Category Archives: I am

Yes, I’m still around. Sorta…

About the time I got the nod from Loose Id to republish Fallen I was offered a job I’d been eyeing for some time. I certainly won’t complain. I love the role. Unfortunately, it takes more mental energy and more outright work than the other jobs I’ve had over the past two decades, and so writing has fallen to the wayside.

It’s not permanent. Or so I’ve been telling myself. I still have ideas for new stories. I still play upcoming scenes between Crank and Mike in my head while driving to the office. What I haven’t done is figure out when to sit and type.

Sure, I’m doing so now, but even as I do I can feel the muscles in my left forearm twitch. One muscle in particular. Of course, it’s the one that gets aggravated when the palm is turned down. You know, as in typing position, for example.

I won’t give it up however. The job, or the activity that caused the muscle strain. Writing, too. I’m not giving that up. I will figure out how to fit it in once again. This is not a promise to you, dear Readers, but to myself.

While I’m trying to figure this out – or perhaps to help me figure this out – I’ve set a goal to post to the blog each Sunday. With football season in full swing, I figure I can at least find the time during half-time to post something. There probably won’t be much for writing updates, and CRANK take a little longer than a half-time show, but something. Perhaps some healthy living updates, or flash fiction, or mini-dissertations on the conflict of feelings between my love for the Patriots and my loathing for Roger Goodell. I’ll write something.

With that goal, I hope to have the need to write re-blossom. Even now, I’m wondering if I have it in me to write one more – I’m very much overdue to post to Slash & Burn, and to CRANK, and to the story that I’m co-writing with the lovely and talented Dorothy Shaw. I want to. I do. But can I do it?


The Easy (er) Sport

They say running is an easy sport to pick up. Just put one foot in front of the other. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

It’s not that easy. Sometimes the feet end up higher than the hips.

I don’t trail run often but I’m no amateur either. With a recent break in the August heat, I ducked into the woods when I would’ve normally been running laps around the office campus. As I neared the end of the trail, I experienced a brief moment of distraction which ended with my foot catching… something, and the rest of me continuing with the momentum of my run.

I never thought myself a fast runner but that little trip had me rushing at the ground pretty darn fast. Not so fast that several thoughts couldn’t race through my mind as I fell.

Pick up your feet for fuck’s sake.

You got this.

No, you don’t.

Ground to knee. Ouch.

Shoulder’s gonna hurt if we don’t do something.

Tuck and roll.

Not exactly.

Gotta try. Pulled shoulder in, tucked chin to chest.

Roll. Yes. Got this.


Then I’m sitting on the edge of a bed of ferns, my legs splayed out in front of me, my water bottle gone, and I’m looking around like I expect to discover I’ve fallen down the Rabbit Hole. There was no caterpillar and no grinning cat. Just the trees, the sky, and a lot of dirt.

Okay, no biggie. It’s over.

Am I hurt?

(pause) Nothing feels hurt.

I glance down the length of my body, somehow amused that my legs are splayed out straight in front of me since the last thing I remember is hoping I don’t jar my shoulder.

Everything seems okay.

My gaze falls on my Gamin. Time’s moving. Gonna mess up my timing.

I was on my feet, brushing dirt and pine needles off my arm as quick as I hit the ground. I paused to check my knee. Blood. Dirt. Lifted my foot. Everything still worked and time was ticking.

I’ve heard it from mountain bikers. Rub dirt in it and get your ass back on the bike. Okay. I look around for clean dirt. Yes, I did. Go ahead and laugh. There are a lot of geese on campus and I wasn’t going to rub goose crap in my wound. I scooped my fingers across the ground and then rubbed dirt over the blood on the side of my calf. I decided there was enough on my knee, and turned toward the trailhead. I was two hundred meters from the end, but I wasn’t letting that trail win. I stepped off the trail and then circled around to do that loop again.

I managed to keep my feet on the ground on the second loop. One foot in front of the other. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Easy…er.

The 5K Revolution

I’ve been running for a while now. I had been working my way up to attempting my first 10k when I broke the third metatarsal of my left foot on what was supposed to be a lazy, easy running day. (On what was supposed to be a rest day, but I digress. That’s a topic for another time.)

This spring, I officially acknowledged that I was finally back to where I was before that injury. Sure, it might’ve come a little sooner but each time I’ve come close to declaring being 100% I’ve had an issue – shin splints, hip pain, foot cramps. Well, you get the idea.

I still struggle with Charlie-horse-like cramps in my arches on bad days, but I refuse to let that keep me down. At least, not down past the time it takes to soak tired feet in cold water before bed. Seriously, it feels great, and I sleep better when my feet aren’t hot. Two birds, as they say.

So, anyway. 10k. 6.2 miles. I’ve been toeing that line again lately. When I go to run club speed work sessions it often adds up to five to six miles, and when I run without watching the clock on Sunday mornings, it tends to reach that point as well. I’m not yet up for running 10k all at once without walk breaks but the potential for a fall 10k race has been on my mind lately.

Then I read a great piece about the 5k by Lauren Fleshman in Runner’s World magazine:

“10 Reasons the 5K is Freaking Awesome”

Yes, I’ve fallen for the same things she talks about in this article. I can do 5k; it’s time to do more. Or, after finishing a “long” run of walk/run five miles, 10k is doable, and the half is right around the corner. For you non-runners, a half is 13.1 miles, a half marathon. Or, in some circles only half crazy.

It gets worse from there.

Yes, I’ve considered training up to a half-marathon despite my frustrations with injury, heat, cramps, and other TMI things. I’ve considered it… but only a little. I like running. No, I love running. It is my private time. Just me, and the battle between I’m tired. I can walk now, and Yes, I’m tired, but I’m not going to improve if I don’t push. I can still do that in 3.1 miles. For 6.2 it’d be all about whether or not I should do 2-mile intervals, or set a stretch-goal of two threes.

It was already out there, but Fleshman’s article hit home at a time when I was thinking of doing something besides setting a 5k goal for the 2014 season. This spring, as I started speed work with a running club for the first time in my life, I set a goal of a sub-30 5k by the end of the year. 10k wasn’t in the plan. It doesn’t need to be. If I can break 30 minutes in the 5k, I’ll be thrilled. I’ll be fitter at 40, than I was at half that, and if that’s not something to be proud of, I certainly don’t expect to feel any better finishing a six-point-two at any time.

I don’t need to keep adding miles. I don’t need to daydream about running the Rock n Roll half-marathon in Vegas (Ok, I do – daydream, that is – but not seriously.)

As Fleshman put it: The 5K is freaking awesome.

I don’t need to be crazy, or half-crazy. I only need to run.


Enigma in Introversion

I’m a bit of an enigma, even to myself.

Here I sit, contemplating the strange contradiction of my mind, while waiting for another hour to pass so we can get this event over with. No, not the contemplation, but the wedding event. I’m in Tampa. It’s raining, thundering too, and that’s today’s saving grace. I love a powerful storm, and I hate weddings.

Yes, the author who writes happily ever after over and over again hates weddings. Maybe hate is too strong of a word you may think, but let’s face it, the bride will never read this, and besides, it’s not her fault. She’s a wonderful girl, and she’s got a great family, both by birth and, soon, by marriage. I’m happy for her — I am — but I’d rather stay in the hotel tonight.

It’s me. It may be the start of their happily ever after, but it’s also a party. A party with a lot of people. A party with a lot of people I don’t know. A party with a lot of people I don’t know being loud and drunk and social. I could keep going but I think you get the idea. It’s all well and good to celebrate a marriage, and it’s a perfect milestone to what should be many years of love and happiness — their own happily ever after — but as a world-class introvert, I dread the celebration.

Maybe I’m not really an enigma, but I like the word. Enigma. It’ll give me something to think about when I retreat from the inundation of stimulation within the wild celebration of romance and happiness. Happily ever after. I wonder if the best man needs one with that twink usher?

I could cut you off with a shoulder of stone
Smoke all night and leave the party alone
Screw myself with an inscrutable pout
But I just want you to come figure me out

I don’t want to be another mystery, oh no
I don’t want to see who’s looking at me, oh no

~Dar Williams, Another Mystery

New Year

(Originally posted at Slash & Burn)

We all have our own ways of celebrating the retiring of one year and the birth of another. Some watched the ball drop on Times Square, others drank until they couldn’t remember last year, still others spent quiet time with family. Regardless of how you rang in the New Year, let’s make it the best one yet.

How? I’m glad you asked. Here are my ideas for 2013:

Look for the happiness and joy in your life every day. Maybe it’s a hug from your child, or and unexpected text from an old friend. Maybe it’s that chocolate bar you’d been saving for a special occasion, or freshly fallen snow painting your yard a pristine white. Look for it, acknowledge it, appreciate it.

Better yourself. No, not resolutions; something you’ll enjoy. Pick an instrument and take some music lessons. Learn how to snowshoe. Study a foreign language. Apply for a better job. Participate in a charity; pick one that means something strong to you.

Lastly, step away. So many of us spend way too much time in front of the computer. Social interaction online is simply not the same as taking a friend out for coffee, or going shopping with your sister. Get away from your computer and get some fresh air, and welcome smiles with friends and family, and do it often. Oh, and don’t check your smart phone while you’re doing it.

In 2013,

May you find what you seek. May you catch the dreams you chase. May you walk the path to your most desired life goals. May the New Year treat you with the same joy and love for life as you give yourself every day.

Happy New Year!


PS. Yes, lazy. I’m reposting a blog post I already wrote. That’s how little I’m writing, but I’ll come back. I promise. If not fiction, I will — at the least — write the next Hunger post. Fun stuff, food.

Just for Fun: The Muse vs Warcraft

I’ve been going back and forth between feeling guilty for not writing much and admitting that The Job That Pays The Bills is taking way too much of my mental energy for me to write something actually worth reading after being in the office all day and week.

The guilt jumped tenfold when I resubscribed to World of Warcraft. Chances are you’ve heard of this game. They spend a lot on online ads and TV commercials to drive the membership numbers. It is a fun game – that I won’t deny – but it’s also an addicting game. It has mechanics that appeal to my OCD tendencies, and I’ll find myself saying “I’ll take a break after this quest.” An hour, four quests, and three side tangents later, I may notice that I lied to myself about that break.

What’s a girl to do when she has to pay the bills? I love my day job. I’m good at it. I want to be better and get that next promotion, but I also want writing to be more than a passing fancy. I love to be the storyteller, and it makes my day when someone really, truly gets a character. The people I help during the day don’t need me as much as my boys do. The former have more money than they know what to do with while my boys won’t find their Happily Ever After without the guiding touch of a loving hand.

Regardless of day job versus writing, I need to stop feeling guilty about having fun. We all need to have fun and we need to do it every day. Life has to be enjoyable or it becomes harder and harder to get up every day. Yes, there will be a time when I’ll need to cut back on the Warcraft hours and apply that time to writing, but not until I can come home from the Job That Pays The Bills with the mental energy to crave the written word. Yes, crave. I never want storytelling to become a chore.

I’m still working on Man Whore’s untitled sequel. I’m determined to get that finished, little bit by little bit at a time. I haven’t given up. Nor am I going to feel guilty when this evening consists of no more than a three-mile run through the woods followed by a two-hour crawl through dungeons.

Hey sometimes video games can inspire a new story too!


Walking the Tangent

Needing a break, I left for a walk.

Nope, not the blog update I really should be doing, but it’s been “one of those days”. Don’t ask me what “those” days are, because I’d be loath to define them. I have been trying to be more positive, however, because I loathe the constant complainer.

Like that? Loathe… Loath… You can learn more about these often confused words at my new favorite blog: Okay, so it’s not my favorite yet, as I’ve only read the one article, but if there are more like this, One Step Forward will become a regular read fairly quickly.


As I was saying, I went for a walk. Initially, I wanted so desperately to escape the noise levels created by one single person who talks on the phone like she’s trying to rally an entire audience without a microphone that I forgot to change into my sneakers.

Let’s face it, ladies, womens’ dress shoes suck. They’re cute, but they rarely fit right, let alone support the foot for a good long walk to blow off steam.

I wasn’t returning to the rock concert of screeching chickens, so I veered into the parking lot. My Vibram Five-Fingers had been in my car for a month as I promised myself over and over to wear them on my next visit to the gym without success.

Oh, no, my reluctance had nothing to do with those being the shoes I was wearing when I broke my foot. I already know that it was likely a combination of low calcium levels, over-training, and craptastic sneakers (a brand not Vibram) that threw off my gait. Still, I’ve been wearing my neon green sneakers with pride.

But, alas, name me tangent…

There is something so beautiful about walking through icy cold mud of snow melt off while a cool, crisp breeze sneaks frigid fingers under the fur lining of my coat, and the sun shines down without offering much warmth. Once upon a time, I’d seek out the elements like that, but I’ve fallen away from the practice. That walk reinspired me. Not just for exercise or fresh air, but for my connection to nature – the sloppy mud of Earth and Water, the sharp caress of Air, and the gentle warm of Fire.

Last month, over at Slash & Burn, I made “resolutions” for January. I succeeded at one, not just submitting the punk rocker story, but signing a contract for it, and the other two were attempted, though I’m still working at making them a true good habit.

For February, I hope to continue to explore the sense of peace and strength I find from my pagan side. I’ll also be working on laying down the scenes to bring the CRANK story to a natural breaking point. There’s a third story to come, but first I need to refocus what is threatening to ramble away. Finally, I will finish my credits to renew my finance licenses. Yes, a boring last one, but I’ve been putting it off, due to work politics. Once completed, I can focus on writing for March, so a worthy February resolution.

Have a great weekend, dear Readers, and stay tuned for more information on A Hound’s Love coming from Loose Id later this year.

Pia Veleno

A Simple Joy

As I worked my way through my strength training routine, watching other gym rats walk or run beyond the TV bank, an epiphany hit. I had actually enjoyed the treadmill. After four months of rest and recovery following a stress fracture in my foot, I managed to run three intervals of five minutes each, and I didn’t hurt. I had that runner’s high back. I felt good. I couldn’t wait to tell my love about that big, huge, exciting five minutes. Almost a half mile at my slow, training from injury pace of a 12-minute mile, but it was almost a half mile!

A year ago, I was running four to six miles at a time and dreading the inevitable return to the gym as the narrow roads were too dark after work to run safely. Soon enough, snow banks would add to that danger. I hated the thought. I hated the treadmill. I needed to be outdoors with the fresh air, beautiful scenery, and random turns through my neighborhood, and several others nearby. I needed to be outdoors like I needed to breathe, eat, and sleep.

And yet, as I swung my arms in a delt fly, I realized I had enjoyed the treadmill like I enjoy running outside. It took eight weeks of crutches and eight more of easing back into things as simple as walking around the grocery store to make me appreciate five straight minutes of running in place staring at TV programs I wouldn’t be caught dead watching if I was anywhere else.

The treadmill is not evil. I will not let myself go back to that loathing. As long as I live inNew England, I will suffer brutal winters that force me to use the gym’s treadmill to run. If I start hating that machine again, I will get lazy again. I love to run too much to let something as unavoidable as winter interfere with the soaring beauty of a great run. In my determination to run faster and longer, I had forgotten the pleasure of simply running. Now I remember.

Now I run.

Setting Goals

Today is the last day of November.

Hey, I’m good. Huh? Yep, last day.

And then I reflected on what I’ve done (or rather, what I haven’t done this month) and I can see why I’m amused at even realizing the month is over.

I’ve done nothing.


So, shut the eff up, and do something about it, Pia.

Yep, I heard you. I intend to. I’ve been intending to… right after I stop berating myself for falling for the annual lure into hibernation.

Each year, as the days become shorter, I give in to an apathetic laziness that I can only blame on lack of sunlight and willpower. This year I tried taking extra Vitamin D to combat it, but it hasn’t helped. Much.

Okay, so it has helped my mood, but not my productivity. I could also blame the productivity levels on the healing foot (I’m still not running more than two or three minutes at a time) or my neck (sitting around, instead of running or other exercise is affecting my entire body,) but when it comes down to it, I go through this every fall.

I’m working on that. Really I am.

Last night I moved three manuscripts to my Kindle so I can read through them, refamiliarize myself with the characters and story, and make a list of notes for the next round of edits. I’m setting a goal of having one of them ready to share with my editor by the end of the year. I’m also setting a goal to have a rough synopsis ready to share with her for a fresh story. The latter is sketched out, but needs some concentration to flesh out details that have been rolling around in my head. Lastly, I need to read through the original CRANK posts so I can take notes on ideas for rewriting it in novel format.

That’s right, dear Readers, for those of you who missed the first year of that online story, I fully intend to release CRANK in ebook format some time next year. Never mind if you’re already reading CRANK as it’s released each Sunday, because this ebook will fill in the background and show you how Crandall and Mike got together and got stuck chasing vampires. It’ll be setting it up to be read either before or after the current installments since there are readers on both sides of the spectrum.

Okay, enough goal setting. Now I need to buckle down and attack those goals. Please excuse the return of Placebo lyrics tweets, as Mr. Molko’s is one of the few triggers that can drag my motivation out of the Winter Blahs and back into the wonderful world of Make Believe.

Slash & Burn day

Today’s my day to chat at Slash & Burn. Drop by and offer a recommendation as I ramble about judging a book by its cover.

(For those of you that follow me on Twitter, I did mention a “girl with the curl” post, but that one has been postponed for another day. Soon. I promise.)

Happy Sunday, dear Readers!

Pia Veleno