Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Keeping up Heart

When you enter any kind of contest or query any agents, you are putting yourself and your work out there to be reviewed and judged. So first, congratulate yourself on making the first step. You've done something other people are terrified to do. You also, presumably, have completed a novel. Congratulate yourself for that, too. 

The Pitch War contest just happened, hosted by the fabulous Brenda Drake. I, like many other people, did not get chosen by a mentor. Entering this contest was fun. It helped me think about how to pitch my story. It made me do some serious editing on the first chapter. It's also making me think about the intro. There's an "almost prologue" feel to the first five or so paragraphs and I'm debating removing it. Waffling really. 

Anyway, this contest is not the end for my YA Contemporary novel. THE END DIARY will be published, but probably by myself after more extensive editing and beta reading.

If, however, I wasn't planning on self-publishing, I would query it. Querying is so subjective. You have to find an agent at the right time, in the right mood, and get someone who sees the potential. That's a lot to ask. You also need to get someone who hasn't read (or doesn't represent) a similar book. With so many books that have the same feel (look at the dystopian genre), this can be extremely hard to do.

So anyone who got in, congrats. Anyone who didn't, polish your ms some more and send it out. Find a critique partner who works well with you. Hire a proofreader, concept developer, or line editor and self publish. Your writing journey does not end with one (or 25 rejections). Keep trying. 

So long as your work is improving, you are on the right track.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Building a Backlog

Greetings! I'm back from a "writing my pants off" hiatus, and while I still don't have any books published this year, I have quite a large backlog of work now.

This past week, I've been in New Hampshire visiting my family and doing some soul-searching. Often on the road to publishing, challenges can often feel insurmountable. This happens with any creative art, and it's good to get away and recharge. I needed space and time to remember why I love writing.

I've also been thinking a lot about the Ira Glass quote:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

I've been working on my own backlog--a way to close the gap between myself and where I think I should be. My first published book was a short story, but it wasn't the first longer piece I had written. I also still haven't published the first two manuscripts that I wrote (don't plan on it, either).

But, that doesn't answer the question: why haven't I published this year? None of my books are ready. The gap between what they are and what I want them to be is still wide open. But now that I have fantastic feedback on Conscious from my fabulous alpha reader, I have a direction to take once I get back home. (A complete revamp will enhance the story.)

Having a backlog is strengthening my writing, since I've been writing so much in such a short period. For the record, here's the list of current unpublished manuscripts I have and their status:

  • In a Blue Moon - Querying (edited five times with numerous beta readers and a proofreader)
    • Greener on the Other Side (the in between novella) - Drafted
  • Conscious - Rewriting/Editing (alpha reader feedback acquired!)
  • The End Diary - Drafted
  • No Sugar Coating - Rewrite needed
  • Good Criminal Heart - Rewrite needed
  • Rioss - Rewrite needed
  • RUHE - Shelved indefinitely
  • Where We Collide - Shelved indefinitely
  • The Unanswerable - Shelved, may revisit
Why is this list important? RUHE and Where We Collide were my first two books. They were a developmental mess, and I still have no idea how to fix them (they were that bad). Good Criminal Heart is in it's fourth rewrite because it was the first novel I started writing (at seventeen), but not the first one I finished writing. The first pass had a terrible plot, but great characters. I streamlined it, made it more realistic, and rounded out the side characters. The writing, however, is still sub-par and needs a revamp. No Sugar Coating needs a developmental overhaul, but the writing is fluid. Rioss has great characters and descriptions, but lacks cohesion.

These backlogged stories, despite needing a lot of editing, have helped. They've made me see the pitfalls of my writing. Because of these past books, I know The End Diary is developmentally fine, but lacks proper description, and I knew that Conscious needed a second set of eyes to tell me why the pacing was off.

Recognizing your own weaknesses helps you in the long run, though it can make you second guess yourself. Saying "you aren't doing something good enough" creates negative feelings about your work, but it shouldn't. Artists need room to grow.

Whenever I start second guessing, I take time away. Often, I come to an optimistic conclusion. I'm working towards a long-term goal, and I'm improving. As long as I'm doing a little bit every day, I can feel good about my work. I give myself permission to grow.

Picture of the ladybug for no good reason, other than I thought it looked cool when I took it.

Monday, May 18, 2015

YA Gets Real: Four Years Later

This is a bit of a continuation from one of the earlier YA Gets Real posts called "Chosen One." Read it here!


A knock sounded on our cabin's front door, so loud and harsh that it shook the nails in our walls. I snatched a frame, steadying it with my fingers. Our wedding photo, a bit of a rarity these days. There was one photographer who knew the art of developing film, and he hadn't told anyone else the secret.

"I'm coming," I yelled at whoever was on the other side of the door. Once the banging stopped, I nudged the corner, straightening the photograph.

Crossing the room, I opened the door wide, no longer worried about who might be on the other side. The villages were like that—peaceful, serene, neighborly.

But my heart stopped beating at the sight of Beltrov standing on the other side. Beltrov, who I had left behind to fight a battle I didn't want to be a part of. Beltrov, who still held that stupid "you're the chosen one" sword in his hand.

"Jude," he said, smiling. His voice was more pleased than I could ever make mine at the sight of him.

My eyes narrowed. "What are you doing here?" The question slid from my teeth like a snake's hiss.

"Well, we won the war, despite your lack of help." He stepped closer, crossing the threshold of my cabin uninvited.

"So I've heard." I frowned, crossing my arms.

"And I figured you and I could pick up where we had left off." Another step, and now we were a foot apart.

I stayed still. "You figured that after four years, and after I left the war behind, you could come in here, announce the fact that you won, and then court me?"

His eyes darkened and his expression soured, as something in his brain slowly kicked into place. Beltrov may not pick up on body language very well, but he read my sarcasm loud and clear.

"You wouldn't choose to be with me? I finished the war so we could have a future inside the city." He waved at the cabin's wooden interior, lines creasing his face as if it were the most disgusting thing on the planet. No, he wouldn't like the villages. Beltrov thrived in the violence of the city, which was why he stayed to fight.

"I didn't stay because I hated the city and the society, Beltrov. The fight wasn't worth it to me." I shook my head. "Besides, it's been four years. I've moved on, and so should you."

His eyes widened, bewilderment invading his features. "You've moved on."

I held out my hand. "Married and everything."

Beltrov leaned to the side, looking beyond me into the cabin. My husband wasn't home, and thank goodness for that. He was nice and naive. A gentle man who wouldn't know what to do with Beltrov's quick temper.

As it stood, the vein in Beltrov's forehead throbbed as he ground his teeth together. "You are giving it all up... for this?"

"It's been four years. What did you expect me to do?" I leaned against the wall. "Not even one letter, Beltrov. I wrote you dozens of times."

"I was a bit busy." He frowned, stepping back and opening the space between us.

"Well, things have changed. I've changed, and I like where things are now." I shook my head, not knowing what else to say. At least I was being honest.

The puzzlement stayed on his face, muddling his features. He ran a hand through his disheveled hair. "Well," he started, pausing to collect his thoughts. "It seems we are finished then."

"Yeah. It seems so." I nodded, not having the heart to remind him we were finished four years ago.

He nodded once, pressed his lips into a thin line, and turned on his heels. He marched away from the cabin, heading back towards the city—the city I only saw illuminated at night during the explosions of war. With the war over, I'd probably never see the city again, or any of the people living within.


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 an alternative, possibly more realistic, version of scenes from stories we love.

Monday, April 27, 2015

YA Gets Real: Werewolves

My friends and I had gathered around the campfire. Orange and red hues danced across our faces. Malcolm had told the most gruesome tale he could think of, which made Barry wretch in the bushes a few minutes earlier. I shrugged, telling him he had nothing on me.

“Fine,” Malcolm said, leaning back against in his folding chair. “You tell a better one, Dylan. Make someone other than Barry heave, and we’ll call it a win.”

A few snickers rose from the guys around us. The only adult here was Malcolm’s dad, and he had gone to bed hours ago. He was a pretty cool guy, didn’t really do much other than provide the necessary supervision to make our parents relax about camping in the woods.

“Please don’t,” Barry pleaded. The poor guy had been downing water, trying to get the taste of rancid marshmallows out of his throat—or at least, that’s what he told us his sticky, white vomit had tasted like. Spoiled milk mixed with something sickeningly sweet.

“Cover your ears, Barry.” I leaned forward, letting the fire catch the whites of my eyes. “Months ago, there was a story in the paper. A man—”

Rustling sounded from the nearby bushes, and Barry’s face bleached.

“This isn’t funny,” he said, voice hitching.

Malcolm rolled his eyes. “Dude, chill. It’s just the wind. Let’s hear it.” He gestured for me to continue.

I held back my response, annoyed by Malcolm’s constant assumption that he was our leader. “A man walked into the woods, going for a hike. He stumbles across this lady who has fallen, her bone twisting out of her skin like—”

The rustling happened again, and Barry stood up, inching away from the bushes. He had been sitting right next to me, but the look of terror on his face told me he wasn’t going to come back to this side of the fire.

“You’re such a baby,” Malcolm chided.

“I don’t see you sitting next to the bushes.” Barry backed up some more, leaving me as the odd man out next to the woods.

“Her bones had pierced through her skin. He picks her up, assures her he’s going to help, and walks to the nearest cabin.” I leaned in, casting a long gaze at Barry for effect. “He gives her some alcohol, something to help her sleep it off. She wakes up drenched in blood, half of her leg—”

A wolf jumped out of the bushes, landing right next to me with a growl escaping its lips. I jumped backwards as Barry let out the shrillest scream I had ever heard. The wolf lunged at me, snapping its huge teeth. I threw my arm up in defense, and it clamped down. Its jaws moved back and forth, shaking his head to try to land the kill.

I kicked my leg out, catching the wolf in the side as the rest of the guys scrambled away. The wolf let out a cry, loosened his jaws just a bit. I wrenched away from him, only to have him snap at my arm farther up. Malcolm’s dad came out of his tent.

“Everyone get back,” he said. He took a stick from out of the fire and swung the flame towards the wolf. It snarled and snapped, but fell back into the bushes, running off.

My arm bled through my shirt and jacket. Red blood bubbling over itself as I blinked at it.

Malcolm’s dad ripped off my jacket and forced my sleeve up my arm. I hissed as he inspected the wound. “We’re wrapping this up and going to the hospital. Now. Malcolm, you and the rest of the boys stay in the SUV until I get back with the car.”

“I could drive—” Malcolm started.

“No arguing. I’ll be back after I get Dylan to the hospital.” His dad helped me to my feet. It was weird. I stared down at my arm, feeling light-headed and a little off, but I didn’t feel any pain. There should be pain when this much blood was trying to free itself from your body.

“It’s not that bad,” I said.

“Get in the car, Dylan,” the man growled, rushing to his tent and grabbing his keys. He ordered Malcolm into the SUV one more time before shoving me into the front seat of his car. We drove down the curving roads back to the nearest hospital, an hour away. Malcolm’s dad had given me a towel, which I kept wrapped closely around my arm. Even though my skin should have throbbed from the pain, it didn’t.

Malcolm’s dad stayed at the hospital long enough to explain the situation to the doctor, give them my parent’s contact info, and then he left to get my friends. All that time, the wound still didn’t hurt.

When the doctor came in and peeled off the bloodied towel, he turned my arm over and over, asking me how much pain I was in. None. No pain. He poked at some of the deeper bites and tears, but still, nothing. He reached over for the first batch of saline to clean the wound, and once the blood dripped off my arm into the hospital pan, all of the pain came flooding back in.

The doctor looked up at me. “Hurts, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah,” I said through gritted teeth.

“That’s good. It means you’re not in shock anymore.” He checked my pulse and blood pressure again, nodding in confirmation. “Yup, no longer in shock. How does it feel?”

“Hurts,” I mouthed, not able to make my voice the least bit sarcastic as he pressed some gauze against the raw wound.

“All right, Dylan, let me explain what will happen next. We’re going to give you a rabies postexposure prophylaxis, since we’re not sure if the wolf was rabid. Usually they don’t attack humans like that, especially by themselves, so we have to assume the worst. I’ll fax follow up paperwork to your primary physician, but you’ll have to see him for more doses.” His fingers worked around the wound as he spoke, cleaning every bit of reddened flesh. I winced with every touch.

Seven stitches, a few shots later, and I was waiting for my parents to come pick me up in the lobby. So much for getting turned into some awesome, supernatural creature. Instead, I got rabies immune globin.


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 an alternative, possibly more realistic, version of scenes from stories we love.

Also, I should mention, I love werewolves with all of my flipping heart.

Monday, April 20, 2015

YA Gets Real: Love Triangle

I watched from my spot on the couch as Gavin and Xander strummed on their bass and guitar. We’d been hanging out a lot since we met a few weeks back. I had met Gavin first, who introduced me to Xander, and both... well, they had asked me to choose between them. They were band mates and best friends, and both had crushes on me.

If I chose one over the other, it would ruin their friendship. To make matters worse, I felt the same about both of them. They were fun, silly, and made me happy. They also did everything together—Gavin and Xander were a pair. Even though they said they wanted me to choose, I became sick at the thought of it.

I crossed my arms as Gavin started laughing, still wrapped up in my own uncertainty.

“You really need to get that chord right.” Gavin shook his head.

“Oh, and strumming one note over and over again is so challenging.” Xander arched his eyebrow.

“Guys?” I interjected. Lately, these little fights had been getting worse. Each wanted to look like the better option; I was going to ruin them. “It’s been cool watching you play, but maybe I should get going.” If I left now, they’d make up, get over whatever spat this was, and go back to practicing.

“No, we’re fine, Beth.” Xander took off his guitar and leaned it against his amp. “I need a break anyway before Peter gets here.”

“The ever-elusive drummer?” I teased, standing up from the couch and stretching.

“Yeah,” Gavin said, clearly annoyed. “He’s too busy with…” He shrugged. “Actually, I don’t know what Peter does. We should get something to drink at least.” Gavin yawned and started towards the stairs just as a brown haired, tall, slender guy descended.

“Don’t know what I do?” he asked, cocking an eyebrow. Peter, I assumed. “Get you guys drinks, obviously.” He held three bottles of soda, and his eyes landed on me. “Though, I didn’t realize I’d need a forth one.”

“This is Beth,” Xander introduced me.

I smiled up at Peter. “It’s fine. I’m just about to—”

Peter shoved the bottles into Gavin’s hands so fast that Gavin almost dropped one. “I’ll get you a bottle. Any preference to flavor?”

Gavin and Xander exchanged a long glance with each other.

“Orange?” I shrugged, trying to play it cool.

“Cool.” Peter turned and headed back upstairs.

Gavin rolled his eyes. “Late, as always.” He handed Xander a cherry cola and put the lemon lime one on the coffee table. The basement room was cozy, perfect for their practice. The worn couch provided the perfect spot for me to do homework in the afternoon, and a nice break from being in my own house.

“Sometimes I don’t think he takes this as seriously as we do.” Xander let out a long breath as he twisted the top off his soda. “I mean, he’s late every single time. He doesn’t practice much outside of here. But I don’t know another drummer that could replace him.”

“Yeah,” Gavin agreed just as Peter came back downstairs.

Peter held the orange soda out, a wide grin on his face. Our fingers brushed as I took it from him. Green and blue seemed to swirl in his eyes as ours locked together. I swallowed, shocked at the shivers running through my spine. Now I knew why I couldn’t choose between Gavin and Xander; neither of them felt like this.

“Sorry it took so long,” he said in a low voice.

“No, I think you’re just in time,” I said back, smiling. With those words, I had made my decision.


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 an alternative, possibly more realistic, version of scenes from stories we love.

Monday, April 13, 2015

YA Gets Real: Chosen One

“Jude,” he snarled, grabbing a hold of my wrist. I shook him off and crossed my arms, glaring daggers at him. He pressed on, unabated. “We need you, whether you want to come to terms with it or not. Without you, the entire world as we know it ends.”

I rolled my eyes. “I hardly think the entire world will end. People will find a way to move on after the society crumbles and the war ends.” I shifted my stance. “Or are you telling me that you believe this is the only way to live?”

Beltrov looked me up and down, debating what to say to change my mind. He couldn’t; I had already decided on my future, and none of it involved him or the outlaws.

“If you don’t save us, no one will,” he whispered, his voice pleading. Now he was trying to prey on my emotions. Everything he had said since I had met him had been a lie—a manipulation in attempts to get me to complete his dirty work.

“Look. You can wield the sword, so can I. Who cares if it glows blue when I hold it? There’s no difference. It’s still a sword. No magic, just a blue light.” I sighed, shaking my head. “I’m not doing this. I don’t want to risk my life for a future I don’t believe in.” I wasn’t playing the reluctant hero card, because I wasn’t a hero. I hated this whole thing—the war, the society, the outlaws. I wouldn’t take part in any of it.

“Maybe,” I said, gazing into his gray eyes dulled from years of battle. “Maybe you should join me instead, ever think of that?”

He barked out a laugh. “On a farm. In the middle of the woods.”

I nodded. “It’s much safer than… this.” I gestured to the hollowed out shells of buildings around us. Debris littered the ground. The society was collapsing, thanks to the outlaws. And if I didn’t get my hands on some seeds fast, food would go soon after. “I’d rather not starve to death.”

“We’ve been working towards this our whole lives!” Beltrov exclaimed, kicking at a rock in the ground with disgust written across his face. He gestured wildly, as if that would clue me in on some secret I didn’t already know. “How can you walk away from this?!”

I jabbed a finger into his chest, getting so close to his face that he had to look me in the eyes. I growled, “You’ve been working towards this. You decided that you needed to find me, the chosen one. But look, Beltrov, while I’m flattered by this... prophecy, I will not risk my life. I will not be part of your war.” I shook my head. “This is not life, but destruction.”

“It’s a means to an end.”

“You say that, but I think my method works better.” I shrugged, glancing towards the mountain peaks in the distance. A two day walk, three tops, and I’d find the little, isolated village. I’d find peace. I’d live. Why couldn’t Beltrov see that? “Look, if you win the war, you can come find me in the mountains with the villagers.” I stood on my tip toes and kissed his cheek. “Good luck, Beltrov. Maybe we shall meet again.”

“Jude…” His voice barely came out as a whisper. I pressed my eyes closed and turned away from the ruined city. “But you have the sword’s power... We need you.”

“A blue glowing sword is hardly a reason to stay.” I marched out of the city, refusing to glance back. I feared if I did, I would give into the pitifully sad expression on Beltrov’s face and join his unending war against the society.


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 an alternative, possibly more realistic, version of scenes from stories we love.

Monday, April 6, 2015

YA Gets Real: Information

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.


"One hundred and fifty years ago, the Book of Richette disappeared from the caverns underneath the Crowned Empire. With the Secret Coven of the Black Forest searching for it, we had to form the Sisters of the Eternal Circle to battle against them. The war has raged for years, since the Sisters are the only ones who have access to the Library of Counsel. Without access, there's no hope for the Secret Coven to get the Book of Richette back."

"The Prophet of Alzard predicted that the Book of Richette would reappear on the First Moon of the Rising Tide when Lilith was born. We had no idea who we were looking for at the time, just a girl named Lilith. But then we found you, Daughter of the Second--"

"Whoa," I interrupted, holding up my hands. "Okay... whoa, slow down." I shook my head, my brown hair tumbling around my face, framing my cheeks.

Richard tilted his head to the side and blinked slowly, something he did when he was confused. I guessed the... What was it? Sisters... of the... Whatever, growing up as part of a warring magical group trying to defend some magical thing didn't give him the necessary people skills to understand that I needed time to process all this information. Especially if I was expected to save the world.

"Okay." I pressed my eyes closed and breathed in a sharp, deep breath. "Can you... write this down? Make an outline or a diagram or something?" I peeked my eyes opened and saw a frown on Richard's face. "Look, I'm not going to understand any of this unless I have it in writing. Honestly, it's so confusing, I don't even know how you understand any of it." I patted him on the shoulder. "Give me the essay tomorrow, and I'll read it on my own time."

I stood up and started to walk out of the dank, underground secret lair. I paused at the bottom of the circular stairs. Turning, I forced a pleasant smile. "You know what, don't give me an essay. Give me the notes, the bare minimum, and then we'll talk. See you later, Richard." I blew him a kiss and walked up the stairs, out into the open air.

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?


"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?