June 24, 2013

Starting a New Book

In 1981 my stepfather quit his job (or was fired, I'm not sure we ever got the story straight) and moved me and my four younger brothers and sisters from our suburban neighborhood in Las Vegas, NV to a nearly abandoned mining town nestled in the Superstitious Mountains of Arizona.

My stepfather had heard that there was a magical plant that grew in these parts (and almost nowhere else in the world) that would revolutionize the cosmetics industry. If we 'beat' the others and picked and sold this plant we would never have to 'work for the man' again.

During our stint in the mountains we lived in an abandoned miner's shack and hired illegal immigrants from Central America to aid us on our quest. We lived there two years and (obviously) did not become rich. But we did have many adventures.

I have started writing this story, or at least part of it. My new book Mama's Not Home is inspired by the actual events of the move and our new lives in the mountains.

But it's hard.

I'm struggling with how much truth to put in and how much to fictionalize. I love the setting and setup of the story but I'm not sure its worthy of an entire book. I guess we will see.

At any rate I will be working on that for the next few months. It's a story I've always wanted to tell. It's funny how much I hated being there then and how I've realized what a marvelous adventure the entire thing was in retrospect.

June 21, 2013

Jeans (or A Dieter's Lament)


I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as size six jeans

Jeans whose zipper zips right up

Without protesting to my rump

Jeans that will not bag all day

Even after thighs that splay

Jeans that flatter, jeans that pop

And hide my growing muffin top

Within whose denim I can hide

The divots dotting my backside

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only Lipolife in the strip mall next to the old Denny’s that is now a hangout for drug dealers and daytime hookers

Can get me into those size six jeans.

 
(inspired by Joyce Kilmer's poem Trees)

June 20, 2013

My Boots!

      Three days ago our neighbor girls knocked on our door. They had an armful of kittens.
     "Would you like to adopt one for free?" one of the girls asked. I surveyed the cats.
     Up until this moment my husband and I had talked about getting a pet but had never really gotten past the talking part. Pets were a big commitment, something neither of us had felt ready for since getting married. We had both had pets before. They were smelly, destructive, and needy, and my husband and I are both typically, for lack of a better word, selfish with our time.
     But there was something so sweet about one of those kittens that I couldn't resist. Without thinking I nodded yes and scooped the fluffy black and white one up into my own arms. It was a boy. 
     His name was Socks. And I was in love.
     I texted my husband tentatively. "Please, don't get mad, but I got us a cat." I included a picture of said kitty with his big eyes and fluffy body. My husband didn't respond for thirty minutes. Finally, he texted back, "he's cute." I wasn't sure what this meant or how my husband really felt about the matter, but I was going to take it for a win.
     Socks was mine.
     Socks, who I renamed Boots, has been an utter joy in my life for the last three days. He loves to play and hang out with me and purr, but he isn't super needy, which is good. And, unlike my dying plants on the front deck, he actually sounds an alarm when he's hungry or needs water. I think if more plants adopted that behavior they'd stand a better chance of surviving their first few weeks under my care.
     I'm not sure which direction my life will take now that I'm a cat owner. I've never owned a cat before. But I hope that I will be a good mommie to the little guy. We took him in to get his shots (his sibling had to be put to sleep because he had contacted a disease and I was very worried) and neutered this morning. I'm afraid when I pick him up he will look at my like I've betrayed him. I hope he forgives me.
     Anyways, just updating about the new addition to my life. Animals are good for the soul and I'm surprised it took me this many years to adopt another pet.

June 8, 2013

Leaf Me Alone

I've got two dead plants sitting on my deck, and one brand-spanking new, beautiful blooming plant in my hands, courtesy of yet another trip to the local nursery.

I can feel my new baby's vines clench and tighten at the sight of the dead ones. She doesn't want to end up like they did.

I coo at her. "I promise this won't happen to you. I will take better care of you than I did your sisters. I will water you and take you out of the sun and maybe even buy you plant food if you're a good girl."

Her petals are still clenched. I can almost feel her quivering as I remove her from her planter and place her in one of mine.

"Turn back," the ghosts of the dead hydrangeas seem to call out to her. "Go back to Fred Meyer before it's too late."

I plop her in, half-cover her with soil, and then my phone rings.

She will sit like this for another week and a half. Then she too will probably join the others in the plastic plant cemetery marked "Yard Debri Only".

June 7, 2013

The Universe is a Very Big Place Trailer

Trailer for The Universe is a Very Big Place. Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

God Approves Online Dating

I have thought about this a lot. Too much maybe.

I get this image of God, long white hair and robes, bare feet, sitting at a desk, staring at a computer. He leans in, squinting, sighs and puts on his glasses. God is very, very old and his eye's aren't what they used to be.

He lifts his right index finger and hovers it above the keyboard, searching for the letter H. He knows its in the middle somewhere, but he just can't seem to find it. He shakes his head, knowing he should have finished up his Mavis Beacon Typing Tutorial. But between the wars and the famines and trying to figure out what that last episode of Lost meant, there just wasn't the time.

Finally, he spies the letter and punches it in. Then he hunts for the letter A.

"Are you almost done in there?" Mrs. God asks, pushing her way through two clouds, carrying a tray of angel food cake.

"Just finishing up some work," God says, hardly glancing at his wife.

She sets the tray down on the corner of his desk. "You're working too hard," she said, putting a hand on his shoulder. He waves her away dismissively and she bustles out of the room to return to her soap: The Days Of Our Purgatory.

"Done!" God announces triumphantly, but there is no one around to hear him. Even the angels are sleeping.

His shoulders sink. Maybe he should take their cue. The long hours are taking their toll.  He can't party like the Universe is still a billion years old anymore.

"I hope this is a good idea," God says again. He can't afford another mistake. Michael's still razzing him about that whole dinosaur thing. You forget to keep your eye on a couple of lizards while you take a class on asteroid building, and suddenly the earth is overrun with those damned things. It was a timely class, if a bit ironic.

God pushes the submit button, hoping he's done the right thing. That Harriet lady looked pretty nice. So did that Iowa fellow, Jebediah. Harriet knows how to cook, sing, and can recite all the begets of the Bible. Jebediah has a plow, a degree in horticulture, and has never lusted after his neighbor's wife. Those two kids should get along well together.

"Thank you Christian Mingle Dot Com," God says. "For making my life easier. Before your site came along I wasn't sure how I could pull off a stunt like having someone from Iowa meet someone from the greater LA area. I mean, parting  the Red Sea and creating the Universe was nothing compared to match making. You have my endorsement. Feel free to use my name in all your commercials."

God grabs his staff and raises himself to a standing position. He looks around his office. Everything is in it's place. He can get some sleep now, and he needs it. Tomorrow he has to tackle Farmers Only Dot Com. Sure, they haven't asked him to help out, but after everything he's put those poor farmers through this last century, the least he can do is to help them find love. And maybe grow some more corn.

He walks to his cloud, his mind still full.

Maybe he'll see about getting an intern to help with the typing.


Not My Cup of Tea

Being old and married sucks sometimes. I'm only including married in this post because I refuse to blame the following story just on being old.


I'm at Starbucks, having ridden there on my pretty pink cruiser (see previous blog post). My hair is down and comved for once (in writer mode its usually up in a sweaty pony tale secured by a scrunchie I found at the gym). I have make up on and my clothes all match. I am thinking I look almost cute today.

I order a Venti Black Iced Tea Unsweetened (would it kill Starbucks to just make small, medium, and large?). I get my tea, pull out my copy of On The Road, and find a small table near a lovely window. Life is good.

The whole time this is going on I'm very aware of a man watching me. He is short, round, and totally not my type. Ugh, I think. Happy to not be in the dating world. I don't make eye contact with him but I can feel his gaze on me.

Finally, he stands and comes to my table.

"Uh-oh," I think, ready to whip out my ring finger. "He is going to ask me out."

"Excuse me, ma'am," he says. (by the way fellas, never try to seduce a woman by using the word ma'am in your intro). "I couldn't help noticing that you are drinking tea. Is that correct?"

I nod, looking down at my cup to show him that I still had plenty and he didn't need to worry about buying me another. My bladder would give out long before I finished this one. I give him a  moment to digest this then reply,"yes, yes I am."

"What kind of tea is it?"

"Just plain black tea."

He pulled a chair from an adjoining table and sat across from me, leaning in on his arms. "I'm a tea lover, too."

"Really?" was all I could come up with. I wasn't used to being propositioned in such a way. Not in a Starbucks during the daytime when people were still sober.

"Yes,' he answered, "And I would love to treat you to a cup."

I lifted my left hand to show him my ring. "I'm so sorry. It's very flattering but..."

He scratched his head. "Your husband doesn't like tea?"

"Oh yes, yes he does. But I'm not sure he'd like it if I drank tea with you." I needed to make this clear to him before he assumed I was one of them Desperate Housewife types. "My husband and I have an exclusive tea-drinking relationship."

"I'm sorry," he said, rising. "I think there's been a mistake. I sell tea." He pulled out a business card that read: Georgio - Tea Importer. His office was two blocks away. "I thought you might want to try some really good shit. This Starbucks crap is way too diluted. One sip of my tea and you won't need to sleep for three days. Look me up if you change your mind."

With that he handed me his card and walked away.

I was sure that every eye in Starbucks was on me, laughing. I had been dissed by the Tea Bag Man.

From now on, I decided, I'm wearing nothing but sweats out of the house. Great, big, baggy ones with holes in the knees.  At least then I won't assume that men are hitting on me.

And it will be a pleasant surprise if they do.

June 6, 2013

Off The Rack

It's a beautiful day in Portland. The sun is shining. And my allergies are finally under control.

I decide I'm going to break out the bike and ride it  to a coffee shop, spending my morning sipping tea and reading, a luxury I haven't had for months.

Somehow, we had lost my old bike chain so hubby got me a new one. I realize the first hurdle to getting said bike ride done was getting chain set up. Its one of those cute combination ones where you can 'program' in your own number. Mines 1111 by the way, in case you ever want to borrow my bike.

Anyways...

I'm reading directions for this thing, and yes there are directions, and it says...and I'm not kidding here, that to properly lock my bike up I have to remove the front tire and put the lock through the back tire and whatever or whoever I want to chain it to (okay I made up the whoever part).

What the hell?

It never says what I'm supposed to do with said tire. Just remove it. That's all.

So, I'm supposed to go the coffee shop, order tea and read my book, while holding a bike tire in my lap?

Or is there a tire day care I don't know about, one that charges an hourly rate to care for it while I enjoy my Starbucks experience? If not, maybe there's a market for it.

Now, I'm feeling daunted. In my mind I'm a rules breaker, but in my heart I'm somewhat of a coward. What if I take the chance and DON"T remove the tire and then when I'm done with my coffee I come out and my bike is gone and I'm like damn, now I know why they said to remove the tire.

Another thought occurs to me...I didn't need to buy the chain after all. If I just removed the tire, and dismantled any other extraneous parts, no one's gonna steal it anyway. Because then it's just a piece of junk.

There is a lot of logistics that is involved in this whole ordeal. No wonder we are a lazy nation. It's way too much work to even start to get healthy.

The Witches of Dark Root (Excerpt)



What is it about our childhood that makes us want to run from it––and return to it––all in one breath? I had hated Dark Root in my teenage years, tried to escape from it like it was Alcatraz, yet now I was saddened because it no longer felt familiar and safe.

I had spent the night in Harvest Home, lulled into a deep sleep by the warmth of the blankets and the scent of lavender under my pillow, yet I tossed and turned all night with dreams of a past I had hoped to forget. I had been reunited with my sisters, the girls I had grown up with who were both my friends and my rivals. My body and mind were a jumble of emotions.

I was home. For better or worse.

There was one thing I was not ambivalent about––seeing my mother, Miss Sasha Shantay. The woman who had raised me, loved me, taught me, and brainwashed me.

I felt like a horrible human being for even thinking it, but I didn’t want to see her. I wasn’t ready. The thought left me with a chill that went deep into my bones.

I swallowed, scratching at an imaginary itch on my leg as I bumped along in the truck beside Eve and Shane. My sister stared straight ahead, lost in her own thoughts. I wanted to touch her hand, to show her that we were in this together, but we weren’t. Eve would deal with it better than me. She was floaty, breezy, whimsical, shallow. Bad couldn’t penetrate her, because there was nothing to penetrate. I was the one who sucked things in, letting them fester, holding on to them long after they should have been tossed away.

I recalled my conversation with Michael in the grocery store just a week ago.

I had told him that I ‘left Dark Root for a reason.’ Seven days ago I thought there were many reasons: because Ruth Anne had disappeared and nobody talked about her, because Merry had gotten married and not a soul objected, because Eve was going to leave at the first chance she got and I wanted to beat her to it.

But the truth was––and it was clear to me now, as we made our way back to Sister House––the truth was, I had run away from my mother.

My stomach sank as I wrestled with this revelation, braiding and unbraiding the ends of my hair until it was so gummy it held together by itself.

Who runs away from their mother?

Especially my mother, the beloved toast of the town, belle of the ball. People sought her out, flocked to her. I didn’t remember a day going by when we didn’t have a house full of visitors. There would be teas and brunches and salon style discussions. Sometimes we would be invited to join, dressed up like dolls, as Mother and her friends chatted about the weather, the economy, witchery, and their views on men.

“If you want to cast a love spell, all the power to you,” Mother would say, taking a sip from her teacup. “I will point you in the direction, but I won’t participate.”

While she invoked the craft for many reasons, love wasn’t on that list.

“Love is overrated,” she’d say. “Love makes you give up everything, and for what? To be an unappreciated, overworked house-frau, with no life of your own. Just look at what it did to poor Julia.” With that, she would point to the picture of Julia Benbridge, dressed all in black, which hung over our mantle.

“If you ask me,” Mother would continue. “She was much better off after that man passed. Then, and only then, was she free to pursue her real life. No ladies, love has no place in this world. Men are only good for one thing, and when that’s done, you need to move on...”

This didn’t dissuade Merry, who fell madly in love with Frank after just three dates, or Eve, who practiced love spells on her own, in the middle of the night. Pity none of the men she ever cast her spells on were worth the rat’s tails used for the invocations.

As for me, I wanted to believe in love. Despite Mother’s warnings, I had this sense that when your soul finds someone, that right someone, there is a magic created in the universe more powerful than any incantation.

**
The Witches of Dark Root is available at Amazon
Amazon Link

June 5, 2013

An Author Interview

Check out my author interview at the Awesomegang site. You can also click on the link for The Witches of Dark Root to learn even more about this book!

http://awesomegang.com/april-aasheim/

Goodreads Giveaway: The Witches of Dark Root (signed first edition)

In honor of my book launch for The Witches of Dark Root I am offering another Goodreads Giveaway! This time win a first edition (hot off the press before anyone else gets them) signed copy of the paperback. Of course, you can still buy the Kindle version too :)

Goodreads Giveaway starts June 6th. Four signed copies available.



Goodreads Book Giveaway


The Witches of Dark Root by April Aasheim

The Witches of Dark Root

by April Aasheim


Giveaway ends June 28, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.


Enter to win

A Girl and Her Yankee Candles

It's 5:30 in the morning, a time which never should have been invented by the way, and I'm sitting with my laptop outside of Yankee Candle waiting for the salesgirls to show up.

I check my preferred customer coupon again. Frick. The store doesn't open until 8 AM, even for those of us who bleed Yankee.

The manager shows up, notes my position in line - okay I am the line - and gives me a frightened smile as she rushes inside, locking the door behind her. She's had candle stalkers before. And I'm sure she's heard of me.

I'm not sure when I got addicted to Yankees. Or even why. I remember passing one in the mall, and though I am not a huge shopper, I felt the irresistible urge to go inside. I think it was the banana cream pie scent that did it. While I'm not a huge shopper, I do love food. Especially junk food.

It was around Halloween and they had all these super cutsie skeleton candle holders and I found myself oohing and awing over every one. Plus, they had thousands, and I mean thousands of candles in every size, scent, and color. It was like being in a candy shop. It even smelled like a candy shop. Except you don't want to eat them. Trust me on this.

So, fast forward three years and I am an official addict. Every time I get a coupon in my email I pull my husband to the store and demand he help me pick out some scents. Not that it matters. He only goes for one scent, The Pink Sands, which he proudly burns in his man cave. He made a mistake once and bought the Pink Lady Slippers. I had loads of fun with that. But that's another story.

But what I really live for are these 'semi-annual' clearance sales. That's when they all go 75% off. I can fill a few closets with these in just a day or two of shopping. I also hide them under beds and in storage units. It's a sickness, and one my husband knows about, but doesn't 'really' know about. Some things in marriage should remain a mystery.

I burn the lavender-vanillas at nap time. If you ever want to sink into a very deep sleep and have these amazing macabre Alice in Wonderland type dreams, burn  vanilla-lavender. It's like a PCP trip without the legal repercussions.

I burn the pie scented candles in the kitchen. If I can't eat the pie I'm at least going to pretend like I have some baking. At times, it feels like I'm cheating on my diet. And for some reason it helps to satisfy my sweet tooth craving.

I burn the softer scents in the bathroom. You really don't want a strong scent in there. Another thing you should trust me on.

By now the ladies at Yankee know me, and know me well. I think there was even a picture of me up for a while with a 'Do Not Trim Wicks for This Woman' in the break room after an unfortunate incident I'd rather not mention. But it's all good now. That manager is gone and that means the incident never happened.

I'm counting down the minutes until the store opens. There are two ladies behind me now, with giant empty bags waiting to be filled. I bare my teeth at them in warning. First dibs, I say with my eyes, on all Pink Sands and Banana Cream Pies.

They bare theirs back. But I'm not threatened. If they were really that serious they would have been here earlier. Like me.

June 4, 2013

Sick of Being Sick Ramble

Oh, how I hate being sick. I really do. Mainly because I'm not good at it.

The thought of sitting down and doing nothing all day is exciting, but when it actually comes time for it, all I can think about are the things I'm missing out on.

Such as the sunshine I can see through the cracks of my curtains. The beam almost, but not quite, hitting my toe on the couch.

And I can hear people laughing. Having fun in the world. Without me.

I think this is what it must be like to be dead. But being dead is probably a bit better because then you don't know what you are missing out on. Unless, of course, you are a ghost. That would really suck. So to sum it up, being sick must be like being a ghost.

At any rate, I pulled my half-dead body up from the marathon of House Hunters International just to see what was going on in the world. In the online world of course. The real world is too brutal for me today with it's sunshine and happiness. The online world mirrors my mood more at the minute. At least on CNN.com. Funny enough, not much has changed.

Yep. I'm rambling. Waiting for husband to bring me soup. And maybe pie. Apples are healthy right, which aid in the healing process.

Super excited that The Witches of Dark Root is coming out this week. I've poured my soul into it. It's funny, as you read the last line of a book you've written, that feeling of awe that comes over you. I've given birth to something. The most popular kid in school? A monster? I will just have to wait and find out.

Hope you all are having a great week so far!

Cheers!

Excerpt from The Witches of Dark Root (released June, 2013)


Harvest Home, Dark Root, Oregon

October, 1995

 

“Maggie, wake up.” Merry jostled her sister, rousing her from her nap on the couch.

Maggie sat up, rubbed her eyes, and looked around. For a moment she forgot that she was in the living room of Harvest Home.

“Already?” Maggie asked, pushing herself onto elbows.

A loud chime coming from the grandfather clock confirmed that that it was midnight, time for the ritual. Maggie felt the chill from the open door and looked around for her sweater.

“We aren’t supposed to wear anything other than our robes tonight,” Merry cautioned, but helped Maggie into the sweater, anyways.

“Where’s Eve?” Maggie asked. If she was going to have to wander the woods in the middle of the night for some crazy ritual, then Eve better be up, too. Maggie saw her standing by the door, jumping up and down, not tired at all.

Miss Sasha and six of her friends emerged from the dining room, talking excitedly and exchanging knowing glances.

“You girls ready?” Miss Sasha asked. This was to be their first grown up moon chant and Miss Sasha could hardly contain herself. She noticed the sweater Maggie wore over her long blue robe and frowned but didn’t mention it.

Merry, Maggie, Eve, and Ruth Anne followed their mother and her friends into the night.

It was cold and the sisters shivered as they wound their way along an old dirt road shrouded by trees to a circular clearing, a half-mile away. The girls had played in the clearing many times during the day, but this was the first time they had seen it beneath the light of a full moon. The grass looked dewy and lush as the soft light fell upon each blade, but the trees that surrounded the meadow looked foreboding and ominous, as if their long, twisted boughs were ready to snatch the girls, if given the chance.

“What are we doing here again?” Maggie asked, as they made their way towards the center of the circle. “...And how long do we have to stay out?”

The adults moved to a point in the very center of the clearing and the girls positioned themselves a few dozen feet behind them.

Ruth Anne surveyed the area and sat, cross-legged, on the moist grass. “We are rooting out the evil spirits that are trying to infest Dark Root.” Her voice was as flat and informational as an encyclopedia entry.

She reached into the pocket of her dress and pulled out a key-chain flashlight and a comic book and started reading.

“How do we do that?” Maggie asked, watching as the elders––five women and two men––linked raised hands towards the sky.

They began singing, a soft melodic chant that Maggie had heard before.

Merry answered, “Every fall, the Council of Seven places a protective spell around our town. It must be done before the second half of the year begins, on November 1st. It keeps out the dark energies and ensures that the circle is strong.”

Maggie hopped on one foot, and then the other, trying to find warmth in the chill of the night. “But why do we have to do it now?” she moaned. “When it’s so cold?”

Ruth Anne responded, never lifting her eyes from her book. “It’s the witching hour. According to legend, the hours between twelve and three AM are when all things magical, including witches, are at their most powerful.” She turned the page of her book and cracked a smile at one of the drawings. “...It’s too bad we can’t keep out the crazy.”

Maggie widened her eyes. “But if witches are the most powerful now, won’t the bad things be more powerful too?”

“I’m scared,” Eve said, jumping in place as the elders continued their chant. Eve liked magick, but only the lighter arts, and those that yielded her a reward.

Merry took Eve’s hand and kissed it, and Maggie latched onto Merry’s other hand.

“I’m scared, too,” Merry fibbed.

Merry wasn’t afraid of anything.

There was a long silence, followed by the heavy beat of a loud drum. Miss Sasha looked over her shoulder at her daughters, letting them know that it was almost their turn. They had been practicing the spell for weeks now, and Maggie hoped she wouldn’t forget the words.

Ruth Anne set down her comic book and the four girls clasped hands and waded towards the center of the circle.

Miss Sasha nodded and the girls began their incantation.

As the Witching Hour chimes
And the whole world sleeps and dreams
We join our hands in sisterhood
Staving back the darklings
The circle stands, its shape eternal
Though the darkness is still beckoning
Our light will ward back the infernal
And shield us from the doomsday reckoning


Maggie was still tired and stumbled on a few of the words, completely missing some of them; however, Merry spoke them as loud and clearly as she recited The Pledge of Allegiance at school. All the while, Eve played with her hair and hardly tried at all. For her part, Ruth Anne recited the words without emotion, anxious to get back to her comic book.

“Who wrote the spell?” Ruth Anne had asked their mother earlier that day while they were preparing. “It doesn’t sound right.”

“It doesn’t matter if it sounds right or not,” Miss Sasha had explained. “It’s the power of words––especially when spoken in numbers––that matters. When we stand together, no enemy would dare traverse the boundaries of Dark Root.”

Maggie caught a movement to her right. She thought she had seen a dark form take shape and then vanish. And then another. Were they coming or going? She couldn’t tell.

June 3, 2013

Had to Try

While flipping through the Comcast TV Guide I came across a show called Top Hooker. After I read the synopsis I turned to my husband.

Me: Hey honey. Look. There's a show called Top Hooker. Wanna watch?
Husband: Top hooker huh?
Me: Yep. Tell you what. I will watch this with you and then you can watch a chick flick with me. Sound fair?
Husband: Oh god no.
Me: Really? Why not?
Husband: If you are actually okay with me watching this show I'm sure it's a show I don't want to watch. I'm betting it's not really a show about a prostitute whose really good at her job.

Damn. Busted. It's a show about fishing. I really thought I had him there.

June 1, 2013

Enter to Win! Free!

Reminder: Goodreads giveaway for The Universe is a Very Big Place begins today, June 1st. Ends June 30th. Free to enter. Click link below.



Goodreads Book Giveaway


The Universe Is a Very Big Place by April Aasheim

The Universe Is a Very Big Place

by April Aasheim


Giveaway ends June 30, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

When Spring Ryan leaves her carnival upbringing behind in search of a 'normal life' things start to get hilarious.

Does The Universe have a sense of humor?

This book is filled with quirky characters, zany predicaments, and lots of heart.