Loss and Resilience

Still reeling a bit here – my father’s health started declining when my mother passed in September, and he finally slipped away to join her last week. He was ready to go – life just wasn’t complete for him without her. They were married almost 74 years, and had known each other since they were children. When someone has been by your side for that long, losing them is like losing half of yourself.

But we were so lucky to have them as long as we did, and their lives were long and full, and their ends were peaceful and painless. As a good friend told me, there is more here to celebrate than to mourn, and I am surprising myself with how resilient I apparently am. Who knew?

Anyway, as resilient and well-adjusted as I may be, I’m still feeling the kick. I just haven’t been able to get myself into the happy space in my head that gave birth to Jake and Boo, and right now I really need Jake and Boo, you know? So I’m trying, I really am, but when life kicks you in the gut, sometimes you just need to roll around on the floor for a while before you get back up again.

A brand new year

I love a new year. It’s not the New Year’s Eve festivities that excite me, although we do have a lovely tradition of spending it with friends having a “high end pot-luck” and drinking a better class of wine than we usually get.

What I love about it are new beginnings and fresh starts. I’ve never been into Spring Cleaning. I tend to do my big cleanouts at the new year. I try new routines, start new books, try new foods. This year I am renewing my commitment to daily meditation. It was during a meditation session last year that I came to the realization that I needed to be writing. I could use some more of that clarity – couldn’t we all?

My office is still a horrible mess, though, and I can’t work in there at the moment because my husband bought scented kitty litter. This is no joke – I have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and difficulty with perfumed items, and this scented litter smells worse to me than plain old cat pee. I had carefully researched and selected an unscented, environmentally sound litter that was great at limiting odor and dust. All was right with my world. And now I can’t get anything done because the cloying smell of this cat litter has driven me from my office! And I can always tell if one of the cats has just used the box because the smell of the litter clings to them. So gross.

So I’ve been trying to write at various other spots around the house while this box of litter gets used up, but it’s slow going. Not a Mermaid is coming along, but not as fast as I would like. But I need to get it finished soon because I’ve got so many ideas for Not a Zombie that I want to work on!

Is it feeling like the holidays yet?

Is the weather where you are starting to cool off? Can you drink a cup of hot cocoa without feeling foolish? Does your chimney need cleaning (no, that’s not a euphemism)?

I just took a sweet potato pie out of the oven. It’s the first time I’ve made this recipe and I’m testing it on my friends tonight before I bake it for my dad. That’s what he wants for Thanksgiving. He’s always loved sweet potato pie, and it’s gotten so hard to find a ready made one any more. And now that Patti LaBelle’s pie has gone viral, it’s even worse. So, I took the sweet potatoes I was going to use to make a virtuous, fat-free, vegan stew, and mixed them up with a bunch of butter, sugar, eggs, and milk to make a pie. My family probably thinks that’s a better use of sweet potatoes anyway, so it’s feeling festive for them!

For me the holidays have lost some of their thrill. Thanksgiving was always my favorite because I loved planning the meal and getting up early to prep the turkey and cook and drink wine and boss everyone around. But now the day is just my dad, brother, husband and me. All the food comes from Trader Joe’s and I stick it in the oven to warm up. I still drink wine, though. And my husband, brother, and I hang out in my brother’s kitchen eating cheese until they go to the assisted living facility to pick up my dad and bring him back. Afterwards, maybe we’ll watch a movie or something, but it’s just not the same. Rinse and repeat for Christmas.

New Year’s Eve we traditionally spend with friends, at someone’s house, and we dress up and bring fancy food and it’s a lot of fun. That’s my idea of festive – gathering with people and sharing the day with food and laughter.

My old traditions for Thanksgiving and Christmas just aren’t working anymore. I’m feeling frustrated because I’m ready to start new traditions with my husband, centered around our own home and city rather than requiring us to drive halfway across Texas. Or maybe traveling to experience the Christmas traditions of another culture. I’d love to have a big Thanksgiving dinner at our house, with friends who linger and spend the day and pick at the turkey until it’s time to eat again. We’ll all drink too much and play games and no one will want to watch the Cowboys game.

We’d be able to go to all of our friends’ holiday parties, even the one on Christmas Eve, because we wouldn’t have to leave town. We could sleep late on Christmas day and have lasagna for dinner, or go to Chinatown for dim sum, or wear our pajamas all day while we watch movies and drink mulled wine and eat cheese and crackers. In other words, we could just do whatever we damn well want.

I could decorate the house, and I wouldn’t stress because we’d be leaving for days. Instead of planning a portable menu, making hotel reservations, and getting the car checked out for the drive, I could bake cookies, go Christmas shopping, wrap gifts, and knit a pair of socks for my husband.

Anyone else stressing about the holidays? Are you imagining your ideal season? Or are you already enjoying your dream?

A quick update!

I’ve taken some time off this last month, dealing with the fallout of my mother’s passing and trying to get back into some kind of routine. Things are settling down now, though, and my mind is turning back to writing!

I am plugging away at the second Jake & Boo book, and you know what November is… NaNoWriMo! I will be using NaNoWriMo to draft the third Jake & Boo book – Not a Zombie.

My ambitious goal is to have both books ready to publish by the end of the year. Think I’ll make it? We’ll find out. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at the cover of Book 2:

Cover_NotaMermaid

Cable’s Bend Update and Other News

First off, I have to say that the weather in Houston this weekend has been amazing – we opened all the windows (because we weren’t stupid enough to paint them shut) and let the fresh air in. These older homes were really built to catch the breeze!

There are probably, oh, two of you out there waiting for the next Cable’s Bend book – Jon’s story. I’m afraid you’re probably going to have to wait a bit longer than expected. Looking it over, it just isn’t moving me. It’s long, and it’s not just a slow-burner, it’s a freakin’ crock pot. It needs trimming down and spicing up. I can’t in good conscience, send a boring book out into the world – and that’s what it would be at this point.

So, I’m going to write a few more erotic shorts, another Jake & Boo novel, and maybe turn my attention to other Cable’s Bend characters. I need a break from Jon and Drew, and hopefully when we get back together there will be sparks.

The first Jake & Boo story, Not a Werewolf is scheduled to be released this week – Tuesday, if the internet cooperates. I’ll post an announcement here when it goes live.

Also, did you see where I mentioned those erotic shorts? Yeah, thought you might have noticed that. I tried it as an experiment over the summer, and had a lot of fun with it, so I’m going to write some more. I’m writing under the pseudonym Angèle Aurore in case you’re in the mood for some modern m/m fairy tales.

Not a Werewolf Sneak Peek

Closing in on the release for “Not a Werewolf”! Here’s a sneak peek for y’all – cover and blurb:

Cover4

When perpetual student Jake Hillebrand starts having strange dreams, no theory is too outlandish – even the possibility that he has become a werewolf. His best friend Don is no help, though – he doesn’t even believe in werewolves!

When the dreams lead Jake and Don to the body of a despised developer dumped along a Houston bayou, the only ones listening to Jake’s theories are Detective Ruben Petreski and Jake’s feline visitor, Boo.

In a historic neighborhood under threat from developers, everyone is a suspect, but so far all Jake’s new-found psychic abilities seem to be good for is finding kittens and talking to squirrels. He’s really going to have to up his game if he wants to escape the killer’s attention – and catch Detective Petreski’s.

Note: Contains excessive caffeine intake, cats, irritable detectives, lots of carbs, and no werewolves.

What’s going on, you ask?

Oh, summer, you take up so much time! So much travel, so much editing, so much everything…

In July I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo for the first time – I was lucky to be in a great cabin with some determined ladies, and while we didn’t reach our cabin goal, we all did our best and now I have my first mystery novel completed. Pinning down the right category for it, though… that’s a tough one.

It’s a mystery, but there’s just a touch of romance, and oh yeah, the main character is a psychic and at least one of the other characters is a shape-shifter, but, as the title tells us, “Not a Werewolf”. And it’s humorous, but not quite cozy because there’s some cursing, some f-bombs, and a couple of joints get smoked. So, if that’s not your thing, it’s cool.

And what’s up with the cover for “Saving Grapes” you wonder? I got a professionally made cover, and I thought it looked great, but a lot of the feedback that I got after publication was not so great, sad to say. Also, when I got the Createspace proof to review, the red was so intense it looked like someone had bled all over it. People were confused and thought it was an inspirational/religious romance, which it is definitely not. So, I dialed it back a notch, which it pained me to do.

And that’s what’s going on.