Monday, August 26, 2013

WIP: The End Is So Sweet
I won't lie.  This summer has been out-of-control crazy with me either being a guest or me having guests.  It was fun.  Exciting. 

And frustrating.  

Ask a writer what her ideal vacation is and she'll most likely tell you it's a lot of intimate time with her computer.  Forget the romantic getaways to Rome or the adventure trip to Kilimanjaro.  I want a quiet place to write for days on end.

But when you've got kids and guests and a husband who's agenda is more filled up with doctor appointments than Taylor Swift's is with ex-boyfriends, you have very little writing time on your hands.  Little time to write means big frustration.  Ask anyone who bumped into me last week.  If I didn't rip their head off, well, they're just damn lucky.

So this weekend, I decided to let the house crumble around me.  I gave the kids the TV remote and didn't roll my eyes when my husband sat down in front of the X-Box.  I opened a bag of potato chips and a box of soup to feed the family.  I let them put themselves to bed. 

I turned on my computer and wrote for hours.  And hours.  And hours.
And I finished that elusive draft of my work-in-progress -- the novel I'm tentatively calling Sympathy for the Devil.  I finally typed in THE END.

Damn.  Did that feel good.

But that feeling?  It will be short-lived.  I've sent the novel off to my critiquing group.  Once they rip it apart, I'll have another go and I'll (eek!) send it to my agent and maybe some beta readers.  Who, I'm sure, will also have some things to say.  And then the whole process starts over.  Rewrites. More rewrites. More and more and more rewrites.  Edits.  Polishing.  Submissions.  And finally, preparation for publishing -- either with someone else or on my own.

(Don't even get me started on the marketing.  I don't want to think about it yet.)

So THE END is actually nowhere near the end.  Not really.  It's the beginning of a whole new phase in the life of this novel.

But for now?  For the next few hours?
I'm going to break out the champagne and chocolate and celebrate with myself.
Because writing THE END is so, so sweet.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Reblogging on Researching the Paranormal

Okay. I've got guests and we're busy all the time. Somehow there aren't enough hours in the day for me to write. And while I'm itching about the writing, I've decided to take a blog break this week by re-blogging a guest post that originally appeared on  The Cover Contessa on July 8
Next week normal life begins again. See you then with a new blog post!
 Researching the Paranormal

I stood at the curb, watching the garbage truck’s process down the block, waiting for it to come near.  At my feet were Hefty bags full of trash and a thin box.  Inside the box was a Ouija board.  I wanted to see the garbage men pick it up, throw it into the truck’s huge jaws.  I wanted to be sure that board was wrecked and out of my life.
Three weeks earlier when I had bought it, I was thrilled.  I couldn’t wait to play around with it, to contact the spirit world with my friends.  Thing is, when it worked – when the triangular piece that guides the user to different letters actually moved on its own – I freaked.   There was no sinister message and no items flew around the room, but I felt something. Something dark.  And the days that followed, every time I would look at the Ouija a sick sensation gurgled in my stomach.  I knew I had to get rid of the thing I’d wanted so badly.
That experience sums up my relationship with the paranormal.  I find it fascinating. Intriguing.  But the second I get up close, fear takes over and I shut everything out.  Yet here I am, writing novels with a paranormal edge.
The writing is fun.  It’s the research that can be freaky.
Mostly, I read books and scour the internet.  And I suppose I could stop there since what I write is fiction.  But I’m drawn to the “real life paranormal” and want to experience it, despite myself.  Sometimes I’m lucky and it just happens, like for Untethered; I left my body as a kid when falling down a flight of stairs.  But sometimes, I have to seek it out.
My most recent research discovery?  Channeling.  It’s like mediumship, only with higher beings.  The leader guides you through deeper and deeper meditation, inviting those she calls "spirit guides" to come to you.  To communicate through you. To use your body and voice to speak so you can hear them.  (Um, yeah.  I’m still reeling from the fact I signed up for this. And voluntarily.)
                Part of me had thought this workshop would be a bunch of bull – more smoke and mirrors than anything else.  And another part of me was terrified that it wouldn’t be.  That it would be all too real.
Well, it was real.  But thanks to the leader, it wasn’t scary.  Just…weird. Very weird.
At one point during the weekend, I let go of my fears for a minute and felt the energy around me change. A weight, like a blanket of electricity, settled over me and in me.  My left side began to twitch uncontrollably and I sensed something nudging me from the inside out.  My body felt warm and happy and…full. Just a little too full.  Like I wasn’t the only one in there.
My fears swooped in again and I cut the experience off.
I opened my eyes, sucked in a breath and wished the presence away.  It was enough to do the trick.  I sat there instead, watching the others. Two of my friends started speaking in a way they wouldn’t normally.  Their breathing changed.  The pitch of their voice was different.  So was their posture.  Their facial expressions. They weren’t themselves.  Literally.
Fifteen minutes later, we were all blinking at each other amazed at what had happened.  Amazed and unsure.  Because that’s the nature of the paranormal.  It can be difficult to believe.  It can be difficult to prove.  But it’s also difficult to forget.
Right now I’m writing a novel that involves the devil.  I’m sticking to books and internet for research on that subject.  But I know for other books I’ll be trying out other things, with both fascination and trepidation.  I’m open to learning about most anything.
Anything but the Ouija board.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Guest Post by Lailah, 13, Emma, 10, Elodie, 6: Untethered in One Page

Since it's still summer vacation and I still have the kids (and their cousins who are visiting for the month of August), I figured I would once again have them participate in writing my blog.  My two daughters and one of their cousins wanted to take part.  So here it is.

The writing prompt was the first two sentences of Untethered: "I'm stuck in this body. And I can't get out."

They then wrote the story.

Lailah: I'm stuck in this body. And I can't get out. So I jump up and down then I fall down and hit my head.  And I'm bleeding. I stop it. Just then I feel like I'm out!  No! It's just my soul.  I go back in and wake myself up.  Then I'm out.

Emma: I'm stuck in this body. And I can't get out. And I have a secret. A very special secret that I will tell you soon. Just listen to me.  You know I have secret powers -- powers no one thought existed.  I changed bodies from me to somebody else.  I'm trying to get out but I can't and I'm stuck forever in here.
"Hey, how are you doing?" asked this weirdo.
"Why are you talking to me.  I do not know you. Ahhhh!" I screamed.
He helped me to get out.

Elodie:  I'm stuck in this body. And I can't get out. HELP! HELP!  How do I get out of this body? Yes, I got it.  I take my hand and push it out of the body.  Then the other hand. Then I push my whole self out.

Geesh. I don't know why I wrote eighteen drafts and 340 pages of Untethered.  Looks like it can be done in less than a page.  Sigh.

Thank you, girls!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Is Summer Vacation Over Yet?

I'm crabby.
I'm whiny.
I'm sleeping horribly and in two hour spurts.
I've got more zits now than I did at age fifteen.
I want summer to be over with.

I need my writing time.
Then I will be sane.

Or, well, mostly.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Off Topic: Lemonade Stands and Too Much Hatred

A year ago we were back in Wisconsin on vacation when a white supremacist opened fire in a Sikh temple only a few miles from where my parents live. Six people died before the shooter killed himself.

My kids, who were born and are growing up in Switzerland, were shocked when they saw the news.

Their American cousin, too, was upset by the shooting and a few days later, when they set up a lemonade stand, the three of them decided to give all their profits to the victims' families.  They made $78.73 over two days of sales in the sun. 

Today I came across this article about an ex-racist and the son of one of the Sikh temple victims who came together to create an educational movement responding to violence with peace. These men are more than courageous. They've learned lessons from their lives and are doing something with that knowledge.  They are taking hatred to task. 

I think about hatred.  And how easy it is to hate.  And how we're so steeped in it, we no longer smell its stench.  Whether it be race, religion, politics, nationality or gender, we find ways to despise those different from ourselves, and they find reasons to loathe us back.  It makes you wonder if the world will ever move forward at this rate.  Or if society as a whole will keep succumbing to its basest instincts, not learning and instead regressing until we find ourselves killing each other for no real reason like total barbarians. 

Oh, wait.  We're already there.

I don't know why there is so much violence and hatred in the world.  Is it like anything else when we're born -- some people are born with misshaped mouths or unusual ears and others are born with a whacked out moral compass?  Is is something we're taught through generations of ignorance and fear?  Is there really an evil force at work? Or is it climate change, like this article suggests?

But there is good in us.  I think back to how many people were willing to buy over-sweetened lemonade to help a community in need. Of how once buyers learned their lemonade money was going to the Sikh temple, they paid their 25¢ glass with a five dollar bill and told the kids to keep the change.

Yet no amount of lemonade can bring back the victims.  And no amount of lemonade can quench the thirst for justice so many feel.

Not as long as hatred keeps giving us reasons to buy it. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

FINALLY! I freaking finally figured out how to add the followers button!!!

Well, better late than never. 

The Followers button?  Google Friends Connect?  I found that darn thing seriously evasive for, well, almost a year now. 

Hey, Katie, guess what?  There's this thing.  It's called Google.  You can search stuff on it by typing in a phrase.  Like How to Add the Google Friends Connect Button

Geesh.  Only took me a year to think of that.

So, I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but if you enjoy my posts I'd be happy if you followed me!  In fact, I'd be thrilled and honored  (and a lot less embarrassed by my lack of numbers!).

Thank you!