Perfect Things

I found this quote in a new book I’m reading (Love Walked In by Maria de los Santos–I’m only a chapter or so in, so the story hasn’t evolved too much yet–but her writing style is beautiful). It stuck with me and I chewed on it all day, so I thought I would share.

 It made me think of items and things I’d put on my perfect list. Some I came up with:

  • The beginning of spring when the weather is amazing but it is too early for bugs.
  • The opening bars of Billy Joel’s Piano Man.
  • Twilight. The time of day, not the stupid books.
  • The way babies move their little mouths when they’re asleep.
  • Using your favorite pen.
  • The first bite of ice cream.

What would be on your list of perfect things?

NaNoWriMo Wrap Up

Hi everyone! Sorry for the radio silence, but over Thanksgiving I hurt my right shoulder and lost all movement in my arm for a week. Talk about a nightmare for a writer! Since it’s no longer agony to type, I thought I’d bring everyone up to speed on how I fared during this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge.

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I made it to 35,000 words, 15,000 away from the goal number. But I’m not upset or disappointed for 2 reasons:

  1. I wrote every single day. Rear end in chair, pen in hands, keyboard clacking away. Some days, there were lots of words. Other days, there were very (very!) few words. But there were words.
  2. I came to the realization that as far as I’m concerned, a single month is not enough time for me to write a good, real, deep story. The 35,000 words I got down last month aren’t a cohesive novel. It’s perhaps the bones of one–but it was really me getting to know my main character. There’s a lot of internal dialogue. Since I started with a relatively new idea and only did minimal outlining, I’m not really surprised.

I really like to the idea of National Novel Writing Month. I think it helps a lot of people (like me!) sit down and focus. But when I consider some of my favorite contemporary authors–like Chris Bohjalian, Jodi Picoult, and Kate Morton–and the fact that it takes them years to research and write a book, I don’t feel so bad about my long process of “getting to know” my characters (not that what I managed to churn out last month is comparable to any of them, but you know what I mean).

I guess I should probably just admit to myself that the fast-paced, deadline-driven atmosphere of NaNoWriMo doesn’t really cater to my life situation or my personality…but I’ll probably try again next year anyway!

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Those are my results–how did you do?!?

 

 

 

You Need a Time Out

It’s writing workshop time! The prompt this week: List 10 people, places or things you’d like to give a timeout to. 

10: Myself. Being sent to my room alone to think? Yes please.

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9. John Greene, because his books give me too many feels.

8. Ansel.

7. The kiosk workers at the mall who swoop on you as you walk by. I know they’re just going their job, but whoa.

6. The super skinny, super perky sales girl who worked at Destination Maternity back when I was pregnant. Also, the genius who decided to put that particular store next to Victoria Secret in my mall. Both of you, in the corner.

5. The writers of “Let it Go”. Because we still haven’t.

4. Whoever decided take strawberry daiquiri Jelly Belly jelly beans out of circulation.

3. The 85/75 connector in downtown Atlanta, because no matter what time of day it happens to be, there is traffic on it.

2. The party responsible for canceling Firefly.

1. People who consistently mix up “you’re” and “your”. Go sit in that chair and think about things until you’ve got it figured out.

Who would you put in time out?

Books in Twitter Form

Brevity: I don’t have it.

I’ve been really working on my short stories and flash fiction–creating a beginning, middle and an end in one sitting. This week, my challenge was to take popular books and sum them up in 140 characters, a la Twitter. Here is the result. AnneTwitter GoneGirlTweet GreyTwitter HPTwitter HungerGamesTwitter JonesTweet TwilightTwitter

How would you tweet your favorite book?

Writing Prompt Challenge: The Cat’s Point of View

This week’s challenge: a scene from the cat’s point of view.

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That woman was back again.

Oliver could see her from his hidey-hole under the couch. Her voice was high pitched, especially when she giggled. When she talked to him, she used words like “kitty-witty-witty” and “fluffer-McFluffkins”.

Oliver did not like her.

Oliver’s roommate, Ben, brought home lots of girls. They came and went, but Oliver didn’t really mind. As long as Ben was there to fill his food dish, supply his kitty nibble treats, and roll his jingle ball around, Oliver was happy. But then this woman showed up and things started to change.

Ben starting going away for the weekend. Sure, he left extra food and water, but it wasn’t fresh. Three-day old cat good did not taste good. And no treats for days! Then the woman started bringing things in. One day, Oliver took a leap on to his favorite windowsill to snooze in the sun and found it covered in stuff–candles and little vases and little framed photos. He fell right off the windowsill and darted under the bed, alarmed. This woman was making her mark. Oliver had to do something about it.

First he stole the funny little brush she put on her eyes every morning. Then he knocked all those stupid little things off the shelf. And then he rolled around on her clean laundry. And then he sat smugly and washed his paws.

It irritated her, Oliver could tell. But she didn’t leave.

The final straw came one night, after Oliver had his dinner and collected his nibbles, he trotted off towards the bedroom to settle down on the bed for the night.

“Oh, no, kitty,” cooed the woman. “No kitty-witty in the bedroom tonight! I just bought a new chenille blanket and we don’t need kitty hair on it!” And she shut the bedroom door, squashing Oliver’s face.

“Mrrrroooooow!” Oliver yowled at the door. He scratched at the door. Nothing. He howled louder. Louder and louder, until finally he was screeching at the top of his cat lungs.

“MROOOOOOOOOOWL!”

“Oliver!” Ben came out of the bedroom and scooped his up. Oliver swatted at him with his paw and tried to lunge at the woman’s sleeping form.

“Oh, no you don’t,” Ben said, quickly shutting the door.

“Meeeeeeer,” Oliver growled under his breath.

“I know, I know, you don’t like her,” Ben said, sitting down on the couch with the cat in his lap. Oliver glared at the shut bedroom. Didn’t like her? That was an understatement. He wanted to use her pants as a scratching post. He wanted to attack her ankles. He wanted to hack up a hairball in her shoes. He wanted–

“It’s okay, calm down,” He scratched him under the chin like he knew Oliver liked so much. Oliver tried to stay mad, but it felt good.

“The problem is, I like her,” Ben said. “Do you think you can at least try?”

Oliver growled again, and Ben laughed.

“Okay, okay,” Ben said. “I’ll work on her.” He laid a blanket on the couch and went back to bed.

Oliver settled down on the blanket. He was comfortable…but not as comfortable as he would be on the bed.

“Where did you go?” Oliver heard the woman asked.

“Just settling the cat down,” Ben said.

“Why? I mean…he’s just a cat.”

Oliver started to growl again. He hopped down, walked over to the kitchen counter, and swatted at the strap of her purse until it fell. He then started to systematically paw the contents under the couch: keys, cell phone, packs of gum.

Lady, Oliver thought, it’s on.

Today’s prompt is brought to you by 642 Things to Write About.

Writing Prompt Challenge: Full Disclosure

Every couple of weeks I like to give myself a writing prompt challenge to work on in. This week:

They toured the house with the real estate agent.
“We love it,” he said. “Is there anything we should know about the house’s past?”
The agent looked down.


Should she tell them? Deb felt nervous, her stomach in knots. She could tell the couple adored the house–just look at them, for heavens sake. Wide-eyed first time home buyers: the wife gazing around, Deb knew, picturing where her furniture would go and where she would hang the pictures. Naïve enough not to ask why this beautiful, three-bedroom house in an affluent part of town was still on the market for such a steal.

Deb exhaled. She knew her boss wanted this house sold. She knew she was in for a fat bonus if she sealed the deal. She knew all she had to do was smile a big smile, laugh, and say something like, “All you really need to know is the house’s future–with you in it!” They would sign the papers, money would be transferred, the happy couple would move in. They probably wouldn’t go crazy like the last tenant, right? That could have been any number of official mental illnesses, after all. There were plenty of legitimate, medical reasons why people heard voices and saw fairies who moved the furniture and painted on the walls and–

“Deb?” He interrupted her chain of thought and her head snapped up. She plastered a big grin on her face.

“No,” she said. “In fact, the last resident hated to go.”

This was not exactly a lie. Technically, the last resident had hated to leave–she’d been removed forcibly by the police and put in a mental institution. Deb still remembered the picture in the paper, of the woman clinging to the door frame while two flustered cops pulled on her legs.

But this couple was new to the area, and hadn’t seen the papers or heard the gossip around town. One lady going crazy was newsworthy, of course, but what really got tongues wagging was the fact that it wasn’t one person. It was seven, in fact, over the last decade. Seven residents all with the same story: voices, tables up-turned, small scale fires set in the linen closet. All blamed on the fairies. Pesky problems that turned into full blown disasters, making most people leave feeling a little unnerved and others–like the last resident– lose it completely.

But this woman, she seemed like the kind of person who might get along with fairies, right? She was sort of plump and she smiled all the time and her eyes had a far away look to them, and–

Deb stopped herself. What was she doing, likening this woman to someone who might enjoy fairies? There were no such thing. She pulled herself together.

“The house won’t stay on the market long,” Deb lied. “It’s the perfect place for you.”

The couple looked at each other, smiling dopey smiles, and nodded.

“We’ll take it,” he said, and the wife jumped up and down a little, clapping her hands.

Three weeks later, the papers were signed. At the closing that morning, Deb had shaken their hands, collected her bonus, and got on a plane to somewhere tropical. It had been a stressful month for her, making sure nothing went wrong in the process. During the home inspection, the inspector’s camera kept switching off, and every time he reached for his pen to make a note, he found it in a different pocket. During the final walk-through with the buyers, every time Deb touched a door knob, it fell off. And one of the walls in the master bedroom had inexplicably turned purple.

But the new residents were happy, walking into their house for the first time. Carrying in boxes, watching as the movers brought in all the furniture.

“Do you like it?” He asked his wife when the last of the things were brought in.

“I do,” she said. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him, then grabbed a handful of throw pillows to bring upstairs. She had already made the bed in the master bedroom, smoothing the comforter as she did and enjoying the way the sun streamed in through the window. When she walked back in, she found all the sheets and blankets in a rumpled pile on the floor.

“Well,” she said, and surveyed the room. The linens weren’t the only things amiss. The windows had all been cracked open and the boxes piled in the corner had all been taped shut again.

Without another word she went down to the kitchen and rummaged around in a box. A few minutes later, she set a small bowl of honey and a little pile of sugar on the table. When she passed by an hour later, the honey and sugar were gone. In it’s place were flowers.

Deb had been right about the buyer. She was the sort who understood fairies. It looked like the house–and its inhabitants–had finally met their match.

Just When You Least Expect It…a Yes

I sent out my query for The Goldens with low expectations. I’ve been sending out manuscripts off and on for most of my adult life. I know the rejection rate is high and the process is slow.

And then just when I least expect it…I got a request for the full manuscript. And three days later, I got a YES. Yes, we want to publish your book. Yes, we think it is captivating and unique. 

Being a writer is a tricky deal. It’s matching the right story with the right publisher at the exact right moment. I’ve never written anything like The Goldens. Most of my writing falls squarely into the chick-lit, light and fluffy category. And I finally get noticed for a book about a man who finds himself dead and confused. Go figure.

I don’t have too many details yet, but when I have them, you’ll all be the first to know. And until I do, be sure to check out the opening of The Goldens here.