Dead Ice: Richard

Here’s the second in the blog series leading up to the June 9, 2015 release of Dead Ice.  Since we started with Jean-Claude, it had to be Richard next.

 
Richard by Brett Booth
Question: Is the character of Richard Zeeman based on your ex-husband?  

Answer: No.

Secrets to Share:  This was a rumor that I never saw coming, because it was just so not reality. My ex-husband’s sister thought it was the funniest thing ever that people thought her big brother was the basis for Richard.  I think that Richard’s skin tone might be the same as my ex, but there the resemblance ends.  Personality wise, Richard is actually closer to me when I was just out of college with my BS in Biology.  But he, like all my characters that truly come to life on the page, has grown and changed in ways I never saw coming and certainly didn’t plan. He’s become his own man, for better or worse.  
Question: Are Richard and Anita ever going to marry?

Answer: Highly doubtful, I’d just say no, but I’ve been wrong so much about my own character’s personal lives that I’m hedging my bet.

Secrets to Share:  In fact, I think one of the reasons Anita and Richard didn’t end up together was that I created him to be the perfect husband for her, or thought I did.  The more I tried to push the two of them together, the more they fought it, but my original plan was for them to marry and live happily ever after.  So much for me being the omnipotent Deity of my fictional universe. When Richard was created I could never have dreamed where Anita’s life would go, or my own for that matter. Fiction doesn’t mirror fact, but we’ve both done our own version of going from the conservative “good girl” to the much happier people we are today. As for you small, but vocal minority that are still urging me to kill off Jean-Claude and Micah, so that Anita can ride off into the sunset with Richard – no.  Not only no, but absolutely, positively, not happening. Move on, nothing to see here. 
Question: Will Richard ever find another person to be his one and only love? 

Answer: I don’t know for certain, he’s surprised me too much over the years for me to say yes, or no.  

Secrets to Share: I hope he does, and I have a few potential women in mind, for him it will have to a woman if it’s a new character.  I think if any man could float his boat enough to have a full-fledged relationship with them then Jean-Claude would be that man. Richard is having a bondage and submission relationship with Asher but no sex.  It meets a lot of bondage needs for both of them, but I don’t think either of them would want to actually date each other.  What works great in the dungeon doesn’t always work outside of it.  I still have hopes that Richard, Jean-Claude, and Anita might be a fully functioning menage a trois, but I think too much has happened for it to be what it might once have been, more’s the pity.  I keep hoping that special female werewolf will come along for him but he keeps wanting to date women that have no preternatural ties which doesn’t really work for the Ulfric, wolf king, of St. Louis.  He also keeps dating women who like pretty standard vanilla sex and that really isn’t what Richard likes.  I’ve even written a short story, “Shutdown,” where he tries to have his vanilla cake but keep his bondage cupcakes. I’ve had talks with people I was dating about polyamory and bondage, and I know people that seem to be successfully married to vanilla and, with full knowledge and permission of their spouse, they get their bondage needs met elsewhere; but it is not an easy talk to have and it takes a very special person to be okay with it.  I’m not sure Richard is ever going to find someone that special, but I hope so, because I’d really like him to be happy and content with his life and himself.  
Sneak Peek from Dead Ice:

Richard drew Jean-Claude in tighter against him and moved his other hand so that it was free, leaving room to wonder what he’d do if Asher tried to touch Jean-Claude.  It was the kind of thing you do when someone is touching your girlfriend too much in a bar, and Richard gave him the challenging look that went with it. It was a way of saying, Mine, stop touching it, without saying anything.

Find the Happily Ever After that Works for You

At the gym, at the women’s luncheon, hair salon, I’ve had a variant of this conversation often:

 

A woman in the locker room at the gym is obviously upset, so much so that she needs to vent.  She and I are probably about the same age, so she sees me as a potentially sympathetic audience.  She starts by saying, “My ex-husband . . .”

 

I admit that I, too, am divorced.

 

It’s a common story, we both married college sweethearts, and after sixteen years for me, and over twenty for her, the marriage ended in divorce.  She goes on to talk about what seems to bother her the most.  He’s married to a woman that’s over a decade younger than he is, and that much younger than she is.  Sometimes the age difference between the ex-husband and the new spouse is closer to twenty years, but the story doesn’t change much except for that.  

 

The woman is attractive, the gym workout shows, but she goes on to compare herself to the young new wife, and talks about how no one in their forties, or fifties, can compete with someone in their thirties, or twenties.   

 

I’ve gone quiet, just letting her talk, because I’ve learned that’s my best alternative, but she finally says, “You know what I mean?  We give them the best years of our life and then they leave us for some young thing, and we’re supposed to be out there dating again, but this time we’re up against the same twenty-year-olds that our husbands left us for, how unfair is that?”

 

I smile, trying to avoid answering, but she presses, they usually do.  She wants me to stamp her ex-wife card, but I can’t.  

 

I finally say, “Actually, I left my husband, and I’m remarried to a man that’s twelve years younger than I am.”

 

The look I get is never friendly at this point.  The women never seem to know what to say, they thought they had a kindred spirit and somehow by me bucking the stereotype it’s like I betrayed the sisterhood. I have yet to have any of the women be happy for me, or say, “Way to go,” nope I’m suddenly lumped in with the bastard husband and the sweet young thing that stole him away.  The women suddenly don’t want to talk to me anymore, because I found dating after my divorce easy, once I started dating younger men.  I agreed that men in our own age group were confusing, but then I found them equally confusing in college when we were dating them in the first place.  

 

I had the same problems with them in my thirties that I’d had in my twenties.  They expected me to be a kind of cheerleader for them, their goals, their ambitions, and their careers.  I’ve never been big on the rah-rah, and my own goals, ambitions and career has always interested me more than anyone else’s.  By the time of my divorce, I was a New York Times bestselling author, and I actually had men totally panic when they found out, as if they had no box for the fact that I was at least as successful in my field as theirs, or more successful.  Rather than seeing it as a good thing that we both had great careers, they seemed intimidated by it, or at least less interested in my job, than I was supposed to be in theirs.  For the most part they bored me, just like they had in college.  I perplexed them or left them looking for someone who would be a bit more adoring, again just like in college.

 

Men about a decade younger had usually been raised in households where both parents worked outside the house, or by single moms.  They expected everyone to work and have a career of their own, in fact your job was part of what you brought to the relationship and the possible future, because it was expected to need two incomes to get to the same place that one was supposed to take us back when I was in college.  The new attitude worked for me, and I had no trouble dating once I moved a decade younger.

 

I admit to being a little weirded out about the age difference at first, but it just worked for me. I was thirty-eight and Jonathon was twenty-six when we married.  We will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary this year and unlike the last time I closed in on this mile marker, I’m happier now than when we first married, which is pretty awesome. 

 

I’ve had women who are still married, or who have never married, be happy for me, and ask how I managed to marry a younger man, but never one of the women who tell me their story and find out mine is the reverse of theirs.

 

How did I do it?  First, I wasn’t looking for someone to take care of me, not in college or a decade later.  I wanted a partner, someone who would work with me, not work for me like some kind of salaried slave.  I know that the women who stay at home and invest everything in this old-fashioned scenario are just as trapped, because they often haven’t had a job since soon after college, so they’re out there with no work history and are ironically competing for jobs against the very same demographics that their husbands are successfully dating.  But if you listen to them talk about their ex-husbands, and the men they are trying to date, it’s like it’s all about the man’s earning potential.  I’m told that the male version of this is that the woman is valued for her looks and how she being on his arm can help his career or his reputation with the other men.  I’ve never bought into either mindset, so this really is second-hand information for me.  It’s funny that in my fifth decade I finally understand the mystery of why I didn’t fit into my own typical generation.

 

In first grade I was the only child who’s parents had divorced.  Now, it’s about half of most classes, or more, where children are dealing with a divorce, or maybe their parents never married, and don’t plan to, which I’d never heard of as a kid.  My mother went out and worked to support me, while her mother, my grandmother, stayed home and took care of me.  Again, it wasn’t the typical arrangement when I was in elementary school.  By the time I was in second grade my mother had died in a car accident and it was just my grandmother and me, which again made me odd kid out. I still remember one of the little girls teasing me that my mother was dead.  Anyone who says that childhood is sweet and carefree, doesn’t remember what it was really like, or their childhood was much different from mine. 

 

I realized just a few years ago that my attitude is literally decades younger than my actual age and I now believe it is that my childhood was much more typical of the generation after mine, than my own. Is that what has made me open to the new technology? I’m just as likely to be on my smart phone as the people I’m with, and I wish my friends that are my age, or older, would text more.  It’s a great way to keep up with people on a daily basis.  I love sending and receiving pictures and little notes, from friends and lovers. I also keep discovering new music, new bands, and most of the people in my age group seem to have stopped at the decade they graduated from high school, or college.  I totally don’t understand that, but I was raised with almost no music in the house, so I have no affection for my high school, or college, sound track.  In fact, I don’t have a much of a musical reference for those years of my life.  I discovered and really grew to love music after college when I started writing my first novel.  Music will forever be entwined with writing for me because of that.  Jonathon brought a lot of music into my life. Now, we take turns finding new music to add to our shared iTunes list. Jonathon took me to my very first concert, and yes, I was in my thirties before I ever went to a concert of any kind. I was too busy writing and trying to establish my career when I was in my teens and twenties to waste time on concerts. I was driven to succeed, that didn’t leave a lot of room for fun.  Other people that we dated brought more music into our lives. New bands, new singers, and we began to make friends with some of the musicians like S.J. Tucker, or Kimberly Freeman of One-Eyed Doll.  Jonathon finally learned to play the bass and, no surprise, he’s good at it. I can finally say that I’ve dated a musician. 

 

My first marriage I earned my big white dress and thought the idea of never being with anyone but my husband a great idea.  I bought into the traditional story, and when that didn’t work I threw out the storyline, because it hadn’t been true for me.  I thought, if society could be that wrong about that much, then maybe what I’d been raised to believe wasn’t the only truth out there.  So, in my thirties I went out into the world and tried to discover some truths that did work for me.  Those of you happy in a traditional marriage, I’m happy for you, I’m only saying it did not work for me.  I found that nearly everything that society expected of me didn’t work for me.  I’m the major bread winner in a career I love.  I make a good living at a job that is traditionally not a secure field, but I’m twenty years and counting, so I think I’ve found my career path. The men who thought I was too aggressive and masculine in my attitudes in college, can keep their own attitudes; I’ve found that men and women, a decade or two, younger than them and younger than me, are fine with my drive and ambition.  When I first started dating Jonathon some of my acquaintances, and even a few friends, thought he was my boy toy, my fling after leaving my first marriage.  When I decided to marry him, some of them didn’t understand. I was marrying someone the age of their children, which was a little weird even to me.  You have a fling with the younger man, you don’t marry him, and he certainly isn’t your happy ever after, but it has been for me. Our girlfriend Genevieve has been part of that happily-ever-after. We will be celebrating our fifth anniversary of dating this year.  Now, she’s brought her wonderful husband, Spike, into our lives.  He and I will hit two years of dating later this year.  I have restrained myself in all those conversations with other ex-wives in my own age group because I could have added that I’m also living with a beautiful young women in her twenties, just like their ex-husbands.  I didn’t set out to date any woman, since Genevieve is my first girlfriend ever, but the fact that she was literally half my age when we met, is just another part of the wonderful weirdness in our lives.  Spike is twenty years younger than I am, for those who are wondering. The four of us are living together and it works for us, but to get to this happy place I had to throw out almost everything society told me I was supposed to be.  Was it scary? Yes. Did I get my heart broken along the way? Yes, several times. Was it all worth it? Yes, very yes.  Could it all have blown up in my face? Hell, yes. A few times it did, but I was still happier out, than in. 

 

I guess what I wanted to share from my own experience is to not let age, or society, stand in your way.  If you like someone, date them.  If you love someone, marry them.  Don’t let age, or the stuff that doesn’t matter in the end, prevent you from finding happiness.  Be yourself, no matter how weird that may seem to others; it’s your life after all, not their’s. It’s alright to be afraid of taking big chances, but don’t let the fear stop you from taking the leap.  I know for me, that if I’d stayed where I was behind the safe walls of my first marriage and a corporate job, I’d still be miserable, that wasn’t going to change.  How sad that would have been, and oh, how much I would have missed.


  

Welcome Home, and Thanks for all the Fish!

  

I plunged my hands into the cool water watching the fish swirl away and school in the far side of the big tank.  I was back at the pond store, just like last year, to add to the koi in our water garden. All but one of our fish survived in the new pond even with this amazingly harsh winter.  Sorry, everyone on the East Coast, I know you’ve had it harder than we had it here in the middle of the country, but it was the worst winter I’ve ever seen here in Missouri.  We had more snow, colder temperatures, and just plain serious winter here, so I watched the frozen pond and worried about our beautiful koi. We honestly worried that all the fish would be dead come spring,  and then it was still snowing here in March.  Again, it was the worst “spring” on record here because winter seemed here to stay, but the thaw finally came and we watched anxiously as the ice melted.  Much to our surprise all the koi, save the one, survived.  The pond has a very deep section in the middle with a rock that spills over it like a protective roof, and apparently it was enough shelter to keep them all safe and sound. 

 So, today we went back to the same pond store that I bought those hardy koi at, because the pond is huge and I love the koi.  I’ve wanted a koi pond with enough fish in it to boil in a shining, mouth-gaping mass when you feed them, just like at the Botanical Gardens, for years.  We have koi to feed, but to have that beautiful carnivorous looking boil we need more koi, which is why I was trying to catch some of those bright, swirling shapes that swam just out of reach.

Last year we’d sent pictures and used FaceTime to show Genevieve, our long distance girlfriend, as I added the first koi to the pond.  The FaceTime had frozen and timed out, and finally we’d gone to talking on the phone to her as we walked around the pond and spilled those first shining fish into the water.  We shared it as much as we could with her, but the technology that helped us stay in touch over hundreds of miles was very frustrating that day.  Smart phones, tablets, and the internet in general allowed Long Distance Relationships, LDR, to work better than ever before, but last spring was about the time that it just wasn’t enough with Genevieve.  We wanted more with her than just texting and shared pictures, or even phone calls.  It just wasn’t satisfying enough after four years of dating.

Skip forward a year and today I was back at the same pond store walking among the pools of fish.  I wasn’t talking on the phone with Genevieve this time, or sending pictures, because she was there beside me.  We picked out the new fish together, plunging the net into the water, herding the fish towards each other with our hands, as if we were bears catching salmon, but we weren’t going to eat these fish.  They were coming home with us because now Genevieve and her husband, Spike, are living here.  Home is all four of us in one house now.

The fish swim and swirl through the water, quick silver, flashes of gold, shining white, Halloween orange and black, gray-blue like lightning kissed clouds, all dancing through the water, fins flicking, tails like lacy rudders.  The butterfly koi are serpentine in their pools, graceful and delicate.  The regular koi are heavier, more fish than serpent but still beautiful, shivering living pieces of art that open hungry mouths and run from our hands as if we really are hungry bears reaching down into their world of water and lifting them up into our’s of air.  

It was Genevieve that remembered that it was only last spring that we had that frustrating day of koi and failed technology.  We smiled at each other and reached across the car to touch.  She said, “I’m so happy I’m here this year.”

“Me, too,” I said grinning at her.  

She grinned back, and we drove home with our new fish.  Home has always been a great word, but it’s even better this year because now, “home” holds the people we love under one roof, at last.

What Polyamory is, and What Polyamory isn’t 

 

Since I came out as polyamorous I have been getting a lot of questions, so here’s an attempt to answer some of them.

 

What exactly is polyamory?

 

Ans: It means to love more; to love more people at the same time.  The only rule that all poly people agree on is this: you tell the truth to everyone involved.  That means that everyone involved in the relationship, or relationships, knows about everyone else.  I’ve negotiated with several wives about relationship parameters with their husbands before certain boundaries were crossed because to do any less than be totally upfront beforehand isn’t poly, it’s cheating, and true poly doesn’t cheat.  If anyone is telling you they’re poly but they’re sneaking around behind someone’s back, then it’s not polyamory.

 

Some people allow sexual partners outside of their main relationship but no other emotional ties, others see all relationships as serious only, no just sex allowed.  Some close their poly at three, or four, or however many.   Closed poly is also referred to as poly monogamy which is just like regular monogamy except it includes more than two people. Some people who are part of the BDSM community will include long time play partners as part of their polyamory, even if that play partner is strictly kinky dungeon time with no actual sex involved. Others see play partners as more casual. Many poly people are not part of the bondage community and many in the community aren’t poly.  

 

How do you bring up the topic of poly to your spouse or special person?

 

Ans: I’ve never had to do this, so I honestly don’t know.  I can tell you how Jonathon and I brought up the topic to each other.  Jonathon and I married with the idea that we would not be monogamous as a married couple. Since we’re celebrating our fifteenth wedding anniversary this year, it’s worked for us.  We’ve managed to raise a great kid who’s now in college.  Our empty nest turned into a decidedly full one when our girlfriend of four & a half years moved in with us and brought her husband along, so that our couple became a fourple.  Again, it’s working for the four of us but your mileage may vary. Here’s a little bit of how we got to this happy multiple arrangement.  

 

More than fifteen years ago when Jonathon and I realized we wanted to marry each other, we both had reservations; not about our love for each other, but what the next step was in that love.  He’d never been married before and I’d just gotten out of a sixteen year marriage.  That had convinced me marriage wasn’t for me and monogamy was definitely not something I wanted to try again, but I was in love with Jonathon and he was in love with me.  

 

One day he said, “I’m not sure I want to tie myself down to just one person forever.”  

I replied, “I’m not sure I want to be monogamous with anybody ever again.”

 

We sort of looked at each other, and if we’d gone the traditional route the relationship would have been over right there, because we were both so not ready for a monogamous relationship like traditional American marriage. I suggested that we marry with the possibility of adding other people to our sex life down the road.  We didn’t have a plan for how to do it, and we didn’t know there was a word for what we were trying to accomplish. It was a fan at a signing that first introduced the word, polyamory, to us. We knew monogamy was not what we wanted, so we set out to find something else, something that worked for us as a couple.  

 

I really can’t tell you how to bring up the idea of polyamory into an already existing monogamous  relationship, because I’ve never done it.  

 

One thing I do know is that polyamory isn’t a fix for a marriage that is already in trouble. If you’re relationship is in trouble, go to a marriage counselor, or to your local clergy. Go to someone that can help you work on your issues both as individuals and as a couple, because what I’ve found is that a couple’s issues are usually a mix of individual issues that have never been addressed and problems within the couple itself.  This holds true whether it’s two, four, or more, involved in the relationship.

 

Poly is not a cure all for failing marriages, in fact, if the base relationship isn’t strong enough, poly can be the death knell because often the couple isn’t poly at all, they’re just unhappy.  Poly won’t fix what’s wrong in the initial couple’s relationship, that has to be strong to begin with to add other people into the mix.  Strength builds on top of strength; a weak foundation will bring down the house that’s built upon it, so first your foundation needs to be solid.  Only then can you add more weight, and extra people, extra relationships, are more “weight”.  You have to be ready for that weight, or it will crush you.

 

I’m being so adamant in the above because I get far too many people asking me about poly as a “cure” for a marriage that isn’t working.  People say, they’re bored and want to bring up poly to their spouse so they can add spice to their marriage.  Poly isn’t about adding spice to your relationship, poly is a lifestyle choice.  It is a way of dating, forming a domestic partnership, making a family. It is not just an addition to add to your life like date nights, or lingerie. 

 

 

I know this doesn’t answer all the questions we’ve been getting about polyamory, but I hope it at least answers some of the basic ones.  I also hope that it puts to rest this idea that people have that poly is an easy fix for a flagging relationship, or that poly is some fancy word for cheating on your spouse, because it is the opposite of cheating and it is far from easy.  Think about the time, effort, and work it requires everyday in any marriage, now think about multiplying that by a factor of two, or more, and that’s what polyamory is. Its totally worth it for those of us who are wired this way, but it’s not a choice to be made lightly and there’s nothing easy about adding extra people to any relationship.  Good, solid relationships whether monogamous or polyamorous, are not for wimps.

 The picture is of the joined hands of our foursome; Jonathon, Genevieve, Spike, and me.

  


New Blog – Jason, the novel, is here!

Today is the official on sale date for my latest book, Jason! It’s the newest Anita Blake novel, and the first original paperback since Micah, thus the title being the name of one of the leading characters in the book. My publisher and I are very into naming conventions. Before you ask, yes, I do have ideas for other short novels featuring other major, or even minor-major characters in Anita’s universe, but currently I’m finishing up the next hardback original for Anita and the gang, Dead Ice.

In fact, Dead Ice woke me at 5:20 this morning according to Spike, who is as light a sleeper as I am, so he was very aware when I tried to creep out of bed and not wake anyone else. Genevieve and Jon usually sleep very soundly, but I learned at lunch that even they knew when I got out of bed. One of the unforeseen downsides of being polyamorous is that when ideas wake you up at odd hours you disturb more people. Or maybe that’s a downside of sleeping with a writer, regardless of your relationship style.

The book was very loud in my head, I knew exactly what came next and exactly how to write the scene. I’d gone to bed knowing what came next, but not how to get from A to B, and suddenly I woke in the dark and I knew. I also knew I couldn’t wait to get to the computer and start typing it. I’ve learned that when inspiration knocks that loudly you need to answer it quickly, because otherwise you end up knowing you had this great idea, or the perfect way to work this scene, but now you can’t remember most of it, just a vague sense you lost the wave that would have carried you further in the book. I hate that feeling, so I was typing before dawn, trying to keep up with my muse. We’d done 12 pages yesterday, so to be this pumped again today was a very good sign that the book is gaining momentum.

I’m happiest as a writer when I’m writing fast. I joke that I write as if the monsters really are chasing me and if I hesitate too long they’ll catch me. For all of you reading this that are wondering why I didn’t give myself a day off to enjoy Jason coming out, well first, I spent many years on tour for every book. It sort of conditioned me that I didn’t get the on sale date off, and in fact traveling across the country to promote a book can be pretty grueling. My record for grueling is still 26 cities in 28 days, that book tour still lives in infamy for Jon and myself, because he traveled with me on every last day of it. We hadn’t met Genevieve and her husband, Spike, at that point.

It is a wonderful thing for a publisher to spend money to send a writer on a book tour, it really is. But I’ve done my time and it’s a blessing to stay home, too. Thanks to the internet there are so many ways to promote your book now that don’t make you get on a plane to travel the country. Because if we were on tour for Jason, I wouldn’t be writing on Dead Ice. I can write on planes, while I try to pretend that I’m not flying (Yes, I shared my fear of flying with Anita), but I lose the thread of a book when I tour. I know some writers can continue to write a new book through a tour, but I’ve never been one of them.

Being home I could take the day off and just enjoy that Jason is on the shelves, but I didn’t. Instead I did what writers do, I wrote. Writers write; that may sound simple, but a lot of beginning writers don’t seem to truly grasp the concept. Writers write when we’re happy. We write when we’re sad. We write when we’re inspired. We write in order to get inspired. We write when the outside world has moved us to spill some reality onto the page. We write when the inside of our head is so loud that it seems almost more real than reality. We write to understand ourselves, to understand others, or to just admit on paper we don’t understand either. We write to make sense of the world and to share fiction that is often tidier and more logical than real life. Some of us write to escape logic and put the fantastic on the page so that everyone can hunt dragons from the safety of their homes. Writers can help you hunt down a killer, solve a mystery so baffling and dangerous that the death toll is frightening, all from the safety of your armchair. Writers write about what moves them, outrages them, intrigues them, makes them laugh out loud, or weep. Writers write; and if they’re very lucky, what they write moves the rest of the world as much as it moves them. I celebrated the release of my newest book, Jason, by working on the next book, because I’m a writer, and writers write.

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New Blog – Happily Ever After is the Beginning

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Twenty, our daughter Trinity is twenty today. There’s something about this birthday that seems momentous to both her and me. She’s no longer a teenager. Yes, she’s been a legal adult for two years, but somehow neither she, nor I, thought childhood had been completely left behind, but twenty is the end of the teens and the beginning of a decade that is absolutely, positively an adult number. But that’s not all of it, Trinity also attended her cousin, Kay’s, wedding earlier this month. Kay is already a mother of a baby girl of her own, and only a few weeks older than Trinity. I remember when I and both of my sisters-in-law were pregnant at the same time. All the girls were born within weeks of each other. Now one is a mother and married, another has decided on her career and is off pursuing that, and Trinity is in college; Trinity also caught the bouquet at Kay’s wedding.

People told Trinity that she would be next, and she loved that so romantic idea. She’s always been of a more romantic turn of mind than me. I double checked that she wasn’t dating anyone seriously, so a wedding was unlikely anytime soon. I remained calm, though what I wanted to say, was over my dead body would she be getting married anytime soon. Then, my daughter, who I thought of as fairly logical, proactive, and level-headed in most situations, just beginning to explore all the possibilities of her life, talked about her wedding day. She’s talked about her wedding day after every wedding she’s seen since she was about six. I guess it’s normal for most little girls, but when she was six I didn’t worry about it. Now she’s twenty and suddenly it’s not cute anymore, its a little frightening to me. I’m the mom, I’m supposed to worry.

I had grown up never planning to marry, so I had never dreamed of my wedding day. I was too busy writing my stories and collecting my first rejection slips, because I was going to be a writer. I didn’t have time to plan weddings, or moon over boys. Trinity had never done much mooning either, so I never worried about her falling into the trap that marriage and romance are the biggest things in a woman’s life. I’d shown her that men and weddings were not the be all, end all, for her life. She understands that, but suddenly the whole wedding thing seemed a little too real for me, and for the first time I thought of how differently she had seen marriage than I did growing up.

I had fallen in love for the first time in college and married at twenty-one to her father. It had certainly surprised the hell out of me. I’d planned on being a happy writer without any of those complications from “relationships.” They just distracted an artist from their goals. I actually didn’t let marriage distract me from my goals and was a successful novelist by the time we divorced sixteen years later. I vowed never to marry again, and then promptly fell in love with Jonathon. We are now blissfully happy at thirteen years and counting. Was it the fact that I had married twice and was actually happy that had made Trinity feel more positive towards marriage and romance? Trinity had been one of the flower girls at our wedding, so this more romantic attitude might be my fault. Was it letting the flower girls ride in the horse-drawn carriage with us? Don’t blame fairytales, because I was raised on those, too, and the romantic bug didn’t get me. But then, I had only my mother’s unhappiness in the brief marriage to my father, and was raised on tales of my grandfather beating my grandmother, who she had divorced after twenty years. Marriage didn’t seem that great to me, and men seemed like extras I didn’t need in my life. My grandmother and I got along fine without one. I did the heavy lifting around the house, what the heck were men needed for? Then I fell in love, and married, twice, and Trinity grew up seeing that the right man with the right woman could be pretty awesome, so in a way it was totally my fault. My happiness had actually fed into the social message that romance and marriage are important; damn it.

I took a few days to think about why I’d had such an issue with her innocent, and perfectly normal, remarks about weddings. I finally realized what I wanted to say not just to Trinity, but to all the young women everywhere.

I hope my daughter’s wedding day isn’t the biggest and most important day of her life. I hope that she has so many days that make that one day, pale in comparison. I hope she finds someone so wonderful that their days together will be full of such happiness that the wedding is what it’s supposed to be, the beginning of an amazing adventure and a real life love story that will rise in action from that day forward. I hope for her a person at her side that brings joy to her life, everyday. I know they will fight, I know she’s not perfect, nor will her spouse be perfect. The trick is to get enough good stuff from the relationship to offset the irritating stuff, because that’s all it should be, just irritating stuff. If it’s truly bad stuff; addiction, abuse, I trust my beautiful, strong daughter to understand that you can’t love them enough to change certain things and not to ever marry someone who is cruel when they say they love you. True love is not cruel, or controlling in a way that hurts you.

When you fight, and you will fight, remember that list of things you know would hurt them the most, don’t say them. Don’t say the unforgivable list, because once uttered it can’t be taken back, and though you say, I forgive you, you never forget and it damages your pair bond.

I hope my daughter understands that it is the every day joys that make life worth living, not the big moments. The big stuff fades and cannot last, but the joy of waking up beside someone you love and renewing that love every day in a dozen small gestures that say, better than any fancy dress, or church full of flowers, I love you.

I hope she understands what that means, love, to her may not be the same as her spouse, and that part of the challenge is to find out what their language of love is both individually and together. To some men, playing their favorite video game with them means you love them enough to try. To others dressing in their favorite outfit is love. To some women helping with housework means love, and to others sexy naked time is love. For Trinity, I hope she finds another video game and anime Geek and that she never falls in love with someone that rolls their eyes and belittles what she finds such fierce joy in, and the same for her future spouse. Let them honor what each finds joy in, and understand that it doesn’t always have to make sense to you, you just have to understand that the love of your life adores fall mornings, or bird watching, or sleeping in late, hitting the gym, scuba diving, or watching cheesy horror movies. Whatever fills their face with light and joy, honor that, and honor the things that fill your own heart with the same light. Do not give up your hobbies, the pieces of yourself that bring you happiness, because your spouse fell in love with the girl, or boy, that thought Pokemon was cool; don’t lose that. Don’t let the idea of love and being a grownup steal yourself away. Love, true love, honors who you really are and never makes fun of it. Honor each other, care for each other, be kind to each other, have fun together, and above all know that there will be moments when you fall out of love, or are so irritated by that small thing they always do that you just want to scream. Remember in those moments how much you love that thing they do that always makes you smile. Remember how they held you when you were sad, or how they cry at Christmas commercials, or how hard they work at their dreams, and how they help you work at yours.

I hope that my daughter’s wedding, when it comes, if it comes, because if she never marries that’s okay with me, as long as she’s happy, but if she chooses to marry, I hope she looks back and thinks it was a beautiful beginning to an even more beautiful life in partnership with someone she loves, and who loves her as much as I do. It’s not about a certain ceremony, or a certain goal, or milestone, those will come and go, it’s about the day in, day out, are you there for me – do you have each other’s backs? That’s what it’s about, I hope my daughter and all the young women out there understand that is more important than a thousand designer dresses, or the perfect flowers, or how many bridesmaids you have – your wedding day will pass, but if you all work at it, and are lucky, then it just gets better from there.

New Blog – The Four of Us

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We’re getting ready for Halloween and have just finished carving pumpkins. Our foursome is complete and under one roof, Genevieve and Spike have moved in with us! We are forming a household together. One of the interesting things that’s been happening is that we aren’t getting to sleep until very late. Yes, sometimes it’s for fun and nefarious reasons, but more often it’s just that the conversation that started at dinner keeps going until late. We talk like people who don’t see each other often and have to catch up, but we’re doing it night after night. This is after celebrating four years of dating long distance.

When we first started talking seriously about moving in together there was an afternoon down at Spike and Genevieve’s house where we’d talked about everything from biology – birds, migrating geese, Monarch butterflies, dragons; video games – Shadows of Mordor, Assassins Creed, Dragon Age, to Star Wars. We’d talked for at least two hours and the far ranging conversation showed no signs of slowing down. The conversation had gotten quite silly with Jon and Spike taking turns doing lines from one of their shared geeky interests and making both Genevieve and me laugh.

Spike said, “This, if we couldn’t do this together I wouldn’t have agreed to trying to move in.”

“Me, either,” I said, “if we couldn’t do this it wouldn’t work.”

All four of us have what they used to call lively minds, which means we’re quick mentally, verbally, and all of us can hold our own in topics from heavy to light. You never know if we’ll be talking philosophy, religion, science, guns, weaponry in general, childhood memories, favorite movies, games, politics, places we want to visit together, places we’ve been, and just sharing the chemistry of four people who have found that they never bore each other.

I can show in my novels the sex and kink, the romance, the conversations that are pertinent to the character development, or plot of a given book, but I can’t show you the conversations that are utterly necessary to being a great “couple” because they would have nothing, or very little, to do with any plot. In real life it’s both more silly and more serious than I ever get to show on screen. All serious conversations in the writing must serve the larger purpose of the novel it’s in, but in reality there is no plot, no overarching plan for the “season”, or the series. You spend a lot of time winging it in real life, but in a mystery series you really can’t do that. I love any time I’ve been able to show the silliness that is absolutely necessary for me to be in a happy coupleness. I’m never going to be able to discuss politics, or philosophy on stage unless it relates directly to the book I’m writing. I slip in a few geeky happy moments, but mostly it’s all editing the fiction down to serve the purpose of the plot. Real life doesn’t work that way, it is far messier, surprising, even shocking, the turns that your world can take when you say, yes, to the adventure before you.

J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan said, “To live would be an awfully big adventure.”

It really can be if you’re willing to believe in the magic of the people around you, and understand that it’s not all romance and hot sex, that sometimes you have to plan menus and decide who does the dishes, but if you do it right, even that is part of the adventure. After all, if you don’t have dinner you never get to desert. Yeah, *wink, wink, nudge, nudge* Laughs!

New Blog – Our Anniversary, our dogs, and Enjoyment

“What are we going to do tonight, Brain?”
“What we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!”

People keep asking, “What are you doing for your anniversary?”
“What we do every night. Love and enjoy time with each other!”

We are spending part of the night watching Gotham & Sleepy Hollow so the dogs can enjoy couch time with us, after all Sasquatch is thirteen this year, exactly as long as we’ve been married, so every year he gets to celebrate with us now is a bonus. We got him as a puppy that first year, so it seems fitting that our olden dogger gets some cuddle time along with Keiko and Mordor, who at six and two are newcomers to our pack.

Time to take the dogs out one more time, and then Jon and I get to go celebrate the rest of our anniversary just the two of us.

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New Blog – When I grow up I want . . .

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From the time I was twelve-years-old I never planned to marry. I would live on an island with lots of animals and write my stories, because writers could live anywhere; right? At twenty-one I left my grandmother’s house to marry my first husband. I never owned my own apartment, never lived alone, and then suddenly I was part of a couple. It had been just my grandmother and me, and now it was just my husband and me. It seemed not that different, and yet entirely different. I think if I’d come from a bigger family that I might have had more trouble transitioning to this two person system, this couple, but two seemed familiar, seemed right. By the time we celebrated our first anniversary we had one Yellow-naped Amazon parrot, a hand fed luntino Cockatiel, and a canary that would come out of its cage and play on the parrot playground. I was writing and trying to sell my stories when I wasn’t working in corporate America. We’d moved to California, so I was at least by the ocean, I was part way to my island.

Fifteen years later we were living in St. Louis, Missouri, the middle of the country, and I’d almost forgotten that island dream. I was a best-selling novelist and I was separating from my soon-to-be ex-husband. I got my first apartment that was just mine. I was able to pick out a kitchen table and chairs without consulting anyone’s opinion but my own. It was GREAT! I reveled in the freedom of just me. Well, not just me, because one room of the apartment was for our daughter, Trinity. I let her pick the color and the decor. She was five-years-old and wanted a totally pink room. At her age, so had I, and she wanted a pink canopy bed, and so had I, so who was I to argue with her? Besides, I’d already told her she could pick everything, this would be a promise that I would never make to a child this young again. The pink paint was called Candy Pink, or something equally innocuous, but we, the painters, the people who delivered the furniture, all of us, dubbed the color Eye-Bleed Pink, because it was so bright it made us nauseous to be in the room too long. One of the men who delivered her pink and white canopy bed declared the color made him dizzy. But Trinity loved her room! The rest of the apartment was mine to decorate as I saw fit, and I loved being on my own. I was never going to marry again, it hadn’t worked for me, monogamy with the wrong person is a trap I never wanted to fall into again. My ex-husband got to keep our remaining parrot and I got the two dogs; we shared Trinity.

Six months later I would be engaged to a friend I’d known for eight years, Jonathon, and we’d be planning our wedding. My first husband swept me off my feet in a gentle, geeky kind of way. Jonathon and I snuck up on each other, just friends until the moment we realized we weren’t. I’d done the big wedding once, but he hadn’t, and what my sweetie wanted, I wanted to give him, so we did it up big. Trinity and her best friend were our flower girls and they got to ride in the horse drawn carriage at the end after we were pronounced husband and wife, because if you have a little girl and you have a horse drawn carriage they get to ride in it too, that’s just a rule somewhere, or should be.

Jonathon and I celebrate our thirteenth anniversary next Monday. We are happier now, more in love now, than when we started. Having been through a marriage where ten years in, that was not the case, I value this love and our life, all the more. Trinity is happy, healthy, and off to college. We have three dogs and about twenty koi in the pond. We still live in the middle of the country, so no closer to that island I wanted at age twelve, but I am now a #1 New York Times Bestselling novelist (my agent always insists I write it that way *waves at agent*) so part of my childhood dream is on track.

Four years ago, Jonathon and I were in love with another man. He was our third, and I’d hoped he might be a live-in third someday, but the situation was too complicated. No one’s fault, just not enough honest communication and grownup straight forwardness, I think. But our ex-third introduced us to a woman and her partner. The woman was Genevieve, and her partner doesn’t matter much to this story, because two years later he would be an ex for both of us. But Genevieve would be my first girlfriend ever, and she dated both Jonathon and me. Even more than our ex-third she loved us both, equally, and I hadn’t realized how much I, we, needed that until we had it. She was states away, and we settled into a long distance relationship, LDR, most of our polyamorous relationships have been LDR. She met another man. We knew all about Spike from the beginning, because poly has only one hard rule: that everyone is honest. Spike would talk to us for hours as he planned her engagement ring. Who knew her better than we did, after all we’d been dating her a year longer than he had. We were part of the party where he planned to surprise her with the proposal. I got to help distract Genevieve so that when I turned her around he was just down on one knee with the ring held up to her. It was wonderful and we’d worked as unit to pull it off.

Next week, just after Jon and I celebrate thirteen years of wedded bliss, Genevieve and Spike are moving in with us. They are bringing their two dogs, and yes we have introduced our packs with the help of a local “Dog Whisperer”. Genevieve will also be bringing her fifty-five gallon aquarium of fish. She and I have already talked about a possible lizard, and more fish. Both Spike and I are terribly allergic to cats, and that is a blow to her, but she loves us both, even enough to risk never owning a cat again. I am getting shots, and hope to find a way, someday, for her to have her beloved felines again. She has also asked about parrots, but I am allergic to feathers, which was one reason I had to give up the parrot to my ex-husband. I miss having birds, very much, and hope to find one type I am not allergic to. I’m the writer I dreamed about being, and we will soon have as many dogs as I envisioned as a child, and I hope, nearly pray, that we may add more animals as time goes on, now all we need is that island. Some place tropical, Genevieve?

Happy Summer Solstice Harvest!

Happy Summer Solstice! Blessed Litha for my fellow pagans! Today is the longest day of the year. More sun, more light, more warmth, and tomorrow there will be a touch less, as we head towards autumn. This is a harvest festival for us, because it is traditionally when serious bounty began to come in from the fields, back when we couldn’t just run down to the grocery store and buy strawberries in January.

So, what good is a harvest festival in modern times where some people don’t even know that tomatoes grow on vines?

It’s true that the closest some of us get to a field is an apple picking afternoon at one of the local orchards, or the local organic isle, but harvest isn’t just about the stuff that feeds the body, it’s also about what feeds the heart, mind, and soul.

Harvesting means you’ve chosen what you wanted to grow, so you could get the right seed and plant it. You found out how much sun, how much water, and how many days until it would mature into a yummy vegetable. Pick something you want in your life, a better job, new couch, water garden, a family trip to Yellowstone, a romantic trip to Paris without the kids, hike the Appalachian trail, get pregnant, own your first designer watch, once a week date night, eat a more balanced diet, exercise more, take horse back riding lessons, take some college classes, be happier, love yourself more, knit your first sweater, finish your first novel, finish your 33rd novel, find a girlfriend, find a boyfriend, spend more time alone – whatever you want to bring into your life, that’s your seed.

Now that you know what you want, you need to figure out how much sunlight and water it needs, because some things need more shade, more solitude, others need bright sun and for you to reach out to more people for help, or instructions, or just to get them on board with the plan. The trick is to decide what steps you need to take, or things you need to do, or not do, to bring your harvest in before the end of the year.

For me, I want to finish the latest novel I’m writing by Thanksgiving day of this year. That’s going to require serious dedication to putting my butt in a chair and typing out pages on a regular basis. The light and water needed to finish the book is time, consistency of effort, and faith in myself and the book. On a good day, I’m so sure of myself that I’m unassailable in my certainty. On a bad day, I’m equally convinced I’d be killing trees to no purpose if I print the pages out. Oddly, I took today off from writing, to pursue two other things I wanted to bring to harvest in my life. I wanted koi for our water garden. I accomplished that by putting my name on the waiting list at the local pond store, because the fish go fast, and the big, pretty ones go faster. The fish were so gorgeous I was giddy with their beauty, and spoiled for choices. I began to laugh out loud as the clerk caught the fish I pointed out. I helped some, and was quickly splashed from glasses to sandals with water. We had one fish leap completely out of the tank to avoid being caught. I’d never seen such energy and fight in carp. It was so much fun, that I came home laughing and smelling slightly of clean, well-cared for fish. Watching them flit through the water in our pond made me smile a lot.

I also talked to the other half of our poly foursome today, and that feeds into another harvest goal, that I want even better communication to make sure that everyone’s needs get met, and most of their wants.

Jon, my husband, and I also got to visit with our friends, Sam and Eric, and since one of my goals is to see more of our friends, more often, that was perfect for today. They got here in time to help with the adventure of acclimating the koi to our pond, thanks for the help guys. What do you want to accomplish? What are you willing to put time and energy into so that you can harvest it by the end of the year? Think on what you need, what you want, and make it happen.

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