One Hand To Build

March 18, 2017 at 1:41 pm (Uncategorized)

The day was Tuesday, January 24th. The Orange Menace had just been sworn in, millions of women took to the streets a few days before to march and show we were more than pussies to be grabbed, and–it seemed–battle lines had been drawn. This meant that in addition to the voices raised in protest, there were voices raised in delight. In acceptance. In whole-hearted, power-bearing, damn-the-torpedoes endorsement, such as:

  • An Oklahoma criminal appeal court ruling state law does not criminalize oral rape if the victim is unconscious. (Later amended, but JFC…)
  • The Texas Supreme Court agreeing to consider rolling back same-sex marriage rights.
  • The announcement of North Dakota’s HB1203–allowing an individual to strike a protester with their car without being held liable for death or injury.

Yes, I saw these stories (and more) all on January 24th. I was full of rage, disgust, shock, but most of all, the need to do something. But what? How? There are so many people being hurt and oppressed and brutalized on an hourly basis that it was difficult to find my footing and figure out where to start.

Then it hit me.

Quilts.

You see, back in the mid/late 90s, my mom (as part of her work group) was touring a camp for kids with cancer when she realized the beds had nothing more than a sheet and a utilitarian blanket. She asked the person leading the tour if the kids didn’t have something a little more bright/comforting/hopeful to put on their beds. No, the camp was run on donations and as much as they wished to give the kids more bright/comforting/hopeful things, they couldn’t always afford it. So my mom (whose high school picture bears the accompanying “She takes the T out of can’t.”) went home and started on her one-woman crusade to make these kids quilts. And then went on to make quilts for other kids, the homeless, and anybody else who needed them. She started a scrapbook of each quilt she did but stopped around 400. I asked her recently what her number was and, combined with the 5-person quilt group she started 10 years ago, she’s around 6,000. Yeah, Mom’s a fucking rock star.

But she also passed along quilting in my DNA. Mom taught me how to sew back when I was in grade school and it’s always come pretty naturally to me, unlike knitting or crocheting. I even made a few quilts back in the late 90s for gifts, but haven’t really sewed since then. But on that Tuesday, when I thought of women getting grabbed, beaten, raped, abused, an image came to mind: a woman, curled up the corner, a quilt wrapped around her like a shield, providing what little warmth and comfort such a thing could after such a thing could happen. And I knew what I had to do. Like my mom, I would bring a little comfort, a little hope, a little brightness to a very dark corner of the world.

It was going to be a big task, cost some money, and throw a massive hurricane into the middle of our home, but I felt it in my bones. That night, I told my husband about my rage and my desire to help and my plan and after he thought for a minute or two, turned to me and said, “You know, if we moved the sofa in the front room you could set up your sewing machine there. Or you could use the dining room table. Or both, even, and we’ve got the rainy day fund. It’s all yours.” Mom’s not the only rock-star in my family.

7 weeks later, I was able to deliver 7 quilts to the Sojourner Center in Phoenix, a domestic violence center that, among many other things, provides emergency shelter and transitional housing for victims of domestic violence. There were 4 baby/toddler/crib quilts (nearly 50% of Sojourner’s residents are children, half of those children under the age of 5.): two identical Peter Cottontail flannel quilts, a Nut Brown Hare/Guess How Much I Love You quilt with a fuzzy fleece backing, and a cat flannel quilt where the yarn ties became cat whiskers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And there were 3 adult quilts–one a lap/snuggle quilt with a fun flannel backing of cartoon squirrels and birds and trees and 2 of the same 3-block pattern with a navy flannel backing (queen sized).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also tagged each quilt, hoping that the person who had it (or was reading it) would know there was somebody out there pulling for them, believing in them. The child quilts got a more gentle message while the adult quilts got all the strength I could put into a small tag of fabric.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that’s what I’ve been doing, what I’m going to continue to do. As Brittany Packnett says, use one hand to battle and the other to build. I’m going to keep building, keep sewing. I’m going to keep making baby quilts for Sojourner, as they have a real need for them, and my next batch of adult quilts are going to be for a rape crisis center, the ones after that for LGBTQIAP+ youth. And I’m going to use my sewing to battle as well. I’m planning to make quilts for more political statements, including the biggest, pinkest, fuzziest pussy quilt you’ve ever dreamed of, and woe be to the mother fucker who grabs it without my permission.

Resist.

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Happy 2017

December 31, 2016 at 12:06 pm (Uncategorized)

I’m a child of the 80s and that means I listened to ABBA. (My older cousin would record her albums for me on cassette and I was hooked. C’mon–that’s still some really catchy shit. Go listen.)

Anyhoozles, there’s a song on their 1980 album Super Trouper called ‘Happy New Year’ and even after all this time, I can still remember the lyrics to the chorus.

Happy new year, happy new year
May we all have a vision now and then
Of a world where every neighbor is a friend.
Happy new year, happy new year
May we all have our hopes, our will to try
If we don’t we might as well lay down and die, you and I
 
A bit melancholy, yes, but hopeful overall. Well, needless to say, they song is really resonating with me this year. I do have hope, and the ‘verse willing, 2017 will be what we all need it to be. And because I didn’t want to make this post so dour (even though 2016 was a dumpster fire of biblical proportions), I created my own “Me in 2016” meme. So fuck you, 2016. We’re going to make 2017 so awesome that nobody remembers you anymore. HAPPY 2017!!!
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Eggnog and Holiday Movies

December 19, 2015 at 1:08 pm (Uncategorized)

Howdy.

So here’s the good news–I got a new job. It’s actually a great job and I find myself thinking that jobs don’t necessarily have to equal stressful soul-sucking horror filled with passive-aggressive dickheads and people who get paid way too much and given way more power than they ever deserve.

Sorry. Might still be working through a few issues with the past job. Ahem. Now, onward…

But the good news of the great job also means my time is being taken up more so than usual as I settle into the new job and the new commute and new everything else, and on top of that, it’s the holidays! I do love the holidays, especially Christmas, but my biggest gift this year is going to be some time.

Time to relax, time to recharge, time to read and drink tea and watch traditional holiday movies.

 

(And I haven’t even mentioned Star Wars…)

Anyhoozles, I’m going to try and do a Christmas post, but for right now know I’m getting geared up in my day job and writing my next dark Victorian romance (and damn, is it good if I say so myself…) and taking a few minutes here and there to listen to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack and drink eggnog.

Happy almost Christmas.

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I Am A Failure.

September 28, 2015 at 11:45 am (Uncategorized)

“If you don’t fail, you’re not reaching very high.”

And yeah, you’re going to see a lot more from Temple of Art. I might have found a new religion.

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Falling in Love With Your Characters

September 16, 2015 at 12:37 pm (Uncategorized)

DSC04457“I think it all comes back to the core idea of grounding your characters in an emotional reality that the audience can relate to. And if you can do that, it gives you license to have tremendous amounts of fun and wink at the audience in a way that doesn’t make them feel like they’re being patronized. We’re all taking it as seriously as we would take a heavy drama. And that tone is critical because you are asking the audience to suspend its belief and you are asking them to jump into this world and say ‘it’s crazy, but it’s totally real’. So hopefully when you’re watching the show, the reaction the audience is having is ‘yes it’s crazy, but man if I were in that situation I think I’d probably be reacting the same way’. If we can get the audience to that place, then they will accept anything. I think that’s our job as screenwriters in anything that we do – we’re asking the audience to suspend disbelief and to go on an emotional ride and to say ‘I accept the reality of this world. Even though it couldn’t possibly happen actually, I’m in it, I believe it, and I feel like it’s happening.’

But mostly it’s about letting your inner kid play around and have fun and be wide-eyed in wonder and experience awe and experience the joy of story twists and turns and fall in love with characters…and if we feel like we can genuinely make that happen, then we say yes. But it’s a process for us in that we have to really believe we can do that. Otherwise it’s not worth the time, because it will be painful for people who loved it to feel it didn’t meet their expectation and it will be painful for us because we don’t want to be the guys who did that to anybody. Especially to ourselves.”

~Alex Kurtzman, as quoted in Creative Screenwriting’s A Year in Quotes series

 

Now, your first question is probably who the heck is Alex Kurtzman? Short answer is he’s the co-creator of FRINGE, co-writer of STAR TREK, TRANSFORMERS and COWBOYS & ALIENS. He’s done a lot of other writing, a lot of producing and was the executive producer of THE PROPOSAL. Yes, Alex Kurtzman gave Betty White center stage. Let’s just say when Mr. Kurtzman gives advice, I’m listening hard.

I loved the first part of his quote as I’m a fan of Michael Hauge and his whole thing is about eliciting emotion from the reader (audience). Thinking of emotion as a way to ask your reader to suspend disbelief and jump into your world is a great way to put it, and well worth some ceiling gazing in the future, but the gold here is this line: But mostly it’s about letting your inner kid play around and have fun and be wide-eyed in wonder and experience awe and experience the joy of story twists and turns and fall in love with characters…and if we feel like we can genuinely make that happen, then we say yes. That, my friends, is the blue ribbon. Read it again. Read it out loud. See where your voice naturally stresses a word and pay attention to those beats. Feels good, doesn’t it?

Thank you, Mr. Kurtzman.

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So, How Was Your Summer?

September 8, 2015 at 1:35 pm (Uncategorized)

Here it is, the first day after Labor Day. I don’t care what anybody says, today is the first day of fall. I’m not going to get into what the weather is or should be, just harkening back to the first day back to school being this day, and school=fall, so there ya go. First day of fall also means summer’s over. I hope yours was lovely and everything summer should be. Me? Oh, well I went to a baseball game or two…

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Went to the lake…

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And met some fun new people… 😉

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I also wrote three books, which is why I wasn’t blogging that much. I’m not going to say much about them now because I am a bit superstitious and don’t want to jinx anything, but I really love them all and am keeping my fingers crossed.

Okay, that much writing means lots of other fun stuff that goes with it, so on to that to-do list. I’m thinking of some fun posts about other summer vacation stuff (including lots of excited swears and squees over Mad Mad: Fury Road) so promise to get those up soon. Until then, happy first day of fall.

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Music and Songs and Books, Oh My!

March 10, 2015 at 10:12 am (Uncategorized)

Yes, there are many blog posts scheduled to talk about the release of my debut historical romance novel, THE FIGHTER AND THE FALLEN WOMAN, and various details, thoughts and comments about it, but not today. You see today, the day after Release Day, something wonderful happened.

I’ve talked before how music inspires my writing, even talked about it recently on the Carina Press blog for FAFW (see, got some promotion in!). As other books come up, I’ll talk about their songs and inspirations (including one full book inspired by a song I heard on Dancing With The Stars and the way the universe lined up on that one), but not today. Today is that something wonderful I referred to above.

So this Tuesday morning I’m driving to work, listening to an Ed Sheeran shuffle of both X and + (his two albums of those names) and a song came on that got me. If I may quote my own webpage, “felt as though it bruised something deep within.” A hero popped into my head, a dark and tortured hero to rival any I’ve written or have planned to write (and trust me, not of them get softer and fluffier than King. We’re talking dahr-har-har-hark!) I knew this was a hero who deserved his story because a) for a second I wondered if he was too dark, too fucked-up to be a hero in a romance novel, which meant he was absolutely a hero I had to write about, and b) who needs a happy ever after more than somebody who is that far gone, that destructive (both to himself and others)?

Sidenote: I’m not linking the song now not because I’m worried that somebody will steal my idea or anything like it, but this stage of the game the idea is fresh and new, and I need to bury it deep in the fecund soil of my writer’s brain to steep and grow stronger. I can only do that if I keep everything in the dark ground and out of direct light.

“So you had a book idea from a song. Big deal!” some of you may yell. “You’ve been there, done that. Tell us something new.” Okay, I will.

Yes, I’ve had ideas spring from a single song before, but this one was different. I heard the song and had the idea. Usually that’s as far as it goes for a while. Nuh-uh. Not today. Within 15 minutes, I had 2 more songs for the soundtrack, the visual hanger for my hero and the title of the book, which is also the central theme. I even had the big crisis moment that precedes Turning Point 2, aka the midpoint of the book. That much information about a book, enough to really jump-start the whole damn story? That has never happened before. All from one song. I am so excited about this hero that I want to move him up the queue and start writing his story much sooner than some of the others, but I also know I need to let him steep for a little while, find him the perfect heroine and a few other necessary points. Then I can write him.

I cannot wait.

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Check Out This Cover!

January 12, 2015 at 7:56 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

WARNING: Extreme and innumerable amounts of favoritism in this post. If such thing offends you, you really shouldn’t be here in the first place. Just WAIT until I start my Doctor Who posts…

Now, check out his amazing piece of artwork, my friends:

CARINA_0315_9781426899591_TheFighterAndTheFallenWoman

Holy Smexxy Pants, that is one gah-hah-hah-GORGEOUS cover, isn’t it? It is hauntingly beautiful and achingly-in-a-good-way gritty and just gets me all fluttery every time I look at it. (I think it has magic powers, but am willing to admit that may be just me.)

Eight weeks until THE FIGHTER AND THE FALLEN WOMAN is released into the wild and this delicious cover is attached to my dark Victorian romance. I am excited, nervous, a tiny bit terrified and so damn ready.

Welcome to the countdown.

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The Five Stages of THE CALL

June 20, 2014 at 8:33 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

Yes, it finally happened. I got THE CALL. And, I found, just like the Kübler-Ross Five Stages of Grief model, there are Five Stages to THE CALL.

Betcha didn’t know that, did you? Well, neither did Wikipedia. If you can believe it, they had nothing on the Five Stages of The Call. (And I thought I could trust the internet…)

So, for your edification, here they are:

1. Not surprisingly, the first stage of THE CALL is the same as the first stage of grief: Denial

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2. Where grief goes to anger, the second stage of THE CALL goes to Belief.

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3. Bargaining is stage three of grief, but the third stage of THE CALL is Joy.

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4. Grief’s depression is nowhere near THE CALL’s fourth stage–Realization (a.k.a. Really Sinking In.)

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5. And then there’s stage five. Grief’s fifth stage is acceptance, and it’s rather similar to THE CALL’s–acceptance of what just happened, a.k.a. CELEBRATION!!!tumblr_m0cljuW7Rx1qkwo51

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Take that, Wikipeida.

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I’m planning for March

February 27, 2014 at 12:39 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

March is supposed to come in like a lion, right? Well, that’s the plan.

Actually, the plan is to have February leave like a lion, March come in like one, then leave like a 7-headed chupacabra beast that was created in the nightmares of Ray Harryhausen and and has since be tormented, starved, and deprived of all chocolate. I think it’s safe to say, March is going to end like a BEAST!!

Something came up where the previous writing became editing, but all good. Forward progress on the writing, be it putting words on the page or editing those there is the goal and hey–sometimes the plan has to be altered. Organic plans, that’s me.

Sending you all juju for happy writing.

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