ConFusion Schedule

It is that time, once again. The dreary gray depression-spread of January in Michigan. But in spite of all of its slush and salt on my car, slate skies and Winter Storm Advisories, I’ve come to love January. Why? Because of ConFusion – the amazing convention of all things Geek that happens just outside of Detroit every year. It’s a fantastic con. Tons of activities for the whole family, and for writers, it’s a gold mine. I’ve met some wonderful people and made some amazing contacts while I was there for the last three years, and everyone is JUST SO DARN NICE.

Anyway, I’m thrilled (and more than a little terrified) that I’ll be participating in panels for the first time, this year. (Don’t mind me, I just need to go change my pants.) So without further ado, my schedule, just in case you really want to see me sweat.

Saturday, January 21st – 11:00 a.m. — I’ll be participating in a KidFusion KookieKlatch, reading kids’ books and eating cookies.

Saturday, January 21st – 3:00 p.m. — I’ll be talking about ‘Romancing the YA Novel’ with some fantastic authors.

Sunday, January 22nd – 10:00 a.m. — I’ll be drafting my very own fantasy team to fight an existential threat and competing against many other industry folk.

Sunday, January 22nd – 1:00 p.m. — I’ll be joining other geek parents to talk about Nerd Culture Cultivation and raising kids in fandom.

I’d love to see you guys out there. If you happen to be at ConFusion, don’t hesitate to say “Hi!” I’ll be the one huddled in the corner, silently mouthing my prep notes to myself.

 

 

 

Advertisements

A Half-Assed Holiday Card

Merry Christmas! Happy Chanukah! Joyful *insert appropriate Winter Holiday here* and know that I really mean it… I hope your season is peaceful, warm and full of joy.

I usually send out a pretty Christmas card with lots of family pictures on them. In the envelope with the card, I like to send a letter keeping our family and friends up to date on what’s going on with the kids, my husband, the menagerie and myself. This is something I’ve done for most of my adult life. BUT… as with so many areas of my life, I’m not quite there, this year. I ordered the cards. They’re great… full of pictures of my daughter’s graduation and candid moments of the kiddos. There’s a great shot of my eldest son dressed in his formal duds (bowtie included) for his 8th grade farewell formal. I ordered them… and they sit in my laptop case, waiting for the couple of hours of downtime that I’ll need to address and stuff them.

But I suck, so I haven’t gotten them done. I haven’t written the letter. I haven’t stuffed the envelopes. I’ve mostly just moaned about how I don’t have time to do the things that I NEED to do.

Which isn’t entirely true, either. It’s just that the things I NEED to do have changed. Don’t get me wrong… I’m going to send out these cards (eventually). But I NEED to learn to rearrange my priorities. In the last year, I’ve had a child graduate from high school, begin college, mature into adulthood. I’ve had a child begin high school, be diagnosed with ADHD, learn to cope with the symptoms, the meds, and the diagnosis, and learn to cope with the world as a young man. I’ve had a child begin middle school, confront her first interaction with hatred, overcome with love. I’ve had a child begin 3rd grade, learn to write cursive, learn to play Magic: The Gathering. I’ve watched my husband struggle with his own business, work harder, stay later, bounce back with the punches. I’ve turned 40, gotten a promotion, begun to work full time for the first time in a decade. I’ve gotten news regarding my writing that I never thought I’d hear, in my life. I’ve struggled to overcome anxiety and a lack of creative drive. I’ve delved into new worlds with my stories.

If this blog post is popping up on your Facebook wall, if you see this on Twitter… It’s probably because I like you. Hell, you might even be someone who will (someday) get one of these fancy cards in the mail. I am writing this to say that it isn’t that I don’t care about you… I do, and I think about you often. But my priorities are changing. I’m trying to divide myself four ways — career, author, wife, and mother. Lots of people do this, and I know it can be done. I’m just new to it. I’m still learning. So, if some things have to fall through the cracks for a while, I hope you’ll understand. I love you, even if there isn’t a holiday letter. Even if next year, there is no card. Even if we don’t see each other or talk to each other for a decade… I do care about you. I’m just overwhelmed on a daily basis, but I’m getting there.

So until we see each other at the grocery store, or run into each other at a family function, know this — those who live in the Filak House are healthy and happy. We’re swimming in uncharted waters, because that is what life is, whether it’s 3rd grade, college, a new career, an old career, achieving a life long dream. Life is pretty much uncharted. If I figure out the map, I’ll send you a letter.

Peace, Love, and Excruciating Joy to each and every one of you…

Stacey

 

 

On the Occasion of My Child No Longer Being a Child

My eldest child turned 18 today.

Eighteen years ago, I was 22 — a child in my own right, though I thought I had the world in my pocket. Eighteen years ago, 40-odd hours of labor had humbled me. My daughter’s cry had terrified me. And I learned the truth. Eighteen years ago, I realized that I didn’t know a damn thing.

She started things off being difficult — a posterior birth, back labor and her head caught on my tailbone — until my exhaustion got the better of me. I remember begging the doctor and nurses to let me die. That’s how naive I was, in the moment. Thinking that THIS, a puny, physical pain was the very worst I’d have to endure.

Her head was terribly bruised from her time spent lodged within my pelvis. My milk didn’t bother to make an appearance. The combination of those two things led to a case of jaundice that kept her hospitalized for over a week. Words like “brain-damaged” were said where I could overhear. I didn’t sleep at all, for that first week. My ankles swelled up so much I had to cut my jeans to take them off. The panic in my mind reduced the pain in my body to nothingness.

I had read the books. I’d gone to the classes. I’d been around kids my whole life. I wasn’t prepared for what it’s like when your baby is screaming because she’s hungry and you have no milk for her. I wasn’t ready for the lactation specialist who would make me feel small, as if Mother Nature was trying to do her good works, if I’d just get out of her way. I didn’t know that that first compromise — the store-bought formula, the latex nipple that seemed to fit so perfectly between her little lips– would be the first in a long line of compromises.

She was a perfect baby. She had an infectious laugh, and sometimes she’d laugh so hard that she’d wear herself out and cry from the exhaustion. She spoke in full sentences before she walked and she walked at 9 months old. I had no idea what I was doing.

When she was a year old, she had an allergic reaction that almost killed her. Eight days in the hospital, hooked to tubes, so dehydrated that her kidneys stopped functioning. I learned a lot about compromise, that week. I made deals with God and the Devil. Anyone who was listening. I remembered labor pains with warm fondness.

When we had survived toddlerdom, we somehow made it through preschool and that first day of kindergarten, when she waved and walked away from me, beaming from ear to ear. I made it to the car before I relived labor, that day.

I blinked and she was in middle school. And boy, did I miss labor pains, then. I’d have relived a million hours of sobbing and pushing if I could compromise the words “I hate you” from her vocabulary.

Then she was in high school, and before I knew it, a boy had broken her fragile bird’s nest heart. And I was in labor again, as she sobbed until she gagged and I could do nothing to ease her growing pains.

Then I was tucking the sheets in on the bed in her dorm room. And I was driving away. And she lived under another roof, in another town. And the pains came again.

When I gave birth to that squalling, blotchy, thick-haired girl, I didn’t know the first thing about compromise. I didn’t know the first thing about being a mother. I didn’t know the first thing about life. Today, as I celebrate her reaching this “milestone” of adulthood, I see this amazing creature, this beautiful woman who speaks her mind and wears her passions on her skin, and I realize — Motherhood is a two-way street.

I raised her only as much as she raised me.

I’m sure that I’m not done feeling the pangs of her labor. She has plans to travel the world, to do amazing, distant things. I am learning to miss her, already. But if I could tell her anything, if I could prepare her for this life she’s embarking on, I’d say love hurts.

And it has been my greatest  privilege to be hurt by her.

 

Trying to be Thankful in a Lousy World

So… the world sucks.

I’m not trying to be edgy or tap into my inner goth-girl (though Lord knows she hangs out just below the surface.) I’m being honest. The world… the nation… the state of things… they suck.

There is a fear that is permeating everything, poisoning people’s hearts and minds. I’m very aware that hatred — racism, sexism, homophobia, your average, everyday Nazi-ism — are nothing new, and for those who are marginalized, this election has only reaffirmed what they already knew. There are people in the world that hate them for no other reason than who they were born to be. In my privilege, I was naive enough to think that things were getting better. I’m sorry that I wasn’t listening better.

My kids have come home in the last two weeks to tell me horror stories about the things that other children are saying to one another at school. We read daily accounts of casual hatred. I feel bombarded. I feel terrified for the future. I watch with absolute panic as people are named to a cabinet that will shape the future for the next generation. I cry in the shower, where no one can hear me. I try to remember that we’re resilient, that our kids will do better than we have.

To be clear, I’m in no way saying that everyone who voted for the President-elect is racist. What I’m saying is that I could not overlook the terrible things that he said, that fueled racism, and I don’t understand how so many could. I’m saying that I think too many people made decisions based on the fact that they could never see history repeating itself… and I fear that they were wrong. I regret not trying harder. I should have volunteered for Hillary’s campaign. I should have gone to protests and rallies. I should have donated more. I should have yelled from the rooftops, on the very limited scale that I can. I should have been a soldier.

And all of this grief (and it is grief — we’ve lost something), is making it difficult to focus on the things that I should be thankful for. But I’m going to try —

I am thankful for my home, which is never clean or properly landscaped, but is full of warmth and laughter. I am thankful for my job, which challenges me, keeps the bills paid, provides health insurance for my family, and allows me to work with an incredible group of people. I’m thankful for the education my children are receiving. Third grade through college, they’re all experiencing  a diverse world, reading amazing stories and learning from exceptional humans. I’m thankful for our pets, who snuggle me when I’m sad, who adore me unconditionally because I fill their bowls, and who never fail to greet me at the door. I’m thankful for my son, who has the driest sense of humor on the planet and a mind like a steel trap. I’m thankful for my daughter, who creates non-stop and has yet to give up on magic. I’m thankful for my older son, who has a core of kindness drilled down through the center of his jock’s heart. I’m thankful for my eldest daughter, who never fails to text me when something funny or amazing happens, even though she doesn’t live at home anymore, and who hasn’t grown out of her funny accents. I’m thankful for a husband who believes in my dreams, even when I don’t. I’m thankful for family that are friends, and friends that are family. I am thankful for an extended social network that engulfs folks from all over the world, who have my back and really get me and my crazy love of tales. I’m thankful for doctors and therapists who have really seen our family through some tough stuff, this year. I’m thankful for support systems — biological, mechanical, and otherwise.

I’m thankful for hope.

The world is lousy. People are being hurt. I have so much to be thankful for, and I’m well aware that I take too much for granted. I am trying to be more aware, to give where I can, to stand behind and beside and in front of those that need it — wherever they need me to be. I’m trying to wake up and see the world as it is, ugliness and beauty alike.

I am trying. I will fail. I will apologize and try again. I’m thankful for perseverance. And if you’re reading this, I’m thankful for you.

 

 

What I’m doing while I’m not doing the stuff I’m supposed to be doing

Happy February 1st.

OMG. It’s February 1st.

2016 has already gotten away from me. I’d like to say that it is because I’ve fallen so deep into a writing coma that I couldn’t come up for air because of all of the amazing sentences that I’m constructing… but that’d be bullshit.

I’d like to say that it’s because I’m swamped since I won the Powerball, too, but well… clearly, no.

Here at Casa Filak, things have been a bit hectic in 2016. Just before Christmas, our youngest daughter was diagnosed (finally) with Fibromyalgia. She’s eleven. That really, really sucks. She was, understandably, suffering from some pretty severe depression after having felt like crap for over a year, and we’re getting that under control, as well as learning new ways to help her cope with her pain and her new reality.

I don’t want to help her cope with a new reality.

I want to go back to the old reality, before she was in pain all the time. Before she felt nauseated. Every. Single. Day. I want to go back to the reality where she runs around and plays like a kid, where she doesn’t have to remember to do neck stretches to keep herself from getting headaches. I want her to be staring down the highway of life where the biggest worry she has is who’s going to be assigned to her cabin at 5th grade camp.

I’m kind of pissed.

But I can’t show her that, because I have to show her how to be strong. And I can’t show her that, because being angry isn’t going to do her one bit of good. And I can’t show her that, because this isn’t about me at all… it’s about her and I want her to know that she’s perfect, even though her muscles aren’t.

So… right now, a lot of the things that I’m supposed to be doing are slipping to the wayside. We have about 7 specialists appointments a week, right now, as we try to wrangle her symptoms under control and help her to learn coping strategies and warning signs. Right now, all the creative juices in my head have turned to sludge. Right now, the characters that are living in my head are a lot quieter than the kid that lives in my house… in my heart. And right now, I’m having a hard time remembering that I’m an author. That I’m a woman. That I’m anything other than mother.

I know that this will pass. Each day gets easier. Each day, she gets stronger and as she gets stronger, so do I. One day, soon, I’ll remember that I’m somebody else, besides just her mom.

But right now, I’m having a hard time remembering that, so I have to tell myself. Just as a reminder.

Quick and Dirty Review: THE DISTANCE FROM A TO Z by Natalie Blitt

http://www.amazon.com/The-Distance-A-Natalie-Blitt-ebook/dp/B00WELVQSI

25131078

 

So, I’m supposed to be finishing line edits, right now. I’m supposed to be neck deep in removing all the extra commas from my manuscript (I have an addiction. I admit it — My name is Stacey and I use WAY too much punctuation.) HOWEVER, that being said, I took a night off last night.  My agent-mate, the lovely Natalie Blitt, had a book birthday yesterday with the release of her Teen Romance, THE DISTANCE FROM A TO Z, so I took a few hours off to read it.

And it was fantastic.

But since I have to get back to those commas I’m going to do a quick and dirty review — five things I loved about this book about a girl who travels away from home to immerse herself in the culture that she loves — to get away from the family that drives her crazy — only to find love in a most unexpected boy.

#5 – Abby and Alice. The friendship between these two is perfectly real. Both are flawed, both are strong in their own way. They have fights and make up over real things. Their friendship drew me into this book right away.

#4 – French and Baseball. Full transparency — I don’t speak French and I don’t really like baseball. We’re an NFL family, around these parts. But the immersion of the French language and the baseball — all the baseball — made these characters real. The French language and the baseball references become a part of the story. They become characters unto themselves. And they are great fun.

#3 – Trivia as Foreplay. Here’s the thing — I am a sucker for a good nerd love story, and Abby is a nerd that I can totally get behind. She is smart and funny, geeking out on all things France and the beauty of words. (You know I’m all about that.) She’s got a head full of baseball facts and all kinds of family baggage and is trying to find her place in the world. And any book that uses a trivia competition as the first real set-up to romance gets an A+ from me.

#2 – CONSENT! Zeke is a jock. He’s the exact kind of guy you would expect to push back, if a girl says, “No.” But instead, Natalie Blitt has given us a story that at its heart is about consent and that, way more than his shaggy blond locks or his easy smile, is what made me love Zeke.

#1 – Instant Gratification. The e-book is available right now. Right here. Or here. And it’s $1.99! And it is a quick, happy read that made me smile. It was lovely and I’d recommend that you use a few hours of the time you’re supposed to be doing something else to fall into it, too!

The Stars Look Very Different Today

 

bowie

I woke up to sad news this morning, as did everyone else in the world. David Bowie has died of cancer at age 69.

If you’d have asked me, yesterday, if I’d have felt compelled to write a blog post if David Bowie died, I’d have shrugged and said, “I like his music. He was a hell of an entertainer. But he doesn’t really have anything to do with me.”

I’d have been wrong. The minute I read the news, I felt like I was kicked in the gut and it took me a couple of hours to understand why.

The short answer… the easy answer… is Labyrinth. It was, in my recollection, my very first taste of fantasy. We weren’t a family that dwelled in the land of wizards and warriors, of swords and sorcerers. We were a family that watched Westerns. Later, I would bond with my dad over Star Trek and Star Wars, and even Beastmaster, but my earliest movie memories were The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and Gunsmoke. And while I can see the way that those stories, too, have touched my work, nothing shook me by the shoulders the way that Labyrinth did.

From the moment we watched Labyrinth, it changed the way I thought. I remember, in winter, a huge puddle formed downtown, and the top layer would crust over with ice. My sister and I discovered that if you broke the crust in the middle, then stepped on the edge, it would bubble — our very own Bog of Eternal Stench. I’ve forgotten whole years of my childhood, but I remember that puddle like it was yesterday.

And David Bowie was a part of that. Jareth was a force of nature, a celestial being, a kind of immortal that I had not yet known. He was the kind of beast that stole babies from their cribs and tried to seduce the heroine to the dark side. He was evil, but in a way that made you want to be evil, too.

As I got older, and my musical tastes diverged from my parents’ love of all things Country and Western, I heard Space Oddity. I heard Heroes. I heard Rebel Rebel. I heard him play the part of Ziggy Stardust, and he was so charismatic, so otherworldly. He was experiencing the earth as if from somewhere else, and that spoke to me. As the kind of person who has always questioned where they belonged, I got David Bowie. I felt like he got me.

I didn’t know David Bowie. He was an entertainer and an artist. He was a father and a husband. There are those in this world who truly mourn his loss, today, in a way that I cannot, and my heart goes out to them. I hope that they find peace.

But, for me… this world glitters a little less, today, than it did yesterday. There is less Stardust in our sky. There is a little less magic. The Goblin King is dead. All hail the King.

Commencing countdown, engines on

Check ignition and may God’s love be with you

On Jessica Jones – AKA Kicking Rape Culture’s Ass and Other Acts of Heroism

***** This post may contain SPOILERS for the Netflix series, JESSICA JONES. It also may contain some discussion that may trigger an emotional response from some people, including those that are sensitive to discussions of rape and sexual violence. *****

We finished watching the Netflix Original Series, JESSICA JONES, last night, and I’ve been walking around in a fog, somewhat overwhelmed by all of its awesomeness for the last 24 hours. It wasn’t that Jessica kicks ass without taking names (Although she does). And it wasn’t that this show passed ever feminist media test that’s ever been made (Although it does). It wasn’t that the show takes gender norms and turns them around like the “permanent press” cycle of my dryer (Although it really, really does).

What really blew me away about this show was the way that it took EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of rape culture and pummeled it with super-human fists. Jessica Jones is DAMAGED. She is broken. She has been through hell, having been tortured and controlled by Kilgrave, raped and forced to do unimaginable things for his pleasure. She is full of rage, rightfully so, and these circumstances have altered her. Permanently. She is truly messed up by it — which is pretty refreshing, if you think about it. So often, characters who have been through a traumatic experience —  especially rape — spend an episode or two having PTSD, and then they bounce back. But experiences like that aren’t bounceable. They change you, and usually they change you to the point that you don’t go back to who you were. JESSICA JONES really shoved this idea down your throat. Brutally. Beautifully. Honestly.

In addition, I love the fact that Jessica, while our protagonist, isn’t especially likeable. You spend a lot of time wondering why Trish puts up with her, why a kind, attractive man like Luke Cage (Thank you, Netflix, for remembering that women enjoy an eye-candy love interest, too) would ever be interested in her. And then you get a glimpse. You see a fraction of a sliver of what Jessica was like, before Kilgrave. She is such a multifaceted, deeply engaging, fully fleshed out character, that despite the fact that she’s a hard-edged, unfriendly witch, most of the time, you still feel for her. Because she feels real.

Which leads me to another thing that I really enjoyed about the show. There are no characters that don’t get fleshed out. Pretty much all of the bit players — even if they only have a few minutes of screen time over a few episodes — they still manage to surprise you. They don’t feel tropey. They feel REAL. Robin, Louise, Pam, Wendy, Albert, Ruben, Claire (I love you, Claire), and my favorite, Malcolm. They are solid and sordid and they grab you, and don’t let go.

I love the active discussion of rape, and rape culture. I love the way that consent is in your face, every time Kilgrave is on the screen, and is being discussed. I love the conversations that his actions inspire, and the way that Jessica has taken control of her body. She refuses to allow him to take her unwillingly, any more.

I love the way that female characters (I’m looking at you, Hogarth and Robin) are given the roles usually held by men. Hogarth is a womanizing bastard, but she’s the lawyer you want when you’re charged with murder. Robin is the super-creepy neighbor that seems to be keeping her loved one prisoner. You’ve seen these characters before — many, many times. But rarely have they not had penises.  I love how nurturing and compassionate Malcolm is, and how dedicated to the idea of true love Luke is. These are so often seen as “feminine” characteristics, and this show takes gender norms and stirs them up. It takes a friendship between two women and makes it the central relationship — the core — for each of them. It does things that we don’t see often enough in pop culture, and it does them well.

And quite controversially, I’m sure, I loved Kilgrave. Don’t get me wrong — he was the worst of the worst, and deserved a lot worse than he got. But he was the very personification of rape. Think about that, for a minute. This character represented RAPE. Then think about the fact that strong, intelligent women kicked his ass. They worked together. They bled. They cried. They talked and they raged. They looked on as tough men (even the toughest, most unbreakable of men) fell beneath his spell, controlled and mentally raped. Over and over again, characters said to Jessica, “I had no idea… I didn’t believe…” Nobody could fight that battle for Jessica. She had to win on her own terms. And the fact that she wasn’t “fixed” after she had her revenge just makes me love the show, more. She can’t be fixed… she can only get stronger.

I salute the writers, the directors and producers, the actors (especially David Tennant, who has probably made it so I can never watch the 10th doctor, again), and Krysten Ritter, who oozed broken glass with each performance and choked life into Jessica. If Marvel is capable of putting JESSICA JONES out there, in their Cinematic Universe, then I expect them to step up their game on all female superheroes. I expect more broken, beautiful, heroic, fully-fleshed out heroines. They’ve blown their cover, now. We know their secret — and we know that they’re capable.

Admissions of Guilt and Other Such Apologies

As I reported a few weeks ago, I have been most fortunate in signing with an awesome agent, Rena Rossner. She has been a blessing, editorially, and I’ve spent the last few weeks cranking out a set of revisions, which I’ve sent off to her for review. It was a chaotic time.

Add to the revisions the fact that my youngest daughter has been suffering with renewed symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome from the concussion she got, a year ago, and the fact that my eldest son fractured his finger, which required surgery to place pins in it. My eldest daughter is charging through her senior year, and has just been accepted to college, and my youngest son is playing soccer and his vocabulary and reading level is expanding by the day.

Add to that the fact that I am still working 20-30 hours a week, helping my husband run his business, and trying (and mostly failing) to keep some sort of order in the household.

I managed to get the revisions in, but I’m failing at a whole lot of other things.

If/when the book ever sees the light of day, you’ll all be able to read that one of the main themes of this story is the fact that family isn’t just blood. You make your family, and that family comes first. I’m failing at that, right now, in a lot of ways.

I can’t tell you how many phone calls I have not returned, how many text messages and Facebook statuses I’ve overlooked. I can’t even keep track of all of the things that I should have said, and done, that haven’t been said, or done. I owe so many people a lunch date, or a phone call, or an email, or whatever… and you know what’s awesome?

I’m pretty sure that I’m the only one keeping track. I have the very best friends in the known world. I have an amazing support system of family, friends, confidantes, and partners in crime, and I know that even though I’m feeling this guilt… they’re just cheering me on.

My house hasn’t been as filthy as it has recently been since I last had a newborn. My mountain of laundry that needed to be folded nearly reached the ceiling… and was tackled by mother — bless her soul. Our dishwasher broke and my husband, despite working 14 hours a day, washed dishes by hand, every night while I did revisions.

I am not worthy.

If the book sees the light of day, I won’t have room for all of the acknowledgements that should be made. To everyone who I have overlooked while struggling to make this dream come true, please accept my admission of guilt, and my love. I couldn’t do any of this without all of you.

You are my team. You are my family. You are the reason I’ve been able to do any of this.

So, this happened…

Forgive me, my five blog followers, for I have forsaken thee…

I didn’t MEAN to stop blogging. In fact, I have every intention of blogging all the time. I’ll be driving the kids to practice, or sitting at my desk at work and think, “HA! That’s hilarious. I should totally write that down and post it on the blog.” But… well, my life tends to get in the way. I apologize. I’d push it out of the way and tell it to be more courteous, but… well, life.

And then, some new stuff happened, and it got a lot more crazy. But in a really awesome way.

So, without further rambling, I’d like to announce that I have signed with the fabulous Rena Rossner, of the Deborah Harris Agency!  She is fantastic, and has an excellent eye for editing, and is also funny and kind, and I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that I’m SUPER-GEEKED about this development. She was one of the agents that were at the top of my list of choices, and I was and will continue to be thrilled to have waded through 48 rejections in order to get the one offer from her.

I’d love to sit here and type out painstakingly long descriptions of #1 son’s broken finger and the surgery he just had to pin it, the Princess’ accidental glutening of herself and the misery that ensued, the AWESOME trip to Nerdcon: Stories that I just took with my fabulous critique partner, the broken dishwasher, the busy work schedule, Little Man’s current  obsession with battle royale nature lit, and of course, Eldest Daughter’s acceptance to COLLEGE!!!!! But alas, I have much revisioning to attend. And also, probably, a dishwasher to buy.

And plans to take over the world, Pinky. Love and peace and cookies to all of you.