1 3 4 5 6 7 23

Happy Release Day: Lady of the Eternal City

For the seventh time in my life, I get to write the words “My book came out today.” What a feeling!

“Lady of the Eternal City” was the book from hell in many ways – it was my first true sequel, and it had my first child narrator, my first redemption arc, and my first male-male romance, not to mention twenty years of back-story, 10+ different countries as settings, and the most complicated and contradictory historical figure (Emperor Hadrian) who I’ve ever had the frustration of researching. LEC was a problem child which I more than once contemplated throwing on the fire and dousing with gasoline, but now my problem child is out in the world – and I’m very proud of it.

I hope you enjoy it, too.

Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Indiebound

A Gift For My Readers

I have been hugely touched by the good wishes, the prayers, and the wonderful support coming in from readers after my house fire of two weeks ago. It’s been a rollercoaster two weeks, but the Overseas Gladiator and I are fighting our way back to normality: burns healing, belongings recovered, progress made slowly but surely on our half-ruined house. I have the best readers, friends, and fans in the world, and I wish I could give you something back.

Fortunately, I can. Sometimes the fates line up like that.

It’s just a hair under two weeks till Lady of the Eternal City is released, and around this time, I’ll usually release the coming book’s first chapter as a sneak preview. This time I’ve gone one better: not only are you getting a teaser excerpt from LEC’s first chapter, you’re getting three bonus stories not included in the book.

LEC has been the book from hell for many reasons–some books are just problem babies while others are angel–and one of my early plot snarls came from the fact that I started the story too early in the timeline. I wanted to pick up right where Empress of the Seven Hills left off–with Vix wrestling with the impossible choice of killing his best friend; with Titus wondering if an executioner was coming for him; with Sabina in an ever-developing condition. But I ended up scrapping my original start and opening a year after the events of Empress of the Seven Hills, as Hadrian makes his long-awaited entry into Rome as Emperor. It was the right choice, but there were scenes on the cutting-room floor that I always regretted losing. And they made three self-contained little stories all on their own, so I realized I could bundle them together here: three prequel stories taking place in that missing year between Empress of the Seven Hills and Lady of the Eternal City.

Battered warrior Vix has always been Hadrian’s bitter enemy, and he vows that will never change, even when he is made Praetorian Guard and Imperial watchdog. But with his family’s lives on the line, Vix faces a bitter choice: kill a friend, or serve a foe?

Mild, scholarly Titus might once have been favored as Imperial heir, but he never wanted the throne. All he desires is peace in the arms of his new bride–but the jealous Hadrian has other ideas. A horror of bloodshed and violence interrupts Titus’s wedding night, and the man of peace finds a choice at sword-point: honor and death, or betrayal and a cell?

Elegant, elusive Sabina is desperate to escape the bleak future that awaits her as Hadrian’s Empress, and even more desperate to conceal the secret growing in her own body. But when she begs a famous seer for a glimpse into her future, she receives an astonishing vision of the Eternal City under Hadrian’s rule, and the new Empress must choose: her own freedom, or the glory of Rome?

Three former friends find new futures in blood, omen, and prophecy. Three prequel vignettes to “Lady of the Eternal City, in an exclusive e-release titled The Three Fates.

The Three Fates is available for FREE download on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Scribd, and Page Foundry. It is available on Amazon Kindle at 0.99, which was the lowest possible price option. The Three Fates is NOT available in print, since this is an e-release only–and there is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Lady of the Eternal City tucked in the back.

I hope you enjoy it–and again, thank you. Thank you all.

Quinn’s Inferno

Last week my house suffered a catastrophic fire.

I’ve been asked “How did it happen?” so many times I could tell the story in my sleep, but I’ll tell it again on the page. I think for a writer, it isn’t real until we’ve written it down.

The Overseas Gladiator was home from the Middle East, having been given ten days to fly home for his grandmother’s funeral. The day after the funeral we made the long drive home, lit a big fire in our fireplace as we’d done a thousand times before, poured a glass of wine each, and settled down to relax for the rest of a cold Wednesday night. Twenty minutes later, we were homeless.

As we sat in the firelight reading, the fire quietly ate its way out of the back of the fireplace and spread through the wall of the house. By the time a neighbor pounded on our door to let us know the back of the house was kindling, the fire had already raced up inside the wall to the attic and was sweeping through. The Overseas Gladiator tried to hose down the back wall as I raced upstairs to get the Praetorian Dog who had been locked in the bedroom since the commotion started. That was when an enormous boom of a backdraft ripped through the house, a rush of super-heated air and ash billowing down from the burning attic. The blast knocked the Overseas Gladiator back against the deck railing, and flung me down the stairs like a rag doll. Shortly after we were standing barefoot in the icy parking lot, clutching the dog and watching as three separate fire trucks arrived with sirens blaring, and fire started licking its way over our roof.

Someone noticed at some point that my arm and shoulder and cheek were toasted medium rare–I wasn’t feeling a thing–and then the night turned into a round of emergency rooms, hospital beds, paperwork, and the slow shocky process of realizing we were still alive. I was only in the hospital for one night (the burns weren’t as bad as they looked) but it was a long, strange night full of glass-sharp individual recollections.

I remember the blast that kicked me down the stairs, half tumbling and half scrambling to get under the wave of fire and ash that was falling all around me like a halo. My hair was crisped all across the top; lying in the hospital bed later, I ran my hand across my ashy knotted bun and realized that if I hadn’t clipped my hair up that night, my two-foot banner of hair probably would have gone up like a torch.

I remember seeing the OG in full-on hero mode, shoving me toward safety as he charged upstairs into a wall of smoke to save the dog–and later collapsing in the hospital corridor when he realized I was ok.

I remember unloading every curse I knew in the ambulance once the pain from my burned arm finally kicked in. I know a lot of curses. The EMTs were apparently impressed.

I remember laughing like drunken hyenas on our respective gurneys as the OG said into the silence, “Well, on the bright side, I’m not flying back to the Persian Gulf in two days.”

I remember lifting my charred eyebrows and saying “Seriously?” when an earnest young ER doc asked me “So, are you in any pain?”

Most of all, I remember the astonishment of seeing just how many people rushed to help us friends, family, complete strangers.

One week later, and things are a lot better. We’re in an apartment that is starting to feel like home, and our burned-out house is scheduled to be renovated over the next six months. My burns are healing up, the pain slowly fading toward a hell of an itch. The Overseas Gladiator keeps me smiling with a never-ending string of incredibly crass jokes about barbecues, bonfires, and our very own Ash Wednesday. Insurance is paying to replace what we’ve lost, and we’ve been able to save a surprising amount the bust of Clio (muse of history) on my desk; a laptop and all my writings; my red conference stilettos.

The astonishment is still there, however, when I think how many people have stepped forward to help us. Our families, swooping in with advice and money and offers to dog-sit. Our friends, coming by with armloads of towels and supplies and home-cooked meals. The Navy, bending over backward to keep my Overseas Gladiator from having to go back overseas until this is handled. Complete strangers donating to a GoFundMe page with good wishes and prayers.

I look around me and I feel nothing but grateful. I lost a house, but I have so much: a husband, a dog, and the best family, friends, and fans in the world.

Thank you.


**From the Overseas Gladiator**
I asked Kate, the estimable 5’2 Toasty Badass, if I could write something to tack onto her blog post about our recent house fire.

When I asked, and she said yes, I had this vision in my head of writing some moving piece about the preciousness of life, about how everything has unappreciated value, about how the fire happened, about how you realize what you really need in life, all the typical platitudes from your average run-of-the-mill romance novel. Which tends to get turned into a cheesy movie. Starring, I dunno, Ryan Gosling.

But all I keep returning to is…… Ash. Smoke. Fire. Fear. Chaos. Grief.

Hearing the pounding on our front door by our neighbor, who saved our lives.

Hearing the terrifying, You’re on FIRE! YOU’RE ON FIRE!! and feeling everything just simply stop as the words hit like cold, methodical punches to the brain.

Seeing flames licking out from the side of our house.

Feeling like we were drowning in liquid panic as we just couldn’t move fast enough to get the hose hooked up.

That feeling of absolute, blind futility, of the purest form of utter helplessness, as I watched the flames just climb up the side of our goddamn house despite pouring water on it as fast as I could.

Hearing the backdraft explosion happen, blinking stars out of my eyes as I briefly wondered what the fuck just happened, and why am I on my back?

Hearing a series of thumps that only later I realize was my wife falling down the stairs.

Hearing her scream that the dog is trapped upstairs, and knowing that death is literally seconds away from everyone in what used to be our refuge, our sanctuary, our world, as we felt the flames spread.

Shoving Kate and our neighbor toward the front door, screaming, Out, out, out!! Everyone get the fuck out, NOW!!

And, finally checking everyone outside. Realizing that somehow we’re still alive. Injured. Damaged. Dazed. Burnt. Concussed. But alive.

This is what we keep coming back to. This what I keep coming back to. That despite it all, despite the terrible loss of our stuff and our lives being thrown into a maelstrom, we’re alive.

So…..hopefully I don’t have to stress the sanctity of life, of how everyone should appreciate what and more importantly who they have in their lives. Just find your significant other, give them a hug and a kiss. Call your parents, hug your kids, what the hell ever you think would work.

Because I damn near lost the most important person in my world. And believe me when I say that it re-calibrates your perspective.

And finally, thanks for all the love and support, everyone. It’s been simply….astonishing and wonderful to know that so many amazing people are willing to help.

From the depths of this salty Sailor’s heart, from both of our hearts; thank you. With everything we have.

Top 10 Books of 2014

I’m about to start a long road trip, throwing the Praetorian Dog in the car and heading off to spend Christmas with the Dowager Librarian in California–but I’ve got just enough time to turn out the mandatory Top Ten Books I Read This Year!  blog post, just in time to help you complete your holiday shopping! Because nothing fits better in a Christmas stocking than a book. Here are my recommendations, the best books I read in 2014 (though not all were published this year) and just who you should buy them for . . .

1. “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery. A quirky and unabashedly intellectual book about smart people thinking smart thoughts. Renee is a Paris concierge, hiding her passion for books and art behind a concierge’s stereotypical surliness; Paloma is a twelve-year-old genius being driven mad by school, life, and the stupidity around her. She’s planning to kill herself when she turns thirteen, more or less out of boredom–but a cautious friendship with the prickly Renee and a contemplative Japanese businessman changes all three lives in astounding ways.

Buy for: that ultra-smart kid in your life, whether it’s your bookworm daughter or your genius little brother or that eleven-year-old you babysit for who gets bullied because she’s already reading Jane Austen. That kid will see themselves in Paloma, and like she did probably develop a passion for French art and Japanese calligraphy.

2. “Blood Eye” by Giles Kristian. I found Kristian’s Viking series after going into serious withdrawal from Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories, and it doesn’t disappoint. This story of a boy named Raven swept up into the crew of a Viking longship is everything you want from guts-and-glory historical fiction: bone-crunching shield-walls, pulse-pounding adventures, and prose of blood-stirring action and sometimes lyrical beauty.

Buy for: your mother, if she’s like mine and absolutely adores a good skull-crushing with her evening glass of chardonnay.

3. “Prince of Shadows” by Rachel Caine. I know nothing about Caine except that she has a YA vampire series, so this book was an expected shock of deliciousness: Romeo and Juliet retold with a surprising twist. The hero and heroine here are Benvolio (Romeo’s steady best friend) and Rosaline (Romeo’s first infatuation, ditched for Juliet). This pair is smarter, older, and far more savvy than their more famous counterparts, and they struggle to stop the inevitable–all the while feeling like the “curse on both their houses” may be a literal catalyst for all this disaster, and not just a poetic conceit.

Buy for: your office-mate whose cubicle is pasted with Shakespeare quotes, and who can be heard muttering Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day as she watches the clock move toward 6pm. She’ll geek out on the way Caine weaves Shakespeare’s lines into her own dialogue.

4. “One Plus One” by Jojo Moyes. A feel-good book which also manages to be whip-smart and side-splittingly funny–no small feat to pull off. Ed is a tech-head millionaire currently on the outs for unwitting insider trading, hiding from his family and looking for new purpose. New purpose storms into his life in the form of Jess, a blue-collar single mom with a giant farting dog, a sullen teenage stepson, and a genius daughter who has to get to Scotland for a math competition if she has any chance of getting into an elite school and out of the cycle of poverty. Ed ends up driving the band of misfits to Scotland, and over the next week as his car and his life are systematically dismantled, something else starts to form–a rag-tag little family.

Buy for: that friend who’s been a bit battered by life lately, and really needs a smile on her face. Reassure her in advance that the dog doesn’t die.

5. “Live by Night by Dennis Lehane. Sequel to his fabulous “The Given Day,” and centering around a cocky Irish boy who starts low on the rungs of the Boston mob during Prohibition, and rises steadily through the roaring 20s until he is running the Florida division of the mob’s liquor business. Shifts effortlessly from 20s-era Boston to Florida to Cuba in a whirl of crime bosses, hit men, bathtub gin parties, good girls gone bad, bad girls gone good, and the inevitable consequences to a life of crime. Seedy, violent, glorious.

Buy for: your dad who has a passion for gangster movies. Tell him it’s “The Godfather” and “The Departed” rolled into one.

6. Speaking of living by night, try “The Quick” by Lauren Owen. This is Bram Stoker-style Victorian gothic at its best; buttoned-up London suits and properly closed doors, and the horrors that sometimes live behind them. A shy young poet comes to London and is introduced to a secret society of London’s most lethal men–a society that will have to be fought with blood when the poet disappears, and his determined sister comes to town looking for answers. A brave heroine, a band of eccentric vigilantes, and a villain named Doctor Knife–this will have you reading far into the night, and falling asleep with all your lights on.

Buy for: your gay bestie, because there is a tender and wonderful m/m romance tucked into all the supernatural tension.

7. “The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan” by Stephanie Thornton. Four narrators handing the torch to each other in turn: the Khan’s seeress first wife, his brash tomboy daughter, a Persian captive turned councillor, and finally a watchful daughter-in-law who will seize the reins when the great Khan’s empire begins to fracture. Other women have roles to play as well: a tough-as-nails adopted daughter; a rape-ravaged princess whose madness will have unspeakable consequences for one of the four narrators. These women are fascinating, and there isn’t a weakling among them.

Buy for: your sister, so you can speculate how the two of you would have fared managing a ger and drinking fermented mare’s milk.

8. “Joyland” by Stephen King. No one can write a coming-of-age story like (ironically) the master of horror. This beauty has it all, a bittersweet and moving tale of a college boy whose summer stint at an old-fashioned carnival turns out to have a lot of firsts: first love, first heartbreak, first real job, first sex partner–and since there is both a ghost and a serial killer on the loose in the carnival, first brush with death and the supernatural.

Buy for: your nephew going off to college for his own coming-of-age story. Write your phone number on the inside: If a girl dumps you and you get as depressed as the hero in this book, don’t sit there listening to the Doors and thinking about suicide the way he does. CALL ME.

9. “The Magicians Trilogy” by Lev Grossman. This is the book for you if you ever wished you could go to Narnia or Hogwarts. Quentin is a brilliant student with a fanboy crush on a series of books clearly based on CS Lewis’s Narnia; the kid who never got over the fact that he didn’t open a wardrobe and find a fantasy paradise. But he does get his Hogwarts letter, finding himself accepted to a college called Brakebills which trains the gifted few in the arts of magic. Quentin is a bit of a prat through the first two books, but the world-building is wonderful: Brakebills is like Harry Potter with drinking, screwing, and swearing.

Buy for: your older brother, so you can reminisce back to the days when he played Peter, you played Lucy, and you both just knew you were going to open a door to Narnia someday and become High King and Queen of Narnia.

10. “The Complete Unwind Dystology” by Neal Shusterman. YA dystopia stories are a dime a dozen these days, but this quartet is a cut above the rest, envisioning a world where the abortion debate and most of the world’s diseases have been solved in the most horrific way possible: abortion is illegal, but from the ages of 13 to 18, parents can elect to have their problem teens Unwound, their bodies harvested as replacement organs and parts for the nation’s diseased and wounded (it doesn’t count as murder, the argument goes, because all the dead teen’s parts are still alive, just in separate bodies!) The book starts with three teens on the run from this grim fate, but spans out to encompass many more characters. A horrifying, thought-provoking, unflinching read through four unputdownable books.

Buy for: your bookworm grandma who thinks YA has turned into nothing but sparkly vampires and love triangles. Be prepared for a long thoughtful discussion on the social ramifications of organ harvesting.

And for a final bonus book . . .

11. “A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii” by Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Vicky Alvear Shecter and, yes, me. Normally I wouldn’t list one of my own titles on any best-of list, but I only wrote 1/6 of this collection–I had no idea what my collaborators were going to come up with, and I was as agog and delighted as any strange reader when I got to read the whole collection A-Z. Vicky’s heart-breaking boy on the cusp of manhood; Sophie’s quiet engineer hero; Ben’s disreputable ex-soldier with his dogged loyalty; Eliza’s young mother-to-be and Stephanie’s pair of lion-brave whores–these characters didn’t come from my brain, and they combined into a wonderful whole to tell the story of Pompeii’s last fatal day, so I feel justified in pimping my fellow authors. Buy for: everybody you know. Absolutely everybody. Because I want to see this book on the NYT list, don’t you? Let’s make it happen.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Release Day! A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii

It was on another Release Day that “A Day of Fire” was first conceived, the champagne-fueled brainchild of myself, Stephanie Dray, and Sophie Perinot. We were having a celebratory lunch in honor of my latest Borgia book, and swapping idle ideas for future projects. “Continuities,” Stephanie mused, and was met with blank looks. “Basically, a novel in four parts, written by four authors, or however many are working together. Romance authors do it all the time.”

“Why haven’t historical fiction authors jumped in?” Sophie wondered. “We could pick a historical event and go to town! What event?”

“Sinking of the Titanic? Downton Abbey tie-in . . .”

“Field of the Cloth of Gold? Tudor tie-in . . .”

“Destruction of Pompeii . . . ?”

Eyes gleamed. And this project was born.

It’s been a wild, sometimes rocky, always exhilarating ride. Our original trio was swiftly joined by three more musketeers. I screwed up the nerve to approach Ben Kane, whose work I adore (after being wowed by the gorgeous mayhem he wreaked with the Spartacus legend, I knew he could tear the top off a mountain in style). Vicky Alvear Shecter already had a hit YA HF novel in the works about Pompeii (“Curses and Smoke,” highly recommended!) but didn’t mind revisiting the lava fields with us. And self-pub goddess E. Knight joined the Good Ship Pompeii and firmly took the tiller, steering the rest of us self-pub newbies through the waters of the Indie Ocean.

I am uniquely proud of what I and my five co-authors have put together in “A Day of Fire.” I think, frankly, that it’s awesome. Some of that was planned (the careful plotting we did to interweave characters; the careful research into the latest Pompeii archaeological findings), and some of it wasn’t (how did we get such a perfect cross-section of Roman society in our protagonists? Sheer luck). But we worked hard, and it was worth every moment.

And at long last, our story about the final days of Pompeii is available in e-book and print!

“This truly is the finest book I have read this year, an emotional roller-coaster that educates while it entertains. Its impact will stay with me for quite some time.” ~Parmenion Books

“Despite knowing what happens in Pompeii and to the majority of its citizens, A Day of Fire is a book full of suspense, fear, and unexpected bravery.” ~Ageless Pages

“I can’t praise this book highly enough. It’s a rattling good tale of disaster, death, resolution and rebirth.” ~Dodging Arrows

“I LOVED this! The writing style, the choice of stories told, the evolution of characters, the drama. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.” ~The Maiden�s Court

“Each one of these authors deserves a huge amount of praise for putting this impressive piece of art together.” ~Steven McKay



Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain’s wrath . . . and these are their stories:

A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii’s flourishing streets.
An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire.
An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished.
A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue.
A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls.
A priestess and a whore seek redemption and resurrection as the town is buried.

Six authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each others’ path during Pompeii’s fiery end. But who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?

Buy Now:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

The 13 Stages of Copyediting Madness

1. Page 2: Hey, this book isn’t so bad.

2. Page 81: That’s the fourth misspelled word . . . and those are just the ones I caught. Wait, how many am I missing?!

3. Start over.

4. Send panicked email to writing buddy begging for one more reread of that problematic eighth chapter.

5. This book is terrible.

6. Realize you said the Roman eagle standard was silver, when Imperial-era eagles were gold. Make change, exhale, then grow cold. That was just the historical error you caught. HOW MANY AM I MISSING?!

7. Incorporate Chapter 8 changes from writing buddy, who read your pages at 11:30 at night on what was supposed to be a dinner break in the middle of their own deadline crisis. Hit the Vatican website and start petition to have writing buddy canonized.

8. Spend four hours untangling the timeline inconsistencies pointed out by your copyeditor, then realize it’s all because you miscalculated your hero’s age, i.e. you can’t count.

9. Get the shivers when your primary source says the Chapter 19 lightning strike happened fifteen years earlier than you placed it in your story. Ransack research materials wildly looking for that vindicating second source, which is missing. Finally found under sleeping, resentful dog who has not been walked in days.

10. Compose email offering your editor your first born child and a kidney if you can have another week to finish this. Delete email, go back to work.

11. Deadline Day. Writing buddy comes to your house, handcuffs you to the sink, and presses Send for you.

12. Thank writing buddy. Set a date next week to do the same for her when she needs to press Send.

13. Start drinking.

Sneak Peek At “A Day of Fire”

Four weeks out from the launch of “A Day of Fire,” the novel-in-six-parts I’ve written with Ben Kane, Sophie Perinot, Stephanie Dray, E. Knight, and Vicky Alvear Shecter. The novel is already available for pre-order at Amazon, but in honor of the countdown to release, I’d like to share some lovely illustrated quotes to give you a taste of the tales inside! (The quote from my story is #4!)

A Day of Fire: Cover Reveal and Pre-Order!

It’s here: the cover AND the Pre-Order info for my Pompeii project! We are all super excited how it turned out, and we hope you will be, too!

Title: A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii
Authors: Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter, with an introduction by Michelle Moran
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: November 4, 2014

Pre-order today!

Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain’s wrath . . .

Six top historical novelists join forces to bring readers the stories of Pompeii’s residents–from patricians to prostitutes–as their world ended. You will meet:

A boy who loses his innocence in Pompeii’s flourishing streets;

An heiress dreading her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire;

An ex-legionary who stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished;

A crippled senator welcoming death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue;

A young mother facing an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls;

And a priestess and a whore seeking redemption and resurrection as the town is buried.

My House Is Tidy. And I Hate It.

The reason everything is tidy is because my husband is gone.

Now, he’s not a slob–the faucets in our bathrooms are shined to pass a Navy inspection, and he actually reproaches me if I do the vacuuming without him–but clean and tidy are two very different things. The man I married leaves a swathe of discarded objects in his wake wherever he goes, and I notice it immediately now that he has been transferred overseas, has departed for pre-training, and will not returning home for more than a year.

My carpet is tidy. There is no scatter of boat-sized shoes across the living room, lying everywhere but in the actual shoe bin. It’s less of a tripping hazard–if you tossed his shoes into the sea, they’d have to be registered as shipping hazards–but this shoe-free carpet makes me sad.

My dining room table is tidy. No scatter of Dr. Pepper cans, Red Bull cans, and water bottles, all opened and drunk down to exactly the 1/3 mark.

My kitchen counters are tidy. No enthusiastic-amateur-chef’s mess of spice jars, onion peelings, Wusthof filleting knives, and garlic in every permutation in which garlic can possibly be sold (whole, cloves, peeled, diced, coarse powder, fine powder, and in a paste).

My bedroom is tidy. No clothes that have been dropped on the carpet exactly six inches from the laundry basket. No random pairs of sleeves that have been hacked off yet another t-shirt which he has decided will be more comfortable if sleeveless. No torn and paint-spattered cargo shorts hanging up next to the immaculately pressed Navy whites.

My bookshelves are tidy. There are now gaping holes where his massive and varied collection of Asimov, Heinlein, Shakespeare, and Calvin & Hobbes have been packed for the Middle East.

My driveway is tidy. No screaming-red speed-demon of a Subaru with its “Skydiving: My Drug of Choice” bumper sticker, its exhaust which can be heard from three blocks away, and its horsepower upgrades which probably only the motorheads on Top Gear would call street-legal.

My walls are tidy. One third of the weapons collection is packed into sea-bags, since it would be sheer sadism to ask my sword-mad spouse to pass a year without his replica Legolas daggers, his Japanese short sword, and his combat-grade-steel bastard-length broadsword. At the very least.

No tangle of extra car keys. No Rise Against CDs or vintage Varitek baseball jerseys or thick science textbooks bookmarked to the section on black holes. No emails with links to The Colbert Report or George Takei comics or recipes for truffled lasagna (Dinner tonight?)

I’m a tidy sort–my shoes are always in the bin, my clothes are always in the laundry basket, my eight varieties of garlic are all put away. I groan at the man I married for all the reasons above, though it’s a humorous groan. The year ahead of me is going to be very tidy. Not lonely–I have a ferociously protective and loving dog, a vast circle of friends, and more attentive neighbors than I can count, all within arm’s reach.

But it’s going to be a very tidy year.

I will welcome the mess when it comes home.

1 3 4 5 6 7 23