Wednesday, July 27, 2016

RESURRECTING SUNSHINE - Signed ARC (Advance Reader Copy) Giveaway

ARCs are here!

Here's your chance to get your hands on a copy...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 23, 2016

List of Interviews and Guest Blog Posts

A List of My Short Stories and Where to Find Them...

* a storySouth Million Writers Award Notable Story of 2009

Cucumber Rain, Flash Me Magazine  

Waltz in E Minor, Not One of Us: Home and Away     

Friday, April 29, 2016

Counting Down to Book Expo America and BookCon

Yesterday, while having lunch with my mom, I had the holy crap thought that in exactly two weeks I will be at Book Expo America signing advanced reader copies of my young adult novel, RESURRECTING SUNSHINE. (And in a little over two weeks I'll be signing at BookCon too!)

That two-week mark sort of crept up on me. I’ve mostly been counting down to the day I leave here to drive out to Chicago, primarily because that’s my drop-dead date to get everything done.

And I guess I’ve fallen into more of a road-trip mentality. You know how that goes, right? The car needs new tires and an oil change. There are haircuts to be had, clothes to be bought, suitcases to air out, pet-sitters to be sought. Practical things that need to get accomplished before I pack up the car and go.

But yesterday’s realization came with another thought—one that I haven’t really entertained yet (maybe my mind’s way of protecting my sanity just a little longer)—the thought that in two weeks, people will potentially be reading my book.


Let me try that again.

In two weeks (minus one day, now) people will potentially be reading my book. They will be having it signed by me. They will be bringing it home. They will—maybe just maybe—be opening the cover and turning to Chapter 1, and then maybe (hopefully) Chapter 2 and beyond.

 They’ll be meeting Adam and Marybeth. They’ll be meeting Dr. Elloran. They’ll be meeting characters (I have to stop myself from saying people because that’s what they are to me) and reading about events that have existed only for me and a few select readers up to this point.

They might love it or they might hate it (or maybe a little bit of both), or they will be painfully indifferent.

And granted, this is just the advance reader copy, but still, it will be my book—my book—out in the world. It’s still a little hard (read: impossible) to wrap my mind around, but it will happen just the same.


I mean, really, what more is there to say?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Climbing the Cape May Lighthouse: Feeling the Fear and Doing It Anyway

A few years ago my significant other and I took a vacation to Cape May, where there’s a gorgeous lighthouse open to the public. It’s a tall, slim building, and to get to the top means climbing 199 steps on a narrow spiral staircase. The stairs aren’t solid, either. They’re made of an open-work metal. Essentially, at any point in the climb, you can look straight down, pretty much to the bottom.

Though you’ll rarely catch me talking about it, I have a vestibular disorder, which makes a climb like this—going around and around and around—daunting at best…and kind of a carnival-funhouse-gone-wrong at worst. It was also, I’ll confess, all the more reason I wanted to do it.
So we paid our admission fee and we climbed.

Stepping out onto the platform at the top was a whole different kind of scary. So high up, the shore winds are strong, and the metal no longer feels like metal, solid, but thin, and amazingly fluid. And if you step to the railing, which seems unbelievably flimsy, you can lean over. You can look straight down.

I was surprised at how few people stepped out of the lighthouse and onto the platform that day. Most people hovered inside, listening to a staff member talk about the history of the building. A few folks ventured a step or two outside before hurrying back in. A very few of us ventured to the edge. Only one or two of us leaned over and looked down.

With my significant other hovering inside asking me to please, please don’t do that, I leaned over and looked down. I could feel the drop way down in my stomach, as if I was already falling.

I remember being afraid, in some undefinable, visceral, primal way. I also remember being afraid in small, silly ways, that I would drop my camera, that my glasses would fall off. And yet below all that, there was something else, something that I could identify immediately. Exhilaration.

The last few months I feel like I’ve been climbing that lighthouse all over again—around and around, up and up—in a more metaphorical way. If you follow me on any sort of social media, you probably know that I sold my book. And though the official announcement only came at the end of January, it’s something I’ve been sitting on for the better part of a year, so it isn’t new to me.

But things have started ramping up recently. My book has showed up on Goodreads (people have even added it to their want-to-read lists). I’ve been invited to attend BEA (Book Expo America), to do an in-booth signing. I’ve worked on developmental edits and thought up alternate titles and filled out cheat-sheets with characters’ eye and hair color and all sorts of information for the cover design people.

And as exciting as it’s been, it’s also been a little bit dizzying. So much is coming up, so many beautiful, amazing, wonderful things—things that are way outside of my comfort zone—and I know I’m about to step out onto the platform outside the top of the lighthouse all over again. I’m guessing it will be as scary as it was the first time…and hopefully as exhilarating.

I think it’s good sometimes to do things we’re afraid of, especially as creative people. It challenges us to go farther. It stretches us. It pushes our boundaries. It’s how we grow.

But there’s another reason, too. An even better one. Because from the rickety, windy, scary-as-hell platform, there’s also the most amazing view.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Walks with Kali: The Importance of Quiet Time

Every morning, I walk with my dog. We’re like postmen, I guess. Rain, snow, ice…we’re out there. We’re out there on brutally hot days when we have to walk early, before the pavement heats up enough to burn her paws, and we’re out there on days when the wind-chill factor is well below zero. (Though to be fair, those are Kali’s favorite walks. The colder and windier the better, for her. Our vet says that’s the influence of the Nordic branch of her mixed-breed tree.) If I have somewhere to be, I set my alarm 40 minutes earlier so I don’t let her—or myself… but mostly her—down. 

It’s our time. A stolen part of the day before work and writing and family carry me away. Before Kali has UPS drivers to watch for (they bring biscuits) and carrots to chase (yeah—it’s a thing) and neighborhood cats to bark at from the living room window. Before the day spins away into chaos.

I know it’s the highlight of her day. And most days, it’s the highlight of mine, too.

But I’ve realized something funny lately. It’s that we pay very little attention to each other on these walks. She’s walking. I’m walking. We’re walking—technically—together. But we’re also…well…not. She’s busy interacting with the world, listening to other dogs barking, smelling all the interesting smells, checking pee-mail (probably from her Siberian husky best friend), maybe burrowing into snowbanks or inspecting insects. (Once, to my dismay, she ate a whole, live cicada. I could hear its wings buzzing as she chewed.) And me, I’m taking everything in, and I’m processing.

Like many writers, my mind is often cluttered, chaotic, disorganized, incessantly whirling from one thing to another. But our morning walks, I’ve found, are my quiet time. They’re my chance to hear my own thoughts, to digest things that have happened or are yet to happen, to process my life. They’re the moments when my mind finally quiets, when my thoughts are clear.

I take advantage of that. Many days, my thoughts turn to whatever I’m writing. Without planning to, I use the time to flesh-out ideas, to work through plot problems, to get inspiration.

Maybe there’s just something about the rhythm of walking, the elements (except maybe when it’s -12°F and sleeting), the quiet of the neighborhood, that’s conducive to reflection, to problem-solving and clarity of mind and inspiration. I get a lot of writing done on those walks, even though I’m far from a computer or even a pen. And sure, I’ve thought of bringing a voice recorder, or even a notebook to capture the thoughts I have on those walks, but that seems somehow wrong, a blasphemy against something sacred. So if I lose a few thoughts along the way, I can live with that.

My life is about to get busier, in ways I can’t yet comprehend, and I’m not quite sure where the world is going to take me in the next year. (Seriously, there may be a state-to-state move involved.) But I do know that every morning when I get out of bed, there will be a dog not-so-patiently waiting for me to put on my sneakers and clip on her leash, and together-but-separate we will venture out into the day.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Days of Flying, Days of Slogging: The Cycles of Creativity

Back when I was primarily writing short stories, I noticed that my creativity seemed to ebb and flow. There were periods when I couldn’t write fast enough, when I could barely tear myself away from the story I was working on to go to lunch with my husband, only to find myself in a restaurant, frantically scribbling yet more words on tiny, pocket notepads or on napkins or the backs of receipts and promising him “just a few more sentences.” I must have looked like a crazy person. Truth be told, I sometimes felt like a crazy person, possessed of something out of my control. But I loved every minute of it.
Then there were the other times, times when I would stare at the blank screen of the word processor like it was my nemesis, times when each word felt agonizing and wrong. There were times when I hated writing, wanted to do anything else but write. Scrubbing the toilets with a toothbrush? Sure. Sounds WAY better than writing. Those were days when I would just be happy to get a few sentences down on the page before I fell into an exhausted sleep.

And sometimes those times felt endless, like I would never enjoy creating again, never feel that rush of inspiration. It wasn’t that I didn’t have ideas, and it wasn’t that I couldn’t put words on paper. It was just that I wasn’t feeling it.
Though I work mostly on books now, it’s still that way for me, with days of flying and days of slogging through thick mud. And I’ve heard that it’s also true for many other writers and creative sorts, that creativity comes in cycles.
But one thing I’ve found is that there are ways I can sort of speed up the switch from creative dry spell to creative fertility, sort of how you can force a bulb to grow into a flower out of season by creating the right environmental conditions.
For me, that involves showing up to the page every day whether I want to or not, and, even better, writing fast, so fast that I hardly have time to think about the words I'm writing. Part of it, I know, is getting out of my head and getting out of my own way, silencing the voices that are telling me I’m not good enough, that I’ll never be good enough. It’s giving myself permission to write crap. It’s giving myself permission to forget about the business side of it, the expectations, the possibilities. It’s giving myself permission to love this thing called writing again and knowing that in the most barren of the creative winters, spring is just around the corner.