We need to talk about Tiny House people.

I believe in “live and let live”, unless you want to live in a Tiny House.

My son is obsessed with HGTV (he calls them Housey Shows) and I’ve been drenched in a steady diet of everything that network has to offer. By and large, they’re fascinating, informative shows.

And then, there’s the Tiny House movement.

.

 

Every episode is the same– “Hi, I’m Tashia, and this is my husband Clint. We’re from Idaho and we’ve decided to go tiny. It’s going to give us, our five children and three golden retrievers the chance to really live on our own terms.”

Me, on my full sized couch: WHAT?

Tashia and Clint: “Our budget is 65,000, and we really don’t want too much square footage because of upkeep.”

Me: HOW HARD IS IT TO VACUUM A SHED? SIXTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A RABBIT HUTCH?

Tashia and Clint: “Sure, there are some adjustments”–

Me: YOU ARE GOING TO POOP IN YOUR SHOWER

Tashia and Clint: “Our kids are so excited! They can’t wait for the adventure!”

Me: THEY’RE KIDS. THEY THINK THEIR LIVES ARE A VIDEO GAME, BUT NOW WITH A LOFT THEY CAN FALL OUT OF AND DIE

Tashia and Clint: “The great news is, our heirloom chickens can live above the sink, so fresh eggs are always close by!”

Me: SO IS A STORE. OR A SNORING RELATIVE. OR YOUR CHEMICAL TOILET. EVERYTHING WILL BE CLOSE BY, TASHIA

Tashia and Clint, with their Shed Salesman/Realtor: “I don’t know, babe. I just didn’t expect it to be so, you know, tiny.”

Me: HOOORNNNNNGH ACKPHTOOOT WHAAAAT

Tashia and Clint: “After shipping costs, our new Tiny House Shed only cost 68,000. We found a family member friendly militia with some land to park on, and the kids are so excited!”

Me: WRONG, TASHIA, THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO DRIVE AWAY AND LEAVE THEM IN THE WOODS

Tashia and Clint: “We’ve never felt so free!”

Me: OF SQUARE FOOTAGE AND RUNNING WATER

Oh. My. Lort.

Terry

 

 

Now With 100% More Virginia.

I’m going back to Virginia this weekend for the Roanoke Author Invasion. It’s not, technically, an invasion, because none of us will be driving tank. Also, invaders rarely show up with candy and prizes, both of which will be on hand in good supply.

Some of the things I will have (but not limited to):

Books.

Books.

Postcards.

Books.

Bookmarks.

Candy.

A van.

This is totally legit and not creepy at all.

I will also have postcards with the TOP SECRET ART from Moonborn. If you’re on my mailing list, you’ll see it today. If not you should join. I have little contests, giveaways, etc, and it’s a great way to share books. Sign up here: http://terrymaggert.com/get-the-newsletter/

In other news, I’m going to the eye doctor today to revisit contact lenses. I had LASIK seventeen years ago and my distance vision is perfect, but now I have to use reading glasses and it makes me feel like I’m one step away from clipping coupons and yelling at kids to get off my lawn. Do you wear contacts instead of reading glasses? Let me know what you wear, I’m open to product recommendations.

Halfway Drowned is at 18,000 words and it’s FLYING. I’ll post a snippet next week.

Cheers!

Terry

Happy Birthday, Son. Love, Dad.

Our son Teddy turns nine today. His birthday is the culmination of a series of surprises, that include (but are not limited to):

Becoming a dad at forty, when my entire life had been spent in service to myself, not others.

The surreal experience of my bride and I being sent home with a live human being in our red Mustang, and wondering, “What the hell do we do now?”

Discovering that, for the first few months, he didn’t do very much; sort of like an exceptionally cute inchworm with toes.

Watching him grow. Alarmingly fast. Like, “Your four year old will need you to help him shave soon.” That kind of fast. Missy is very tall. I am tall. We’re all tall. Teddy is really tall. He’s five feet tall, with no end in sight.

Learning that kids tend to run around naked. A lot.

Finding out that due dates for babies are a “serving suggestion”, as he arrived six weeks early, when I had the entire bathroom ripped out and our toilet sitting over a crawlspace. It had quite the frontier feel, but with 85% more possums and raccoons.

Watching him develop a love for kittens and puppies as naturally as if it were his calling.

Seeing the first time he told a joke, and it was funny.

Holding hands with him as we walk, and wondering if I will ever be more needed (or happy) in my life than in that moment.

Seeing his mother in him, as well as his grandmother, and me, and a line of wonderful people who all comprise part of him; but knowing that he is utterly unique.

Wondering who he will become, but also fearing the passage of time.

Standing quietly in the kitchen with my wife, talking about him in hushed tones because he amazes us.

Feeling my purpose realized, fully and with complete joy, and being thankful that I get to see him grow.

Happy birthday, Teddy. You are the best thing under the sun. We love you.

 

When Squirrels Attack

Squirrels are adorable terrorists. They’re small, agile, cute, destructive, and recently, they attempted to take me out.

Muerte. Dead. Doomed. Ixnayed. Rubbed out. Removed with extreme prejudice.

Call it what you will, this was a clear attempt on my life.

Some background: Our home is more than a century old. The backyard is filled with treasures, from modern toys, vintage toys, china, bottles, inkwells, and other various items accumulated over time.

Until now, they’ve been relatively tame, and only unearthed by our dogs. Or me. Or moles. You get the picture.

It all changed when I heard a thunk as I was near the Super Tree House Compound I built for our son. A squirrel- it could be no other beast– dropped something from the top of our maple tree.

It was no accident. For your consideration, I offer the following evidence:

That. . . is an antler knife with a screwdriver, or what I like to call, “Evidence of a crime.”

I’m holding the knife until the end of my natural existence, in the event that the squirrels decide to take another crack at me. You must understand, I have a history with squirrels. Our relationship began quite well– we had tame squirrels that ate out of our hands. They would sit on my shoulder, and let me pet their little ears. All was well until the Pumpkin Incident of 2003.

I had a sixty pound pumpkin of such glorious orange that it was sure to be a showstopper for Halloween. When I woke up one morning before carving, I saw something odd. The back end of a squirrel protruded from the interior of my once heroic pumpkin, now a partial husk having been disemboweled by a family of squirrels.

Actually, they’re a crime family. Let’s call it like it is.

I *may* have yelled at the offending beastie, and we all know how the Squirrel Network never forgets– and never forgives.

I urge you to look up. They’re watching you, and they’re armed.

Book Candles. Editing. Fun.

Write a book. Now, go back and re-read the book  few years later. Edit your book while swilling coffee, ordering book candles, and bathing in the horror that you actually wrote that and thought, “Damn. This is art.”

This is my current place in life. I finished a novel last week (Moonborn) and then quickly wrote 8,000 words in Halfway Drowned. Then, in a crisis of conscience, I decided to begin a project that has haunted me like my fashion decisions from the 1980s. I began to revise my first novel, The Forest Bull, and to call it a humbling experience isn’t really accurate.

It’s more like . . .shamespiration.

By the third paragraph, I winced. By the fourth page, I considered deleting the book entirely. The fact is writing is a muscle. It gets stronger with use, and despite the clarity of our ideas, a lot gets lost in translation from mind to paper. I’m twenty-six chapters into this self-flagellation, and the results are drastic. Sometimes, I cut a sentence. Or two. I add a detail here, subtract a clunky phrase there, and a different book begins taking shape.

It’s clearer, smoother. I think part of my first book is that I tried to be mysterious and ended up being an idiot. You’ve got to give readers a clear path. I didn’t. I was. . .sort of clear. I’m thankful that the 2017 version of me is willing to change what could be a killer book with my favorite villain.

I’m keeping a running count of how many words are deleted, and what I add. I think, based on the first half of the revision, it might be about even. Sometimes,  less is more. In this case, better is more, and in honor of my newfound commitment to these characters, we’re issuing a new paperback version. Same art, new font, and smaller. Handy for carrying with, using as a weapon, or displaying on your book shelf.

The art is *really* nice. Amalia hit a home run four years ago, and I still love the way Elizabeth looks coming out of the forest, dripping evil and, umm, evil.

Okay, back to it, but not before we discuss BOOK CANDLES.

I’ve ordered custom book candles for all of my signings this year. They smell like waffles, have the label of the Hawthorn Diner, and the size is “adorable”. I think they’ll be five bucks each. More to come once they’re here– I’ll post pictures and you can imagine the wonder of waffles as you read.

Cheers for now!

 

The Power of Pie

Today is National Pie Day, or Pi Day if you insist on the use of math. As a history professor, I naturally avoid any numbers that are more complex than, say, single digits.

It’s for our own good. Trust me.

However, 3.14 is a number even I can remember, and thus, we celebrate the majesty of pie, a food group that is so lush and varied it deserves its own channel in our collective cultural awareness.

I’ve written (at length) about being the grandson of bakers, who founded Ted N Peg’s Pie Stand in Rome, New York. For me, pie is breakfast. It is a snack for the grim hours between one and three in the morning, as I stand impatiently waiting for my dogs to re-inspect every square inch of the very yard they left two hours earlier, because in that time there could be mummies or zombies or, heaven forfend. . . .a possum.

We can’t have that.

Regardless, it’s a chance for me to stand at the sink, glaring into the stygian blackness of our backyard while eating pie and waiting for the herd to come home, so to speak. In those moments, I will once again marvel at the wonder of pie, and how my simmering anger dissipates with each bite as one by one, the dogs come in and lay down to begin their gusty snoring, dreaming the things only dogs can know in their sleep.

Yesterday, I was reheating pizza for my son, who is currently eating as if he as just released from a prison camp. Before I nuked his two slices of (cheese) pizza, I took a bite– an editorial sample, if you will– it was a piece that was only bread and sauce, free of cheese and oddly naked.

In that moment, I was transported thirty-five years into the past, when family friends took my family to a market in Rome, New York. There, they bought me a slice of tomato pie– a heretical twist on pizza that had little cheese, was fluffy, and served cool. The first sharp tang of summery tomato and  oregano was like the essence of pizza, stripped down for my consideration. It was. . .new. Amazing. A symbol of a new life, in a distant state. It was different, but familiar and good.

 

And yesterday, there I stood in my own kitchen, thinking of old friends and sweeping changes for a skinny thirteen year old who didn’t understand why he had to leave his grandparents a thousand miles away, in the sunshine of his life. His home. I still don’t understand.

Pie is food and food is memory. If I ever forget that again, I know it only takes one bite to be reminded.

Cats make me weird(er).

We have somewhere between five and seventy cats. I don’t know the exact number, but it seems to fluctuate based on things like “holding a can of tuna” and “trying to write a book while using a laptop”.

Outwardly, I appear to be a dog person. We have five dogs. I love dogs. I talk to them in silly voices, or as a colleague when they appear to be listening. I run with them, nap with them, and have not gone to the bathroom by myself in nine years. (True Story)

But it’s my cats that really bring out the weird in me. Granted, I’m a writer, so that wasn’t exactly a difficult task.

(side note: every writer lives in fear of dying without clearing their web browser. we call it research, but in truth, it’s generally unhealthy fascinations with things as varied as skin conditions, hiding bodies, and why a tiger might only eat half of a person. stuff like that.)

So when we have yet another litter of rescued kittens, they begin to attach themselves to us like adorable parasitic floofs, worming their way into my daily routine with shocking speed. Naturally, I have my favorites, and naturally, some of the cats only tolerate me– after all, they’re cats. It’s what they do.

Which brings me to my recent conversation with my friend and book advisor, who is also a cat person and thus understands what life is like with miniature, disdainful lions who poop in proscribed locations throughout the house.

“Jess,” I said, not thinking that I might be weird, “I like to nibble my cat’s ears while he sits on my lap.”

There was no recriminating gasp or shock on her end of the phone call, merely, “OH MY GAHD I DO TOO.”

So, there’s at least two of us, thought I think other people will admit it once they know OTHER people are willing to come forward. It’s a circle of affirmation for Cat Nibblers, or whatever the inevitable meetings will be called.

And despite, the efforts of Sugar (he’s the white one, getting fed by my bride, The Cat Whisperer), I can now proudly announce that my tenth novel, Moonborn, is complete. I’ll share the cover soon, and more sample chapters as well.

Cat hair and all.

 

Weight Loss Is Hard

As in, losing weight sucks. There’s nothing good about my cyclical winter re-fattening.

Here’s how it seems to go: Summertime means running outside. Sunshine. Heat. Lots of summer-ish stuff, moving quickly and doing things for the sheer pleasure of being outside because life seems to really pop once the temperature starts rising.

As a kid in Florida, it was always summer. There was no sense of urgency about nice weather, and thus, activity stayed at a reasonable level year ’round.

Enter my move to “The North”. Now, do to the horrors of Daylight Savings Time, it gets dark sometime after lunch. I feel the urge to eat, get under blankets, and allow our herd of pets to camp out on me like a mountain that occasionally moves and snorts. I gain– without fail- twenty pounds. Then, as the winter wears on, I begin my cycle of yearning for seasonal tomatoes and wishing that it would be hot every day. Unlike normal humans, I prefer it to be hot when I run. I don’t know if it’s some latent form of Protestant self-hatred, but running in the summer is far preferable to the winter.

If I were to run in the winter (a nightmare for me), my nose whistles like a failing radiator, and my lungs fill with ice crystals and/or doom.

Oddly enough, I think I write more in the summer, too– one would think that cozy nights inside would cause a flurry of writing. It doesn’t. I eat cookies and feel moderate shame as I reach the end of the Oreos and give serious consideration to going out for more at 2:00 AM.

I’m going to see if there’s a connection between running, sunshine, and my word count. There has to be something scientific, probably a German word that sounds like a threat, which explains why I emerge from the relative gloom of winter and feel like writing, running, and not eating sixty cookies while looking out the kitchen window t the winter stars wheeling overhead.

My bride and I are having ten year anniversary pictures taken, and I’d like to be in peak form for those. I have a little more than two months.

Let the complaining begin.

Young Adult Fantasy: Moonborn

Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to the next chapter in Livvy Foster’s life. If you haven’t read Heartborn, you can catch up here: Her guardian angel was pushed: Heartborn

Ready? Let’s go. Here’s a taste of Moonborn.

Livvy Foster has a new heart, home, and a place in the powerful halls of House Windhook. The fall of Sliver was only the beginning of a civil war that sees angels from across the sky challenge each other to lead a world in which the past and the future are connected by a storm crafted from time, ambition, and power.

When House Selinus attempts to bend the light of days in order to become the supreme power in an apocalyptic future, they confront a goddess who is older than time itself– and she’ll stop at nothing to get the one soul who escaped her through the years: Livvy.

With deceit, war and love swirling in the clouds above a shattered world that was once Livvy’s home, she’ll be asked to do something a girl with a broken heart never thought possible.
Fight for Windhook. Fight for her world.
Take wing with Livvy, one heartbeat at a time.

 

What do you think?

Cheers!

Terry

The misery of dieting.

I began the Spring Pre-Running Diet. I will fist fight for: pizza, cheese, spicy tuna sushi rolls, cheeseburgers, fried anything, milkshakes, ice cream, pie, waffles, or cake.

I will also, at the minimum, wrestle for pancakes, steak, eggs with actual cheese, a bucket of ketchup, mayo on a shoe, bread, cookies, hash browns, sausage, any kind of casserole, tacos, fish sandwiches (species irrelevant) and any animal that has ever lived in the ocean with the exception of a walrus, and even that’s negotiable.

As you may guess, my life is not unlike that of an insect– a large, six foot tall insect that goes through the following life cycle every year:

  1. Spring- a time of emergence from the grim winter, thickened and pale, not unlike a grub– but one who wears clothes and complains about Daylight Savings Time.
  2. Summer. Utter joy! I run! I tan! I fish! I leap about, all while becoming the human I was always meant to be, but with a glistening coat of sweat at all times.
  3. Fall. the magic of autumn, in which I begin to pupate as my conversion into a Basic White Girl takes hold. Coffee! Pumpkins! Holidays! Turkey and pie and shame! Mild existential dread at knowing that after Christmas, life is over!
  4. Winter. Pre-Pre-Christmas! Pre-Christmas! CHRISTMAS! Moderate depression after Christmas. The letdown of New Year’s Eve, following by the horror of sunset at 4:30 PM. My body begins to spin a cocoon of fat, even as the tan fades from my skin. I think what the sun used to look like, and sigh.

So, that’s where I’m at. Post-Winter Diet: check. Moderate anger: check.

I feel like there’s a lot of broccoli in my future, and it makes me sad.

Whatever,

Terry