Thursday, April 29, 2010

Excuses Are Like Butts

My husband, a Marine Corps veteran with more than 20 years of active duty service, loves to tell me "Excuses are like a$$holes; everybody has one and they all stink." I've cleaned his little adage up a bit for my title, but it still works.

There's been an awful lot of blog and Twitter silence on my end lately. My end? I apologize in advance for this post. Apparently I have my mind in the gutter. Anyway, I'd like to blame the dead air on my husband but I know that would just be me making an excuse for not Doing It Anyway.

While the Gunny enjoyed a break from work, he spent the bulk of his time on the computer catching up on his Facebook applications. Since the kids fried our desktop and the community laptop is perpetually occupied by one of our five children, he spent all those hours on MY precious laptop. We can argue the whole "I make the money so it's really MY computer" issue all day long, but I prefer to stick to my non-confrontational tendencies and let him believe whatever lies he chooses to tell himself to feel like a man. When he wasn't glued to the computer, he was in overdrive; taking care of all the little odds and ends he's been meaning to address but hasn't had time to deal with.

So here's my predicament: When he's in overdrive, I usually become the Al Borland to his Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor. When he's on his rear (there I go again) at my computer, nagging him to get off will only bring on the Tool Time role-playing game faster. What did I do?

I let him become my bumhole.

A lot of work was done around this house, including a thorough steam cleaning of my carpets. There's a lot of freaking carpet in a 3000 square foot home, let me tell you. The new puppy has already fertilized the dining room, but that's another blog post entirely (even if it is adhering to the colorectal theme I've got going here). But what didn't get done is any significant progress on my current writing project. When I did try to write, there was always something mundane he was dying to tell me that would completely destroy my train of thought. True, I took some pretty valuable notes here and there, but I was basically on hiatus while The Gunny was home.

Hindsight is 20/20. Heh, HINDsight. Still going. Anyway, I should've told him where to stick it and gone ahead with Doing It Anyway. I've been reborn into the religion of Write Every Day, and I am here to preach its gospel. The Gunny would've lived if I'd booted him off my laptop for a few hours every day and let one of the kids help him with his handyman projects.

Although Twitter frequently becomes a butt for me, it's a source of encouragement and inspiration more often than not. I adore my writer friends who are quite talented at Doing It Anyway; even if they do distract the heck out of me sometimes. I did get out an occasional tweet on my phone here and there but Tweetdeck was MIA from my desktop most of the time The Gunny was home. Having him relay tweets to me in his heavy Cornhole drawl was so very wrong. There's something unsettling about hearing Michelle Wolfson (a petite Jewish mother) debate the unschooling fiasco in The Gunny's rumbling drill sergeant voice.

Thanks to everyone who noticed I was unusually quiet. Life isn't the same without y'all.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pen Pals

I met this fabulous girl on Twitter. The progression of our relationship has all been very smooth and natural; she tweeted a roll call of who was writing one night and I joined her Write Through The Pain hashtag (if you don't know about hashtags, go to Twitter now and tweet #imaloser), and before you know it, she's reading my sacred WIP and I'm writing her a crazy short story about her freakshow boss. It's love, I'm telling you.

Backing up, this girl is under the oppression of BOSS COWBOY; a man with a reputation so big his name must be spelled entirely in capital letters. Their hilariously dysfunctional relationship is coming to an end soon so that Bria can go become a famous author back in Boston. In celebration (or loathing?) of the friction (flirting?) between them, Bria offered a prize for the best 500 word BOSS COWBOY story. The prize? A mug bearing a startling likeness of BC himself. I had to have it. You can read my entry here or you can just look at this picture of me freaking out over my prize for winning the contest. Or both. Whatever.


Where did this fantabulous mug come from, you ask? Well, part of becoming a famous author is research and development of the writer herself. Bria is hocking all kinds of nifty writerly items in a Romance Yardsale to fund a trip to Nashville for the RWA National Conference (or convention, I have no idea). Why do I care if she furthers herself as a writer and creates stronger competition- I mean more a more talented peer- in the YA industry? Because I live 90 miles from Nashville and will get to hang with her IN PERSON after hours when she's at the conference.

The mug is made of so much win that I simply must have more Romance Yardsale booty; much, much more. Thankfully Bria is dangling more freebies over our heads at the risk of spending more money than she'll earn. If you're dying to put your lips on your very own BOSS COWBOY mug, check out the Romance Yardsale and enter the drawing for one free item of your choice. To help you get started, here's my pick:
Go enter, buy something, and get this girl one step closer to meeting up with me- I mean RWA Nationals- in Nashville!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pet Projects

WILL & MAGGIE (Completed and being considered by several agents)

The summer before her senior year, Maggie Young moves in with her aunt in rural Tennessee to start over with a clean slate. Her mom’s efforts to hide the family’s dirty secret from her may have been hopeless from the beginning, as Maggie uncovers dark truths about herself through traces of history left behind on the farm. There’s danger deeply rooted in her DNA. At first, falling in love and inadvertently creating a precarious love triangle just seems to complicate things. But obsession is a powerful force and may have far more to do with the threat against her life than she realizes.

REM (In progress)

Teenagers across the country are playing with a new over-the-counter sleep aid, a totally legal high that can create lucid dreams. When Justin Thomas and his friends give it a test drive, Justin meets the girl of his dreams, literally. The more he takes of the drug, the stronger his dreams about Angie become. The FDA yanks the medication from the market when accidents involving sleepwalking users begin to pile up—just as Justin gets a major hint that Angie is more than just a figment of his imagination. His desperation to get to her attracts the attention of his parents, the police and someone far more dangerous. Someone has found a way to follow him into his subconscious mind and is using Angie as bait.

BOOBS

Kasey Marks is a popular teenager with good grades, a hot boyfriend, and a flat chest. Come hell or high water, she’s determined to make her life more… fulfilling. But raising $5,000 is no easy task for a seventeen year old, as she quickly discovers while riding the bus every day and working the drive-thru window at the Dairy Queen. Her Saline Solution becomes a school-wide phenomenon and the donations are rolling in. Not all the buzz is good, however, as Kasey quickly learns when her parents are notified by concerned staff members at Big Sky High School. Her boyfriend has had enough and even her best friend is starting to see things differently. Sometimes changes need to be made below the surface instead of just under the muscle tissue.

UNTITLED

She doesn’t know her name, her age, or the color of her eyes when she wakes up in The Facility but she’s not alone. A mass awakening is happening around her as dozens of gifted children are discovering independent thinking after years of careful control. They are the few that were selected for their talents and allowed to live in the darkness that has washed over the world. Unaware of what they’ve created, the administrators have built a student body that can outnumber and outsmart them. It’s time for the uprising.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Knock knock. Who's there? Me!

Almost six months into my Twitter adventure and I'm increasingly obsessed. I quickly discovered Twitter gives me more than just insight into the world of agenting. There are scads of warm, wonderful writers out there who are genuine and supportive and willing to share their experiences with others. It's a fabulous business to be in and I'm loving every tweet.

Getting to know so many different types of authors has helped narrow down my own personal style; something I never paid much attention to until recently. Without further ado, please enjoy my interview with debut author, ME.

Me: Welcome to my blog! It's great to finally meet you!
Me: Thanks! I'm thrilled you finally asked!

Me: So, tell me about what inspired you to write.
Me: My parents were hugely into literature when I was growing up. Dad was finishing his PhD at the University of Michigan, and mom stopped pursuing an English degree to stay home with us kids. There were always books around the house and library trips in the red wagon. My folks were grammar Nazis (unfortunately, I married a southerner and his influence cancelled out half those lessons) and dad tutored us with Latin flashcards. Mom would Xerox the NYT daily crossword puzzle and we'd race to see who finished first; I actually won a few in high school.

The best parts were my dad's bedtime stories (kid detectives outsmarting an evil professor) and mom's half-asleep readings of Tolkien (by the end of the chapter she was reading words that didn't exist). We didn't watch much TV but I do remember eating popcorn in a dark living room when Star Wars was on HBO.

Me: Fascinating, now shut up for a minute. Your first book, WILL & MAGGIE, is a love story with paranormal elements and your second book, REM, is an adventure with a male protagonist and a science fiction edge. Both are brilliant, of course, but what's with you? Are you bipolar or something?
Me: While the plots are vastly different, they are both YA suspense with very similar attributes. I've always loved YA that respects teenagers and doesn't talk down to them, so I write about things that might actually be possible-- reality with a touch of surreality. The world is an incredible place on its own, without fairies, vampires, or magical powers. My readers will find real characters in real problems but always with a touch of "what if?"

Maggie's caught in precarious love triangle and learning about the dirty family secrets her mom tried to hide from her; but are the two linked by something that didn't die with her grandmother?

A group of friends take an over-the-counter drug that's become all the rage with teenagers for its hypnotic properties and Justin meets the girl of his dreams (in his dreams); but taking more and more of the drug to see her is triggering relapses and someone has found a way to follow him into his subconscious mind.

See?

Me: Wow. Just... wow. If I were an agent, I'd totally sign you right now. Did you say Maggie and Justin? How do you come up with names for your characters?
Me: One of my pet peeves is the trend of imaginary names for YA characters. I was horrified when Stephenie Meyer introduced Renesmee. Whenever I pick up a book with ridiculously made-up names I want to throw it across the room. Not that it makes a book bad, mind you. I love the Twilight series and I love The Hunger Games (Katniss? Really?), I just get distracted by weird names. Mine are simple; Maggie, Will, Justin, Angie, Carol, Kurt... Easy to spell, easy to pronounce. It works for me.

Me: Would that have anything to do with your name being mispronounced by every teacher, substitute teacher and receptionist you encountered in your youth?
Me: I thought we agreed you weren't going to ask personal questions about my emotional scars.

Me: I'm just saying. It's an interesting factoid about you; your neurosis.
Me: Look, if you don't keep it professional here, so help me God-

Me: Did I touch a nerve?
Me: You little *&#$@! I'm so done with this @#%)(#ing interview! Why don't you #&*^@ yourself? Or myself. Whatever!

Me: I'm sorry. Can I ask just one more question?
Me: Aw, you know I can't stay mad at you. Go ahead.

Me: When I read WILL & MAGGIE, (which was sheer genius, by the way) I was actually rooting for Kurt-- the bad guy. Why are your bad guys not all that bad?
Me: I've always had a thing for bad guys. I root for the sexy devil that tortures the damsel in distress. It's one of my many inner demons. Anyway, I find the concept of pure evil unrealistic. Comic books handle it well; many comic baddies are inadvertently created by the hero. I want my readers to not only sympathize with the enemy, but struggle with the desire to cheer for him/her. If you find yourself drooling over Kurt, I've done my job well.

Me: It was a pleasure to have you here and, if you don't mind me saying so, I just love your hair. You look smashing as a brunette.
Me: Really? Thanks! You should totally try it sometime. I'll give you my stylist's number.

So there you have it. I am a YA suspense novelist with a split-personality and a sarcasm disorder who writes reality-based fiction with characters who have simple names and likable enemies. It only took me thirty-something years to figure it out.