Thursday, February 26, 2015

What I'm writing now

I always love those first few words of a story that get written down. I wrote about three paragraphs of something new in January, and all of a sudden a story was born. I knew the basic concept but was surprised with what I wrote those first few paragraphs. It added layers to the story I hadn't originally thought of. I'm about 60,000 words into the first draft and it is a big tousled mess, let me tell you. I'm at the terrible-awful-no-good part and today I wrote this for a scene:

[he comes; with mera maybe? escalate conflict. build to person 3]

Um, that's not a scene. ;)

I need to do a read through. I've done this before with first drafts where I forgot what came before or I get stalled and even though the story is far from complete - it has no ending, there are huge gaps in the middle, and it's mostly incomplete scenes - it helps for me to read it all so I can figure out where the heck this story is going and what it's about. Cause it changes as I write it, and often enough I don't know what I want to say until I've already said it, and I have to remind myself of what's already there.

Anyways, wanted to share a bit about this story. It's another YA fantasy. I think I love writing fantasy because you can make up your own rules. Who knew I was such a rebel?

My main character is Gretta. I haven't gone into detail about Gretta. She has dark hair and is average. No ninja skills, archery ability, assassin qualities or smoking hot body on her. Just a girl with brown hair. I imagine her to look somewhat like this:


I love writing drafts and getting to know characters as I write them. Gretta is always surprising me. She's a lot sassier and sarcastic than I thought. But she's so vulnerable. So in tune with her own grief and wounds that she wraps anger around her heart like a band-aid, trying to keep the hurt from spilling out. Gretta is a dyer - colors are her world. Because of her job dyeing, her hands carry stains of her work and look like this.

But the colors on her fingers hide Gretta's secret. One she would rather die than let show. And one on which the entire plot of the book is based.

Gretta lives in the capital city of her kingdom, which in my head looks something like this:

This kingdom is ruled by a very evil King (of course), who has ruined his kingdom with war and whose greed knows no bounds. He is after Gretta because of her secret, and she avoids capture at all costs. She knows the King's evil all too well. 

But she runs into a King's Guard one day who is not loyal to the King. 

Cue Ward. 

Ward is 'fluffy'. I don't know what it is with YA books painting all the girls as smoking hot and all the guys with a freaking six pack, but no. That is not what you are going to see here. Ward is a bit chubby But adorable. Of course, Gretta hates him with a blinding fury at first. But he gets to her. Or does she get to him? Gosh, I can't remember ;)  Imagine Ward like this:

Um, yes, Ward is stinkin' adorable. But he's not the cutest character in my book. He is solidly beaten by someone else.

All sorts of terrible no good awfulness happen in the book. Things inspired by stuff like this:




This book has taken a much darker tone than I expected. Not sure if that's something I want to keep or not. But I love the premise. I love Gretta's secret, and I love her story. It's one of hope. Of shedding guilt. Of finding no shame in fear. And about the glory of finding a safe place to let your hurt out.

Gretta is becoming more and more dear to me. I can't wait for you to meet her!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Happy Valentine's Week!


It's Valentine's week, and love is in the air,
So a love themed story would only be fair,
But to make sure my story wasn't stuck in a rut,
I asked for words that were anything but!

I got this list as one of my suggestions:
pokeweed (!)

This had me at taxidermy. ;)

Anna shoved her math book into her bag then hefted the bag over her shoulder. At least the homework load this weekend was light. Teachers were always gracious on weekends when school functions were scheduled. Even if it was something as heinous as a Valentine's dance. Anna walked down the deserted hallway, her footsteps echoing on the floor. Most people had scattered immediately after first bell, eager to get home and get ready for the dance.

She should go. Had thought about going. But no. She didn't have a date. Anna switched her backpack to her other shoulder. So she was single. Big deal. It didn't mean she had leprosy. I mean sure, she wasn't some trophy. She didn't look like the girls on the covers of magazines. She was just her - sarcasm and prickles and all.

But no, she wouldn't go tonight. Had already made up her mind, despite her mother's urgings that it might be fun. Everyone would be paired off, and how awkward is it to dance with a guy who's not your boyfriend at a Valentine's dance? The guys who weren't too scared by the assumption that you were planning your wedding were probably just hoping you were lonely enough that you'd follow them out to the football bleachers for a make out session.


"Eat something sour?"

Anna looked up to find Blake Anderson staring at her with a smile. Analyzing her scrunched up face that probably had looked like she'd eaten something sour. It was the same face she's used her whole life when confronted with something unappealing, from peas to that horrid purple dress her mom tried to make her wear for Easter last year. Her face was the butt of family jokes, and even had a name.

Pokeweed face. 

You look like you’ve got pokeweed poisoning, Grandma would say. And of course, the name had stuck. And of course, she was making it when Blake happened to be watching.

Anna relaxed her face. "I was thinking how creepy it would be if boys were stalking the halls just waiting for unsuspecting girls to make weird faces."

He chuckled. Man, he was so adorable. Tall and muscular, strawberry blond hair, and eyes that could be green or blue depending on what he was wearing. Anna wished she could shrink him down and put him in her pocket so he'd be near her all the time. Or have a life sized version of him stuffed and hanging on the wall in her room. Dear heavens, she’d just rendered her crush down to a work of taxidermy.

Blake motioned over his shoulder to the gym. "You gonna be at the dance tonight?"

She shook her head. "No. Dances are kinda lame, especially ones themed around a holiday exploiting people’s need for love. Don't you think?”

Blake sucked in his breath. “Wow,” he said. “Why don’t you go ahead and tell me how you really feel.”

The horror of her snarkiness washed over her like a cold shower she probably needed. She wasn’t the nicest of people. She knew that. Some days she was sure she’d develop into her true witch form and fly home on her broom. “I’m sorry,” she told him. “That was really mean.”

He shrugged his shoulders. “It’s not like I’m head of the decorating committee or anything.”

Right. He stared at her and she had no idea what to say. Clearly, she had some sort of social disorder that made her show off her worst traits in front of boys she liked. She should go. 

“I should go,” she told him, before she stuck her foot any further down her own throat. Good gosh. What the heck was wrong with her? It’s like her brain stopped working as soon as her mouth opened.

"Ok, well, watch out for those hallway stalkers."

She pasted on a smile. Great, she probably had just become fodder for jokes at his lunchroom table tomorrow. If only she had a shirt that said I'm so weird! then maybe she wouldn't even have to try and talk and end up coming across as a bafoon or a witch.

Blake smiled and turned to walk the opposite direction. What a wasted opportunity. Anna pushed open the doors and stepped outside into the frigid February afternoon. She was nearly to her car when her phone buzzed. She fished it out of her pocket and looked at the screen. You’re right. Dances are lame. How do you feel about movies?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A flea market on a balmy July day...

A terrible migraine possessed my body yesterday, so I didn't get around to a 5 word story considering I was in the fetal position most of the day. So thankful for my physical therapist who moved my C2 joint back into place, restoring me to normalcy.

So, 5 word Thursday this week and I got some fantastic words, and a terrific setting. I ended up using three of my lists, because my brain automatically connected them all to this story.




Setting: flea market on a balmy July day

So here we go:

Meggie bit her lip and studied Mom’s face as Mom studied the mirror. It was gaudy as sin, but there was something about it that seemed like it could be something more. 

Mom cocked her head and twisted her face. Come on, Meggie thought, and forced herself not to bounce on her toes. Mom was patient. Cautious. A tortoise or a slow simmering saucepan. Where as Meggie was a firecracker. Explosive and impulsive. She squinted in the hot July sunshine and wished Mom had stopped for espressos before they got here. The sauna like air was putting her to sleep.

Mom eyed the man behind the booth. “Would you go fifty?”

The man studied Mom, who still wore a scowl on her face. “Sixty five,” he said.

Mom sighed.

“Sixty," he said. "And that’s the lowest I’ll go.”

“Done,” Mom said.

The man came out and scrawled ‘sold’ across the eighty dollar price tag. 

Mom turned to her. “It’s perfect. We can paint it - maybe turquoise? Then distress it, and have Daddy hang it above your bed.”

Meggie smiled and did a happy dance. Not all sixteen year olds loved scouring for junk at the flea market with their mom on a Saturday morning, but it was Meggie's favorite thing. Even if the twins were in tow and whining every five minutes because they were either hot or hungry. Or both, as the case with Davey often was. Meggie glanced over to where he stood peering over a booth cluttered with old brass pieces that could be parts of a yacht or a horse plow for all Meggie knew.

“Well, no gnomes,” Mom said as she fished for her keys. 

That had been the goal today. Garden gnomes mom could spray paint and use as pieces for her own version of lawn chess. Just another one of Mom's wacky ideas. But the truth was Mom was the most creative person Meggie knew, and her ideas always turned out much better in real life than in Meggie’s head. She and Dad had long ago learned to trust Mom’s wacky creative brain. 

“All right Megs,” Mom said. “Round up the troops and I’ll go get the van so we can get this loaded.”

Meggie scooped up Molly and called for Davey, who was no longer peering over the table of junk, but talking to someone.

Andy Jameson.

Oh my gosh. Adorable, plays-the-guitar-during-youth-worship, laughs-at-corny-jokes, hero-to-his-little-sister Andy Jameson was talking to her five year old brother. Horror hit Meggie like a tornado.

Andy Jameson was right there, and he was going to see her in her sweatpants.

Why did she even wear sweatpants? It had to be like eighty degrees out already. She’d had on shorts, but a morning fight between Molly and grape juice where the purple liquid came out the victor meant her shorts were at home soaking in stain remover and she had grabbed the first bottoms she found.

And of course those had been sweatpants. Darn you dirty laundry!

Andy bent down to eye level with Davey and smiled. Sweet mercy. His maroon FSU shirt pulled against his biceps. Meggie's hormones surged and she felt for sure she would pass out as the musky hunkiness of Andy Jameson wafted through the humid air. Heaven help her. He practically sweated testosterone. She was going to become with child just being within five yards of Andy and his arm muscles.

Andy grinned and if this stall had a fainting chair in it she would have swooned and collapsed right into it. He stood. Oh gosh, he was going to leave. She had her chance to talk to Andy Jameson and was going to lose it. But no, now he was perusing the piles of junk with Davey. What should she do? Wait until he left? Then maybe watch where he went and think of something to say?

Oh for goodness sake. Here she was thinking of following him around and stalking him like that skunk on Looney Tunes. She had her opportunity.

She also had on no makeup, and was wearing nothing more than sweatpants, and a tank top covered with Molly's ladybug stickers. Maybe, like Mom and the mirror, he could see past the current gaudiness and envision her dressed up.

And in his bedroom.

Oh good heavens. Meggie crossed to the stall and stood behind Davey. “See anything you like, buddy?”

Davey turned, and so did Andy. “Hey Megs,” he said. “How are you?”

Impregnated with your child, she wanted to tell him. Instead she flashed a smile and willed her estrogen to float through the humidity and rattle his brain into falling in love with her. Come on pheromones! Do your thing!