Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Person Behind the Con

I’d like to believe I’m about the most real person you’ll ever meet.  You ask me a question, I’ll tell it to you straight. I have a hard time mincing words.  I’ll also tell you how I am feeling.  You might be a little confused though.  Even if I really don’t like you, I believe in BHD. 

Basic. Human. Decency. 

It’s the stuff where regardless of my emotions running amok, I’ll respect you enough to not show them on my face and use words instead.  Not harsh words, but I try to go for kind words as much as possible.  BHD is something my parents raised me to have.  I try to instill it in my own kids, but that’s beside the point.

BHD is a lost art.  I find that I really struggle with BHD because I have other more glaring problems.  The Evil A (Anxiety) for one and a deep loathing for PS (Public Speaking).  Evil A and PS take my normally congenial nature and suck it down a tube, which is not a good place to go when being an author.

What I was never told was that being an author means that I have to meet people, shake hands (I also have an irrational germ fear, but that’s another post entirely), and speak in public.  The first time I had to get up in front of a classroom and teach, I had a full-blown panic attack before AND afterwards.  I am not proud that I nearly passed out in the BYU campus bathrooms.

That being said, I think it is HILARIOUS when someone comes up to me after one of my lectures and tells me that they are so impressed with my natural ability to speak in front of large audiences.  BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!  Sorry.  Whew, I lost it there for a moment.  They don’t see the shaking, the dry mouth or hear my heart thumping in my ears to the tune of The Flight of the Bumble Bee. 

But I keep doing it.  I keep trekking across the country talking to kids about writing, I keep going to Writing Conferences, and Comic Cons.   Anxiety is very real.  The intense fear of public speaking hasn’t diminished.  However, I’d like to think that I got a healthy helping of BHD somewhere in my genetics.  I sincerely love people even though they scare the living daylights out of me.  It’s a very weird combination.


I was asked if all writers have to be outgoing and extroverts to be published.  No.  No, you don’t.  But, for the sake of my books, I pull up my big girl panties, walk in those classrooms with my head held high and keep 911 on speed dial.  One of these days I am going to pass out and go into cardiac arrest.  But I can promise you that I will teach the best damn class before I get wheeled out on that stretcher.

Monday, January 30, 2017

What I Wish I'd Known About Boys in Middle School

Middle school sucks.  Not only does 6-8th grade suck the life out of a kid academically, it sucks hormonally, physically and socially.

It came as a real surprise to me that I love to write in the teenage boy voice.  You'd think I came from a background of expertise: boyfriends, a male BFF or I actually knew how to talk to boys.

I didn't.

In Junior High I was the human equivalent of Chihuahua/Husky mix breed pup with no visible breasts, hips, or femininity.  I was the youngest of eight kids and shared one bathroom with six older sisters who were a million times more fashionably and hygienically forward than I was.  My days consisted of basic survival at home and blundering idiocy at school

I was horribly backward.  Boys were the mysterious other gender I knew absolutely nothing about.  I had two older brothers.  However, they were confined upstairs and limited to teasing and farting.  My dad had no real interest in educating me on the ways of boys so when hormones kicked in somewhere at the end of seventh grade, I was a complete novice.

My interaction with boys then makes me cringe.  I figured that if I stared at them long enough, they would somehow inherently know that I was interested in them.  They would have to completely ignore that I hadn't washed in two days, I didn't know how to brush my hair, and would probably need to ignore that there was something nefarious stuck in my teeth from lunch.

And now I am laughing and crying at the same time.  I need a selective amnesia pill.

I was dumb.  I didn't understand boys at all until I hit college and even then I only seemed to attract jerks.  When I met my husband... well, that took a lot of hard work too.  He was the good egg. I was the funky chicken, molting in the corner of the yard.

Now that I am greatly outnumbered in my own household (three to one ratio of males to females), my learning curve has sharpened.

Boys are not dumb.  Boys are not emotionally stunted.  Boys are very much aware of what goes on around them.

They have incredible minds that think very literally.  Black means black and white is white.  Grey area hints are a waste of time (my sons tell me this frequently).  The idea of body language is completely lost on them.  So is fashion.  When a girl comes to my home wearing booty shorts and a tank top and rubs up on my 15 year old son (to which I'd like to slap her into next week), TRUST me when I say that the only thing he noticed was that her underwear was falling out her shorts and that made him seriously uncomfortable.

My thirteen year old hasn't even noticed girls yet (THANK HEAVENS).  The one girl he likes is a head taller than he is, but dude, she can play soccer like a boss.  Which is why he likes her.  Both my boys notice the tone of a girl's laugh, what they say, who they gossip about, and how they act.  Swearing is a turn off.  So is destructive gossip about their friends.  My sons, and all their friends too, think smart girls to be super attractive.  They like girls that can carry a conversation, play a sport, or have a cool talent.  Crushing on Star Wars is a big bonus too.

I wish I had known all this in middle school.  It would have saved me years of awkwardness.  On the brighter side, I now get to channel those years into my books, as seen through a boy's eyes.  It makes my boys cringe.  I know they hate it.  But they are the best study subjects I have.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Manuscripts I Love to Hate

I am in the middle of my edits for Ian Quicksilver: THE EXILED PRINCE.  I usually like this part of the process.  When I write, I get the story out on paper, I rearrange and edit.  After working on it for a solid three months, I start hating it. There hasn't been one single book I've written that I haven't ended up hating at one time or another.  I've penned a good twelve books and every single one of them, in one way or another, makes me want to hack an ax through the center of it.

The Exiled Prince is currently no different.  When I finished writing it, I loved it.  I put it aside for six months and submitted it to my publisher.  I completely forgot what I'd written.  When I got the preliminary sub-edits back on it, I began to seriously question my sanity in thinking it was, in any way the story I thought I would tell.

The manuscript now keeps me up at night.  I have mentally skewered the living daylights out of that stupid thing.  Don't get me wrong... it's good.  As in, I had NO CLUE I could write something that emotional.  I usually lean toward the funny when I write.  Emotional?  Not so much.  I'm sitting here going through it for the fourth time, just to make freaking sure that I want take Ian in the direction that I did.  Every single stinking time, I end up with my mouth hanging open and asking myself and my laptop "did I really write that?"

Apparently I did.

So... can I drop a few spoilers?  I think I will...

I was mean to one of my characters.  I skewered him in the heart with a dull spoon and gave it a hearty twist (metaphorically).  Many of my readers wonder if I laugh evilly when I kill off characters.  I don't.  I cry and blubber right along with them because it's pretty emotional for me too as I write it.  I don't enjoy it and it doesn't give me a perverse sense of enjoyment.  HOWEVER, when I plot twist in a magnificent sort of way that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, you can count on me chuckling a little gleefully.  It.  Cannot.  Be.  Helped.

And by golly, I was mean.  Not "death to you, character dear" kind of mean.  More like I yanked the proverbial rug out from under Ian and Arianna.  Silivus is evil and twisted in a manically superb way.  His mind is cruel and genius.  I can only question how far down the rabbit hole Ian will go to get back what he lost.

Then I realize that I am cackling to myself in a completely dead silent and empty house.  My dog is staring at me like I've lost it and she's a little scared to be around me.

I will spoil a few more tidbits soon.  Please.  Speculate.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The UNSAID Book Review

The UNSAID by Aaron Blaylock

I usually don’t post book reviews on my blogs.  I’m not a book reviewer.  My life is insanely busy and reading for enjoyment is for weekends and airport delays.  I’m a mom and life is crazy and free time (snerk) is scarce.  Which also means that if the first five pages don’t grip my interest and hold me, I usually put down the book and never pick it up again.

So in saying that, you can imagine that The UNSAID is already pretty awesome.  After my trial five pages, I HAD TO FINISH IT.  Cooking, cleaning, and communicating all got shoved aside as I devoured this book.  First of all, the fact that Maggie is a heavenly recorder of every thought and feeling that her charge, Eric, has pretty much made me freak out.  I found myself apologizing for every mean, stupid, insipid thought I’ve ever had and hoped my mental recorder was listening.

Maggie is charged with only being a recorder.  No matter how sarcastic Eric’s thoughts get or how involved she gets in his life, she is forbidden to interfere.  For me, this was fabulous.  There were many instances where I laughed out loud, gasped and yelled at Eric right along with Maggie.

So, when Maggie finds out that Eric’s love interest is going forward with suicide, Maggie does the unthinkable.  She takes control of Eric’s mind.  The consequences are hilarious and heart breaking.  I loved every second of it!

I’m not going to tell you what happens because you’ve got to go and read it yourself to find out what happens.  The book is beautiful.  Which reminds me that I need to hunt Blaylock down and have him sign my copy.

THE UNSAID
By Aaron Blaylock

5/5 stars

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

BOOK LAUNCH TWILIGHT ZONE

It’s launch week and that means that I have been thrown into the TWILIGHT ZONE!!  Not kidding about this one folks.  My life has turned a shade of weird that is stranger than fiction.

I mean, who knew that life could get this psychotic in a few super short days?  I suppose this is God’s way of keeping the creative spigot wide open for me so that I have no shortage of life experiences to write from.

Sunday was deemed unholy from the moment I woke.  Despite the spiritual feeding of gospel and God, I was working on a classic toothache with a tooth that has already been root canaled, gutted and crowned my most hated tooth in my friggin mouth.  I made the snap decision to live by the bottle.  The Advil bottle.  By day’s end, I knew I had to call the dentist.  I turn into that monster everyone wishes they could suffocate with a pillow in its sleep with that call.  I HATE going to the dentist.  But I knew I had to go.  I hiked up my big girl shorts and got on with it.

Monday is the day designated by the devil to torture human kind as hell on earth.  I felt like my face was going to flipping fall off and I was sporting a unsightly swelling.  I got a morning appointment with the dentist.  I had just enough time to drop the kids of at school, yoga, and shower.  I left my breath at full strength morning funk, because I just love my dentist that much.  I went into the garage, turned the key in the ignition and….nothing.  As in deader than a flipping doornail.

You know how you get those super friendly neighbors who swear they’re ALWAYS home should you just need anything, they’ll be there?  Mine were missing.  No worries.  I am married to the most-prepared-for-disasters man on the planet.  I hooked up the emergency battery and waited a half hour to get enough juice in my jeep to start it.  There was no way I was going to make it to the dentist and had to reschedule.  Regardless, I chucked on a new shirt because I’d soiled the one previous and got on with life (NOT EVEN GLANCING AT WHAT I’D PUT ON).  The shirt was clean, therefore it was wearable, and went into town to AutoZone where they were going to save my mechanically stupid butt.

On the way down, because my car battery was dying a horrible death, everything on the dashboard was on the fritz.  The engine light flashed on along with the skid control, tire pressure sensor, the gas light and a few other assorted blinky things I have no clue what they’re for.  I figured, I just needed to get to AutoZone in one piece and all would be well once again.  Things really got interesting as the wipers became possessed and switched on unexpectedly and then broke.  This was nothing to the fact that my car DIED twenty feet from the AutoZone parking lot.

I mentioned that the gas tank light was on, right?  Well, it was the only blinking thing that got it right.  I was totally and completely out of gas.  I got out and proceeded to push my jeep into AutoZone.  Every flipping car zoomed by like it was a totally normal Monday thing for a five-foot-nothing, one-hundred-twenty-something pound woman to push her four-door Jeep Rubicon down the road by her friggin self.  Go feminism for the win.  I will punch the next woman to say they don’t need help from a man. 

Sweating profusely and not caring what the hell state my clothes and hair were in, I burst in and pretty much demanded that the guy eating his doughnutty breakfast behind the counter sell me a car battery.  He complied a little too willingly.  In fact, he blushed, had me hold his tools, and got me up into the engine with him as he explained the intricacies that are car batteries.  It was awfully nice since I’d just spent the first five minutes of our encounter ordering him around.  In fact, he was more than attentive. 

In a moment of silence where the extraction of the battery took his two hands and two eyeballs, I happened to look down at myself.

The shirt I had put on was brand new.  I’d not worn it yet and was unaware exactly HOW LOW the neckline was.  Add the exertion of car pushing and my haste in dressing and my very attentive car savior was getting quite the show.  I do believe that “wardrobe malfunction” is the politically correct terminology as my girls were mostly exposed and gave my helper full view of everything from my collarbone to my belly button every time I bent over to hand him his tools.

He gave me twenty bucks off the battery and wipers and a free gallon of gas.

The Dentist came next.  Because, really, a bad day is not truly bad unless it can possibly get worse.  I have an abscess on the root canaled tooth and antibiotics as well as a future second root canal are in my near future.  I found myself swearing a lot.  I’m sure the full reason why he didn’t shake my hand was directly proportional to the fire coming out of my eyes.

But it does not end.  My week is NOT over. And what has started as a horrible Monday was just the beginning of my psychotic Tuesday.

Tuesday is the new Monday.  Tuesday is Monday’s evil twin sister, the snarky other half and the dregs at the bottom of the sledge pond.  Tuesday was the launch of my book into the readers world.  It was also the beginning of my blog tour.

Cue creepy music.

Tuesday dawns with an abscess still raging and I need good news, folks.  I pop onto my e-mail and I get my first blog review.  As I read it, my jaw went from mildly unhinged to dropped on the floor.  The reviewer could not finish the book.  The experiences she had at dead center of my YA Science fiction/Fantasy was so horrific that not only could she not continue reading, my word smithing had made her physically ill.  She was so traumatized that she indignantly proclaimed that I had scarred her and how DARE I write in such a way.  She could not believe that she trusted me so much and she just knew that I would write exactly what she felt I should.  How DARE I MISPLACE THAT TRUST!!!

Whaaaaat????

Not all books are for every reader, but there is such a thing as narrative flow.  Bad things happen to characters.  It’s what makes an interesting book.  If she was looking for fluff, well, she got the wrong author.  I do not write fluff.  EVER.

Okay, so…that was fun.  I cried for about an hour and then got over it.  Even the strongest and leathery author has to admit that there are a few critics that get under their skin.  We get over it. I went to bed thinking that Wednesday was going to be a snap after Monday and Tuesday.

MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Yeah….no.

Around 2am a massive thunderstorm rolls in and pretty much shakes the entire family out of bed.  My kids are up, the dog is freaking out and sleep is impossible.  There was a blinding flash of light and a crack so loud it shook the bed…or maybe that was just the hubs jerking awake.  Either way, after hail and a spectacular lighting show, we woke up to a hole melted in the street in front of our house.  The lightning blew out our garage door opener, the front porch light and light switch and internet modem.  As in fried.

That all made doing author business via crackly phone and spotty smart phone internet a total friggin joy all day.

It is now day’s end.  It’s only Wednesday, but I fear for my life come the ending of this week.  Should I die in some unexplainable way, my weapons collection is willed to my sons, my library goes to Ami and Kevin and all my artwork pawned off to whoever wants it.  Please burry me with my 1800’s edition of Les Miserables and set of Mark Twain novels. 


The universe has got my number.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

WELCOME TO ARI'S WORLD

Presenting the beautiful, the amazing, the one and only… Princess Arianna!!!

Okay, that was a fail.  Ari would hate the grand entrance and bravado anyway.  It’s just not her style.  She also really wouldn’t approve of me talking about her personal life.  After all, she’s a pretty private gal.

Arianna was a little difficult to create.  Not because I didn’t know who she was or what made her tick.  It was because I knew her a little too well.  Let me explain:

Ari has spent her entire life in fear.  Fear of her parents, fear of her magical abilities and fear of the harm she might do to others.  Of course, she’s not a naturally introverted person.  She wants to have friends, go out and have fun and just live a normal life.  But more than anything, Ari doesn’t want to be afraid any more.

Of course, sitting in your nice comfy homes, it’s easy to think, well gosh, why can’t she see that Ian and Corbin are good friends and they can handle her magic?  Well, because fear does funky things to people.  Ari has spent fifteen years of her life being told by her father that she has a dangerous disease.  Her caseworker, Mr. Churchill (aka Silivus the magician), further fuels the fear by making threats to send her away or have her tested. 

So, if you grow up being told you are dangerous, you are bound to pick up some issues along the way.  It didn’t help that when Ari was younger she accidentally put a girl in the hospital because she couldn’t control her magic.  This was a catastrophic blow to her, making Ian’s job in befriending her all the more difficult.  Why?  Well, Ari has a soft heart and a gentle soul.  She feels everything intensely: hurt, pain, sympathy, anger, happiness and, yes, fear.  Once she has experienced the intense fear and pain from hurting her friend, she was never the same.

Being a full-blooded Garfelian only intensifies her emotions.  The Garfelian race is considered the peacekeepers of the galaxy and the direct opposites of their Warrior neighbors of Bankhir.  The Warriors may win your war, but it’ll be the Garfelian peacekeepers who will clean up, heal the wounded and bring diplomacy and peace to your planet.  Ari doesn’t understand Ian, Corbin or the warriors.  It’s difficult for her to process Ian’s need to fight and his violent side when he switches into Battlelust.  It’s against the core of her nature.

When Ian and Ari swap trinkets to create a communication link, little does Ian know that he passed a part of his warrior-ness on to Ari as well as received a section of her peacekeeping personality on to Ian.  Those two are so tied up around each other, if ever they should go their separate ways the magical reverberation on the galaxy would be cataclysmic.  There is no question as to why Ian hates it when Ari asks for her crescent pendant back, but what Ian doesn’t know is that when she takes back who she is, her mercy, her peacemaking heart…she finally feels whole and complete as a person.  It also explains her craving need to constantly be around Ian.  It’s one, big messy knot for those two.  Which only gets knottier as their story progresses.

Creating Ari was hard.  It was painful and it was raw exposure.  Ari is me.  (Even the dorkier side that busts out once and a while...)

There is so much about me that I’d rather sweep under the rug or hide under a bush.  So much of my life was dictated by fear.  It wasn’t until I had grown up a bit that I realized fear was just a painful vice that threatened to squeeze the life out of me.  The only person stopping me from breaking free was myself.  Just like Ari.

As Ari discovers that she has so much to offer, it shocks her that people want to get to know her, be friends with her and love her.  She is gentle and kind and wouldn’t think a mean thing about anyone.  But even the gentlest of souls can be marred and Ari’s has scars all over hers.  It’s those scars we share that makes me love her.  In fact, as I wrote her, I became angry.  There is something so very wrong when a kind person is hurting.  Sensitive souls are so rare and so beautiful and it hurt to make her go through so much pain.  I wanted to protect her and fix her and the only way I could do that was to protect and fix myself.

I have big plans for Ari.  Big, big plans.



Next week:  Meet the horse that inspired Bob.  He’s pretty awesome.  And really fat.