Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Photos of the Infamous Pool!

I was finally able to find photos of the pool where I swim. I was too chicken to take them myself, but I could some on a services review site. I was pleased to see that the YMCA has a very nice rating on Yelp.com. I agree. So, now that you have an idea of the length of the pool. You can see how much I have to swim to do the average of 6 laps that I'm up to. They are still fairly slow due to traffic in the open pool. I'm going to start going to the lap session with lanes that are in photos number 2 and 3.
This is the pool from the driveway of the YMCA.

This is shot from the outside in from the deep end of the pool.

And this is from the entrance from the lobby. The railing is where we get in via steps.

Another angle of the deep end from near the lifeguard's perch.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Ensnared Publishing Update and Magical Moments

Before we get to the blog topic, I have big news. The next Ensnared – print version – will be released for Yaoi-con. Meaning, it will be available for purchase on Amazon and other outlets beginning the weekend of Yaoi-con (September 18). There will be a special sale price that weekend to match the convention price. That's usually a 25 to 30% discount on the list price. The ebook will be handled differently than before. We received many complaints about the ebook being too long. It was a surprising number of complaints. So, we will do a staggered release in the run up to Yaoi-con of ebooks that are shorter installments of the whole. We also plan to make sure the print versions of the book are as attractively priced as we can. That may mean that the next print volume could be two. I've been spinning this story into many unexpected places, so it is getting to be far longer than I first thought. Speaking of that, onto the blog!

Magical Moments

I was asked a question during the Valentine's Day online party that was most interesting. The question was what was the best thing about writing. The best part of writing for me are what I call Magical Moments when the characters I've written are so well developed that they begin to act on their own. It can reek havoc on my outlines, but the story is often better when I don't fight the direction the character wants to take. Darius has taken the reins in this book with some astonishing results for me. There were scenes that I thought would be a paragraph or two that turned into these lovely little character moments between Darius or Andreas and supporting characters. And some of those moments gave me a path to the climax of the book that works far better than the one I had planned. I'm not winging the plot by any stretch. The outline I created is still the template. I've just had a detour here and there. These changes have made the book even more fun to write. I suppose it's because these unexpected scenes have all been sweet or funny or hot.

These little scenes are important, because Darius goes through as many changes in this book as Andreas had in the first book. It is essential that readers are able to get past the frosty, aloof nature of the Cosi and see Darius and Mykos in a different light so that this change resonates. I've also been really pleased that I can give my readers time with their favorite supporting characters in some very entertaining ways without it appearing that I was trying to find ways to feature them. All of these scenes happened in a natural way.

It's not really surprising that this sort of magic is occurring. I've been living with the characters for years now. I've spent a great deal of time thinking about the next part of their lives. This cast of characters are very dear friends by now. I think that this knowledge is subconscious like the way I know my friends or family. I innately know how they would react in a given situation. Still, it really feels like magic when a scene starts building right before my eyes with seemingly no effort. And I prefer thinking of it that way.

I have no preview this time. There are too many spoilers in what I'm doing right now. Instead, I give you a quick sketch (30 minutes and out) of a towel clad Darius swinging his hair like a tart. The point of view is Andreas' from a reclining position. I hope you enjoy.   

Swimming, Black Women and the Hair Thing

Swimming has caused me a problem that I hadn't really thought about – fuzzy edges. In the parlance of Black hair care, this would be the hair at the hair line. It grows in fastest and is often the least chemically processed and unruly. I hadn't thought about the problems with re-touching my relaxed hair and contact with chlorine in a pool when I started swimming. I swim three times a week (ideally), so there was just no time for me to re-touch my hair when it wouldn't be dangerously exposed to pool chemicals. No matter how well fitting the swimming cap is, my hair still gets wet at my forehead and the nape of my neck. It was a big problem with my first cap. It just couldn't contain all that hair. The picture to the left isn't as wild as it can get. It's damp from the pool. It's about a quarter Chaka Kahn. When it's in the full Chaka, my cousin swears I have three heads of hair on one scalp. I had to get a new one for long hair to contain it all (Note my cool mirrored goggles. They kinda scale the seniors in the pool). Ultimately, I decided that now was the time to just stop the practice of chemically relaxing altogether and grow my hair out au natural. But that left the problem of the fuzzy edges.

Is this really a thing, you wonder. Indeed, it really is. I forgot my black beret one morning in a rush for my bus. I have my hair pulled back in a French braid and neatly pinned, but I don't use anything on my hairline as hair products will make my swim cap slip, and I end up washing my hair in the shower after swimming anyway. The driver, a lovely Black woman around about my age, actually quietly asked me if I was feeling poorly. She noted that I usually have my act together leaving the house, and those edges made her wonder. I told her I forgot my hat en route to swimming and allayed her worries.

The Bus Driver Lady's concerns made me realize that I was in need of a routine that would tame my hair while keeping from becoming a part of pool chemical induced superhero origin story. Of course, the internet had a lot of information – especially Youtube. Just look up natural hair care and a plethora of videos pop up for every situation. It seems transitioning from chemically treated hair to natural hair is a thing amongst Black women. Thus, there was a lot of advice to be had on the subject. There was a mind boggling amount of advice on the subject and a cottage industry on specific hair care products for the transition. Fortunately, I have enough stuff in my cabinet to make do. I started last week making sure my hair was properly moisturized and conditioned from the roots to the tips. My edges are no longer unruly. I like the feel of my hair, and Jon likes the way it looks as well. This could be a really good thing.

As for the the swimming itself, I am reaching the point where it's difficult to cope with the goings on during the open pool time. I found that the later sessions have lanes in the pool. And there is a slow lane for swimmers who aren't very strong. They'll even allow me to wear the float belt in the slow lane. The later start would have other advantages for me as it is really difficult for me to get out of the house in the morning on some days. I'm now doing 6 or 7 laps routinely. I'd do more, but navigating the bobbing seniors eats up time. I sure can't work on speed with all those people in the way. So, it's a new time for me.

The next big hurdle for me is buying a new swim suit. Mine is getting to be too loose as I lose weight and tone up. Still, I hate buying such garments. The mirrors in a dressing room are not my friend. And this will be a lot of exposure. But it must be done. I don't want the current one to slip off in front of the lifeguard. He's very nice and should not be traumatized.

Stay tuned.