Why Do You Write Love Stories, Mom?

On the drive to school this morning, Lil Dude asked me why I write “love stories.” He’s just turned nine and has seen my books and keeps the first editions of them (the not so steamy ones) on his shelf.

I didn’t answer his question right away. I kinda hemmed and hawed before I realized that I was a bit embarrassed to write love stories instead of serious literary fiction ones. So I told him that I didn’t use to write love stories when I started out. I wrote women’s fiction, historical adventure fiction specifically, and then paranormal stories about vampires, changelings, and ghosts.

He made a face when he heard this but I added that with all the stories I wrote, many readers said the same thing: You write about relationships very well.

So to make a long story short, my readers made the decision for me. Sure, I write stories that have adventure, mystery, even a ghost or two depending on my mood, but in a world where everything needs to be put in categories, genres, and tropes, my readers helped guide me to the right lane.

I write love stories. Real and honest romance, as a few of them have said.

“I like your love stories, Mom,” he said and my day has been going great ever since.

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Every Breath: A Valentine’s Day Slice-of-Life Novella falls on the very very steamy side of romance and will most likely not end up in LilDude’s bookshelf, but if you like steamy love stories, then definitely check it out! It’s scheduled for release on February 8, 2019.

Who Let the Dogs Out?

We attended a 50th birthday party of one of hubby’s friend last night. It was held in a beautiful 100-year-old home just a few blocks away and it was nice to finally put faces to the names of some of my hubby’s acquaintances and friends. Good food, good company, and interesting conversations, one that has me thinking things over this morning.

Anyway, less than an hour into the party, someone let the dogs out to join the festivities and ten minutes later, my allergies kicked in. By an hour mark, I was wheezing and hoping someone would bring the cake out so we could sing happy birthday and I could leave. They did but I didn’t get out until another twenty minutes later. This time, I didn’t even wait for hubby to say his goodbyes. I simply stepped outside because while I did have my asthma inhaler with me, I didn’t have an Epi-pen or a Benadryl.

The last time I experienced a near-anaphylactic reaction was over four years ago and that was scary. I didn’t go to the Emergency Room because I didn’t realize what it was. I just thought I was having a nasty asthma attack and so I used my inhaler a lot. Forget that asthma inhalers have ephedrine and basically make your heart race, but I should have known it was an intense allergic reaction when my eyes swelled shut and my lips and tongue swelled up, too.

That’s when the doctor gave me a prescription for an Epi-pen, one we renew every year.

But I don’t bring those Epi-pens with me, although after last night, I really should—or at least, even Benadyryl (as long as I’m not driving because it knocks me out).

So… lesson learned.

But there was one exchange that bothered me last night and I’m trying not to let it bother me this morning. One of the women was surprised to learn that hubby had gotten married. She even said this when we were getting ready to leave. She said she never would have thought he would find anyone because, and this I’m interpreting her words, he’s simple-minded. It wasn’t the first time she alluded to it.

The first time we met as our kids played together (her 7-year-old teaching my 9-year-old son a card game called This is War), she said that when her hubby told her there’d be two other boys at the party for their son to play with, her automatic thought was, oh, the other kid must be X, right? And she laughed like it was the funniest thing she’d ever heard.

This morning, I woke up with a much clearer head and the memory of her words sting even more. Maybe X is simple-minded in her and her husband’s (and maybe even his fellow friends’) eyes… but why tell this to X’s wife more than once?

So anyway… deep breath.

I should have left the party sooner. It would have saved me from the misery of my allergies last night and more. I’m actually glad now that he didn’t return to the party to rejoin his “friends” which had been his original plan before he decided to stay home because I was in no position to keep an eye on Lil Dude after I took my allergy medication.

I have to assume she didn’t mean anything by it. At the very least, I need to let these types of conversations go and not bother me. People will think whatever they want to think.

Or maybe I should just put her in my next book.

Procrastinating On the Beach

Today was procrastinating on the beach day.

I was so tempted to just lay out a blanket and hang out for hours like I used to when I lived one block from the beach. I still live a mile away from the beach but we have a breakwater where I live, unlike Hermosa Beach which doesn’t and so you get this:

Of course, there are pros and cons to living this close to the ocean. Sometimes, the tide gets too close to your front door but that’s when the city berms the sand right in front of your house during certain parts of the year. And other parts, you get the clear view of the waves the hear them from your bedroom window.

That means I haven’t been writing. After spending yesterday celebrating Lil Dude’s birthday, I was too tired to do any writing after he went to bed but I’m hoping to do some catch-up today. Got my cover for the first of ten novellas and I should get started with it. The goal is 17K (actually it’s 15k but I’m giving myself some leeway) and it’s going to be an exercise in getting a full story down in 15k words.

I’m actually looking forward to it. I just have to tell myself not to look at the two other novels that I’m supposed to get written by March!

Merry Christmas!

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To those who celebrate, Merry Christmas!

The presents have been opened in our house at least and now it’s off to the grandparents’ house for lunch and the exchanging of presents.

Last night, I found the phone number for NORAD so the Lil Dude could ask when Santa was going to deliver his present in Southern California, and the helper elf who answered said that Santa has no set time but it’ll be between 9pm to midnight. BUT she said, if he’s not asleep, Santa will move on to the next house and boy, did he go to bed quickly!

Who knew that would work? Why’d I only think of doing that now that he’s eight?

But better late than never, right?

Now I have to figure out what will work for the rest of the year…

A Day Out

This weekend we headed to the California Science Center so we could check out the space shuttle Endeavor that’s been parked there since 2012. And it sure didn’t disappoint. Except for a few minutes of going around in circles because I couldn’t figure out where we could park that wasn’t closed off to some type of event, we found parking next door at the Natural History Museum – don’t tell anyone!

It’s $3 per person to enter the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center where the shuttle is housed. While you can’t enter to view the inside of the shuttle, there were interactive screens where you could view the sections as well as talk to volunteers who worked with kids to educate them about the shuttle with the help of a scale model where you could press buttons that lit up the corresponding sections. Lil Dude was curious and there was a bit of question-and-answer portion between them that was really cute.

Seeing the shuttle up close as well as learning about the brave men and women who risked their lives with each mission reminded me of the countless achievements the country has made toward learning about space. This project touched me in so many indirect ways with friends who worked for aerospace companies so many years ago, many of them proud to have been part of something big.

The King Tut exhibit is also going on at the museum but we only had time to go to this one. That’s one good thing about being local; we can return for the King Tut exhibit another time although I like getting my son prepared for the exhibit if he’s not into it (like the King Tut one). I’ve seen a similar King Tut exhibit when I was in Houston a few years ago.

In the meantime, the kid and his dad had a great time shopping for souvenirs the moment we walked in, from a hoodie that says NASA on it to a shuttle Endeavor toy and a 3D puzzle I had to assemble late into the night for the Lil Dude. And boy was he so happy!

On the writing front, not much going on there. It seems that book 2 of the Holiday Engagement is on hold. I don’t know why exactly although I suspect it’s called ‘holiday preparations.’ Getting the house ready for all the decorations is next so we’ll see what happens. You never know. I just might surprise myself and finish it and a few other stories in time for Christmas…

Our Throwaway Society

Manufacturers have multiple reasons for limiting repair options. One is to profit from shorter obsolescence cycles by making it almost as cheap to replace an older product as to have it repaired. “If you can’t repair stuff, you’re forced to participate in the throwaway market,” says Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of the Repair Assn.

Source: How Apple and other manufacturers attack your right to repair their products – Los Angeles Times

As much as I love my Apple devices, this makes me angry considering I just shipped my mother’s phone back to her in New York instead of buying her the new phone the Apple Store employee suggested I do since she’s on my family data plan.

You see, two years ago, after finding out that my mother was paying over $200 for an outdated Android phone and a tablet with a data plan she never used (that another Verizon employee just signed her up for another year after she asked them to cancel it), my older brother and I signed her up as part of my family plan to cut down on her expenses. As a result, my mother inherited my iPhone 6Plus 64GB* while I inherited my brother’s 6Plus 124GB after he upgraded to the 7, then the X and now the XS.

Now before someone assumes that my iPhone was really old, I work from home which means my phone doesn’t get as much action if I worked outside. I use my laptop way more than anything while my iPhone and iPad are there for me to follow up on things after the laptop is turned off.

But because I’m the main holder of the family cellular account and my mother knows nothing about smartphones, I set it up for her first and then mailed it to her. Well, last month, she told me that her phone could no longer hold a charge and that every time she inserted the charger, it would not charge at all until finally, the phone died.

Unable to help her over the phone, I suggested she take it to the Apple store because maybe the phone just needed a new battery and they supposedly* have this new plan where they’d replace the battery for certain models for free until the end of the year.

So she did and they barely even looked at it and told her that everything was working fine and then they gave it back to her. Two days later, she told me that the phone refused to hold a charge at all and now it was dead again. My brother bought her a set of new cables and she said it worked for a day and then it stopped. So I suggested she take it back to the Apple Store and really have them look at it this time.

Well, they told her that too bad, the phone was dead and that she should just buy an iPhone 7 because it was “on sale for $500.”

“Did they even plug it in?”

“I don’t know. They just said I should just upgrade to the iPhone 7. So can I get a new phone so I won’t have any more problems?”

I told her I’d think about it but in the meantime, I asked her to mail the iPhone 6plus back to me so I could “trade it in for a new one.”

Well, as soon as I got it and charged it (yes, it held the charge just fine), I figured out what was wrong right away.

IMG_7460Turns out, I didn’t turn off the option to automatically download apps and music to the device. So all the apps I was buying for my device or my son’s were being automatically downloaded to her phone until it became too slow, something the people at the Apple Store couldn’t be bothered to figure out because they’d rather sell my mother a new phone.

“How come the Apple Store people didn’t figure that out the two times I brought it there?” she asked me yesterday when I told her that her phone was in perfect working order. “You mean to tell me that you know more about phones than they do?”

“No, Mom, I don’t know more about phones than they do but their job is to sell you a brand new phone, not lift a finger to even look at what’s wrong with your phone,” I replied. “That’s why you’ve told me four times now that the iPhone 7 is on sale for $500.”

I could go on and on about this whole thing but I guess this is the wave of the future. We’ve become a throwaway society, where nothing gets fixed or upgraded anymore because companies like Apple would rather you throw away your “broken” device and a new one. Or they make it next to impossible to have your existing device repairable.

I’m sure if my mother was still in charge of her phone plan, she’d have whipped out her credit card and gotten herself that iPhone 7 and still not know how to work the damn thing because that wasn’t the problem, to begin with. It’s just sad and laughable that to fix her phone, she had to ship it across the country to me and after a few presses of a button, I fixed it and sent it back to her.

*I really don’t believe they have this plan, tbh, and if they do, it’s begrudgingly with the hope that they can talk the customers to upgrading to the latest phone instead like they did to my mother.

 

 

Seeing Red

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So my son’s behavioral aide is changing this year and the new agency taking care of that touched base with me the other day because the school IBI supervisor hasn’t bothered to, just like she didn’t bother to let me know about the change until the new people showed up at the school during the last week of school ready to start the transition. Yep, last week of school. Even his long-time aide cried because it was so sudden.

When the supervisor finally did call me, it was only to say the agency shouldn’t have contacted me because she was going to talk to me tomorrow:

  • While my kid was already going to be with the new behavioral aide whom I wouldn’t be able to meet beforehand
  • In a new classroom with a new teacher
  • And after being bussed along with the same students who bullied him last year without an aide present to the new building across town because the current school is being renovated.

To her, it’s no big deal.

To me, I’m so pissed I’m seeing red. She didn’t even leave a number for me to call her back today so I sent her an email saying from here on everything has to be in writing.

Like it says in the damn IEP.

This year, I’m done being that “nice easygoing mom.”

I’m going to be that awful mom teachers and supervisors will hate. I used to wonder about that with other parents getting the bad rap, but now I TOTALLY GET IT.

Because no one will ever fight for your kid like you ever will.

No. One.

ETA: Why do I write about regular life when I’m supposed to be an author? Shouldn’t I protect my brand? 

I used to worry about my brand all the time. I still do. I’ve taken Instagram courses that tell you to color coordinate your posts so your profile looks pleasing to the eye, to create stories every day and show your personal life so that readers can “connect” with you, to schedule everything and be brand appropriate, to smile smile smile smile smile and blah blah blah blah blah.

Well, my life isn’t color coordinated by a long shot, and my personal life is a mess in case you want to know. And the reason I write is because I need an outlet for all the rage I feel inside and to allow all my silly romantic and sexual stories out of my head. It’s a delicate balance—rage and romance and sex. But on paper, I’m able to strike that balance. I’m able to write out the demons and unleash all the passion I can’t unleash in real life because I’ve got so many things to do between laundry, homework, lunch, pick up and drop offs, and legal papers to fill out and making sure every i is dotted and every t is crossed in the Lil Dude’s IEP.

This is the life of this particular author, no color coordinated posts, no big smiles for the camera while I tell you to buy my next book, no dragging my Lil Dude in front of the phone so readers can “connect” with me. I write stories. That’s what I do. That’s all I want to do. But sometimes, I write about the real life that I know better than anything else… the ugly, the sad, and the frustrating parts of it.