietary sins from last week, but can’t go to the gym this week because of Wes’s work hours, so I decided to do a ten-minute Pilates workout I streamed through Hulu. I ended up trying to do half the workout with my son glued to my side (because he wanted to do it too, but reeeeeeeally close to me) and my daughter darting under my upraised legs, squealing with mischievous glee¬†every time I had to dodge kicking her in the head.

Sigh. Welcome back indeed.