Skip to content

A Light Not Bright Enough

June 5, 2011

I hated Jr. High School. I hated High School even more.

Sure, some of it was your normal teen angst stuff, but the majority had to do with being raped and abused by my paternal grandfather when I was young. I didn’t know how to deal with it, nor did anyone around me. So I fell apart. Exploded is probably a better term.

I’ve been picking up the pieces ever since.

My story is a very common one, though. In 2007 alone, there were at least 5.8 million children involved in some kind of child abuse. ( And in 1993, before Law & Order: SVU and while rape and abuse was even more underreported than it is today, there was estimated to be 60 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse. ( This is just within America.

So when I read articles like The Wall Street Journal’s “Darkness Too Visible” by Meghan Cox Gurdon, I understandably get angry.

Make that downright pissed.

Mrs. Gurdon takes the experience of one flustered mother and lambasts YA Lit. She spits such venomous opinions like:

Yet it is also possible—indeed, likely—that books focusing on pathologies help normalize them and, in the case of self-harm, may even spread their plausibility and likelihood to young people who might otherwise never have imagined such extreme measures. Self-destructive adolescent behaviors are observably infectious and have periods of vogue. (

I’m sorry, did you just state that a book about a teenager who cuts will lead teens to cut themselves because they’ll think it’s IN STYLE? Have you ever read anything about the psychosis of cutting?

She goes on to discuss Cheryl Rainfield’s SCARS, upset about the subject matter of the protagonist’s rape at the hands of her own father. Her opinion is that this kind of material should be kept out of the hands of teens. That such depraved stories are merely the publishing industry’s push for freedom of speech. That parents should rise up and refuse to let such “coarseness or misery” into the lives of children.

Let me see if I’m clear. Reading stories about teens dealing with real life situations, especially the not-so-shiny parts, will destroy children? Last time I checked, it was molesters, rapists, bullies and hormones making teens miserable. I never had a book induce me to attempt suicide, but real life certainly did. If I’d known I wasn’t alone by reading some of the very books Mrs. Gurdon is so quick to offer an unprofessional and one-sided judgment of, I might have been spared some of my pain.

Mrs. Gurdon states:

There are of course exceptions, but a careless young reader—or one who seeks out depravity—will find himself surrounded by images not of joy or beauty but of damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds. (

So, instead of dealing with what is really out there facing young adults, we should write about skipping through the dandelions with the Von Trapps? Where is the truth in that? When did it become the norm to not teach people, especially children, to think for themselves? There is plenty of depravity already facing the majority of young adults. But, for the sake of sensibilities, we should take away a powerful outlet for them to cope?

Browne & Finkelhor, in their groundbreaking 1986 article “Impact of Child Sexual Abuse: A Review of the Research”, uncover the long-term effects that child abuse can have.

Long term effects of child abuse include fear, anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, inappropriate sexual behavior, poor self esteem, tendency toward substance abuse and difficulty with close relationships (

That sounds pretty dark to me. In fact, that sounds like something we need to be shining a giant spotlight on. Bring it to the forefront and enable conversations. Help children understand what they are going through. Do you think all victims have reported their abuse to someone and are getting the help they need and deserve?

Can I borrow your rose-colored contacts and utopian society?

What Mrs. Gurdon did with her article, even with the title, is suggest that these topics should be shoved back into the recesses of the minds of the victims and not discussed. After all, if we don’t talk about it and don’t see it, then it didn’t happen, right? Ugliness only exists because YA authors and publishers are too interested in pushing the envelope?

How DARE she belittle the experiences of millions! I write YA because I love the voice, and you’d better believe that my characters don’t have perfect lives or live in perfect worlds. I’m not suggesting that every YA book needs to contain a harsh storyline, but there should be plenty of options out there.

I am so sick of people who can’t deal with reality insisting that those of us who have lived the wretchedness of the dark just shut up and go away. Guess what, Mrs. Gurdon. I’m not shutting up, nor am I going away. And shame on you for trying to make me. People who insist that the darkness isn’t made visible are just as culpable as the perpetrators of said darkness.

Next time, before you offer your opinion, why don’t you do some research.


I’m Being Productive, I Swear

May 14, 2011

I may have been extremely ill the past month or so, but I was being productive.

I watched the first 3-and-a-half seasons of Charmed. Who knew Shannen Doherty leaving a series could make it suck? And what was with those rhymes and graphics? And Alyssa Milano’s blonde hair and chopped bangs?

Oh, right, REAL productivity.

When I started getting my strength back, I ordered the last bit of yarn off the internet (thus saving me an ill-advised trip to Wal-Mart) and finished Baby J’s blanket.

Now, to talk myself out of opening an Etsy shop…

How NOT to Avoid Getting Arrested

May 4, 2011

I have always struggled with keeping my mouth shut. In fact, the time I realize I probably shouldn’t say something is about 0.25 seconds AFTER it’s out of my mouth. Hanging there. In the air. For everyone to hear.

I spent a lot of time in detention … or I would have, if I wasn’t so good at talking my way out of trouble. However, there are times when I should have the foresight to not rely on this ability and simply stop talking.

Like when I’m at the courthouse, surrounded on all sides by armed guards.

The day started with me having to wake up early to drive 45 minutes a doctor’s appointment and receiving the news that I may be dealing with The Return of Larry (a sinus obstruction that I had to have surgically removed 2 years ago…I had a contest to name it because life is too short to not make everything funny). However, my doc was hopeful that we’ve caught it in time and she’s sending me to a very good ENT specialist. Whom we both agreed we will call The Dude.

I requested to not return to my previous ENT specialist who did the surgery due to the amount of blood I sneezed all over his white lab coat during one of my post-surgical followup appointments. I’m sure he will feel the same relief as we didn’t really get along too well … and the fact that I told him I wasn’t sorry for the sneezing.

In any case, I left the doctor’s and headed downtown to the courthouse so I could file for divorce. I soon realized there’s no such thing as free parking, and I don’t carry cash due to it’s propensity to find it’s way out of my wallet and into everyone else’s–especially if there are shoes involved. Finally finding a suitable parking garage after hitting an ATM, (which included shooting down the guy trying to sell his 14k gold chain for $20 to everyone in line), I walked the small city block to my destination.

By the time I reached the entrance, I was downright slightly giddy. In a mere 60 days, I would be totally free of the ex, unless Karma finally kicked in and hit him with a bus in the meantime. No? Okay, fine. 60 days then. With this goal firmly set in my mind, I sailed through the doors and came face to face with an x-ray machine for my stuff and a metal detector for me.  No problem, I’d conquered these with no fuss at the airport and I was carrying far less baggage.

Dropping my purse on the scanner, I stepped forward to metal detector and managed to catch the eye of the guard working the x-ray.

Me: “Do I need to take my lighter out of my pocket before I walk through there?”

Female guard: “No, you should be fine.”

Male guard: “Yes, you need to take it out, here I’ll hold it.”

Me: *hands lighter over* “Okay, but I’m watching you so don’t jack my lighter.” *puts two fingers up to eyes and then points them at guard as I’m stepping through the metal detector* “I’ll know if you pocket it.”

Other guard: “Ma’am I need you to step over here.”

Male guard: “Wait, do you have a string on your key chain?”

Me: “No. Sorry, that went out with the 80’s.”

Male guard: “Do you have something in your purse, like a string, that pulls out and retracts.”

Me: “Wait, are you talking about my badge?”

We both dig through my purse and I pull out my work badge attached to a belt clip pulley.

Me: “Is this what you’re looking for?”

Male guard: “Can you please pull that all the way out for me?”

Me: “Sure!” *grasp both ends and yank to expose the string with my eyebrow raised* Now that I understand his reasoning and the weapon he thought I might possess, I was sure I’d have to surrender my badge and collect it on the way out. Kind of like when the teacher takes away your hat and sits in on her desk the entirety of class.

Male guard: “Okay, just needed to make sure it wasn’t metal.”

Me: *snorts* If only I had brought the one that was made with a wire, which my coworkers all lamented that the company had just given me such a weapon. “So you’re not going to confiscate it?”

Male guard: “No, that’s okay.”

Me:  “You’re just going to let me walk into the courthouse with a string garrote?”

Male guard: *laughs and waves me over to get wanded since I apparently had set the metal detector off*

Female guard with wand: “Stand over here please ma’am.”

I go to stand dutifully on the mat in the foyer and watch as she starts to wand me. She bends over to run the wand over my legs, which is where the problem is from in the first place since I’m wearing my ankle corset brace. As she looks up, she tells me to put my arms out. Eager to seem that I am actually trying to comply with all state and federal laws I throw my arms up and out to the side.

And punch a passerby. In. The. Face.

I don’t think you quite understand. Not only did I throw my hands out, she was walking into my arm space unknowingly. It was a head on collision and I staggered her. The poor woman had no chance.

Me: “Oh my god, I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”

Hapless victim: *holds face with both hands, nods and walks away somewhat not in a straight line*

Me: *turns to female guard with wand* “You made me punch that woman in the face! Are you trying to get me arrested? First you guys jack my lighter, then you let me in with a string garrote and finally you coerce me into hitting a passerby!”

All guards at this point have gathered around me and, for the sake of some kind of good Karma I really should have coming my way at this point, they are all laughing. The lady with the wand is kneeling on her mat in tears and the would-be lighter thief is slapping the metal detector guard on the back.

I grabbed my purse and ran.

Funny thing is, when I returned 60 days later for the actual divorce hearing, I wasn’t allowed in that door. They escorted me halfway around the building to go in a different door. And had me go through the metal detector a good arms length away from everyone else.

I can’t wait for my next Juror Summons. Perhaps you should all be setting aside your pennies for bail money.

5 Little Known Facts About CJ Redwine

January 8, 2011

It’s my sister’s birthday today. I wracked my brain for the perfect gift to send her, then remembered the reason I couldn’t think clearly was due to the splitting headache I still had from going through the exact same process for her Christmas present. And, since I outdid myself with that one, I had to switch tactics and go for the old stand-by, home-made present. I heard macaroni art doesn’t ship well and my bubble wrap has all mysteriously lost its bubbles, so I’m going to have to do something radical.

Here is my present to my sister: (drum roll please … preferably using something loud and obnoxious so everyone knows you’re about to read something of dire direness)

5 Little Know Facts About CJ Redwine

1) When CJ was 8, she started and ran her own small business out of our house. She was not only the CEO, but also the artist, writer and procurement manager and file clerk. She produced and owned the copyright on all product. Me? I was her brain storming partner and door-to-door salesman. On very rare occasion, I was allowed to draw the circle and mark the price within on the back of the product.  We would walk the neighborhood, basket in hand, knock on doors and pitch our product. We asked our clients what sort of events they had coming up and then showed them the perfect card for their occasion. Smaller cards with writing only were 5 cents, while larger cards with drawings were 10 cents. CJ sometimes took special orders for 15 cents.

CJ used to have the first dollar she ever made in a plaque on her wall, but I believe her husband, in a mistaken frenzy while wrapping items around the house for Christmas gifts, gave it to the neighbors. Hopefully, they’ll save it and spend it on Princess J’s revamp of the family business.

2) CJ is a master playwright, and has been since a very young age. Utilizing the characters in her arsenal box and the canopy bed as her stage, she put on hours upon hours of extravagant puppet shows that would make Andrew Lloyd Weber himself weep. With her use of Miss Piggy as her MC and the brown bear as the protagonist, she broke racial and societal boundaries in her world-renown adaptation of “Guess Who’s Becoming Dinner.”

3) CJ’s choice of vehicle in high school reflected her quest for world domination all while avoiding the upcoming Zombie Goat Apocalypse. She had a bomb shelter modified to include an engine and wheels. Back seats were optional. Periodic bursts of black plumes out the tailpipe took out the secret services attempting to foil her plans–eliminating the need for high speed chases.

4) Blessed with a sharper tongue than her pen could ever hope to capture, CJ once went toe to toe with the high school principal over a perceived dress code infraction committed by yours truly. They still haven’t found all his pieces and parts.

5) CJ is a trained zap assassin. Since birth. Woe to the man who does not notice her approach in feety pajamas. Trained. Assassin. Sparks of death from her fingertips.

Now that I have revealed more than I ever should have dared, I will be going into hiding. Preferably the Canadian Witness Protection Plan. Navigating ice seems to be CJ’s one weakness, especially in those stilettos.

New Year’s Resolutions of Non-Resolvatude

January 1, 2011

New Year’s Resolutions don’t work for me. In fact, due to my rebellious nature, they tend to backfire. So, this year I am taking a whole new approach. Instead of avoiding making resolutions altogether, I am going to outsmart the system. (Come see the violence inherent in our system! Help! Help! I’m being repressed!)

Here are my New Year’s Resolutions of Non-Resolvatude

  1. I will NOT keep up on my blogging. Certainly not several times a week. In fact, I resolve to post LESS than once a week.
  2. I resolve to NEVER finish Tome of Destiny, or any other book for that matter. I can’t be bothered to finish plotting out The Dray either. And I am determined, in the year 2011, to avoid any and all short story completions.
  3. I resolve to procrastinate in my procrastination. Wait, a double negative leads to proof positive, doesn’t it?
  4. It is my resolution to ALWAYS write LESS than 500 words a day, especially on the bad days. On the weekends, I will NEVER write more than 500 words. At all costs, I will NOT write 1000 words on my days off!
  5. I am 100% resolved to NOT finish any book reviews on here. Certainly not the Night’s Cold Kiss one I’ve been working on all year and definitely not Death’s Sweet Embrace when I finally get my hands on it in a few weeks.
  6. I resolve to thumb my nose at deadlines.
  7. And, no matter what, I resolve to NEVER start the Zombie Apocalypse.
  8. Oh, and this one I truly do mean, I resolve to spend more time with other people’s children so I am never tempted to have ones of my own. I mean, do you have any idea how much of your time those things take up? If I had kids, I’d actually have to buckle down and stick to a schedule. The cats would never speak to me again either.
  9. Speaking of cats, in the year 2011, I am firmly resolved to NOT rescue another stray. I will avoid the pathetic little faces in the cages at PETCO and go about my merry way, never bringing home another cat who desperately needs a home.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way and already broken my #1 resolution, let’s see what other trouble I can get in to. Feel free to leave a comment with YOUR Resolutions of Non-Resolvatude. Maybe together we can actually prevent a full-scale rebellion of activity and sit around watching our lives pass us by.


12 Days of Christmas

December 16, 2010

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
a six inch red pair of heels

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
two knee-pads
and a six inch red pair of heels

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
three bandages
two knee-pads
and a six inch red pair of heels

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
four sets of crutches
three bandages
two knee-pads
and a six inch red pair of heels

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
four sets of crutches
three bandages
two knee-pads
and a six inch red pair of heels

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
six geese a-laying…okay, stop right there. I mean, I love you honey, but now I have to navigate around GEESE in these heels?!?! You do know the life insurance policy is in my sister’s name, right?
four sets of crutches
three bandages
two knee-pads
and a six inch red pair of heels

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
seven ankle braces
six geese a-laying (whatever)
four sets of crutches
three bandages
two knee-pads
and a six inch red pair of heels

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
eight dollars for a co-pay
seven ankle braces
six geese a-laying
four sets of crutches
three bandages
two knee-pads
and a six inch red pair of heels

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
nine walking sticks...HA! Now I have a plethora of weapons, and they have REACH! Did you think of that?
eight dollars for a co-pay
seven ankle braces
six geese a-laying
four sets of crutches
three bandages
two knee-pads
and a six inch red pair of heels

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
ten air casts
nine walking sticks
eight dollars for a co-pay
seven ankle braces
six geese a-laying
four sets of crutches
three bandages
two knee-pads
and a six inch red pair of heels

On the eleventh day of Christmas
my true love gave to me
eleven sets of x-rays
ten air casts
nine walking sticks
eight dollars for a co-pay
seven ankle braces
six geese a-laying
four sets of crutches
three bandages
two knee-pads
and a six inch red pair of heels

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
TWELVE MILES OF BUBBLE WRAP!…Oh, you’re so funny. Like this is going to he…ooh, bubble wrap…it’s all poppy…
Eleven sets of x-rays
ten air casts
nine walking sticks
eight dollars for a co-pay
seven ankle braces
six geese a-laying
four sets of crutches
three bandages
two knee-pads
and a six inch red pair of heels


**Be sure to check out all of the other 12 Days of Christmas blog posts. Check the comments of Juliette’s post for links.

H.C.’s Field Guide to Doppelgangers

December 11, 2010

Recently, I have become terrified of Doppelgangers. Doing what any rational person would at this point, I Googled “doppelganger how to spot.” There was an awful lot of D&D type websites describing the feat of True Seeing, however, since my 20 sided dice are packed away under the bed, nothing stood out as helpful.

This seriously concerned me. Is there truly so little information? Is this their insidious plan? No wonder they have been so successful in their infiltration.

Giving up on the information superhighway, I am returning to the old ways. Relying on past experience and vast intellect, I put together a field guide for the safety of all mankind.

Step One: Ask yourself: “Am I a doppelganger?” If the answer is no, go on to Step Two. If the answer is yes, please go play in traffic – freeway traffic (currently the only known way to destroy a doppelganger).

Step Two: Ask your friends and family: “Are you a doppelganger?” If the answer is no, go on to Step Three. If anyone answers yes, push them into freeway traffic.

Step Three: Ask your boss and co-workers: “Are you a doppelganger?” I’m sure you understand what to do at this point. Although, if your boss gives a no answer, and there are no witnesses, feel free to claim doppelganger!

Now that you have weeded out any doppelgangers close to you, time to focus on the rest of the public. By now, they may be getting suspicious of you, so be sure to carry a can of Raid and a lighter at all times. While this homemade flamethrower will not kill them, it certainly makes them think twice about messing with you.

Step Four: Go to a crowded place, think mall or theater, and yell, “Doppelganger!” Whomever makes a run for it is one. Be sure to come prepared with really large butterfly nets.

Step Five: Set up passwords and security questions with your remaining friends, family and co-workers to ensure that any new doppelgangers are spotted immediately. Make sure you start each conversation with these questions to avoid inadvertently providing information to any infiltrators.

It is imperative that we all work together to stamp out this horrific threat. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a car full of “people” I need to take to the I-10.

A Spectacular Flailure

November 14, 2010

Well, it looks like I won’t be escaping the Zombie Apocalypse any time soon.

I had my plan all mapped out.

Step 1: Live in the middle of nowhere with a roommate who understands that if she pulls any kind of crap that would wind up getting us killed, I’d feed her to the zombies myself. Checked that accomplishment off in May.

Step 2: Stockpile all kinds of every day items that can double as weapons. Canes, crutches, cleavers, condiments…sorry, was on a “c” roll…cans of Raid and lighters (homemade flamethrowers). Check.

Step 3: Perform recon at the local hospitals to see if any weird outbreaks are happening. Seeing as this is an ongoing mission, I’ve been able to complete it on an almost weekly basis thanks to the Gallbladder of Doom and my roommate’s Discs of Dismay.

Step 4: Buy a smattering of 4 inch heels so I not only look good running away from the zombies, I also have a handy-dandy dagger type weapon on my feet. AND this makes my mild shoe obsession a tax write-off. Check.

Step 5: Create a secret list of the people who I don’t mind using as bait to buy me time to get away from said zombies. The ex being at the top of that list. Oh, I guess it’s not so secret now. Fine. I’m just not telling where the body is.

Step 6: Fall at work and bust ankle up so bad I can’t walk. Check

Step 7: Wait a minute…who put Step 6 in and why wasn’t I told?

So. I guess that’s that. Plan B anyone?

Step 1: Buy motorized scooter complete with rocket launchers. Can I get the gadget guy from James Bond over here please?

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Discipline

October 17, 2010

I have a deadline coming up. A dear-god-I-have-to-write-30k-words-in-one-month deadline. And life has not been cooperating.

Don’t worry, I’ll buckle down and do it.

First, though, let’s talk about all the things I am could be doing instead of writing.

1. Blogging. Okay, moving on.

2. Shoe shopping. There is always an amazing pair of heels to be found online if one cares to spend hours a little time searching.

3. Taking my roommate to the ER…repeatedly. Seriously, they need to start handing out punchcards. 11th visit free! 15th visit complete with private suite, masseuse and gourmet chef!

4. Getting the oil changed on my car. Not that I was, say 2000 or so miles overdue or anything like that.

5. Watching Farscape. Hey, the way I see it, it’s a study in character driven storylines.

6. Working. HA! Now you have to eat that slacker comment that you were planning. I haven’t missed any deadlines at work.

7. Fighting off the bubonic plague. So, maybe it’s not the black death, but it took out enough of my friends and coworkers–even me for a bit. I *gasp* lost my voice for a couple of days…and there was much rejoicing. Not that it was done to my face, but  I know it was done.

8. Taking my roommate BACK to the ER.

9. Tweeting. Conversing with the writing community and networking.

10. Reading The Hunger Games. My birthday present from my sister.

11. Running out to buy Catching Fire and Mockingjay the day after I finished The Hunger Games.

12. Reading Catching Fire and Mockingjay in the same weekend as purchased.

13. Sitting around plotting how in the world I can one day write as good as Suzanne Collins. And wondering what I would do if I was put into The Hunger Games.

14. Stockpiling food because I couldn’t bring myself to hunt bunnies.

15. Did I already mention shoe shopping?

16. And now that I’m on 16 and feeling guilty, I think I’ll go get some writing done. No matter how productive I feel after cleaning the entire house…

Ready, Set, Write!

October 9, 2010

My dear friend Pauline Campos has just announced she is looking for anthology submissions!

Now, before you start diving into your slushpile for something to polish up, this is for NON-fiction. And not just any non-fiction. This is for moms to write about their experience with body image–How many calories does changing a really dirty diaper truly burn?–and the journey beyond the baby weight.

This is a chance for you to have a girl’s night out without having to find a babysitter, or a pair of jeans you don’t have to use a coat hanger to zip up.

Here’s the rules…actually, she calls them guidelines. I KNEW she was a pirate under that Mexifro!

* Stories must be between 500 and 1,500 words and be told in first person. This is your story…not your neighbors. Make sure to include a short bio with contact information.

*Essays should focus on the topic of weight. Suggestions include:

—Your expectations prior to becoming pregnant versus the reality

—How pregnancy changed your body

—How you lost the weight

—Acceptance of your new shape

—Balancing the needs of your children with your own

* No anonymous or author unknown submissions.

* Please submit only stories or poems that have not been previously published.

* Submissions should be sent to with “Anthology” in the subject line.

* By submitting a story, you give the right to re-publish and distribute your work on this website, and in any other formats (including, but not limited to, the site’s Twitter feed, RSS feed, and possible publication in a book).