Friday, June 29, 2012


It seems I've been traveling for all of June. It's not far from the truth. I've only spent 14 days of June in my own home. That's more than half the month spent in beds not my own. Which. Recently, isn't really such a bad thing if we're considering the spider invasion.

This past month, I've spent time in Washington, DC, New York City, Columbia, Missouri, and Norman, Oklahoma. And looking back through my photo album, I noticed a strange trend: signs. Everywhere I went, I took pictures of signs.

It all started in DC, when we came around a corner to cut through the drive of a hospital and discovered this:

Angel of Death? Grim Reaper with a bone saw? Icarus? I'm not entirely sure of anything other than its inherent awesomeness.

Next up, New York, with a sense of humor when it comes to its ice cream.

Maybe he's just super sensitive....

Then, it was a diner in Columbia, Missouri. We're best buds, now. Me and the diner. Because no other place of business has ever supported me like this: 

And finally, Norman, Oklahoma. Where we encountered enigmatic chalk signs...

 One required a Tessa-shaped being for scale:

But the clear winner of all the signs we encountered we found in our own B&B:

I can't imagine this one requires much comment.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

On not attending BEA

A short time ago, thousands of people in the publishing industry descended upon a single convention center in New York City for one mother of an expo. It's one of the largest "book" events of the year and it attracts authors, editors, agents, librarians, book sellers, bloggers, superheroes, villains, cab drivers...the list goes on.

I did not attend Book Expo America, but being attached to someone who was attending, I did travel to New York at the time of BEA and I did reap a few benefits.

It ended up being one of the most surreal five days of my life and not only because I encountered Spiderman on the street, and ate more cupcakes than in all the years of my life combined.

Possibly the surrealitude of the week could be contributed to the total lack of sleep one can achieve while renting an apartment with friends you only see a few times a year. Possibly it was due to the fact that in said apartment, two blocks from Central Park, the noise of the city barrels through the windows at all hours of the day and night to throw erratic parties on your eardrums. Possibly it was due to the lack of actual oxygen in the air…


Possibly it was the cupcakes.

Either way, three things happened in New York which have altered my life in slight, yet significant ways.

First – In a little coffee shop on Tenth Avenue, I met three incredible women and I'm still surprised the shop survived our impact. The first, my agent, who is as kind and dynamic in person as she is via email. The second, my editor, who impressed me all over again with her passion for the work and BEWARE THE WILD. The third, my editor's assistant, who was insightful and equally as excited about BTW. Sitting there, with a small group of people who had found a way to love this story as much as I do, who are every bit as committed to putting in the time and energy to making it better, I realized again just how incredibly lucky I am.

Second – This one requires a modicum of backstory. When I was fourteen years old, I left my childhood home in Virginia and moved to Yokosuka, Japan. I was only there for two years, but I never made it back to the east coast and eventually fell out of touch with all my childhood friends. Such is the life of a Navy child. But – prepare yourselves, I’m about to say something NICE about Facebook – Facebook (for all its faults) changed that.

I fell back into touch with M and after nearly two solid decades of estrangement we had a four-hour reunion in the middle of New York City. We spent much of the time staring at each other in amazement saying truly profound things to each other.

Me: I can’t believe you’re in front of me.
Him: I can’t believe I’m taller than you.
Me: ……*goofy grin*

We were so wrapped up in nostalgia that after 20 minutes of walking way too fast, I felt the axis of the world shift and suddenly ALL THE PEOPLE were around me.

Him: *slow blink* Yes.
Him: ….we…walked?

Which brings me to the third life-altering experience I had in NYC.

There’s really no way to be tactful about this, but I’m going to try because this is something that may save your life in the future.

If you take away nothing else from my non-BEA experience, take this one lesson: NYC DOESN’T CARE ABOUT YOUR BLADDER.

No. It’s true. And it’s important you know this because discovering it when you’re twenty blocks away from your apartment, all the Starbucks are closing because it’s 10pm, and you’re too stubborn to hail a cab isn’t something I’d recommend.

I mean, it might change your life, but not in a Hunger Games sort of way. Rather, this will change your life in a Trainspotting sort ofway where the world is suddenly very loud and very strange (which is really saying something for NYC), and all the doors are locked and the shopkeepers all look like Delores Umbridge, and then you discover you don’t even have a key to your apartment and no one is answering your texts so WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GET HOME? WHAT HAPPENS THEN???

It is FAR from pleasant.

So, there you have it, my recipe for how to have one singularly intense day in New York City. Passing ife-saving advice on to you is really just a bonus.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Spiders and Beds: things that should not mix

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that last week brought some uncomfortable surprises to my bed in the shape of demonic arachnids.


Arachnophobes, READ NO FURTHER.

If you live in Kansas or in any of the states south of the Mason-Dixon line, then you’re probably Very Aware of the terrors capable of being wrought by the brown recluse. If you're not from one of these states, then it's probably worth mentioning that the bite of a brown recluse carries a venom that causes your flesh to rot from your body. I don't recommend googling "brown recluse bite," but if you must, consider yourself WARNED.

Every region I’ve ever lived in has this sort of boogey beast. In Virginia it was snakes. In Japan, centipedes. In Mississippi, black widows. In Washington, rain. But none have ever pursued me so well as the brown recluse.

(I was about to say none of the others have followed me into my bed, but a very chilling memory of an encounter with a poisonous centipede in Japan just refreshed itself for me….I’m suddenly unsure that it’s wise to continue writing this post….*)

(*This blog is not about wisdom.)

So. Imagine this if you will: you’re waking up after a blissful night of rest. The sun is rising outside your window, the birds are singing sweetly, the aroma of coffee floats through your door on a curling wisp of cartoon steam.

But when your Darling roles out of bed, there’s a large dark spot on the sheets just at the point where her shoulder blades might have been, which leads to the following conversation:

Darling: What is that?
Me: Turn on the light.
Darling:…I do not want to.

But when the light goes on, there’s no doubting the fact that the dark spot pressed to the bed sheet is a brown recluse spider. Adult. Squished. Horrifying.

Naturally, this led to two solid days of denial. Which is why I can now say with absolute certainty that I do NOT recommend using denial to rid your home of spiders.


How do I know this?

Picture this: two mornings after that horrible experience, you wake to another delightful birdsong of a morning and lazily climb out of bed. You think all is well in the world until you and your Darling return to make the bed a short time later to discover something small and stick-like laying on the sheet.

Me: What is that?
Darling: It is a part of a plant.
Me: *spots another* I think it’s a spider’s leg.
Darling: O_O It is a PART of a PLANT.

This led to a very careful and fruitless inspection of the sheets, which in turn led to lifting the pillows….

And WHADDYA know? Brown recluse. Sans three legs. Squished beneath my pillow.

I’ve never considered myself to be afraid of spiders (because really? between spiders and zombies, there's a clear winner where rational, reality-based fear is concerned), but finding two full grown brown recluse complete with fiddle-playing heads in my bed has definitely tipped me toward the more hysterical side of things.

Upon finding this, the second brown recluse, we leapt from denial to aggression and went berserk on the house. I have no idea if vacuuming the ceiling and walls, setting down traps, or playing my cello menacingly at the corners were effective, but it sure made me feel better.

So, this is the point at which I realize this story doesn’t really have a comforting ending. … Sorry?