Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Don't Want to Wait ...

          While out for an evening walk with my hubby, Dude, a song came on my iPhone that reminded me of something I recently discovered about myself as a writer.  The song was "I Don't Want to Wait," by Paula Cole.  Many of you will remember it as the theme song for the teen-angst TV series, Dawson's Creek.  

          Why would that song make me think of writing?  Because when I'm writing a new book or even a short story, I don't wanna wait to get to the big scene.  If there's going to be an encounter with a phantom, I want it to happen right away.  If there will be an important interaction between lovers, ditto.  I want it to happen immediately.  Of course, that isn't always feasible.  It's great to start off with a bang, true.  But there has to be some foundation laid that will lead up to the big scenes.  In other words, to get to point B, there needs to be a point A. 

          But it's okay, I finally realized that there are no rules saying I have to write the scenes in the order in which they occur.  I DON'T HAVE TO WAIT!  Thank goodness . . . because I'm finding it much easier (and more enjoyable) to write out my favorite scenes FIRST.  They usually account for the genesis of the story anyway, so naturally I want to get them down before I lose them.  

          After that, it's sort of like connecting the dots.  In fact, once the major scenes are written, the rest of the tale  almost leaps onto the page.  It's simply a matter of following the story-map logically from point A to B to C and so on.

          So there ya go.  I don't want to wait, and since I'm the author, I don't have to!

          Afterthought:  I think I'll name my next female character Patience   =)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

6 Sentence Sunday June 24, 2012

Hello and welcome to another 6 Sentence Snippet.  This one comes from The Phantom Student which will be released any day now from Cool Well Press.

In this scene, the new student, Derol Pavey, has just sat down in the outdoor seating area for lunch.  Everyone knows Derol has Tourette Syndrome.  He inadvertently created quite a stir in homeroom.  Now some of the kids are hoping for a repeat.  As always, Stevie-girl is the narrator:

             He must have sensed me staring because he glanced up and caught my eye.  I smiled tentatively.  He ducked his head and took a huge bite of ham and cheese.
            Suddenly, the sound of slinky laughter rode the brilliant fall breeze and settled over us like chain mail, bright and cold. 
             Derol's leg began to jiggle madly and it seemed as if the bite of sandwich he’d taken was stuck in his throat.  
             Jase and Billy Bob were as still as death beside me.  

Okay, that's all this time.  Hope you enjoyed it.  The book will be out any day now.  More next week.  And don't forget to check out other snippets here: http://www.sixsunday.com/  


Ankle rolls and aluminum foil...

Aye God Woodrow,
If you know that quote, then we're basically on the same page.  Larry McMurtry wrote Lonesome Dove about a couple of dried up old Texas Rangers who wound up having one last great adventure before well, in Gus's case, before he bought the farm, or should I say, the ranch.

No, I'm not at death's door . . . but all morning I've been getting subtle reminders that I'm just not the proverbial spring chicken anymore.

It began when I went to pop my chocolate chip Eggo waffles into the toaster and one jumped out of my hand and hit the floor in a crazy imitation of the Gingerbread Man.  I grabbed that sucker before it could run and stuck it right into the toaster.

Now, if you know me, you'll understand why that was my first clue that the tides of time had rolled in.  I'm a bit finicky when it comes to food.  Always have been.  Nowadays, however, I hate waste more than a few dog hairs (I blew on the frozen waffle, and it hadn't been three seconds so I figured I was okay.  I'd followed all those rules I've heard about).

But here's the deal:  a few months ago, that waffle would have gone into the trash.  These days, it just seems like meh, what's the big deal?

So I've got my waffles and my coffee and I'm reading the morning paper.  First article on the op-ed page is by Charlena Chandler, a native West Texan who knows the score.  She was lamenting the disappearance of her ankles in the shoe store mirror.  No, it wasn't a trick mirror . . . ankles do tend to disappear after a certain age. I mean, look, they take the weight of our entire bodies for years.  Why wouldn't they revolt and move to some tropical isle where the sand is soft and warm and high heels and work shoes are strictly verboten?

I rush to the mirror to check my own ankles.  Whew!  They are still there, just a bit thicker than before (and what are these little red dots all over my calves?  All those years standing in front of a class on cement floors perhaps?)  Sheesh.  It's always something.

So I head to the computer to take my mind off my, um, youth.  And the first thing that pops up on FB is a picture of a portable TV next to a roll of aluminum foil.  The caption says "Hit Share if you know the connection."  Well, who doesn't know about wrapping foil on the rabbit ears of the . . . oh, carp.  I give up.  I'm darned old.  Not ancient.  Not yet.  But I'm closer than I was yesterday.

On the other hand, I'm also still kicking.  So I hit share.  Posted the pic to my own wall right next to the one I found yesterday . . . the one of John Fogerty rockin' a huge arena somewhere just outside the realm of my comfortable driving distance (okay, that's not true.  Dude and I totally would've been there if we'd known about it in time.  But I didn't know about it until it was over.  Gotta spend more time on FB--can't believe I just said that).

So, the moral of the morning?  If John Fogerty is still rockin' at his age, then getting old might not be so bad.

Afterthought:  Besides, he's a lot older than me . . . heck, I think he's Dude's age  =)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Be Careful Or I Will Put You in My Novel

It's Wednesday -- hump day -- it's all downhill from here till the weekend!  Since I finished my rewrite of All For Love, I decided I would sit down and write an actual blogpost.  This one was inspired by something on FB.  Someone had posted a picture that said "Bystanders Will Be Written into My Novel."  Actually, it was much better than that, but you get the idea.

This little sign made me think about where I come up with some of my characters.  Almost all of my YA characters are mashups of my former students and folks I knew as a child.  I'm not averse to using real people at all.  I do try to disguise them, though.  Often, they are tied to specific incidents, or even places, from my past.

For instance, I just took a foray to the Sonic for a diet Coke.  Along the way I passed a couple of places I hadn't even noticed in years.  The first one was a small, neat, house with lovely barrels of flowers placed on each side of the wide front porch.  It's a very inviting home.  Yet, a dozen years ago, I intercepted a phone call from the teenaged boy who lived there with his parents.  This boy was very distraught.  His girlfriend had just told him she was breaking up with him because she wanted to date someone else.  He called my house because the girl was an acquaintance of one of my children.  The boy thought she might be there, but she wasn't.  He ended our conversation by instructing me to tell her where to find his body.

Well, suffice it to say, I did not let him hang up on me.  I am the child of a suicide.  I don't take those statements lightly.  In the end, I helped him calm down long enough to understand what he was thinking about doing.  A couple days later he called me back and thanked me for talking to him.  Of course I had already contacted his mom, with his reluctant approval, and so I felt that things really were under control.  Now, when I need a conflicted male character, I think of this boy, this otherwise level-headed teen who had been laid low by his first real romantic break-up.

Further down the street we come to the store where I worked when I was a teen.  I graduated a few months early from high school, so I had some time to kill while I figured out what I wanted to do.  I went to work in retail and fell in love with being independent...until the day some creep walked in needing a few bucks for a fix.  He grabbed me by the hair and demanded I open the register.  At first, I was certain it was a set-up like you would see on Scare Tactics or Punk'd.  I said, "You're joking, right?"  He shoved something into the back of my neck and told me he was going to blow my effing brains out.  Only he didn't mince the F word...didn't even stutter.  I decided that was a bit too realistic for a set-up.  I quickly opened the register.

He was caught within half an hour but didn't go to trial for three years.  I wasn't afraid of testifying until the prosecutor told me the other woman he'd robbed--a few days before me--had refused to testify (I didn't even know there had been another).  Apparently, she had also refused to open the cash register and that's when he split her head open with a tire iron.  I think she kept it under the counter for protection or something.

The creep got ten years for robbery and assault.  I got a memory that serves me well when I need to write an evil and/or desperate character.  I also came away with a firm belief in intuition.  I knew there was something not right about the guy the moment he walked into my store.  He never took off his sunglasses.  But I turned my back on  him anyway.  And that's when he grabbed me.  I won't ever make that mistake again.  Now, when my gut talks, I listen.  My characters do, too.  What I learn, they learn.

There are many other places in town that I think of when I'm writing.  In The Shining, Dick Halloran explained to Danny that places could retain the remnants of evil that had occurred there.  As I get older, I believe the remnants are retained solely in our memories.  But that's okay, I just pull them out when I need an emotional point of reference or a trace flaw for one of my characters.

Next time I'll tell you about another place I passed recently.  It was just a stop sign at a rural crossroads.  No, there wasn't a wreck, someone had tied a Shetland pony there.  But like I say, I'll tell you that one next time.  It's too intense for one paragraph.

Afterthought: What would you want your name to be if you were in one of the Phantom novels?  I think my favorite character name is Jelly Wardlow, the dispatcher.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday June 17, 2012

Hello again,
          Changing gears this week... I've been posting lines from my contemporary romance novel, All For Love, due out in September, but I also have a Young Adult novel coming out about the same time.  So today's  snippet comes from my YA novel, The Phantom Student, book two in The Phantom Series.  It is due to be published by Cool Well Press in late Sept/early Oct.  
         This scene is being narrated by Stevie-girl, my thirteen year old protag who has just found something--or someone--strange in her bathroom mirror:
          When I opened my eyes again, I almost screamed.  The reflection in the mirror was looking away from me.  It was looking toward the door.
            My flesh tried to crawl off my bones.
            The face in the mirror, the one that should have been mine but somehow wasn’t, slowly turned back toward me.  Then she began to twist and twirl-about like a runaway kite caught in a whirlwind.

Okay, that's all for now.  Hope you check back next Sunday for another snippet.  If you want to read some more juicy excerpts from other authors, just go here: http://www.sixsunday.com/  

Sunday, June 10, 2012

6 Sentence Sunday June 10, 2012


Here is another installment of All For Love aka How Long Does it Take to Fall Out of Love?  It has nothing to do with Sara's birthday LOL.  It was just a coincidence.  Today's snippet is a flashback, years before the explosion at the plant.  In this scene, Liz has decided to lure Quinn back home, even though she was on the verge of filing for divorce after she found out he had a lover:

          Did he groan as I brushed against him to get to the door?  Could’ve been my imagination, but the next thing I knew, his hand was on my arm and he was turning me into the planes of his chest and it was as if everything was new again, but tarnished, dirty.  Maybe the tawdriness of it made me want him more; or perhaps it was desperation.  It was sort of an all or nothing gambit.  I took the lead and I didn’t care if he was satisfied or not.  I did what I wanted and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that a lot of my desire was fueled by pure white-hot rage.

Okay, that's all for now.  Hope you check back next Sunday for another snippet.  If you want to read some more juicy excerpts from other authors, just go here: http://www.sixsunday.com/

Sunday, June 3, 2012

6 Sentence Sunday June 3, 2012

Hello and welcome back,
Here is another installment of All For Love aka How Long Does it Take to Fall Out of Love?

In this scene, Liz is trying to cope with losing Quinn.  She has started going to the Main Street Pub and enjoying a Bloody Mary to help her sleep at night--but just one!  This particular evening, however, something pulls her back:

      Just as I opened the door to rejoin the world, someone stuck a dollar in the jukebox and The Grassroots Live for Today floated into the air.  Quinn's song; the one he loved so much that he had put it on my phone for his personal ring tone.  It was his mantra.  Live for today.  He’d told me that so often that it was ingrained in my memory like an auditory tattoo.  I hesitated, one foot on the sidewalk, the other on the industrial carpet in the entryway.

Okay, that's all for now.  Hope you check back next Sunday for another snippet.  If you want to read some more juicy excerpts, just go here: http://www.sixsunday.com/