Monday, February 10, 2014

*enter expletive here*

I can't believe I haven't posted since October.  I've been so disappointed with my writing habits lately that I think even writing here has just felt...embarrassing. 

I have not submitted Where We Fell to any agents yet.  In fact, I have not finished writing the synopsis at this point.  Sad face.

I have, however, started two new stories.  But I've only written a few pages for each story, and I can't decide which one I want to stick with for now.  So, clearly, the option is to just ignore both of them, right?

I blame Breaking Bad.  And Netflix.

And Candy Crush.

These past several months have been frustrating.  And expensive.  The husband got laid off back in October from a job he was doing really well at, so that hurt.  Then I had my surgery and the bills started coming in pretty much immediately. Then Christmas came around, and even though we tried to cut back, we still spent waaaaay too much money on gifts. 

Then Gus got stuck in our neighbor's wall.  I swear to god, I could write a novel based on that cat's adventures.  Anyway, so that was a fun little unexpected $350 to the emergency critter removal company.  Perhaps I'll write a future blog post about this incident, although most people have already heard the ridiculous story anyway.

Then our furnace partially died.  Have I mentioned this has been one of the coldest winters in a long time? Because it has been.  Our house was at around 57 degrees for days until someone finally could come out and fix it.  Thankfully it was just a burnt out motor, but still.  Another couple hundred or so to fix it, which we delightfully pulled out of our asses. 

And now, our fridge has apparently decided, you know what? It's cold enough in your garage to store your food.  I don't need to work anymore.  So now the fridge and freezer are dead and we have two coolers full of food, including a ton of partially defrosted chicken and fish that will end up going bad, out in our garage.  Not to mention all the stuff I already had to pitch- probably at least $50-100 worth of food, sitting out on our curb to get picked up with the trash today.

I have to look on the bright side.  Or at least try to, anyway.  I have a lovely home.  We have nice cars and clothes.  If anything truly terrible did happen I know we have wonderful friends and family who would help us out.  But it's just...ENOUGH. 

I welcomed 2014 with open arms, hopefully thinking this would be the year things start to turn around for us.  Dan started a new job he's liking so far.  I'll get my writing back in order and start submitting WWF at long last.  I'm going to work hard at eliminating some of my stupid debt and medical bills.  I still have these goals, but life sure is working hard at making me want to just dig a hole for myself in our backyard to bury myself in.

Anyway.  I'll be back here more often again...I hope.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Yesterday was my birthday, so I have now officially entered my 38th year of life on this planet.  No longer can I say I am in my mid-30s.  37 is just a little beyond that age range, don't you agree?  I am, however, still within that 35-39 age group so maybe that's why I'm still okay with it. Regardless, my birthday means I get to spend time with the people I hold near and dear, so I'm looking forward to all the festivities going into the weekend.  Dan and my Thursday girls spoiled me rotten yesterday, tonight I will enjoy delicious Pad Thai, and tomorrow a big group of my loves are all joining me for dinner at D'Agnese's, one of my favorite Italian places.

My birthday clearly is also an excuse to eat lots and lots of food.  And cake.  Mmmm, cake.

The year ahead brings some changes, the most notable one coming up next week.  I don't know if anyone remembers my post back in June, but I had some crazy medical issues all dealing with my nose. I had a skin infection called cellulitis that was undoubtably one of the most painful things I have ever been through in my life.  When all was said and done and the infection finally cleared up, I was left with a slightly deformed nose due to the fact that the infection ate away at the cartilage near the end.

I've hated my nose pretty much my entire life.  Whenever given the question of "If there was one thing about yourself that you could change, what would it be?"- my nose was always the number one answer.  It was made even worse when I broke it several years ago after a drunken stumble into my armoire at night (ah, to be 27 again).  So, when the doctor told me reconstruction was an option, and that since it was necessary due to the infection my insurance would cover it, I pretty much jumped on the chance to get it fixed.  The doctor also said while they're in there they can also "take care of" some of my other issues, too, like my slight deviated septum, which should help with my breathing issues, and get rid of the lovely bump near the top.

Um.  Yes, please.

In less than a week I go under the knife.  I haven't had a surgery in over 14 years, so of course I'm nervous- scared about how much pain I'll be in and how sick I'll get from the anethesia.  But to be completely vain, mostly I'm excited for the outcome.  I wouldn't wish that infection I had on anyone, nor would I EVER want to go through something like that again. But if the result is an improved nose that helps alleviate some of my allergies, well, I have to say I'm pretty okay with that.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How I Spent My Summer

Clearly, I spent my summer NOT writing.  While this makes me sad and somewhat antsy to get going again, all in good time. 

June was the last time I posted anything here, and that's just downright shameful.  But it is what it is.  The summer months were crazy dealing with health issues, car issues, a crazy social schedule, and then, finally, a lovely beach vacation with my good friend Barra and her family.  Getting away from it all was EXACTLY what I needed.  I came home refreshed and raring to go.  I've started writing a new story, but so far it's really only in the beginning stages.  As in, first chapter is all that's been partially written.  But it's a start.

The past couple weeks I've been working almost every day on my query letter for Where We Fell.  I still need to update my agent list, but I think I'm juuuuuust about ready to start the scary submission process.  I believe in this book.  Everyone who's read it says my writing has come a long way since the first story- and for the record, I still think that one was good, too.  Just needs some more work   (and someday I swear I'll go back to it).  Thanks to some major help from my sister in law- I think we've emailed back and forth at least 79 times now- here's where my query stands right now:

If only Jane had given Connor the five minutes of her time he’d begged for, he wouldn’t be lying unresponsive in a hospital bed, stuck between this world and the next. But Jane had been upset, still raw from the pain he’d caused her, so instead she’d practically shoved him into the car with someone who’d had far too much to drink that night.
Feeling desperate and full of guilt, Jane heads for the old well in the Patterson fields. Town legend says that the ghost who haunts its crumbling ruin, Gabby King, grants wishes to a rare few she deems worthy of her help. Jane has always thought the stories of Gabby were just silly fairytales, and even if she did believe them, she isn’t sure she deserves anything at all. Yet if a simple wish can save her boyfriend, she’s willing to try.
To her surprise, Gabby not only exists, but wants to give Jane the chance Gabby herself never got with her own first love. She offers to send Jane into the space between; the place, Gabby explains, where souls go to await their destiny on earth. Connor’s soul is there in a perfect world created by his mind, and if Jane can’t convince him to leave he’ll never wake. Gabby warns Jane of the dangers a living soul faces to enter this realm; she must go back when Gabby calls or she will get trapped there herself.
However, once in the space between, Jane realizes persuading Connor to leave is not going to be easy. He's angry, resentful, and has brought all the pain from that fateful night with him. But Jane will do anything to bring him back, even if it means trading her life for his.
WHERE WE FELL is a contemporary young adult novel with paranormal elements, complete at 75,000 words.

So I ask you, dear loyal readers of this blog, what are your thoughts?  Does this sound like something you would want to read based solely on the query?  Pretend you don't know me.  Seriously.  I will listen to any suggestions at this point.  These are soooo hard to write, and I only have one shot to impress an agent.

I have a lot more to discuss, but I shall save those thoughts for another blog.  Hopefully I'll get back to posting on a semi-regularly basis again here soon.

Thought for the day:  How can you have a beautiful ending without making beautiful mistakes? (this was from a fortune cookie and I just loved it.  I cannot take credit for this thought.)

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Craptastic Month of June

Let me start off by stating that June has not been a fantastic month.  Oh, it had potential to be pretty great, but it started off crappy and hasn't really gotten much better.  This is not an excuse for why I've been so absent from this blog- and well, writing in general, it's just simply a fact.

The first Monday of this craptastic month, I started my morning off with a tumble down the stairs. Surprisingly enough, in all my clumsiness I have never fallen all the way down stairs before (I usually tend to trip going UP them).  Thankfully, this tumble was no big deal, really.  I scraped up my right knee and pulled my shin muscle pretty good, but no broken bones or anything. I even made it to Pilates for the first time in months that evening, although I did have a hard time doing some of the moves due to my sore leg.

That same week, I woke up on Tuesday with a very swollen nose.  I thought perhaps I had a lovely zit a-brewing in there, because yes, I am 36 years old and still cursed with the occasional volcanic pimple from time to time in weird places.  I messed around with it a bit, probably more than I should, and by the end of the day it swelled up even more and hurt when just the wind would hit my face.  No exaggeration.  It was like someone was continually punching me, over and over, right in the nose.  The pain was unreal.  On Wednesday morning, I took myself to the ER because the pain, if possible, was even worse.  I had googled my symptoms and found out that it sounded like cellulitis, which is basically a bacterial infection of the skin.  It can be caused by a cut, ingrown hair, etc- any minor injury will allow staph in and hence, the infection.  Long story short, after arguing with the ER doctor that no, this could not possibly be an allergic reaction to something, I was prescribed an antibiotic and sent on my way.  Nothing for the pain, which was still getting worse by the minute.

The next day I had my allergy shots, and I'm lucky that there's an ENT on staff there at all times.  My allergist took one look at me and knew what I had (even though an ER doctor seemed basically clueless) and had the ENT look me over.  He prescribed some other antibiotics and a cream and told me to stop taking the other antibiotic the ER had prescribed. 

Nothing for the pain, though.  Terrific.  I was eating ibuprofen like M&Ms.  I was a mess that night- the infection caused me to feel flu-like and achy on top of everything else.  I wanted to rip my face off my head.

Oh yea, and we were leaving for Chicago the next day, did I mention that?  A highly anticipated trip, a weekend of fun and sight-seeing and shopping, drinks and good food...and I was miserable.  Somehow I rallied and still managed to have a good time, but if I had been home, you can be damn sure I would not have shown my face to the public the whole weekend.

I'm still not better, either.  This infection has eaten away cartilage in my nose and it's still swollen inside.  I'm afraid when and if it ever does go down I will be left with a lopsided, caved-in nose.  Because, you know, I'm not already self-conscious enough about my nose.

Then this past weekend lightning struck again.  My mom called me with the sad news on Sunday that our good friend, her old co-worker Joanne, had passed away.  Joanne was a wonderful, funny, kind, super sweet lady whose laugh you could hear from a mile away.  She was there for me through one of the darkest parts of my life, assuring me that things would get better and I'd feel whole again one day.  She was the one who encouraged me to start writing again, that she "saw" me writing books for kids.  Joanne called herself a "feeler"- she could just sense certain things about people.  She had a sort of pyschic ability, you see, and let me tell you, she was right about a LOT of stuff.  She's one of the main reasons I finished writing not one, not two, but three books.  And now, for her, I am going to do my damnedest to get the third one out there and make something come of it.  I will make sure that her prediction comes true, somehow, someway.

June can suck it. I'm glad it's over after next week.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The bandages inside the pen

"You found the bandages inside the pen, and the stitches on the radio..."

The line above is from the chorus of one of my favorite Gaslight Anthem songs, Boxer.  I remember singing it at home one day, and my husband shaking his head at first, saying he didn't get the lyrics.  To me, they've always made perfect sense: through writing and music, I find a way to heal.

For as long as I can remember, when I've been upset or angry or depressed, I write.  I think I got my first diary when I was in the fifth grade, a tiny, hardcover book with a real lock on it.  I would hide the key in my jewelry box, tucked away under the felt so no one would ever find it.  The thought of someone reading my most intimate thoughts scared the crap out of me.  I was terrified of being teased even more relentlessly than I already was.  Elementary school, and well, most of junior high, were not especially fun times.

As I grew older, I kept writing.  My journal entries were sporadic, but whenever I was feeling frustrated or sad, getting words down on paper always made me feel better. I wrote terrible poems and long paragraphs of angsty stream-of-conscious thoughts, scribbling like a madwoman in a beat up notebook.  Somewhere in my parents' house there are crates of notebooks full of stories and poems and probably a lot of really terrible writing.  I couldn't bear to throw any of them away- each notebook represents a piece of me and who I was becoming.

Music became more and more important throughout high school, too.  I loved punk rock; fast poppy songs by Bad Religion, Lagwagon, Pennywise, etc.  Their songs were the perfect anthems to my crazy, confused life at the time.  But I also found myself weeping to music from the Indigo Girls and Tori Amos. They inspired me to write better, to really try to create beautiful imagery and say what I wanted to say without flat-out saying it...if that makes sense.

My latest novel, Where We Fell (a real title!!), was inspired by two songs, both about wishing wells.  The Airborne Toxic Event's Wishing Well is where I actually got the title from; it's a haunting song about feeling low and being full of regret.  The other song that inspired me was A Silent Film's Danny, Dakota and the Wishing Well, a lovely song about being afraid to take a chance but then throwing caution to the wind to go after what you really want (Sidenote: these are my interpretations and how the songs make me feel.  Music is so subjective, though, that someone else may get an entirely different feeling from these songs.  Just sayin'.).

I understand that not everyone feels the same way about music that I do.  Some people can listen to a song and not feel anything at all, even though they may appreciate the beat or the singer's voice.  But I love being moved by a lyric, getting that ah-ha! moment when it seems like the band just gets me.  Like they got inside my head and made sense of all my jumbled thoughts and came up with this beautiful song just for me, to make me feel better. 

And I thank them for that, for giving me the words I can't find on my own sometimes.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Another teaser + ahh, the sweet smell of revisions!

Well, it's official.  I've completed writing the first draft of my third full-length novel.  It's crazy to think that just a few years ago, writing a book was just a lofty goal, a dream I had but didn't think I would ever accomplish.  Now I've written three.  Three!!

Granted, the first two didn't go anywhere.  I like to think they were my "test" novels.  They allowed me to work out some kinks, to try to find my voice and decide what kind of story I'd like to write.  I think they both still have potential and have some very good pieces in them, and maybe someday I'll go back and start them over.  But for now, it's time to move forward.

My third novel topped out at just over 75,000 words, which was my wordcount goal all along. Funny how that happens- I thought it might end earlier, around 70,000, but in the end, I needed to wrap up a few more things.  Before I pass it off to my lovely readers, I have some revisions I know I want to add in first.  I'm going to reread the whole thing and make the changes along the way, and then hand it off.  I'm not so concerned with grammar and punctuation stuff just yet, though.  I just want to make sure the story has all the elements I think it needs.

And so, I leave you with another snippet.  I'm not gonna set this one up at all, so just read it and enjoy it.  I mean, I hope you enjoy it...

I settle down on the stiff grass in the small graveyard, curling my feet under me.  There doesn’t seem to be anything to do but wait for Connor’s appearance.  I find myself wishing the sun would come out; it’s not that it’s cold here, but goose bumps spring up along my arms regardless.  It’s like the grayness sinks under my skin and chills me from the inside out.
I rest my chin on my hand and stare at the blank headstone.  Whose name will end up etched into that granite?  Shaking my head, I decide it will not be Connor’s.  I will not allow that to happen.

My ears feel stuffed with cotton.  Why are there no sounds here?  True, there is no breeze either, but being so close to these false woods I’d still expect to hear something coming from them.  Some sort of rustling in the brush nearby or bird wings flapping above, something.  The utter lack of movement makes it feel like the minutes here are dragging by, like time itself has forgotten how to move forward.
I wait.

And I wait.

And I wait. 
To pass the time, I braid and unbraid my hair.  I lie down, but I’m afraid to close my eyes in case I should miss Connor’s arrival.  I pace, first with my shoes on, then with them removed.  The grass beneath my feet should feel sharp and scratchy, but I barely feel it at all.  Along with my hearing, I feel my sense of touch also slipping away.  I run my hand along the headstone and my fingers are numb; I know I’m touching it but I don’t feel the coolness or the smoothness of the granite.  The longer I wait, the more I’m filled with an odd peaceful feeling, like when you first awaken from a good dream.

“Connor,” I whisper, looking up at the purple clouds rolling through the sky.  “Where are you?”
I can’t explain what happens, but I feel a gap in the silence after I speak.  There’s a rift in this place, something unsettled in the stagnant air.  I whirl around and see nothing, nothing but the endless gray landscape.

My eyes close in despair and I sink back down into the grass, pulling my legs into my chest and resting my forehead on my knees.  Where is he?  What if he doesn’t show up before Gabby calls me back?  What if I end up trapped here, alone in this timeless, silent place?
What if I’m too late? What if, back home, Connor is already dead? 

I’m so tired of crying, but I can’t stop an icy tear from slipping from my eye.  The thought that Connor might be dead fills me with horror, to think I might be missing any last moments with him because I’m trapped here in the space between.
“What are you doing here?”

My head whips up.  My ears are ringing from the sudden disturbance in the silence, but I see no one.  Did I imagine that voice?  That voice I know so well, the voice I hear in my dreams?
“I said, what are you doing here?”

I couldn’t have imagined it twice.  I get to my feet, shaking as I look around.  “Connor?” I say, my voice nothing more than a shrill, tiny squeak.
As if conjured by his name, he materializes in front of me, suddenly real and whole and here.  He’s wearing his favorite worn-in jeans, the ones I told him only a few weeks ago how much I love the way they hang on his hips, and a charcoal gray t-shirt, the shirt I’ve stolen from his room countless times.  No matter how long it’s been since he’s worn it, when I pull it on I feel his warmth and smell his soapy scent as if he’d taken it off five minutes earlier.  His feet are bare; Connor loves being barefoot.  He would walk around school barefoot in the dead of winter if he was allowed.  His hair seems longer, although it’s only been a few days and there is no way his hair could’ve grown in that time. 

What strikes me the most are his eyes.  Normally a sweet, chocolate brown, here they seem muddy, almost black in color.  They are not his eyes. 
“It’s you,” I breathe, taking a step closer despite the anxious feeling sliding down my spine at his eyes.

He holds his hands up in front of him, backing away. “How did you get here?” he asks, his voice low and husky.  And maybe…angry?
“Don't worry about that.  What’s important is I’m here, and I’m going to bring you back with me,” I explain, trying to ignore his cold stare. 

“I’m not going anywhere with you.”
I swallow hard.  Gabby said he wouldn’t want to leave, that I would have to convince him it was for the best.  But the way he’s looking at me right now, almost like he’s filled with disgust at the sight of me, makes me think this is going to be a much harder task than I ever imagined it would be.

“Connor, listen to me,” I plead.  “I know what happened, um, was terrible but-“
“Who are you?” he asks, cutting me off.

I blink in confusion.  “It’s me.  Janie.”
He squints at me, crossing his arms in front of his chest.  He shakes his head.  “Sorry.  I don’t know anyone named Janie.”

My breath gets caught in my throat and I’m paralyzed with fear.  Of all the things I was expecting him to say, denying that he even knows who I am was not one of them.
“Now if you excuse me, I have things to do,” he says, ice dripping from his voice. “I don’t know how you got here, but I suggest you go back the way you came.”

“Connor!”  I cry, panicked.  “Wait!  Please!”  I cannot let him walk away from me.
But walk away is exactly what he does, disappearing without a backward glance my way.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sharing is caring

Last night, I had one of those dreams that just stuck with me after my alarm rudely woke me up.  I can't stop thinking about it even now.

I was in a class or some sort of writers' group, and everyone had to read the first page or two of their most recent work in progress.  I was so excited to share mine, and I shuffled through my notebook to make a few revisions before it was my turn (sidenote: I have not handwritten a story in YEARS, but the one I was about to read from a battered, old notebook just like I wrote in in high school was my current WIP).

After listening to everyone's first pages, it was finally my turn.  I opened my notebook and to my surprise and horror, my story was gone.  It was like the pages got up and walked away.   And I knew I had just looked at them moments earlier! I frantically leafed through every page in my notebook, searched my bag and the floor around me, but it had just disappeared. 

And so, no one got to hear my story.  And I was devastated.

So, what does this dream mean?  Does it mean I should take better care of my WIP and how I share it with people?  Or, maybe it means the thought of NOT being able to share my stories with people would be the worst thing ever.  Hmm.

I have about two more chapters to write, by the way, until the first draft is complete.  It's already over 71,000 words, so I'll have hit my word count goal and then some.  Now just to tie up all the loose ends. In a way, finishing a first draft feels like saying goodbye to an old friend.  I've spent so much time with this story that it's almost hard to end it all.  What will I do with all my time now??

Well, revisions, of course.  And eventually, start the next one. :o)