My Novel

When I tell people that I’m a writer, one of their first questions is always, “What’s your book about?”  That’s a hard one for me because, as it turns out, I suck at summarizing.  Last week I went to a writing workshop in Seattle and was fortunate enough to get to pitch my novel to an agent.  Guess what, pitching is basically summarizing your novel.  Bummer.  Luckily, I pitched to a fantastic agent who managed to understand all my floundering about and she liked my story.  She asked to see the full manuscript, which is a great honor for me.  Doesn’t mean I’m getting published, but it’s a step.

So, point of all of that rambling is that I’m trying to get better at summarizing.  My current novel, WITHIN, is a YA Gothic Fantasy.  What that means is its a Fantasy book for Young Adults (although adults can read it too, I happen to love YA books) and it’s set in the Victorian Era, hence the word Gothic.

LUCY GELLING is a seventeen year old girl completely isolated from the outside world of Victorian England.  Her adopted family fell into disgrace with the Prince Regent, and now lives in seclusion on the Isle of Man.  When JAMES stumbles up the path to her Manor, he is under the impression that it is abandoned and is intending to use it as a hideout.  He is trying to outrun a horrible secret that could see him hanging at the end of a noose.  Lucy takes a chance and promises to hide James, even though he won’t share the details of his past.

Both lonely, they quickly become friends and begin to develop feelings for each other.  James reveals that he is hiding because he killed a boy who was tormenting him at school. Lucy accepts this and shares her secret; she thinks she’s being haunted.  She has nightmares that leave her with injuries on waking, and is followed at night by shadows that belong to no one.  She has shared this with her family, but they tell her that she is imagining things.

One night she feels compelled by a strain from a violin and in following the sound, sees death’s head with glowing eyes staring at her from an abandoned room.  Terrified by the sight, Lucy convinces her nanny to tell her something of the family’s history.  She learns that they are not the people she thought they were, but in fact have pasts littered with secrets, lies, and bodies.  But even the nanny will not tell Lucy of her birth.  James promises to help her find the truth of her past, but the harder they look the more frightening things get for Lucy within the Manor.  An attempt on her life finally opens her eyes to the truth; someone or something is out to get her.

James promises to take her away from it all, but can she leave without learning the secrets that her family are holding so close?  As the Manor walls begin to close in on her, Lucy may learn that the truth is the most frightening thing of all.

I am currently in the process of querying agents about WITHIN, which means I am looking for a literary agent to represent my work.  I will post excerpts from this and my other works here on my blog.  Hope you like my summary.  If you like my blog, please be kind and register.  That way you get emails whenever I post a new blog and you get to comment.  Just scroll down to Meta and click on register.  You will put in a username and an email and it will send you a link.

Thanks for reading!

Harper Lee and Today’s Readers

To Kill a Mockingbird was published forty-five years ago.  This year Harper Lee, age 88, will release the sequel that no one expected.  Unquestionably it will be well written, interesting, and probably, if not as important as her first, at least a well recognized piece of literature.  But Go Set a Watchmen will be published into a very different world than To Kill a Mockingbird.  Now, I’m not saying that this story is no longer relevant, far from it.  I’m simply curious to see how today’s readers receive and perceive Lee’s work differently now than how it was perceived in 1960.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a book about racial injustice and the end of childhood innocence.  Lee has been quoted as saying that the book was inspired by events in her own life, most importantly on an event she witnessed in 1936, as a ten year old child.  The novel received a Pulitzer Prize, and though far from being the only novel tackling the race issue, it is probably the one most read.

In 1960, Brown v. Board of Education was not even a decade old and segregation was dying a slow death.  The Civil Rights Movement was in the forefront of politics and nearly everyone had a heated opinion.  Into this hotbed of controversy, Lee published her novel that told the story of Scout, a young girl living in the South.  Through her eyes, Lee shows a small town where white men are believed and protected, even when the evidence against them is overwhelming.  We felt Scout’s horror at the outcome of the trial against Tom Robinson.  As her childish belief in the system of justice and in her father’s power are destroyed, we too were disenchanted with the system that would condemn an innocent man simply because of his skin color.

Now, those are the emotions that I felt reading that book in the early nineties, a time where segregation was an abhorrent tradition that ended long before my birth.  I can well imagine that not everyone had that reaction when first reading this book in the sixties.  But it was well received and I believe it aided the Civil Rights Movement.

Fast forward to July 14, 2015 and we will read Go Set a Watchman for the first time.  I don’t know much about this book except that it features the same characters and is narrated by Scout as adult, visiting her father in her hometown in Alabama.  That town was plagued by prejudice in 1960, will anything have changed?

Though far from perfect, we have come far on the issue of racial injustice, but America still suffers greatly from prejudice.  Daily, people are bullied and persecuted for having different skin color, beliefs, or life styles.  Will Lee tackle any of these issues in her book, or will she simply use it as a platform to show us where Scout, Atticus, and possibly Boo Radley are in their lives?  Knowing Lee for the fearless writer that she is, I tend to think that once again, the earth will move.

What do you think?  Will Harper Lee pull out another Pulitzer Prize?  How do you think readers today differ from To Kill a Mockingbird’s generation?

Inspiration – Where Does It Come From?

I’m inspired today.  Does that mean I woke up from a dream that gave me a great idea that I just had to jot down?  Nope.  Did I read something amazing that inspired me to be a better writer? Wrong again.  Although both of those things occasionally happen, it’s not the norm.  Most mornings I wake up and it’s a marathon to get the kids up and dressed and off to school.  Then I come home and there’s a mountain of work for me here too.

Even though I’m home all day, there are a million things that take up my time.  Cleaning, cooking, running errands, volunteering for the kids’ endless activities, third grade division homework – it’s a wonder some days that I have time to shower (some days I don’t bother – shh).  I could easily go days or even weeks without making time to write.  But that is exactly what I have to do.  I have to make time to write.  I have to sit down at the keyboard and decide to write whether I’m inspired or not.  And most of the time it’s not.  I might feel like crap, I have my mind on other things, or I might feel self conscious and think I’m wasting my time trying to be a writer.

But a funny thing happens when I sit down and make myself write.  My fingers fly across the keyboard and a story begins to flow.  Sometimes it’s magical, but most of the time it’s a lot of crap with some good stuff thrown in.  But that’s what the delete key is for.  And that crap is helpful, it gets you moving and helps fertilize your mind for the brilliant ideas that come next.  Amazing things happen when you feed your art.  On that note, there is a book you should check out.  It’s called The Artist’s Way, and it’s a little cheesy but it’s about feeding your creativity.  It can help you to become a better artist or even just to add more creativity to your daily life.

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Living in a Bubble

I’m back.  I took a small break from blogging, writing, and pretty much everything last week.  My joints were swollen and red, and it hurt to even try to make a fist.  It’s part of Crohn’s for me.  Three years ago, after my son’s birth, the Crohn’s spread from my intestine into my joints.

I mention this not for sympathy, but to get you into my frame of mind.  When I hurt, I shut down.  I crawl into myself and close everyone else out.  It’s my survival mode.  And suddenly, out of nowhere that black cloud of depression descends to hang over my head, threatening to suffocate me.  Luckily, I was able to get out from under it quickly this time, and I’m up and moving again.

It’s amazing how quickly I can go from up and moving, happy and active to curled in the fetal position in bed.  It’s frustrating and it seems after twenty years I would have better coping skills.  But the truth is, shutting down is how I cope.  When I hurt, it hurts my family.  So, I shut them out of it, best I can.  Living in my little bubble I feel somewhat safe.  And when the pain recedes, I write.  It helps me breath fresh air back into my life and reorient myself as a person.  It keeps me sane.

I know a lot of people suffer from daily pain.  Whether it be back pain, joint pain, headaches, or stomach, daily pain can drag you down to a bad place.  It’s hard to cope with your daily schedule, work – parenting, etc – when you’re fighting a battle against your own body.  Even if we retreat to our bubble for a time, we cannot remain there.  That’s not life.  How do other people cope with pain and illness?  What brings you back to normal?

Creativity – the new Antidepressant?

I tend towards depression, always have.  It’s not surprising, I have a chronic illness (Crohn’s disease) and a lot of the medication I take causes depression.  In addition, when I’m in pain, I’m depressed.  But we all deal with depression in some form or fashion in our lives.  Whether it’s after a tragedy, during a difficult time in our lives, after a setback or failure, or even simply a blue day because of the weather.

I take medication for depression, but I’ve learned that there is one surefire way for me to deal with the blues – to write.  On days where I spend time writing, adding pages and chapters to a current book, or rewriting what I’ve already written, I have a general feeling of well being.  I feel balanced and in control.  I’m more patient with my children and husband, and I’m more likely to get things done around the house.  On the other hand, if I ignored my writing, I’m cranky and short with everyone.  I go to bed feeling like I got nothing accomplished, even if I cleaned the house or finished a to do list.

Writing has become necessary to me.  It’s my lifeblood, it’s my passion.  It lifts me up and makes me a better person.  This seems to ring true for a lot of creative people I know.  What is your passion?  Do you feel better after an afternoon creating?  Do you feel like you’ve accomplished something?  If so, we may have discovered a way to get us through the cold months of winter, when tempers are short and moods are low.

Comment and tell me how you fight the blues.  Or about a time when you fought depression and won.  Are you fighting depression now?  Message me, I’ve been there.

New Year, New You?

So, new year, new you? I never understood that concept. For some reason, January 1st doesn’t seem like a momentous day to make changes. It’s not really any different than December 31st. We have to remember to write a new date on our checks (if you actually still write checks – I do) and we pay taxes yet again. But why do we always save our resolutions and changes for this particular date? What magically changes at midnight?

To be clear, I don’t disagree with the idea of bettering oneself. But why must it only be once a year? Why not make resolutions all year long? With that in mind, it’s time to get back to my writing schedule. Between a hectic move, a nasty virus that made the rounds at our house (twice), and Christmas, I’m a little behind. But with the kids back in school and the decorations down, it’s time to get back to work. So, perhaps there is something to the first of the year. A time of renewal and reorganization. Or maybe most of us are just so happy the kids and hubs are out of the house that we feel like singing.

What are your goals this year?

Current Obsessions

I don’t like books or characters, I obsess.  I search them out on the web, pin pictures, read articles, and generally drive everyone nuts!  Muggle.net was the greatest invention ever at the height of my Harry Potter obsession (still obsessed -always).  My pinterest boards are full of Outlander

 

Harry and Snape

“You have your mother’s eyes.

and Mortal Instruments pins.  Don’t even get me started on Game of Thrones!

I tend to read or watch a movie in order to lose myself in a world.  Once lost, I like to stay awhile and hang with the natives.  I have found this to be a common theme with true nerds like myself.  Especially those of us who are fans of fantasy.  It’s much more fun to spend the day as a wizard, shadowhunter, or elf instead of plain old me.

My current obsessions are Magnus Bane from the Bane Chronicles, “Supernatural”, and my own moody Victorian world from my book WITHIN.  What are you obsessed with and how to you feed your obsession?

What’s a Blog?

So, I write.  And a read.  I chase my kids around; finally got the little one potty trained.  I clean and occasionally I make things with a hot glue gun.  Not very interesting.  So, what to blog about?  Not parenting; too many blogs as it is and I don’t really know what I’m doing anyway.

But here I am, with my own platform, to talk about being a writer.  I just learned to call myself that actually.  For years I refused to call myself a writer.  I thought that term was reserved for people with published works, or bylines.  But that’s not really true.  Anyone who puts pen to paper (or fingers to keyboards) has a right to call themselves a writer.  It’s about more than publishing deals and book tours.  It’s about taking the time to pour your heart out and create a story.  It’s when you stop talking about writing a book and start putting hours in.  So, I’m a writer.  It’s empowering to call myself that.  I’ll end this post with my favorite quote by Ernest Hemingway, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Are you a writer?  I’d love to hear from you.