Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Life With Two: The First Month

I apologize for being so absent from the blogging world lately! Honestly, this past month has been a whirl-wind. New baby? Surprisingly not that difficult. Moving with said new baby? Really freaking hard. Of course, we haven't made life easy on ourselves. We had my parents visiting the week after Will was born, we moved the week after that, and we went out of town the two weekends after that. Yeesh. Fortunately, Will had his one-month check-up today and he appears to be doing very well. My sanity, however, is subject to debate.

The new house. I love it!
So, how is life with two, you may be wondering? It's going okay. Jack is a trooper and Will is a very easy baby. John went back to work for the Marines yesterday so I'm officially on my own this week, and aside from a bad cold and smashing the car into a telephone pole yesterday, I'm doing fab. I even managed to a) shower, do my hair, and put on makeup b) feed and clothe both children c) arrive on time to Will's appointment with both kids in tow. Yesterday I tackled Target with both kids. Honestly, if you're thinking of having two kids, I highly recommend the four-year spread. Jack is so independent at this age and Will is a piece of cake (aside from only sleeping for 3 hours at a time at night - I forgot what sleep deprivation feels like).

The biggest hurdle ahead is John going back to Russia in a few weeks. I know I can manage on my own with two, but I am anticipating some long evenings and boring weekends. What I really need to do is find a babysitter! If anyone in Old Town has a recommendation, please pass the info along!

I have a feeling this is what a lot of our naps are going to look like in the future.

Right now my writing focus is on an upcoming interview for a blog. It's been a long time coming and I'm really excited about it. Once that happens I'll be querying my most recent novel and hopefully working on a collaboration project with my critique partner. I have a ten-miler scheduled in early October (a humble fitness goal but a goal nevertheless) and I'm really hoping to get into Spanish training this fall. For now, I mainly want to get through the summer without killing my children or myself. Oh, and sending out birth announcements before this kid goes to college seems like a worthy goal too. Just don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Home Is Wherever I'm With You

Last week the lovely folks over at asked me to write a post about what I consider my "home away from home." For some people I guess this is pretty easy: a cafe you like to write in, a family vacation home, a favorite corner of the local library. But if you're someone who moves frequently, like I am, it's hard to find a special place where you really feel at home. (Although I will say there is one place I can go to wherever I am that provides a certain comfort and familiarity: Starbucks. I know, shameful. But you can't beat it for consistency the world over! A chai latte is the same in London, Barcelona, Geneva, Istanbul, and Moscow. Alas, there is no Starbucks in Yekaterinburg.)

The truth is, there is no one place I consider home anymore. Foreign Service housing (in my limited experience with it) is fairly impersonal - in Yekaterinburg we all had the same furniture, so I could go to another diplomat's house and sit on the exact same yellow-orange nubbly sofa that waited back in my living room (which is a lot worse than seeing the same IKEA bookshelf in your friend's apartment, I assure you). And for the past six months, I've been a traveling nomad, a squatter in my parents' house, and, most recently, holed up in corporate housing.

But despite all that, I don't feel homeless in the slightest. I think it's a wonderful thing to be able to make yourself at home anywhere. And for me, as long as the people I love are nearby, I'm home. Even during the looooong Russian winter, when "home" (aka America) seemed a million miles away and I was sure I'd never see the sun again, I wasn't really homesick. Compared to deployment, when our house felt empty and cold without John there to warm it with his presence, Russia was a cake-walk. One I don't care to repeat, mind you, but still.

So there you have it. My family and friends are my home away from home. Which is a lot better than Starbucks, don't you think?

That. Right there. My home.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Writer's Voice Entry

Here's my entry for The Writer's Voice!

Title: Needle's Eye
Genre: YA urban fantasy
Word Count: 69,000

17-year-old Akira Tanaka isn’t your typical Russian girl. Sure, she does ballet, but only to hone her Japanese sword-fighting skills, and she wouldn’t be caught dead in stilettos or a mini-skirt. Between her Russian grandparents and Japanese-American father, Akira has been raised on a combination of cultures that leaves her feeling out of place even in her hometown of St. Petersburg. With her sights set on an upcoming kenjutsu tournament and university in Japan, Akira is blindsided by the mysterious Dmitri, who not only wants to be a part of her future, but knows entirely too much about her past.

Meanwhile, a series of violent murders has left several major Russian cities on edge, and there are strange links to a story Akira’s grandfather told her when she was still a child: the story of Koschei the Deathless. Up until now, she never believed her grandfather’s ridiculous claim that Koschei had spared his life in exchange for Akira’s soul, any more than she believes in the big bad wolf. But the strange, insect-like sound her grandfather once described is eerily similar to the one Akira hears every time another victim is killed. And the more time she spends with Dmitri, the more she starts to wonder if there isn’t something evil lurking behind his ice blue eyes.

As the murderer closes in on the people surrounding Akira, she finds herself on the verge of losing everything—and everyone—she’s ever cared about. Now it’s up to Akira to stop the killer, but this time it will take more than a deal with the devil to save the people she loves.

NEEDLE’S EYE, a multicultural YA urban fantasy, is complete at 69,000 words and will appeal to fans of Christina Farley’s Gilded. I have written and edited professionally for multiple publications including Leatherneck Magazine, the Costco Connection, and the Veteran’s Administration blog. For the past year and a half, I have lived and worked in Yekaterinburg, Russia, where my husband is serving as a diplomat. I hold a Master’s degree from the University of London and blog about my experiences abroad at

First 250: 
When I was very small, my grandfather told me stories of Koschei the Deathless.

He was trying to frighten me. They were the kinds of tales villagers told children to keep them from wandering alone into the woods, the Russian equivalent of Little Red Riding Hood.  But just as there was nothing scary about a wolf wearing a bonnet and bifocals, there was nothing remotely frightening about my grandfather, so I paid little attention to his stories.

Solavushka,” he began (he had called me “little nightingale” since I was an infant, when I kept everyone up all night with my “singing”), “the thing you must know about Koschei the Deathless is that he will not appear as a wicked old man with a long white beard, the way the storybooks say. He will not take you to his castle to make you his wife.”

I nodded as I examined my grandfather’s long, wiry eyebrow hairs, wondering why my grandmother didn’t trim them.

“Akira, are you listening?”

“Yes, Dedushka. I will make sure to stay away from Koschei.”

“You are not listening, child,” my grandfather grumbled, standing abruptly so I tumbled onto the floor. “How many times do I have to tell you?” He shook his head as he stormed off into the kitchen for some of my grandmother’s walnut oreshki. 

“I met him when I was a young man,” he told me once, not long before he died. “He had taken the form of a small girl, just a year or two younger than you are now.”