Monday, March 30, 2015

YA Gets Real: Vampire

These posts are silly, parody posts of some scenes that can be found in YA tropes. These fun shorts should make you smile on your Monday morning.

I love YA books, as a reader and a writer. Still, there are some tropes that deserve to become real. While these stories are still fiction, they provide a more realistic version of those tropes we know and love.

---

Laura Roerck and I had been dating for six months. In that time, our relationship had been next to perfect, down to the night we opened up the most private parts of ourselves to each other. She had always been a little left of center, with jet black choppy hair, bright red lipstick, and pale skin. Her complexion matched the alternative lifestyle I lived, being in an underground band. Everyone said we were perfect together.

Everyone except Laura.

With two months to go before we graduated, most people were planning for prom. Laura, however, planned an extravagant date for us. She took me out to the nicest restaurant in our two stoplight town. Mid-dinner, mid-laugh, she reached across the candle-lit table and grabbed my hand with hers. Her fingers were cool to the touch.

"Kev..." She let the word trail off her tongue like she always did. It made my skin ache with desire to feel her, touch her, brush my lips against hers. "I need to talk to you about something. I know you wanted me to go to Lakeview College with you--"

I shook my head. "Laura, don't. We've talked about this. Even if you want to go to Frankford, it's not that far away. An hour tops. We both have cars; we can make it work." I forced a smile onto my lips, squeezing her hand gently in mine.

She pressed her eyes closed, her lips down-turned. Her brow furrowed into a stricken expression, and she breathed deep. When her eyes opened again, it was almost as if she was staring through me. "We can't."

My heart shattered. The pieces split my arteries, and my body flooded with blood, bursting my veins with icy hollowness. "We can," I repeated, as if those two words would be enough to make us stay together. I had never met a more beautiful girl in my life. No one understood the almost co-dependent relationship I had with my band mates.

The insults of years shot through my brain. High school had been a nightmare, until Laura moved to town. She got it; she got me.

"Why?" The word came out from my lips without my permission.

She sighed. "Do you want the truth? Because I'm scared you'll never look at me the same way again." Her head shook as she absently ran her fingers through her hair, a nervous habit. I waited for her to meet my eyes, and once she did, I nodded. "You know how Sophia ended up in the hospital for treatment?"

I nodded. Everyone knew Sophia's story, but I had no idea what that had to do with us.

"Well, she had all those cuts on her wrists because of me." Laura looked down at her fingers. She intertwined them very carefully with mine.

"I don't understand."

"I fed off of her."

I dropped her hand from mine. "Fed," I echoed, feeling numbness spread through my limbs.

"I'm a vampire." She looked at me, her eyes staring deeply into mine.

My heart skipped several beats, and I had to swallow to stop the bile rising in my throat. "A vampire."

"Yes." Laura nodded once, succinctly in confirmation.

"Okay," I said, chewing the inside of my lip. "Okay. Maybe you're right. Maybe we should take a break. You can go to your college; I'll go to mine..." My heart tried to escape out of my rib cage. "It's fine. Right? I mean... if you're... you know, and I'm me, then clearly, this will never work. I'll uhm... I'll see you later. Okay?" I stood up, stumbling backwards against the chair. It slid out from under me and smashed against the floor. Everyone in the restaurant turned towards us, all eyes tracking my movements.

"Kevin, we can talk about this. It's not a big deal." Laura frowned.

"But you wanted to break up." I stumbled over the words, righting the chair with shaking hands. "I think you were right." If Laura was telling the truth, I could very easily become her blood bag. If she wasn't, then she was crazy.

Laura's hand snaked out, snatching mine with a fang-like grip. "You can't tell anyone."

I stared at her fingers curled around my wrist. "If I told anyone, no one would believe me." I shook her off. "Good luck, Laura. I hope... that you get what you need." Frowning at the calloused sounding words, I strode towards the door. No wonder why she understood me.

She was just as insane as me.

I pushed the door open and was greeted by warm, humid night air. A vampire. Had I just been transported into some teenage drama? I shook my head and made a note to ask Sophia what really happened once she got back to school. Vampire, sociopath, or compulsive liar, there was no way I could handle dealing with any of those for the rest of my life. I would be better off alone.

Monday, March 23, 2015

YA Gets Real: Protection

These posts are silly, parody posts of some scenes that can be found in YA tropes. These fun shorts should make you smile on your Monday morning.

I love YA books, as a reader and a writer. Still, there are some tropes that deserve to become real. While these stories are still fiction, they provide a more realistic version of those tropes we know and love.

---

I opened my eyes to darkness, but the hair on my neck crept upward as I felt eyes on me. My body froze, panic welling inside my chest. Asleep in my bed at home, I should have been safe, but that thought didn't quell my rising anxiety.

Reaching out from the warmth of my covers, I flicked on the lamp on my bedside table. I blinked several times, grabbed my glasses, and shoved them on. I nearly screamed when I saw the outline of Roger Kennedy standing on the other side of my room.

"What are you doing here?!" My voice was a harsh whisper. Roger was one of those guys who was hard to ignore. Try as I might, he was in all of my classes. As far as I knew, he was harmless, not the serial killer type. But still, he was in my bedroom in the middle of the night.

Roger shrugged, a sheepish smile stretching across his lips. His smile was framed perfectly by his sharp cheekbones and strong jaw. "Watching you sleep."

I widened my eyes and twisted my lips, shocked by his blunt confession. "Obviously, Roger. But... why?" I pulled the covers farther up my chest, covering the straps of my tank top. If I screamed right now, how long would it take my dad to get here? And would he murder Roger? Did I want to witness Roger getting the biggest ass kicking of his life?

Maybe.

"Because I feel like... you need to be protected."

I frowned. "From you?" I glanced around the room. "Because clearly, you are the only one here right now. Watching me like a total creep."

He held up his hands, shaking his head. "Sorry, Elisa. This isn't going as I planned."

"How did you plan it? For me to stay asleep the entire time?" My jaw dropped. "Roger... have you done this before?"

"Only once or twice." He shrugged. "You know, you're very sexy when you sleep."

"Okay, that's it." I pointed to the open window behind him. The window he had apparently climbed in earlier. Note to self: I must keep that window locked from now on. And maybe tell my dad. Restraining orders were a reasonable thing to get if someone climbed into your room in the middle of the night, right? There had to be some law against that? "Get out." I narrowed my eyes.

"You don't understand. I need to--"

"Out, Roger!" I threw the covers aside and got out of bed. I crossed the room and shoved him towards the window before he could even blink.

"Okay! Okay. Just... give me a second." Roger inched towards the window frame. He looked back at me, his brown eyes smoldering beneath his long lashes. "You know, you were supposed to feel... good that I was watching out for you."

"Go. Now," I growled.

Roger sighed and shook his head. "Only because you want me to, Elisa." He lifted one of his legs over the window frame. "See you tomorrow in school."

My eye twitched, not wanting to think about seeing him ever again.

He jumped and a second later, he shrieked from the ground. I rushed to the window and stared down at Roger with wide, unbelieving eyes. His leg twisted away from him at an awkward angle.

"Why on earth didn't you climb down?!" I hissed. It was the second story, not a particularly easy jump.

"Help me?" His voice was weak as he tried to shift his weight. A grimace passed over his face, making his hair look darker.

"Fat chance of that happening. You were watching me sleep, Roger."

"Yeah, but now my leg is broken because of you." He reached down, gasping out a pathetic breath.

I blew my bangs out of my face.

"Elisa, if you save me, we'll be linked together forever." He glanced up at me with watery eyes. "That's how this works. You save me once, and I give you my undying love."

"Dad!" I screamed, turning away from the window.

"No, Elisa. Don't get your dad, he'll never under--"

"Dad! Roger Kennedy was watching me sleep and now has a broken leg outside my window." I marched into my parents' room with a scowl on my face.

My dad had flipped on his light, his hair a shaggy mess around his ears. He reached for his police issued gun. "I'm going to kill him," he grumbled.

"I think a restraining order and a broken leg are sufficient for now." I shrugged. I heard Roger's groan from all the way down the hall. I leaned against my parents' door frame as my dad got out of bed. "He probably needs to see a psychologist too."

My dad grumbled something incoherent, picked up the phone, and called for an ambulance. After he hung up, he turned to me. "What did he say to you, Elisa? Why was he here? Did he touch you?"

"What? No! No. He was just saying something about love, needing to protect me and all that. You'll make sure he gets help, right?" I took a step back as my dad crossed into the hallway. My mother, never one for being interrupted mid-sleep, mumbled something about being careful and passed out. "I mean, since he didn't do anything other than..." I shuddered. I didn't realize being watched would be so... creepy.

"I'll make sure he gets help." My dad growled as he shrugged on his police jacket over his t-shirt. He would have looked official if it weren't for the plaid pants. "But we're getting that ruddy alarm system now. Your mother can't argue with me this time. Stupid Kennedys. Stupid..." He continued to mumble as he walked down the stairs and outside to greet the broken intruder.

I sat on the stairs and waited. It would just be a matter of time until Roger Kennedy got whatever help he needed. With any hope, he'd be out of my life and my bedroom forever.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cat Life and Writing Updates

Morris - on hold!
Guys! Guys! I have this amazing job with incredible coworkers and bosses. One of the perks is being able to photograph these fabulous beauties during the day, since we're also part adoption house. So... this writing update will come with lots of photos of cats. Because I'm a bookish cat lover, that's why.

Twilight - adopted!
Being surrounded by furry felines has actually taken slightly away from my writing time. I'm just so darn relaxed, why should I stress myself out by doing work?

But I love writing (editing and I are still fighting as all of you probably know). So here's the update you guys have been waiting for!

I completed In a Blue Moon and sent it off to beta readers for feedback. My mom did the proofreading edits with her retired English teacher skills, and she encouraged me to seek traditional publishing. So, I moved back the publication date to give myself enough time to shop for agents / publishers and see if I get any bites. If I don't get any bites, then In a Blue Moon will be released in late May of this year!

Princess Miko - adopted!
The in-between novella for the Blue Moon series is about halfway done at 9,000 words. Greener on the Other Side is shaping up to be quite a decent little story, and I'm really happy about it.

I'm about 1/4 of the way through Conscious, so I am expecting to publish the first book in the series this year.

I would like to edit No Sugar Coating and Good Criminal Heart for publication this year as well, but I've been taking things a bit slower
My Munster Cat
because of the job and my own mental well being. I don't want to stress myself over writing (something I love to do). One book at a time; I'll get there.

Anyway, that's the shenanigans! Let me know how you guys are doing! Hope you are reading loads of awesome books, watching good movies and shows, and enjoying time with friends and family!

And if you like purry friends, I hope you have one close by to cuddle! It is still winter, after all. Better use those warm blankets and drink plenty of cocoa, since spring is just around the corner.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Shelving a Novel

Saturday night, I made one of the hardest decisions a novelist can ever make. I shelved The Unanswerable.

There's always a mixture of emotions when this happens, largely sorrow, but right now, all I feel is relief. The novel wasn't growing the way I wanted it to. The characters weren't strong enough to carry the hectic pacing of the story, and the pacing at the beginning was too slow to grasp the reader. It was a mess that I wrote two years ago, and even during my rewriting, the pacing and plot stayed a mess.

While I do plan on revisiting the book, I've decided to approach the series of conquels from a different angle.

My husband and I hashed out the plot line, the sense of urgency, the characters, and what I could do to revamp the current book. But the problem is, The Unanswerable has too much information. It explains the why of the apocalypse.

The Walking Dead and 28 Days Later start with immediate consequences. We don't know what's going on, but our main characters have an instant need to survive, something that all people can relate to.

The Underground, which was originally going to be book two in the series, starts with immediacy. The main characters have to go or else... And that's a pretty great opener for a series. It sucks you in and says, "This story is important. And these people? They matter." As such, The Underground will now be book one, which I'm hoping to publish next year.

I plan on revamping The Unanswerable with the same major characters, same turning point, but I plan on removing most of the story and starting from scratch. However, since I am so utterly frustrated with this novel, I'm not in the right mindset to revamp it.

While I won't apologize for choosing not to publish / pursue a sub-par novel, I will apologize for those who were expecting a virus-based apocalypse novel this year from me.

There is, fortunately, some good news in all of this.

Editing In a Blue Moon has gone smoothly, and I'm expecting a March publication. It's a young adult fairy tale retelling/apocalypse, so while there are some humorous moments (evil Pinocchio anyone?), it's very fast-paced and will be sure to hit on all the dark notes that you find in apocalypse novels.

In addition, I've started writing my Consciousness Series, which will start with Conscious. It's a paranormal series that will have some suspenseful elements. I haven't fleshed out the plot yet, but the beginning of the first book packs a huge punch. I'm really excited for this series because it combines a lot of emotional, contemporary elements with the intensity of a paranormal plot.

So, while I'm upset about having to put The Unanswerable aside, I do have high hopes for this year's publication schedule. No Sugar Coating and Good Criminal Heart should still be released this year, both standalones for those who don't want to invest in a series.

I'm excited about the future, and while the UnSeries isn't getting published on time, it will see the light of day eventually.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Accomplishments and 2015 Goals

I set a lot of crazy goals for myself in 2014, which I realize was a little over zealous. But I still accomplished a lot, so here it goes:

  • Wrote, edited, and published YA Dystopian, The Collapse (The Uprising #2).
  • Wrote, edited, and published YA Contemporary, Girl Nevermore.
  • Wrote, edited, and published short horror story, ZERO (which you can get for free by signing up for my newsletter).
  • Started my author newsletter.
  • Ran several book giveaways.
  • Moved to a different state.
  • Got a new job (which starts soon!)
  • Read 50 books.
  • Founded the independent author collective, The Scriptors.
  • Finished NaNoWriMo for the fourth year in a row (by writing In a Blue Moon, to be published soon).

I think that's most of it, but overall a very productive year!

I'm excited for 2015, but I'm keeping my goal list a little shorter this year. I'm taking each day at a time, and I have a monthly calendar with each day's goals written out. It worked great for December, so I'm keeping it up for this year!

Here are my writing, reading, and personal goals for the next 365 days:

  • Publish three books.
  • Publish one novella.
  • Read 55 books.
  • Take five hikes to beautiful locations.
  • Go on five photo adventures.
  • Eat at five new restaurants.
  • Complete NaNoWriMo for the fifth year in a row.

That's it! Seven goals. Of course, I can always stretch these goals. I can always add another book, hike, or random adventure to the mix. I'm excited for 2015, because I feel focused again and ready to take the challenges as they come.

Cheers to the New Year!

What are some of your accomplishments from the past year and goals for the new one?