“And when she grows to be fifty feet tall, turns green and shoots fire out of her mouth, will you hold her hand then and tell her it will be okay?”
“Nah, that’s my life,” she said, calming down enough to speak and pulling out of Braxton’s embrace. “I find out I’m half Seer and half Dragon, some kind of mega magical weapon and … instead of there being some sort of dramatic backdrop like a full moon or an ominous thunderstorm, some hobo pisses all over my cage,”
Yes and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
My hometown has gotten a bad rap for many years, whether it is due to crime, obesity or (as of late) sweats, we have seen our share of media bullying. Regardless of where we stand in the poll of the week I am proud to call Philadelphia my hometown. My City of Brotherly Love is always waiting for me to visit with open arms no matter how long I’ve been away. Friends I haven’t seen in years treat me as if it has only been days since our last hurrah. We are a city that embraces our communities and celebrates its diversity.
Now, I could go down the list of many different things that make Philadelphia or if you wanna go Greek Philos Adelphos (loving brothers aka City of Brotherly Love) great, like that it was the first Capitol, the birth place of our first American flag, the gorgeous Liberty Bell, the first American zoo, the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts was the first museum, birthplace of American Bandstand, Chubby Checker, Frankie Avalon and one of my favorites growing up Will Smith. The list is deliciously endless.
But, what made it great for me was just being nuzzled in her embrace. I remember walking the Italian Market when I was kid with my nose wedged in a book as locals and out of towner’s mingled, yelling their produce orders and waving their money in the air as I seamlessly weaved my way through, naturally stepping into the dance that was walking the market. I imagined the characters of my stories chasing each other down Carpenter St, meeting up at Montrose Pool, battling it out at Palumbo Playground and then begging for forgiveness at Saint Paul’s Church. It was a city that helped me believe that anything was possible, a place where your neighbors and friends encouraged you to follow your dreams. Grant it, they may call you a “Crazy Bastard!” somewhere in their encouraging speech but you knew they were behind you the entire time.
When I breathe her air it’s like an electrical charge that floods my entire body, reigniting that piece of myself I left behind when I moved as a teen. The cars circling City Hall sounding like ocean waves and the Bronze Angel that is William Penn standing tall above us reminding us of where we started and where we are. My city is a beautiful place and one of my first loves which makes it a perfect place for me to release my monsters.
Every time I introduce my characters to a new part of Philly I can’t help but reminisce and then I pray I can do my city justice and help others see in her what I do.
What is your favorite hometown memory?
Communication! As you have probably noticed I’m not very good at it. This blog, Facebook, Twitter all look the same. A word thrown in here or there, a picture with barely a caption, sometimes I cave and write a blog. My goal this year is to correct this.
It has been a great few months!
I sent out many query letters and didn’t get a bite from any of them. Not a partial request, not a full, nothing. It’s okay. Each rejection is a motivation to learn more so I have been working on fixing my letter.
The holidays were fantastic! With Birthdays on Halloween, Thanksgiving/Fall Festivals, Christmas and Winter Bell shows and pageants, and Three Kings Day the past four months have been a wonderful blur of Life, Love and Happiness!
I was lucky enough also to get my hands on some baby sitting and get to a Philly Liars Pot Luck. Usually with juggling my crazy work schedule and lack of childcare I miss out on everything including the Philly Liar functions but not this time. The stars lined up and I made it. I was very warmly welcomed by all and got to finally meet the absolutely fantastic Don Lafferty, the extremely talented and wonderfully down to earth Mr. Jonathan Maberry (OMG moment #1) who gave me the skinny on The Writers Coffeehouses the Philly Liars host in Willow Grove and possibly some new locations starting up soon. It really is a great opportunity to meet with other writers who understand what you may be going through and learn from each other. To learn more check them out here: http://liarsclubphilly.com
My OMG moment #2 was meeting Marie Lamba. Based on an Amazon recommendation I had actually just started reading her new young adult novel Drawn so when she was standing in front of me I tried very hard not to geek out and have her sign my e-reader. It was difficult but I managed to not embarrass myself. I think. I hope. I pray? Anyway, she was wonderful and friendly and made me feel right at home. Drawn was a refreshing twist on paranormal romance, beautifully written and captivating. I loved it!
I met so many wonderful people that night, Nate, Rachael and the wonderful J. Thomas Ross who is a member of a fantastic informative blog called The Author Chronicles, please check them out here: http://authorchronicles.wordpress.com
So even though I’ve been silent I have been very busy but I promise not to stay away as long as I have been.
Thanks for checking in!
Summer has been very busy. I happily focused on my family during the day and edited, rewrote, rearranged and polished every night finishing my young adult urban fantasy manuscript. I have also learned that sometimes manuscripts are never done but I forced myself to let it go.
My goal was to have it completed by mid August and a query letter written by the end of August. I failed. Query wasn’t completed and sent until Sept 1st but I did it. Once I sent it out I was sick with all of the things I did wrong. That feeling lasted only a moment because in the end I still did it. I let it go and it felt good.
I could have held on to the query letter picking it apart and gluing its bloody pieces back together every night forever. Procrastination is a mind trap that way and I didn’t want to do that to myself. I love this story and I want to share it and there is only one way to do that. I had to let it go. Grant it, it may come back with a big fat NO (I have mentally prepared for it). But getting a no now doesn’t mean never. Shut up! That’s what I’m telling myself and it’s working.
I have moved on to work on a novella and the second book in the young adult series and it feels great. Just because I’m waiting on a response doesn’t mean the story has to stop and wait with me. It must move forward and grow and with it so will I, or that’s the plan.
My beta readers keep asking for pages “come on you have to have something for me” one said just this weekend. It’s great to see them so excited they even asked for one of my older manuscripts and I may have to cave in.
I hope everyone had a great summer but now it’s time to go feed the beast. Last night I sent a character through a few of my old streets in Philly making myself homesick in the process. Tonight I play with Ducati’s. Yay me!
I know it’s been a while since I have posted anything and for that I am sorry. It appears that now since my Wee Ones are done with school for the summer they require constant entertainment from the first break of dawn until they fall from exhaustion 14 – 15 hours later. And you will never guess who is in charge of said entertainment… It’s me! My little ones are like two energizer bunnies hopped up on sugar fighting for attention. Sad to say they get it from me but I wouldn’t change it for the world. “DANCE FOR ME MOMMY!!!”
I’ll only get so much alone time with them before life takes them where they need to go so I will make the most of it. It’s a beautiful thing but it leaves little to no down time. So with summer vacation and an office job over an hour away the few hours of writing I steal in the middle of night before falling asleep on the keys and sending someone an embarrassing email is dedicated to my WIP.
Last night I was writing out a few back stories for a few side characters to go in my book bible when I realized one of them had a whole lot of story of his own. So I ended up starting a novella for him. It just flowed onto my screen and I’ll tell you this… it felt great. It connects smoothly to the original manuscript, adding another layer on its bones. Hopefully my Beta’s will agree.
The original MS is on its second go around with the Beta’s. I plan on having the novella finished by the time my Beta’s are done with the original story so they can continue seamlessly, if they choose to. Hell, they may never want to talk to me again. Wish me luck!
Oh crap, they found me! Hide-n-Seek only lasts so long. Gotta go.
How do people find their Beta-Readers?
I have no idea. When ever I ask someone this question they tell me to ask friends or family and some have even mentioned finding one online. These suggestions all make sense but for some it’s not that easy.
I love to write. I may not be great at it but I do enjoy it. There is nothing else like it. The ability to create an entire universe with just a blank page, 26 letters, 10 numbers and a few punctuation marks is amazing to me. I love, love, love it!
But once I complete a story what do I do with it? Get someone to read it, right? Hell’s yeah! I need to find me a Beta-Reader.
Well, that proved to be the hardest part of the entire experience. The friends and family around who promised to read for me once I was done suddenly became busy. They were so scared they might have to give negative feed back they completely stepped away. Someone suggested I look on-line but for every positive review I read about one site there were three negative ones. A little scary for a first timer.
Finally one of my friends and co-workers stepped up to the plate. Month’s prior she was the one I threw the story idea at and even though it was not her cup of tea she saw that I was so excited about it she encouraged me to follow it through and I did. Once she found out no one else would read it she stepped up and volunteered. Never reading an Urban Fantasy before she was a little apprehensive but willing.
We discussed it and came to the conclusion to take it one chapter at a time. I would send her one chapter she would take notes and then ask for the next chapter when she was ready. That way if she wanted to stop reading she could. No hurt feelings. All I asked was that she be TOTALLY HONEST.
And she was. I received e-mails with correction’s, questions, or suggestions at the end of each chapter. It was great because it was a step forward and after being stuck looking for a Beta moving forward is exciting. Now don’t get me wrong she was also very positive. I would get e-mails saying “OMG! I need the next chapter now!” I think the funniest comment she made was “It’s a real book. When I read it, it doesn’t sound like the you from work.” I took that as a huge compliment. I also loved going into work and seeing her excited with question’s about the story (never reading anything paranormal/fantasy before) and characters and how it made her feel. How some parts were funny, emotional and sometimes “creepy” (but she liked it).
I will admit it. I’m not aggressive, I’m goofey and silly most of the time and I think that’s what made most of my friends and family (including my husband) not take me very seriously and that’s okay. I’ll own that. But I do want to thank my wonderful Beta-Reader who stepped miles out of her comfort zone to help and encourage me.
There was an article recently in the Wall Street Journal under their Bookshelf column called:
Darkness to Visible,
Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?
The link is here for anyone who hasn’t read it yet: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303657404576357622592697038
After reading the article I was so disheartened that I wanted to speak out but the small keys on my handheld weren’t big enough to help express how angry the article made me. I had to wait to break out the big keyboard. BAM! HERE I AM!
The article opens with a mother of 3 who goes to a bookstore to purchase a book for her 13 year old. She is so overwhelmed by the darkness on the Young Adult shelves that she leaves the store with nothing. That right there tells me she didn’t look hard enough. Anyway the article continues by attacking a few Young Adult books currently on my shelf for their dark or graphic approaches.
I wish my young adult life was full of rainbows and ponies but it wasn’t. My teen years consisted of living in teen shelter’s (2 stints at 30days a piece), baby shelter’s when my time at the teen shelter’s was exhausted and then finally a couple foster homes until I was 18. This happened because the child care system was trying to “help/protect me”. Protection is scary. I’ve seen life’s many faces and I will tell you, it’s dark and can get really graphic really fast.
Today I am a wife, a mother of two beautiful wee ones, an insurance agent by day (again seeing some not so pretty things) and a writer.
As a mother I talk to my children every day and encourage them to talk to me. I remind them regularly that they can speak to me about anything and right now they do. I hope to keep this open communication active as they grow older into their teen years and beyond. The funny thing about teens/young adults is that they will only approach you if you are approachable. How do I know this? I was a teen. Yes, I said it. I was a teen. I swear it! I even have papers to prove it!
One of the worst feelings I remember from my teen years was the isolation of dark situations. Is every home like mine? What if I’m the reason everything is so bad? Is there something wrong with me? What if someone finds out, will everyone hate me? Am I a freak?
YA books deal with everyday situations and help our children understand that they are not alone in their darkness and that there can be light at the end of their tunnels. It also teaches compassion and understanding for those who are faced with overwhelming circumstances.
Young Adult books can open the lines of communication and makes topics more approachable with their peers and at home, but only if you are willing to listen. If you condemn these real life everyday topics you will isolate the real everyday children dealing with them. They may not be your children but it could be one of their cousin’s, friends or classmates that chose your child as the person to confide in. Knowing that you are closed off to such topics do you think your child will bring the situation to you for help? Probably not. And then what? You yell and scream that these things should not be discussed, so should someone dealing with one of these problems be ashamed or even quiet? No!
If you go through life with blinders on you’re bound to hit something, HARD! Don’t force these blinders on your children because you won’t always be there to keep them in place. Instead support and listen to your children and stop condemning those who are not affraid to approach and shine a light on such real and difficult topics.
One of the books attacked was by Jackie Morse Kessler the brilliant author of Rage. Follow the link to see her fantastic response http://tinyurl.com/3pfjfo9
Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go: they merely determine where you start.
“Who motivates you?” “Who is your inspiration?” most people will give the positive answer. Something pretty and well thought out, polished and maybe even rehearsed. But would it be truthful?
Inspiration is not always pretty.
I like to bounce around in blogs and see what’s going on, what other authors and people are talking about in the writing world. Sometimes I comment but most of the time I don’t. It’s not that I do not want to but because some of the commentors are so strong on their stance on grammar that I always fear that I may put a comma in the wrong place and instantly be judged. For life. Blackballed. It’s an awful feeling.
I love to tell stories but sometimes my grammar is not the best that it could be. Am I working on that? Yes. But for now it is still a work in progress. When working around a rotating swing shift schedule and little one’s it’s a little harder than just taking a course.
Anyway…What I have found in my bouncing around are more and more people who say they can not truly respect someone who does not read for entertainment. And yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion and my opinion is that I don’t agree.
One of my biggest inspirations in life was my birth mother. She still to this day can not read. Knowing this as a child I read everything I could get my hands on because I did not want to be her (See, not so pretty inspiration). This lead to my love of reading and (a little further down the line) writing.
I know other people who do not find reading enjoyable because of the frustration’s of Dyslexia, A.D.D. or sometimes it’s just not encouraged or easily accessible.
I was raised in a household where english was a second language (until we got older) and funding was tight (food before books). Day-to-day living was about survival not dreaming. I was lucky enough that the Philadelphia school systems encouraged independent reading. They would actually hold a book fair once or twice a year where you could go to the library, hand in your ticket and get a free book. It was beautiful.
I always picked fiction books. My real life was hard enough without having to read someone elses troubles. Do you know how terrible it is that after reading someone’s heart wrenching/tragic auto-biography you look at the book and think “That’s it. Cry baby.” Let me tell you, you feel like a cold-hearted beast. I feel a little wrong for admitting it now but… I’m being truthful. As a kid this was how I felt.
I would lose myself in far-away lands with monster’s and hero’s on a daily basis. The second I got my new free book I would start reading and wouldn’t put it down until I was done. I walked home reading (dangerous, I know.) I ate diner reading and would even take my bath reading.
I didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer, that was something I discovered later through my love of reading. The love of reading that developed through my childhood. Inspired by a mother who could not read. My grandmother that raised me who could barely read or speak english but worked like a dog. Close relatives that suffered with ADD or Dyslexia but who have many wonderful talent’s that I do not. Suffering through poverty so bad that there was nothing else to do but read and an enviroment so hostile you prayed to be able to escape if only in your mind through a book.
Inspiration is not alway’s pretty.
I’m off to write!