Bad Pain Days And Teaching Moments

For those of you who are new here are a few key things you need to know to make it through this post:
– I was born with a genetic mutation called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. My collagen is a mess. I’m hypermobile. I can dislocate any joint with ease. I’m usually in a lot of pain.I was diagnosed at 11 and I’m now 35. It hasn’t killed me yet, but sometimes I wish it would.
– I am a Young Women’s Counselor for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS/Mormon), meaning I teach kids ages 12-18, specifically working with the young women, but advising all of them. It’s like the equivalent of a Youth Pastor in most evangelical churches.
– My personal pain scale has natural childbirth (kidney stones for those who haven’t had pregnancies) as a 1. My everyday pain is a 2-3, which means multiple dislocations that would put the average person in the hospital on a morphine drip.
– Because of another fun genetic mutation my body does not process most pain killers. Aspirin and Tylenol? I thought those were placebos. Morphine? Might as well have an IV of sugar water. All the drugs they give you at the hospital for pain? None of them have ever worked.
– This isn’t a post about religion, so you’re perfectly safe reading on. 🙂

Here’s what happened on Sunday…

Sunday morning I woke up in agonizing pain. Somewhere around an eight on my pain scale. Last time I hurt this bad I threatened to buy a gun and shoot myself in the hip because three consecutive doctors refused to believe I was in pain. After finding a doctor who believed me, we found I’d dislocated my hip and knee and both had been wrongly placed for several months. I haven’t been in this much pain in almost a year. Physical therapy and a very careful regime of self-care that involves heating, icing, massaging, and using electroshock therapy usually keeps me mobile.

But I woke up in pain, and I couldn’t stand up.

You may have had something similar. Even if you don’t have kids and a class to teach in two hours it’s not a fun experience.

My physical therapist has a series of stretches I do multiple times a day to keep my muscles from cramping, locking up, and ripping my limbs from their sockets. I tried those and found my entire leg was locked up. Tip of my toes to the top of my hip, all cramping. Remember getting a charlie horse in gym class where your calf muscle cramps up? Imagine that, but with every muscle in your leg. Yes. Ouch.

My best guess is that something dislocated, pinched a nerve, and sent the muscles into a death spiral while I was sleeping. But who knows.

It took an hour of massaging and heating my leg for me to be able to stand and walk slowly.

As my muscles warmed up, I felt well enough to head to church. So I packed up the kids, headed to church, and went to teach my lesson.

Now, I won’t get into religion here because I know not everyone will agree, so you’re safe there. But it’s always interesting when you have an invisible disability and let people know about it.

Over the years I’ve learned not to be shy about my pain. Smiling through it does not make anything better. I have a short temper naturally, and when I’m in pain it’s worse. No amount of lying is going to make things better. So my policy is to let people know I’ve had a dislocation, I’m in pain, and that I won’t be putting up with any nonsense today, thankyouverymuch. The first time I do this to anyone they tend to look askance, but once they realize I’m not joking, they adjust. Usually… some of them don’t, but we don’t worry about those people, do we? We do not.

Anyway, by the time we hit the end of church I had propped my bad leg up on a chair and I was getting curious looks from my teens.

This is where the teaching moments are, at least for me. The girls there today were young, 12-13, and most of them haven’t dealt with someone who has a disability like mine. They’d seen me dancing on Tuesday, and Sunday I could barely walk. Adults who have seen this often think I’m faking. Because… why wouldn’t they? If I could walk well one day why on Earth wouldn’t I be able to the next? Is that how diseases even work? [SPOILER: that’s exactly how disabilities like Ehlers-Danlos work. It’s one of the reasons people who can walk also have disabled parking passes. Because – surprise! – we have bad pain days.]

Teens are a naturally curious lot, so I explained to them what happened. I explained I have bad days where it is hard for me to love. I explained that I have days where I can be fully active.

We plan on hiking this summer. In fact, I’m going hiking with my sons Cub Scout troop on Saturday.

But today I couldn’t walk.

And that too is a teaching moment.

Bad things happen. Bad days happen. Bad years. Bad lives. We all have times where we can’t move. Whether we are physically or mentally stuck, we sometimes find ourselves in a situation where we’ve lost control. Where something bad has happened and we can’t get to the next part.

Even with an action plan (I spent all day trying to reduce my pain with minimal results) the bad thing doesn’t vanish overnight. It’s not fun, but it is life. And, when you hit the spot I was in, you only have two choices. You either deal with it, or you die. It’s really simple. And I won’t like and say I don’t sometimes feel depressed or suicidal on bad pain days. There is nothing noble or inspirational about being in the kind of pain I’m in.

But I came home cheerful anyway. Because I’d been able to advocate for people like me. Because I was able to help people who will hopefully never be in a situation like mine develop some empathy. Because the teens I talked to today won’t be the adults who look at someone and say, “You’re faking it. You can’t really be that sick.”

They also learned that if they do have a day like that, if they’re ever disabled or in pain, that someone they know has been there. And they’ve seen an example of someone surviving and living with this. It was disability rep, pure and simple.

It’s always tempting to hide away on a bad pain day. To lie to people and say, “It’s not that bad.” Doing that leaves everyone happy for the moment, but it helps no one in the long run. Being visible, and being honest about my disabilities, makes it so no one has to feel alone on their bad pain days. It means making a space for the disabled and disabilities in the public view. It means claiming a space for myself even if I don’t wear size four jeans and if I’ll never do more than limp through a 5k hike again.

Today… I took up space. And I’m staying here. Disabled and visible.

 

 

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What she means when she says, “You plan the date!”

Sit down, this is going to take a minute.

Do you know how hard it is to be a mom in modern America?

Being a parent is a ridiculously difficult, notoriously underappreciated job. One where someone will *literally* die if you get things wrong. As a parent your main job is to make sure a tiny human with zero sense of self-preservation, who genetically programmed to be curious about everything, survives the day. That’s hard. And, if your child is at the stage where they put everything in their mouth, it’s even harder.

On top of that you also need to make sure that tiny human is educated, clothed, fed, loved, raised correctly, and gets to all the places they need to be. You’re chauffeur, professor, moral role model, doctor, chef, and entertainment … and people will judge you if you do this wrong. Not that there’s any consensus on what Right and Wrong are for parenting, so be prepared for someone to call child services because you abused your child by getting them vaccinated, and to be told by the random person in the grocery store that letting your son wear pink will turn him into a gay communist, and that having more than one child is selfish, and that only having one child is selfish, and that the way your are dressed is going to lead your child to a life of drug addiction.

This is a little bit easier if you are the parent that presents as male. Dad Bod is a thing. A little chub, the relaxed, kind of neglected look of an unshaved face, sweat pants, and a shirt that’s older than your kid still gets you bonus points because taken care of your offspring while having a penis is enough to win you Dad Of The Year. Which says a lot more about the low expectations of father’s in this country than it does anything else. Feel free to worry. Poor father figures are more likely to drive kids to drugs than mom’s mini skirt, but that’s not my point!

My point is: it’s harder being a mom.

As a female-presenting parent there are certain requirements, a set of guidelines that society has kindly outlined in every major form of media for the past sixteen decades so that you mothers will know how to behave. It involves looking like you have never given birth, spent several hours in the gym each day, eat healthy (but restrained) portions of food, you must wear clothes that appeal to the heterosexual male gaze but don’t overstate your wealth (and can never imply poverty because it’s a sin to have children if you’re poor, dontchyaknow), your makeup must be flawless (even at the ER with a kid who tried to eat the mushroom out of the front lawn and is puking everywhere), you must have a good career (but not earn so much money your husband feels threatened), and you must belong to the right political party for the given era, you need to keep up with every trend/political movement/celebrity scandal (while working full time and parenting and doing Self-Care), and if your feminism isn’t flawless and completely up-to-date you can just forget it because you will be a traitor to the gender and can never be forgiven.

Someone did the math once, and the average mom needs a 96-hour day to stay well-informed, well-shaped, and well… sane.

For all of you still trying to live on a mere twenty-four hours a day you can just forget it. You’ve failed your children and the entire human race already.

NO! WAIT! COME BACK!

I’m joking.

Mostly…

… we can all agree that this list of things women are expected to do is unrealistic, misogynistic, abelist, old-fashioned, and ridiculous. Any sensible human being knows that jobs come and go, kids get dirty, the political landscape is a nightmare, and everyone is still learning.

Everyone makes mistakes.

Eventually, you’re going to realize your political views aren’t as fair or enlightened as you want them to be. You’ll realize you were not a perfect feminist at nineteen (but you were trying and that’s important). That your views on body types, poverty, and workplace politics weren’t flawless when you were twenty-seven. And that, at forty, you still have a lot to learn as a human being. That’s a healthy place to be, honestly.

The thing is, this long and silly list of Rules written by society adds to the emotional labor every woman (using this as a catchall term here) shoulders each day.

WHAT’S THIS GOT TO DO WITH DATING? 

Over the holidays my husband asked what I wanted, and I really couldn’t think of anything. There are things I’d like to have around, but I know realistically they’d break, or I don’t need them, or whatever. So I asked for him to take vacation time while I go to comic con, and for him to plan a date for us.

His response. “Sure! Where do you want to go on the date?”

And I couldn’t really put into words why that wasn’t the right answer.

I mean, it was a fair question. I tend to be a very decisive person. I know where I like to eat. When we sync our schedules so we can have a date, it’s usually with something in mind. But that’s not what I wanted…

… in fact, it took me a few weeks to realize what I was asking for wasn’t dinner out, but for him to do the emotional labor.

I didn’t want a date. I wanted him to take the decision making – what to eat, where to go, when to go, what to feed the kids, is the car gassed? is the traffic good? are the reviews good? – and do the work that I usually do as a matter of course.

Which led to another realization… I would really love a day where no one needs me.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone wants to feel needed. Everyone wants to feel special, loved, appreciated, and wanted. That’s basic human nature.

But there is a world of difference between Loved And Appreciated and OH MY DOG!!! THE WORLD WILL END IF YOU AREN’T HERE!!!!

And for the last few months, I’ve been putting out fires and saving the world.

For the kids, my husband, my friends, my parents, my neighbors… everyone has needed me for something. Which is fun for about ten minutes, and after that it’s just work. Free, emotionally-intensive, often thankless work. Speaking of that, have I ever told you about how magical it is to hear someone say Please or Thank You? Remind me to do that sometime-

It’s exhausting being the emotional dumping ground for everyone around you. And it seems to be the default Mom Role. As if incubating a kid for nine months also qualifies you to be the psychologist for someone at the pick-up line at school. I don’t know about you, but my first child did not come with an honorary diploma and a doctorate. I wish she had, because that would have covered the medical bills.

What the average woman is undergoing every day is extreme levels of Emotional Labor, and by the end of the day she’s suffering Decision Fatigue.

Was I polite enough to Jon at work today, or is he going to get me fired because I didn’t smile enough?
Did I give my kid a balanced lunch?
Am I dressed professionally, but not in a way that will invite sexual assault from the serial harasser that our university refuses to fire because he has a good publication record?
Did I feed myself something healthy?
Did I leave enough of a tip so the college kid waiting tables at lunch can pay their bills?
Am I doing enough for my community and the environment?

Really, the more you think about all the things you *should* do the more your head spins and the less you *can* do.

You’ve probably noticed this already, but most of these things shouldn’t be solely a woman’s problem.

Jon should stop telling women to smile.
The kid, the kid’s siblings, and dad should all have checked the lunch for fruits and veggies to.
The serial harasser should be fired, and possibly in jail.
Healthy food should be readily available and affordable to everyone.
The college kid should get a living wage, free healthcare, and a free education.
The environment should be everyone’s concern, and the packaging on the thing I just bought should be recyclable.

But we live in this imperfect world where misogyny, rape culture, oligarchies, and oil conglomerates hold sway.

If you really want to make someone’s day, take away some of the emotional labor being dumped on them.

Tell Jon not to tell women to smile.
Check the kid’s lunch and make sure there’s something healthy in there.
Fire the serial harasser.
Promote legislation that makes healthy food available to everyone.
Elect officials who will raise minimum wage or provide a universal basic income.
Do your part to save the planet.

PLAN THE DATE.

Look up the restaurants. Check the reviews. Book the sitter. Clear the schedule. And plan the date.

Give the woman in your life a day where she’s loved and appreciated, but where she isn’t the care giver. Make some decisions without her for once. It’s not all the time (please don’t do it all the time), but pick a day and let your special someone know you’ve got it covered for the day.

After all, every Evil Overlord will tell you they love running the world, but even villains need a vacation!

Scenes from the Pacific Northwest

Sometimes I forget to stop and appreciate how pretty this corner of the world is. It’s been a busy week with lots of ups and downs. Today is a good time to stop, enjoy the view, smell the briny ocean air, and soak up the precious sunshine that’s so rare here in the rainy west.

What’s happening now?

Publishing is on of those industries where it looks like nothing is happening until a book hits the market on release day. Secretly, everyone here knows that behind the scenes everything is pure chaos, angst, worry, hard work, and possibly a little bit of magic. It takes a lot to get everything ready for the market. Right now I’m in the middle of the chaos.

Three major projects planned for 2018 became four after a conversation today. My non-writing life has taken an unexpected twist that means more hours of working on non-writing things. The kids are getting older which means more sports, plays, choir trips, and homework help. All of which means fewer hours here at the computer, and less time to blog.

Here’s a quick look at what’s going on in my world…

POLAR TERROR – the story of a super villain who answers a Tumblr ad and winds up at children’s hospital in the Yukon is running on Patreon. This is part of the Heroes & Villains universe but isn’t part of the Even Villains… series. Read it now.

FREE FALL – Firefly’s “The Train Job” meets DARK RUN by Mike Brooks when a crew of cons are blackmailed into stealing a diamond for a warlord. There’s a super max prison, a mercenary in a trench coat, and more explosions than the captain is happy with… – This is done, dusted, and off on query. Hopefully I’ll have some good news about it before the end of the year, because this is a fun book and I know you’ll love it.

LAWS OF ATTRACTION – Rowena Lee is back as the main character of her own book. Following nearly a year after the events of BODIES IN MOTION, Rowena is finely getting the hang of life as a Drill Instructor for the newly reopened Fleet Academy when she’s asked to help identify a murder weapon. One thing leads to another and Rowena is knee deep in mud, blood, and corpses. … Like BODIES IN MOTION this is a sci-fi romance with two main point of view characters and a third minor POV character. Expect to see teasers, snippets, and more this summer with a late fall release date.

HIGH ALTITUDE – Spies, lies, and interstellar art theft… the sequel to FREE FALL, this is slotted to be written later this year. That may change when the status of FREE FALL changes.

WRITE LIKE A VILLAIN – a writing guide with snarky asides from Dr. Charm, Zephyr Girl, and the minions. Slices of writing chapters are going up on the blog, longer pieces are going on Patreon, and the final book will have even more fun stuff. Expect to see this Winter 2018/2019.

EMERALD CITY COMIC CON – I’m going! I’ll be on at least one panel! I might have two panels (although it’s not on the schedule yet!)! I will be there Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with a panel for sure Thursday afternoon (with Robin Hobb, Seanan McGuire, and some other very awesome ladies). I’m not quite sure what I’ll have in terms of swag and books, but if you’re there, come find me! It’s my first con and I need friends. 🙂

 

Breaking Radio Silence

I wish it were cancer.

That’s a cruel thing to say. Cancer is awful, the treatments are painful, the whole experience is a nightmare for the patient and their family. I know how stark and raw it feels listening to a love one be diagnosed. I know how cold the seats are in the oncology department when the doctor calls to tell you that it’s time to talk about the test results. I know the looks of sorrow on people’s faces when you arrive at oncology with a small child in tow to get another blood test done.

Been there. Done that. My mother is a cancer survivor; the last time she had a positive test result come back was the same day I got my first negative test result for cancer.

I understand how bleak it is.

But I wish it were cancer that were killing me.

Cancer has an ending. It has a time frame. It has a limit. You either get better or you die. Either way, it ends.

Cancer patients are fighters. They’re lauded and applauded. If a cancer patient says they’re too exhausted to move and that they just want to lay on the couch all week no one questions that. The cancer victim is given a fluffy pillow, a nice blanket, a light meal, a bowl to throw up in, and they watch a movie as they drift into an uneasy sleep. Sometimes you’ll see a cancer patient going to work, and everyone will talk about how heroic their efforts are. They’re held up as idols of humanity (which is a whole different rant).

When you have cancer there are ribbons, fundraisers, sympathy, and support.

When you have a chronic illness you get nothing.

No one cares that it’s hard to breathe and you’re so tired all you can do is cry. No one is going to tell you how tough you are for getting out of bed. If anyone remembers the most you’ll get is a curious look and a thoughtless statement.

I thought you were better.

Are you sick again?

Have you tried __________?

Just cheer up.

There is no end to chronic illness. That’s what makes it chronic. There aren’t limits. There aren’t sympathy cards. There is very little understanding. Sometimes there aren’t even treatments.

If cancer is a battle, chronic illness is a famine.

It’s exhausting just writing this, because what can I say? I have chronic anemia. It’s an aimless, almost blameless sort of condition. One that does nothing but suck the life out of me leaving my head foggy, my limbs achy, and my motivation gone. It’s like having the flu but it doesn’t get better. The doctors blamed my last pregnancy… that baby was born in 2012. It’s been nearly six years and my iron levels remain chronically low, frequently dipping so low that I spend eighteen hours a day asleep and the rest of the day in haze.

I really wish it were cancer.

Maybe if it were cancer the doctors would care. Maybe then they’d provide something other than an iron pill. Maybe they’d look for a cause instead of shrugging and telling me I just need to power through it. Because we all know human bodies don’t really need *that* much oxygen, so who cares if my iron levels drop? Maybe then it would be easier because I could count down until my last chemo treatment or my next blood test. There’d be markers, signs, indications that I was getting better or worse.

Wishing won’t make this easier. Hoping, praying, dreaming… I don’t have the energy.

In a few weeks I go back to the doctor. Again. For another battery of tests. Again. For another round of prescription iron pills. Again.

Maybe, if I cross my fingers and wish on a star, maybe this will be the last time. Maybe I’ll get better. Maybe I’ll feel like I used to before I was sick. Maybe.

For now? I’m going to curl up under a blanket, cheer on my writer friends, and watch a movie until I fall asleep. It’ll be okay… right? They say any day you aren’t dead is a good one. So being even half alive is a win I suppose. I’m not dead. I don’t have cancer. Doesn’t that make me one of the lucky ones?

For everyone out there whose trip to oncology wasn’t as good as mine, I’m sorry. You’re in my thoughts. Cancer is a battle that I don’t want you to lose.

For everyone in the famine lands of chronic illness, keep going. You never know when the rains will return and life will change. You just have to hold on until it does.

I love you.
– L

Made It Monday: A Primary Color Wave

This weekend I tried a new-to-me project and did a 3 Color painting of a wave. It’s an interesting technique that relies on blending primary colors (red/yellow/blue) to create all the other colors needed. I enjoy painting because 1) I honestly suck at visual art like drawing and painting and want to improve so 2) I have to focus when painting and it becomes very meditative. Learning a new skill isn’t everyone’s cuppa tea, but I enjoy improving on something, and painting is a nice break from writing.

But, because I’m me and I like patterns, metaphors, and books I couldn’t help but let my mind wander over to how acrylic paintings  – which tend to be ugly up until the very last brush stroke – are so similar to book writing. Since NaNoWriMo is coming up in just a few short weeks I’m going to pull this all together in a quick mini-writing lesson. Because… why not?

If you’re interested in making this painting yourself check out the fabulous Cinnamon Cooney and her Art Sherpa youtube channel.

 

Phase 1: The Outline and Choosing your Colors
Before I could even paint my wave I had to pick which set of primary colors to use. There’s Primary Blue/Yellow/Magenta, or Magenta/Hansa Yellow/Pthalo Blue, or Cad Yellow/Cerulean Blue/Crimson… the different starting tones made different colors. You can see my test splotches in the top corners and the combinations further down.

Starting a story has a similar rhythm. First you need to decide what is going into the book. Are you writing a thriller or a romance? A Romantic thriller with a happy ending? A Thriller with romantic elements and a tragic end? Is your focus on one or two characters, or on the fates of thousands? Is the tone light or dark, somber or joyful, lively or a slow dirge into eternity? Knowing what you want helps you get the foundation of your story correct.

 

 

Phase 2: The Vague Outline of An Idea
The beginning. The end. Not middle visible? Ah, yes, that’s either this painting or anyone rough outline I’ve ever written. You should know where the book starts, and where you intend it to end, but the middle is always a murky mess when you begin. That’s fine. Draw in the ideas you know belong and figure out the rest as you go.

 

Phase 3: Color Blocking And The First Details
What do we have here? It’s a basic wave, you can see the shape of it now, and the middle has been filled with a purple blob that doesn’t really add much, but that’s okay. It’s there. This is the visual representation of a a rough draft. Everything is colored in. Technically, the wave has been painted. It’s not a blank canvas. You could probably sell this at a flea market for $5 and call it a day. It’s also painfully ugly and that ugliness makes too many people throw away their brushes (and their books) and give up in frustration. This looks nothing like the wave I envisioned! A rough draft doesn’t have the mental heft and weight of the book in my head! All is woe and sadness!

Okay, not really. This is a rough draft. The bones of a painting, or a story, are there. Now the fine details need to be added.

 

Phase 4: A Finished Work 
What changed? I added details. The foamy white crest splashing everywhere, reflections of light, more clouds, more color, more paint… And, again, this is a decent enough painting. It could be called done and hung on the wall. The equivalent of a book is one that has a couple rounds of edits and gets a nod. For most books, this is where they hit the query trenches or the publishing trenches. A lot of effort and time has been put into the project and the painter (me!) or the writer (you!) should feel justifiably proud of the effort.

 

Phase 5: The Polished Work
I’ll be 100% honest here… I could do more with this painting. I quit last night because I’d already gone over the 2 hours I’d set aside for painting and I needed to get some sleep. There are little details I’m not super happy with, things I’d still like to change, and I am seriously tempted to repaint this next week and do better

And, while I’m being honest, I can say I’ve felt that way about every book I’ve ever published. Most authors feel this way. There’s always something you think of at the last moment. There is an art to letting go, to knowing when any further effort and embellishment will only add noise, not improvement. It’s a hard skill to learn, and you only learn it if you are willing to take the risk of failing. If you can’t take that risk, can’t let yourself fall, then you’ll never find the point where you can fly.

Worth A Watch – Love O2O

Hello, my lovelies, I’ve found another show that earns a place as Worth A Watch. In keeping with the theme of finding non-American TV to enjoy this fantastically geeky show comes from China and has subtitles for English-speaking audiences on Drama Fever. There are actually two versions of this story, the movie (which I haven’t watched but enjoy the GIFs of) and the TV show that I’m actually going to talk about.

What’s the story? The adorable Wei Wei is a STEM lady working on her computer science degree at a university in Beijing and working as a math tutor on the side. She’s smart, funny, and super sweet. Literally the nicest person ever (which is shown again and again). She lives with three dorm mates in the nicest dorm you’ve ever seen, and in her free time (don’t even ask me how she finds it) she plays an online MMO where she’s the Red Bandit and one of the top ranked players on the server. Interestingly enough, in a refreshing change from most Geek Girl stories she doesn’t play a bard or healer, but an aggressive tanking character. When the story opens she has a crush on the university hottie and a virtual husband on the game (because there are couple-only quests). In the opening episode her online husband dumps her for a character named Enchantress, but she’s not single for long because the #1 player on the game ( a bard-class dude) proposes to her.

The story spans 30 episodes and 2 years as Wei Wei works on her degree, meets her online husband offline, helps him build a new gaming company, and they take over the world. Basically. In a nice way.

Who’s it for? This is for the gamers and romance fans. If you liked The Guild, or anything with Felicia Day, this is the show for you. It’s cute, it’s funny, the characters are (mostly) mature enough to make responsible choices, and there is enough plot to keep you watching for the whole 30 hours. If you love Meet Cute stories about people who find each other online, this is the show for you!

What’s the culture like? The major things that are going to jump out to an American audience are the use of the words Master, Junior, and Senior. In Chinese dramas it’s fairly common for the boss/leader of a group to be called Master (think apprentice/journeyman/master not slave/master). Junior and Senior are used to denote both age and seniority within a company. There’s a healthy bit of nepotism on the Bad Guy side of the spectrum, and some lingering Machismo. Chinese dramas haven’t fully broken away from the Domineering Male Knows Best point of view, but the male lead is fairly modern and fully respects Wei Wei’s opinions and her ability to handle her own problems.

Like Korean Dramas you’ll see more same-sex PDA between friends than between couples. Wei Wei and her friends are a close knit group and stay that way for the most part.

A fun cultural bonus is the Chinese poetry and history that gets slipped into the story. At one point the male lead tells Wei Wei “The flowers are blooming by the road. Enjoy them on your way home.” which sounds kind of weird without context. The context is that this is from am Emperor of China whose wife was visiting her mother, he didn’t want to order her back to the palace, but he missed her and this is what he wrote. The literally translation would be, “I love you and I miss you every day and I want you to come home but I respect your need to be with family and I’ll wait patiently until you’re ready to come back.”

Also, there’s a ton of basketball. I forgot how much Chinese liked the game until I watched this and remembered they do pretty well in the Olympics. They might not be Michael Jordan (but who is?), but they do like to dunk. It’s a better way to solve problems than the standard Boy Brawl, and I enjoyed it.

Bonuses? There’s no dramatic misunderstanding! The mainstay of the rom-com genre is done away because this is a nice couple who gets to be a couple for most the show. There’s also a m/m ship that is written and filmed as a romantic duo although we never see a kiss (only the main couple gets a kiss – sorry!). I found the pairing cute, although [name redacted] deserves a more mature hubby in my mind. Come for the cute warrior queen and stay for her adorable dad, her friends, and the bros.

Extra Bonus: There are some really awesome costumes in the fantasy game scenes. Enjoy!

What to watch out for? The sound dubbing in the first few episodes was a bit echo-y, especially in the dorm room scenes. Other than that, expect some bad behavior from the Jealous Dude who thinks Wei Wei should love him (because he has a crush – so obvs she’ll just adore him). There’s a minor redemption arc there, but not enough for me to forgive him.

How many seasons? Only one season, but it has 30 episodes each an hour long. Watch out, those last five minutes always result in a cliffhanger. If you need to go to bed stop at 50 minutes in and watch the last bit before going on to the next episode.

 

Thank you for reading BODIES IN MOTION!

Dear Reader,

Thank you for coming along on the journey that is BODIES IN MOTION.

When I first came up with this story it was something much shorter, with much less depth and impact. It was a story about a missed opportunity, a war, and a second chance at love. I toyed with the idea of writing the war itself, and decided that the war never mattered. Wars happen all the time. Wars are universally painful. Wars are universally tragic. Even when a war wins something crucial – like freedom or safety – everyone who survives walks away scarred. What is unique is how those survivors live with the scars.

The common wisdom is that wars and collapses of society are exciting, but rebuilding is boring. I hope BODIES IN MOTION gave you a different perspective. Personally, I’ve seen enough war in my lifetime. I’ll probably live to see more war and more scars. But with every war will come the challenge to rebuild. With every scar we’re given a chance to rebuild ourselves, or let the wound seep, rot, and inevitably destroy us. I’d rather rebuild than rot.

BODIES IN MOTION became not just a larger novel, but also my first serial novel, and that was a fun adventure.

One of my dedicated fans in Australia wrote to tell me she was late to work because a chapter posted and she had to read before leaving home (Sorry!). People from all around the globe found BODIES IN MOTION. We chatted about who was guilty, who was falling in love, and speculated on who Rowena would find love with in LAWS OF ATTRACTION. Can I tell you a secret? Up until June Rowena was slotted for a very different story arc and One True Love. Up until early June, she was actually going to meet a new character in LAWS OF ATTRACTION.

One scene changed that.

The interaction was too good between Rowena and (SPOILER!) so I threw out everything I had for Book 2 and took LAWS OF ATTRACTION in a completely different direction. I have the first quarter of the book written and I think you’ll like it. But you’ll have to wait until 2018 to read.

For now, BODIES IN MOTION will stay up in all it’s drafty glory on the blog. Most of you already know how to get EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE for free (hint: sign up for my newsletter), but I think for other readers who stumble across here in the next year or so BODIES IN MOTION is a good place to start.

 

What’s With The Rainbow Socks?

Ah, my beloved (be-holed) rainbow socks. They’ve been my Twitter avatar almost since the beginning. Which leaves a lot of people asking.. WHY??? Why is a sensible adult using rainbow socks for their public image?

It’s actually kind of a sad story. Pull up a chair and I’ll tell you all about it…

Way back in the day, when I was young and airports didn’t have security lines, I was poor. My parents were divorced, my mother worked hard to pay the bills, we lived paycheck-to-paycheck, but we never had money for extras. My clothes were hand-me-downs. My socks were the cheap 10-to-a-pack white ones. I had clothes but they never were things I got to choose. They were simply there to be functional.

By the time I graduated high school all the colors I had in my closet were black, white, and gray (school colors and school shirts) and a couple pairs of ragged jeans. It looked depressing and I really hated it. So my first act of rebellion was to spend $10 on an obnoxiously bright pink shirt with a silver lotus on it. My college roommate told me it was a slutty color and I happily wore it any time I wanted to annoy her.

Over time I slowly built a colorful wardrobe, still heavy on black, but I added more gem tones. I loved the bright colors but not every bright color works with my skin tone. But socks? Socks go with everything. Fun socks can be worn to serious meetings. Bright colors on my feet make me happy on a gray winter day. And after a childhood spent envying the girls with pretty, lacy, fun socks I was not going to go back to 10-to-a-pack socks unless the zombies ate every tie-dye kit in the coming apocalypse.

The rainbow socks were added to my closet about the same time that I joined Twitter. On a particularly bad day, sitting in the winter sunshine of Alabama, I snapped a pic and posted it as my Twitter avatar. It was meant to be a silly, momentary thing. I changed it a few weeks later and got yelled at! Eeep!

The socks stayed. The background has changed a few times. I’ve added tags. But the socks have stayed. Their a little punch of light in the darkness. A reminder of the things I’ve gone through to get to a place where I can enjoy my colors. I like being a bright spot in the darkness, don’t you?

A Very Belated Birthday Post

Every year around my birthday I do a review post. Kind of like a New Year’s Resolutions thing, but evaluating my year and my schedule in my own time. This year’s post is running late but here it is…

In the past year I’ve published one novel (DECOHERENCE came out last fall) and written two new novels. I found this kind of interesting because I usually have 60-80 plot bunnies running loose at any given moment. Writing folders from years past are filled with snippets, ideas for new universes, lists of unwritten characters, and this year that hasn’t happened.

In 2016 I started 14 new writing folders (meaning I had outlines for more than one book in the series) and about 50 partially-sketched outlines for random ideas that popped up. In 2017 I have 5 folders. One of those belongs to BODIES IN MOTION and the Newton’s Laws universe and already has a finished novel in it. Another belongs to the FREE FALL universe and also has a finished novel in it. The other three are series ideas I carried over from 2016 and might write in November. Finishing two novels from start to polished in a year is a new accomplishment for me, and I think it’s largely due to the fact that I didn’t go chasing off after every idea that came along. I’m getting pickier.

It wasn’t perfect. BODIES IN MOTION was meant to be a novella under 40k and it became an 85,000 word novel. The story I wanted to tell couldn’t be trimmed down that far, and it kept spawning side stories. But they’re fun so I let them grow. Interesting things happen when you let stories run wild.

In other news… I managed to move my family from Alaska to Washington, safely traverse Yukon Territory, and settle in south of Seattle. Not bad, considering. I also had the opportunity to publish with the Unbound Worlds Cage Match and Uncanny Magazine’s Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction.

As years go, I feel like this one has been productive and focused. Here’s to another round of that!