In Which I Have a Phobia

I’m afraid of needles.

When I tell people that I always get the same response: ‘Oh, I hate needles too’.

This is incorrect. I do not hate needles. I’m terrified of them. I have a full-blown needle phobia, aka Trypanophobia. Just seeing a needle or someone talking about injections would cause me to have a panic attack. I actually went and got some very expensive therapy to help me cope with my fear of needles because I once screamed so loud while getting my blood drawn at the hospital the nurse warned the other nurses about me. “Careful with that one, she’s a screamer. Woke everyone up.”

The good news is that with the help of said so-very-expensive therapy I’ve mostly gotten over my fear. Mostly. I can go about 3-4 injections in one sitting before I start crying. And getting an IV put in still turns me into a blubbly sobbing mess. But hey, at least I’m not screaming! That’s good, right?

The reason I’m bringing this up is today I got a wart removed (yay) and before the doctor did whatever he did while I was squeezing my eyes shut he injected something into my finger to numb it and…nothing. Nada. I mean yeah pain, but I didn’t even feel the slightest flutter of panic. And as much as I’d love to think my brain is improving I think this confirms that the needle phobia is 100% location base. So far from bottom to top:

Feet/Legs: Meh I’m fine

Wait did I get a shot for my IUD: Don’t want to think about it

Stomach: I let out a soft nuuuuuu but no other side effects

Finger: Didn’t care

Back of hand/wrist: Flutter of panic, maybe a few tears but I can keep it together

Arm anywhere besides crook of elbow: Staring to freak out a little. Can hold it in check, might start crying if it’s a IV because FUCK it’s in there it’s in there I can FEEL IT but it fades after watching some daytime TV.


*Note, after therapy this is back down to sobbing. Like I said, improvement!

Shoulder: this sucks but I won’t get the flu/die a horrific death from tetanus

Mouth: Slight worry, but I imagine the dentist is simply pricking me with a sewing needle and I’m fine. NOTE bizarre image works no where else on body.

So I guess the moral is that even after greatly improving I am still never going to get piercings or a tattoo. Sigh. One day I’ll be able to get that Dreamcast logo on me.



In Which I am Down One Organ

Well, it’s been a week and over 24 hours since I’ve had a painkiller. I think it’s safe to write again.

Hello everyone! If you couldn’t tell by the fact I’m alive I made it through my gallbladder removal surgery A-OK! Honestly the worst part of it all, besides the daytime TV forced upon me in every room, was getting the IV in. Turns out the massive therapy I went through to help me with my needle phobia doesn’t really work with “having a needle stay in your arm” phobias. Dang it. Well at least I didn’t cry and scream too much during all of that.

I’d give a better report on how things went and the days afterwards but as I mentioned: painkillers. Good Lord. Here’s my general memory of events of the past week:

  • Pre-Surgery. According to Steve Harvey’s talk show I am a spineless whimp if I do things like ‘let my date answer a call on his phone’ or ‘go dutch on the meal instead of insisting he pays for it’. Sadly I do not get to hear more from Steve’s professional dating expert because I am wheeled into the surgery room
  • Wow! I think as I’m wheeled away, just like in Silent Hill!
  • I should not be thinking of Silent Hill right now, I continue
  • Turns out surgery rooms really do look like that, big lights and beeping machines and everything. I’m moved over to bed/sacrificial platform and the nurse announces she’s going to give me the happy juice.
  • I wake up in the recovery room. Bwuah?
  • Now I’m in short term??? Max is there? When did Max get there?
  • MAX HAS MY PHONE I take a selfie because priorities
  • The nurse says I can’t go home until I pee so I down what must be the most delicious bottles of apple juice, cranberry juice, and like three waters.
  • Oh hey I’m in my clothes and getting wheeled out
  • Now I’m in Max’s car?
  • Hurray in bed and Dad’s here with my painkillers oh lucky day

Then for the next few days it was:

  • Wake up
  • Soup
  • Walkies
  • I wanna wriiiiiiiiiiiite
  • My various online supports tell me I can’t write
  • But I wannaaaaaaaa
  • Stupid pre-surgery Amber informed them to make sure I don’t write
  • SIGH
  • “No Cujo-ing” my brother says as he hands me a gatorade
  • Fall asleep listening to My Brother My Brother and Me
  • Repeat every four hours

All while slowly weaning myself painkillers. Now that I’m off them completely I’m finally back to my normal semi-lucid self. And you know what that means…


In Which I Get My Gallbladder Removed

You know what’s terrible? Gallstone pain.

You know what’s slightly less terrible in the long run? Gallbladder removal surgery.

You know what just sort of sucks? Finding out that I’m pretty much going to have no income while I’m recovering from said surgery.

So if you want to donate to the “Amber needs to eat while she’s out of work fund please consider donating to:

My Paypal!

My Patreon!

And if you can’t donate then please spread the word around! Tell people all about that robot-smooching author you know and how they’re going to steal an organ from her body! Then while they’re trying to parse that sentence steal their wallet!

Thank you!

Emergency Repairs

“So what does being a robot feel like?” Asked Molly.

Ava looked up from her self-repair job. There was Molly, all wide-eyed and curious as always. Sweet Molly, dumb Molly. Ava reached for a screwdriver and did her best to make her voice come out as not-sarcastic. “I don’t know, Molly. What does being human feel like?”

Molly considered that. Her nose always wrinkled when she was using her fat-and-nerve-based brain too hard. “Squishy? There’s a lot of random itches. And I’m sorta aware of things like how hungry I am, if I need to use the bathroom, this one themesong I have stuck in my head, can I want five to ten minutes to use the bathroom or should I go now, this weird itch on my foot, stuff like that. Do you have the same thing?”

“Partially.” Ava braced herself as she forced the screwdriver between the two stuck plates in her chest cavity. “For example, this hurts.”

“Can’t you make it not hurt?”

“Yes.” Ava cut off her voice modulator long enough so Molly wouldn’t hear her scream of pain. The last thing she needed was her human to panic. “Yes! Yes. But if I did I wouldn’t be able to tell what exactly in me is broken. Okay. Hand me that roll of tape.”

Molly did so, her eyes still wide. “Can you feel any other sensations? Physical ones I mean.”

“I can use my external sensors to detect textures.” Ava wished Molly would stop talking. She also wished Molly would keep going if only for a distraction. Or sing. Ava rather enjoyed Molly’s singing. She ripped a piece of tape off on her metallic fingers and stuck it to the back of her hand.

“Like ‘this is on fire’ or ‘this is a rock’?”

“I wouldn’t call fire a texture, but yes.” Ava tore off another piece of tape. That one went on her arm. Not perfect, but it kept the coolant inside.

Molly sat down next to Ava, her fingers fidgeting with a loose string on her uniform. “What about stuff like softness, or warmth?”

“Warmth still isn’t a texture,” Ava tossed the roll of tape over her shoulder, “And where are you going with this, because if this is about my overheating issue-”

The thing about humans is that they were impossible to predict. History was an attestment to this. So while Ava’s processors were busy trying to keep all of her various fluids from leaking out Molly acted in a way that was only obvious in retrospect. Ava’s external sensors, working independently from the internal ones screaming in pain, picked up the following:

Molly’s gloved left hand on the small of Ava’s back.

Molly’s ungloved right hand on the side of Ava’s head, right under the ocular lens, setting off notes of ‘rough’ and ‘unusually cold’.

Molly’s body shifting across Ava’s lap, picking up as ‘weight’ and ‘pressure in Ava’s mind.

Molly’s lips on Ava’s faceplate. Soft. Chapped. Moist. Warm. No, hot. Like fire.

Too soon Ava detected Molly pulling away. But the warmth stayed even if the weight and softness did not.

“Did your sensors pick that up?” Molly said.

Ava answered with a glitched noise that may have been a yes.

The Worth of Hair

“Tell me if you’ve heard this one before.” Kika held up the knife the stranger had given her up to the light.  “There’s this mermaid, right? Can’t be more than fifteen, maybe even younger. One day she sees some bloke chilling by the ocean and what do you know the idiot falls in. She saves him, she leaves before he wakes up, but she’s already fallen in love. Somehow. Never understood that part.”

The stranger said nothing. Kika continued, silently admiring the skill that went into the short blade. “Anyway, the mermaid is head over tails for this guy. No idea who he is, what his deal is, but she’s already in love. Feh. Can’t blame her too much. I remember being her age. Love happened hard and fast back then. Love was everything. There was this guy back in my village named Hugin that…well. That’s a different story. Not the one you’re probably interested in.

So this mermaid, this sweet little thing decides to go take matters into her own hands. She swims to the very bottom of the ocean and meets with The Sea Witch. A creature so powerful you gotta say every part of her title with capital letters. She, The Sea Witch, makes a deal with the mermaid. In exchange for the mermaid’s voice she’ll turn her into a human.”

“Where are you going with this?” The stranger finally said, her voice raw. “You’re wasting my time.”

“Fine, I’ll skip a bit. Bloke was a prince, prince was already getting married, and just as the mermaid is about to jump back into the ocean and end it all her sisters show up with a way for her to come home. Do you know what they had?” Kika paused, knowing that the stranger wouldn’t answer. “A knife. They gave their hair to The Sea Witch and got a knife in return. The story goes on from there but honestly that’s where I lose interested. Me, I always wanted to know more about that knife. A knife made by The Sea Witch would be a powerful object. One made from the tears of the mermaid’s sisters, sharp enough that a teenage girl could kill with only the flick of her wrist. I’d love to see a knife like that with my own two eyes.”

Kika let a heavy silence fall between them as she ran a finger down the carvings on the knife’s hilt. It truly was a beautiful piece. The only flaw was the obvious bent tip at the top of the blade. The stranger was still staring at her. The stranger didn’t seem to be aware of how often one should blink. “So where did you get this knife, stranger?”

The stranger wobbled. She couldn’t have been older than fifteen. “It’s mine. I paid for it. It’s mine. Can you fix it?”

Kika nodded. “I ain’t The Knife Maker for nothing. Give me until sunset and I’ll have it as right as rain. I gotta ask though, how did you bend the blade like that?”

The stranger remembered to blink. “It fell into the ocean. Hit a rock. Are you sure it’ll be ready by tonight?”

“Sure will. Gotta close up shop in time for the big wedding celebration tonight.” Kika watched the stranger hobble towards the window. The streets were already filled with party goers, booze and music flowing freely between the dancing masses. “Ain’t every day that a prince gets married.”

She watched the stranger in silence as the stranger watched the crowds out the window. Couldn’t have been older than fourteen. It was hard to put an exact age on the stranger with that boyish haircut of hers. The stranger turned to face her. “How does the story end?”

Kika licked her lips. “I think you already know.”

For the first time since she arrived the stranger smiled. “Sunset. I will be back at sunset. Just in time for the celebration.” With those words the stranger limped out of the shop, legs too stiff to walk properly.

Kika wondered if she should stop her. Warn someone. Warn the prince and his bride-to-be at least. But she remembered what it was like to be that age. Love was everything.


Hey, you

Have you had any water lately? Like a big glass. Eaten? Leftover Halloween candy doesn’t count. Like actual food-food. Doesn’t matter if it’s fast food or a TV Dinner. What about sleep? I know a lot of you were up really really late last night. Maybe take a nap, or even put your head down and rest for five minutes. Make plans to go to bed early. Take a nice, long hot shower too. Go for a walk outside. Close your eyes and breathe deep. Breathe in through your nose, hold, out through your mouth. Repeat until your heart calms down. Take your medication if you forgot to. Don’t worry, I’ll be here till you get back.

Welcome back.

Feeling more human?


Listen. I know you’re scared. The future is dark, scary and uncertain. Everything feels rotten inside-out. Hate, fear and ignorance is bubbling up through the cracks and threatening to engulf us. But I also know that we’re going to make it out the other side. Not without difficulty, not without injury, but we’ll make it through. Why am I so certain?

Because we have you.

You’re wonderful, you’re beautiful, you’re strong and you do great things. You love and are loved, you are willing to protect and fight for everything that you hold dear. And because we have you we all have something even greater: Us.

Together we can get through this. We can help those who need to be protected, love those who are threatened with hate, care for the hurt and stand for what’s right. No matter what happens we will make it through to the other side hand-in-hand. Your Big Sis Amber knows it.

Now go get that glass of water.



In Which Bisexuals Exist


Happy Bisexual Awareness Week everyone! Did all of my Bi peeps get visited by St. Freddie Mercury ? I hope you left out some milk and cookies for him!

This week has inspired me to write a post about diversity in Sci-Fi and my own work, but then I spent a few hours walking around an Italian Food Festival eating pasta and ehhh I’m lazy. So instead have a list of characters in my various works that are bisexual. Also eating a plate of pasta, a rice ball, calamari AND a slice of chocolate covered cheesecake is a terrible idea. A terrible wonderful idea.


I.L.E.X. from Echo of the Larkspur, a dangerous robot in gold and ivory

Talalelei “Jack” Matau from Cry of the Hawthorn, a muscle-for-hire turned prisoner turned pottery expert

Sprue, from Open Wide, a four-armed robot who is into magic in every sense of the word

Antonio Donofrio, from Freeholder, a doctor’s clerk with a heart of gold. Somewhere. I’m sure it’s in there.

Cassandra Wilkes, from Her Dark Throne, the goddess of the space between the stars

The Midwife, from S.A.G.E.’s Midwife Stories, who was said to steal the hearts of Queens and Kings alike in her youth

And Shelly from Unnamed Monster Project my Editor Is Talking Me Into Writing, a young woman in charge of an abandoned school with her own share of scars.

Of course there’s more diversity where that comes from but, like I said, lazy. So lazy.