Monday, April 30, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter Z !

The Letter Z

Can you believe we made it all the way to Z? AmaZing! Puppy is utterly exhausted by her alphabetic efforts, as am I. Huge round of applause goes out to everyone who participated this year in the A to Z Challenge... and for those of you who didn't blog but kept up with the posts - think about it for next year! It's lots of fun and creatively stimulating... and exhausting, yes. 

Thank you very much to the wonderful bloggy hosts who came up with this idea - click on that AtoZ link on the left to go to the homepage and leave your thanks, too!

Happy End of April to All!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter X

The Letter X

The Letter X marks the spot.... in this case, it's showing Puppy where she hid all those bones she buried over the winter months. Under the picnic table. Which I'm going to need to move and smooth out before we can hope to use the table for anything other than a hiding spot....

I'd say Bad Puppy, but look how happy she is with the whole thing. How can I resist?

Where do you like to hide your treasures? What does X mark in your world?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter W

The Letter W

Puppy's favorite W has to be Window. As in the bedroom Window she gazes out of While resting, or the car Window she hangs her head from as We Wander about Cape Cod on our various Mom Taxi Missions.

Puppy mastered her Window early on, and learned to press the button to lower it herself.
Thank goodness for Window locks. What Would I do Without them???

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter V

The Letter V

The Letter V could stand for Voracious, as in Puppy's appetite. Or Vivacious, as in Puppy's sparkling personality. Or Vibrant, as she makes our lives with her mere presence. Or Va-Va-Voom, which is what the male dogs at the dog park seem to think of Puppy.

She's happy with all those words, as they are all positive.

V can also stand for Vacation. Our family went on a Vacation to Florida last week, and Puppy went to Puppy Camp. Well, she wouldn't actually go into the kennel, ever again after last year's stay, so we enlisted friends to take on Puppy and Big Dog for a week. Which was okay as we had their dogs for much, much longer.

Puppy enjoyed her Vacation with her friends, but look how glad she is to be home.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter U

The Letter U

This month, the Letter U stands for Universal Studios, where my family just spent a wonderful week on spring break. Puppy might not agree with the "wonderful" part, but she's heard the word enough this month to know it means "away."

It's good to get away.

In the Spring issue of CapeWomenOnline, one of our contributors wrote an article on the importance of getting away to recharge, refresh, and regroup, before the busy summer season on Cape Cod. If you have a minute, check out Jen Villa's story at - and while you're there, check out the rest of our fabulous articles and stories.

(and more on Universal Studios later, I'm sure!)

What did you do to recharge and refresh this year? Vacation or Stay-cation?

Monday, April 23, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter T

The Letter T

"T" is The first letter in my daughter's name, and also her nickname. If you ask Puppy about the letter T, more Than likely, she'll go find my daughter, whom Puppy Thinks is Terrific.

In The following video clip, she's playing lead guitar with her band, Blond Persuasion, which doesn't start with a T but is featured Today nonetheless, in honor of my daughter.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter S

The Letter S

In Sticking with one of my running themes this month, the Letter S is going to Stand for my current project, SON OF A MERMAID, which will hopefully be out on Submission really Soon. Several other bloggers in this blogfest are posting excerpts, etc. every day So I don't feel like I'm cheating. (Only a little.)

I'm posting a Short excerpt from the Second chapter, about the nightmares my main character, Shea, has been having.

From SON OF A MERMAID, 60,000-word YA adventure:

The blue-green coolness swirled around him as his body tumbled down through the water, arms and legs flailing as he struggled to hold his breath. Millions of tiny bubble of precious air traced the path of his descent, escaping from his clothing and through his nose.

Eyes wide even as the water rushed past, he watched a huge school of shimmering minnows part down the middle as they swam around him, surrounding him like a silvery box. Turning his face upward to the surface, he could see the blue sky receding further and further as he sank deeper into the water’s depths.
His throat and lungs burned from the effort of holding his breath. Darkness pressed hard against his eyes, and swirls of strange colors danced in front of him as his whole body strained against the lack of oxygen. 
I need to breathe, he thought wildly, his whole body feeling like it was on fire. I can’t hold out much longer. His feet finally hit the mucky bottom with a thud, coming to a stop as the mud swirled around his legs.
There, hovering before him in the water, swam a beautiful woman with flowing golden hair… and a green fish tail that sparkled with golden flecks among the scales. 
A mermaid.

Her big green eyes looked so familiar, just like the ones he saw in the mirror every morning. She smiled at him, reaching out to take his hand. His head pounded as searing pain ripped through his throat, as if his entire body would tear apart any second from the effort of holding his breath.

The mermaid squeezed his hand and nodded. The pain receded as Shea stared into her eyes, lost in their green depths. As she nodded to him again, he opened his mouth to exhale the stale air that pounded like a jackhammer in his lungs. Large bubbles rushed to the surface as he struggled to breathe, but there was no air to be had. Only salty ocean water rushing in to fill his mouth, his lungs, his body...

Shea woke with a start, clawing at the sheets and disoriented for a full minute before remembering where he was. At the Hansen’s house. Because his own home – the farm where he’d lived and worked all his life – was gone, swept away and crushed by the freak tornado.
And his dad was nowhere to be found.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter R

The Letter R

Puppy agrees with me when I tell you that the Letter R stands for Reading, Reviews, and Royalties. All writers know how important good Reviews are. But Reviews aren't enough.
My two published novels garnered wonderful Reviews from critics and book Reviewers. But sales didn't naturally follow. People don't troll Review sites to find new authors, usually. At one site, my first novel got a better Review by half a star than Charlaine Harris's latest Sookie Stackhouse book - and yet she's a gazillionaire, and my last Royalty check was for sixty seven cents. Really.

So maybe good Reviews don't automatically translate into Royalties, but what about bad Reviews? Would you ever consider buying a book that got panned by Reviewers? Probably not. I know I wouldn't - my novel-buying funds are too limited. And you know what they say about Karma, what a bitch she can be. So I hesitate to ever post Reviews that are bad. As in, I Read the book but didn't really like it. Wouldn't Recommend it. But I'm not going to lie, either. What's the point in posting a Review that isn't true? I'm not getting paid to Review anything, so false Reviews just shoots my credibility and my Reader's opinion of my literary tastes.

What to do? So far, any time I've promised to Review a book, I've Read it. The whole thing. I'm a fast Reader, and love to Read, so no biggie there. But when I don't like the book (or hate the book) I have a problem. I've promised a Review but can't give a good one. Authors all say they want honest Reviews, but Really? I wouldn't. Every book is not going to be my cup of tea - or yours. I have no problem giving a good Review when I like a book, and if you don't agree that's up to you and we can sit down and discuss over wine, like my book club does. But I hate going negative. I'd Rather break a promise to Review Rather than break another author's heart, even a little. If I was getting paid to be a Reviewer and had an obligation to my job, that would be a different story. But I don't. So I won't.

What do you do?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter Q

The Letter Q

Q is for Query in any writer's alphabet, even those who pose puppies with their letters. Queries - sometimes it feels easier to write a whole novel than the four paragraphs needed to Query an agent, but it's necessary in this business. As I work with new writers, editing their work, I can gauge how "serious" they are about the submission process by whether they've heard of the word. No, really. Some of them haven't, which is okay because their work isn't "there yet" either.

I follow Query Shark to try to avoid the pitfalls of being "that" Query. If you haven't been there, the premise is that literary agent Janey Reid accepts the Queries of brave souls and rips them to shreds to show you what you've done wrong. I also find Matthew MacNish's Quintessentialy Questionable Query Experiment blog to be helpful (and pretty funny now for A to Z fest, if you haven't been there yet, go check it out!)
But I'm also in the process of Querying right now, and am going to share my own Query here. Questions, comments and suggestions are all welcome!
Dear Agent of My Dreams,

The nightmares started after the tornado devastated the Maguire’s Oklahoma farm, leaving fifteen-year-old Shea an orphan. But the bad dreams have nothing to do with twisters – it’s the ocean that haunts him. When the grandmother he’s never met arrives to take him back to Cape Cod, he needs to confront his fears and figure out what really goes on under the waves.

Kae belongs to an undersea world hidden from drylanders. A servant to the Princess, she knows the upcoming royal marriage is the only way to end the bloody war that has raged for decades. Only two things stand in the way of a lasting peace between the rival clans: the ambitions of the foreign Regent, and the rumors of a bastard child. She knows he makes her heart race, but could Shea also be the son of the Princess?

SON OF A MERMAID is a 60,000-word YA adventure set on Cape Cod and in the depths of Nantucket Sound.

I’m the editor of CapeWomenOnline magazine, living on the shores of Cape Cod with my husband, three kids and two big dogs. My publishing credits include two small press romantic suspense novels, Unfolding the Shadows and Perfect Strangers, and numerous magazine and newspaper articles.

The first ten pages follow within this email as suggested in the guidelines on your agency website (or whatever your website suggests, I'll do it!) Thanks for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A to Z blogfest: The Letter P

The Letter P

So of course in Puppy's alphabet, P has to stand for Puppy. My Puppy. Even though she turned two at the end of January, she still thinks and acts like a Puppy so much of the time.

But two years ago, she was a mere handful of fur...
Cutest. Puppy. Ever.

Her favorite Puppy Place was to curl up at my feet under my desk as I wrote on the computer. At her current size, her head alone fits there, but back then she was the Perfect foot warmer...

Of course, now her favorite Puppy Place is the beach. Our beach or any beach on Cape Cod. Or any beach in Plymouth when we go to visit Grandma. This Picture was taken at Nauset Light Beach, in Eastham. Doesn't she look like she Belongs there?

Do you have a Puppy or a Kitty? What's their Perfect Place, the Place they love to be? At your feet or in the ocean? Or both?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter O

The Letter O

Oh dear, I'm Out Of ideas, and Out Of time to think Of a subject for this post. So maybe I'll just pose Puppy with the letter and people will be laughing and won't notice I've totally fudged On discussing a subject that Opens with the letter O.

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, April 16, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter N

The Letter N

Puppy says, "No, I will Not keep posing with your silly letters!" Poor Puppy, so hard being the spokesmodel for the entire alphabet... So we'll give Puppy a rest today, and say N stands for my son's band, NonCompliant. They've been playing together since 2008, a great feat for them and for all of us parents since None of them are out of middle school yet. My son will be the first to move on to high school... Next year.

Here's a video clip from their last concert...

P.S. Check out my new Navigation buttons, top left corner! I saw them on Matthew MacNish's QQQE blog and had to have them ;-) If you want to grab them too, visit Marcus at Writing Investigated and grab them for yourself! Don't worry, he makes it easy to steal ;-)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter M

The Letter M

The Letter for today is M, which goes along with feeling Mad and Manic all week long. But it's the weekend, and the start of the kids' spring break vacation, so I need to let it all go.

What better way to cheer up than M&M's for breakfast, right? My favorite breakfast of champions!

And yesterday I finished the total revision/rewrite/revamping of My Manuscript, so no More time to Mope. Time to Query - even though that's a Q word...

What do you do for a pick-Me-up? (Besides Martinis or Mojitos, which are a bit inappropriate in the Morning!)

Friday, April 13, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter L

The Letter L... is for Louie!

My sister came down for Easter with her puppy, Louie, who's only 8 months old. Puppy and Big Dog both Love Little Louie, and haven't seen her since December. They Liked the fact that she's getting Larger, but Let me tell you, she was more timid with my Puppy than she was when she was Little. Back then, she'd jump all over Puppy. This visit, it took her Longer to feel comfortable. But she got there, and the dogs all had fun.
Now Louie has Left for the farm, and Puppy is Left feeling Lonely. Hope Louie comes back again soon to play!

Now Louie has gone back to

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter K

The Letter K

Okay, so I totally forgot to even write a blog entry for K. Things have been hectic around here in so many ways it's not even funny. But it is busy, which is nowhere near a K word. So I'm going to cheat a little and post another excerpt from my YA novel that's almost done being tweaked. Hoping to get my first query out by the end of today.

So here goes... In this section, Shea meets Kae for the very first time. He's had to move from Oklahoma to Cape Cod to live with his grandmother, and is up at the beach walking the dog... again, Blogger screwed up the formatting a bit, so bear with me. And feel free to critique to your heart's content ;-)

Excerpt from SON OF A MERMAID...
Shea whistled for Lucky and turned toward the dunes, impatient to dump today’s collection of garbage. The waterlogged rope was pretty smelly, even stuffed at the bottom of the bag. The dog’s sharp bark stopped him in his tracks. He whipped his head back toward the ocean.

Lucky stood at the far end of the beach barking frantically at a little girl with blonde ringlets of hair and huge eyes. She perched on top of the rock jetty with her knees pulled tight to her chest, looking down at the big black dog.

“Lucky!” Shea dropped the bag of trash and broke into a sprint. “Leave her alone, dog!” He slowed a bit as he got closer. “Don’t be afraid, little girl. He’s usually very friendly.” With one last bark, the dog walked to Shea’s side, and lay down on the sand in front of him.

The girl turned her eyes toward him, and he thought he saw a flash of recognition flit across her face before she relaxed the grip on her knees. As she uncurled her long body, he realized the girl wasn’t so little after all. Actually, she might even be about his own age. Despite the early hour and the chill in the air, she wore only a bikini and her curly hair was dripping wet.

“You’re the Garbage Boy, aren’t you?” Her voice sounded like a cross between a whisper and a summer breeze. “I saw you here yesterday.”

He squinted up at her. Long damp hair curled down her back and clung to the tops of her arms, given her a drowned kitten kind of look. Her large green eyes were too big for her face. He decided that even though she wasn’t as pretty as Jeannie, or even Maria, this girl was… interesting.

She smiled down at him. The girl had a nice smile. He felt the muscles in his stomach clench and tighten as he smiled back. “The name’s Shea, not Garbage Boy,” he told her.

“Shea.” When the girl said his name, it tingled in his ears like music touching him all the way down to his toes.

After several awkward moments of silence he asked, “Okay, so what’s your name?”

“My name’s Kae,” she replied with a wide smile, her lips parting to show perfect pearly white teeth.

“Kay?” It didn’t sound the same when he said it.

“Kaa – ee,” she enunciated. She stood and stretched her arms toward the sky. He was right, she looked as tall as him. “You must pronounce all the sounds.”

“Kaa – ee,” he repeated in the same exaggerated fashion and shook his head. “I haven’t seen you on the beach before.”

“You’re the new one,” Kae replied, using both hands to tuck wet hair behind her ears. “My family is here every summer.”

Rich summer people? He remembered his conversation the day before with Martha and tried to imagine what a rich guy like Bobby Joe would do if he met someone like Kae on the beach. Probably not stare at her like a complete fool, he told himself with a mental kick. But he still couldn’t tear his eyes from her face.

“Why do you do it?”

His eyebrows shot up at her question. “Do what?”

“Pick up garbage, for Neptune’s sake. Your efforts are really just a drop in the ocean.” She jumped down from the rocks and stood next to him on the beach. “And the trash belongs to the land, not the sea.”

He stared at her, trying to figure out if she was making fun of him. She stared back, unblinking, cocking her head to one side and running her fingers through her hair. Shea noticed those shining blonde curls were almost completely dried. Does some hair dry faster than others? “It offends me when people treat the ocean like their private garbage barrel,” he finally answered, shaking his head. “And I’m not throwing it back in the ocean. I put it in the barrel so it leaves the beach.”

She smiled at him, and he felt his heart beat faster, suddenly uncomfortable under her watchful eyes. It was like she was looking right inside of him, and he wasn’t completely sure how he felt about that. “How come you’re not in school?” Shea wanted to change the subject, away from him, away from the trash on the beach. “I thought summer people didn’t show up until closer to the Fourth of July.”

She laughed, sounding like the tinkling wind chimes hanging in Martha’s kitchen window. “My parents need to arrive early, so I get to come too. We work for a very important family, and there is much to do to prepare after the long winter season.”

He adjusted his initial assessment. Not rich summer people, but summer workers.

“Where did you come from?” Kae asked, another question out of the blue. “Your voice has a funny accent.”

“I grew up in Oklahoma,” he told her. “But I live here now.”


Shea took in a large breath and held it for a moment, before blowing it out. “There was a tornado. My dad died,” he said slowly, carefully, as if the words themselves might hurt him. “Gramma is the only family I have left.”

“I’m sorry about your dad,” she said, holding his eyes with her gaze. She reached out to touch his arm. Under her gentle hand, his skin tingled, radiating warmth through his body. Shea felt himself relax, and was immediately glad that he’d told her the truth.

The girl touched her other hand to her neck and suddenly, a sharp jolt ran from the base of Shea’s spine down one leg, as if he’d received an electric shock. Lucky jumped to his feet and began to bark at the girl. Startled, Kae quickly released her grasp of his arm and took a step backward. Shea squatted down to scratch behind Lucky’s ear. “It’s okay, Lucky. Just static electricity or something.”

“I hope we can be friends,” Kae smiled, blinking her eyes finally. He noticed how long and thick her eyelashes were.

“Me too.” As Shea returned her smile, his eyes rested on the length of black cord around the girl’s neck. Her fingers were wrapped around the stone dangling from the end, a round black stone with a hexagonal hole through its middle, identical to the one he’d plucked from the waves the previous morning. 

“Where did you…?”

“Hey, you kids!” A loud, crackling voice interrupted his question. Shea turned toward the parking lot and saw a police cruiser parked there with its blue lights flashing. “No dogs on the beach,” boomed the amplified voice from the cruiser’s loudspeaker.

Hurriedly, he bent to clip the leash onto Lucky’s collar. When he looked up, Kae had disappeared. “Where’d she run off to?” he puzzled as he tugged on the leash. He and Lucky ran across the sand, stopping for a second to grab the bag of garbage.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A to Z blogfest: The Letter J

The Letter J

I struggled with the Letter J, because until recently there weren't too many J's in Puppy's life. 

And then she discovered Jellybeans.

Apparently, none of my kids like Jellybeans anymore (and no one told the Easter Bunny.) But Puppy likes 'em. I knew she was a sugar addict from the way she bounces to lick the maple syrup from the plates after the kids have pancakes... but she's never contemplated candy. Until now.

"Yum!" says Puppy.

How about you? What's your favorite spring treat? I think Puppy still prefers maple syrup, but Jellybeans are now a close second.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: I is for Interview!

I is for Interview... with Monica Leonelle

I'm excited to be taking part In a blog tour this month for Monica Leonelle, a well-known digital media strategist and the author of three novels, the first of which Is being released this month - SOCIAL PUNK.
The blurb for the book sounds pretty cool, and hey, the main character's name starts with an I !

Ima would give anything to escape The Dome and learn what’s beyond its barriers, but the Chicago government has kept all its citizens on lockdown ever since the Scorched Years left most of the world a desert wasteland. When a mysterious group of hooded figures enters the city unexpectedly, Ima uncovers a plot to destroy The Dome and is given the choice between escaping to a new, dangerous city or staying behind and fighting a battle she can never win.

I have my copy already and will post my review soon, but in the meantime, here are my Seven Questions for Monica:

1. Give a brief bio and tell us what kind of books you like to read and write.

My name is Monica Leonelle and I spent years working in marketing before following my dreams of becoming a writer. I'm lucky to now have the opportunity to help writers through my free email consultations and free writer toolkit at

I'm a sucker for young adult novels, probably because I never grew up! I love to both read them and write them. All my novels are suitable and appealing for teens 14 and up.
2. What's your favorite part of your job as a writer?

Probably helping others! I do a ton of editing for writers through my 100% free "First 1000" email consultation. It's so cool - writers upload their first 1000 words and I get to help them make their opener hook readers. You can learn more about it at

I also love when the book is done, and I get to hear what people think of it. It's really fun to hear when someone just gets what you were trying to do with a book. Of course, lots of people don't. But it's okay, because I learn from those people how to communicate better.
3. What's your least favorite part of writing?
I usually start to hate writing when I'm near the end of the book... I go into procrastination mode! There's something about crossing a finish line that can be so daunting at times.
4. Did you ever imagine yourself doing this when you were growing up?
Yes, all the time. I wrote stories pretty much every day, and I was obsessed with reading. I read 2-3 books a day, no joke. Every summer of won one of those Book It! pins. I was such a nerd.
5. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

I love marketing also, so I would probably go back to that (and to be honest, I still do a lot of marketing consulting in addition to writing and editing consulting). 
6. Tell us a little about your new release.

Socialpunk is a fast-paced thriller set in a future where everyone makes money through creating art. It's based a bit on my time working in digital marketing and has touches of social media that I think people in the biz will appreciate. There's also a ton of romance and a pretty awesome heroine, if I might say so!
7. If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?

I'd love to be able to pause or slow time. I feel like there's never enough!

Interesting, right? Now wait, there's more. Monica is hosting a contest during the month of April with the help of Rafflecopter. To enter, visit Monica's website and follow the directions! She's got some great prizes, including a brand new iPad 3 and a brand new Kindle Fire, as well as signed hard copies of her book! Check it out!
Monica Leonelle is a digital media strategist and the author of three novels. She blogs at Prose on Fire ( and shares her writing and social media knowledge with other bloggers and authors through her Free Writer Toolkit (
Links to purchase your own copy of SOCIAL PUNK:

Monday, April 9, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter H

The Letter H

In Puppy's alphabet, H could stand for Hallway - she always seems to be lying in the middle of one and blocking the way. But, it also stands for another of her favorite things...
Horseshoe Crabs.

Last year for A to Z, I posted a fun blog (I thought it was fun) about Puppy's love of Horseshoe Crabs... which I've pasted below, in case you missed it the first time around.
* * *
Consider the Humble Horseshoe crab. A creature that's pretty much pre-Historic, any way you want to measure it. None of which matters in the least to my Puppy. She just likes to play with them...

She finds a "good one" along the beach (but believe me, they're all the same) and then teases the other dogs with it... running away, dropping it in the water, scooping it back out, tossing it in the air... you'd think it was a piece of steak the way she guards and Hoards it!

(see the other dog looking at it? and the way Puppy grabs it, protectively?)

She tries to bring them all the way Home, but we tell her the same thing we tell the kids. "Beach things stay at the beach." Except, of course, for sea glass. (that always comes Home.)

Do you have any Horseshoe crab stories to share? Ever seen a Horseshoe crab up close? Ever find one under your dog's bed? Share!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter G

The Letter G

Puppy says the letter G stands for "Good Girl." It's her favorite phrase, especially as it's usually followed by a biscuit. Even without the treat, she loves being called Good. Big Dog loves being called Beautiful. What's the phrase that Gets your dog's tail wagging?

One week down in this blogging challenge - and I'm feeling Good about it so far. Some people have Great themes Going this year - If I haven't visited or commented on your blog yet, I'm certainly Going to try before the month is out!

Next week I'll continue with A to Z, but I'm also taking part in a blog tour for the release of SOCIAL PUNK by Monica Leonelle, with an interview, excerpt and maybe a review - I may not have the review ready by the end of the week, but it will be up before the end of the month. (I'm enjoying the book so far!) Have you heard of this new dystopian YA and the blog tour Monica's Got Going? Do you want to participate and be eligible for her Great prizes? Check out her website for more info at

Friday, April 6, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter F

The Letter F

F is for Friends. Puppy and Big Dog have lots of Friends they see out in the Field when we do our morning walks. All breeds of dog, all sizes and colors (now that Puppy is over her Fear of white dogs, thanks to her cousin...)

But For right now, the dogs are missing their Furry Friends who were here For Sooo long. The house seems empty without the extra Furry Fun of Friends Frantically Frolicking all day and night. Luckily, they get to spend tomorrow with their Farmer cousin Louie, visiting From Vermont.

(Here's little Louie, trying to look older... she's a lot of Fun!)

 But For today, my dogs are a just a mopey, no-Fun pair.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter E

The Letter E

Even Puppuy knows that if you're a writer, author or Editor, the letter E has to stand for Excerpt. Right?

For those of you who have read my blog for a while, you may remember that I have a pet YA project that I keep revisiting and revising and resending... and it keeps getting rejected. This time, I've attacked it with a more objective Eye, and killed many of my darlings that just didn't fit into YA. I'm almost finished with these (final) revisions and almost ready to resend.... and thought I'd post an Excerpt from the new beginning. What follows is the first scene, where we meet the main character. I'm not sure why the formatting screwed up but bear with me. And if you do read it, I'd love to hear comments/critiques. Really.

Excerpt from SON OF A MERMAID, 64,000-word YA:

What had started as an ordinary Thursday was quickly turning into something else. And it wasn’t even third period yet.

Tingling sensations coursed through Shea Maguire’s legs, zinging from his toes up into his stomach. It was as if some switch in his body had flipped into high gear at the same moment the school’s emergency system started its loud electronic beeping. Each beep over the monitors sent another vibration racing through his bloodstream.

Could it be just the stupid tornado drill putting him on edge?

He sat with his back against the cinderblock wall, at the very top of the gym’s bleachers, hoping desperately that no one would notice the sweat dripping from his forehead. Shea closed his eyes, as if that would make him invisible.

Logically, he knew tornados and tornado drills were simple facts of life in central Oklahoma. Plainville High’s cavernous gym had more than enough room to hold the entire student body. It wasn’t claustrophobia or nerves that had him on edge. It was something else. Something more. Almost as if there was some sort of charge in the air and Shea’s body was the magnet attracting it.

Finally, the all-clear bell rang and he heaved a sigh of relief as the tingling slowly subsided. 
“Okay, people,” said Mr. Kelley, raising his voice to get the attention of the students milling next to the bleachers. “The drill’s over. Line up and head back to class.” 

Shea stood, gingerly testing his legs to make sure they would make it down the stairs without an embarrassing fall. As he reached the gym floor, John Hansen spotted him and made his way to Shea’s side. John was taller than most of the other freshmen and built like a brick wall. The other students – and teachers – quickly cleared out of his way. “Hey, there you are, Maguire! Where were you hiding?”

Shea shrugged. He didn’t want to admit anything was wrong. Especially when he didn’t understand why his body was freaking out this way.

The big goofy grin lit up John’s face. “I was so saved by the bell this morning. No way was I ready for my history presentation. Western Civ has got to be my least favorite class ever.”

Just shy of six feet, Shea was considered big for a freshman, but even he felt dwarfed as he looked up at John. The pair had been friends forever, and Shea knew that even though John towered over their classmates, he was all heart. The baseball diamond was the only place John ever showed aggression in his passion to win. “Yeah, Mr. Kelley can be harsh,” he agreed. “I can never get all those dates right.”

“What are you talking about, Maguire?” John laughed, a low rumble that caused the girls in front of them to turn and giggle. “You practically ace every quiz.”

Shea scowled. “No I don’t.”

John kept laughing and shook his head. “Whatever. So… did you ask yet about Saturday? Mom said you could spend the night Friday so we can get an early start.”

Shea didn’t answer. He was distracted by another little zing crackling along his spine. He knew he’d never experienced anything like this before, but it almost felt like his body remembered the strange sensations.
“Hello, Shea?”

It took a minute before he registered John’s question.  “What? Oh, yeah, the Redhawks game. I forgot to ask.”

“Oh come on. It’s gonna be your birthday, Shea.”

“It depends on whether we get the rest of the fields planted before then. Otherwise, I’ll have to stay and help.”

“Your dad never lets you do anything fun.” They’d reached their classroom. With the overhead lights still off, the slatted blinds painted bold stripes of light along the desks closest to the windows, leaving the rest of the room in shadow. Darkness made no difference to Shea. His eyes always adjusted to whatever light was available, which came in handy when it came to early morning chores like feeding chickens or milking the cow.

John dropped his backpack next to his desk. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think your dad was trying to keep you locked away from the world.”

“Don’t be stupid.” Shea shook his head, his mouth twisted into a half grin. “Why would he do that?”

John shrugged. “Beats me. Hey, what if there really was a tornado, and it sucked away that stupid John Deere of yours?”

“Yeah, right. I’d never be so lucky.” Shea gestured toward the partially opened window next to his desk. Brilliant blue skies peeked through the blinds. “Not a storm cloud to be seen. Besides, that would just mean I’d miss the game for sure, since we’d have to go looking for a new tractor.”

The last few students entered the room and flipped on the lights. Two girls leaned up against the front row desk of Bobbie Joe Peters. Jeannie Sanderson and Maria Garcia, Shea noted. Of course the prettiest girls flirt with the richest boy in school. Shea scowled as Jeannie tossed her long red ponytail and smiled at some stupid thing B.J. said.

Jeannie glanced up, catching Shea’s stare. She leaned over to whisper in Maria’s ear. The pair both glanced his way and smiled. Shea felt his cheeks start to burn. John elbowed him in the ribs. “Dude, we’re not in middle school anymore. They’re cheerleaders now. Way out of our league.”

“Speak for yourself,” Shea said, and smiled back at the girls.

“Oh, yeah.” John snorted. “At least I play a sport. You’re not even on their radar anymore.”

“So what? B.J. doesn’t play a sport either.”

“He’s rich, you’re not. And besides, it’s not like your dad would let you out on a date when he won’t even let you come to Oklahoma City with me for a baseball game.”

Up in the front, B.J. had noticed he was no longer the sole object of Jeannie’s attention. He spotted Shea and his eyes narrowed. Suddenly, B.J. pointed his nose toward the ceiling and sniffed the air. “Do you smell something?”

The girls giggled as B.J. flared his nostrils and slowly swiveled his head toward the back of the room. “Oh right, the farmboys are in this class! You should bathe more, Hansen. You too, Maguire. Eau de manure isn’t as cool as you might think.” Laughter filled the classroom. Shea clenched his teeth as his right hand curled into a fist. B.J.’s really asking for it this time, he thought as B.J.’s next words cut through him like an old fashioned scythe. “No wonder your mommy ran out on you, Maguire. She probably couldn’t stand the smell.”

Shea’s throat constricted so fast he could barely breathe as he shot to his feet, his chair slamming over sideways with a loud clatter.

“Ignore him,” John said, reaching quickly to grab his arm. The fingers dug deep into Shea’s flesh, holding him in place. “He’s an idiot.”

“He’s a bully,” Shea shot back, trying to yank his arm out of John’s grasp.

John nodded and released him. “Totally true. But he’s still not worth another detention.”

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A to Z Blogfest: The Letter D

The Letter D

For almost the last month, D has stood for Dog Party in my house. We've been Dog-sitting for friends who went on a 3-week trip to South Africa to attend a wedding - really, South Africa - and today is the very last Day.

The first Day was rough after the Drop-off, and the visiting Dogs Didn't sleep a wink. But they've calmed Down and actually been a Delight. The four Dogs have been having one long Dog Party all month, Day and night. But at least they've been sleeping, too. Sometimes During the Day.

All the Dogs have gotten along well, played nicely, and somehow I've even been able to have all 4 on the leash at the same time to go Down the road to the beach.... okay, it's easier if my husband or son comes along and takes 2, but I can Do it. And they've been happy, which is most important.

I think my Dogs will miss their friends tonight (and tomorrow, and the next Day...) but my Daughter will miss her pillow mate most.

I'm telling my Dogs, "Don't worry. Dog Party at their house real soon. Definitely!"