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.