Archive | March 2014

Skip a Starbucks Day!

…and yes, we’re doing this again because it’s a great cause!

In November 2010, friend and author CJ Redwine and her husband Clint adopted a beautiful little bundle of joy into their family, and I was happy to participate in their “Skip a Starbucks Day” event then. I held a contest and gave away prizes, along with several other authors/writers/friends; they held contests and drives and such, and were able to raise enough money to fly to China and bring home their daughter Johanna, who is just precious!

Let’s help them do that again! I’ll let CJ tell you their story…

________________________________________________________________

Skip a Starbucks Day is Here!As most of you know by now, we’re in the process of adopting our second daughter from China. We chose to pursue a girl with medical needs this time around for several reasons. For one, we saw how girls with cleft palates or disfigured limbs were treated in China while we were there, and it broke our hearts. For another, adopting a child with special needs is much faster than adopting a healthy child, and we didn’t want a six year gap between Johanna and her little sister.

We turned in our dossier to China in the beginning of February, and we figured, based on the average wait time for special needs families, that we had about an 8 month wait to get our referral. (A child’s picture and file matched to a family.) But there are two ways to be matched to a child through the special needs program. One is to wait for China to get to your file, translate it, and then search for a child who matches your medical checklist (the list of things we’ve said we’d accept). The other is to be matched to one of the Special Focus kids whose files are sent to our agency each month. Special Focus children are those who are considered hard to place with a family. They have multiple medical conditions, and most families sign on for only one need.

Clint and I early on felt that we needed to be open to multiple needs. I kept seeing us with a girl who had a cleft palate and a heart murmur. Clint kept seeing us with a girl who had minor hearing loss and a missing or extra limb.

Two weeks after our dossier arrived in China, our agency called us with a Special Focus child to consider. Her file arrived to us on her second birthday. She had cleft palate, congenital heart disease, minor hearing issues, and an extra thumb.

In other words, she is everything Clint and I kept seeing for our daughter. *cue the moment we started weeping*

Isabella3Isabella Grace Xiaofang was abandoned beneath a highway overpass when she was four months old. She had severe pneumonia, along with her heart disease and cleft palate, which were both causing her medical difficulty. That says to me that her parents loved her, and they tried for four months to care for her in secret, either to avoid paying the second child penalty fee, which is prohibitive for poorer families, or because they couldn’t afford her medical care, and when they realized she was going to die without care, they put her where she would be quickly found. Highways in China, especially in cities, are much different than ours. They are choked with pedestrians and bicyclists. She was sure to be found quickly.

Isabella4A month after she was found, she had heart surgery to repair four different defects in her heart. She was in and out of the ICU for recurring pneumonia during her first year. In her second year, she had two surgeries to repair her lip and palate and to remove her extra thumb. At two years old, she’s still tiny (wearing 9 month clothing size), she’s not walking on her own yet, and she doesn’t have many words yet. Her delayed development is a result, I feel certain, of her constant surgeries and hospital stays.

The orphanage reports that Isabella is quiet, shy, and loves to smile and grab onto the nannies and play with them. I can’t wait to bring her home! Her brothers and sister are very excited to meet her and love her as well!

This is where you come in. Because this process is moving so much faster than we anticipated, we need to run a fundraiser to raise Isabella’s orphanage fee of 5k and the 10k we need to travel to China and to stay there for the two and a half weeks it takes to finalize her adoption. When we brought Johanna home, we did an online fundraiser the concept of Skip a Starbucks day simple: if people will skip Starbucks and donate that money toward Isabella’s adoption fund instead, we can raise the money.

Would you consider helping me bring my daughter home? Here is what I’d need:

__________________________________________________________

To enter CJ’s contest, visit her blog here.

To enhance this a bit, I’m donating a number of things:

  • a signed print of my book Nemesis
  • a copy of a Just Ink Press book, winner’s choice
  • a $25 Amazon gift card

Of course, there are requirements to obtain these lovely prizes, so here’s the Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

_________________________________________________________

Impulse_100x150  Enslaved_100x150  Nemesis_100x150  The Dracove_100x150  GodsVamps_100x150
 IntoTheDarkness-Final  Temptation  ITD_200x300  MiM_200x300
Advertisements

Hey Chickadee

…oh you’re gonna love this cuteness.

First thing Monday morning, my ex-neighbor co-worker (I’ve been moved to the front) informed me that she’d bought a chicken coup over the weekend so she can have fresh eggs. Of course, it’ll be a while before that happens because THIS:

baby chicks

How damn cute is that? Right?

And, of course, I’m sitting in the front now…

Don't expect me to smile just bc I'm sitting here

Don’t expect me to smile just bc I’m sitting here

from the inside looking out

from the inside looking out

You see the ginormous opening that basically states to all who pass, “Here I am; talk to me!” Yeah, that’s why I’m not smiling. Doesn’t matter though; they still stop and talk. At least it’s not as bad as I thought it would be, and I’ve become the building secretary now while ours is on maternity leave simply for the fact that there’s a sign that tells incoming folk to go to the help desk, and when they get there I’m the first person they see. It’s been oh so fun directing people where they need to go while I’m on a call.

Also? Another co-worker got the programming job so his 12-month contract is now available, and of course, I have to apply for it and interview for my current job to have my contract changed from the 9.75 month to the 12-month. Really? That’s just stupid. I mean, I get it, but it’s stupid.

Happy Wednesday from My Geekdom!

Skin: an Excerpt from Dusk of Death

…and I’m pretty sure I’ve shared this part before, but let’s just start over because there’s more coming.

Copyright Valery Sidelnykov

Photo © Valery Sidelnykov

Skin

Such anguish I feel, such sorrow. Heartache, I am, that I break my own flesh and feel discontent with the world, so I hide beneath my quivering wing in hopes to block the malevolence from my vulnerability of reality. I am a tortured soul of times long past, centuries old and lost in a world unknown to me. Even my ancient wisdom cannot save me from the agony mounting inside, swelling beyond its boundaries, growing into regret of things long lost to fate and destiny. A wing arm that braces me from falling supports my soul from diving into the pits of Hell while my tail wraps around me to form a circle none are to enter. Wings shroud me with protection like a cloak of invisibility to hide my ache from this unknown land. Blonde locks spill like rivers over arms too tired to move that support my throbbing head.

My skin is tight with the act of atonement, yet ripe for destruction while I tear at the flesh with sharp nails. Blood trickles slowly down, as though teasing me with the dawn of life rather than the dusk of death, and I ask myself if I am worthy of this grief I bear. I ask myself if I am worthy of the life I live and the blood that flows through me. I ask myself if I wish to continue on, or give up as I lie in this ball on the ground. I must understand that my pain is only temporary and that tomorrow will be a new day when I hold my head high and spread my wings. I am not the skin that covers these ancient bones. I am not the flesh that beneath lies a beating heart. I am the soul within, a soul not broken, a soul reborn from this torment. I will not bow to this pain, but I cannot promise my skin will feel the same.

_______________________________________________________

Chapter One

Armen Leza should be dead.

Why she became flesh a few years ago, she’ll never understand. It was something that just happened, and a hazy vagueness clouded her memory, as though she wasn’t allowed to see the unfolding events. One second, she’d been a demon; the next, human flesh graced her tissue and bones.

If she could only figure out why.

Dusk settled as the last few beams of daylight snaked their way through the edges of worn shades. Terry Armstrong hung up on her—again. In truth, Terry was never much for goodbyes; he didn’t give the send-off to someone until they were dead, so he never said the farewell to the living. Armen assumed he thought saying that one little word meant bad luck on the person, and she found the quirk rather entertaining, even if his calls usually weren’t.

Armen set down the phone and shuddered, a creepy chill running up her spine and into the nerve center of her brain, having nothing to do with the night air. As she was the medical examiner who specialized in the occult—and not happy about it, though she was good at it—work calls usually meant bad news, but something in Terry’s voice this time made the hair on her arms stand on end. She’d never get used to the feeling. For that matter, she’d never grow accustomed to the emotions at play within her human form. They were distracting, to say the least.

She dressed in a pair of old faded jeans and a hoodie, and reached for a pair of shoes—some old no-name brand of black and white sneakers she’d bought at one of the big retail stores dirt-cheap. Armen knew the family behind the stores quite well. They had been on her list in the days of old, before her flesh.

Armen had seen Hell; fire and brimstone were nothing compared to the darkness. Humans were petrified of the idea that they’d burn for eternity. But, the truly scary place wasn’t the giant furnace; it was the darkness lingering around it. All in Heaven and Hell called it Gehenna. That’s where the real monsters lay in wait. And Armen would know, for she’d been one of them.

Five minutes had already passed; if she wanted to look at the scene with Terry before the chief arrived, she’d better hurry—she only had about fifteen minutes. She pulled on her socks and shoes, fetched her car keys from the table, and trotted down the stairs to her Jeep. The sky bore several shades of purple that turned midnight black as she sped off into the darkening twilight toward Terry’s new case.

____________________________________________________________

What you just read above is the short essay (in italics) that spawned my book Dusk of Death, which will release this coming summer. I’m hoping for a June release, but we’ll see if what little time I have allows for it. At any rate, I still have to finish this edit on the book before I delve into some of the developmental stuff. I’m already looking at images for the cover–there are so many. Oh my God.

But photo searches aside, the edit is going quite well…and I needed something to post today.

Loud Noises

…make me giggle, and I’ll tell you why…

Every time someone calls in a copier or printer because it’s making “loud noises,” I have to stifle a giggle because all I hear is this…

.

Now, I’m on vacation and not even awake yet when you read this. Be jealous. Have a lovely day. *grins*

A Scene from ASSASSIN

…which I probably promised you MONTHS ago! Bear with me, folks. I’m a damn busy woman.

So, here’s a second scene from Assassin: Book 2 in the Kick-Ass Girls Club series. The first part is here and this one is actually from chapter 2 of Assassin.

______________________________________________________

© Hooligan Photography

© Hooligan Photography

I’ve only been dating Killian for a few months, and it’s been a damn roller coaster ride because of his “job,” and because we’re both hot-headed Irish folk. The queasiness might stem from the fact that he’s got a gash on the side of his head that has my temper flaring as blood runs down his face.

“Hey, Red.” A grin splits his face, as though he’s completely unaware of the blood on the side of his head, cheek, and down his neck. And more than likely, that’s probably the case.

“What the hell happened to you?” I grab a clean damp towel and run around the bar.

“What are ye talkin’ about?” He stops my arm with his hand when I reach up to clean the gash and inspect closer for the severity.

“You’re bleeding, dumbass,” I say, and he lets go of me so I can clean up his face. “What’d you do now?”

He sits on a barstool and waves a hand, practically dismissing the question, but he answers anyway because he knows better. “It’s nothin’, really.”

It’s always “nothin’” with him. He could be on fire and it’d be nothin’. Thinking of fire reminds me who I am, and I get a glimpse of my scarred hand before pulling the towel back so he can see the blood. I take a closer look at the wound. “You need stitches.”

“Nah, I’ll be fine.”

I place the towel back against the wound and press . . . hard.

“Ow! What the fuck, Red?” He slaps my hand away from his head.

I poke his chest with each spoken word. “You. Hospital. Stitches. Now!” I point to the exit. “And if I don’t see stitches in your goddamn head tonight, you’re going to need more.”

He gets that grin like he’s proud of me for standing up to him. Whatever. “Fine, I’m going,” he says, and hops off the barstool. “But it won’t be the hospital. See ye tonight.” As he turns to the exit, he slaps my ass and walks away with a chuckle.

“Stitches,” I yell before he walks out the door. He throws his hand up and waves his acknowledgement.

I swear, if I wasn’t falling for the bastard, I’d be livid for that ass-slapping stunt. Especially at my place of employment.

On that note, my boss walks up behind me. “Please tell me that’s not blood on that towel.”

“Aren’t you the observant one?” I throw it at him and walk back behind the bar.

He tosses it back at me with a disgusted look on his face. “Teagan, he can’t keep showing up like that, and bleeding,” bossman says.

“If you want me working holidays, drop it,” I say as I scrub my hands like a doctor before surgery. Tainted, it may not be, but I can’t have even a speck of his blood ending up in someone’s drink.

“You know why I do that,” he replies.

I nod because I do know why he has this place open every holiday, and I find it admirable. My co-workers, not so much. They piss and moan about it every holiday they have to work. I don’t because hey, double time! And on a bartender’s wages, that means a lot.

“I’ll talk to him because quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of it myself.”

“Don’t break things off with him,” he says, surprising me. “He’s a good guy. He just needs to stop bleeding all over my establishment.”

I salute him. “Got it.”

He shakes his head and walks away.

I let out a sigh and get back to work, counting the minutes to when I may potentially get to kick my boyfriend’s ass.

Tortellini Soup with Vegetables

Once again, my good friend Deni has bestowed upon us one of her great recipes. Let’s see what she’s got for us today.

Tortellini Soup with Vegetables

tortellinisoup

Ingredients:

3 chicken breasts cut into small (1/2 inch) cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup Italian seasoning
4 garlic cloves minced
1 onion roughly chopped
2 cups celery (1 inch pieces)
2 cups carrots (roughly chopped)
5 cups fresh spinach roughly chopped (split 4+1)
3 cans diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
1 bag of frozen tortellini
12 ounces of cream cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

4-6 hours before cooking put chicken, olive oil, and Italian seasoning in a 1 gallon bag and refrigerate.

In a large pot, brown the cubed chicken and garlic using a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add onion,celery, and carrots allow to brown for 10 minutes. Add 4 cups of the chopped spinach, tomatoes, broth.

Allow to simmer for 45 minutes. Add the bag of tortellini, bring back to a simmer. Stir in the cream cheese until melts into the soup. Simmer for 15 more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Piacere!

Vive bene, spesso l’amore, di risata molto!

(live well, love much, and laugh often)

In a Hurry Much?

…and now you can’t login to your computer or website.

533575_517571141647152_476957607_n

People, slow down when typing your passwords before calling me to tell me you can’t login. You’ll get it wrong several times. Hell, I get it wrong at times simply because I’m in a hurry, rushing to get that password in so I can move to the next thing on my list. And then BAM!, guess what? That’s right, I just lost precious minutes. Why? Because I was in a hurry.

SLOW. THE. FUCK. DOWN.

Simple, right?

Not so much.

*sigh*

You won’t listen anyway.

I don’t listen to myself.

*answers the next call*

“Good morning, help desk, this is “Jinxie”.