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On moving, and writing

I moved back to the US in February. It’s now nearly August–nearly six months of being “home.” Except it’s not home. Not my coast. Not my state. Not my city–definitely not this as I live in the burbs. My neighbors tell me it’s a city and that there are over 100k people, to which I reply that my last home crammed nearly 7m people into the same geography of 1/4 the size of Rhode Island. In fact, it’s a lot like moving to Singapore, only I like the food more and there’s Target.

Six months.

Six months of my children begging to move back to Singapore, their unhappiness mingling with my own until even retail therapy is no form of therapy at all. Six months of scolding myself for not adjusting better, even as I know that re-entry is often as or more painful than leaving. Six months of having my youngest home all the time because here she’s too little for Kindergarten and the pre-schools all have waiting lists. Six months of trying and failing to find a place in my house where I could write but be away from my children (especially the one who can read over my shoulder and who doesn’t need this thorough a sex education at her age) when my bedroom is half the size it was and can no longer fit my office. Six months of getting lost every time I leave the house (thank Google for Android Auto and Google Maps).

Plunder was supposed to be done nearly three months ago. After all, I rationalized to myself–it’s not like I’ll have friends there, I can just write. And write. And write. Hell, I might even finish it in the two weeks my kids are with my in-laws.  I’ve barely begun to write the second draft.

When this entry publishes, I’ll be back in Boston for the first time in nearly four years. I’m frightened it will also be too unfamiliar, too alien and that nothing will feel like home again. I’m scared that I’ll forever be in-between. Not Boston. Not Singapore. Not the West Coast. Not at home anywhere.

That melancholy, right there. That’s where I’ve been for the past six months. Depressed. Frightened. Trying to reassure my children when I’m just as unhappy as they are. Looking for doctors, orthodontists, the good Target, the good grocery store, buying a car, talking to teachers, looking for a Chinese tutor, and sometimes just too depressed to even get out of bed.

I took the first really hard steps–I told my partner that I thought I was far past the normal amount of grieving. I’d even shut out my therapist (whom I have a skype relationship of 2+ years with). I got my mental health meds adjusted to help drag me out of the darkest parts of the depression.

I’ve started writing again. Who knows if any of it is any good, but I’m at least doing it. I’m sharing here because in writing erotica we lay ourselves bare–we share fantasies, we share desire, we share romance and sex and relationships. Sometimes, a relationship is difficult, even when it’s with ourselves.

Hold me accountable to write here again. Poke me on Twitter, leave a comment on the blog, email me at delilahnight at gmail dot com and say “hey, where are you?” Writing for me = mental health.

 

An Expat Fourth of July

200 Anniversary Button 2015

Today I’m over at Long and Short Reviews, talking about what it’s like to be an American expat in Singapore on the Fourth of July. I usually reserve that topic for my expat blog, so this is your chance to get a glimpse into the life of an expatriate American.

We spent July 4, 2009 in Washington DC. We watched a recitation of the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives, then sat down and watched the parade. We pushed my daughter E’s stroller through multiple Smithsonian Museums. E spent her first Fourth of July on the grass of the National Mall, enchanted by a light up ball we’d bought in a gift shop, rather than the gorgeous fireworks display by the Washington Monument.

At the time, we had no idea that would be the last Fourth of July we’d spend in the United States

 

Click the header or banner below to check out my full post and enter a Rafflecopter to win a 100 USD gift card to either Barnes & Noble or Amazon!

LASR header

Americans–Are you registered to vote?

Hi Americans,

I’m taking a one-day break from my usual content to ask you a really important question–Are you registered to vote? Registration deadlines are coming up, and remember, as (fictional) President Barlett said…

decisions

If you live in the US, you can find out the voter registration rules in your home state here.

Expats and military serving abroad should go here for voter registration help

 

We will return to our regularly scheduled smut shortly

Wicked Wednesday #200–My Best…

This week’s Wicked Wednesday theme is “The Best”–what is your best post?

The link I submitted to WW was Oh. My. God. (AKA that time Wil Wheaton saw my Wesley Crusher Fanfic)

If you’ve never read it, I’ll share the video below (the link includes a transcript as the video as it can be, at time, NSFW)

wicked wednesday

Liebster Award

Liebster Award 2

I was nominated by the lovely and talented Oleander Plume (Thank you, love!) for a Liebster Award a million years ago, but as I’m trying to get back into blogging, I thought I would share this.

1. What would you pick to be your personal theme song?

Today I’d say “Where do we go from here?” by the musical episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

When I’m trying to psyche myself up, I’m a big fan of Salute by Little Mix or One Woman Army by Porcelain Black

2. Tell me your favorite movie quote (and what movie it’s from).

Bianca: There’s a difference between like and love. Because, I like my Skechers, but I love my Prada backpack.
Chastity: But I love my Skechers.
Bianca: That’s because you don’t have a Prada backpack.

from 10 Things I Hate About You

It’s shallow, but it always makes me smile, or smirk

decisions are the worst

Also, my BFF and I quote Girls Just Want to Have Fun (baby Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt!) ad nauseum. “Decisions are the worst” is probably what we use most frequently.

3. What have you always wanted to write about, but haven’t yet?

Non-Fiction—-Probably my mental health issues. But it’s a terrifying topic, so I never have.

Fiction—My next novella (novel?) is an expansion of a short story I wrote called Plunder

4. What are you wearing on your feet right now?

Crocs. Look, they’re ugly as hell, but marble floors (standard in Singapore) are murder on the feet. I don’t wear them out of the house, but they are the most comfortable at home shoes ever.

5. What is your favorite sex position to put your story characters into?

Up against a wall.

6. Would you like fries with that?

God, yes

7. Favorite cartoon character?

It would be Elsa, but my daughters have Frozen-ed me to death, so I’m going to say Maleficent because she is a badass.  Most of the Disney Villains, really.

8. You just won a million dollars, what would you do first?

It’s so boring, but I’d pay off my student loans first.

9. BCILF? (Book Character I’d Like to Fuck)

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 11.33.43 pm

This question could take all year.

Male–

  • I was just re-reading the Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop, so I’m going to say Daemon Sadi.
  • Ian McNab from the In Death series by JD Robb (I know most girls would pick Roarke, but I like computer nerds)
  • The twins from Glutton for Pleasure by Alisha Rai
  • Sandy, the bisexual dom from Those Boys/Those Girls
  • Harry from the Alchemy XII series by Tamsin Flowers
  • I know Q is a tv character, but I’ve read Q in Law, which is part of the Star Trek TNG novels and I’d still like to do him.

kiss_kiss_by_chanandra-d4p3y1jKiss Kiss by Chanandra

Female-

  • I love Ann-Marie from Lynn Townsend’s Rainbow Connections series.
  • Liv from Alchemy XII by Tamsin Flowers
  • Karla from the Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop

There are a million more, but my brain is short circuiting.

10. Who is your favorite music artist?

Again, could be here all day.

Broadway

  • Wicked (original cast)
  • Phantom of the Opera (best cast is 25th anniversary at Albert Hall recording)
  • Les Miserables (Complete Symphonic recording)
  • Rent (original broadway cast)
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie (Sutton Foster)

Pop

  • Taylor Swift
  • Beyoncé (and Destiny’s Child)
  • Madonna
  • Maroon 5

Sexy

  • Prince
  • En Vogue
  • 80’s hair rock (grind on a car half naked music)

My collection is super eclectic and ranges from 80’s music to bollywood to 80’s rock to rap and all over the place.

11. What are you writing at the moment?

Mostly I’m just working on Plunder

Instead of tagging people, I’ll invite anyone who’s reading this to participate and answer the same 11 questions. Post your entries in comments below.

2015 year in review

2015

Let’s get it out of the way–2015 sucked. I was critically ill and the fallout from that derailed a lot of my year. I finished 2016 with a full spine MRI and have already scheduled a procedure for late January 2016.

However, it wasn’t all bad, so let’s talk positives.

I wrote a novella and it was accepted for publication by Totally Bound!

This is my first solo publication and the biggest positive of 2015 apart from the not dying thing. I began Meg and RJ’s story in January. Thanks to many beta readers, but especially Tamsin Flowers and Lynn Townsend, I was able to finish it in late summer. I was absolutely floored and dancing around the apartment when I received my acceptance. I’m eagerly awaiting the edits and cover reveal. The anticipated release is March 29 for Totally Bound and April 29 elsewhere. I’ll certainly keep you updated.

Other stuff I wrote

  • A Reindeer by Any Other Name was published in Strange Shifters, edited by Lynn Townsend.
  • Dumped is a non-erotica story about what happens to a Virgin after she’s dumped by her (jerk) unicorn, which will be published as part of Intrepid Horizons , edited by Jessica Augustsson.(coming in 2016)
  • I have begun writing a full length version of Plunder (see below)
  • I expanded Baby it’s Hot Outside, but it was rejected. (nbd, #writerlife)

Other Publication News from 2015

  • Plunder (the short story)has been accepted by Delilah Devlin and will appear in her upcoming anthology Rogue Hearts
  • Due to an anthology’s cancellation, I was able to publish The Finer Things in Life first as part of Tamsin Flower’s Erotica Advent Calendar, and then as part of Coming Together: Keeping Warm

 

princess bride 2

How do I think 2015 went?

Realistically, 2015 probably went well as it possibly could have due to health issues and the delays of daily life (I have two young children). I certainly wish I could have met my goals for 2015 (10 short stories and a first full draft of the ghost novel) but overall the fact that I am writing again and will soon have a novella published by Totally Bound means 2015 wasn’t a bust after all.

2016

Goals for 2016

  • A novella or novel length version of Plunder
  • Write 5-10 short stories

I’ve accepted that, at this point, the Ghost novel needs to go haunt my “not in production” file. Maybe it’s because I’ve been thinking about this story for over a decade, or because I’ve tried to write it a million times, but now is not the right time to work on it.

Fearless Hair

Ever since I first saw a bottle of Manic Panic hair dye in the early 90’s, I wanted to dye my hair. I wanted a bright blue streak. I wanted to dye my hair crazy colors. I wanted to use my hair as a canvas.

manic panic

So why not do it? For a number of years I couldn’t because my workplaces didn’t allow “unnatural” looking hair. The rest of the time? Fear. Mostly I was afraid of people looking at me.

As someone who isn’t thin, I’ve learned toxic messages. I’m supposed to fade into the background and not call attention to myself. That if people looked at me, they would only do so with the worst intentions. Neon hair pulls focus, and I was afraid of it. I’ve gained confidence over the years–I’m well aware of my great legs (see my twitter icon), I rock sexy librarian glasses, and I’m generally at peace with myself. Which is not to say I’m comfortable as the center of attention.

As someone who often feels like a fake in my upper middle class life, I wanted to fit in. I feel like a fake because I grew up poor and I’m the first person to go to university in my family. My mom is a single mom and I’ve never met my dad. However, I’m educated and well spoken, so people assume I have a background similar to the one I currently am lucky enough to have. I have cultivated a very proper exterior, which means I’ve done nothing more daring than blonde streaks in my hair as an adult.

I don’t hide that I’m queer, but as someone in a marital relationship with a person of the opposite sex I pass as straight. I use a pseudonym for my erotica. I don’t draw attention to myself as a whole.

hair 9

About three weeks ago my hair started falling out in clumps.  It’s always been thin and fine and not particularly voluminous. So when I looked into the mirror and saw the glint of my own scalp peering out at me between increasingly spare strands of hair, and when someone I was skyping with asked me if I’d gotten fades shaved into the sides of my hair I felt more exposed and vulnerable than ever. Now, not only had I committed the cardinal sin of daring to be fat in public, but I was even less attractive than before.  Fear took over because I had no real options other than to wait the hair loss out–it’s a very common side effect of severe medical trauma called telogen effluvium and the only real solution is time.

I realize that this was all taking place in my head, but that doesn’t make it any less real.

hair 8

 

I’ve cried so much this month. Granted that’s partially because blood work showed that I have severe deficiencies in a number of vitamins and hormones. Off kilter hormones are a bitch, and among other things will make you weepy. But it’s also because despite the fact that I’ve never loved my hair, I never wanted to have it fall out. But along with the tears I’ve felt a growing rage. Mostly at myself.

hair 7

 

How dare I have let myself get ruled by fear like this? For what purpose? Did I really almost die without ever having done something I’ve always wanted to do because I was scared? And now I’m being ruled by fear that people are staring at my thinning hair?

I have zero fucks left to give.

If they’re staring, let’s give them something to look at.

Let me do what I’ve always wanted to.

My colorist warned me that stripping the color from my hair to bleach it could make it break. Well, there is no better time to be blasé about that possibility than when it’s already falling out. Luckily, given a lighter bleach and toner, it was as healthy as it was when I walked in the door.  With the addition of color, it looked even better.

hair 6

 

 

 

Today I smiled one of the biggest smiles to cross my face in the past almost four months. My husband thinks it’s sexy, my daughters think it’s cool (Ms. 3 kept trying to force the cat to see my hair, which makes me glad that “her” cat is extremely easy going), and I feel like I’ve given all the hair related tears of the last month the middle finger.

To be fair, there’s part of me that’s a little concerned about what happens when I have to go be a parent at school. Singapore is super conservative (once my colorist realized exactly how crazy I wanted to go, he was thrilled because he rarely gets to do so here). Will the vice principal take me seriously when I’m complaining about a boy bullying Ms. 6?

But that’s a small voice, and once that will quiet with time.

hair 2

The hormonal stuff and vitamin stuff are harder to deal with. Like regrowing the hair that fell out, it will take time to resolve. I’m taking supplementary vitamin and hormone therapy and we’ll repeat the blood work in a few months.

What has gotten me down the most about this, apart from feeling unattractive about my hair–the outward issue–is that every time I think I’ve put my illness behind me, some new side effect rears its head. The septic shock and threat of death were over in April. The crappy immune system, the lost muscle tone, the lost core strength, all of those were starting to resolve and were things I could actually fix. Each week I swam I saw muscle tone returning to my legs. I was ready to move on. Then I got blindsided by the hair loss, which was the motivating factor behind getting blood work done. Having gotten the blood work done, I now have the new host of issues to deal with. While it’s good to have a label to apply to the problems that were already present, it also feels like I’ve been dropped back at the starting line of the world’s longest marathon all over again.

hair 3

I’m not actively worrying about this, but I also know that if my hormone and cortisol levels don’t improve in two months, I could be looking at a round of tests to see if my adrenal gland has stopped functioning properly. So while it’s not something I’m obsessing over, I’m wary of what might be next in the unending list of what happens after you almost die from septic shock.

The hormone I’m deficient in is what controls the female sex drive. Which is a cruel joke for nature to play on an erotica author.

As I said in my last entry, I’m coping with a lot of personal, medical drama. I’m going to cycle between present and absent on social media, and between productive and unproductive when it comes to writing. I appreciate you guys sticking around while I deal with this. Unfortunately this is one of those things that will resolve over a long period of time.

hair 5

But at least I have cool hair.