Celebrating a Friend’s Book Launch: Cleo Under the Surface

Hey guys! I wanted to draw your attention to a great new YA sci-fi set to release tomorrow. The book is available exclusively on Amazon and if you preorder today, it’s only 99 cents!

CT Barnes is a personal friend of mine, she’s been working hard on this project for a while now, so go on over and show her some support!

 

Cleo: Under the Surface

“Cleopatra Travers can’t remember what happens when she’s sleepwalking. Her parents know. They witnessed something they aren’t telling Cleo-and now whatever she did has carved a canyon of space between her entire family. Cleo’s parents are afraid of her, which makes Cleo terrified and unsure of herself.

Not receiving the love and acceptance she longs for at home, Cleo tries to fill the void at school. Now, as her junior year ends, she is finally becoming popular. But her plans become disrupted by the resurfacing of a forgotten crush and new discoveries about her sleepwalking that risk the exposure of her long-kept secret.”

 

 

If you’re an author and have a book coming out or recently published*, I would love to support you by featuring your work on my blog! Contact me  if you are interested. Obligatory free of course, I’m just trying to connect and support the writer community!

*Erotica would probably not be a good fit for my small audience. Thanks.

MINUS ONE: A Skit by Val Manwill

I obviously love stage mishaps so much, I mean, I’ve dedicated the whole last two months on it. But you know what’s even better than stage mishaps? A stage play ABOUT mishaps! Noises Off anyone??

Well anyway, a handful of years ago, I tried to write my own play within a play. And this is what I ended up with. It’s called Minus One. It’s quite an amateur piece of playwrighting, so that’s fine, just look past that. It was intended to be performed by 9th – 11th graders, if that gives you some kind of an idea. But I thought that it would be fun to share! So HERE YOU ARE:

 

 

 

 

MINUS ONE

By Val Manwill

 

 

 

 

 

ACT ONE

 

“Hamlet” rehearsal. SERVANT 4 enters, sets a sword and goblet on a table, then leaves. CLAUDIUS & LAERTES enter.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated.

LAERTES:              Heh, heh, heh. I’ll anoint my sword with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:          Let’s further think of this, if this should fail—

 

Enter HAMLET

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir.

DIRECTOR:          (interrupting from the audience) Stop! Stop!

 

The actors groan.

 

DIRECTOR:          Hamlet. You were early. Again. I don’t know how you manage to be a perfect seven seconds early – every. Single. Time.

HAMLET:              I am sorry, but it’s incredibly hard to hear from the wings. I think it’s that air vent.

HORATIO:            (pokes his head from the curtains) It’s true. You really can’t hear a thing back here.

DIRECTOR:          Do you understand what’s going on in this scene?

HAMLET:              I, uh—

DIRECTOR:          They’re plotting your murder.

HAMLET:              Yeah…

DIRECTOR:          Isn’t that kind of hard to plot your murder if YOU’RE STANDING RIGHT THERE!?

HAMLET:              … Oh.

DIRECTOR:          I’m done with excuses. If you can’t hear the lines then count to 30 in your head and come out on stage. Take it again.

 

THE ACTORS reset and begin again.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated

LAERTES:              Heh, heh, heh. I’ll anoint my sword with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:          Let’s further think of this, if this should fail, I’ll have prepared him a chalice.

 

CLAUDIUS takes the poison from LAERTES and pours it into the cup. LAERTES dips his sword into the poison cup. There is an awkward pause and then enter HAMLET.

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir. I’ve done you wrong.

LAERTES:              I am satisfied in nature.

DIRECTOR:          Okay. Better!

 

Enter HORATIO, GERTRUDE, and SERVANT 4 who is carrying Hamlet’s sword. SERVANT 4 hands Hamlet the sword. LAERTES does a super goofy fencing maneuver but has one hand holding up his pants.

 

DIRECTOR:          Stop. Laertes why are you only using one hand?

LAERTES:              My fencing pants are too big. I’m trying to hold onto them.

DIRECTOR:          Safety pin it.

LAERTES:              I can’t reach back there.

DIRECTOR:          Where’s Angie? (Calls) Angie!

HORATIO:            She’s helping the army of Fortenbras change in the green room.

DIRECTOR:          Then grab one of the servants running around back there to help you. We are grown adults, people! This shouldn’t be that hard! Continue please.

 

HAMLET and LAERTES fence.

 

DIRECTOR:          Servant 4 move to the back please. Further please. Thank you.

GERTRUDE:         The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.

 

GERTRUDE picks up the cup

 

CLAUDIUS:          Gertrude, do not drink.

GERTRUDE:         I will, my lord. I pray you, pardon me. (drinks)

LAERTES:              (aside to CLAUDIUS) My lord, I’ll hit him now.

 

LAERTES stabs HAMLET. They fight, HAMLET stabs LAERTES with the poisoned sword.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Part them! They are incensed!

HORATIO:            They bleed on both sides!

GERTRUDE:         (overdramatic) The drink! I am poisoned.

 

GERTRUDE dies in the most over the top way possible. THE OTHER ACTORS roll their eyes. THE DIRECTOR stands and applauds.

 

DIRECTOR:          My dear! Brilliant as always. That was fabulous! You were flawless.

GERTRUDE:         Well, of course it was. Would you expect anything else?

DIRECTOR:          Absolutely not. Please go on.

HORATIO:            (continuing) Treachery! Seek it out.

LAERTES:              It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain. No medicine in the world can do thee good. The king, the king’s to blame.

HAMLET:              Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damnèd Dane, Drink off this potion. Follow my mother.

 

HAMLET forces CLAUDIUS to drink the poison. CLAUDIUS dies.

 

LAERTES:              He is justly served. Forgive me, noble Hamlet. (dies)

HAMLET:              Horatio, I am dead. Thou livest. If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart—

 

Suddenly, HAMLET makes the most obvious and ridiculous ‘blank face’ as he forgets his line.

 

DIRECTOR:          Stop! (To himself) So close. We were SO close!

HAMLET:              I forgot what comes next.

DIRECTOR:          How do you NOT have your lines memorized 2 hours before we OPEN THIS SHOW!

HAMLET:              I’m sorry. I just kind of freeze up you know?

DIRECTOR:          Trust me, I know. Everyone in the audience knows! It’s that stupid face that you make.

CLAUDIUS:          I can’t work like this.

HAMLET:              I’m sorry, really. I just don’t know how to improvise Shakespeare.

DIRECTOR:          I feel so unappreciated right now. I have given you the most coveted role in all of the last 500 years of theatre. I made you. When I met you, you were in a public library reciting The Night Before Christmas.

HAMLET:              That’s not fair. . . everyone loved my rendition of The Night Before Christmas.

DIRECTOR:          Just do this show – THE RIGHT WAY! Please! Surprise me for once. Continue.

HAMLET:              Draw thy breath in pain To tell my story. dies

HORATIO:            Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

DIRECTOR:          Aaaaaand curtain! Good. Well, almost good. I feel like – things are too cluttered in this ending. Uh Servant 4?

SERVANT 4:         Yes?

DIRECTOR:          I don’t think we’ll be needing you for this ending scene. It doesn’t work with you there. You’re blocking most of the action.

GERTRUDE:         I think this scene should be for leads only.

DIRECTOR:          That’s just what I was thinking. Servant 4, thank you, but you’re cut. Everyone else, let’s set for this show.

 

Everyone leaves the stage except for SERVANT 4 who is almost in tears.

 

SERVANT 4:         “Cut”? Fine. I’m going home!

 

SERVANT 4 runs off the stage

 

 

ACT TWO

 

THE DIRECTOR stands on stage this time acknowledging the audience.

 

DIRECTOR:          Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all so much for coming to our version of the beloved play Hamlet. I wanted to give a quick message regarding the final scene- Act 5 scene 2. This scene is a very, very serious part of the play and we would appreciate it if all cell phones were turned off and uh, no talking please. Without further ado – The finale of Hamlet.

 

THE DIRECTOR sits down, and CLAUDIUS & LAERTES enter.

 

CLAUDIUS:         Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated—

 

CLAUDIUS & LAERTES look down at the table realizing the key props are missing.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here is not a sword unbated.

LAERTES:              (scoots closer to the curtain and speaks loudly) Uhhh- Perhaps Lord Hamlet could bring me my sword.

CLAUDIUS:          Hamlet is going to bring YOU a POISIONED SWORD?

LAERTES:              Or perhaps I’ll fetch the sword myself! (Runs off stage)

CLAUDIUS:          (calls after LAERTES) Hey a chalice too. A chalice! (Follows LAERTES off stage)

 

Enter Hamlet

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir… I have … done you wrong?

 

HAMLET looks around confused at finding himself alone on stage.

 

LAERTES:              I have the sword!

 

 HAMLET ducks down behind a chair as LAERTES enters with a sword from stage right and CLAUDIUS with a bottle of water from stage left.

 

LAERTES:              I’ll anoint it with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:           I’ll have prepared him a chalice.

LAERTES:              A bottle?

CLAUDIUS:          A CHALICE!

 

CLAUDIUS takes the poison and puts it into the bottle. LAERTES tries to get his sword in the bottle but the opening is too small.

 

LAERTES:              (whispering)  It won’t go!

 

From behind the couch, HAMLET silently counts to 30 on his fingers..

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes!

 

HAMLET pops up from behind the chair startling CLAUDIUS and LAERTES who violently spills the water in the bottle.

 

HAMLET:              Give me your pardon, sir. I’ve done you wrong.

LAERTES:              (sarcastically) I am satisfied in nature.

 

Enter HORATIO and GERTRUDE

 

CLAUDIUS:          (to HORATIO) Give him his foil.

HORATIO:            What, Me?

CLAUDIUS:          (through his teeth) Just get it.

 

Exit HORATIO. LAERTES begins his elaborate and goofy fencing move.

 

LAERTES:              Come, my lord.

HAMLET:              I – I can’t fight you without a sword.

 

LAERTES’ pants drop to his ankles.

 

LAERTES:              Very well. I shall fight you… when you have… a sword. If you’ll excuse me just a moment.

 

With his pants still around his ankles he waddles off stage. HAMLET sits in the chair, waiting.

 

GERTRUDE:         (slightly panicked) Uhh the queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.

 

GERTRUDE picks up the water bottle.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Gertrude, seriously. Do not drink.

GERTRUDE:         I will, my lord. I pray you, pardon me. (drinks)

 

THE DIRECTOR crawls “inconspicuously” on the stage and places a new cup on the table. GERTRUDE begins her dramatic over the top death scene.

 

GERTRUDE:         The drink! I am poisoned. (dies)

CLAUDIUS:          Um, actually dear. (Pointing to the new cup) I believe this is the poisoned one.

GERTRUDE:         Oh.

 

Gertrude gets up, walks over to the new cup and takes a sip.

 

GERTUDE:           Oh NO! The drink! I am poisoned. (Re-dies)

 

THE DIRECTOR drags Claudius offstage by his robe.

 

CLAUDIUS:          I will return. Delay the sword fight. Tarry!

 

CLAUDIUS and THE DIRECTOR exit stage left as HORATIO runs in stage right.

 

HORATIO:            I’ve got the sword. I’ve got it!

 

HORATIO trips on the water spill and is knocked unconscious. HAMLET turns around and breaks the fourth wall, making the same ridiculously blank face as earlier. He stands up.

 

HAMLET:              (attempting to improvise)  Tis . . . tis . . . twas . . . the night before Christmas and all through the house. Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care-

 

Suddenly LAERTES rushes in with the original goblet and splashes HAMLET in the face.

 

LAERTES:              Aha! It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain. No medicine in the world can do thee good.

 

Re-enter CLAUDIUS with another sword.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Part them! They are incensed.

 

THE DIRECTOR enters stage right and picks up HORATIO’s limp body. He moves him around like a puppet.

 

DIRECTOR:          (as Horatio) They bleed on both sides!

GERTRUDE:         (from the ground) The cup! I am poisoned!

DIRECTOR:          (as Horatio) Now cracks a noble heart.—Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing me to my rest! CURTAIN! CURTAIN!

 

THE ACTORS freeze and SERVANT 4 enters, addressing the audience.

 

SERVANT 4:         The moral of our little play is that no one person is bigger than another. No matter how small of a part you think you do, you can make a GIANT difference!

 

fin

 

Writing Update and News!

Hey, I’ve been sitting on this news for a while now… but I am officially a professionally published author! Yay! One of my short stories, The Prisoner, has been picked up by an anthology called Bubble Off Plum (more on that later). I actually found out about it, the day I gave birth to Casey. I was laying on my bed, trying to tell if my contractions were real or false, when I opened the email. I get a lot of emails from editors and agents that are the usual thank you but… THIS ONE WASN’T. It started off with “Congratulations!” I was like, YEAH woohoo… this is a really weird day. haha

The Prisoner (1)

THE PRISONER: Flynn plans to escape his new prison cell despite his bunk mate’s efforts to stop him.

It got picked up by the first and only place I submitted it to! And ah, I was so glad too. I love this story. Like, I love all my stories because they’re my brainchildren, but this one is top notch. ANYWAYS, I don’t want to give away too much about it, because I want you to read it!
I am SUPER stoked for this anthology too. It’s full of weird twisted little stories and should be an excellent read. Almost a thousand people submitted stories and they ended up picking 27 for the final compilation. I tell you that to convince you of the quality of the anthology… also I’m bragging. The ebook is already purchasable at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. On Friday, paperback versions will be available. More details can be found here. But it should be a pretty good one!

Other than that, I’ve been working on other stuff. I have five or six other stories out on submission right now and ACTUALLY I began writing another novel. I got to the halfway mark, 25k words, the night before I had Casey. So finishing it has been a much slower process. It’s a lil’ YA romantic comedy about a socially awkward boy who is courted by a confident outgoing girl. Like a reverse of the guy-in-pursuit trope. Anyways, it’s been really fun to write, but I’m kind of in an odd place right now with novels. I took a minute to write down all the ideas I had for books (a LOT) and I organized them into genres. What I discovered was that I either write light and funny YA rom coms OR creepy big twist thrillers… and nothing in the middle. I’m either one or the other.

I felt that this was a bit complicated because… how do you brand yourself for both of those audiences? Ultimately, I felt that probably my thrillers were the stronger, more marketable ideas and more conducive to an actual writing career. But now I am pretty torn because I have two YA contemporaries that I don’t know what to do with (Okay, one and half a draft.) I could pursue self-publishing with one genre and traditional with the other. Or maybe go whole-hog, this-is-me-as-an-author and try to brand for both. Who knows. There are SO many nuts and bolts to figure out when it comes to selling fiction and all I want in the world is to have an agent or a publisher or someone to just tell me what the eff to do with all these ideas I have!

For now, I guess I’ll just keep writing.

How Unrealistic is this Romance-Genre Male Character? A Fun Rubric!

It’s no secret that women are often not written very realistically. And it’s easy to tell when the girl main character was created as nothing more than a fantasy trophy.

BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? Women characters are not exclusive to this. More prevalent and obvious, YES. But exclusive, no. Haven’t you ever noticed how every dude in a romance story has AN OUTRAGEOUS combination of “desirable” traits? It’s like the same formula over and over again.

bcefeaea3b063de47a7b452b9b4ccd05
“Hey. I’m Liam. Captain of the football team. Want to hang out on my family’s yacht?”

Don’t believe me? Watch yourself a romance or pick up a sappy book and use this rubric as you go. Each trait earns ten points, the more points you get the more ridiculously written that character is.

 

+10 He is good looking. Obviously, this is a good place to start. Granted there is going to be some kind of attraction between characters when there’s a romance. But I’m specifically talking about a character who would be considered classically and universally good looking. Great hair. Nice smile. Chiseled chin. Tall. Modelesque rippling abs and pectorals. I mean, if the body type is even being mentioned, he might as well have “heaving bosoms”.

+10 He is smart. This character always offers witty dialogue and banter. He’s funny. He does well in school or inexplicably gets accepted to ivy league colleges. Maybe this character has a job that would need to require some serious intelligence. When he talks to the love interest he probably “surprises her” by mentioning authors/books that he likes or other smart and high cultured things.

+10 He is rich OR is in a high position of power somehow. Okay, this character either has a lot of money himself or comes from a rich family. This character could also be a boss or some kind of leader. Royalty is always popular for some reason.

+10 He is charming. This character is well liked. Popular. Has a lot of friends. Or fans. Usually, there are multiple girl characters who are obsessed with him. He is most likely confident in himself. Anyone who happens to not like him is probably jealous of him.    

+10 He is athletic. Lol. For some reason mentioning the muscles isn’t enough. This character shows ‘em off somehow. His adventuring and swordplay are effortless. He plays on the school sports team. He is probably mentioned to be “the best” at some type of physical skill.

+10 He is musically or artistically talented somehow. This is a character that sits down and plays the guitar or sings for the leading lady. Maybe he draws or paints her a picture. Maybe he immaculately decorates this outdoor area for her without any help. He might have a career as an artist or maybe his incredible talent is mentioned in passing and then never contributes anything else to the plot.

+10 He is passionate. This is an easy ten points. This is a character who is borderline berserk-o bats he is so in love. This character easily professes his love. He’s more than a little stalkerish, he follows her around everywhere even if she says no. His moods are all over the freaking place. He is sometimes yelling and punching antagonists. He oozes with jealousy, over-protection, kissing her roughly, having like zero control over his feelings. This character is SO unbridled that if she weren’t into him, she would take out a restraining order pretty quick.

+10 He is self-sacrificing. Similar to the passion trait but definitely deserves ten points on its own. This is a character who is willing to throw away anything and everything in his life for the love interest. He might give up his job, his family, his opportunities, his dreams. Maybe he gives up who he is- like he’s dangerous in some way, but gives it up for her. Sometimes he just straight up dies for her. The sacrificing thing is one huge wet dream for a woman.

+10 He’s a hero. I don’t care what context it is. If this guy rescues her from getting physically hurt in any way, shape or form. That is an automatic ten points for me.

+10 Despite having all of these characteristics he goes for an awkward underdog MC for no real reason. Yes, I’m a cynic. But COME ON. Real talk here. Why is this have-it-all-dude going to go for this rinky-dink no-one-has-ever-wanted-me-like-this chick? Right off the bat, he is in deep with her, but we never really get why. I guess because she’s attractive or something? You tell me.

 

And yes, before you call me out, I tried this rubric out with the romantic interest in my own novel and YES, I am in no way clean of this either. He scored fifty points… which is more than murkily cliché but still better than Noah from The Kissing Booth who scores an eye-rolling NINETY POINTS.

So what is the takeaway? The take away is this: As a writer, don’t be afraid to make your main characters less than perfect. We will still like them. IN FACT, we will like them MORE if we relate to their weaknesses. Is it sexy to envision a man sprawled across a worn couch, binging Netflix with Dorito dust all over his shirt? Not really. Do I want him to find love? HECK YES SO MUCH SO INVESTED. But why though? BECAUSE THAT’S MEEEEEEE! We’re the sticky gross humans looking for happiness in all the wrong places! YOUR AUDIENCE. Reach out! Connect! Don’t just give us one real person to cheer on. Give us two! Make me believe that both of them are better off together, not that one person is already swimming in the sweet life and his/her life can’t be upgraded by anyone.

Just an opinion of a half-cynic. Wink wink.

How I Motivate Myself

After the announcement of all my doings and goings on in the writing world, I’ve been hearing a lot of the same thing: I would love to do something like that, if I had that kind of motivation.

Motivation is an interesting thing. I think first and foremost the best motivation for something is having a sincere love for that thing. What is important to you? How do you prioritize your time?  I write because I feel absolutely uncontrollably COMPELLED to do it. If I don’t write for a long period of time, I get really irritable. No joke. It’s a part of me that I fully embraced a couple of years ago and haven’t been able to let go.

02-rapid-typing.gif

But I will let you in on another secret motivational tool that I use… like a practical non-metaphoric one. It’s what got me to write a novel in twenty days. It’s the reason I’m producing short stories almost daily. In fact, it’s what is motivating me to write this blog post right now. Do you want to know what it is?

Brownies.

I buy a package of really good-looking brownies from my local grocery store. I set in on the counter where I have to see it all the time. And then I DO NOT LET MYSELF have one until I have written 1,000 words.

kroger-brownies
These little suckers

I’ll put Jack down for a nap and be COMPLETELY EXHAUSTED… and yet, I cannot stop thinking about those freaking brownies. So I very quickly write a whole bunch of words until I’ve hit the goal. And then I can finally have one.

And then you know what happens? After I eat one… I want a FREAKING ‘NOTHER ONE.

So I end up writing another thousand words, because my pregnancy cravings are too strong for me to even handle.

And that’s how I do it. And that’s why I’m even writing this post right now. I write like a steam engine trying to get a DeLorean back to 1985… and then later I go back and edit that mess… for which I reward myself more chocolate.

source

It’s worked SOOOO well that I’ve actually started doing housework for small bottles of Coke. You should SEE my house right now.

Utilize your vices. Make your weaknesses work for you. Are you a fatty like me? Dude. Set goals for baked goods and you’ll be SHOCKED at the results.

In reality, dreams are really hard work. Even your passion can flicker out every once in while and that’s okay. Dangle a carrot in front of your face and KEEP AT IT!

 

ALSO PS. If you didn’t catch last week’s blog post. I have a short story being published in an anthology that comes out next month. I made some promotional artwork for it because it was really late at night and apparently I hate sleeping.

A quick visit.jpg

It’s a YA story about a girl who visits her all-time crush at work after he tells her that “HE NEEDS TO TALK TO HER”DUN DUN DUN! Ooh, gurrrl. You know she had a panic-induced cringe after getting that message on her phone. Anyways, the book is available for pre-order. You can check it out here:  https://www.zpublishinghouse.com/products/utahs-emerging-writers-an-anthology?variant=14625753694323

 

HELP! I NEED READERS!

In between sending out queries and waiting, I’ve been factory producing short stories. Now I have a small pile on my desk that I need help evaluating before I try to send them to any magazines… do you think you could help a sista out??

I have a ton of options. Lots of different genres. If you could spare anywhere from two to seventeen-page reading minutes. Oh my goodness, that would help me out SO MUCH!

 

WANTED:

HISTORY-LOVER FOR AN ACCURATE STORY ABOUT THE TITANIC

Quick Synopsis: Edith Russel was an American fashion designer and journalist. She was also a first-class passenger on The Titanic. This is her story, compiled from her own accounts of what happened that night.

Little Pig

4,640 words. Reading Time: 16 minutes

 

WANTED:

A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR FOR A QUIRKY RETELLING OF TAMING OF THE SHREW

Quick Synopsis: Raven hates everyone at school and does a great job keeping them away… except for overly-confident jock Tristan Dolton who won’t stop asking her to prom.

TAMELESS (1)

Disclaimer: I tried to translate the language from its Shakespearean predecessor as closely as I could realistically… that being said, the most ratchet dirty jokes survived into this draft. (lol) PLEASE Do not sign up for this story if you can’t handle a heavy PG-13 level of crudeness, language or an insufferable male character who doesn’t understand the word ‘no’.

2,110 words. Reading Time: 7 minutes.

 

WANTED:

OVERWORKED PARENT FOR A MOMMY STORY ABOUT BRUNCH

Quick Synopsis: Rather than go to a prestigious restaurant with her friends, Melissa stays home and battles her daughter over a peanut butter sandwich.

BRUNCH BUDDIES

1,136 words. Reading Time: 4 minutes.

 

WANTED:

THRILLS AND CHILLS SEEKER FOR SOME SERIOUS TWILIGHT ZONE WEIRDNESS

Quick Synopsis: Lauren believes she has met the perfect man, until he spontaneously combusts on the floor of her apartment.

MR. RIGHT

2,240 words. Reading Time: 12 minutes.

 

Here is the Google Form where you can sign up for any and all stories that you would like. Just be sure to drop your email and we’ll be in touch. Thanks!

 

Also, low-key, I have ANOTHER short story being published in an anthology which is now available for PRE-ORDER y’all! “A Quick Visit” is a YA Contemporary with some romantic feels (not unlike my novel). It will be available in Utah’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology which comes out on September 16th. If you want it a couple of weeks earlier you can order it here: https://www.zpublishinghouse.com/products/utahs-emerging-writers-an-anthology?variant=14625753694323

 

OFFICIALLY Finished my Novel

Blech. I don’t even know if I want to write about all this.

So I finished my fourth draft, *cheer* now I’m hunkering down into the query trenches *whimper*.

cringe

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the process of traditional publishing, it goes like this…

A) You write a book (obviously) 

B) You pitch your book to a literary agent (the ‘pitch’ is also referred to as a query letter)

C) If the agent likes your pitch they’ll request to read your book

D) If the agent likes your BOOK they’ll offer you representation (or in other words they’ll take it to publishers)

E) Your agent pitches your book to publishers (also referred to as ‘your book being on submission’)

F) If the PUBLISHERS like your book they will offer you a publishing contract.

That’s how you get traditionally published. Although, even then G) PEOPLE have to like the book and buy it in order for it to be successful. 

Needless to say, this process has been INCREDIBLY intimating. You try to do your research like a good little author but, hey, it turns out that writing an attention-grabbing pitch is incredibly subjective. Who knew. It’s like every bit of information I came across was contradicting to the last. Personalize your query letter. Don’t waste your time personalizing. Start with your hook. Start with your personalization. Put your information at the top of the email. Definitely never put your information anywhere else except under your signature. But the one thing that they all agree on? THERE WILL NEVER BE ANYTHING MORE IMPORTANT THAN THIS ONE LETTER YOU ARE WRITING RIGHT NOW.

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Headache. Honestly. I haven’t even gotten any rejections yet and I feel super discouraged. I procrastinated and groaned and kicked the dust around until finally the other night I FORCED myself to proceed to step B. Yikes. I sent to a pretty small handful of agents just to get my feet wet. We’ll see.

So, now the question on your mind… Will I get to read this book?

Um. I don’t know. I hope so.

It’s a quirky little novel and unfortunately, just as the main character straddles between two versions of herself, the book also straddles between two potential audiences. Would fierce partiers and rockers really want to read about a piddly main character who is Mormon? And would a Mormon parent really buy a book for their kid that has swear words and drug references? I’m just not sure. This could be a marketing problem… (um, probably won’t include that in my query letter)

I could really foresee a kind of Freaks and Geeks cult following of those who would appreciate both sides (as I did growing up). But in a business/commercial sense it is quite risky, so if I can’t get agents and publishers to envision that kind of marketability then…. ???

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So, that is it. My worries and insecurities all over the internet for everyone to see and think about. If you have any encouragement or good vibes please send ’em my way. Meanwhile, I’ll be burying my head into other projects and trying not to think about my inbox too much.

Just a Random Blog Post on Everything That’s Been Going On

There is just so much happening right now that I’m not even sure how to consolidate this information into one post. So please forgive the scatter-brained mess this will be haha

1. ARIZONA

Arizona is great and we love it. Even with the summer heat, (I think the highest it’s gotten so far was 113 degrees Fahrenheit?) But tbh, I live the hermit lifestyle anyways and the AC in my apartment is great!

What I would say to someone looking to move down here would be… you like strip malls? Because at least where I live in East Mesa, there are alternating strip malls and gated communities in between a lot of palm trees and cacti. The great thing about it though is you are always in a close radius to any store you could dream of. There’s a department store or grocery store every two blocks and anywhere you’re at you are by a freeway enterance. The design is really smart and this state has everything dialed in. Like OH MY GOSH all the roads are huge!

‘Kay, I don’t know if it’s just the area I’m in, but the people here are either big hit or completely frigid when it comes to friendliness. And (kiiiind of an agist perspective) I’ve noticed that it is totally dependent on age. Like, the younger people in my building complex. Lol… I will straight up make eye contact with them and loudly say, “Hi!!” And they will 100% snub me as they pass. On the other hand, I’ve had several old people stop and talk to me *just because I was smiling to myself*. It’s a funny dynamic. I’m sure my loud, young-person greetings pins me as an outsider even more than my translucent skin color and long pants.

Overall, this place is a big hit for Dan and I. Jack has adjusted very well to our new apartment and has been EATING UP all of the time he gets with Daddy.

THE PREGNANCY

Yeah! The pregnancy is going well. I don’t know how I always manage to be pregnant when we move somewhere and end up being the useless lump. Ugh. Carrying Jack is getting harder and I get a lot more tired than normal. But I think that has to do with all the running around we’ve been doing as well. This baby is SUPER SUPER active. I feel twists and turns all day and Daniel can even feel little kicks now. Trying to find a doc is a bit stressful, but everything is going great. Stay tuned for a gender reveal soon!

WRITING

So if you haven’t seen my last update, my computer blew up. WRITERS. WORST. NIGHTMARE. I ordered a new computer and now I’m waiting for it to arrive. (Typing this on my phone still).

Fortunately, my novel is backed up and safe. If June hadn’t been so hellishly ridiculous I might have my fourth draft finished by now. Buuuuuut nonetheless I am incredibly close. I can see the finish line. Just another round of edits (Oh, just that?? That’s nothing. **SARCASM**) and then TA FREAKING DA, I’ll start beggining door to door for representation.

Here’s something cute: I was in the bathroom getting ready and could hear Dan on the phone with an insurance agent. (He didn’t know I was listening) When they asked what I did for a living, he very confidently responded, “She’s an author.” THIS DOLL I MARRIED WHAT THE HECK! He believes in me so hard! I hope he’s right. And I hope I can kick it back into gear when my new laptop comes.

Oh and PS the cute black laptop that died was named ‘Othello’. I’m considering naming this next one ‘Horatio’, since, ya know, he’s basically the only character that survives in Hamlet. And I’m really looking for a computer who can live to “tell my story”. Haha!

That’s about it. Blech. Sorry. At some point I’ll get back to normal with this blog and put out more embarrassing stories.

 

Pitching my Weird Pregnancy Dreams as Book Ideas

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Okay, so I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, but sometimes when I dream it’s not about myself… That is to say, that sometimes I dream in a “movie format” with it’s own characters and plot twists and everything. This especially happens when I’m sick. And if I’m sick and pregnant, the story-dreams are even crazier.

So I started writing them down as if I were pitching them to agents as book ideas. Here they are for your enjoyment! (Forgive the conspiracy thrillers. It’s been a rough first trimester.)

 

Retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, but the giant is made out of pulled taffy.

A family of four tries to escape a mall as an active shooter works his way towards them.

A cheerleader is forced to spend time with some of the grossest and geekiest outcasts of the school (stylized as a 1980s John Hughes comedy).

A down-on-his-luck father is hired to work for the United States’ most extensive underground mob.

Four amateur and bumbling criminals decide to rob a bank accidentally at the same time as four violent and capable criminals.

A woman takes down a group of terrorists on a cruise ship by using an animal-shapeshifting superpower.

Queen Elizabeth is let in on a secret plan to assassinate one of her own government officials right before her daughter announces that she’s fallen in love with him.

A group of young boys find themselves trapped in a house with strange and mysterious properties, competing for the only exit.

A lonely high school kid is granted the ability to become invisible for a day. He uses his new skill to learn that his fellow students have their own demons.

A high school girl begins to accurately dream the future the day before her premonitions become true. At first it’s all fun and games, until her dream predicts that she will somehow become hopelessly lost in the dark woods.

“Morty’s Fun House of Outrageous Revoked Licences: The Strangest Reasons People Have Had Their Driver’s Licenses Taken Away” (I flipped through this book in a dream haha)

A doctor is hired by a corrupt pharma company to pretend that he has a specific degenerate disease in order to falsify research.

BONUS: I dreamt that my husband and I were contestants on The Bachelor/Bachelorette but living in the same house. We made a vow to give up our roses for each other

 

Which one would you read as a book or go see as a movie? Do any of you creative people have out of control dreams like this?

Novel Update: Back from the Editor!

So in case I haven’t spammed you well enough and you somehow don’t know… I’ve been working on a YA novel for the past six months. It’s about an LDS girl who tries to fit in with a group of burnouts, and it’s lightly based on some experiences that I had in high school.

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Completely finished three drafts (woot!) and hired a freelance editor to take a look at the project. I do plan to try for traditional publishing which would probably require another editor anyway… but my thinking is that it was more of an investment into my skills as a whole. Trying to improve my craft overall.

The timing was impeccable honestly. My morning sickness had me out all of March and my book came back right when I was feeling better. (Um, amazing!) Now I could actually process the daunting six page editor’s letter.

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(ALSO) If you are a writer and are considering hiring an editor. I wholeheartedly recommend doing it. It was expensive (my only Christmas gift). But in my experience, it was worth every penny. She addressed all the concerns that I had for the piece, but could actually tell me what to do about it. It is worth it my friends!

Mostly her recommendations were things to add in, opposed to changing. Which YAY! Because writing more book is WAY more fun than re-structuring everything. She also mentioned that my writing was some of the cleanest that she had come across… which had me like “Wha? Really??” For a first time novel that I wrote in twenty days. Um yeah, that’s a compliment.

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So anyways, didn’t mean to blab on so much about it, but in short – It’s going well. Haha

Now, with the brainstorming help of my editor I am starting draft numero 4. And I am hoping that this is the one I can present to potential gatekeepers and book Gods. So cross your fingers for me! I would love to finish it before I move to AZ, but realistically… who even knows.