Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fantasyland [Why I Write]

Get up from your computer, go to your front door and open it.  See that world out there?  That world SUCKS!!  As in reality, the real world, the undeniable truth.  In short, this is why I write. I can't walk onto my front porch and declare "Today, I'm seventeen and I have a hot boyfriend with a Harley."  

Okay, so I can, but that won't make it true and my neighbors would probably give me dirty looks.

Instead, I sit in front of my computer screen and I make it happen. 

Reason 1: Fantasyland

Fantasyland is ALWAYS better than the real world.  Oftentimes it has far more attractive people -ones who like each other!  Plus, it's all in your head, so while you create this awesome alternate reality, it's one thing to you and something completely different to someone else.  That's one of my favorite things to have my readers talk about.  Each one interprets the world a little differently.

Another great thing about Fantasyland?  The characters have grit (usually) and far more guts than I would.  They laugh in the face of Dystopia, they wield knives and guns and have no issue antagonizing would-be enemies.  They hack and fight their way to the end of the story, where they always get the girl (or guy).  

I can tell you right now that if the world ended tomorrow (since we're still waiting on the Zombie Apocalypse) I would have to pretend I was in a book to survive.  Which leads me to 

Reason 2: Characters

Characters are resilient.  The best part?  They're not like dysfunctional children, they do what you tell them to!  If you're having a bad day and you want to take it out on someone, send your MC into a horrible situation where they come out emotionally scarred and forever damaged.  Laugh maniacally.  

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about my MC's.  You would've thought they were sitting in the room with us.  After a while, they sort of become 'real.'  We discuss them like friends, worry about them, and plot their futures.  We question their decisions and cry for them.  

They're sort of like the friends that ALWAYS come to you for advice, except that they almost always listen to what you say.  Like I said almost.  My characters like to tell me what's going to happen next all the time.  Sometimes I find myself arguing with them similar to what I do when I watch a bad horror movie.  "No-you will not run upstairs right now!"  "Stop - just stop, you're not going to leave her lying in the middle of the road."  "Great, now you want to be a hero??"  

I realize that I sound schizophrenic, and so what?  Maybe I am!  Thanks to A.M. Supinger
for showing me this quote:

E. L. Doctorow said: "Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia."

I know you are all nodding your heads in agreement here.  How could you not?  We're a slightly insane bunch and that's okay!

Usually my characters get their way, damn them.  But what can I expect?  They're angst ridden teenagers with a chip on their shoulders and something to prove.

Reason 3:  I'm Young Again!!

Young Again=YA=Young Adult

You see where I'm going with this?  I love, love, love to write (and read) in first person.  It draws you into the story and suddenly you have become the main character.  Lucky for me, she's everything I wish I could be.  Shorter, thinner, with long, gorgeous hair, and 17.  She's not jaded!  She opens her front door and sees possibility!  

Teen angst = FUN!

I work with teenagers all the time.  They are my favorite kind of people.  The smallest things destroy their entire world.  It fascinates me!  

I love how every emotion is heightened thousandfold just because of their age.  Despite their freaking out, their emotions are REAL.  They put everything they have behind those emotions and they don't hold back.  When they love, they love with their whole heart, their entire soul and the whole world knows it.  When they hate you, it's similar.  Have you ever watched Mean Girls?  That movie hit it spot on.  

My friend Andrea, who's an amazing actress, told my kids (my wonderful teenage ones, who are not actually MY kids) that whatever they feel is valid.  As adults we tend to try and downplay their emotions and tell them they don't know what they're talking about.  But when I'm writing, I'm not an adult, I'm a teenager, so anything goes!  

If I hate you, I can be angry and vindictive!  I can put bleach in your conditioner, I can call you and pretend to be someone else, and I can not speak to you for weeks.  Ah!  What a sweet release.  In the dreaded real world I'd be expected to be an adult.  Psh! Booorrrriinnnggg!!

If I love you, that gives me free reign to follow you to the ends of the earth.  NOTHING is more important than love and belonging.  I will follow you straight into hell and not stop until my skin has burned away and I'm nothing but a pile of ash.  Tell me I'm wrong!  Don't you remember what it was like to be a teenager in love?  It's all encompassing and it dictates every action.

So while the real world shuns emotions and frowns upon outward displays of them, my characters revel in it, allowing me to be someone I can't be out here.

Reason 4: Sweet, Sweet Release

As in escapism.  

I can spend hours upon hours in a MS.  I can shut out the world to everything but my characters.  Bills need to be paid?  Not today, I'm writing.  Laundry's dirty?  Well, my character's having a panic attack and that's clearly more important.  Dishes need to be washed?  You see the point. 

You know when you were little and your parents told you that you could be whatever you wanted?  They were right!  But only in books.  See, there's my jaded adult side coming out.  Usually I can shut her up with chocolate and wine.  In a book I'm better than myself.  

And thus, we have come full circle.

All the best,


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tyrone Sunken Gardens {Inspiration and Beauty}

There is one place that has inspired my writing above all else.  When I first started dating my husband, back in the day (high school!!), he took me to a cemetery.  Of course, after the requisite creepiness wore off, I was rewarded with an amazing and inspirational garden: Tyrone Sunken Gardens.  Here is a picture walk through of a scene in Stepping Stones.  Tyrone is not only the inspiration for my novels, it's also where the names came from (Stepping Stones, Broken Stones, Rising Stones)  Enjoy!!

            He rounded the car and opened the door.  I was stuck in my seat.  I absolutely did not want to be in a cemetery.  He took my hand and forcibly pulled me out of the car.
            “Trust me.”  His words were soft, like coaxing a frightened animal.
I didn’t trust him, but I did get out of the car, not that he really gave me a choice.  He led me around a small wooded area and then down a steep hill.  The large archway at the top boasted ‘Tyrone Sunken Gardens’. It sat a mere two feet off the ground, as though it truly had sunk. He took his time, helping me down the uneven hill.  

At the bottom, on the other side of a grassy plain, was a wooden foot bridge seated over a small stream.  A huge willow tree dominated the mostly open space surrounded by woods on three sides and the hill we’d descended on the fourth.
The babble of the stream was loud enough to be soothing, but quiet enough to not distract from the birds and other active wildlife.  Birds chirped happily and bushy tailed squirrels darted between the trees. 
            “It’s beautiful,” I told him, feeling more relaxed now that we were alone.

            “It gets better,” he told me, grinning. “Come on.”  He tugged on my hand and we crossed the unstable bridge. 
He led me around the stream and through a stone archway.  On the other side was a large circle of stones embedded in the ground and in the center of it all was a large sundial.  
            “Each of these stones,” Everett explained, “was quarried from a different state or country.”  He led me to the nearest stone.  “There’s an old story that says if you step from stone to stone, the one you fall off of will be the state you die in.”  He watched me closely.
            Running around on dew slicked stones sounded like fun to me.  It was reckless and stupid—my kind of thing, lately.
            “Let’s try,” I suggested, already stepping up on the nearest stone.  Everett pulled me back.
            “You sure?”  He took it more seriously than I did. 
            I looked over the stones again.  Some of them were pretty even, but others stuck out of the ground at odd angles.  I shrugged, why not?  I wasn’t superstitious or anything.  I didn’t believe in fate, or ghosts or vampires or the like.  This was life, plain and simple.
Everett waited for me to move forward before he followed.  At first, I stepped carefully, taking my time and trying not to fall off.  But after making it around once without falling off, I went faster, and Everett followed suit, nimbly jumping behind me.
            We were on our third time around when I heard his shoe squeak and he fell.  He landed in the grass with a huff, standing back up quickly.
            “Which one?”  I called back to him, still hopping from stone to stone, maintaining my balance.
            “Pennsylvania,” he said, brushing off his jeans.  His left side was soaked and muddy.  He watched me continue to run from stone to stone.  Eventually I got tired of not falling off, and lost interest in the game. 
            I stopped in front of him on Illinois.  “What happens if I don’t fall off?”
            He shrugged, “I’m not sure, I always fall.”
            “From Pennsylvania?” I questioned.
            “From Pennsylvania.”
            Everett closed the distance between us and put his hands on my waist.  My insides grew warm from the contact. His green eyes bored into mine.  “It only counts if you fall,” he decided.  With that, he lifted me into his arms and carried me outside of the stone arch before he put me down.  “But why tempt fate?”  He kept his hands on my waist until I regained my balance, which took a minute because being so close to him made me dizzy.

I stared up at him, surprised I hadn’t realized how much taller he was than me.  I stood at a normal 5’7”, but I had to look up to see him—he was over 6’ tall.  I watched in fascination as his eyes darkened, landed on my lips and moved in closer.
            My stomach jumped into my throat.  This was not something I had anticipated.  I closed my eyes and waited, each second an excruciating delight.  His lips brushed mine, and I was thrilled to find that the electricity applied to them too.  My lips tingled, as did my scalp where he tangled his fingers into my hair.  His breath was sweet, his mouth hot.  I melted against him, unable to stand on my own.
            The kiss was gentle, but with a restrained passion that I hadn’t known he had hidden inside.  His lips found mine once…twice, and then he pulled away.  His eyes were a deep, dark green like the forest at dusk.  He sucked in a breath and then let it out in a rush.
            “This isn’t what I expected,” his words once again mirrored my thoughts.  He rested his forehead against mine, “This is wrong,” he told me, sounding sad and wistful.
            “What do you mean?” I wondered, my voice a little breathy as my lungs tried to keep time with my heart.  My head spun; Everett’s hands kept me upright.
            Instead of answering, he kissed me again.

 I would like to thank Chris Ringler for all of the color photos you see.  I took the black and whites myself.  You can read Chris's blog about Tyrone HERE. I will be using some quotes from Tyrone in my books as well.  I'll add more about that later.

All the best,

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Triple Agent

I sat down tonight at my computer after a long weekend of running around and doing twenty million things (literally!).  This is how my computer time goes: 1. Facebook (all three accounts--my personal and then the two for the teams I coach) 2. Twitter 3. Blogspot 4. AQC 5. Gmail  6. Open MS *stare at screen*

Somewhere in the middle of this process I realized that I somehow, and with some sort of success, lead three lives (four if you count mother/wife, but Quadruple Agent didn't sound as cool).  For those of you that wanted to know a little more about me, here it is, in no particular order.

1. My first life started in high school.  Have you ever been to a football game and watched those kids run around during half time with flags--the ones that can take out the entire low brass section with a poorly executed toss?  Somewhere in my sophomore year, with much awe and amazement, I fell in love with colorguard.  I paraded around the football field thinking I was the coolest kid on the planet (and my background in dance didn't hurt either).  

When marching season was over, I was introduced to something even better than colorguard: Winterguard.  Not only did we get to spin a six foot pole, we got to dance around with a six foot pole!  I know you all have visions of strippers in your head, but that's just not the case.   Winterguard is beautiful, a mixture of swirling colors, choreography and bodies moving in harmony.  (Get your minds OUT of the gutter...)  Watch my team here: Odyssey Winterguard

School came and went--my glory days were over.  Then, three years ago, I got an opportunity to coach at the school I'd attended.  The glory days were back!  So this is my first life: Coach.  I'm forever running around organizing something for winterguard.  If it isn't purchasing flags/uniforms/props, organizing a fundraiser, or holding practice, it's preparing for assemblies, writing flagwork/dance/choreography and trying to send my kids to camp.  And one team wasn't enough, we're starting a middle school team next year.  If nothing else, at least I'm thorough.  

So if you asked me what my life was all about, I'd simply say: Winterguard.  It's more than a passion, it's a way of life.

2. My second life is ultrasound (it comes on the heels of hair, which used to be my life too).  A few years ago I got pregnant with my son.  It's a time of wonder and amazement at the changes your body and life go through.  I loved being pregnant.  I loved my belly, I loved thinking that I was creating a person, I loved everything about it.  When the time came for my ultrasound, I fell in love once again.  Two months after my son was born, I was in school for a second time, this time majoring in ultrasound.  

One year of prereqs, one year of clinicals and six months of working and here I am.  I absolutely love my job.  Ultrasound is fascinating, not just because of the technology, but because it makes me realize that everyone is different.  No two bodies are alike, inside or out.  It's incredible.  

On top of the excitement of the medical field, I work with an amazing group of people.  It's so great that even I can't believe it.  I never knew that you could have a job and not hate it (I also never knew it was possible to love your boss, but I do!  She's great!)

I love my job so much that I'm willing to drive a total of 3 hours (1 1/2 hours each way) to work everyday.  I know it seems like a lot, but I actually don't mind it all that much--the drive, that is.  My wallet hates the gas prices.  

So if you asked me what my life was all about, I'd simply say: Ultrasound.  It's more than my job, it's my career and some days, my sanity. 

But I'm getting off subject a little bit.  While I was in ultrasound school, my third life grew wings and tentatively started to fly.  The semester before I started my internship, I sat down and decided to write a novel.  Four weeks later, I was done.

3.  My third life is writing.  During ultrasound school (with me being the queen of multitasking) I wrote two more novels.  Since school, I've written a fourth.  Writing is like navigating turbulent waters in the dark.  I set my ship on a straight course to success, but the second the dock was out of sight, my GPS failed.  

No one ever told me writing a novel was so much work!  

No, let me rephrase, because the actual writing part is easy peasy!  It's the after that's difficult!  It's the line editing, the cutting, and the restructuring that is awful!  It's looking at your favorite scene and realizing with a sick stomach that you're going to have to cut it.  It's feeling a deep obligation to tell your characters stories and not knowing where the heck to start.  

Fortunately, my third life came with an instruction manual!  Here's the secret folks!  AQC!  Thank god for this site!  Without it, I wouldn't know what a query letter is, much less know how to write one!  I wouldn't know how to prepare for the daunting task of finding an agent.  I wouldn't have a crit partner.  And I wouldn't have a support system.  

If you're a writer--you need to go to AQC.  It will change your life.

Okay, I'm done singing praises now...

So if you asked me what my life was all about, I'd simply say:  Writing!  I love writing, it's my outlet, it's my voice to the world, it's all consuming.

And as I'm getting to the end of this, I'm remembering that there are only 24 hours in this day, and I haven't even started reading the manuscripts I'm critiquing, the dishes are dirty, the clothes need to be put in the dryer, the kids need to be registered for camp, Onna and Everett are screaming for a line edit and my son is hollering for me to wipe his butt.  

Triple Agent--out.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What it's all about [God save the MUSIC!]

What does music mean to you?  Is it just background noise, or is it life changing?  I know for me, it falls into the life changing category.  Music inspires me and often plays a role in my writing.  I find myself getting as excited over a song as I do about a scene.  Like everything else I'm obsessed with (writing, dancing, colorguard and winterguard) I'm a little neurotic about music.  Of course, it all started in high school, in band.  

Yep, that's right.  This one went to band camp, and I LOVED it.  Now, I know you're going to ask me what instrument I played, so I'll just let you down early.  I was in colorguard.  I faked my way through playing the clarinet for one semester.  It was awful and didn't bear repeating (though it was truly hilarious to describe in detail how one went about actually playing the clarinet.  Think about it...see!  You have a dirty mind too!)

But, I'm getting off topic.  Life is really all about the music.  Without it, what would we dance to?  What would we turn to when we were sad/happy/in love/angry?  You can't tell me that listening to Limp Bizkit's Break Stuff on repeat when you're pissed doesn't help.  It does!  Music rounds out our lives.  It's like the icing on the cake (and not that nasty butter cream crap, more like whipped cream frosting which is oh so delicious).  

So here's where this relates to me (and my writing!).  All of my books have soundtracks.  I can play these songs and be taken straight into my story.  Each song holds a purpose or a would be memory of a moment my characters experience.  Sounds kooky, right?  

I warned you I was neurotic.  Pay attention!

For your enjoyment, since I know that most of you haven't read my books yet (and I promise I'm working on that.  It's a longer process than anyone expects) I would like to take you on the musical journey of my series, The Stone Series.  If you couldn't care less about my books, well at least you are going to get a schooling in some amazing music.  If you're interested in my books, all you have to do is listen hard.  The story is there, inside the songs.  In time, when they're published, it'll all make sense.  

So, I know it's quite a list of songs.  If you're going to ignore it (after you've come all this way!!??) at least click on Snuff by Slipknot and watch the video (#17 under Rising Stones).  It's EPIC!  And hey if you're not going to ignore my list, listen to something new!!

For those of you that have read my series, ENJOY! 

Stepping Stones
1. Oh Darling - Plug In Stereo
2. Weightless - All Time Low
3. Down On Me - Young Love
4. Summertime - Mae
5. Breathe Me - Sia
6. Gone So Young (acoustic) - Amber Pacific
7. 6 Months - Hey Monday
8. The Great Escape - Boys Like Girls
9. Shine - Amber Pacific
10. Your Guardian Angel - Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
11. Courage Is - The Strange Familiar
12. Not Worth Today - Hana Pestle
13. Unafraid - Young Love
14. Storm - Lifehouse
15. Starlight - Muse
16. Cat and Mouse - Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
17. Hear You Me - Jimmy Eat World

Broken Stones
1. All That I'm Asking For - Lifehouse
2. Never Coming Home - Crossfade
3. Dance Inside - All American Rejects
4. Tonight Tonight - Smashing Pumpkins
5. The Pursuit (acoustic) - Evans Blue
6. Need - Hana Pestle
7. From Where You Are - Lifehouse
8. Angels on the Moon - Thriving Ivory
9. Between You and I - Every Avenue
10. Somewhere - Within Temptation
11. Remembering Sunday - All Time Low
12. All I Wanted - Paramore
13. Happy the Hard Way - Every Avenue
14. The Ice Is Getting Thinner - Death Cab for Cutie
15. Shadow of the Day - Linkin Park
16. Memories - Within Temptation

Rising Stones
1. Forgiven - Within Temptation
2. The Conversation - Motion City Soundtrack
3. Bleed - Hot Chelle Rae
4. Down - Something Corporate
5. Meteor Shower - Owl City
6. Uh Oh - The Scenic
7. Everything - Lifehouse
8. Last Straw - Cady Groves
9. Rabbit Heart - Florence and the Machine
10. Yellow - Coldplay
11. All I Need - Within Temptation
12. Cosmic Love - Florence and the Machine
13. Magic - Colbie Callait
14. Crack the Shutters - Snow Patrol
15. Thunder - Boys Like Girls
16. Come On Get Higher - Matt Nathanson
17. Snuff - Slipknot
18. Here We Stand - Amber Pacific
19. If I Fall - Amber Pacific
20. Have Faith in Me - A Day to Remember

Hey look!  You made it to the bottom and I left a little treat down here for you!  Leave me a comment about WHY I should send you a signed copy of my manuscript and I will pick one of you lucky people to receive it!  Good luck!!

A short scene from Rising Stones

Here is a little morsel for my new followers.  I'd like to introduce you to Chase.  This is a scene from my third book, Rising Stones, where he talks about losing the love of his life.  I hope you enjoy!  

Chase put his arm around me and I rested my head on his shoulder.  “These are the things you need to tell yourself, Onna, things you need to realize.  Sometimes, the good things completely outweigh the bad.  And as long as you feel that way, then nothing else matters.  Screw the future, darling, live for today, live for each moment—because you never know what tomorrow holds.”
I wiped the tears off my cheeks.  He was right, of course.  Chase had all this knowledge from decades of living, knowledge that I couldn’t even begin to possess in my nineteen years. 
“Would you—” I hesitated, unsure of if I should ask him these questions.  He motioned for me to continue.  “Would you change anything? I mean, with him?  If you could go back and relive it?”
Chase sighed, and smiled sadly, somewhere else in his mind.  “No,” he said softly.  “No, I couldn’t.”  He closed his eyes, his face a mask of pain and anguish, “There are some things you just can’t live without.”
I wrapped my arms around him, somehow going from the one being comforted to the one giving comfort.  “How do you live with it?  The pain…”
He didn’t open his eyes, “It becomes a part of you.  It never heals, no, you just get used to it.  Like your heart walls off the part that’s infected, but you know it’s still there.  It’s like a brick, you feel it when you realize that you can’t take a deep breath and that nothing ever feels the same as it did before.  The world is in shades of gray instead of color.” 
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, overcome with grief for what Chase must have felt—for what he feels.
He smiled again, opening his eyes.  “I am too.”

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Gay in YA

To gay or not to gay?

Where do we draw the line in YA?  Recently I read somewhere that there is no line.  There are agents and publishers for however far (or not far) you take a novel.  Personally, I don't think it's fair that lines be drawn. But when we're talking mainstream literature, what is accepted by society?  

Of course, this is a question I haven't yet answered.   However, I do have some perusal of the topic for your enjoyment.  

For comparisons sake, I would like to introduce two very well known series: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer and The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare.  Both are very successful, both have a main romantic theme, both involve vampires, werewolves, and a certain element of fantasy.  But this is where the two part ways.  

Let's start with Twilight.  (I'm Team Edward by the way.  If you have to stop reading now, I suppose I understand.)  Stephenie Meyer brings romanticism to the table with the forbidden love between Bella and Edward.  There's plenty of teen angst and deep yearning for the opposite sex.  There are side relationships (Jessica/Mike, Angela/Ben, Emily/Sam, etc).  All very straight relationships.  There are even those that borderline creepy (Claire/Quil, Reneseme/Jacob).  But nowhere in the series do see the hint of a gay relationship, unless you count Edward's sparkly skin that any drag queen would kill to have.  

So this is where my question comes in.  Would Twilight have been as successful if it had a homosexual main character?  Maybe Alice liked girls?  Maybe Rosalie was really a drag queen and didn't just look like one?  Would you still have loved the series, or would it have been frowned upon for being less than the norm?

Now, on to The Mortal Instruments series.  Cassandra Clare is what I like to call an unapologetic writer.  She gets down to the nitty gritty and she isn't afraid to describe what really happens.  She actually uses words that would make some writers blush!  But not Cassie Clare--she just lays it all out there.  (And this folks, is why she is so fantastic!)  So while there is plenty of hot Clary/Jace scenes, there are also plenty of Alec/Magnus scenes.  What???  Gasp!!  A gay couple?  And they have scenes??  

In fact, at the request of her fans she has recently posted a gay kissing scene between Alec and Magnus.  And I have to say, it's amazing and perfect, and nothing short of what I would expect from her.  If you're interested, you can read it here:
Now, if that doesn't make you squirm, I don't know what will!

And even with her gay couple, The Mortal Instruments series is a bestseller!  But, it does have a lot more "darker" elements that Twilight (things like incest! and swear words!, and moaning! oh my!)

So after all my blabbering, here lies my real question.  (Okay, there's some more back story, I apologize!)  In my series there is a main character who happens to be gay (along with absolutely amazing and quite possibly my favorite character, ever.)  My readers have shown some interest in having a spin off novel from his point of view.  This novel would explore his relationship and I wouldn't hold anything back.  I would write it no different than any of my other novels--which means (oh no!) gay sex. 

There.  I said it.  

Of course, this is just hypothetical rambling at this point.  Chase's story has yet to unfold, but I'd like to believe that it would be well received.  After all, everyone loves Chase.  Everyone.  

I have discussed this at length with my readers, who kind of ride the fence.  Yes, I want to read Chase's story...but no...I don't know if everyone  wants to read Chase's story.  

Has homosexuality become mainstream?  Now that the younger generation is taking over, will we see more of it in movies and writing?  

To that I say, I sure hope so!  It's time we embrace the reality of society.  So I guess what I'm really trying to say is that I will write Chase's story eventually.  And it will be epic, I promise.  Whether or not the world is ready for Chase (and Gabriel!) is yet to be seen!! 

But I'd like to think I'm as bold as Cassandra Clare (who is sort of my idol!).  It is what it is people, take it or leave it! 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The story of my black eye

You think you've heard this story before...don't you?  How else does a woman get a black eye?  I'm going to tell you two versions of the story, one of which actually happened and is too wild to be fabricated.  The other, well, the other is just funny.  For me, not for anyone else that it actually happens to.  But I digress in my fear of offending others.  Words are funny that way.

Read carefully, because this is the MOST important part of the story, the hook, if you will.

My husband was chasing me with a chainsaw.

I know, I know, now you're freaking out because you think you know how the story ends, but bear with me.  

So here I was, running from Jon because he was chasing me with a chainsaw.  I wasn't scared of him, not at that time, anyway.  The night was black as pitch and screams rang out from the woods that surrounded us.  I could hear his breathing over the dull roar of the idling chainsaw.  The run was wearing him out.  

The screams were getting closer.  We didn't have much time.  By an unconscious decision, we pressed forward, legs pumping, the chainsaw flailing wildly.  Jon let out a menacing laugh.  Of course he did, he was having the time of his life.  Scaring the hell out of people could quite possibly be his favorite pastime.  

What happened next was like something out of a cartoon.  If you don't believe me, try it out.  Though I recommend that you take it at a slower clip, or else end up decapitated.  Okay, okay, almost decapitated.  That's right.  Beheaded, as in your head bouncing around by your feet like a kickball.  Now you have a mental picture, right?  Wow.  Your imagination sickens me.  

So back to the running and the heavy breathing and the flailing chainsaw.  I saw Jon go down first, out of the corner of my eye.  It was so fast that I didn't even realize what was happening.  One second he was up and the next it was like he hit a brick wall.  BAM!  On the ground.  The chainsaw skittered across the damp autumn ground and stalled.  

Before I could even process a thought, SMACK!!  Straight to the face.  Down I went, curled on the ground next to Jon.  

What the hell? I thought as I pressed my hands to my face, trying to keep my brains intact.  Was that a brick wall?  A baseball bat?  Whatever it was, it tried to take my head off and damn near succeeded.  I felt like I'd pounded my face repeatedly against a concrete sidewalk.  

Jon had now realized that I was wallowing on the ground next to him, hands holding my brains.  "Babe, are you okay?"  He tried to pull my arms down.  

"Am I okay?" I asked, unsure if I should move lest my brains fall out and plop on the ground in front of us.  

Gently, he pried my hands away.  There was a sharp intake of breath.  I took this to mean I was not okay.  

"Oh no!" I sobbed, "Not my beautiful, beautiful brains!" 

Okay, I didn't really say that.  Jon informed me that I was bleeding and we probably needed to have someone look at that.  At this point, the story gets rather bland and involves things like ice packs and declarations of homeowners insurance and offers to pay medical bills...blah, blah, blah...

You do remember the most important part of the story, don't you? 

My husband was chasing me with a chainsaw.

Why? Why?? I can almost hear you screaming at me now.  Why was he chasing you with the chainsaw?  I hate to take the mystery out of it now, but since I'm getting to the end, I suppose I have to tell you.  

We were working at a haunted trail.  Yes, I know, now you're less excited about my almost horrific story.  The chainsaw didn't even have a chain on it.  Boo! you say, boo for your lameness.  

And now you want to know what hit us, or rather, what we hit.  (This is totally going to ruin whatever cool my story had left.)  Have you ever hit a dog line at a flat out sprint?  You know, one of those things that people string across their back yard so their dogs can run back and forth and generally look like idiots?  That's right, a dog line.  Straight to the face, or to the neck, if you were Jon.  

You're waiting for the redemption, aren't you?  The one thing I can tell you that brings the awesome back into my quaint little tale...  Wait no longer, here it is!!

Due to the nature of our injuries, Jon having an awesome scab and bruise across his throat, and me, with my cuts across my nose and black eyes, we totally looked like we'd been in a domestic dispute.  Of course, and due to the nature of our personalities, we flaunted this like it actually happened.  

At the grocery store, we'd lovingly tell the clerk that I strangled him and he punched me, all in a fit of rage.  I'd pull my sunglasses down (Yes, I wore sunglasses indoors, just like in the movies) and show them my shiner.  Then we'd kiss and grin at each other while the clerk looked on unsure if she should call the cops.  

It was glorious, for about two weeks, until the bruises faded, like they always do.  But alas, for those two weeks I didn't have to wear makeup at the haunted trail, my wounds looked real enough to be, well, real.  Jon and I got to know what it was like to be ostracized for being in an abusive relationship and I had a really fun story to tell.  

And hey, even after punched me, we still made it to our first year anniversary.  We're going five years strong.  Now that's love.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

An Excerpt

For my very first blog, I would like to start out with a snippet from my third book, Rising Stones.  Yes, I realize I'm starting you off late in the game.  However, of everything I've written this is probably my favorite selection.  Besides, this is just a tidbit, a tiny morsel to captivate you and draw you in.  That was, of course, my intention.

            I was in a large hall, a place I didn’t recognize with a high ceiling and ornate wood detail covering every surface.  The smell of flowers hung heavy and pungent in the air.  The hall was mostly empty, except for a few people gathered in the front, where I could see most of the flowers overflowing from some sort of table.  There was music floating dimly from hidden speakers in the ceiling, setting a somber mood. 
            My feet felt frozen to the floor, but when I looked down, past the long, black silk gown I was wearing, they looked ordinary, in black sandals.  Hesitating only an instant, I forced myself to move forward, as though I was propelled by some unseen force to the front of the hall.
            As I drew closer, I realized that there weren’t a few people standing in the front, there were only three.  A dark haired boy and a blonde girl and boy.  Even from behind I could tell they were all beautiful, though they hung their heads, and I couldn’t see their faces. 
            I drew closer, close enough to hear their hushed voices, and the hitch in the words of one of the boys. Was he crying? I wondered.
            Finally, just feet from them, I recognized the dark haired boy.  My breath caught in my throat, which constricted so tight that I couldn’t have forced words through it. 
            Everett! I wanted to cry.  His eyes were red and raw, and his voice sounded ravaged, brimming with misery.  The blonde girl—Kelsey, I realized, had her arm around his shoulders, in a show of Comfort. Chase stood next to them, head dipped, his lips moving silently as though he were praying.
            Finally, I tore my eyes away from Everett, unable to speak, to offer him comfort, and unable to move though my insides were screaming for him.  In front of them was a long table, which called to me like a light house in a storm.  I couldn’t stop myself from moving towards it, even when just a second before, my feet had been rooted in place. 
            I moved through the group, but none of them looked up or acknowledged me.  I was invisible— like I didn’t exist.  I stopped just in front of the table; the smell of flowers overwhelmed  me. 
            My eyes drifted downward, though I ordered them not to, because I knew I did not want to see whatever was on the long table in the giant hall.  A feeling of dread stole into my stomach and crawled up my throat.
            But, I looked anyway, taking in the person that lay in the coffin.  Her skin was thin and papery, shriveled like a grape left in the sun.  Her hair was long and white, pulled into a low pony tail.  Her eyes were glued shut, as were her lips, which were turned upward, as though the smile lines that radiated from the corners of her mouth held them that way.  I wanted to reach out and touch her, see if her skin felt as crinkly as it looked. 
            Who are you? I wondered, and why is Everett crying for you?
            On top of the coffin was a picture of me and Everett, it looked so recent, like it could have been taken today.  Our arms were around each other, and he had a triumphant grin on his face. 
            I ran my fingertips across the polished wood, stopping when they dipped into the sharp edges of an engraving. 
            ‘Onnaleigh Gallo. Beloved.’ it read. 
            My chest constricted, as I now looked upon my face, withered and faded.  Reaching out, I touched her—touched me, and fell inside.