Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stars on the Ceiling

Recently my oldest son and my youngest daughter switched rooms. This of course, entailed redesigning, painting, and reorganizing both rooms.  Once my daughter was happily settled into her hot pink with zebra accented space. I went to work on making her former, purple room acceptable for an eighteen year old boy. His main request…please take down the dozens of glow in the dark stars.  These stars had been securely fastened for NINE LONG YEARS.

Somewhere between carefully pulling down each star and scraping off the sticky putty that came with the stars, I had a thought. In many ways, people are just like these stars. Let me explain.  

Each person that comes into our lives whether for just a few minutes or for years stays with us.  Some of them are like the small stars, not offering much light, but cumulatively valuable. Then there are those like the largest stars in the pack. They fill our life with wonder. These might be our best friends or family.  They offer light when things seem dark and guide us along our way.  These are the ones we can't live without.

All these people, both of great and small influence will someday be taken from our lives. Some we purposely leave behind. Others are taken by moving or changes in our lives or theirs. Worst of all, some disappear when they die leaving our life dark and cold in spots.

The influence people have in our lives is not just the glow of the star but also the like putty that in my daughter's room held the stars securely to the ceiling.  I only had my mother for three short years and although she died from cancer, I see her influence “sticking” in my life all the time. I believe it is the same with other people.

It's one of the gifts of the universe. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant each person teaches us something.
Imagine if we chose each interaction carefully, thinking of what we were sticking to people and what would stay with them when we were gone. What if we literally carried a star that had the words we wanted to say on it and handed it to each person we spoke to. I know for me, it might change the way I treat people. I might take more time, offer more kind words. What do you think? Do you believe people "stick with us." Take a second to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sneak Peek for The Second Secret!!

“Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”
Benjamin Franklin,

Here it is! The first peek of my latest, and must add very fun WORK IN PROGRESS!  This young adult book is all about secrets, the ones you hide and the ones you can’t tell, even if you want to.  Watch for more info and publishing dates. Meanwhile, here’s a teaser from THE SECOND SECRET.


I gathered my backpack more so that I could carry it like a shield in front of me and followed Mr. Shoop to his office.  I jumped when he closed the door and I heard the mechanism click.  My principle came around to his side of the desk and sat in his chair. He kept his back straight and his hands on his lap.  He’d been at my baptism. He’d given me awards and had dinner at our house but I all I saw when I looked at him was him killing in cold blood.

I wanted to grab him by the shirt and scream. Why, why would you do that, but I knew there was still a chance that he didn’t know it was me on the porch and staying anonymous could keep me alive.

His tone of voice was all business. “Thank you for meeting with me,” he began. “I wanted to see how you were doing.”

The total insanity of the situation was almost too much. How was I doing? I would’ve been doing much better with living parents. 

“I’m fine,” I forced myself to say.  He pulled his chair around his desk so that we were only a few feet apart.  My stomach churned the acid like a volcano ready to erupt. If I vomited, I’d make sure it landed in his lap.

He looked as if he might reach out touch me, but he didn’t. Thank goodness we lived in a litigious society and administrators had to keep their distance. Still, being so close to him made my skin crawl.  I pulled my backpack tight to my chest.

“I know it was your eighteenth birthday and you were at Ally’s when your parents were killed. Is that right?” His dark eyes seemed to search mine anticipating a specific answer. His brazen probing was pushing my anger to override my immediate fear. 

“Well, according to police, I was running from a bear about that time.” I said wryly.  Mr. Shoop cocked his head to the side as he listened. “And then I was with Liam and Ally the rest of the night. Why do you ask?”  

Mr. Shoop’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. He was not impressed that I answered his questions with questions of my own. I knew I was acting dangerously rash, but sitting so close to my parents’ murderer incited me momentarily making me forget my fear.

“Well, dear, I know it was a terrible night and wanted to make sure you were surrounded by friends. I want you to know we all support you.”

Liar, liar, pants on fire. A children’s rhyme came to my mind and I wished I had a match right about then. His pants looked highly flammable.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Advice From a LIghtly Seasoned Author

“All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.”
—Steve Almond, WD

I once heard this process described as the “promise to your readers.”  When a person starts your book, what have you promised to give them? Will they leave believing in true love? Will they discover murderer or will the tables be turned on them? Can you make them accept Vampires and Angels as something so vivid and real that they flirt with the thought that maybe they do exist?   

This is why so many readers love and simultaneously hate cliff hangers. After all, who really wants to be dangling over the edge of a thousand foot drop?

If I could give any advice to a new author it would be don’t try to impress your readers with whirly-swirly fancy words.   Don’t rely on gimmicks like cliff hangers and contrived action that doesn’t add to the storyline.  This is a subjective field. One publisher will tell you this is right while another while forbid you to do the exact same thing. It’s exhausting and taking everyone’s advice will suck the creativity out of you faster than you can say I QUIT!

Recently, I’ve developed the skill of plugging my ears and saying La, La, La, La when well-meaning but contrary advice is doled out.  I've found that the only master worth bowing to is the well told story. That's what readers want, to get lost in an unforgettable adventure. They want a ticket out of reality and you, the passionate writer have the ability to create just what they crave.

Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying sloppy writing is okay or lazy, hole-filled plot lines do the trick. I’m just saying that at the end of the day, the contract is between you and your readers, and trust me, they’ll tell you if you’re doing it right!

Take heart aspiring writers, this field always needs fresh talent. Now go, write your heart out. Be prepared to re-write your heart out after that, but whatever you do, if you want to become great, don’t give up,

Well, I’m off to work on my writing. Thanks for stopping by.