Monday, October 13, 2014

Mothman:Harbinger of Doom - A Love Story

I wrote this piece for a friend of mine. Rob Kristofferson put together the Lazarus Taxon project about monsters, real and fake. It's fantastic and you should read them all. Find it here. I'm humbled to be included amongst such talented writers and Rob wrote the nicest things about me in the intro. But I thought in honor of Halloween I'd share my story. I had a blast writing this and hope you love reading it.

Mothman: Harbinger of Doom
A Love Story

The headlights cut a swath through the fog as the Camaro rounded the corner.
“Damn kids.”
All I wanted was a little peace and quiet. Is that too much to ask? Can’t a winged-guy get a little R&R? The car slowed to a stop in the middle of the road. The driver, a smug twenty-something with more looks than brains, walked around and coaxed his girl out of the car. She shivered in the cooling night, her arms drawing tight around her, the blond ponytail attached to her head swaying. Smugly handed her his letter jacket and took her hand.
“I swear to God this is where they saw it. Right here. It flew down, plucked them up, dropped them down, then flew away.”
Ponytail looked around with a not-impressed-in-any-way-face. “I don’t see anything.”
“Well, that must mean nothing bad is going to happen. He only comes out before that, like a…”
I could almost see his mind go blank.
“Omen?” Ponytail offered.
“Yeah. An omen. The Mothman. Harbinger of doom!” Smugly said it like you would announce a villain on a weekly superhero serial.
This guy, for crying out loud.
Somehow, this act of idiocy had charmed Ponytail. I decided to make a break for it while they made out. I really did have to cross the road. Chickens, Mothmen, we all have our reasons. I was already late for dinner and Ma would never let me hear the end of it. I’m sure my brother and sister were on time and that would make it worse.
I crept along, trying not to disturb the leaves and twigs in the thick woods. Thick woods. I chuckled to myself and kept on my way to the road. Five steps in I snapped the first branch beneath my foot. Ah hell.
Ponytail pushed Smugly away. “Did you hear that?”
“I didn’t hear anything.” He moved in for another kiss just as I took another step and broke a second twig.
It was like amateur hour. But in my defense, I am a mothman. We’re not really known for grace and agility.
“That! Did you hear that?”
He’d heard it all right. His head swiveled in my direction, fear glazing his eyes. “Yeah. C’mon. Let’s go.”
She stepped away. “Let’s go? Really? I thought that’s why we came out here. To see the Mothman. “
“It was. I mean, but I didn’t think we’d see it.” He scurried around to his side of the car. “C’mon, Betty. Get in.”
She crossed her arms and stomped her foot. “No. I came out here to investigate and I’m going to investigate.”
Luck finally landed on my side when a semi rounded the corner and honked their horn. Betty jumped in the car and Smugly sped off to avoid getting hit. I waited for them both to pass and went on to Ma’s place.
After dinner, drinks were poured and conversation began. My brother bragged about his latest scare and how he’d crashed two cars and even been sighted. “You shoulda seen the write up in the paper over that one, I tell ya. It was so sweet. Almost half a page.”
“I don’t understand you at all, Robbie,” my sister, Lucie chimed in, “why do you let people see you? All it does is scare them and make it harder for the rest of us.”
“Luce, I told you. It’s our legacy. We are the terrifying Mothmen. This is our immortality.”
She rolled her eyes and slammed down her vodka. “Easy for you to say. You’re not a girl who has man in her name.”
I chuckled as Ma yelled at them to knock it off.
Robbie turned his venom on me. “Oh, what are you laughing at, Larry?”
“Nothing. But are you two ever going to stop acting like teenagers? Jesus. You gotta stop showing off. Getting back here once a year for this weekend is hard enough. It’s damned near impossible when people are looking for us all the time. And plus, you’ve given us a horrible reputation.”
Robbie stood, shoulders squared and ready to fight. What a hothead. “Like I knew that bridge would collapse or that what’s-his-name had a heart condition and would die so soon?”
“That’s just it, you don’t think. Bad stuff happens every day, but when you let us be seen, we get the blame.”
He grinned and sat down. “I know. Immortality, bro.”
Huffing, I got up and refilled my glass.
Ma spoke up. “I don’t understand why we can just go back to the city? I mean why West Virginia? If we moved back to Jersey at least there’d be others to blame.”
Dad woke up with a snort from his recliner. “Martin? The Devil? No. I don’t want to be associated with that little bastard. He leaves his little footprints in the snow and all hell breaks loose. Chump.” He promptly fell back to sleep.
It’s like a loony bin here.
I walked to the door.
“Where you going?” Lucie was all big eyes with the hope I’d ask her to come with me. She wanted adventure. This life was hard on her. No one knew we even really existed, just speculation, but even in that, no one thought any of us could be girls. I smiled.
“A bit of fresh air. I’ll be back soon, little sis. Ask Robbie about the real reason he shows himself.”
My brother frowned, his eyes turning red. “Shut up, Larry.”
Lucie looked from one of us to the other. “What’s the reason?”
I poured a tall glass of vodka for the road. “He wants them to write an episode of Supernatural about us.”
“Shut up! Weren’t you going for a walk?”
My sister and Ma let loose shrieks of laughter.
I heard him as I left the house. “I don’t understand it. The fandom has made the leap, why can’t the writers?”
I chuckled as I walked through the woods. I didn’t have to come back every year, I supposed. I could go on my way and never look at this place again. We were the only Mothman family that had stayed together. Of course, it meant we were also the lone survivors. We lived exceptionally long lives but when we were gone, it would be over. Robbie was right about that. It was only our legend that would carry on.
I sat down on a bent-over branch and sipped my drink. So lost in my thoughts, I didn’t register the flashlight cutting through the trees until it was too late. The beam of light froze on my face. It quivered, fell away from my eyes, and I heard fast footfalls running away.
Damn it.
I tossed back my drink and set down my glass. Ma would be pissed if I broke one of her favorites. I covered the distance between me and the explorer in no time. A blond ponytail swished back and forth in front of me.
She froze. “How do you know my name?” Her chest rose and fell, but I had to give her credit. I smelled very little fear from her, much more excitement.
I rolled my eyes and got my best Dracula voice on. “I’m Mothman. Harbinger of doom!”
Two beats of silence passed before she turned, laughing.
“That’s what Brad called you. So you do exist. You were watching us earlier?”
“Of course his name is Brad,” I muttered. “Why are you laughing? I’m terrifying.”
She looked me over with her flashlight. “You were sitting on a log, drinking. And I thought…”
“I’d be bigger? I know. That’s my brother.”
She walked right up to me and held out her hand. “Betty.”
“Larry.” I met her with a firm shake. “Why aren’t you scared?”
“What an unfortunate name for a terrifying beast.”
“I know.” I slumped back against a tree. “That and the fact that I’m five-five doesn’t help. But that doesn’t explain your non-fear.”
She sat next to me, notes of her perfume and light sweat filled my nose. “I don’t know. If you were watching us earlier, that’s pervy by the way, and now here you are not hurting me. I guess I figure you had chances and didn’t take ‘em.”
“Huh.” I weighed her words. That was it, wasn’t it? What scared people. My brother swooped at their cars and something his size, the threat is what meant something. With me, there was nothing really. I couldn’t fly because of my short wing span and honestly, who has the energy for scaring?
“Quite the conversationalist, Larry.”
“I’m not around people much. Just my family. And lord, it’s like an insane asylum.”
“I know what you mean. My house is the same way.”
I smiled at her. “I doubt that. But be honest, aren’t you freaked out to be here with me?”
She looked me over again. “Nope. I hate to tell you, but you’re not very scary, Larry.” She giggled. “I mean, even your name…the moth? The least scary of winged-bugs.”
“We could’ve been the butterfly men. That would’ve been worse. Like being Mr. Pink on the heist crew.”
“Reservoir Dogs? Forget about it.”
And then we sat there, Betty and I, just looking at the clouds roll past the moon. When the sky started to lighten, she stood to leave. “Can I come back tomorrow?”
“I don’t know.”
“I won’t tell a soul, and if I do, I’ll make it gruesome. Wouldn’t want to damage your reputation.”
I smiled and shook her hand. She made her way off through the woods and I back to Ma’s house.
I pushed my sister out of the way of the mirror.
“Larry, quit it!”
“Lucie, you’ve been in here for an hour. We all have to go to this damn thing and I don’t want to look worse than I do.”
She huffed and left the room. This was the one event of this yearly weekend gathering I hated most of all, The Monster’s Ball. All the night time creeps and crawlies venture to a spot and meet up. Like a deranged class reunion, except no one was ever friends to begin with. There’d be food and stilted conversation and then I’d head back to Ma’s for a drink. Same every year. But it made my dad happy and so, here I was.
I adjusted my tie and stepped into the hall. “Ready to go.”
Ma, Pa, Lucie, Robbie, and I headed off to the Local 549. Robbie wanted to pass close to the road, in case there was a chance to freak someone out. Lucie stayed tucked behind me and Ma and Pa held hands to lead the way. I took sips from my flask, hoping the night would pass quickly.
By the time we saw the lights from the Local, I was tipsy and Lucie wasn’t far behind. Loud music poured from the door.
“Ah, damnit. The little bastard is here. Happy now, Larry?” Pa asked me as he spotted The Jersey Devil at the door.
“How is that my fault?”
We made our way inside to the land of freaks and found a table near the wall. After food and chat and more beverages, I took a good look around. “This will probably be the last year I come back.” My family just laughed. They’d heard this speech before but this time I meant it. My brother’s eyes grew big as I felt someone at my back.
“Hey, you.”
I turned to find a blonde ponytail bouncing, conveniently attached to Betty’s head.
“What are you doing here? I mean, hi. I mean, this is my family. Family, Betty.”
Robbie stood and tried to be suave. Lucie glared. Pa drank and Ma gave her a once over.
“Nice to meet you. Care to dance?”
I stood and followed Betty to the floor. “What the hell are you doing here? This is a Monster’s  Ball.”
“And you’re the Harbinger of Doom, yeah, yeah, I know.”
I grinned like an idiot. “I am terrifying.”
She laughed. “Clearly. I’m all aquiver.”
We swayed to the music, moving closer and closer together. “Seriously, Betty, why are you here?”
“I don’t want to tell you. People don’t like me—“
“When you’re angry?”
“The Hulk isn’t real.”
I chuckled. “Fair enough. What could be so bad?”
She took a breath. “Can we go outside?”
I nodded because all I could think about was kissing this girl. But no cheerleader is ever going to let a Mothman kiss her. I was pretty sure that was Robbie’s problem. He’d never get to get the girl. Betty took my hand and we stepped outside the door.
She whirled on me and planted a big, fat kiss right on my lips. I wrapped my pitiful wings around her, holding her close. It felt like hours, but in reality, only a couple of minutes passed before I broke away. “Tell me anything. I’ve never felt a kiss like that.”
“Me either. Wow, Larry. You should change your name to Mothman….yeah, I can’t think of anything clever. Your kiss scrambled my brain.”
I laughed and kissed her again. She pushed me back after several more minutes.
“I don’t know how to go about this. I guess insta-love is real for our kind.”
“They say it is but I’ve never felt it until now. Which makes since if it’s instant. And holy crap, I should stop talking.”
“Wait,” I cut her off, “Our kind?”
She looked down at her beat-up Doc Martins. “Yeah. I’m not from here. I’m from the South.”
I stepped back. “How far south?”
She raised an eyebrow. “The Swamps? I’m a rougarou.”
“What? Insta-love and it’s with a rougarou. Great. My mom is going to kill me.”
“Very romantic, Larry.” Tears pooled in her eyes.
I pulled her inside my wings. “You’re the cutest rougarou I’ve ever seen. And I can understand you, so that’s a plus.”
“I know, most of them are so Coon-ass you can’t even hold a conversation. Why do you think I came here this year? And then I met you last night and I knew.”
“Shall we go tell the parents?”
She kissed me again. “Sure. I mean, if you think they’ll accept me.”
I laughed as we walked inside. “They won’t. But at least you’re not a Jersey Devil.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Cover Reveal: DRAWN TO YOU

You guys!!! It's here! My cover and it's gorgeous.

Normally, I'm doing this for other people so it feels a bit weird to be doing it for myself, but holy cow, it's awesome!! 

Here's a bit about the book, DRAWN TO YOU written by moi!

Shy Ellie Baylor goes away to college in an attempt to escape her overbearing and zealously religious parents. In between dodging their daily phone call and lugging her oversized art portfolio across campus, she manages to be happy, mostly by avoiding any kind of social interaction. Then she meets River Daniels, the hot guy she's secretly been ogling in her art classes.

River is understanding and sexy, and their connection quickly grows.  However, a lifetime of listening to her parents has left Ellie uncertain not only about herself, but her relationship with River. Their blatant disapproval of River and her choices leave Ellie with the hardest choice she's ever faced- her parents' approval or the love of her life. 

DRAWN TO YOU comes out August 19th everywhere ebooks are sold. 

Here's a bit about me. (in case you didn't already know this stuff)

Angi Black is a dancer, a singer, a pirate, a poet. One of those is a lie. She writes New Adult and Adult and owns her own editing business, Wise Owl Words. She also teaches dance and theater all while baking treats and greening up the world around her. She loves music and donuts. She's Team Damon and her muse is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Gene Kelley. Whedonite. Coffee. Ambassador of Awesome. Bourbon. Beatles. Zeppelin. Mraz. Queen of useless trivial knowledge. Betty White is her spirit animal. Her patronus is a chorus of back-up dancers singing Don't Rain on my Parade. Angi blogs at The Writer Diaries, All The Write Notes, and Indie Ignites. She even has a fancy website.
Find me here: 

So...are you ready? Ready to see my beautiful cover designed by Gonet Designs? Are you, are you, are you??

Okay. Here it is! The cover for my NA novel, DRAWN TO YOU. 

Is it the prettiest thing? I'm in love with it!! 

Look for a Goodreads page and a blog tour coming your way soon!  If you'd like to be in on that, let me know in the comments!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Bunch of Words About Moms

This isn't a post about the five magical things every mom should do. This post won't tell you the ten things you absolutely should not do...or the twenty-five foods you're most likely to get judged for feeding them....or how to make their lunches look a five-star chef is on retainer in your home.

But I do have something important to say.

I will never be the mom who always looks put together. I want to be. I want to be thin, and well-dressed, and have really great hair. But I'm not. I never will be. I love funny t-shirts, Chuck Taylors, and making inappropriate jokes that everyone else is thinking but refuses to say. I love driving a bit too fast and letting my kids listen to good music that's beyond their years. I love laughing with my twelve-year-old son because damn it, boobs is a funny word.

Do you "fall short" too?

Well, guess what? We're awesome. Every time we do something we are sure falls under World's Okayest Mom our kids think we are the greatest. Our mistakes usually end up making the best memories. My kids first memory isn't of the perfect desserts and birthday cakes I've made over the years. They remember the times I let them decorate with me. They remember the times we ruined aprons together because childhood is messy and that's okay. They remember the first time I let them crack eggs and it took us thirty minutes to wipe down the upper cabinet doors.

So, I'm imperfect. Besides me, who cares? No one. That's who. So now, my own list of five things every mom should hear.

1) You're doing it right!
So what you're doing doesn't work for the mom next to you. So it doesn't work for the other moms at the park. doesn't for any other mom anywhere... Does it work work for you and your kids? Is it right for your family? Then congratulations, you're doing it right.

2) Your kid ate dinner!
So it was three chicken nuggets, a spoonful of grape jelly, and half a pop-tart. Who cares? At least they didn't starve. Every kid goes through a time when ONLY BLUE BOX MAC AND CHEESE WILL WORK!!!! They add vitamins to crap foods for a reason. Because kids are picky, and temperamental, and allowed to act how I want to every other Friday. So don't feel bad if you've served your seven-year-old Yellowed-hatted-fisherman fish sticks for the last ten dinners in a row. Is that what he'll eat? Then congratulations, you fed your child!
And for what it's worth, I love me some blue box mac and cheese.

3) Your kid cried!
Kids need a lot. They need love and affection and apparently to be watched while they do everything ever because WATCH ME, MAMA, WATCH ME!!! And sometimes moms need a break. So if your stories come on and you let your kid say Mama seventeen times without responding and they keep playing? It's okay. It's more than okay, it's great! If your kid cries because he can't have the cast iron skillet on aisle four and cries the entire grocery trip while you hum along to Tears For Fears playing over the're doing just fine. So Perfect Soccer Mom in the freezer section gave you the eye, so Hey, I Just Worked Out in the gluten-free section turned up her nose, so you have half a grape soda down your front and you really love this Tears For Fears's okay. Kids cry. Over dumb stuff. My son once had a full-on melt down in the store WHEN I SAID HE COULD HAVE THE TOY HE ASKED FOR. They are overwhelmed and so are moms. And those Judgey McJudgertons? Well, either someday they'll really be into Musak or they can suck it. Either way, congratulations! Your kid cried. You'll both get over it.

4) Your kid went to sleep!
Oh my god, you co-sleep? Oh my god, you let them cry it out? Oh my god, your kid goes to bed when? Who gives one damn??? Are people sleeping? Is the mother involved in the getting of the sleep? Then great, you've struck gold. Sleep is the most coveted possession a mom can have. when they're a baby, you're up every two hours/fifteen minutes feeding, changing, etc, etc. As toddlers, you choose your sleep routine which is always anything but. School age it's the fight of bedtime vs. get your ass out of bed because I wanted to sleep three more hours but I had to get up at five-thirty and holy hell, the bus is here! There's always that five seconds when you think, Saturday! I could sleep in...if it weren't for soccer/dance/voice/guitar/every other thing in the world. When you can sleep and your child can sleep no matter the means? Congratulations! Your child went to sleep.

5) Your kid says I love you.
So, toddlers are jerks. I mean grade-A douche canoes. They volley the occasional you're fat, you look funny, those clothes are dumb, all the way up to I hate you. That's usually reserved for that time you wouldn't let them run in traffic. School age kids are just as bad, only they have a bigger vocabulary to make you  feel more inadequate than every mother already feels. And teenagers? The actual worst.
But the thing is, they are just kids. They're learning how to be people and eventually adults. Let's face it, don't you have at least once a week when someone says something to you and your first reaction is, "But your face is a giant purple dinosaur and you look like an electric cat!" The only difference is you've learned to save that shit for Twitter. And even after the worst day of all time, and the fact that you feel like a total failure at momming and life-ing, your little one walks up to you and says I love YOU.
It's a moment. It's the thing that makes it all worth it. Congratulations! Your kid said I love you.

Just remember, we are our hardest critics and nine of ten times, we're rocking it. Our kids think we hung the moon even if they just laughed for fifteen minutes because we smell and look like stinky cheese hats. And you know, they're right. WE are pretty great.

So to all the Moms out there, keep on rocking it however you know best. After all, it's your circus, you do know it best! xoxo, happy Mother's Day!

Obligatory hot guy gif:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I AM A WRITER ~or~ How My "Quit" Turned into a "Break"


Yep. That's what I screamed out loud in my house Monday morning to no one. I'd ingested a pot of coffee before nine AM after another night of too-little sleep. I'd slogged through my inbox, even though I'm on 'vacation' and I'm supposed to be packing for the big move, and I found a rejection. Another one.

I slumped back against the couch. It wasn't form, only two of them have been, but it was still the same result. I immediately texted my support crew. They said the things the people who love you say.

Not form? That's great. You're getting so close.
Non-form is practically a yes.
It only takes one.
They weren't right for you anyway.
Your writing rocks. You rock. I love you.

And nothing they said is wrong, or even a lie.

But I feel like I've been here forever. I'll built report with two amazing agents, connections with even more. Two of the non-forms even said, "You are a lovely person. I look forward to more of your work."

And every single one said this: DON'T GIVE UP.

And I know they meant it. My friends have time to fluff a pillow under my defeated head, but agents who aren't mine don't. So why then did I reach my breaking point?

When you were a kid did you ever put a rubber band around the tip of your finger, or maybe a clothespin on a dare or out of childhood stupidity? Your skin would go white as all the blood ran from the area screaming at you, "But I live there! That's not right!" Eventually you'd take off the torture implement and shake your entire body as the whoosh of blood filled the tip of your finger. A sensation somewhere between pain and 'oh my god, that was freaky and kinda neat' took over your body. The pain was usually great enough to put a kabash on the activity.

And then someone would dare you to do again?

And you did?

Yeah. That's kinda what being in the query trenches is like. But did you ever leave the rubber band on just a bit too long and the feeling took thirty seconds or so to come back? And you freaked? This was that moment.

I got another lovely rejection. It was so lovely, I wanted to bake them treats and thank them for being so kind. And that's what got me. They all say the same thing.

Great voice.
I like you.
I like your writing.
I love your concept.

That's the entire reason I write. Or choreograph and dance. Why I sing. Why I draw and create and work with kids and make food for anyone in my orbit - to connect.

My heart snapped in two. I'm doing everything right. I'm not looking for a shortcut, I work way too many hours a day, I've worn myself to a nub that doesn't feel like it can even fit in the sharpener to be honed for another go. But still, something is missing. And I'm not connecting.

NO connection? What's the point?

And the thing that pushed me to that point is - I don't know how to fix it. It's possible I just haven't found The One yet. It's possible that it's sitting in the inbox of The One right now and they haven't made their way to it yet. It's possible the next MS is the perfect fit. It's possible that the R&R I'm just about done with it the thing that will make this week seem ridiculous in hindsight. It's possible I used possible too many times in that paragraph.

But right now, it feels like everything. It feels like the only thing.

I read so many blogs about how you need a community to write, how you can't give up because those are the successful people, the ones who don't give up, blogs about perfect mommies who play with their kids all day and do everything right and then bust out a book, get an agent, get a deal, and they still manage to find time for a shower everyday.

How? I fail at at least one of those things every day. (Spoiler - usually the shower.)

I spend a lot of my time being happy, or at least appearing to be. I have depression and body dysmorphia. This is an awful combination while you're trying to lose weight and accomplish really big goals. And most days, I feel like I succeed at keeping it together.

But not everyday. I bet if you ask any of my Twitter buds, or even my close friends, they would describe me as upbeat, a hard worker, driven, a cheerleader, and always there for them. And I really want to be all those things. But I'm an artist and some days it feels like that girl is just one more thing I've created. I know she's not. She's real, because above everything else, I'm genuine. That's why you're getting this blog right now.

Sorry, that was all off topic. I digress. Anywho, I read all these blogs about how not giving up has led to the agent, the deal, the successful self-pub, but what I don't see much of is - how hard it is to stay the course. And you know what? It is SO hard.

Monday had it's share of real life things before I got to the screaming in my living room, singing Avril Lavigne at the top of my lungs, oh hey another rejection point. I'd already been to hell, I'm sorry, Wal-Mart, to purchase a new coffee pot to replace the one that had mysteriously died overnight. One kid had missed the bus and I got the second one on her bus with only two minutes to spare. All the anti-freeze had leaked out of my car and it was cold - in the South!- and the heater in the house had also gone out.

Needless to say, Monday was stellar.

So after the email read through, I hopped on Twitter. A little levity, a few articles, maybe a picture of a hot guy, and I'd be good to go.

Instead, more of my friends - my very talented friends and acquaintances - had great news. Book deals! Agents! Covers! 5star reviews! 

I went into cheerleader mode. And it was genuine. And it was real. I'm legit happy for all those people. Their success doesn't take anything from me. More books sold and successful, the more deals there will be. It's a good thing. But fifteen minutes later, tears poured down my cheeks and the hollow I'd been feeling since reading the last rejection was filled with the worst thing of all - self- doubt.

That will never be me.
I'll never be that good.
I should stick to other things.
They started after me.
What am I doing wrong?
Am I not talented enough?

And so I did.

I put away my zip drives, I cleaned my desk, I put my notes and my calendar away, I wrote the appropriate emails and saved them to a folder. I was done.

Fast forward to Wednesday.  I woke up with a hole in my gut. I needed something, but I didn't know what. I ate breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, had coffee, worked out, cleaned house, smooth sailing with the kids that morning. I read for a bit. I watched TV. Nothing fixed it. It was the scratch in just the middle of your back that no amount of flexibility or contortion will allow you to reach. By noon, I was so jumpy I went outside and started cleaning my garage. CLEANING MY GARAGE, PEOPLE.

And then it hit me. I had something to say. I'd run back inside, write it down, and then get back to life. I opened up my computer, slid the zip drive into place, and pulled up my files. As my fingers hit the keys, my shoulders relaxed, the words flowed, and my mind cleared.

And I got it. Just like I need music or I have to dance, I have to write. I AM A WRITER.

I still don't know what it is that will push me to the place I want to be. If you know what it is, please tell me.  It might simply be my community and friends never letting go of my hand. It might be them shoving me into the phase. It might be the fact that I'm really, really stubborn and I'm willing to work to get better.

But most likely, I can't quit - BECAUSE I'M A WRITER.

So, I am taking a little break. I'll finish up my R&R, take another look at the MS's that aren't quite there, but mostly, I'll forgive myself for not having superpowers. I'll forgive myself for not reaching impossible self-imposed goals. I'll keep trying to smile on the days when I want to stay in a dark room and shut down. I'll keep telling my reflection she's beautiful no matter what, because pant size really doesn't have anything to do with how much I can offer to the world.

So there you have it. I'm not very good sharing the darker side of me because I like people to believe that cartoon birds braided my hair this morning. And they did, but they were still drunk from the night before and did a horrible job! I like to make people laugh, I like to give them hope, I like to spread my fairy dust and glitter all over the place. But some days are hard. And what if I share this and someone else had a hard day and their quit didn't turn into a break until they read this?

We're writers. We're artists. We're creators. We make magic and sometimes all those things really hurt to do and to be. But in the end, that's what, I'm sure, will make it worth it.

And then I'll be able to write that blog post about how I didn't give up. Because really, it only takes one.

Obligatory hot guy gif:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Review: Twelve Steps by Veronica Bartles Plus a giveaway!

Hey gang! It's been awhile, but the blog is back in action and I'm kicking that off with a review of TWELVE STEPS, a great YA by Veronica Bartles.
Here's what it's about:

Sixteen-year-old Andi is tired of being a second-class sibling to perfect sister Laina. There in Laina's shadow, Andi's only noticeable feature is her pretty awesome hair. And even that is eclipsed by Laina's perfect everything else.
When Andi’s crush asks her to fix him up with Laina, Andi decides enough is enough and devises a twelve-step program to wrangle the spotlight away from Laina. After all, great hair must count for something.
Step 1: Admit she’s powerless to change her perfect sister, and accept that her life really, really sucks. OK, maybe that's two steps in one.
Step 4: Make a list of her good qualities besides great hair. There have got to be at least three good qualities, right?
Step 7: Demand attention for more than just her shortcomings, and break out of her shell. Easier said that done, but worth the effort in the long-run. 
When a stolen kiss from her crush ends in disaster, Andi finds that her prince isn’t as charming as she'd hoped, and realizes she may need a new program--perhaps with less steps!
As cracks in Laina’s flawless fa├žade begin to show, the sisters work together to find a spotlight big enough for both to shine.

Here's a bit about the author:
As the second of eight children and the mother of four, Veronica Bartles is no stranger to the ups and downs of sibling relationships. (She was sandwiched between the gorgeous-and-insanely-popular older sister and the too-adorable-for-words younger sister.) She uses this insight to write stories about siblings who mostly love each other, even while they’re driving one another crazy.   When she isn’t writing or getting lost in the pages of her newest favorite book, Veronica enjoys knitting fabulous bags and jewelry out of recycled plastic bags and old VHS tapes, sky diving (though she hasn’t actually tried that yet), and inventing the world’s most delectable cookie recipes.  TWELVE STEPS is Veronica Bartles's first novel.
Here's what I thought:
What a refreshing book. I love the sister relationship and focus of this book so much. I'm a sucker for lists, I admit it, so the fact that book is based on a twelve step list, and then another list later on,  was one of my favorite things. 
The writing is strong and the reading is so enjoyable, I finished this book in two days. I loved the characters and Veronica has such a lovely voice that shows through in her writing. I loved seeing Andi's journey and the realization that the world through her eyes isn't necessarily the way the world really is. It was so easy to relate.
But hands down my favorite thing is the sisters working together. I'm trying to keep this review spoiler free, but that relationship is what kept me in this book and it's been a long time since a YA book held me with a non-romantic relationship. 
Again - the words that comes to mind is refreshing. I give TWELVE STEPS four stars and definitely recommend it!! 
Find Veronica at: 
Add and buy TWELVE STEPS on Goodreads.  

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Trends, Tropes, and A Bit of Bravery

I had something else planned today. I was going to talk about drama and excuses. I blogged about it not too long ago, but it's always worth another go. But there's been something bugging me for a bit. It fills my brain all the time actually.

The market.
The trends.
The tropes.

And then there's what I actually write.

And this week, it popped up in four places. First, Megan Whitmer vlogged about how to make your story stand out, even if it's a familiar trope. Then #NALitChat was talking trends and tropes people were tired of and what they want to see more of. Then Jessa Russo was tweeting about how not every female MC doesn't have to be a carbon cutout. Then to top it off, Kelsey Macke vlogged a pep talk that might of been for all her followers, but I know she was sending extra love my way. Basically she said, believe in yourself.

So, where does that leave us?

As a writer, it's very tempting to see an agent you covet tweet something on Twitter and think, "I could totally write that story!" and then write a story for the market or for that one agent. While that might hook in representation, you're left with a problem. The story you wrote was Contemporary and you really write Historical. Then what happens? You have one success and then you have to start over. You wrote for the market, you wrote a book, but you didn't write for the longevity of your career.

I write Adult and New Adult and I'll admit, I've been tempted to write to trends and the market. I did it with one story and it felt so fake to me that by the end I hated it. Ironically, it probably would get published if I sent it out to people, but it's nothing like what I love to write. Someday I might let it see the light of day again, but for now, it has to go away.

In this business, you have to remember all the things I've heard this week, and all the things before that.
Your story DOES need to stand out, even if it's a familiar trope.
Readers DO want something different, even though that's a scary place to put yourself.
Not every character HAS to be the same, that's what makes books so great.
You MUST believe in yourself and keep going.

I was going to talk about what trends are popular and what people want to see, but really, there are a hundred blog posts on that. Instead, I'm going to talk about some things I'm going to try out in my books. Some may call it stupid to try and buck the trends, but I like to think I'm a little brave. And maybe someone out there has a story they want to tell and they'll feel brave, too.

Here's a few things you'll see coming in my words. They don't really fit in, and honestly, I don't really care. Someone will want to read my stories. I know they will.

1. Not all my MC's know what they want. And what they do on the outside is rarely what they feel on the inside. They say they're fine and agree to things, then in the next chapter they have inner turmoil. I've gotten varied feedback on this, but I don't know anyone who doesn't do exactly this. Sure, we read to escape, but we read to connect as well. And I want characters that act like people I know, or even myself.

2. My females aren't always strong. Sometimes they need saving. On the flip, not all my males are golden gods who are capable of doing the saving. My characters make bad choices and no, they don't do what you'd do. They do what they'd do. Everyone says they want something different, but in editing, those different choices are usually the first thing to go because people say, "No one does that."

Right. How refreshing would it be for a character to do something you didn't expect? Like a cool drink of water.If I write a female character that isn't freaking Katniss, the feminists will jump on me. If I write a male who's a jackass, people will expect me to redeem him. If the best friend is too perfect, then I'll be criticized for giving my MC some kind of inferiority complex for attention.

But what if the female MC was raised in an environment where it's normal for her to want a relationship and rely on a man? That doesn't make her a villain. It probably makes her pretty normal. I'm a strong woman, I can take care of myself, but damnit, I like my husband to open doors for me. I like help opening jars. I feel complete with him in my life. Am I weak? No. I'm in love and I have a partner. So sue me. But I write MC's like this, too.

What if the male MC is brainy? Fit but not a beefcake. What if he's the one not sexually experienced and is a bit shy about doing it with the lights on? Does that make him not a man? Maybe he likes to clean his house. He has OCD so he's a bit neurotic. So now, I'm supposed to make him meet a girl and be a big, burly lumberjack who can Hulksmash the guy who is treating her wrong? I'm rolling my eyes right now.

The number one complaint is that the women in fiction change as soon as they find a guy and an equally big complaint if the guy doesn't change as soon as he finds a girl. What??? How is this a thing???

What if the best friend seems perfect because the MC is telling the story and that's how they SEE their friend. It has nothing to do with comparison to the MC her or himself, just that they have one person they can count on. I think my best friend is the bee's knees. And she might have faults, but you can bet, when I describe her, no one else can compare.

3. I write NA and most of my stories don't take place in college. Or if they are in college, it's doubtful it will be party or frat house heavy. I have an NA story where the characters are married and getting ready to have a baby. Another character is single and has a career. She owns her own business. Not every 20-something goes from home to college to meeting a guy. Then marriage, house, babies, etc. That is one formula and it works. But it's not the universal experience. As a matter of fact, I think it's not even half. Some people travel, some go to vocational school or community college. Others go right into the workplace because they are married and have a baby on the way. Or maybe aging parents, or younger siblings that they have to help raise because their dad's a drunk. There are a million stories out there of how people do it and though one kind of NA is selling big right now, my books won't be like that.

4. My characters have relationships with their parents. NA or Adult, the parents come into play. Some love them and some hate them or love them but can't be in the same room together. That means that sometimes I have grandparents in my books. My Grandma was everything to me. We shared everything right up until the day she died. I can't be the only one in this world that was close to their grandparents and parents while I was in my twenties. Just because you go to college, doesn't mean you outgrow your parents. Some people even live at home if they go to a local school. My point is, there isn't one formula to a NA book. Most of thm just haven't made it to the shelves yet.

5. My characters might love more than one person. There might be cheating. There might just be friendship, no romance. There might be a single mom or dad. People will die. The ending won't always be happy.  Sometimes it will work out because the character makes the right decision, not the Disney approved Hollywood ending. And I know I'll get haters. But it's my story I want to tell. I don't want to put out another homogenized book for the bookstore, I want to make a work of art, something that will stick with people.

I'm sure there's more to add here, but you get the point. 

I write flawed, quirky characters who follow their own drum and have relationships with their parents that may or may not go to college and are probably not great at relationships or always using their words. And I'm not going to change. Not for tropes that are popular or trends that are....trending, (Hi..I write good.) or to catch the eye of someone or a publishing house I might not be able to maintain because I can only write one story like that.

I want a career of writing but that's not why I write. I write for the words and the characters and the chance to create something new in the world. And like I said, maybe it's foolish, but I'm going to buckle on my gold star for bravery and call it good.

Do you have something unique in your work that scares you to put out there in the world? Share it with me in comments.

See you next time. And write bravely!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Thankful Thursday: Dance Party (Jan)

So I was going to do a dance party today, but I'm barely able to get off the couch because I'm so sick.

But I refuse to not be thankful.

So instead, here's some fun dance gifs. Here's your mission.

1. Play your favorite song.

2. Turn up the volume.

3. Dance like a fool and spend three minutes being that goofy little kid we all once were. I promise you'll feel much better after you do.

See? That's simple, right? Dance, smile, be thankful you have another day to breathe in the frigid air of the Polar Vortex! Unless you live in Florida, and then, really, just don't talk to me until I get warmer.

Happy Thursday!!!