Monday, August 1, 2016

Is this because of what I did to Calvin?

So, I haven’t been able to feel my arms for a few days.  Since Wednesday, actually.  It feels like they’ve gone to sleep, they’re so numb that I went to do my hair and hit myself in the forehead, making me even more uncoordinated than I normally am.  The most annoying part of that is how often you notice that you can’t feel them.  Every thirty seconds going, “Oh, is my arm asleep?” in a goddamn loop. 

Furthermore, when the numbness does fade, all I can feel is this stinging ache that runs the length of them.  I have arthritis in my hands, from writing actually, haha, and this pain isn’t the same but it’s added to it. 

Well, since I refuse to pay five hundred dollars to go to the Emergency room and hear that I have ‘stress’ or ‘bone ghosts,’ (I am very happy with the local ER, does it show?  They thought that I had stress when I had kidneystones, because stress makes me piss blood, it runs in my family, we’re very talented.) I waited until today to go to my doctor, and after bending and stretching me a few ways he came to the conclusion that I very probably have a slipped disk in my neck that’s putting pressure on my nerves for my arms.  At a strange angle, no less, letting different halves of my two arms go numb at the same time.  I have imaging later this week to confirm, but after he was done pressing on my head and back, the pain he left in his wake makes me think that he was probably right. 

Which was a relief really, because once I told people about my interesting problem they started guessing for me.  I have heard that I have the Zika Virus, MS, BRAIN WORMS (looking at you Seth.), blood clots, lyme disease, and I responded with the aforementioned ‘bone ghosts.’  Ha, technically I was the closest without going over!  He said a slipped disk and I was ready to throw confetti. 

But now I’m sitting here hours after my victory diagnosis, groaning constantly from my necessary but painful bending, and all I can think of is that I did this to a few of my characters.  Kyo in his lower back, of course, but more specifically to Calvin.  The place in my neck is even oddly the same. 

Which leaves me in a tricky situation because now all I want to do is write him, but my typo game has gotten much worse with this whole no feeling/very awful feeling in my arms thing.  I feel like I should get him laid or something as an apology.  Except that I like M/M and he’s homophobic so he probably wouldn’t enjoy it.  Although that does also make it hotter for me if there’s a romantic chase involved haha

Going to go chill with my bone ghosts and try to get some feeling in my typing arms!

S. K. Hart


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Misery in Mexico with Nicole Castle!

I don’t know if I’ve ever posted how I met my friend and fellow author Nicole Castle, but here’s the short version.  I liked Chance Assassin so that got us talking, and she invited me to join her on a trip to Cancun, which is where I met her for the very first time face to face.  We’ve been going on these trips ever since, every March.  This year was my third invitation, and for once I was looking forward to it.  I get anxious about traveling but oh my god, this year…

About a month ago I was hospitalized (kidneys hooray!), my father’s health began failing so fast that we all realized he’ll be leaving us sooner than we thought, my husband was having anxiety for the first time in his life because of a poor work environment and my older son was being bullied at school (Still is.  Lawyers are the next step).  My mother in law decided to surprise me with a sudden and unwanted bathroom renovation at this precise moment, so I ended up busier than I’d ever been while both of our bathrooms were torn apart.  My younger son began acting up because of the stress and my mother began to leak blood like a sieve. 

I needed a vacation but because everything here in New England was held together with hope and stubbornness, I wasn’t sure that I should go.  It was my mother who convinced me that I should.  Whether or not she was right, I’m undecided.  I think… haha nope. 

Here’s the story for the entertainment of others!
Misery in Los Cabos with Nicole Castle –

The journey began when I was felt up by a Logan TSA agent when the machine beeped on me for the very first time.  Since Logan is one of those airports where you do not fuck around, I usually end up making myself look suspicious because I’m far too eager to do whatever they want.  Cooperate?  FUCK YES I AM COOPERATING SO HARD!  I don a state of mind where if I display anything but freakish excitement they’ll think I’m up to some shit, so I make sure I am as enthusiastic as goddamn possible.  Not only did I beep, I beeped on the upper inside of my thigh.  *Knowing smile and slow nod*  Yeaaah.  A woman who sounded like Dr. Girlfriend from Venture Brothers who smelled like peanuts and had the alluring qualities of a treasure troll quickly approached and explained what she was planning to do: slip her hands under the edge of my underwear and feel around, then feel my butt and inside of my legs.  How did I react?  I nodded and put my hands behind my head and smiled at her, then invited her to go ahead.  You know, I’ve never imagined an expression like the one she gave me.  She seemed stunned when she asked if I was comfortable doing that right there in front of everyone in the security line at 2am.  I think my response was something along the lines of it was her idea so I wasn’t letting her back out now.  So, to the muffled chuckles of her coworkers, this poor woman groped me, and then had to listen to me crack jokes about how if she wanted a cigarette after that I had a spare for her. 

Bonus; the seventy-three year old woman behind me also beeped and received the same treatment!  The smile she gave this employee was even creepier than mine. 

After experiencing the sexy allure of being partially stripped in public and groped by a woman half my height with a hygiene problem, I was tired (satisfied?) enough to sleep through most of the ride to Houston, which for anybody who’s never been, is a massive airport.  Sadly, I run funny.  Add to my funny run the fact that I hadn’t eaten since 2am, had all of my possessions strapped to my back like I was planning on camping for the next decade and have a habit of smoking nonstop before getting on a plane.  I knew I would have to speed walk.  If I dared to run I feared I would drop dead.  I attracted a few stares as I marched to the closest sandwich shop like a mobile hoarder and did the unthinkable: I grabbed a sandwich from a cooler and ate it like it needed to die violently.  All of this while scurrying poorly towards my next gate.  I saw the time, risked everything and ran, only to end up at the correct gate, doubled over and having a Duncan moment.  And my plane wasn’t there.  It was running behind.  I had this image in my head where we went to board and just fell off of the end of that tunnel thing onto the pavement, and I wasn’t proud of how hard I laughed at that.  I guess the hope for me to make it there on time had come true, but so had the hope that maybe the plane would wait for me to get there if I got lost.  Forty minutes were spent catching my breath, during which time I called Sasha to see how my little one was treating her.  He was being good, and that upset me because he’s always terrible for me so I spent the remainder of my wait grumbling to myself about how bad I am at being a parent. 

Bonus: was able to lose some faith in humanity!  A woman who clearly had asthma was panting as loud as me and when she went to check something at the desk a spring breaker loudly and rudely asked her if she was sick, then spat that she can’t get sick because it was her spring break.  The woman informed her that she was having an asthma attack brought on by stress, since she was heading to Los Cabos to bury her brother.  The young twit continued to try and humiliate her, but was silenced by her friends before everyone else got involved.  <- this comes up again later.

On my second solo plane ride of the day, I spent my time talking to another person who was traveling from Boston, who – Are you ready for this?  Was a super tall and wiry ginger who towards the end of our conversation shared a story that implied he liked to roller skate.  If you don’t know why that had me internally rolling around giggling, let me know and I’ll personally send you a copy of The Disassembled Life of Duncan Cole.  Green eyes and if memory serves he was eating candy to try and get his ears to pop.  Yeah, I refused to ask his name because I want to believe it was Dan.  He even looked similar to how I’d imagined the character, ha!  When ‘Probably not Dan but dear god that’s strange’ went to the airplane’s bathroom/closet of turbulence terror, I got caught in a conversation with the young man sitting near the window closest to me until we arrived in Mexico.

For anyone who has never gone to Mexico I love the way they do Customs.  They have you push a button.  If the light turns red, they’ll check your bags and ask you questions to make sure you’re not dangerous.  If it turns green?  Well, you’re FREE TO GO!  It’s like they really can’t be bothered to give a shit if everyone is smuggling something.  My customs guy was so busy commenting on my Captain America shirt that he actually asked me what color I got because he wasn’t even pretending to pay attention to his national security job thingy.  I said green and he bid me a good vacation.  Sadly, I’m honest, because this would’ve been a much better story if I’d gotten the red light instead. 

After a harrowing drive to the resort (there may have been bodies in our wake), I was told I’d need to wait fifteen minutes for them to finish cleaning our room.  That didn’t sound unreasonable so I left my bag with them and went to have a smoke, and thirty minutes later was informed that it was ready, but they could no longer locate my bag.  I found that hard to believe since the fucker weighed more than it rightfully should and was so overstuffed that the seams were strained to their absolute limit, screaming for merciful death every time I zipped it.  The room had coffee rings on the table and a blue pill of unknown origin under the edge of the bed when my bodybag and I finally arrived.  It makes me wonder what the hell they had to do in there.  Were there bodies?  Projectile vomit?  They’d been in there when I arrived and took double the estimated time to finish.  They didn’t touch the table or the floor, so what did they do exactly?  I dropped my things on a chair, opened the door to the balcony to wave some of the frigid air out into the wild to fend for itself, made myself pretty and promptly fell into an exhausted nap so that I could time travel to Nicole’s arrival. 

*drum roll*  Nicole woke me up when she came in and I have never been so damn happy to see anybody!  Usually on these trips we have a eating itinerary that makes me wonder how we are so thin, so I’d waited for her to begin.

1st breakfast
2nd breakfast
Elevensies
Brunch
Luncheon
Afternoon snack
Afternoon tea (which usually doesn’t include teas, just more food)
Sunset mealtime
Dinner
Supper
Dessert
Nightcap meal
And whenever possible Midnight Snack.

This is why I diet before going on vacation.  I will work out and eat healthy because I plan ahead.  I only had four days to eat like the damned, and the clock was ticking.  We were heading to the buffet when we spotted the pool bar.  I asked her to get a plate of nachos while I went for a burger, because Nicole is a vegetarian but thankfully doesn’t seem to mind if I eat as many animals as I can find, because let’s face it, it’s not happening.  I love animals and the cuter they are the more delicious they taste.  The burger was the size of my head: it was the first to die.  She’d coyly saved about three nachos from her own massacred plate to ask if I wanted any but I wasn’t feeling up to it after eating that burger so fast that I probably should’ve worn a smock and offered her an umbrella.  Somehow she was able to eat my cut of the nachos.  Like that person who will eat a whole pizza but leave the last slice, you know, in case you wanted some. 

We went to our first dinner function, which went by without too much of a hitch.  My throat and ears were burning but I don’t fly often so I figured that it was from the plane and brushed it off.  At this point I’d been awake for almost twenty four hours with only that pitiful nap to break it up, so we went back to the room early, and that was where I stayed.  Not by choice, but necessity.  Nicole went to change only to discover that WHOOPS they’d never delivered her checked bag to the room.  She went to hunt it and by the time she got back I had a problem. 

My stomach is my worst enemy.  It took me almost two years to realize that my bitchy whore of a stomach was actually what was causing my anxiety because I have a rare side effect of acid reflux disease.  So rare that my doctor was freakishly excited that I had it and he could catalogue it from one of his own patients (the sadist).  When I have any issue with my stomach, it causes me to have panic attacks.  I’m not talking feeling antsy, I’m talking IMPENDING DOOM HIDE UNDER A TABLE AND CRY LIKE A BITCH panic attacks.  I’m taking ambulance rides and EKG panic attacks. 

And so began our sorry descent into what I will just bluntly call Shit Madness.  I could be coy, but really there’s no point.  Guess who shouldn’t have eaten that sandwich at the airport?  Or maybe it was the burger, I have no idea.  I was sure I hadn’t come in contact with any impure water, because Nicole taught me well when we met in Cancun.  All I know is that I told Nicole I wasn’t feeling well, and after the first fifteen or so trips to the bathroom that this poor unfortunate woman had to share with me, the panic started.  Within a few minutes I was sobbing and weaving incoherent apologies for things and situations that I don’t even remember.  I might’ve apologized to her because I like the color green, I have no idea.  To make matters worse, she then tried to figure out how to comfort me and when she awkwardly patted my head I snatched her hand and dragged her into the bed with me like a vampire collecting a victim, then made her spoon with me.  Which worked out great because that air conditioner was making both of us so cold that our noses were running. 

And so it came to pass that Nicole Castle and I huddled for warmth in Mexico watching Storage Wars and reruns of House.  She made a joke that I’d finally gotten her to sleep with me, I told her that she had to notify my children of my love if I was found dead in the morning, she responded that she would CPR the shit out of me, I countered that it wouldn’t be necessary as there was nothing left to help her achieve that goal…  Good times. 

I really am the best traveling companion, I don’t know why more people don’t take me places. 

By morning I was so sick that I wanted to go home because nothing is quite as scary as being sick in another country a half day away from your children.  Turned out that I was too poor.  When I called my husband he was too poor too, and bitch that I am I laughed at him for it, like I wasn’t equally as impoverished as he was.  Remembering that we had an eating schedule but recognizing that I wasn’t going to take part in it, I made sure Nicole knew she should go to breakfast, and she was kind enough to bring me back some toast.  I ate in bed and covered myself hatefully in crumbs, glowering at Bear Grylls from Man VS Wild because we watched an episode where he got diarrhea and halfway through climbing a waterfall dropped his pants to let loose.  Mocking me, the smug jerk.  Nicole slipped back in the bed with me (it was too cold to sleep in separate beds and we needed all blankets with both bodies to survive) and we had a moment where we both sort of looked at the shrapnel from my obliterated toast and then at each other.  I lazily shoved as many crumbs out as I could and tried to let her sleep because she’d watched over me through the worst of my panic.  She’d been prepared to CPR the fuck out of me with the skills she’d picked up in sixth grade.  We briefly contemplated switching beds but resigned ourselves to nap in my breadcrumbs like a narcoleptic version of Hansel and Gretel.

Nicole stole more bread to feed me lunch and we decided to try and get out of the room.  I have no idea why.  We both dislike crowds and noise, sand, the smell of tanning lotion, we didn’t want to swim in the ocean where we were because the beach was a 45 degree angle into the largest waves I’d seen in awhile and I burn stupidly fast.  She mentioned that she wanted a pina colada.  My friend who guarded me from my demons through the night wanted a drink, so goddamn it, she would have one!  Or… not.  We went to the bar and after 15 minutes of waiting, often as the only people there, the bartender didn’t serve us.  More than that, he would stare at us for a few seconds, then busy himself with cleaning glasses, only to serve the next people that came up to the bar.  It took another employee asking him why we hadn’t been served to get a answer why: he was only serving people who were at one specific location on the thirty foot bar and we were about five feet to his right.  I was too sick to cause a scene, but Nicole removed my chance to try because she said she wasn’t going to give him the pleasure of making us conform.  Feeling like a rebellious American, I agreed and we went back to the room, but I still wished I could’ve at least gotten her drunk as thanks.  That way she could puke on me and we’d be even.

By dinner I was convinced I was well enough to try and eat.  That plan backfired when I had to weakly stumble back to the room again, retreating from the sustenance I needed because I wagered I needed the facilities more.  Much to my surprise she returned defeated as well, since they weren’t letting anyone take bread back from dinner.  I had to get up.  So, pale as hell and looking like death, I put on the warmest clothes I had and went to dinner with her, where I was thwarted by the all Mexican buffet.  It may sound like a Mexican buffet is common in Mexico, but at the resorts we’d been to there was always a huge variety of choices.  Never had I been faced with so many foods that could take my personal hell and make it worse.  Nicole got me a bowl of chicken broth because I was too goddamn dizzy to do that, and I had to spit my first sip back in the bowl because they added so much spice even to that, that I couldn’t have it.  The waiters slowed and stared at me when I grabbed three pieces of bread, dropped them on a napkin and choked them down with water, because my face was likely one of murder.  I didn’t want to risk missing my breakfast if I didn’t feel better by then, so we quietly devised a plan to smuggle some more bread.  I was wearing a fitted hoodie that hid very little, but with my hands in my pocket I was sure I could conceal some bread.  But what to use as a distraction to get past the guard at the buffet?  Nicole, our fearless writer of fearless assassins, pulled a Vincent and filled a disposable cup with popcorn, then made a show of eating it as we walked out so that even if they did stop her, they would never catch me.  That’s right, we stole free bread.  And we got away with it by distracting the authorities with popcorn.  Thug life.

My panic was only an occasional problem at this point, but after panic attacks comes a brief few hours of depression.  Giving in to anxiety makes me feel weak and pathetic, and knowing that I’d ruined our vacation wasn’t helping.  The only reason she and I go to Mexico and Jamaica is to see each other, and I’d seen the toilet more than her and she’d only seen me at my absolute worst.  I turned on the television and smiled a bit when she came to bed with me again, because she didn’t have to do that.  Not many people would.  But I appreciated it.  Somewhere around the two hundredth ad for ‘Kilos Muertes’ she dozed off, so I turned the tv off, shimmied down the bed and turned off the light, and I resolved not to wake her for any reason.  Then she stole all of the blankets.  Undeterred, I slithered lower in the bed, where the blankets were tucked under the mattress and wouldn’t move.  By morning I was cuddling with her feet, but I’d succeeded because she slept like the dead. 

When asked if I wanted to take a shower I elected to refuse general hygiene (unsure why) and grumble from bed, but I did agree that I should probably eat something other than bread and joined her for breakfast.  That’s when I discovered that I couldn’t breathe.  She pointed out that I was a smoker, but I hadn’t been smoking much, what with being chained to the bathroom and bed.  Not to mention I’d been able to breathe two days before, so having such a sudden onset of COPD seemed unlikely.  I was gasping for air like a fish out of water by the time we made it to the buffet and guess what?  Nobody would wait on us again!  We waited at least twenty minutes in an uncrowded hall for someone to see if we wanted coffee, tea or water, and nobody came.  We could see them waiting on everyone else, though.  I got myself a plate of honeydew melon and watermelon, then quietly commented that I guess I wasn’t going to have any water with my breakfast since the only fountain drinks available were juices that I wasn’t touching since they could’ve been made with unfiltered water.  I wasn’t taking any more chances: Montezuma’s curse could go fuck itself.  At that exact moment a manager happened to be walking by the window next to us, which I hadn’t even realized was open, and he popped his head inside of it and scared me half to death, checking to see if he’d heard correctly.  I gave him a bewildered nod and within seconds a young man came to our table to pour us water, shaking so badly that I felt like a jackass for saying anything at all.  Once I had fruit in me, I went for an omelette, offered to give Nicole half of it and then proceeded to eat it all anyway.  Thankfully she didn’t seem to care, as she’d foraged and found a plate of sweets that had her name on them. 

At this point I could no longer lift my arms over my head I was so weak, but I’d brought iron supplements with me because I’m anemic and on occasion it helps.  I warned Nicole that they can and often do give me anxiety because they give me energy so fast that it startles me, and we agreed I needed one.  It  was worth the risk and she was prepared to deal with my madness if necessary.  The tv in our room was fucking with me, because no more than fifteen minutes after starting on an episode of House it turned out that the thing that was shutting down the character’s system was that he had too much iron in his blood and it was causing organ failure.  A sign that Nicole knows me well: I only gave her one scared glance and without uttering a word to her about my thoughts she informed me that I was fine and I needed to shut the fuck up.  This was where I started to have a bit of fun, because that got me laughing. 

I’d been trying to stay away from cigarettes since I already couldn’t breathe but my anxiety was getting bad again and I was pretty sure it was withdrawals, so I went on the balcony to have one, and that was probably the most fun we had the entire trip.  Sitting on a balcony and talking about our books.  I told her about my new story idea and she told me about one of hers, we bickered about the Chance Assassin series and Duncan and I reminded her that I wanted Miko in print so that I could cuddle with him after a fashion.  We were having enough fun that we somehow managed to ignore one of her friends knocking on the door for what must’ve been fifteen straight minutes, only to then receive a passive aggressive text about it later on. 

Then came the function that we were there for.  I wasn’t feeling great but I was determined to go even if I passed out, because the event we were supposed to attend was important to her.  We put on our smashing eveningwear and heels while watching batman, then went upstairs, where we both were exhausted by a long wait to go into the ballroom.  To understand why this next part makes me so irate, I need to explain that in Jamaica we attended an event where they brought out four hundred steaming plates of shrimp and I learned I was extremely allergic to it, because my throat closed up instantly and I had to run from the ballroom and wait outside until the entire event was over.  I’d had a mild allergy a few years back but it had apparently gotten so bad that I couldn’t be around the steam from it.  Cold shrimp was fine, but I hadn’t even known that the steam could do that to me.  I’ll give you three guesses what dinner was.  Again. 

So, gasping for air I left her there again and went without dinner for awhile.  When my blood sugar tanked so hard that my vision blurred I asked someone where I could go to get food and they directed me to one of the restaurants that was inclusive for that evening.  I changed back into my Captain America shirt, triple checked that the ‘do not disturb sign’ was on the door, then went downstairs and had more fruit and bread since that was the only thing that didn’t make my body want to expel my fucking bones.  When I returned to the room the sign had been taken and slid under the door, and housekeepers had done a turndown service.  Maids broke into our room to leave us mints, which was a bit puzzling and entertaining, since I can only imagine what they thought.  There were two beds but we’d only been sleeping in one, where all the blankets were piled.  My underwear and bikinis happened to be the clothes that I’d knocked to the floor when getting my eveningwear on and there were balled up tissues and empty water bottles surrounding the bed.  If we also consider the wounded moaning I’d uttered on that first night, I think I now understand why everyone that attends these events assumes we’re lovers.  It probably didn’t help that as soon as she got home, she had an itchy throat, running nose, fever and the inability to breathe.  Yeah, turned out that was a virus.  GO ME!  I can only hope that everyone thinks we were making out because the truth is so embarrassing and disgusting.

Remember that lady from my flight to Los Cabos?  The one who was going to bury her brother?  She was sitting next to me on the flight back to Chicago.  I was able to tell her that if it had come to it I would’ve had her back and I made another friend out of it.  Then came my breathless gasping dash through O’Hare, which wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d expected.  I beeped again.  This time the guy who was there saw me chuckle and listened when I explained that on this trip the machines had been out to get me, and he had me go in again but advised me to relax.  I passed fine.  He concluded that I was inadvertently so tense that I was throwing the machine off.  Thighs of steel, evidently.

Bonus: the flight attendants on both flights home also did not wait on me, pissing off the people next to me in my row.

I went to Los Cabos weighing 124 pounds.  I came home at 112.  Four days.  Nicole says that nobody waited on me because I’ve become so thin that they can’t see me anymore. 

I’m not entirely sure how this post got so long, but I guess I have some thoughts here.  I mean, going on a vacation with a friend where everything goes perfectly makes some good memories, but not always good stories.  We’re writers, Nicole and me.  We like stories, and most of ours come from a shred of reality.  Oddly this time I mirrored fiction, living a scene that one of her characters experienced in CA3.  Don’t think for a moment that I’d want to relive this trip, but at the very least, I got a good story out of it.  A friend that can take you at your best is still a friend, but a friend that can take you at your hysterical pants-shitting worst?  That’s one hell of a friend.  Not that many people do this sort of thing for me, so I guess what I’m saying is that I often jokingly tell Nicole that she’s lucky we’re ‘bro’s.’  I never really admit how lucky that makes me.  If it had been almost anybody else, I would’ve had an even worse time. 

Also, Los Cabos can just fall into the ocean for all I care. 

 Work updates to follow after Easter  ;)  
S. K. <3

Monday, January 4, 2016

New year, new work!

Oh hello, 2016.  You probably thought you had the jump on me, didn’t you?  Well guess again!  Because of fireworks set off in a packed parking lot directly next to my house a bit prematurely, I was wide awake and adrenaline packed when you reared your head!  And this year?  Oh, it’s on. 

I’m sure many of my fans and readers have noticed, I haven’t published lately.  Since Duncan, actually, which was at the end of May in 2014.  I can provide excuses, but they’re really just that, and as much as I’d like to blame the insane amount of stress on my inability to finish my many drafts, that has literally never stopped me before.  As a matter of fact, it often used to make books come faster because that was how I coped.  For example, the Cat & the Crow was written, from the first idea to published, in a little more than two months.  The book coincided with the worst thing that I’d had to endure, so it seems that if we look at my history, I am a very prolific author if I’m going crazy and need to work some shit out on my own.   

So let’s just be honest here, why haven’t I finished anything?  I think part of my problem is that I worry people may be expecting another 777 page tome like Duncan, or a short but emotional performance like the Cat & the Crow.  And that’s stupid of me, because although there are a few things that I prefer to write about, I will never write the same book twice.  Since I’ve never given that impression I have no idea why I had this belief that everyone would expect that of me, and now I feel like a fool for procrastinating so long lol

I have a lot of books in the works, and I often change my mind regarding which one I want to finish.  Because I write on so many projects simultaneously, I now have enough written on at least four of them that I could push myself to get them done, and I feel like a coward for finding excuses to start on new ones instead of finish any of the ones I have started, so this is what I have so far.

At long last, here’s an update on my writing –

The Swordmaster Dasan series is my most popular.  I’d like to think because it’s good but the fact that the first book is free probably helps since it lets people get a sample of my crazy characters.  Anybody who had downloaded the original Swordmaster Dasan 2 from Smashwords also got a teaser for their (at that time) next book, but that book was also the very first that my beta readers gave me a red light on, because they wanted more to happen before the series ended.  That final book is still here, still completed and will be changed as needed to fit into the insane shitstorm that is my plot.  I now have at least one more book that will go between Swordmaster Dasan two and the last book, here’s a breakdown of the beginning

Swordmaster Dasan 3 –
When Loki hears that Kyo has taken a new student he risks everything for a chance to go and investigate the relationship between his sadistic Swordmaster and the seemingly perfect Prince Nikira.  He’s unsurprised that Kyo disapproves of his sudden and uninvited presence, but as the days pass, something starts to feel a bit off. 

That’s a breakdown of the first few chapters, I don’t want to give much more away.  Anyone who read Playing with Tigers may recall a mention by Kura where Loki wanted time off and, rather impressively, stole her job long enough to grant himself leave and take a vacation.  In the second Playing with Tigers, he claims that he’s the reason that the Arketh hate them, and I decided that this story really did need to make it into a book after all, so there you have it

Playing with Tigers 3-
Keel and Kaji have been trying to recover from the events that they’d suffered when Keel gets a worrisome letter from his sister, and they reluctantly decide to head north to visit his family.  Their journey coincides with the appointment of a new Headmistress and the Sahrketh’s very first Headmaster at the Palace, which leads them to the news that Kaji’s estranged sibling has been incarcerated overseas. 

That’s not an official blurb by any means, just a basic gist of the very start.  Worry not – there’s plenty of everything that was in the first two, from sex to intrigue, Sahrketh violence and Yunan humor.  The first two books are mostly done with heavy re-edits (I still missed some stuff, I’m sure…  Sorry!  -_-) but I currently plan to make the first one free after I implement updated documents, and possibly the second one as well.  No point in writing the third book if nobody’s read the first two, right? 

Duncan 2 –
The surviving cast from the first book returns in its entirety for another round of madness, starting with Duncan’s discovery that his former house isn’t as vacant as he remembered and that he’s being brought up on charges for the events that transpired in Crush. 

I had some trouble finding an appropriate villain for this one because even in a fantasy setting, everyone would have a bone to pick with Duncan, so for once my problem was that there were too many people who would want to ruin his life.  I think I picked properly, and I’m very proud to say that I even found a way for a certain someone to realistically refuse to be involved (as the involvement of a murdering sociopath who can’t die is just taking the cheap way out) that works so well I laugh and raise my cup of tea to my own cleverness.  It’s not ready for human eyes yet, as my opponent for Duncan does not give me the chills and that just won’t do.  But it’s coming along splendidly. 

Then there’s this –

Untitled book for a certain villain.





Need I say more?  ;)  He’s a bitch to write but damn, if he doesn’t end up making me proud at the end of the day. 

This picture is actually FAN ART!  Can you believe that?  That’s art from one of my amazing fans!  You can find her here, and she takes commissions!  I have dibbs on this pic though, ladies and gentlemen!  That’s actually going to be the cover for his book, since I keep staring at it and smiling.  Do not use that picture without my permission or the permission of Cheri, please and thank you. 

Annnnnd then there’s also this untitled book that I’ve been working on that I’m not sure where to start with.  It’s good?  That seems like a decent start, but as with all of my books, if I try to explain it I sound as normal as Willy Wonka.  (This is NOT an official blurb!) Here, I’ll give it a try:

Swordmaster Iyren Caro is Sahrketh, which means that when he’s really pissed off or his adrenaline spikes, he may start to show some tiger attributes.  Thankfully that hasn’t happened yet, since Sahrketh men are known to take much longer after they turn to calm down than their female counterparts.  He’s offered a mating contract by a woman so abrasive towards him that, should she spontaneously explode in his kitchen, he would be more upset that he would need to mop than by her sudden demise.  But she has gold and they both know how badly he needs it if he ever wants to do more than break up bar fights and scold the locals for traipsing over the border to cause trouble for their longest standing enemies. 
Ranger Warren Elborough is Kyathe and has spent a few years defending his community of wolf shifters from the barbaric and savage Sahrketh that they unfortunately share a border with.  While trying to prove something to one of his friends he stumbles into some trouble and ends up being abducted by slavers in the most embarrassingly simple way he’d ever heard of.  His captors thankfully don’t realize that he’s Kyathe, but every chance he has to shift and escape is thwarted until he finally comes to the realization that he’d have more luck getting back home once he’s been sold.  Only, the woman who buys him knows what he is, what that means.  To make matters worse, she’s Sahrketh, and she clearly already has a plan for him.

See what I did there?  I took two characters who can’t speak a language between them that are trained to kill each other on sight and would both be eager to do so, and then I rubbed my hands together, chuckled evilly and said, “Now touch him a little a bit.”  If you want to see how I accomplished that, it’s super fun and it’ll be ready for beta readers in a few months!  :D  I’m actually sort of proud of this one because the way that they interact… NAILED IT!  Not sure when it will be completed but it’s the closest of the bunch that have been mentioned and the draft only needs a few more chapters, some editing and ironing and then it will be ready for betas.

I think that’s about everything for this post!  As always, I adore feedback from ‘loved it!’ to ‘It’s bad and you should feel bad!’ and I can be reached through goodreads or on facebook 

Happy New Year!

S. K. <3

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Times Change

So a little slice of life - 

My mother was raised in a racist and homophobic environment, because her parents were raised in a racist and homophobic environment and so on and so forth.  My husband’s mother was raised in a similar setting, but add in a large dependency on religion. 

Well, I really believe that life won’t always give you what you want, but occasionally it will give you what you need. 

When my brother started dating men, my mother hadn’t been informed of his orientation but some part of her must’ve always known.  She jokingly said that he was at his friend’s house enough that she wondered if he was gay.  And he looked her dead in the eye and nodded, then told her that he was.  She looked at me and asked if I was and I shrugged and told her I was bisexual.  To my mother’s credit, she only freaked out for one night before she was able to shake everything she’d ever been told and come to terms with that.  What I mean by that is that she was told at 9pm, and by breakfast the next morning, she was smiling and hugging again. 

A few years after that, my brother told me about a guy at his work who was very attractive but seemed straight and told me I should go and take a look (because gay brothers are the freaking BEST wingmen ever!).  So I went in and met the man who is now my husband.  I brought him home, my mom looked at him and her face got very pale, and only then did I realize that the fact he was black might be an issue for her.  And my dog, actually, who was so fascinated at discovering a person who was an entirely different color that he shoved his nose in the man’s crotch and tried to wear him as a hat for the first four hours he was there…  She pulled me aside, made sure I knew that some people would have an issue, and despite her own reservations, accepted my answer: that I didn’t want to live my life by ignorant moron’s rules and if he was my somebody then I’d damn well have him. 

His mother actually asked him if he was planning to keep it in the family, which is apparently some creepy phrasing for “Are you going to marry a black woman?” instead of some gross demand he marry a relative, and he flat out told her that wasn’t happening unless something changed because he hadn’t found one yet that clicked with him in literally any way.  She didn’t like me for awhile, haha.  When we had our first child he came out whiter than snow and because he has the shape of my husband’s eyes, he looked sort of Asian.  She immediately jumped on that and suggested we should get a paternity test, not because she doubted of course, but because other people might.  Mhm.  She herself had told me that her own children (who are the color of rich mahogany) all came out whiter than me and got darker over the following weeks, but apparently when mine did it was a freak occurrence in her head, I’m not sure.

As for her opinion of my brother marrying a man, there were some very offensive comments and laughter at the time.  I left their Christmas party one year because a relative said something ridiculously homophobic, but I stopped at the door and turned around with a smile on my face to inform him that the wine he was drinking was bought with the proceeds of gay smut.  The look on his face was so gratifying that I’m smiling right now just remembering it.  Twas a merry Christmas after all.

Well, it’s been years, we had another magical color changing baby that looked one race and then turned into a bunch of others and our patience and tolerance has finally paid off.  His mother has come to terms with the fact that I bred with her son, so even if he isn’t in the picture, our children and myself by association still will be.  Forever.  She told me earlier this week that out of all of her kids, it’s me and Vicky (another woman of a different race who is planning to marry into the family) that are always there for her and that she’s so happy to have us in her life.  To clarify, my husband and his brother (Vicky’s fiancĂ©), don’t give their mother the time of day.  The reasons are vast and I’m not going to get into them, but for years I’ve maintained the relationship with this woman who initially and enthusiastically hated me, I answer the phone every time she calls and I help her as much as I physically can (and often more, putting my own life on hold to help her sort out her shit).  Now the daughters she never wanted are better to her than her own kids and she seems to genuinely appreciate us.  *shrug*

Times change.  My mother was raised in a house full of ignorance and hate, and now she welcomes me, her three sons of many colors and two biracial grandchildren into her home with open arms, actually complains if she doesn’t get to see all of us on a weekly basis.  My mother in law, who like my mother came from a long and miserable background, now carries a picture of us in her wallet and proudly shows everyone her kids and grandkids.  She’s actually gone to Vicky’s defense many times, screaming that she’s Vicky’s mother when asked who she is and why she’s getting involved, which can be entertaining because they always look at her and at Vicky like maybe they don’t  realize that they’re different colors.  She happily and proudly encourages my work (knowing what it is, mind you) and asks about my brother every time we talk. 

The reason I bring this up now is because both of these women have, within the last week, met or seen their very first transgender person.  My mother saw a woman in the grocery store who was still going through her change, and not only smiled at her, but struck up a conversation to ask how she got her hair to do what it was doing.  My mother in law had a long discussion with the young man she met about his transition (To the young man she met, if you’re reading this I’m sorry!  She means well but she’s curious and blunt.  I facepalmed when she told me what she was asking him.  The man was a damn saint for putting up with it.)  She later added him to her phone so that they could go furniture shopping together.  Then she called me to tell me about it, trying to explain to me that it’s very difficult for trans people as if I hadn’t been trying to tell her the same damn thing for the last 11 years, haha. 

I thought that was worth sharing, because I’m really proud of these two women for choosing acceptance and love, even though it was a long and hard trip for both of them.  Trust me, there’s plenty of people in both families that haven’t, but maybe that’ll change with time. 

And if it doesn’t, then we can just have a multi-racial lgbt parade stomp by their house.

:D 

Now I’m off to read a few books and work, although what I’ll be working on, I can’t tell you.  I have too many books in progress.  Updates as they become available

S. <3



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I'm gonna be thirty!


It’s that time of the year again.  As of June 3rd, I’ll be a year older.  Why am I mentioning that?  Because, this year I’ll be 30.  That’s right, I successfully survived three whole decades.  In your face, haters! 

Someone asked me how I’ve enjoyed the last decade and I didn’t have a response ready.  That bothered me, and when I went home I couldn’t get that question out of my head- it started to haunt me.  Did I have fun?  Would I do it again?  I set out on a mission to figure that out, and started by gathering some evidence.  So here it is, the list of what I’ve done with myself for the last ten years. 

I’ve written about 30 stories, turned 6 into novels and published them (technically 7 but I unpublished my first shortly after I put it up, like someone would see it and know I dared to share it.)  I did the covers for most of them when I had the time, then hired Miss H. C. Fang when I didn’t.  Through my writing I’ve met 3 of my closest friends. 

I left the country for the first time, taking a plane by my lonesome to join one of those friends in Cancun, and we had enough fun that she even invited me and my husband to join her in Jamaica the following year.  Which we did.  Yes, it was awesome even though he got drunk and walked into a tree and I had an allergic reaction to a room full of steamed shrimp.  Notice she didn’t have an embarrassing story in there, lol

My longest friendship is approaching 22 years, and she and I went on multiple excursions over the last 10.  She brought me to my very first steampunk convention despite my kicking and screaming, and apparently I liked it because we went again this year.  We set another new tradition, where she and I excuse ourselves, hand our children to our sulking husbands and ditch them for a weekend to escape into New Hampshire’s wilderness every summer.  This typically results in bad drunken poetry and sunburns. 

I’ve embarked on a few family vacations, going away with the people I need to get away from, and have actually started to enjoy them on occasion.  My husband now understands that when I say I want to be in nature, I really mean that I want to be close to nature without actually being surrounded by it. 

After six years of figuring out if we liked each other, my husband and I officially got married under the cover of darkness.  We picked the Friday following our decision to do it, which oddly coincided with my brother and his husband’s anniversary.  Which is great because I constantly forget which year we’re on and can just call my brother and ask him, since he was married exactly one year before I was.  To the hour. 

I discovered in my early twenties that our oldest son, who just barely missed being born in the last ten years (he turns eleven in july) had ADHD that could contend with mine.  I tried my hardest to help him and nothing seemed to work, possibly because he learned that he could distract me quite easily.  Many a homework date has been derailed because he starts me on a topic that I’m interested in.  Then when he was seven we decided to have our second child, which turned out to be another boy, who is so sarcastic and curmudgeony that I regret writing part of Duncan while I was pregnant with him.  He’s been like this from birth, mind you, greeting me with a smile and immediately scowling at his father. 

I’ve lost a lot of people in my life.  Some died, some just stopped coming around.  In the last ten years I’ve lost 2 to the boneyard.  Because one happened to be my grandmother, who was incredibly close to my son, I had to explain to my child that she was never coming back, but at least she had kicked this life’s ass.  That she was gone, but she left as a blackbelt at being alive and that we should be proud to have known her.  Other family members immediately fucked this up and made him a hysterical mess, because some of them are just… terrible lol. 

My oldest son had a bad reaction to medication that made him suicidal when he was eight, and in order to wean him off of it as quickly as possible he was institutionalized, so that they could supervise him and prevent withdrawals.  A lot of writers say that they write to stay sane and I’m no different.  He was in a children’s ward for eight weeks.  I wrote an entire book in those eight weeks because I couldn’t handle not seeing him around the house.  Believe it or not, this was a blessing in disguise because if not for his two month stay in a mental health facility, we never would’ve learned that he had Aspergers syndrome.  He only has a hint of it, enough that it went unnoticed for eight years, during which he was seeing people for his ADHD that were trained to look for it.  Our relationship has been so much better once we realized that, because it explained why my older boy will follow me around like a miniature business analyst, explaining to me how I can be more efficient while notifying me that I have laugh lines on my face. 

My mother had two aneurisms in her brain and underwent brain surgery to have them dealt with.  I was told by her family that the best thing I could do for her was go away, but it’s a great thing that I didn’t because I ended up running her house while I cared for her.  The family that was telling me I wouldn’t be able to take care of her only visited once, in a group, when she still wasn’t ready to receive guests.  She didn’t need too much help because I’m under the impression that my mother might be a terminator, but with a much better complexion and a love for children that doesn’t involve roasting them over a spit.  I waited until exactly one month after her surgery to make sure that she was going to be okay, then moved into our very first house.

And this house is also just terrible.  It suits our needs for now, but the person who flipped it didn’t do a great job.  The paint peeled off almost immediately after we purchased it, right before the pipes all fell apart or started to spew rusty water.  Also, fun discovery: there’s no insulation in the walls.  We live in New England.  It snows a lot.  That hasn’t stopped me from transforming it into what I wanted, but it still sucks that we paid for a POS.  A side note – I have had to evict three separate and remarkably aggressive homeless men from my garage, which looks impressive and cruel on anyone’s resume.

In the last ten years I have quit smoking twice only to go right back to it, became addicted to coffee and permanently damaged my stomach by drinking too much of it for too long, and have failed to stop biting my nails.  In short – I really suck at having bad habits.  Or maybe I’m really great at it, because I have successfully demonstrated why they’re considered bad habits, at the very least. 

I have been caught on two separate occasions smoking outside while dressed like batman, bat ears and everything, with goggles on over the eyeholes.  In my defense, I don’t smoke in my house and it was below freezing, so my batman hoodie covered the parts of my face not necessary for the intake of carcinogens. 

Also, my husband was caught by the police for trying to sneak to dunkin donuts in a  (travel ban) snowstorm, claimed that he was only out to get milk, and on his second attempt to sneak over there was greeted by the same police officer, who had purchased him some milk.  I got to spend that day making fun of him, reminding him that sneaking through a snowstorm while being the darkest man on our street, wearing all black was unwise.  It was like a very bad game of I spy, where you find the OMFG black spot against the entirely white background.  Furthermore, even if he’d made it there, the dunkin donuts was only open for plows and police, who would immediately ask him how the hell he got there anyway.  Leave it to my husband to be trying to thwart the nicest, most caring cop in our state so that he could get coffee.  <- I decided to include this entertaining story because I had offered this son of a bitch some coffee, and he laughed, then replied, “I hate your coffee.”  I then proceeded to cackle as I watched his quest crumble and fail. 

All in all, I’ve learned some things about myself.  Evidently, I rely on my twisted sense of humor to function, I am attracted to a grumpy and simultaneously ridiculous dork, and my kids could probably be rented out as weapons of mass destruction because I really have no idea how to do this mom thing.  I found out that I do need people, but that there are some relationships that can only be labeled toxic, and sometimes the right thing doesn’t feel right at all.  I’ve met so many interesting and amazing people, just about adopted a few of them as family, and have removed the venomous half of my blood family from my life. 

So going back to the question at the beginning of this, would I do it again?  Yes, I would.  But I’d tell myself this:

There are many times where it feels like the world has climbed up on your shoulders and the sheer weight of it makes every day hurt more than the last.  This is a fact of life.  But, it doesn’t last forever, it just tries to outlast you.  And that is the only thing I can really say about my first thirty years of being alive: it’s worth it, so be a stubborn ass and when you start to break to pieces, don’t be ashamed to let somebody else help you shoulder the weight.  And if that doesn’t work, write like a mother fucker. 

Happy birthday to me, and I guess to my dumb husband too.  He turns 30 a mere three days before I do, the old bastard.  Here’s to some more decades.  Cheers everyone  ;)

S. K. Hart

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Cat & the Crow Update!

I’m happy to finally say that The Cat & the Crow is available in PRINT at Amazon as of today!   

Buy it in print here!



*disco dancing*  I feel so accomplished  ;)



The rest of my work updates –



Currently working on Duncan #2.  No spoilers, so that’s really all that I can say at this point.  It exists with the original cast as it was at the end of part 2. 



Depending on the sales of my print edition of The Cat & the Crow, I might be doing a print edition of Duncan as well.  Would love to know if anybody would even be interested in that, as the book is much longer than the one I just formatted.  I find myself wondering if the amount of time it would take me would be worthwhile.



I have put some more work down on Playing with Tigers 3 and Swordmaster Dasan 3, however these aren’t my top priority projects right now.  I’m in the process of a heavy re-edit on the original books for Playing with Tigers, and on the first Swordmaster Dasan. 



Someone recently asked about a sequel to The Cat & the Crow.  I do have a large portion of a sequel written but I’m trying to take it one project at a time, so it’s on a back burner for now.  Tarro’s not done, though.  I left too many strings hanging at the end of the first one to leave him alone, the poor guy.



Well, we survived the blizzard but there's another one on the way, so I will head off now to get work done just in case we lose power.

Happy Hunting 

S. 'K.' Hart

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Back to work


Well it’s been a fun month since my last blog post (or a little over that, it seems?) 

Everyone will hopefully be pleased to hear that I survived October not only intact, but feeling better than I have in about a year.  The main reason for this was the visit from the extremely talented Nicole Castle, who flew out to stay with us, whooped my ass at making blueberry pancakes, and got me out of my house often enough that it didn’t seem so daunting to keep up with the habit.

We had a lot of fun.  Filled a bathtub with blood, saw some witches up in Salem, visited Battleship Cove and I introduced her to the best chowder in the U.S., she rekindled my love for socks and showed me a song that I’m now constantly using for Calvin.  Oh, and she showed me a much better way to make dirty Shirleys  :D

On a side note, her visit coincided with a once in a lifetime embarrassing situation for my husband, who made a bet with a friend, lost, and had to wear a costume of his friend’s choice.  This is him here, hating everybody with a smile on his face.  :) 



More than a few of my friends have notified him that he’s been ‘added to the bank.’  But, he did score us some extra candy, and you’d better believe that Nicole and I made him work it too – we had as much candy as the kids because housewives started to throw it at him.  Personally, I think the choice of costume was kind because I would’ve chosen Harley Quinn for him and Nicole had mentioned a sexy Bo Peep costume.  Keep in mind it was under 50 degrees here on Halloween, and he couldn’t wear anything but underwear under that bobsledding costume.  See kids?  Gambling is wrong hahaha

I apologize for the delay in my blog update but I had a bet of my own that I needed to win.  Which I did.  In a video game.  Every one of my friends had been informed that I would be elsewhere (Azeroth) until I’d sped through all available content for the one game I can’t seem to permanently kick, and every single one of my friends called me, concerned that I’d died while playing because they didn’t see or hear from me after the night it came out lol.  But I was fantastic: my husband rearranged the living room and had me playing on the TV, supplied me with takeout and drinks and even took care of the kids so that I could kick some ass without interruption.  I was so immersed in smashing orcs and hunting rares that when I was as finished as I could get with the game for the time being, I felt incredibly refreshed.  Not everyone can enjoy a vacation at home, but I did and I even reconnected with my old team, not that I don’t have all of their contact info anyway, just felt nice to do something with them online again since most of them live across the country or in a different country altogether. 

Now I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving, making myself and my family look decent, getting a dish together to bring to my mother’s house, and baking a pie for my mother in law the racist bigot – a woman who has admitted multiple times with enthusiasm that she wouldn’t want to see me if I don’t bring her an apple pie.  Does she ask about her grandchildren?  No.  Does she ask about her SON?  Nope.  But, she asks about the pie, so I’m making a pie with the closest thing to love that I can, which happens to be apathy. 

I put a little work down on Playing with Tigers 3 and Swordmaster Dasan 3, but need to sort out a few things that would mess up either of the timelines before I can finish them.  Sadly, these books are not a top priority for me – The total earnings of all four of the published books don’t even cover a week of very light groceries and I truly want to rewrite them in the near future anyway. 

Cat & the Crow will have a print edition hopefully available by Christmas, we will see how that goes.

The Disassembled Life of Duncan Cole –
Despite the many statements and suggestions that I should split the book into two books, I will not be splitting Duncan at all.  Ever.  It’s two books that need to be read together in order to get the full story, two books packaged together because I wanted to cut the cost to the reader and ensure a better overall reading experience.  There should be no mistake about the fact that this was intentional on my part, because I was considering the readers who have a tighter budget and the readers who would’ve reached the end of part one and been unsatisfied.  I should mention that if I had split the books, that the first chapter of part 2 would’ve been tacked on the end of part 1.  You would meet Calvin, see what’s happened to Dan, realize that everything is falling apart for Duncan, and been told to wait a few months for the next one.  Some people would be okay with that, but I’m not one of them.  I’ve refused to purchase sequels before on the grounds that the first book did not tell a complete storyline and I will not be charged twice for one product – I won’t charge twice for one either.  ;)

As for future works regarding Duncan, I play around with ideas for promotional short stories every now and then, but I’ve been too busy working on the second Duncan book and a Calvin book to follow that, and they’ve been too fun to move away from for very long. 

I am off to go and murder my kitchen, cook some breakfast and jump back in Spannerdire – I left a house on fire in there and really should get around to dealing with that.

Anybody looking to contact me can find me at goodreads.com and as always I thank each and every reader who took the time out of their day to review any of my books – Love the book or hate it, that’s the best feedback in the world and I appreciate it. 

Happy Hunting  ;)

S. K. Hart