So my neighbor is an alligator

Hot and cold running water

Hot and cold running water

We’re finally settled in our new house and I recently discovered that one of my neighbors is an alligator. My husband named him Bill. Not just because that’s a cool name for an alligator, but because of Godzilla and my son.

Two Hippo Bellies

Hippos that have nothing to do with the story. Hubby photographed them at Disneyworld.

It’s Christmas time, our youngest is 5 or 6. He and my husband are wandering the isles at the toy store when they get to action figures. And there’s Godzilla. My husband points to him and says, “you know, his first name is Bill” my son, who knows what a joker his father is merely rolls his eyes and gives up an, “oh, dad.” And that’s where it would have ended. If not for the lady browsing nearby. She sets down the doll she was looking at, wanders over and says, “hey, it’s Bill Godzilla.” She picks up one of the action figures and starts talking about what a down to earth guy Bill is, being a movie star and all.

It makes it all the better when strangers play along.

And what does that have to do with my alligator? Nothing really. But, my hubby likes to remember that afternoon and then text our son and tease him about Bill Godzilla. A lot of things we encounter get named Bill.

Mr. Grasshopper ain't scared of Bill

Mr. Grasshopper ain’t scared of Bill

Which brings us back to Bill the Alligator. Yeah, Bill’s a little guy, maybe 4, 4 and a half feet long. And yeah, he lives in a drainage canal that looks sorta deep and steep. But still. He’s  3 houses away and alligators can climb freakin’ fences. So fuuuuuuuuuck. A little hill won’t be a hindrance if he’s ever truly motivated to wander.

Pete's Dragon ain't scared neither

Pete’s Dragon ain’t scared neither

Which got me thinking. What exactly would motivate an alligator to wander down to my house and knock on my door?

There’s a pretty decent food supply in the canal. Lots of turtles share the space and there’s always a shorebird wandering the edges of the murky water. The only thing I can figure he’s lacking is a wife.

Thankfully, Bill won’t be looking for love for a while.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife page, males reach sexual maturity at seven feet, female gators at six. Since it takes 8-12 years to reach that size, (shorter for males, longer for females) and since he’s only about half way there, Bill probably won’t be on tinder for quite a while.

How’s your neighborhood? Any similar hazards?

Stay safe and Write On,

Melissa

 

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Prepping for Print

 

Good news for everyone who keeps asking!

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5.25 x 8 sample

The manuscript for How to Sex Your Snake (my new book) passed inspection from the herpetologist (reptile expert) and heads next to the actor doing the audio version. She’s got the perfect, I’m really not happy to be here voice for this project so if you prefer audio books, you won’t be disappointed. (e-book, paperback, and large print will be available too)

I’ve told you that the book is done, right? It’s been a crazy couple of months with our move from the snowy northern woods of Wisconsin to the glorious treasure coast of Florida. Sadly, many of those weeks were internet free. A nice idea when you’re overwhelmed but an impossible way to survive reality.

Today, my editor is visiting and we’ll be looking at book size and fonts for the print version. (Amazon on demand) I spent enough time as a literary agent to know that unless you’re already famous, it’s better to cut out the middle man and go indie.

e-book coverWhen can I buy it? 

Well…we’re still waiting on formatting and the cover for the paperback. Once those things get a bit more settled, I’ll be able to announce a release date. If you’re not already on the mailing list, you can sign up here.

For now, enjoy the approaching holidays and Write On,

Melissa

 

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Avengers to the Rescue

With so much sadness and despair in the news recently, I thought it was the perfect time to call in a few heroes. Please welcome David Vick, my first guest blogger. David, a marital artist, choreographer and teacher, is part of the group, Arizona Avengers. Members use cosplay (dressing up as favorite film, novel or video game characters) to bring smiles to kids in need at events like the SuperHero Age of Empowerment: Superhero Shopping Spree

Today, David talks a little bit about what brought him into the world of superheroes.

Avengers Assemble!

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Icons and Representation: An Arizona Avenger’s Journey

img_1727 Comic books were never a big thing for me when I was younger. They loomed in the background occasionally rearing up here and there in various ways, from animation to companion books with toys. I never sought them outright. Then, in the summer of 2005, my brother got me a ticket to San Diego Comic Con and I got a nerd reset!

Ten years later, I took the plunge into costuming as a hobby when working at a daycare center in a resort and having to craft things for and with the kids. And when my friend Jessy, who I knew through my martial art of Capoeira, needed a costume buddy to pair with her comic version of black widow, I had to say yes. It was a great excuse to bleach my hair!

Representation Matters

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That lightbulb was lookin’ at me funny

When I read issue 19 of Fraction’s Hawkeye, I saw a perfect representation of the isolation I have felt most of my adult life thanks to my hearing issues. (Hawkeye becomes deaf in a 4 issue miniseries in 1983 and in the modern comic version uses hearing aides) It struck me in a way I didn’t expect and not only made me appreciate Clint Barton as a character, but the creators of that issue who touched on a sensitive subject with such a high level of respect and skill.

To finally see someone dealing with an issue similar to mine was a profound experience about how comic books can affect perceptions of others and of the self in a positive way. One of my favorite moments in cosplaying was signing with a deaf person as the character Hawkeye.

Right now, I cosplay many different Marvel characters, but Hawkeye will always be my favorite. It was the first costume I put together. I have Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Matt Hollingsworth to thank for that. This is what led me to the second motivation in life.

Altruism and Iconography

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Yeah, that kid was shocked

For a hobby to stick with me, there has to be some element of altruism involved. Otherwise, I feel somewhat selfish; I’ve learned to give in order to get.

Have you ever seen the face of a person, young or young at heart, see a character they held to a high regard in their own lives in person?

It’s a mesmerizingly splendid experience, to bring that sense of wonder and happiness to a person, especially if they’re in a condition when they need it the most. Volunteering with the Arizona Avengers and becoming an officer for the organization has been rewarding on a very deep level.

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Those nurses and doctors put up a good fight

Doing our best to make these people happy for charity is all the payment I need. They’ve kept me motivated to do my best, and now I have 18 or so characters thanks to help from others in the costuming community. I didn’t do everything by myself.

It can be a challenging hobby, but it has been a rewarding one so far. Who knew all these good things could happen when I was able to embrace my inner nerd?

***

Thanks David!

If you are in the Southern Arizona area, and need the Arizona Avengers at your next charity event, you can get in touch with David here.

In the meantime, don’t let your cape get caught in any airplane engines and Write On,

Melissa

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Recovering from all the fun

So how do I do that exactly? 

All it needs are some whales

My back is killing me. The last three nights I’ve slept until noon, I have no energy, and all I wanna do is rewatch every ep of Elementary on hulu. While the hulu thing is kinda typical for me, the rest isn’t.

I’m suffering from too much vacation.

Last week was the annual take mom someplace fun for her birthday tripNow the woman isn’t this wild go getter. She’s 87. She strolls on casual mode. She likes naps in the afternoon. She goes to bed at a reasonable 9 o’clock. Why the heck am I so exhausted?

It wasn’t like we hit a city with lots of hills to climb. (San Francisco is next year) We were in sleepy little Monterey. Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, the little strip of shops and restaurants outside our hotel. We probably strolled less than two miles the whole trip. Maybe it was all the ocean-infused air. Or the food. There was lots of clam chowder. That’s tiring to eat, right?

Clams baby

 

Butterfly prawns on a bed of styrofoam

And prawns. Almost a reasonable price if you order off appetizer menus. The shot above was a dinner splurge at Chart House. And my first experience with rice noodle. They were fun to play with but tasteless. The rice on the side though had some delicious mango spicy pepper thing going on but the serving was way too small.

Crap, this place looks pricey

Nice place. Gorgeous architecture, fabulous food, pleasant wait staff, okay-ish prices after all. Slow as hell service. Maybe they want a relaxed vibe but when you have to ask for your wine 3 times, and you get your food first, something’s wrong.

As great as Monterey was, getting there was a pain. For the last three years, we’ve been living in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin and it’s typical to drive for an hour and have the road practically to myself. California traffic was crazy. It didn’t matter what time of day it was. Everyone who lived in Sacramento was going somewhere all the freakin’ time. Does no one work in that state? It’s a painful reminder of what we’ll have in store when we migrate back to Florida next month.

Boats, boats, boats

 

Of course, it will all be worth it to be by the ocean again. I’d even put up with a 900 sq foot apartment to be back on the beach.

And that’s my recovery plan. Hitting zillow to jump start my software and get my body moving again. Though some yoga and a trip or two to the gym would go a long ways too.

What do you do to recover from too much fun? Send me suggestions and Write On,

Melissa

 

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Wake up first!

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Drink me. Wake up. Become smart. Ish.

When I woke up early this morning I thought I’d get caught up on things. This summer has been crazy and I feel like we’ve been in constant motion. I grabbed another pillow to prop up my head and opened my wordpress app to write a new post. And promptly found a spelling error in a previous entry. Of course, I updated the corrected word and somehow, I published a paragraph I’d been using as a placeholder for one of my Seattle posts!

So, if you’re wondering what’s up with the last announcement you got, that’s it.

See the tea box above? This past weekend we were down in Chicago and our host gifted me this beautiful box of tea that she got in Shanghai. I’m anxious to try some but I can’t find a loose leaf holder in my junk drawer. I’ll run into town later to get one. For now lipton will have to do.

Just tell me what’s on sale.

Since we’re currently living in Middle of nowhere Wisconsin we were pretty excited about a trip to the mall. Ever seen tourists in the city gawking at all the tall buildings? That was us. OMG a pretzel stand. OMG $$$ clothes kids will outgrow before they can wear them. OMG everything I never knew that I needed on sale now. We came, we saw, we purchased. We even played with some Polynesian dancers at a beach shop’s grand opening.

After two days of drinking, a lot, golf lessons, oh my back is now killing me, and chatting till wee hours in the morning, I’m ready to dive back into the real world. Packing for our move back to Florida, racking off the miles prepping for our next half marathon, and finishing the edits on How to Sex Your Snake.

As your summer winds down, how are you prepping for fall?

Wake up and Write on,

Melissa

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More Seattle

Last time I shared photos of the Star Trek exhibit at the EMP museum in Seattle. This time, I thought I’d wrap up that trip with some of the more bizarre outfits from the wearable art collection.

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The real Judy Jetson

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One way to look at couplehood

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My favorite outfit thanks to the matching lunchbox

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Your shoes really bring out your stained glass windows

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For when your friend doesn’t want to pay for the movie

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The best way to handle Monday after a long weekend

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And Friday’s outfit

Like I said last time, EMP is worth a visit.

It’s raining here. My frizzy hair and I hope you’re safe and dry wherever you are.

Write on,

Melissa

 

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Seattle Roadtrip

What do you mean there’s no internet?

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Yeah, I didn’t line that up very well, did I?

I’ve been on the road quite a bit this summer. Nothing exciting. Just things that needed to be taken care of. Two weeks ago I was in Seattle getting my youngest settled into a new place and I caught the Star Trek exhibit at the EMP Museum. Okay. That was exciting. And yeah, the last one leaving the nest is pretty thrilling. Not a week at the beach thrilling but yay, thrilling. So, scratch that. This summer has been awesome!

Thanks to a lack of internet at wee one’s new apartment, and another quick trip last week, I’m finally catching up here.

EMP has a lot to offer. Most likely. I skimmed it all looking for the Star Trek exhibit. Costumes, sets, props, miniatures, a borg chamber and a transporter set where you can act out a scene, complete with special effects, while a friend or kindly stranger records it from a monitor with their phone. There was a line and I was alone so I skipped that part.

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Bad Kirk’s uniform from Mirror, Mirror

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Look around, can you form some sort of rudimentary lathe? Wait, that’s Galaxy Quest

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Kick-Ass women of Voyager. Well, their clothes anyway.

 

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And the Guys! Plus Deanna, post intergalactic cheerleader

 

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Forget the transporter, I wanted to play on this set

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I did manage to find someone to snap a few photos of me in the borg chamber. How does somebody take out of focus photos on an iPhone?

 

 

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The detail was amazing

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Resistance is…wait…batteries low…hold that thought

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Hey how did he get in there? Exterma-what? Hang on, let me get a little closer 

On a cold rainy night like tonight, all I want to do is bury myself under a zillion blankets and pop in some of the original series. Since I still have some edits for How to Sex Your Snake, that will have to wait.

Go boldly and write on,

Melissa

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New book is done

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Near Bismark I think

 

Three nights ago I emailed my editor the rest of How to Sex Your Snake.  Woo-hoo. She already sent back line by line for the last three chapters. (She’s been editing as we go)

I’m celebrating by driving my youngest cross country to Seattle and their new apartment. It’ll be an early night tonight so I will download Scrivener for the ipad and get to work on the fixes. Next step is copies to my final readers so they can look at the formatting and make sure I got all the fixes in.

Gotta sign off and finish my wonton tacos before they get cold.

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Chow down and Write on, 

Melissa

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Use it or lose it

 

Hold still while I kick you in the head…

In the summer of 2004, I’d just perfected my running-jump-spin-and-break-the-board-kick (sorry to be so technical) and was a few months away from testing for my 2nd degree black belt when the Air Force realized it had been way too long since out last move and sent us packing. Since ATF hadn’t made it to Tucson, I decided to look for a new discipline. Aikido, Jiujitsu, the west’s version of Taekwondo? Boxing? It was an agonizing search that I lost countless hours to. Guess what I ending up choosing?

imageIf you said nothing, you win! I got distracted running camera on a music video. That led to more films and eight years later, I was on my way to Key West where exercise involved a bike, riding to the bar for some heavy shot glass lifting.

Twelve years later, I can’t twist my arm enough to scratch a spot in the middle of my back. I used to be able to stand next to someone and kick them in the head. That was a valuable skill. I miss it. So, last month I decided I needed to get back in shape and I signed up for a yoga app through my smart tv. Don’t ask me what it’s called. I can’t remember. I’ve use it three times. What is it with commitments?

But Mom! Everybody’s doing it!

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ah pokemon thingies? hello? any of you out there?

Anyone playing the latest craze, Pokemon GO? I’ve been sad to see so many on social media bashing the popular game app. Who cares if people are using their cell phones to hunt and battle with imaginary creatures. I’m especially dismayed when I see writers join in the putdowns. Ah, hello, we live and die in the world of make believe. 

The game has been getting kudos for getting folks up off the couch and out into the real world, so to speak. It’s been a boost for small business, new friendships and even law enforcement thanks to at least two bodies discovered by players.

I even gave it a GO. Despite the fact that I live in the sticks. Check out that lovely screenshot. See how many nearby Pokemon are highlighted? Yeah.

I think I eventually caught 6 of those worm things that live in the grass (I’m deep in cow and potato country) and 3 things that looked like sparrows.

After a week I got bored and deleted. Another thing I couldn’t commit to. Jeez.

And speaking of the sticks, my pooch Stitch is ready to go do this:

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Go take a hike and write on,

Melissa

 

 

 

 

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How to Sex Your Snake Book Cover Reveal

Plugging along

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Oddest looking dogs ever. Wait. Those are baby cows.

It’s been just shy of two months since James died. I was scrolling Facebook a couple of weeks ago and stumbled upon an unattributed quote that sums up my sadness.

     “I believe the hardest part of healing after you’ve lost someone you love is to recover the “you” that went away with them”

There’s still that daily need to text him about things. He would have loved the pickup full of cows. I suppose in time the hollowness will fill back in. In the meantime, all I can do is get up off the couch and get on with it.

And on that note, the new book cover book…

e-book cover

My soon to be released book

In less than 48 hours, June’s life will go from low-key to ludicrous thanks to a pool of blood, a missing body, slithering creepy crawlies and the imminent incarceration of her famous twin-brother.

Read the 1st chapter now and get 2 and 3 when you join the book release mailing list.

So is it done? 

No. But I’m finally back to my 40 hour work.  A late summer release is still looking good.

If you feel so inclined, check out the first chapters, sign up for the book announcement list and then drop down to the comments and let me know your thoughts on the cover.

Be safe and happy and Write on,

Melissa

 

 

 

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