A Word From Nell

It was always my mother.

She is my earliest memory.  I can still see her dark eyes laughing down at me, smell the sweet undefinable scent that surrounded her. When she held me close, her hair fell like a drape, and only the two of us existed.

I knew she was important, special. Wherever we went into King, everyone deferred to my mother, spoke to her hushed respectful tones.  They sensed the power just as I did, but they were not part of her as I was. They were outsiders, even the ones from the Old Families.

She made a game of that, of teaching me to suss out who came from which family. We walked down the sidewalk, and as we passed people, she murmured softly, only for my ears.

“Magician.”

“Contortionist.”

“Shifter.”

Our home was my playground and my school room. It was the grandest house in town, built by old Gravis for my ancestor Sarah.  There were secret closets, hidden passages and cryptic words carved into the stone of the fireplace.

I was four the first time she took me to the clearing.  We parked near the lake at full darkness and trudged down a gravel path. When we reached the boulder, she led me into the woods.  I wasn’t frightened, and she was proud of that.

The others were already there, gathered in a circle, dressed in long dark robes. I wasn’t permitted within, but I perched on a log just outside.  After the chanting ended, my mother spoke for several moments in a language I couldn’t understand.  And then she turned slightly and beckoned to me.  I stepped forward hesitantly and took her hand.

“Focus on the center, Nell,” she whispered. “Bring the fire.  Make it burn. Concentrate.”

I screwed up my eyes and tried to obey. At first, there was only silence, the sounds of the woods.  She tightened her grip on my hand, and suddenly power surged through me. My eyes flew open and I stared at the rock pile in the center of the ring.

A bright flame danced merrily among the stones.  She released my hand and smiled down into my eyes.

“It’s a beginning.”

 

Tangibility!

I’m not even really certain that this is a real word, but if it’s not, it should be. Because that is the only way to describe seeing your book in actual bound print for the first time. It feels so much more real. . .tangible. . .

In case you haven’t guessed, the proof copy of FEARLESS arrived today.  There was a good deal of girly squealing and jumping around courtesy of my youngest daughter and me. And right now I’m sitting here writing a post I didn’t plan to write today (I had something totally different in mind), because it IS a day that needs celebrating.

My joy in this day doesn’t lessen the happiness I felt when my book was epublished by Amazon. I think the point is that each milestone is another step in the journey; I realize more and more that each rewrite, edit, query and rejection only serves to make the celebration days that much sweeter.

As soon as I have a date for the book’s print availability, I’ll share it here.  Meanwhile, you can help me by posting reviews on Amazon, subscribing to my page’s updates via email (that’s the link below the Facebook button, over on the sidebar), liking my Facebook page and following me on Twitter (see the button on the sidebar!). This is REALLY important, and it helps get my book’s name and reputation out there.

And join me in celebrating!  Yipppeeee!!

 

How Michael Saw It

With tweezers poised above the glass sample dish, Marly slowly lowered the new pollen onto the already-harvested grains. She held her breath and tapped down ever so slightly–

The door to the greenhouse swung open and slammed shut behind her son. Marly gritted her teeth and suppressed a sigh.

“Hey, Mom.”  Wandering among the tables covered with tiny seedlings, Michael absently fingered a leaf.

“Hi, sweetie.”  Marly slipped off the glasses she wore only for precision work.  “How was school?”

“Ahh–what? Oh, yeah, it was good.” He leaned gingerly against one of the less-populated tables, stuck his hands into the front pockets of his faded jeans and faced his mother. “Yeah, it was. . .good.”

Marly studied her son.  He needed a haircut, she noted absently, but it was the expression in his eyes that caught her attention. She had gotten a vibe that something was wrong, but now, looking at him. . .she realized that he wasn’t brooding or mad. Instead, his eyes were bright with banked excitement.

“Okay, spill.”

His mouth tilted into a familiar half-grin, Michael raised his eyebrows and feigned ignorance. Marly shook her head and fixed him with a steady gaze. “Not gonna fly with me, bud.  Something good happened, and you’re going to tell me. Now.”

He never could hide anything from her.  A grin broke across his face.  “Mom, I met her.”

If she had any doubt about his meaning, the joy in his voice erased it.  “Her?  You met. . .a girl?”

“Not a girl, Mom.  Her.”

Marly caught her breath.  “Are you sure?”

“It was just like Dad said.  And Poppy. I saw her standing outside a classroom. . .just in the walkway.  Nell was going after her about something–you know how Nell is.  And I–”

“Nell?” Uneasiness shot through Marly.  “What was Nell doing?”

Michael shrugged impatiently. “What does Nell always do?  She was getting in her face about their chemistry class, how Tasmyn shouldn’t be in it–I don’t know.  I just broke it up, and Nell walked away mad.  And then Tasmyn–”

“Tasmyn.”  Marly tested it.  “Pretty name.  Different.”

“Not just pretty. Gorgeous. I mean, Mom–absolutely drop dead beautiful. I can’t wait for you and Dad to meet her.”

“Whoa there, buddy. You’re moving kind of fast on this. You meet her today and you already want to introduce us to her?”

Michael ran a hand through his hair, a gesture of impatience Marly knew well.  His dad did the same thing.

“I’m telling you, Mom.  It’s her.  It is.  Today I met the girl I’m going to love for the rest of my life.”

 

Random Musings of an Upwardly Mobile Indie Writer

Going the indie route means that much of time, I’m forging my own path, which can mean using a figurative scythe to clear the way.  I’m blessed with friends who always seem to be able to shine the light on the next step just in time, but sometimes, it can get a little hairy.

For instance, one of my chief jobs right now is to promote myself and my book.  Back in the good old days of traditional publishing, a new author would have a whole department of experienced folks at the publishing house to guide her along the way. Today I’m walking a fine line between continually telling people how fabulous my book is without making them sick of hearing about it.

Little things happen that keep me going.  I’ll get an email from a friend, a Facebook message from a high school classmate, a voice mail from a homeschooling pal, all telling me that they’re reading my book.  I don’t even ask if they like it; right now, it’s enough to know that they’re reading.

There’s part of me that wants to say, “I know, YA. . .I know, love story. . .I know, paranormal. . ” as though I’m trying to excuse all those elements of my book.  But guess what?  That IS my book.  That’s what I wrote, and that’s the story that I wanted to tell. I’m not ashamed of it.  It’s not the great American novel, but I am a strong believer in variety.  We all need some chocolate with our health food, and I’m proud to provide my readers with some sweet chocolate goodness!

So if you’re reading FEARLESS, or if you read it, remember that your feedback and your comments keep me going.  Leave them here, on my Facebook page, or on Twitter .  Ask questions.  I’d love to hear from you.

 

Do The Next Thing

I am way overdue on grocery shopping.  If you’re main food buyer in your family, you’ll understand this:  I’ve been at different stores in the last week, but I haven’t done a comprehensive, well-planned shopping; I’ve just been skirmish shopping, where I pick up those things we really need (milk, bread) and some stuff for dinner.

So I woke up this morning and realized I had nothing definitive planned for dinner and no car access for the day. That’s not good.  People in my family have come to expect regular meals.  I didn’t even have my back up pasta and ready-made sauce, because we used it last week! Yikes.

I just did a pantry patrol.  At first, I didn’t see anything promising. But as I took the time to look at everything on the shelves, I realized I had a lot of different pieces.  A box of farfalle pasta. . .diced tomatoes. . .some canned veggies. . .hmmm.  I’m not promising anything gourmet, but I think I can make dinner happen tonight.  Whew, crisis averted.

Writing is like that. I might approach the next chapter feeling as though I have nothing in the pantry that will make something appealing. But then as I look at all the pieces, it comes together.  A character surprises me.  I think of a plot option that I hadn’t considered.  And somehow it all comes together.

If meal planning has helped me in my writing, so has homeschooling.  I’ve been doing that for over ten years, and if there’s one lesson I’ve learned, it’s that no matter how much I plan, life happens.  Sometimes, on days when we’ve gotten a late start, or someone is not feeling well, or the house is a mess, I might be tempted to just let everything go and ditch school.  But if I did that all the time, we’d never get anything done.  So instead, on those days when it’s like swimming upstream, we just do the next thing.  We do a page of math. Read a little history. Write some spelling words.  Nothing elaborate, nothing earth-shattering. . just the next thing.

When I’m stuck on a manuscript that won’t move forward, I employ the same tactic.  Do the next thing.  Write mundane stuff. Sketch in some dialogue.  Even if you’re not certain that what you write is what you want to write, do it anyway; you can always improve it or edit it out later.  But do something; do the next thing.