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Season’s Change

I should have posted this several months ago. I’m dealing with some really intense personal stuff this year, and when it isn’t kicking my ass emotionally, it’s lobbing grenades into my plans. I may or may not post again specifically to talk about what’s going on with me, but that’s for another day.

Anyways, I’m sorry I’m just sharing this now, but I’m in a new anthology! If you remember, I loved Chemical [se]X when I read it and reviewed it in December of 2014. After I reviewed it, I told the editor, Oleander, that if she ever did a volume two to please let me know. She did better than that, and asked me if I wanted to contribute!

I first heard the song Persephone years ago after a friend shared his Escape Key album with me. Michelle Dockrey wrote the song. The line “They all forget I had a choice, y’know/I could’ve chosen not to eat or drink” clicked for me. I knew that one day I would write my take on Persephone.

Hey, guess what I wrote for an anthology about aphrodisiac chocolates?

I changed the pomegranate into a chocolate with a pomegranate filling and I had a story where eating chocolate would be a key part of the larger story. I could’ve gone with other myths (my oldest daughter’s middle name is Athena), but it made sense to do Persephone/Hades.

Rape of Prosperina by Benini
Often also called Rape of Persephone

I’ve never liked how passive Persephone is often written. So I knew that my Persephone would be in the model of Michelle Dockrey’s. She would make a choice, rather than have choices made by other people about her life. When it came to Hades, I remembered that he didn’t only create Tartarus, but also the Elysian Fields.

Excerpt:

She’d gone willingly to Apollo’s bed.  Sun was vital in the growth of plants.   But the sex had been….pedestrian.  Boring.  Uninspiring.  Just as she’d always found it.

“What’s wrong with me?” she whispered.

As if in reply, the ground started to shake. Soil exploded upward as a team of black stallions spewed forth.  The god driving the chariot was clad in unrelieved black from head to toe.  Surely he was hunting some poor lost soul.

Persephone’s breath was knocked from her body when Hades’ powerful arm snatched her.

“What are you doing?” Persephone gasped.

She was shocked when no trees bent to block her abduction, nor did sylphs step forth to attempt a rescue. The only sounds were the pounding of the stallion’s hooves and her own ragged sobs. The iron band of his arm held her tightly against him as the horses dove back into the underworld. 

They raced along the River Styx. Persephone remembered the stories she’d been told as a child—always keep a coin in your shoe in case you must pay Charon’s fee. Hades had no need of coins for passage. The stallions leapt the water with no more trouble than she might have had stepping over a small stream.

The landscape passed too quickly for her to comprehend what she was seeing.  At times she had the impression of tremendous beauty and peace while music swirled around the chariot. At others, paralyzing fear nibbled at her and cries of agony assaulted her ears.  They raced deeper into the Underworld until Persephone knew she would never find her way back to the river.

A building in the distance grew larger.  Black as obsidian, with turrets stabbing upward, the castle seemed no more welcoming than the god beside her. The stallions slowed to a stop by the entrance.  Hades hefted her over a shoulder and carried Persephone into the castle. She trembled like a sheaf of grain in a wind, too frightened and angry to speak.

It seemed as though Hades walked for hours before she was tossed onto a bed.

“Why? Hades, what purpose?” she asked, tears running down her face.

“Zeus said you can’t bring forth the harvest. He seemed to think that since the ground is dead around you, and the people are dead around me that we would be a perfect match.  He gave you to me in marriage.” Hades’ voice was emotionless.

“M-marriage?”  Her teeth chattered as his words set in.

“Yes.”

“What are you going to do to me?” she whispered.

“Nothing! I’m not interested in sporting with a terrified girl. Stay out of my way, wife.  In time, let’s hope that we can tolerate one another.” Hades frowned, before adding, “Don’t eat or drink anything. Keep out of the kitchen.” He left, kicking the door shut behind him.

Persephone shivered at the finality of the slam of the door. Fear dug into her skin like a bramble. Underneath the fear, though, there was relief. She wouldn’t have to receive the offerings of grain and flowers accompanied by pleas to warm the land for their plows.

From an Amazon review- Delilah Night’s take on Persephone, which had me hooked from the opening lines: “they forget I had a choice, you know. I could’ve not eaten.” I loved how deftly consent was woven into that tale which could’ve gone so easily into Belle & Beast terrain.

Buy it on

Love Grind by Shelly Ellis


Love Grind by Shelly Ellis

She’s used to baring it all . . . but baring her heart is a whole different story

Down on her luck and broke, Jennifer Dudley long ago traded dancing in the chorus line for swinging from a stripper pole to make ends meet. She’s hoping an offer to come back home and teach dance at her old performance academy will be the opportunity she needs to fix her life. When she moves in with and falls for a software developer with brains, a boyish smile, and muscles, she decides she might be well on her way to a second chance at success—and love. But her X-rated past may come back to haunt her, compromising her newfound happiness and hurting the ones she loves the most.

AVAILABLE ON:

AMAZON

ABOUT SHELLY ELLIS

Shelly Ellis is a NAACP Image Award-nominated women’s fiction/romance author and creator of the Gibbons Gold Digger and Chesterton Scandal series. Her fiction writing career began when she became one of four finalists in a First-Time Writers Contest when she was 19 years old. The prize was a publishing contract and having her first short-story romance appear in an anthology. She has since published ten novels and was a finalist for 2015 NAACP Image Award in the Literary Fiction Category, a three-time finalist for the African American Literary Award in the romance category (2012, 2016, and 2017), and a finalist for the 2015 RT Reviewers’ Choice Award in Multicultural Romance category.

She is married and lives in Prince George’s County, Maryland with her husband and their daughter. Visit her at her web site http://www.shellyellisbooks.com.


CONNECT WITH SHELLY ELLIS

AUTHOR SITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Living in Waldenbooks

Today’s prompt from #MFRW is Childhood Memories.

There used to be a chain of bookstores in the US called Waldenbooks. A very young Delilah practically lived at hers. Every month, like clockwork, there was a new Baby-Sitter’s Club book to buy. Every week there were what, at the time, felt like an endless source of opportunities. This particular Waldenbooks was next to a toy store, but little Delilah never spent her allowance there–or only rarely, for there were books to buy!

When you spend as much time in a small bookstore as young Delilah did, you get to know the staff, and vice versa. It was amazing when they started giving her personalized recommendations based on what she’d previously bought–sort of like how websites like Amazon do now. They were the ones to introduce her to the worlds of Xanth (Piers Anothony) and Valdemar (Mercedes Lackey) in the adult section, even though they’re more YA than anything else.

The other place young Delilah loved above all else was the library. Thousands of books to read–for free! The best gift her mother ever gave her was when she signed the form that let an eleven year old Delilah read books from any section of the library, not just the children’s section. Of course she immediately abused by reading Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews. Other books read too young include Gone With the Wind and Clan of the Cave Bear, among many others.

Obviously the common thread is books. Something about being surrounded by books is like feeling endless possibilities. Each book gives you a peek into a new world, or lets you return to a world you’ve enjoyed in the past. Books didn’t care that she didn’t have a lot of money, or that she only had one parent, or that she struggled to make friends. Books were friends, and better ones than the kids who she just didn’t get. (Young Delilah was a little weird, and didn’t find her community until college.)

Books inspired her imaginative play. Dolls acted out Baby-Sitter’s Club scenes. Delilah adopted a nickname shared by a BSC member and used it for nearly eight years after it became habit. A trailer that she lived in had a small copse of fir trees, and every time she passed through it, she hoped that she’d end up in Narnia (Not today–not getting raptured up because you like lipstick? Fuck that noise.) Even today, Delilah will play around with the worlds that she finds particularly interesting–writing fanfic in her head for the fun of it.

True then, true now–surround Delilah with books, and she’s a happy woman.

Free Story–Petticoats and Push Up Bras

Here’s a holiday gift from me to you. Petticoats and Push Up Bras was inspired by my former job as a costumed tour guide at the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum, with a sprinkle of voyeurism, and a heroine who’s worried about the imminent zombie apocalypse. It’s a few years old, but a fun little free story.

Instead of a photo of the boat—here’s a picture of me at my former job. I can’t believe it’s been twenty years since then!

I’ll be back to do a year in review between now and Jan 1. Happy holidays!

 

Petticoats and Push Up Bras

Delilah Night

 

“Dump the tea!” My voice rang out in defiance of the British and their illegal taxes.

“Into the sea!” My brave revolutionaries chanted as they followed me down the gangway to the ship.

“Dump the tea!”

“Into the sea!”

“Follow me!” My lips curved, waiting for the tourists to take the bait.

“Into the sea!” They burst out into laughter.

As I led the final tour of the day toward the ship, I flashed Jeff a saucy smile. The period costumes made most of us look frumpy, but Jeff looked like he was born to wear a vest and cravat. Throw in a convincing British accent, and he was sex on a stick. He winked in return as he moved his group from the ship to the attached floating museum.

“Welcome to the Brig Beaver,” I paused for the inevitable snickers. Please let me keep a straight face this time. Of the three ships involved in the Boston Tea Party, they chose to get a replica made of The Beaver?

Setting the stage for the events of December 16, 1773 involved a great deal of theatrical shivering and emotional rhetoric. My group of patriots got into the spirit of things, shrieking their defiance of British taxation while tossing crates of tea into the waiting harbor. Afterward, I posed for pictures with guests from Kansas, Singapore, and Poland while other guests explored the Beaver. As the clock ticked toward closing, I gently herded them off the ship, through the museum, and into the gift shop.

“All clear! Nate and Diane, you opened, so head off,” Jeff called out. “Hannah, I’ll take the museum if you’ll close up the ship? I’ve hauled those damn tea crates back up to the deck so many times today I’d rather cut the ropes than do it again.”

“Sure.”

“My savior!” Jeff fell to one knee, hand over his heart.

“Uh huh.” Amused, I shook my head at his theatrics and headed back to the Beaver.

On board, I grabbed hold of the thick ropes, and hauled the four dripping Styrofoam crates of tea up for the night. I yanked canvas tarps over the hatches and tied them down.

The lapping of water against the ship as the tide came in drowned out the ambient urban noise. Some might find it peaceful. I found the lack of honking horns and screeching sirens disquieting.

Gingerly, I descended the steep stairs down into the hull. Unlike the original Beaver, our replica had an empty hull divided into two parts by a wall of faux wooden tea crates. Near the ladder was a sleeping berth, a table with a few replica artifacts, and some interactive exhibits. Behind the crates of tea was the small cargo hold showcasing ballast stones and wall displays with more information about the events pre- and post-Tea Party.

The two light bulbs cast a miserly glow, throwing most of below decks into shadow and darkness. Brimming with tourists, the space was claustrophobic. Empty, it was cavernous and creepy. Who knew what manner of creature was waiting for me just outside the small pools of light? I immediately regretted bingewatching season one of The Walking Dead last night.

“Scurvy wench, are you still down there?”

“Be up in a second,” I yelled back, relieved that my voice was steadier than my nerves.

I was surprised to hear Jeff’s footsteps on the deck overhead. He was typically more the “you do your task, I’ll do mine” type. All the same, I was grateful to see his boots appear as he climbed down. My imagination didn’t fixate upon things that went bump in the night around him, preferring far more pleasant nocturnal activities.

“Good tour today. You’ve really nailed the accent. The guests would never know you’re the noob,” Jeff commented. “What is this, your third week?”

“Yes, thanks. I’ve been working really hard on my tour,” I smiled at him.

Jeff glanced at my wrist. “Let me give you a tip? Don’t let Andrew see you wearing a Hello Kitty watch. He’ll be an ass and lecture you that it’s not period.”

Ugh, Drew, if I hear “not period,” one more freaking time…

“Seriously? Why is he so strict? Is he going to buy me a period timepiece?” I pulled off my white cap and shook my hair free as I rolled my eyes. “Am I going to get in trouble for mascara, too? Where’s the line?”

Jeff gave me a slow once over. “Who knows what infractions you’re committing under your petticoats, m’lady? I’d be happy to give you a full inspection. I’m pretty sure that you’re wearing a bra, but I’d have to remove your corset and shift to be sure. We can catalog all the items you need to remove to ensure your authenticity.”

“Jeff, I—”

When he pressed a kiss to my neck, my words blurred into a moan. His teeth scraped my skin as he bit down gently, then laved the spot with his tongue. “I’m just trying to keep you out of trouble.”

“Sure you are,” I panted.

Jeff took me by the hand and led me behind the crates to the cargo hold. His mouth burned a path down my neck to my collarbone as his clever hands unlaced my corset.

My lips met Jeff’s hungrily as my back collided with the hull. I pushed Jeff’s tri-corn hat from his head so I could fist my hands in his thick brown hair. He parted his lips to let me explore uncharted territory, and his tongue teased mine as his hands traveled over my cotton shift.

Jeff broke the kiss. He gently pulled at the shift’s neckline. Peering down, he shook his head. “I don’t think they had blue lace bras in the Colonies,” he tsked. “No Ye Olde Felicity’s Secret for the maidens to shop at. I think I’ll need to check under your skirts as well.”

My breathing was shallow, as if I were still corseted. It was one thing to flirt and make out with Jeff, but entirely another to take it that far. I wavered, tempted by the pulsing between my legs. My relationship was on the rocks…

Footsteps on the deck above reverberated above us.

“Zombies!” I squeaked.

Jeff did a double-take, not quite stifling a snicker, “Did you just say zombies?”

Andrew’s voice echoed through the hull. “I think you’ll find this is a great location for your company party. We’ll do the full show, and then some of my actors can circulate while others serve hors d’oeuvres. This way.”

Jeff and I peered around the tea crates. Red high heels slowly descended the steps.

Jeff pulled me backwards, covering my mouth. “Shhh! There’s no reason for them to look back here. The interesting displays are out there.”

“What’s the big deal? We can just tell them we were closing up the ship,” I hissed, about to stand up.

He tugged me back down. “It’s not the first time I’ve gotten caught closing up the ship. Drew won’t believe you. C’mon, Hannah, please?”

I reconsidered. It might be embarrassing for him to get caught (again). I had bigger problems to deal with, chief among them the secret that our boss was also my boyfriend.

Drew and I had been dating for a few weeks when I’d gotten laid off from my crappy retail gig.

“Why not come work for me? You’re a history major. It would be a good fit.”

Taking the job had seemed like a great idea at the time. I could earn money and work at a job related to my major and hang out with my adorable new boyfriend. What could possibly go wrong?

The job wasn’t the problem. Doing the show was a blast. I loved making the Tea Party and the American Revolution come alive for the guests. The major drawback of the job was Andrew.

My adorable boyfriend turned out to enjoy the sound of his own voice more than anyone else’s. Worse, he was a dullard in the bedroom. I wanted to dump him, but I was worried that potential consequence of doing so was unemployment. I’d taken to praying to the Powerball Gods to free me from my dilemma. Sadly, the zombie apocalypse had better odds than hitting the jackpot.

“Will you be wearing one of those costumes? I can just picture you in tight black pants and an eye patch.”

Jeff rolled his eyes at me. “Not good at distinguishing historical events from Johnny Depp movies, is she?” he murmured in my ear.

“It’s not a pirate ship,” Drew said. “But I can threaten to make you walk the plank if you’re a bad girl.”

Gross. How fucking cheesy can you get?

“And what if I’m a good girl?” the woman purred.

Blech. You two deserve each other.

“This is like listening to terrible porn,” I whispered.

Jeff and I lay frozen behind the crates, listening to the activity on the other side. Drew and his paramour were noisy, slurpy kissers, but the sound was oddly arousing. Hearing them go at it reminded me of what Jeff’s lips had been doing to me moments earlier.

It seemed like we were going to be here for a while. I nibbled along Jeff’s jaw line to his lips. He quizzically raised an eyebrow at me. I nodded my assent. Our kisses, careful and quiet, echoed the kisses that were growing more heated at the other end of the ship.

I heard the metallic zing of a zipper. “Oh yeah, baby, take all of it,” Drew moaned.

“You have such a big cock,” she cooed. Rhythmic sucking and moaning ensued.

Such a big cock? She must be trying to get some kind of discount.

I’d been second-guessing hooking up with the hottest guy on the ship while my boyfriend was getting head from strangers? So he was just boring in bed with me? Any guilt I’d harbored before their arrival was now gone.

Fuck Drew.

I felt Jeff harden against me.

No, I decided, fuck Jeff.

“Are you wearing period underwear?” I questioned Jeff softly. Carefully, I slipped a hand between us. My fingers unlaced his trousers and slid inside. “Hmm…I think not.”

“I would. But going commando. In these. Would chafe. My favorite. Body parts,” his staccato whispers burst forth with each thrust of his hips against my hand.

“Hypocrite. I’ll have to give you ten lashes for that,” I murmured. “We’ll have to see if the cat-o-nine-tails on display really works.”

Jeff buried his face in my neck and moaned as his thrusts sped.

“Fuck. Don’t stop, baby!” Drew moaned. “Suck it!”

“Hannah,” Jeff groaned into my ear. “Suck it.”

I slithered down his body, careful not to bump the tea crates that kept us hidden. Freeing his cock from distinctly not-period red boxer briefs, I smiled in anticipation. I caught Jeff’s gaze and without looking away, l licked his cock from root to tip. My tongue made lazy circles around the head.

Jeff kept mouthing the word “please,” his expression growing more and more agonized. When I deep-throated him, he grabbed his tricorn hat off the floor and bit down on it to keep from making any sound.

“Christ, Hannah,” Jeff mumbled around the felt of his hat. “Your accent shouldn’t be the only oral talent on your resume.”

I heard the sound of things falling to the floor. “Up on the table, gorgeous. You’re not going to need that. No, leave the heels on, it’s wicked hot,” Drew said.

“It’s a front-clasp bra,” the woman instructed. “Mmmm, yes… Do that.”

“Come, here,” Jeff pulled me astride him. Taking his cues from the other couple, Jeff untied my shift, slipping it from my shoulders. Discarded, it pooled at my waist. “I see yours is not a front-clasp bra” he breathed in my ear. Jeff executed the kind of one-handed bra removal that only someone who’d had plenty of practice could manage.

My nipples puckered in the cool air of the hold. Jeff leaned forward to take one into his mouth. The warm tip of his tongue flicked my nipple as he sucked. His fingers tugged gently at my other nipple.

I pulled my skirts up. My pink thong was the only barrier between us.

“Leave the Doc Martens on…it’s wicked hot,” Jeff mocked Drew, causing me to stifle a laugh.

Jeff’s hand pulled my lacey excuse for underwear aside. His fingers waltzed over my clit. Biting my lips to keep quiet, I rocked my hips against him.

“Is it playing voyeur that’s got you so hot, or is it the risk of getting caught playing hide the musket?” Jeff’s breath was hot against my earlobe. His cock was hard as a length of iron against my thigh.

Ooh, that’s so good, Drew!” the girl moaned. “Fuck me!”

“Fuck me,” I echoed urgently.

“Good thing I was a boy scout.” Jeff reached into a knothole and pulled out a condom.

My eyes widened in surprise. There was a difference between hooking up on the ship and doing it so frequently that he kept supplies down here. By the time I had finished processing what he’d just seemingly pulled out of thin air (or, more accurately, thick wood) Jeff was repositioning me astride him. I hesitated for a moment.

“You’re the hottest chick I’ve ever had,” Drew grunted as the slap of skin on skin reverberated throughout the hull.

Now that’s just uncalled for.

Impaling myself on Jeff’s cock, I decided to give him a better ride than Drew had ever gotten from me.

“I doubt he’s had much opportunity for comparison,” Jeff murmured.

If only you knew, Jeff.

I moved cautiously, trying not to create the same loud noises giving away every thrust by the other couple. I circled my hips, pretending I was a stripper convincing a client that the champagne room would be worth the money.

“Do you wish I had you out there, bent over the captain’s table? Above deck, tied to the mast? A history major like you would probably love to get off in front of the Sam Adams portrait,” Jeff hissed as I took us higher.

“Why not go crazy and bend me over the display with the original tea chest in it?” I panted back, hips rocking.

“Christ, Hannah. Every time I’m in the museum from now on, that’s all I’m going to see.”

“Good.”

We were no longer completely silent, but the other couple seemed oblivious to us.

The woman’s moans from the other side of the boxes were starting to take on a bored tone. “Drew, that’s so good. Come for me, baby.”

That’s what I say when I want him to finish so I can masturbate once he’s gone home. Finding out that it’s more fizzle than sizzle with Drew, are we, mystery lady?

Jeff continued to describe crazy scenes. The gift shop’s contents, which has seemed like a jumbled mishmash of stereotypical souvenirs, now sounded positively pornographic.

“Want to hear more?” Jeff teased, pausing in his description.

“Yes, please,” I begged, eager for more.

Exactly what kind of mind did you need to come up with the idea to do that with a tea kettle? More to the point, how can I convince him to do it to me?

“Drew, yes, please!” She was losing enthusiasm fast.

“I’m going to come,” I whispered. “Cover my mouth, but keep talking.”

Jeff was mid-soliloquy describing all the places on the site he could tie me up using only a logo sweatshirt when my orgasm hit. It was the kind of typhoon whose monstrous waves were powerful enough to break apart the Beaver. I couldn’t help it, I moaned loud enough that Jeff’s hand didn’t adequately muffle it.

“Yeah, you love it, don’t you?” Drew groaned.

Thank God, he thought it was her.

“I can’t take much more! Come, please!” Her tone was taking on the same level of desperation the voyagers aboard the S. S. Minnow felt when their three hour tour turned into a multi-year stay on a desert island.

“I can’t take much more, Han. Can I come?” Jeff begged. I nodded enthusiastically.

“Baby!” Drew howled his orgasm.

“Hannah,” Jeff cried against my neck. I felt his body spasm as he came, and his head fell forward to rest upon my shoulder.

Jeff and I were still breathing heavily when Drew spoke.

“Fuck, that was hot. C’mon, I’ll take you up to my office,” Drew said. “We can sign the contracts and watch the playback from the security cameras.”

“Security cameras?” the woman sounded doubtful.

“Security cameras?” I gasped.

“I put in two after I caught one of my guys down here with chicks like, I dunno, six or seven times,” he laughed.

Jeff flinched. “Fuckfuckfuckfuck.”

“Wicked big pussyhound. He liked the captain’s table and behind the boxes over there. He must’ve found out because it’s been like three weeks and no action. But thanks to him we can see our own little video.”

I thought about the surprise waiting for him on the tape and cringed.

Hey, Zombies? You can start the apocalypse any time now.

 

Meeting authors

In the past four months I have met three of my favorite authors in person. Without fail all of them have been kind and gracious. Obviously it’s not in the author’s best interest to be a jerk, but not every author chit chats with you for a minute to make you feel valued as one of their readers.

Some people are intimidated by athletes. I wouldn’t know or really care that someone was a professional football player, for example. Others are intimidated by tv/movie stars/musicians and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’d be intimidated as hell to meet Beyoncé or Tom Ellis (Lucifer). But the real people who I idolize and who intimidate me are authors I read. Some actor from Days of Our Lives isn’t going to intimidate me half as much as Mercedes Lackey.

Or Spider Robinson.

If you’ve never read any of Spider Robinson’s work, and you like puns, boy do I have the series to recommend to you. The Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon series (start here) is fun and full of terrible puns. If you liked Piers Anthony’s Xanth as a kid/teen but it got to a point where the series petered out for you (for me it was a few books after Man from Mundania), then you will probably like Callahan’s. I think that Xanth would be classed as more YA than anything at this point, except for the age of some of the series protagonists, and the fact that the series has been in the adult section for twenty-odd years. Callahan’s is strictly adult, and not just because the owner of Callahan’s wife owns a bordello (and has two books of her own).

I haven’t really read Spider’s other series or his essays, but my partner is a huge fan. More of a Robinson fan than I am, in general, and had he been able to go to Worldcon he would’ve been even more in awe than I was.

When Spider was signing my husband’s book (it seemed only fair to get it signed for him since he couldn’t be there), he also let me take a video where he said hi to my partner. He didn’t have to do that. It’s wonderful and incredibly kind that he did.

In short, thank you authors for being awesome.

Should I ever be so lucky as to have a bookstore want me to do signings, I will endeavor to emulate your good example.

And for the record, no matter how many books I publish or if you’d consider yourself my fan–never be intimidated by me. I’m just a nerdy mom who should probably get more sleep.

Twenty things about me

I thought I’d play a game I’ve seen floating around, and tell you twenty random things about me. This is totally off the top of my head…

1–I’d love to be a cake decorator/pastry chef.

2–I can’t sleep unless my room is super cold, much to the irritation of everyone else in my family when I keep turning down the thermostat.

3–I’m a Ravenclaw. (I’m wearing a Ravenclaw tank top right now, actually.)

4–I love two truly terrible movies–Deep Blue Sea and A-Team.

5–My house is fully of my photography. I have two walls of family photos and two of travel photography (soon to be more).

6–Taking cannabis has altered my quality of life dramatically. I have fibromyalgia and without it, walking is painful. Most things are painful. Taking cannabis pills alleviates a lot of the pain that my medication doesn’t.

7–I can’t draw for shit. Stick figures are about the most I can handle.

8–I used to be a teacher. I loved teaching the kids–I hate the politics, which is why I probably won’t go back.

9–I was a huge Baby-Sitters Club fan as a kid. I identify as a Kristy.

10–Even though I’ve lived outside the US, I never flew on an airplane until I was 20.

11–Next month will mark my twelfth wedding anniversary.

12–If I could have picked my own name, I’d pick Katherine.

13–My favorite candy is Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.

14–I’ve reread the Jewels series by Anne Bishop a ton of times. I’m so upset by everything going on in the US right now that I’m rereading them for comfort.

15–I hate coffee.

16–I love Disney–the movies, the animated movies, the music, the parks, all of it.

17–I keep meaning to write some Star Trek Voyager fanfic because the series finale has some serious issues. Janeway and Chakotay forever.

18–I almost moved to New Orleans, but I’d just met my husband and wanted to see where things would go.

19–After leaving a small town as soon as I could, and living in cities for the past twenty years, I’m shocked by the fact that I like living in a suburb.

20–I play violin. I started taking lessons in Singapore, but had to stop because I hurt my shoulder. I’ve just recently started playing again, and now both my girls are starting to learn, too.

Meeting a childhood idol

I’ve always been a reader. It’s been part of my identity for so long I don’t even remember learning how to read, apart from knowing I was precocious in that area. I was lucky that the adults in my life–my family and my teachers–never tried to clip my wings when it came to books.

Want to read The Secret Garden and A Little Princess at six but don’t know the vocabulary? Here’s a dictionary.

Want to read trashy teen horror books like The Prom Dress? I’ll buy it for you/allow you to spend your money on it even though it’s meant for much older children. (Read my super snarky review “The best ‘bad’ book I’ve ever read.”)

Oh, you want to read books from the adult section of the bookstore/library? That’s ok with me. Cue my mom signing the slip allowing me to take out adult books–although I wonder in retrospect if she’d have let me if she knew I was going to become a huge V.C. Andrews fan. Flowers in the Attic is about a mom who locks her four children in an attic, tries to kill them with arsenic, and features a scene in which a brother rapes his sister. And that’s just the first book in that series.

My point is that books have always been a huge part of my identity.

I’ve always been drawn to fantasy, as was my fourth grade teacher in retrospect. She read us the first three books in the Narnia series (aka the only good books in the series–everyone dying in the rapture except Susan because she wears lipstick is a bullshit ending). Then she read us The Hobbit. Fellow fantasy readers naturally picked up The Lord of the Rings next. I thought The Hobbit was a sausage fest and I wanted a fantasy book with a female heroine (yeah yeah Eowyn’s “I am no man” is badass, but she’s only there because she’s following a dude and then hangs up her sword–this is not the female heroine I was/am looking for).

I don’t remember if I stumbled across Tamora Pierce or if someone recommended it to me. But I do remember reading Alanna: The First Adventure, and feeling so happy to see a strong feminist main character. Alanna is supposed to go to the convent to learn to be a lady and her brother Thom is supposed to go to the capital and learn to be a knight. This isn’t what either of them want, so Thom forges their letters of introduction and he goes to the convent, where sorcerers receive their initial training and Alanna poses as “Alan” and goes to learn to be a knight.  Over the four books she does just that and becomes a hero of the realm.

Tamora Pierce consistently writes strong female protagonists, and I fell in love. She was also my introduction (along with 80’s Madonna) to the idea that women like sex and can be sexually active on their own terms. Alanna has three relationships over the books, and calls her lovers out on their bullshit. Her other female leads also don’t hesitate to call out sexism. They are tough and they take on a man’s world in their own terms. This was revolutionary to me.

I’ve read pretty much everything she’s ever written, and even as an adult if she puts out a new book, the likelihood is that I’ll read it. Recently I even introduces Athena (age 9) to Alanna.

All of this is a lead in to say that she did a reading at Borderlands Books in San Francisco a week ago. They are an indie bookstore specializing in Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror. Readers of Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series will recognize it as she wrote it into a book. They ship nationwide, so I encourage you to patronize them if you like those genres.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen this photo, but

I took Athena to the talk, and she was even brave enough to ask a question. Afterward, we got our books signed (Tamora wrote “girls rule” in Athena’s book and “women rule” in mine). I babbled something about how much Alanna had meant to me and how meaningful it has been to share her books with Athena (Arcadia is only 6–we’re reading Junie B Jones right now, but Alanna and Harry Potter will come eventually). She was just so gracious in the face of my babbling.

For me, my childhood–and even adulthood, to an extent–heroes are authors. I am in awe of people who can create these worlds I live in vicariously, whether it was The Baby-Sitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin in elementary school (I’m a Kristy) or Anne Bishop’s Jewel series today (I have a serious literary crush on Karla). It’s a huge reason I am a writer–I want to create my own worlds and my own characters.

Authors like Tamora Pierce inspire me, and make me even more excited to get back to my own work.