Wednesday, February 27, 2013

From Miss America to Mslexia...

I haven't watched the Miss America pageant for years. Why not? Well, for lots of reasons: there's the raging feminist in me who can barely stomach the thing, there's the insecure girl in me who's terrified of seeing beautiful women in bikinis (complex, anyone?), and of course, there's the fact that I cannot relate to a single person on that stage.

Until now.

Miss Oklahoma, I feel for you.

I can imagine what might have been going through your brain the closer you got to that crown.  With every elimination, the diamonds must have looked brighter, bigger, and infinitely more attainable.  When you first stepped on that stage you were probably thinking it was an amazing accomplishment to even get that far.  And then the longer the night wore on, a little voice inside your head kept repeating "Maybe I can win!"  and as the numbers were whittled down to three that voice said, "Maybe I will win!"

 Alas, no.

You got so close. Second runner up.  Third place.  If it were the Olympics you'd have been on the podium.  You came close enough to have touched the glittery tiara.  Close enough to know you were in that competition for a reason.  Close enough to be taken seriously.  I mean, if number one and then number two cannot fulfill her duties, guess who's Miss America?

But for now, you are number three. It's awesome.  It really is.  And you know that.  Yet it stings, just a little.

I know.  I feel for you.

I myself am a runner up in the Mslexia novel competition.  Out of nearly 1,000 entries my YA novel Untethered finished in the TOP THREE!!!!   I'm thrilled.  I'm shouting it from the mountain tops (and I live in Switzerland -- lots of mountaintops here).  I'm even tweeting it.

Yet it stings, just a little.  Because when I entered I never imagined I could really win.  But as the longlist turned into the shortlist turned into the days before the final announcement, that insidious little voice tickled my ear and said, "Maybe, just maybe, you will win!"

Alas, no.

Winning isn't all that important, though, is it?  Well, no, yes, it is.  But what I mean to say is that being third is still a big enough deal to erase any doubts I have about that book being worthy.  It is enough to confirm what my fellow writers have been telling me all along, but what I wasn't sure I could believe:  Girl, you can write.

Thank God I didn't have to do it in a swimsuit.


Friday, February 22, 2013

The Next Big Thing

A friend and fellow writer, Daniela Norris, asked me if I wouldn't join in on 'The Next Big Thing' - a sort of worldwide internet poll where bloggers answer the same ten questions about a work in progress.  Daniela is awesome.  And persuasive.  And she's in my critiquing group.  So I said yes.

Daniela doesn't write the same stuff I do, but I can guarantee you'll like her work and her site.  Check it out here:  Daniela Norris

I will answer the same questions everyone else is answering and then link to other authors' blogs who will (hopefully) do the same.  The links to their posts are below my answers.

What is the title of your book?

The novel I've finished and am tweaking for publication is called Untethered.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The original idea came to me at the age of 16 after reading Lois Duncan's book Stranger with my Face.  The whole concept of astral projection fascinated me.  I didn't want to try it myself, but I couldn't stop reading books and articles about it.  I wrote a short story at the time.  Then fifteen years later I rewrote it.  Then, uh, let's just say even later, I turned it into a novel.

What genre does your book fall under?

Young Adult.  But adults can enjoy it, too. 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Pfft.  I would find any excuse possible to have Justin Timberlake or Robert Downey, Jr. in it, even though I can't imagine who they'd play.   I'd just want to be invited to the set to drool over them.  As for the characters, they'd have to be younger.  But I'd feel creepy getting all hot and bothered over a guy who's under, like, 25.  I'm not a cougar.  Yet.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

When the boy 16-year-old Sylvie has loved since 5th grade falls for her friend instead, Sylvie intends to get him by any means possible -- even possession.

When will your book be out?

Hopefully March. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Too long.  The subsequent 17 drafts took even longer.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Yikes.  That's not easy to answer.  Untethered is a bit different, focusing on real-life issues and emotions that we all go through as teenagers, but viewed through the looking-glass of the paranormal. 

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Like I said above, Lois Duncan's story got me interested in exploring astral projection in fiction. But much of the story also deals with self image. Warped body image is something that many girls -- myself included -- battle.  I think it's extremely hard to accept ourselves in this culture of "perfection".

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Untethered  was a finalist for the 2012 Mslexia novel competition!

The story delves into jealousy, obsession, out-of-body-experiences, gender swapping, friendship, and family.  Oh, and there's a lot of food in it, too. 

Here are the links to the blogs of some other writers.  Just click on their names to connect!

Rhiannon Douglas 

 PK Read

Mary Parlange 

 Gwen Ellery

Marcus Ferrar 

Jawahara Saidullah 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Off Subject: Football and Family


I  just spent ten days back in the States.  Wisconsin in February isn't exactly your vacation hot spot, but I'd booked the ticket while there was still hope of watching a Green Bay Packer Superbowl with my family.

Oof. That didn't turn out as intended.  Green Bay, you've got another year to get your butts in gear.  My advice?  Win the games that count, you /%*+@#s!  

So I wasn't invested in the Superbowl, but I did get to do other things like shovel snow, have a Shamrock shake, buy stuff on clearance and eat an awesome hamburger.  And, I got to spend time with my family.  I have no regrets about moving to Switzerland, but I do miss my family.  A lot.  And when I'm with them that I wish I could stay.

I have two brothers and three sisters.  Yes, we've had our moments.  When we were young there was the usual sibling infighting -- the days when my one brother chased me around the house with a Kleenex full of his snot or the times when my sisters tortured my other brother by calling him Susie.  But most of my memories are good ones:  The times Stephen let me wear his padded leather gloves on my feet so I could pretend I was a gorilla. Or the way Matt would make Kung Fu noises in the dark so that I'd think he was beating up the monsters I was sure were hiding in my bedroom at night.  My sisters were on their way out of the house when I was born, so I've always more admired them than argued with them.   I still do.  They're all so different, but they're all smart and funny and courageous and have extremely big hearts.

In fact, none of us are alike.  But we laugh together and reminisce and find common ground.

Which brings me back to football.  Say what you will about the game.  It's violent.  The players are overpaid.  That there's no real point in chasing a ball up and down a field.  Whatever.  But nothing can compare to Sunday afternoons with my family, brought together by those guys in green and gold.  I see my daughters fight and scream, "I hate you!" to each other and I wish I'd started them on watching sports sooner.  There's something healing about everyone in the room rooting for the same thing, about the common joy when your team wins or the common disappointment when they don't.  People from all walks of life come together over sports.  The idiots who take it too seriously and start fights in stadiums or online aren't celebrating the true spirit of the game.  It's about identity and camaraderie and competition.  Not hatred.  Some friendly teasing, yes (hey, I've got my share of Chicago Bears jokes), but overall it should be FUN.

And that's why I'm crossing my fingers for next year.  I hope the Packers will bring my family together once again.  That we'll fly in from wherever we are to spend three hours screaming in solidarity.  Nothing feels better.

But if that doesn't happen, I'll still go home and we'll still meet around my mom and dad's dining room table for pizza.  We'll swap jokes and memories and moan because we ate too much.

 And we'll complain, together, about how the Packers didn't make it to the Superbowl.  Again.