Thursday, August 19, 2010

I'm Moving - Here's Where

It's been a while, I know. The thing is, I wanted to change my URL to my name instead of the blog's title.

It seemed like such a simple want. It turned out to be complicated.

Bottom line? I'm moving to Wordpress. I'm not very technically savvy, and I know there's probably a way I could have transferred my info, but instead I started over. Suck.

Come find me. I love you all. I'm making a commitment to blog more consistently.

http://trishaleigh.wordpress.com

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Good News is the Best

Hello, followers of my little blog! I have great, exciting, and humbling news.

I signed with an agent yesterday, a lovely woman named Elizabeth Jote at Objective Entertainment!

There are an entire mix of emotions rolling around inside me right now, though I have to admit the primary one is excitement. This is the next step in my ultimate goal - being published - and I just want to bask in the moment. Liz and I had a great conversation about my manuscript, what changes and revisions she would suggest, and we talked about subsequent books and what my career might look like going forward. It's so true, what people say about finding an agent who is as excited and passionate about your novel as you are...there's not a better feeling in the world.

I've worked my tail off to get to this point. I have at least two screenplays and four novels tossed in a trunk. The one that caught Liz's attention has been through multiple rewrites and revisions. I have another completed first draft. The work doesn't stop, or even slow down now. In the days and weeks to come I know there will be revisions, stress, submissions, more stress and so on. You know what, though, I'm ready for it all. Bring it on.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What Do You Do With YOUR Idle Hands?

I’ve finished the first draft of my YA tragic love story, Heartstrings. It slid into home at just under 80K, and I’m pleased with the effort though large chunks of the manuscript – and maybe the structure itself – will need heavy revision.

I feel idle. My post-apocalyptic YA, In the Autumn, is enduring the query/submission process. I feel good about the responses I’ve gotten and, as always, hope an offer of representation is around the corner. Or maybe the next one. Or maybe not. It’s out of my hands, at the moment.

Here are a few things I’ve considered doing in order to fill up my time:

1.     Reading – My TBR pile is huge. It’s going to turn into a monster any day now and eat my dogs. I am currently reading Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman (hardcover) and Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert on my Kindle for iPhone app. Books I’m dying to get to: Chasing Smoke and Day One by Bill Cameron, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, and A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore – among many, many others.
2.     Writing a Screenplay – I have a degree in Film and my love affair with writing began with works for the screen. It’s completely different from novel writing but I enjoy it, and I’ve considered tackling an adaptation of my own In the Autumn. I’d love to write the adaptation for The Last Time I Was Me by Cathy Lamb, because that book would make the funniest chick flick EVER, but I’m too poor to buy the rights. It might be a pipe dream, but in the event that someday my books are popular, I’d like to have the opportunity to adapt my own work.
3.     Clean My House, Pay Attention to My Dogs, Yardwork, Etc – The sad fact is these things have gone untouched for far too many weeks. I live alone, so you know…no one cares. Except the dogs. Poor babies. Oh – and my dad who mows my lawn for me. I’m spoiled, I know.
4.     Start Dating Again –I’m scared, out of practice, and was never good at it even in my younger days. Yup. That’s all I have to say about that.
5.     Doing Nothing – As appealing as this might sound, it’s unlikely. I must have something to do. If I don’t, I will sleep my life away, shop too much, or annoy everyone on Twitter with my constant drivel. This does not do anyone any good.
6.     Starting a New Manuscript or Revising a Hot Mess – Oh, I have ideas, people. They’re all written down in my little blue journal that goes everywhere with me, and some of them aren’t even half bad. There’s a contemporary YA, another dystopian/sci-fi YA, and a paranormal YA – all revolving around the theme of destiny which seems to fascinate me. In addition, I have at least one trunk novel that is near and dear to my heart. It is, however, only the second novel I ever attempted and it is a hot mess. I’ll get around to this option eventually. Right now, I’m not really feeling it.
7.     Quit My Job – Wait…that’s always what I want to do. It’s not gonna happen, Trisha. At least not soon.
8.     Fly to Vancouver, BC, rent a car, and drive down the coast to San Diego – Wait, I’ve always wanted to do that too. While we’re here, lets add visit all of Europe (with special attention to Italy, Greece, France, and Spain), the Eastern Bloc, South America, Australia, Thailand, and pretty much the rest of the world. Repeat after me: It’s not gonna happen, Trisha. At least not soon.
9.     Move to New York. Or Charleston. Or Portland. - Trisha, see #7 and #8.

Okay, so I’m getting a little carried away. I’ll be making a decision soon, probably a combination of #1, #2, and #6. What do you all do when you finish a manuscript? Spend time with your family and friends? Read? Bar-B-Q? Stargaze? Stalk Robert Pattinson?

Monday, June 14, 2010

How I Almost Died - And Why Your Words Might Need To

I almost died last weekend. Seriously. Like Miracle Max and his chocolate coated miracle pill could have come in handy.

I have a pretty severe allergy to peanuts, which I blame on my mother who used to trade her students hot lunch money for their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while pregnant with me.

I visited friends in Dallas, and on Sunday evening we decided on sushi for dinner. I was starving, so I ordered a salad also, taking a dressing recommendation from the waitress. "The ginger dressing is amazing," she promised.

I do not agree. Let me say that I checked the menu for any allergy warnings, ingredients, etc and found nothing. My lovely salad arrived and I took three bites before the inside of my mouth started itching like nobody's business. I shoved the salad across to my friends and declared, "there's peanuts in that."

By the time our sushi arrived, less than five minutes later, I could hardly swallow through my scratchy, swollen throat. My stomach started to hurt - pain like an army of fire ants stung the inside of my digestive track, not mere nausea. I ran to the bathroom. I'll spare you the details, but let's just say at least one member of their waitstaff thinks I'm bulimic.

We left after apologies and offers to call an ambulance. My friend Brooke drove as fast as she could to our friend Karen's house, where I immediately curled up in a little ball on the couch and tried not to move. Moving made it worse. So did burping. And breathing.

After a while the pain left my guts and settled in my chest and face. Breathing got hard, I wheezed in an out like a lifelong smoker on a hike in the Amazon. My face felt like it was on fire and itched all over. I took two Benedryl. Nothing. Two more and my chest loosened up, though my nose and throat didn't clear up for several hours.

My friends wanted to take me to the ER, but this has happened to me a couple of times before. The ER gives me a shot of Benedryl, so I figured I just needed to get enough of the antihistamine down on my own. It scared me; I'm not going to lie.

While I laid on the couch and concentrated on not expiring, I thought about revisions. The salad is like your pretty words - you and maybe other people think they are amazing. After you nosh on them, though, they irritate. Maybe even make you sick. That's when you revise. Rinse your mouth out, toss your cookies and endure reproving looks from strangers. You curl up in a ball and lament the death of your pretty words, the pain it took to shave them away. Then, if you're strong, you drink some wine (the best medicine in the world), sit at your computer, take deep, wheezing breaths, and work until things get better.

I know, it's a stretch. Go with it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tuesday Teaser





This is a small (and still rough) snippet from my WIP, Heartstrings. Enjoy!



Damn. She’d missed her chance to recover Berenice’s blasted journal again.
            Lydia had watched David and Emily King’s wretched daughter walk into the History building with the book and emerge without it five minutes later.
            Her keen eyes observed her young look-alike, wondering why she looked less depressed than the week before. The disheveled appearance, the greasy, limp hair, the puffy, tear stained face had brought Lydia pleasure, but also worry.
            If Elora and Honor decided to separate because of the prophecy, they would live.
            Agony clawed at Lydia, taunting her with the possibility she could lose. Again.
Elora King needed to die. David deserved pain.
            Today, Elora appeared different. She smelled of sunscreen and salty sweat when she passed Lydia’s hiding place, and Lydia saw the strap of a black swimsuit peeking from beneath her coverup. Elora moved with purpose, the dejected lethargy gone from her posture. Still, her face pinched with worry, small lines creasing the creamy skin above her nose.
            She no longer looked devastated, though. She’d shed the heartbroken air, replaced it with a glimmer of hope. What had gone awry? Were they strong enough to resist their heartstring?
            No.
She should never have left Berenice’s diary in his possession. Lydia cursed her forgetfulness; her blind hurry to distance herself from David had made her careless.
            Now Elora had unearthed the foul document and had it translated. Lydia marveled that she and Honor had enough combined brainpower to realize the impact Berenice’s words could have on their puny lives.
            They knew she could be beaten.
            Lydia tried to shore up her faith. Just because miserable Elora King and her drifter Honor Thompson knew defeating her was possible didn’t mean they could figure out how to get it done. Berenice had gotten lucky.
            Lydia tried to forget about Elora King and Berenice, focusing instead on her successes, the ones she’d destroyed with her words. Those memories seeped through her blood, offering comfort. She settled into her circus trailer, happy the caravan caught up with her yesterday afternoon. She needed work to occupy her hands and mind; the past weeks spent twiddling her thumbs in Conway nearly got the better of her.  
            Every once in a while, Lydia had found her gaze wandering from the Kings or Honor and landing on a potential mate. She worried over how much longer she could hold out. What happened if she couldn’t, if she broke her vow to beat the gods at their own game?
            Her bravado wilted and she gave in to the fantasy of death that crowded her thoughts with increased frequency.. Full-blooded mortals did not know their good fortune at being able to die in a timely fashion. Even sooner, if they wished it.
Death was a gift Lydia longed for.
            She’d seen empires grow and wither away. Watched people fight over the same pitiful pieces of land, debate meaningless religious ideals, kill each other for power, lust, pride and coin for thousands of years. Gods, hers and others, followed their own, always mysterious agenda. The human race would not change, nor would the divine.
            She grew weary of being the one perpetually caught in the middle.

Friday, June 4, 2010

"No Officer, I Haven't Been Drinking" - And Other Stuff I Wish Wasn't True.


If you want backstory on this post, see here.



The summer drew to a close, our weeks together growing short and neither Spencer Tracy nor I willing to broach the possibility of a future. I’m not entirely sure where I intended to head that evening, but I spent most of those final weeks putting distance between us. Spencer Tracy’s high school friends, who I'd impressed with my awesome driving earlier in the summer, were visiting for the second time. 

I left a party, where I’d surely had a good time, and slowly backed my car out of the parking space. The lot where I’d parked looked down over a twenty or thirty foot ravine, ending at the bottom with a small house. To the left were the condos where Spencer Tracy and I spent most of our summer evenings. The night felt thick with memories and feelings, none of which I wanted.

I bumped a retaining wall behind me, then pulled forward into the space to get a better angle.

Only the car didn’t stop.

I punched the brake frantically, stepping on the pedal with both feet. Nothing happened. The car surged forward and pitched over the curb, careening down the wooded ravine. I sat helpless behind the wheel, arms braced for impact. I have no idea if I screamed. Maybe. Probably.

I landed on a second retaining wall, a lucky feat that stopped the car from crashing through the house situated at the bottom of the hill. My heart pounded; I’ve never felt such a flood of panic and relief in my entire life. When I caught my breath I kicked the door open with shaky legs and dropped a few feet into a patch of knee high foliage. I found out a day or so later that the “foliage” was actually poison ivy, but that’s a story for another day.

I staggered back into the condo, my entire body trembling. I do not have any desire to know what I looked like, but when Spencer Tracy’s eyes met mine he knew something had happened. He ran his hands over my cut and bleeding arms and legs, asked if I hurt.

The police knocked on the door; the couple whose house I nearly took down had called them. They took me outside for questioning while Spencer Tracy looked on. “Have you been drinking?”
        
“No, Officer.”
        
He peered into my face. “Are you sure you haven’t been drinking, because that would make this whole situation a lot easier to explain.”
        
I shook my head, too mortified to sass him or feign indignance. I explained what happened with the brakes. He nodded, pretending to believe me, and called a tow truck. Then he got on his radio and I heard, “Just come out here, you have to see it to believe it.”

Great.

By the end of the debacle, as a tow truck hauled my little car back out of the ravine, three police cars and a fire truck arrived to chuckle over the proceedings. Spencer Tracy had gone to bed; I think all my shenanigans got the best of him. It’s hard to blame him for that.

I insisted throughout that my brakes had failed me at a most inopportune moment. The tow truck driver sat my car down, unhooked it, then drove it around to prove the brakes worked fine.

Yes, the car drove perfectly and sustained only minimal body damage. That car was a trooper.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Tale of Mocking Road Signs and Possums That Give Chase



I am, quite possibly, one of the worst drivers I know. I cannot count the number of times I’ve nearly died. I’d also have trouble coming up with the exact number of times I’ve been pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving – stone cold sober.

I read a hilarious, embarrassing story over at Tawna Fenske’s blog today, and promised to bare a humiliation or two of my own. There are many to choose from. I might have to do a series on my accidents.

I wrecked my car a total of seven times in the first three years I had my driver’s license. Thankfully (or maybe not), my parents had the foresight to purchase me a dependable 1988 Toyota which had the gall to survive them all and live to tell the tale(s).

I couldn’t decide whether or not to go in chronological order or not. In the end, I thought I’d start with the most appalling.

I’d turned nineteen that summer and decided to spend it at the Lake of the Ozarks for a couple of reasons. First, returning home after a year away at college held little appeal. Second, well…there was this guy.

Things hadn’t worked out exactly as I’d planned (do they ever?) and instead of dating “the” guy, I’d been seeing someone else. Let’s call him Spencer Tracy. Spencer Tracy and I had a fight that fateful night. His high school friends were visiting and he wanted me to hang out and get to know everyone. I did not have any interest in that activity and decided instead to go back to my grandparents’ house by way of a newly constructed toll road.

Newly constructed in the Ozarks means winding, dark, and empty.

It had rained earlier in the evening and I took a curve to the right without slowing down. I managed to spin off the road and smash into a sign that mocked me with its clever “slippery when wet” symbol.

The trek off the road shook me up a bit and I couldn’t get the car back onto the pavement. Being the stubborn, willful, independent, and perpetually accurate person I am the last thing I wanted to do was call Spencer Tracy and ask for his help. Still, what choice did I have in the matter?

Spencer Tracy and some of his friends came and pushed my little car, now sporting a dented driver’s side fender, back onto the street. He asked me again to please come back with him, especially now since I’d gotten all shaken up, but I refused. Heaven forbid I listen to the voice of reason in my own head or his. Spencer Tracy and his friends left, their taillights disappearing into the blackness. My legs still trembling, I slid behind the wheel and took off.

Less than two minutes later I heard the telltale thwapping of a flat tire against asphalt and pulled off the road again, albeit this time of my own volition. I got out my cell phone to call Spencer Tracy, pride pushed aside and ready to beg for forgiveness if he’d just promise me a place to sleep.

That’s when I discovered I had a problem. My cell phone had died.

In the middle of nowhere. No houses. No streetlights. No anything for miles in either direction.

My watch told me midnight had come and gone. The tollbooth I’d passed over two miles before represented the nearest civilization. I’d have to hoof it.

I hiked the two-ish miles in the dark, with animal noises making me break into a trot and tears leaking when I felt sure a possum chased me for a few hundred yards.

Don’t laugh. Those things are mean.

I scared the living shit out of the guy in the tollbooth, who certainly did not expect a girl to come trekking up and knock him out of a deep sleep at two in the morning. He looked at me like I had six heads when I asked for the phone.

I do not think I need to expound on how NOT pleased Spencer Tracy was to hear from me. Again. When he’d asked me multiple times not to go.

Good thing I wasn’t the kind of girl to believe in signs.

He came and got me. We went back to his place, a condo I’d been bound and determined to escape two or so hours earlier. We crashed, we slept. The horrified mortification wore off.

It does. Take it from me.

Tune in next time for more of Spencer Tracy and my adventures in Ozark driving.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Getting In the Mood


"You ask me to have lunch, tell me you slept with Elaine, and then say you're not in the mood for details. Now you listen to me. I want details and I want them right now. I don't have a job, I have no place to go, you're not in the mood? Well you get in the mood!"



Anyone who knows me might tell you I'm obsessed with Seinfeld, so there you go. A great quote. I want to know who DOESN'T think that show is brilliant so I can punch them in the face. 

Back to the story, however, because I do have a point.

     
     "Trish, why don't you come over and sit with me for a minute. I need some attention."


     "Eh, I don't feel like it. I'm watching reruns of Buffy and eating Oreos."


     "I like Oreos. Bring them with you. Please. You've been ignoring me for nearly three days."


 I sigh and roll my eyes, trying to push away the immediate rush of annoyance flooding my veins. Why can't I just do it when I'm in the mood? Still, I did promise to be there, and all that other jazz. I suppose this is technically one of the duties I took on when I created this monster. I brush the crumbs off my lips, push the dogs out of my way, and climb off the couch. 


      "Fine. I'll give you an hour."


      "I'd be happy with twenty minutes."


So I give in, agree to just one hour of my time. Before long, the time passes without me realizing it - getting into the mood is surprisingly easy. All I had to do was let it wash over me, feel it, immerse myself in it...and it feels so good I never want to stop, never want to wait three whole days in between again.










Gotcha.


The above is a conversation between me and my WIP, whom I have been neglecting, poor baby. My trip out of town killed my mojo. I'm having trouble getting into the mood to write. Like getting into the mood for other things, sometimes all it takes is just to close my eyes and give it five or ten minutes. Usually, if the story (or the other person) is enthralling, the mood quickly follows the simple act of engaging.


So here I go to engage with my WIP. I might have to coax my characters out of hiding, and I might throw out every word I write this evening, but at least the juices will be flowing again. Wink.











Monday, April 12, 2010

A Book Deal For Sarah Wylie, A Prize For Me?

If you go here, you will find an awesome contest. Prizes include:

1. A partial critique from Suzie Townsend of Fine Print Lit.

2. A query critique from Colleen Lindsey (Fine Print Lit), Kathleen Ortiz (Lowenstein Associates), or Joanna Stampfel-Vlope (Nancy Coffey Literary).

3. A great writer's survival kit

4. Lunch with Janet Reid and Suzie Townsend.

What awesome, awesome prizes. And why, might you ask, is Sarah Wylie doing all of this for all of us aspiring authors out there?

Because SHE GOT A BOOK DEAL, THAT'S WHY.

So head on over. Here's the link again. Tell her congrats and put your name in the hat. Winners announced on Sunday, April 25!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My My My

I lurked around an interesting conversation on Twitter the other day. People discussed poetry, song lyrics, their similarities, their differences. One thing everyone can agree on is their ability to move us, to push us, and to sometimes echo the emotions thrumming deep at our core. Below are some of my favorite lyrics, written by Rob Thomas.

My My My

The light from the window is fading
You turn on the night
The sound from the avenue's calling you
Open your eyes

And when you find
You're spending your time
Wanting for words
But never speak
You tell yourself
That the things you need come slow
But inside, you just don't know

My, my, my
Let your bright light shine
Let your words live on
Far beyond this life
Beyond this life

Hold on to anything
Everything's over and done
Has the fear taken over you
Tell me
Is that what you want
To make up your life

Time after time
You're falling behind
Hold on to me
Never leave
Forever be what you mean to me right now
Don't you feel better now

My, my, my
Let your bright light shing
Let your words live on
Far beyond this life
Beyond this life

As a writer, the words speak to me. As a person, they echo my heart. Great lyrics, great lines, great writing, great poetry - it always does.

Here the song here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring in Missouri

Just wanted to share some photos from my walk today. Spring has arrived in Missouri, and it's lovely.



















Friday, March 26, 2010

Lessons Learned

It’s been almost a year since the last time I saw my Grandpa Martin. I had plans to see him the day he died, but didn’t make it in time. I suppose it goes without saying that I miss him. That spending time at the Lake of the Ozarks, something of a second home to me, doesn’t feel quite the same. A heaviness settles in the outskirts of my mind, and wisps of melancholy hover above the sparkling green water. I still love visiting. It holds happy memories for me, like years of trips with my best friend and my first love. My aunts, uncles, grandma, and various family members make it special. But no one can replace Gramps. I’d like to share a few of my favorite things about him.


1. I ran the trotline with Gramps every morning I spent in their house. He’d shake me awake just as dawn broke; I’d struggle into some clothes and meet him on the dock. We’d climb into the filthy little silver boat full of fish scales and stink, and putter off across the lake. The mornings were still and cool. The only sounds were the quiet splatter of water droplets as the slimy line pulled through Gramps’ strong, weathered hands. So we’re clear, I hate fishing. HATE. I feel bad for the fish. I went every time he invited me though. I treasured the time to be alone with him, and nature, and just breathe.

2. My family has frequented a live country music show in the Ozarks for over thirty years. The name and location of what is known to us as The Show changed, but much of the central cast remained. When two of the “stars” began letting their sons play a number the summer after I turned 12, I had my first real crush. His name was Matt, he played the drums, and it was the first but certainly not the last time I would experience that mysterious attraction girls have for musicians. The next summer, when Matt and I were 13, I still hadn’t gotten up the nerve to talk to him. After the show my entire family loitered around while people went to the bathroom, chatted, etc. I looked up to see my gramps dragging Matt over to meet me. He had him in a headlock. A HEADLOCK. My blood just flooded with embarrassment at the memory. I wanted to DIE. Gramps had no idea what he’d done wrong, but he felt bad afterward.

3. He went shopping and picked out a special outfit, all by himself, for each of his daughters every Christmas.

4. Every friend of mine who ever met him called him Grandpa and felt instantly comfortable in his home. I know all of my cousins, aunts, and uncles who have married into our family felt the same way. Gramps emanated warmth and good will. Everyone wanted to be his friend. Everyone was his friend.

5. Gramps toiled as an Iowa farmer for many years, then he built and ran a restaurant everyone said would fail. It didn’t. When he and my grams retired to the Ozarks he kept a huge garden. One summer a groundhog made its home inside the electrified fence. This did not sit well with Gramps. Grandma found him sitting on the roof of their back garage with a rifle. He didn’t come down for two days and he never shot that varmint. He did pour gasoline down its hole and light it on fire. Problem solved.

6. Gramps made it to every single one of his eight grandchildren’s graduations and weddings. My cousin Matt got married in 2003 (I think) and the rehearsal dinner took place at his parent’s home in Scottsdale. Tables littered their backyard, and the boisterous sounds of four generations of family filled the air. Gramps had gotten older and getting around was harder. He made his way among us, laughing and smiling. I got up and gave him a kiss on his wrinkled, rosy cheek and asked, “Whatcha doin, Gramps?” He replied, “Just admiring what I started.”

7. In high school I still had a crush on this Matt character. My friends and I would get all dolled up to go to the Show now; makeup, hair curled, cute outfits, the whole nine yards. One Saturday morning I stumbled to breakfast in boxer shorts, a ratty t-shirt, and my hair in a lopsided, messy ponytail. Gramps winked at me over our bowls of cereal and said “He’d think you were even more beautiful if he could see you right now.”

8. His humor. Gramps could get a grin out of anyone, anytime, anywhere. He wasn’t an easy man, nor did he possess much tact, but he treated people like they mattered even when he poked fun at them. If he didn’t poke fun at you, it sort of made you feel left out. In return, everyone went out of their way to please him. I’ve done things I never wanted to, just because it made him happy. Like eat a slice of bread slathered in homemade applesauce. I’m not the only one.

9. I have several first cousins and for how varied in age and how far apart we live, I’d say we are closer than we have any right to be. I love spending time with all of them, spouses and children included. At Gramps’ funeral last year we sat around talking and missing him all ready. At some point my cousins Aaron and Mark got in a good natured discussion about which one was Gramps’ favorite. They each had their reasons he liked them best. Mark and his pancake breakfasts with Gramps. Aaron and Gramps shared a love for baseball. He had pet names for all of us. I realized at that moment that we all thought we were Gramps’ favorite. I can’t think of a better illustration of what a good man, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather he took the time to be.

The lessons I learned from watching him are too many to recount. Taking the time to be a good neighbor, a good friend, and a good person is never wasted. Sharing what you have brings people closer and nine times out of ten they will return the favor. Sometimes it’s okay to spend an entire day with your foot up on a table, talking with friends, and worry about the work to be done tomorrow. Doing what is right isn’t always easy. Work hard first, play after. Family, especially when they are as great as mine, is a treasure. Making a child feel important and special can change their life. Reveille over loud speakers is a great way to wake up a house full of people. Pulling on big toes is a great way to wake up one person at a time. Being able to laugh at yourself adds years of happiness to your life. You don’t have to say I love you in order for everyone in the room to know it’s true. In fact, it’s okay to sit in silence and watch a game of baseball. Silence isn’t scary. It’s comfortable.

These are just a few. He was my protector, my friend, my grandpa, my self-esteem, the reason I felt special. My euchre partner. My reason to laugh during prayers. The quiet force behind my bravery. When the minister at his funeral asked us to describe him in one word, I choked out, “anchor.” He was my anchor. He anchored our family firmly together in love and respect. He still does.

If you knew my gramps, or have a story of your own you’d like to share, post in the comments. I’d love to read them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Putting the Villain in Her Place

I haven't posted in a while. My fingers are itching to write, but my new plot isn't quite ready to come out of my head and onto paper just yet. I'm hoping it will be soon. It could be any minute now.

In the meantime, I wanted to spew some thoughts on writing villains. My villain for this book is fully formed, even more so than the main characters. I know what she wants, why she's the way that she is, and exactly what she's up to. I confess: I sort of love her. Her name is Lydia and she's strong.

But could she be too strong?

Even before really getting started (I've written the first chapter plus some), Lydia is threatening to take over. There are two POV's for the novel and one of them is hers. One of them HAS to be hers. She's demanded to tell her story. And it's a good story, so I agree with her. Still...

Is there a danger in knowing her so well? Lydia is the book's paranormal element, she has lived since 19CE and my main story takes place in the present. That's thousands of years of history. I know her MUCH better than my 17 almost 18-year-old protagonist.

I talked out some issues with a fellow writer the other day and said, "I know I'm not ready to write it yet, because at this point all I can see is Lydia winning." Which means either my MC or love interest will have to die.

Who knows? Maybe one of them will die. I just can't say yet. But if I decide to go that route, it won't be because Lydia forced my hand. It will be because that's the way MY book ends. So stick it, two thousand year-old Greek Oracle.

What are your thoughts on villains? How much should your readers understand? Does knowing too much about them, or making them too sympathetic cause problems for the plot? I'm very curious as to your thoughts, because the novel I've finished editing has a ubiquitous group as the bad guys. They are quite scary, but not terribly complex. Lydia is complex, cunning, and freaky strong.

Help me deal with her.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

More Stuffs I Want to Win

Over at the Shooting Stars blog, they are running a contest. I decided to enter, because the prizes are pretty awesome. Grand prize is a 40 page critique from agent Suzie Townsend of Fine Print Literary Management (who I like because she reps my genre AND she talks to me on Twitter). Other prizes include signed books and other goodies. There are tons of ways to earn entries, and the blog itself is chock full of information and fun. Go check it out!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Nathan Bransford Stole My Thunder

I've been thinking about this post for a few days, put it off, and then bang - Nathan Bransford 
steals my idea. What the hell? How am I supposed to compete with his blog? It's the New York Yankees of the blogosphere. Good thing I know what being the Royals feels like. I'll just go ahead and say what I planned on saying. Sheesh, Nathan. Thanks. (PS. I totally have a crush on you)

I've been a liar storyteller my entire life. The first time I told a lie, it got my sister in trouble. I was about six and don't recall exactly what I did, but remember lying awake into the night thinking about it. In order to lose the guilt I got up, trudged into the living room, and confessed to my parents. They were so proud of me for doing the right thing I didn't get in much trouble. Lucky me. In all fairness, I still can't lie to my parents. They can see it coming a mile off. I make it a policy to not lie to friends. Because, well, they're friends.


Acquaintances, teachers, random folks - they were all fair game. Sometimes the lies stories worked out better than others. I slept through a final my freshman year of college and came up with an amazing story of how my roommate had an allergic reaction to medication and I was in the emergency room all night. Tears and all. I got to take the test later. I don't know if he believed me or he was so impressed with my ridiculous tale he let it slide. Good thing he didn't ask for the hospital paperwork. That would have been bad.


I lied to a guy I was dating about my, um, sexual experience. That one didn't work out so well. It ended up making my life twenty times harder than it had to be. The majority of the time, though, I didn't tell lies tales to accomplish anything. The stories were simply more interesting than the truth. I loved to think them up, spin them, making people believe something amazing. It didn't matter if it wasn't true. It was real to my listeners.

Now that I've (ahem) grown up, I've stopped lying. Nothing good comes from it. Absolutely nothing. I've embraced writing as the outlet for my creativity and it feels like coming home. I can weave stories, build worlds out of words, create people, change endings, enhance settings - and people don't get hurt. At least not real people. What I do to my characters is my business, and don't you forget it.


I am curious, dear readers. How many of you shared my penchant for storytelling, embellishing, and outright lying as a young person? Is it a facet of the writer personality, or am I a deeply disturbed individual? Wait, don't answer that last question. Anything else is fair game.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday Teaser

I haven't done one of these in a while, and felt like joining in. I'm such a joiner. Below is an excerpt from the middle of In the Autumn. My vanity forces me to mention that this is still only a draft. Enjoy!




I don’t remember falling asleep, but that’s what must have happened. When my eyes open they meet dull, brown ones hovering six inches from my face. “Crap,” I yelp, rolling backward and onto the floor with a thud. “Ouch.”
Heart pounding, I glare up at Cadij. He smiles, and as I watch he transforms into Cadi. My mouth drops open as she crosses her legs at the knees and makes herself comfortable on my bed. She’s clad in soft, green pajama’s that engulf her small frame. She grins at me. “Sorry. Just having a little fun.”
“Fun? Oh yes, that was loads of fun. Next time could you just say my name, or tap me on the shoulder?” Getting up, I rub my sore butt before climbing in next to her. It’s weird, sitting together in my bed like this, but I’m glad she’s here. I have too many questions for an hour a day.
“Go ahead, Althea. Ask away.”
My brow scrunches and I nibble on the tips of my fingers. Cadi snuggles into my pillows and waits.  I want to know everything, but don’t want to leave Aimery out. “What are you, are you an Other?” It’s the first question I think Aimery won’t care about the answer. He doesn’t care much about Cadi.
“What am I? All this time in the dark about your own history, and your question is about me?” Her eyes well up with water again, and she looks at me like my fake parents do. With love. Whatever she and Koj are, the fact they care about us is clear. I just can’t figure out why.
“What’s the water in your eyes called? I get it, and Aimery got it before, but no one else does.”
“The humans call them tears. And they all have them, but tears are brought on by emotion. You and Aimery – and your counterparts – are the only humans with access to your emotions right now. When they come it’s called crying, or weeping.”
“Tears.” I try out the word, happy to have a name for the water. Also, a definition for one of the words in the strange, haunting book. “Okay. Now, what are you?”
She thinks about it for a minute, and when she meets my eyes Cadi tries to explain. “The gulf between our languages is vast. Your vocabulary is quite limiting.”
“Hey!”
She shrugs. “It is not your fault, Althea. The Others do not wish you taught Language or History.” She searches her mind another few minutes while I practice using patience. “I am an Augur. It is the closest definition. I am not wholly Other, but I am not human. I am from a planet called Sprita. We are not unlike your humans. We have emotions, the primary one being love. Our planet is…was peaceful, full of respect and happiness. No one stood to fight the Others, fighting is not in our nature. The Other’s spent many years on our planet before moving on. No one survived their habitation. Except those they brought with them when they left.”
“They took you with them,” I squeak out.
“Some of us, yes. My people have…had talents the Other’s wished to copy. We have a special relationship with the powers that grant Magic. They took a dozen of our women when they left and bred with them. Experimented with controlling our Magical genes. It worked, to an extent. I am an example. So is Koj.” She watches me through sad, resigned eyes. “Do you understand?”
Do I? “Not really. I mean, I understand what you are saying but not how it works. Could you show me Magic?”
“Sure. Let’s see…” Cadi closes her eyes and me heart speeds up in anticipation. She opens one eye, brilliant blue. “Close your eyes, Althea.”
I snap them shut at her request. Unsure of how long to remain that way, they stay closed until she asks me to open them. Cut off from my vision, the first thing I notice is the smell. Jasmine, fresh and in bloom, wafts beneath my nose. Honeysuckle. Roses. Next, a warm breeze tickles my cheek, a satisfying temperature. I hear water lapping gently, rhythmically. My insides turn liquid in the comfort and calm envelops me.
I feel a small hand on my arm. “You can open your eyes.”
When I do, the scene that greets them nearly knocks me off the bed. Wait. Looking down, I see that I’m no longer sitting on a bed, but in a boat. The floor is replaced by greenish blue water, and in front of me the sun sets on the horizon. Cadi and I drift lazily near the shore of a lake. The foliage is blooming, and the yellows, reds, pinks, purples, and blues dazzle me just as their scents do. The trees are green and lush, like the grass covering the ground underneath them. Amazed, I turn to Cadi. “What is this place?”
“It’s not an actual place, Althea. It’s summer. I thought you might like to see it?”
“How did we get here?”
“You asked me to show you Magic. We aren’t here, we are still sitting on your bed. I’m making it up. This is Magic.”
“I belong here,” I breathe out.
Cadi studies me with a sorrowful stare. “Yes. Yes you do.”
As I watch, she raises her hand and snaps her fingers. In the blink of an eye, summer disappears and we are back in my room. The air worming it’s way under the windowsill makes me shiver, and I climb under the covers next to her. “Cadi, why are you and Koj helping us? Why not just let the Other’s find us?”
Her eyes close, and a tear slips from underneath her eyelid. “You remember what I told you, about Sprita? About what happened there? We wish a different outcome for Earth. You might be the answer.”
 I feel safe, and love flows off of the strange woman and wraps its way around me. Whether she loves me, or just loves, is anyone’s guess. My eyelids grow heavy as she picks up a piece of my hair and twirls it between her fingers. Though a million questions still wait to be answered, fighting the drowsiness is useless. Cadi’s voice lulls me further away from consciousness. “Sleep, girl. You need your rest.”

Friday, February 19, 2010

I WANT TO WIN SOMETHING

I have read rave after rave about the awesomesauce of Patrick Lee's book, The Breach. Over at Susan Adrian's blog, she's giving away a copy to one lucky winner. You should go leave a comment, tweet about it, or blog about it yourself, because from what I understand it's a prize well worth having. Better yet, forget you ever read this so that I CAN WIN.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Exiting the First Draft Haze



What follows in my attempt at a light-hearted, not wallowing in self pity post.

I completed a MS a few weeks ago. It rode me hard, wouldn’t let me alone, and pestered me until I finished. It took me around thirty days to write the 65,000 words. Below is a list of things I stopped doing while navigating the brain haze of a new manuscript.

1 – Wearing shoes besides Chuck Taylor’s. (See photo evidence of adorable heels I wore on Wednesday.)

2 – Blow drying my hair. (What? I’m not the only one who puts their hair in a ponytail after a shower and calls it good for two days, right? RIGHT?!?)

3 – Fixing my hair. (See above.)

4 – Talking to my mother. (Who sent me an angry text message containing the word ‘pissed.’ Rough stuff from Mom.)

5 – Going to church. (I went last week and people hugged me profusely like they thought I came back from the dead.)

6 – Taking even my usual fleeting interest in my dayjob. (Which means I am so far behind on my meager monthly offering. I barely made it in January.)

7 – Shaving my legs. (That might be TMI. At least I shaved my armpits.)

8 – Cooking. (Or eating anything remotely healthy.)

9 – Sleeping more than 5 hours a night.

10 – Walking my dogs. (Or playing with my dogs. Or doing more than occasionally rubbing their belly’s while working out a plot point.)

11 - Watching the 20+ hours of TV now waiting on my DVR. (I am not kidding. The only thing I’ve been watching is American Idol, and just because getting behind isn’t an option.)

That said, now I am on to revisions. I usually like to take at least a month before I begin, let the MS sit and marinate, then return to work on edits. This story will not let me do that. The intense pressure has lifted, but instead of disappearing it gave way to a constant throb. It’s not gone. I am about halfway through a rewrite of some plot/character issues. I’ll try and take another 2 weeks off after this one before I start another, more nitpicky revision.

I, like all authors, do several revisions before I put down a story. Notice I didn’t say finish a story, because they aren’t ever really finished. The first pass goes fast, depending on how many holes need to be plugged after the first draft. The second one focuses more on grammar, word choice, and sentence structure. Also, getting rid of those pesky words like ‘that, seem(s)(ed), and anything ending in –ly. Passive voice. Dialogue that doesn’t work. The third (hopefully) cleans up what the first two miss.

What are your editing processes like, writer friends? Longer than mine? Shorter? Just different? What do you forgot to do when you are deep in a first draft?

PS. For more great thoughts on editing/revising, check out Elisabeth Black’s similar post.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Greatest Fear




“Sometimes I think all relationships exist in their own little universe and are subject to their own law of gravity. For a long while, that gravity pulled us together even against our collective will. It demanded that we be together and drew us in while we fought the strength of our growing bond. The thing is, as relationships shift and move, grow and shrink, the effect of that tug can change as well. Gravity, like magnets, can push us apart just as easily as it can pull us together. Chances must be grabbed and pounced on when they present themselves. Moments are there to be lived, experienced. Wait too long and those chances, those moments, disappear and are never heard from again. Then you are left like me. A big, gooey pile of regret. A broken person who might never fully recover from being a total ass. I don’t know what our alternate future would have held. The future where I embraced what we had and let him love me. Maybe it wouldn’t be any different than the reality we both live in now, but part of me will always wonder.” 

The above is an excerpt from my memoir, Gravity. It will very likely never see the light of day, because even posting this piece makes me a little nauseous.** I did it because it highlights an experience that embedded in me one of my greatest fears in life – regret.

You can tell me that I shouldn’t look backward, I can’t change the past or see the future, or that I might need professional help (heard all three on various occasions), but the fact is, I don’t want to live with regrets. I want to be ninety years old, surrounded by my great-grandchildren, and be able to honestly say I don’t have any major regrets in the way I’ve lived my life. It’s made me jump off cliffs and bridges*** and go away to college. Those are some positive experiences. My ever present fear also, on occasion, works against me.

Regarding my professional goals, it works to my advantage. Looking back, I’m not sure when I knew I would be a writer, but it probably started in middle school. I would make up stories all the time (which my parents called lying – always see the negative, those people). Before I left for college I wrote a couple of screenplays and started a novel. I still have them, and boy, are they hilarious. I got involved in theatre, wanted to be an actress. Got a degree in film. It took me a while to realize writing is the right outlet for my creativity. Sure, it’s scary to let people read and critique my writing. For me, it’s not as scary as the thought of not trying at all, of never knowing. So I write. I let people read it. I hope one day, lots of people will read it. Whether they love it or hate it, I won’t regret the journey.

In relationships, this fear of regret paralyzes me. I can’t make a move, can’t decide what constitutes the right thing. Most of all, I have trouble figuring out when to let go. Knowing when to throw in the towel, when to say goodbye, might be just as important to a relationship as knowing when to get involved in the first place. I tend to try very hard; so that if it doesn’t work out I can say I gave it my all. Try and ensure I don’t have any regrets years down the road. But what if I stay too long? Might that be something to regret as well? Wasting years when you know in your heart that the two of you aren’t a good match? What if you are just going through a rough time and things could change?

That’s the place I am stuck in at the moment. I’ve been here before. The last time, my Uncle Gary told me “sitting on a fence will give you a sore crotch.” Not pretty, but useful enough advice. I’m going to get off the fence. I am. As soon as I figure out which path doesn’t end in regret.

What are your thoughts, your biggest fears in life? Am I over-analyzing, or letting my past dictate my future? I would love to hear back from you, and promise a light-hearted post in the near future.

**After I wrote this post, I entered a BlogFest and posted another moment from Gravity. Consider yourselves lucky (or not) because you got to see more than one snippet.


***That photo is the *actual* bridge I jumped off. What an idiot!