Wednesday, May 30, 2012

military jacket, STEAMPUNK'D

I shouldn't be allowed near needles, machines, and piping hot irons, but I'm cheap as hell and not willing to pay $69 for the jacket I really want. That's one reason I love steampunk so much-- modding existing items is considered a point of pride.

That's why my first limbo project was taking this jacket:

(worn with steampunk YA author Scott Westerfeld!)

and turning it into this little steampunk bolero:

I didn't take step-by-step pics because I fully expected it to fail.

In any case, the jacket was too large, so I cut off most of the bottom, leaving a cute little wren tail in back. Then I sewed down the hem and put in two darts in back. I cut off most of the sleeves and angled them so they would be more fitted, although they're honestly not as fitted as I'd hoped. Lastly, I cut off the hook and eye and sewed it back on at the bottom of the lapel so that it can be held together if desired.

And that corset? It isn't new. I was irritated to miss a gold and brown tiger-striped corset that went on sale at Damsel in this Dress, and then I realized that my Little Red Riding Hood corset has a lovely gold and tan stripe on the reverse. So I just turned it inside out.

All that, and I escaped with a single broken needle and an iron burn. For me, that's a miracle.

Steampunk'd: Where halfassery is welcome and scars are badges of honor!


Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I'm there again.

In limbo.

It's the part of the creative cycle where I've just finished a massive, seemingly impossible undertaking. I've forsaken sleep, trashed my diet, and ignored all the people I care about. I haven't bathed, and my toenails are chipped. I am barely functional. But by God, I've crossed the finish line, and it's time to celebrate!

Or is it?

Eh. Not really.

If you're an artist, you're probably familiar with this time, this place. This limbo. You work so hard for it, but when you get here, you don't feel the relief and triumph you've been dreaming of, just the fumbling lack of a goal. You're swamped with the feeling that you should be doing something else, starting over again. That you need a purpose.

Within two hours of finishing my draft and sending it off to my agent, I feel lost, adrift, and, honestly, a little smelly. I'm pretty sure I bathed recently. Wait, what day is it? And why don't we have any groceries?

It's easy to forget that victory isn't always satisfying. That there is no finish line. That reaching your destination doesn't mean you've completed the journey. It's just another check mark, just another nod of the head and email sent, and then it's back to life as normal. And there is no real normal, because everything we do is one of these cycles, unless we go all zen and live in the moment, which is mighty impractical most of the time if you don't want to live in a cardboard box down by the river.

I'll never forget when I was around 9, and my mom told me that my new job was to do the family laundry ever Saturday morning while watching cartoons. It felt good, to have a grown-up responsibility. I gathered it, sorted it, washed and dried and folded it, all while enjoy Dunkin' Donuts and The Shirt Tales. It was done, and I stood over the mounds of fluffy cloth proudly, savoring my triumph.

Then my dad walked in, threw a wad of sweaty clothes in the empty hamper, and grabbed a new shirt off the bottom of the stack, thereby undoing half of my work. And I deflated.

That was the moment that I realized the laundry would never really be "done".

I've hated laundry ever since.

Also yard work, cooking, dishes, vacuuming, and paying bills.

But I write for the same reason I do laundry: because I have to.

Because while I'm in the midst of the crazed work, I look forward to the victory. And when I'm in the limbo following the victory, I look forward to when the next idea takes hold and grips me with possibility. It's all about the hope, the passion, the striving that makes me forget about the limbo.

I love the cycle because it tells me I'm alive. Because it keeps me awake and hungry.

But I hate the cycle because it never ends, and I can only see that clearly when I'm in the limbo.

The cycle is cruel, and the cycle is beautiful.

Long live the cycle!


Sunday, May 27, 2012


Do you like any of the following:

*Dodo birds?
*Monkey butlers?
*Ruining Charles Darwin's day?
*Flight of the Conchords?
*Steampunk? Especially dirigibles and ships?
*Adorable English accents?
*Wallace & Gromit-type claymation?
*Arguments regarding who would win in a fight between sharks and Draculas?
*The same, but jellyfish and Frankensteins?
*Inside jokes?
*Childish jokes?
*Very esoteric and half-hidden jokes?
*Listening to Watson from BBCs Sherlock as "Pirate with a Scarf?"

If you are nodding your head and salivating, then GOOD NEWS!

There exists a movie that includes ALL OF THOSE THINGS.

It's called THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS, which is the dumbest name ever. The poster is likewise awful. But we wanted a fun family outing, and we missed the one where Dwayne Johnson rides a giant bumblebee by ten minutes.

There's only one thing about this movie that I didn't love: THAT NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT IT.

Seriously-- and I know no one takes me seriously, as well you shouldn't. But if you're a child at heart, go see it.

Then let's have a serious discussion about sharks vs. Draculas.


Friday, May 25, 2012

no editing the editing

I'm procrastinating.

I just finished a GINORMOUS revision that sucked out my soul through my earholes, and instead of finishing my final pass, I'm shopping for shoes and contemplating purchasing those cast octopus tentacle earrings I've been eyeing for three years.

What can I say? I have weaknesses.

And I'm drinking Malbec on an empty stomach.

So here's an unedited photoset of me contemplating my recent hair coloring escapade. No more gray! No fancy filters. Just a shaky finger on the laptop fingerpad.

Note: there's a Spin Pin in my mouth in the third pic down. Last pic is zombie.

I don't know why. Just go with it.

Being an artist doesn't always make sense, kids.


Thursday, May 24, 2012


You know you can bathe with Criminy and smell like Criminy.

But did you know you can DRINK CRIMINY?

That's right, y'all. I put together a custom blended tea, my take on Criminy.

I haven't tried it yet, but I don't know how it could go wrong, iced with a bit of honey. And it's based on a jasmine green tea, which is full of antioxidants!

The inspiration was this line of Avengers, Dr. Who, and Hunger Games teas I found on tumblr.

One more reason to love 2012.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

my new ink

Guess what, y'all? I GOT A NEW TATTOO!

[insert picture of a green dot]

Why no pic?

Because my toe hurts too much to go through the pedicurian rigmarole.

See, last night, I was writing. I have been writing almost steadily for the last week, as I know that once school is out, I'll never have the energy and time to finish this YA paranormal. So I'm underslept, overcaffeinated, and frenzied. Nothing new.

Inspiration struck, and I reached for my notebook and a green pen. A Magna Tank .5mm gel pen, to be exact.

And then I dropped it.

On my toe.

No, wait. In my toe.

It stuck, point down, in my big toe.


It quivered there like a dagger.

I was part of a game of human mumbletypeg, folks, and it wasn't fun.

I yanked it out and knew immediately that I was marked for life. I squeezed it, dabbed it, moistened it, yes, even tried to suck out the ugly venom of green gel ink, but it was all for naught.

I will have a green dot on my big toe for the rest of my life.

That, dear friends, is hardcore dedication to writing.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

it's not faire

Once, many moons ago, a penniless college student sat at a table at the Georgia Renaissance Festival, sweating profusely and watching lords and ladies laugh and eat turkey leggs like they were having the best time in the world.

"It's not fair," she said to herself, and the Goblin King did not arrive.

But that girl vowed that one day, she would return. She would return, and she would not be wearing ratty jeans and a tank top that didn't quite hide her bra straps.

No, she would return, and she would return in costume.

Today, friends, was that day.

And, yeah, I guess it wasn't a 100% wench costume, as I knew better than to wear a huge skirt in this kind of heat, and I didn't wear my ginormous pirate hat. But I was in a corset, by God, and no one can argue that, especially since I have super weird tan lines from the corset collar/off-the-shoulder shirt combo.

And I got a SOUVENIR. My daughter and I decided on matching black parasols. We spent the next hour congratulating each other on our wisdom in buying sunshades. It was fantastic.

When I was younger, I barely had enough money to get in the gates. I longed to do exactly what I did today, to feel like I was a part of the splendor and mythology and magic. And getting to do it with this crew made it even sweeter.

Optimus Prime, a witch in cowboy boots, and a self-proclaimed "motorcycle monkey guy with a sword". The world hasn't seen a crew this random since the yacht team in Summer Rental.

That's my brave knight. We let each child choose a souvenir. He chose a big-ass sword.

No one is surprised.

And my witch took off her dress to reveal a pink and teal Autobot shirt, which went well with her new parasol. I can't tell you how much it warms my cold black heart, having a girly girl who loves boy stuff and goth stuff and funny stuff. She's just magical, that child.

Something about that painting looks different.

Maybe it's the flame-covered sandals peeking out underneath.

In conclusion, it's nice when you finally get the things you've always wanted, and they're even better than you ever expected.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

10 years

May 18, 2002:

May 18, 2012:

Happy Anniversary, Dr. Krog!

At dinner last night, a younger couple sat at the table next to us. And when we mentioned to the waiter that we were celebrating our tenth anniversary, they sheepishly admitted that they were celebrating their first one.

"Can I ask-- what's the secret to ten years?" the girl asked, and I giggled for a minute.

"I married a psychologist," I answered. "So when I say I want to talk about feelings, he's happy to oblige."

And then we all laughed.

But here's the real secret: laughter. We laugh a lot. We have adventures. We whisper during movies. We watch Family Guy and giggle. In short, we still act like we're 18, which is how old we were when we met.

I think the real secret is to change all the time without actually changing.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

stars and other shiny things

I'm always amazed by the recognition that we are made of star stuff.

And I'm likewise mystified by the fact that our cells are constantly dying and being replaced, and that with some exceptions, I am just a clone of the girl I was seven years ago, who is a clone of who I was when I was in college, who is a clone of who I was in high school, who is a clone of who I was when I puked on that elephant, all the way back to the original me.

I mean... WHOA.

That means I'm two deviations away from the girl I was when I was a teen. It's such a formative time then, when we pick and choose who we want to be, how we want to self-identify, how we will rebel and how we will conform. In most ways, I am not that girl. We don't even have the same name.

And yet, when I go to a thrift store, I can't help but feel that she and I have a lot in common. That picture shows $19 worth of things I would have bought when I was 18, no questions asked. I probably wouldn't have had the guts to wear them back then, but I'm glad I do now.

It kind of blows me away that the substances of which those purchases are made-- they're made of stars, too. I'm made of stars, and my new velvet blazer with the satin ribbon tie is made of stars, and my children are made of stars, and my book is made of stars, and you guys are made of stars. All those little chunks of matter have been around forever, just waiting to become what they are

Again... WHOA.

Here's to constant amazement and further permutations of the stars.


Monday, May 14, 2012

the dirty secret about being an author

When I was growing up, I never dreamed of writing a book, much less publishing one. I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career-- only that I wanted to be comfortable. I didn't want to worry.

For a long time, I thought my life's dream was to run the arts center where I grew up, but that didn't happen because I didn't want it badly enough to fight for it. I worked other jobs, just pushing paper to make money. And then I had babies. And then I started writing.

When I started my first book, I thought, "I just want to finish a book. That's enough."

It wasn't.

When I started writing my second book, I thought, "I just want to write a better book. That's enough."

It wasn't.

When I started querying agents, I thought, "I just want to get some requests, maybe some positive feedback. That's enough."

It wasn't.

When I found representation, I thought, "I just want to sell a book. That's enough."

It wasn't.

When I scored a three book deal from an amazing Big Six publishing house, I thought, "I just want to see my book in print. That's enough."

It wasn't.

The dirty secret is that ever since I started writing, nothing I've done has felt like enough. 

I have written more books, some of which have died quietly, some of which haven't sold, some of which are awaiting revision. I have done interviews and guest blogs, and I've been so fortunate to receive fantastic reviews. I've been invited to several conferences. I should be more than satisfied.

But I'm not.

I still feel like I should be doing more, writing more, selling more. I have never been so hungry, so filled with energy. I have never been so anxious to do well, to do better. I have never been ruled by such ambition and anxiety.

And in some ways, it's awesome. In other ways, it's terrifying.

So much of publishing is completely random. Your ranking on Amazon, where your book is placed in bookstores, whether or not someone in high places happens to pick up your book and read the back cover. There is no formula for victory. I have days where I look at my sales and have a mini panic-attack, thinking, OMIGOD, I NEED TO SELL MORE BOOKS OR I AM GOING TO FAIL, even though there is no clear route to selling books and no clear way to know you've failed until it's far too late. I've never had a job with such mystifying, arbitrary rules for success.

I used to think that I would see my book in a bookstore and think, "Well, I did that, and it's done. Awesome."

Instead, I see my book on the shelf and wonder why no one has bought that copy yet.

It's maddening. It's fantastic. I have never felt so alive, so vital. And I can't imagine doing anything else.

So maybe that's the dirty secret. It will never be enough... and I wouldn't want it to be.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all my fellow mothers!

That's what I looked like a few moments after I became a mother. 
That stubborn little girl with her round, perfect head was upside down the whole time and ended up being a very unwanted c-section. But I got to see my intestines, so that was pretty cool.

And this is me after I became a mother for the second time. 
That squinchy little dude came out the usual way, which was also pretty fascinating to watch.
When I finally saw him, he looked like a prizefighter after nine tough rounds.
Bruised and exhausted.
I was, too.
Mothering can make you feel that way, no matter how big they get.
My daughter emerged to the sounds of the operating room, beeps and whispers and the cold rustle of metal.
My son emerged to Toto's Africa.
Now she likes Ladytron and he likes Cake and Shakira.
"I want hear dat song bout the girl wit a jacket an' a skirt an' she does stuff," he says.
She just rolls her eyes, 5 going on 13.
They exhaust me, infuriate me, surprise me, delight me, hug me until my neck aches.
But overall, they're pretty awesome, and I'm glad they're mine.

Here's to being a mother. It's hard as hell, but totally worth it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

this chaise, it is so verra longue

When I was little, we sometimes kept our family's furniture for a while, since we mostly stayed in one place. And, being a child, I would get attached. Once, I fell in love with a chaise longue owned by my aunt. When she took it back, I was heartbroken. Hundreds of hours I had cultured my butt on that chair, reading.

And then it was... gone.

Today, I healed that minor wound. Much like Skydancer, there was a hole in my life where a chaise should have been. I found this chaise at TJ Maxx for $150 a few months ago and thought, "That's a good price. But it's not good enough."

And then I went in today, and it was $50.

FIFTY DOLLARS. To heal a broken heart.

SOLD, said I!

And now I can read in my studio while sitting on my chaise.

I am a happy girl, oh yes.

All it took was an old pony and a very swoopy chair.

What can I say? I'm easy.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

crowdsourcing has jumped the shark

Here's a metaphor for almost any crowdsourcing request on Facebook.

me: Looking for a delicious hamburger joint near Alpharetta that serves sweet potato fries and is child friendly. Anybody have a suggestion?
friend 1: u should try Vinnie's for pizza, it is great.

friend 2: Burger Haus has amazing regular fries!

friend 3: Yummyburger is PERFECT for you. Amazing burgers, great SP fries, indoor playground with free nannybots to watch the kids. It's in Nowhere, North Dakota.

friend 4: You should become a vegan. Meat is harmful and horrible and you will die of cancer.

friend 5: lol veganz

friend 6: ChickfilA had sweet potato fries last year.

friend 7: La Burger de la Tristesse has good burgers and fantastic SP fries! But no kids.

friend 8: There's a great, child-friendly vegan place near us with an amazing black bean patty.

friend 9: OMG! I know the perfect place! In Alpharetta, grassfed burgers, SP fries, kid-friendly, but it just opened and doesn't have a website yet. Hold on, I'll get my coupon for you. (disappears offline forever)

friend 4: You should watch this video.

friend 10: I had a burger the other day that wasn't that good.

friend 11: McDonalds?

friend 12: Meat isn't murder. Meat is God's way of making us happy. Everyone should eat meat. Vegans should stop eating celery and start eating more meat. I eat meat and meat only for ever meal. Meat meat meat. Vegans are hairless trolls. But I don't know the answer to your actual question.

friend 13: Why don't you do it yourself? Just buy a cow and a quart of bull sperm. Inseminate the cow with a turkey baster and wait 9 months while also growing organic sweet potatoes in your yard using compost. Help birth the calf, using a backhoe and a rope if it gets stuck in its mother's pelvis. Feed it on organic fescue until it's approximately three years old, gelding early and with hand-forged clippers for optimal tenderness. Hang it up from a tree, slaughter it, butcher it, and grind your own meat. Shape the patties into hearts and grill them over mesquite while you harvest and roast your sweet potatoes. NOTHING COULD BE EASIER!

friend 14: Have you been to Vinnie's? Great pizza!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

a glompy post of good news

Good news, everybody!

1. Wicked as They Come *and* Wicked as She Wants sold in GERMANY!

2. I've been invited to participate in FandomFest in Lousville, KY this June 29 - July 1 and in the Dahlonega Literary Festival in Dahlonega, GA this November 9-11.

3. That burn on my pinkie is healing nicely.


Month of May, we cool.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

so that was fancy

me and Dr. Krog, mere moments before the riveting story told below

When I called to make reservations for our overnight trip, I signed us up for a wine tasting and asked for dinner reservations

"Which restaurant?" the clerk asked, as there are several on the property.

"Whichever one is the fanciest," I said. "We're celebrating a birthday and a ten-year anniversary, so I'm looking for super-duper extra fancy," and she nodded sagely (I imagine, since we were on the phone) and said, "Versailles." Which sounded fancy, so I booked it.

We were all dressed up, me in actual make-up and a short dress and teetering in whoa-high heels. As we walked from our hotel room down the hall, feeling extremely fancy, we were met by a Secret Service looking dude with an earpiece.

"There's a wedding going on," he whispered. "I'm going to need you to stay on this side of the hallway, by the windows, and try to stay out of sight."

Very well. Weddings are important. We quick-walked along the windows, catching a glimpse of an adorable ring bearer. As we rounded the corner, another guy with an earpiece intercepted us.

"There's a wedding," he whispered. You know, in case we hadn't noticed? "You're going to go around that corner, and then someone will escort you to the elevators."

Fine. We did that. We were ushered into the elevator, which had somehow been rigged not to make annoying PING noises. Another Secret Service dude met us when the door opened and sneaked us behind some columns and to the back entrance of the restaurant. Thus far, our super fancy meal had felt like getting sent to the principal's office. And that's when we discovered that the restaurant was in an open atrium shared by... the wedding. And we were the only people in the restaurant. And we were asked not to speak.

The waiter showed us to a table, and we stared at each other. The Bridal Chorus began. Our fanciest of fancy dinners was occurring in an open, brightly lit atrium where two people we didn't know were getting married about twenty feet away and we weren't allowed to speak.

"I can't do this," I whispered. "If I sneeze, I'm going to ruin their wedding video, and they'll get divorced, and it will be ALL MY FAULT," and then someone hissed SSSSHHHHH.

So we thanked the waiter, apologized for getting lipstick on the water glasses, and made a run for it. We ended up having our fancy, doubly celebratory dinner at an Irish pub, sitting on stools at the bar as people cheered for horse racing.

And you know what? It was awesome.

That's what ten years of a good marriage can do. No matter how badly your plans go awry, you can find a way to have fun. We wanted a truly indulgent, sumptuous meal with candlelight and champagne and romantic conversation. We got Kentucky Derby on the widescreen, cranberry margaritas, and greasy haddock with paper napkins.

And we had a fantastic time.

1. Before booking a wedding in a public place, make sure I won't be nearby sneezing or cackling.
2. Before booking a fancy dinner, be sure to read out the dictionary definition of the word "fancy" to make sure you and the restaurant are on the same page.
3. Before taking close-up photos, do something about your eyebrows, woman.
4. Go to a wine tasting after a weirdly WIN/FAIL meal, because everything seems awesomer after 6 glasses of wine.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

the gift that keeps on giving

How am I supposed to top that, you stupid cat?

Happy Birthday, Dr. Krog!

I'll find something to kill for you today, I promise.


Friday, May 4, 2012

may the fourth

It's May 4th, and you know what that means.

1. My annual attempt at Leia buns, which aren't as big as they used to be. With bonus Han vest!


2. Dr. Krog's birthday cake, because as we all know, tomorrow is Cinco de Krog-o. This year, it's a happy dancing Grimlock, one of our shared favorite Transformers. I used cookies for his gold parts, but it wasn't bright enough, so I frosted them yellow. Watch out, Cake Boss.

May the Fourth be with you all!

And now, back to eating the leftover cake...


Thursday, May 3, 2012

10 unrelated declarations

1. Dresses are the new jeans. I finally realized that a comfy dress is basically like wearing pajamas all day, except that old people stop you on the street to say nice things.

2. Receiving flowers never gets old.

3. Someone should have told me about Rufus Wainright back in 1999 or so.

4. Deadlines are the birth control pill of writing.

5. I wish my feet were size 5 or 6, because the really cool shoes are always on sale for $20 in that size.

6. One should never search Twitter for one's book name or character names or anything that might lead one to find people talking about said things unfavorably, because if they wanted you to see it, they would @ you, idiot.

7. Kentucky might be a nice place to visit in June.

8. Good things happen on Wednesdays.

9. Getting less than 5 hours of sleep a night for two weeks can induce a psychological state similar to the one in The Shining.

10. Strawberries and sea salt dark chocolate are a winning combination.

That's all. Just finished up another deadline and have totally forgotten how to blog.