Melissa & Me

journalI’ll tell you a secret about Melissa. She’s me. Everything about her adventure in those first chapters are things I experienced. Right up until she runs away from the house full of stoned men, yes, that happened to me and I ran. I also found the steeple. Cold church steps and a blanket of stars were my sanctuary that night.

That’s where Melissa and I parted ways and she became her own person, with her own angels and demons, her own connection to the supernatural. When I was on the church steps, I felt the presence of my beloved grandmother, who had recently died. My invisible angel. And at that age, on the edge of seventeen and in deep shit, I needed all the angels I could get.

Melissa doesn’t have an angel; she has a guide. Natalia is a living being, another teenaged girl, who interacts on other planes of existence, in other dimensions. Her mission is to save Melissa from a murderer. Pretty big order for a fifteen year old. But then Natalia’s family has been woven into the world of Paradise Fields for generations, and she was born to do this work, traveling between worlds.

I found mention of Paradise Fields in a book on mythology, an interest of mine since I was Melissa’s age. Sometimes with writers, a word, or two words, resonate. And Paradise Fields resonated for me. In mythology, the Fields are a plane of existence akin to my own Catholic purgatory, only nicer. I knew I had to use those words, claim them, somehow. And so I did. I built a world far removed from anything in the myths and legends, intersecting my interest in superstring theory with many “what if” elements.

My novels are earth-bound things, firmly grounded in the here and now. But for Melissa, I let my imagination take flight in ways new and thrilling. I did some other new things with Sweet Melissa. It’s my first published novella, although the form is a favorite of mine. And it’s also the first published work featuring new adults and teens. All my novels have subplots with teenaged characters–now that you know what a little vagabond I was, maybe that makes more sense. I just get that age and its challenges. But I never gave myself permission to put the new adults first in a book. Until now.

Many firsts, but that’s what we writers live for, what all creative types seek with each project. To make new. Welcome to the world, Melissa.

New From Then

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Above is the header I’ve been trying to incorporate into the website for a week. Thursday someone will be helping me make that happen for real. Just a little preview before unveiling the new. She’s helping  me do a few other things, too. Also, I already forgot (again) how to wrap text and time is short today so just pretend I prefer this image this way. Eventually everything will work itself out. I’m confident. You need lots of that to be a writer.

I just finished a novella. The first scenes rely heavily on a short story I wrote many years ago about a trip I took many years before that. When I took the chapter to my critique group, I relied on them to let me know when anachronisms slipped in. Really, the entire trip was an anachronism, like saying “What a trip,” and not talking about vacation.

But I worked with what I had and then I asked a young friend to read and be ruthless. She worked her magic and finally I think I have a story from 1973 than works in 2014. That’s how it always works, at least for me. Writing relies on memory. Why else write but to capture those magic times when the world seemed new and full of possibilities?

Or at least that reason to write should be in the shopping cart along with love, sex, revenge, and death.

As I prepare to send my Sweet Melissa into the world, I’ll find out if I have succeeded in making over yesterday into something new. And it should arrive at just about the time the new header comes, too.

Blog Tour

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Thanks to my good friend, Terry Tyler, for inviting me to take part in this tour. I met Terry on Twitter; she was one of the first reach out & help me as a writer on Twitter. Because there’s a special way to interact as a writer on social media, and there are rules of etiquette, as well as accepted marketing practices, just like in any other social or business situation. Right. The questions:

What am I working on now?

I’m currently working on three books, all at differing levels:

♥ I’m doing tasks like filling out the art fact sheet and writing blurbs for my next Wild Rose Press release, Luke’s #1 Rule. Awaiting edits that should land on my desk any day now. I expect Luke out sometime this summer.

♥ I am also revising my indie paranormal, Sweet Melissa after receiving comments from beta-readers. Sweet Melissa will released on or before June 1 of this year.

♥ Finally, I am writing the first draft of Fast Eddie, my third book in the Blue Lake series with Wild Rose Press. Eddie and his bar and grill have made cameos in both previous Blue Lake books. I’m finding out some very interesting things about this mystery man. The secondary plot fills in Bob and Lily’s love story from Blue Heaven, cut short then by college and Lily’s issues. That deadline is October, so my plan is to write fresh material every day and have a great opening chapter for my critique group May 9.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I have two genres: contemporary romance and paranormal. One is e-published with POD and the other is indie and e-book only. I think that’s different right there. But my romances are different in that TWRP has let me grow beyond the normal boundaries of romance. I have subplots. I have other POVs. I am closer to women’s fiction than romance, but they’re just labels. My paranormals are different in that there are no vampires. I’ve created a unique world, at least one I’ve not seen done in fiction before. My world is a  mix of science (super string theory) and fantasy (flying and a talking moon mother).

Having said what’s different, I prefer paranormals that take place in an almost recognizable world. So my people do visit their other world and it helps them catch bad guys, but most of the story is set in our contemporary American world.

Why do I write what I do?

I love to read everything: blogs, magazines, poetry, short stories, novels, memoirs, physics, metaphysics, self-help, biography and the Sunday New York Times, mostly for book reviews.

And that might be why I have written in so many different categories. My first book, and only full length non-fiction work, Your Words, Your Story, is part writing memoir, part writing manual. I wrote it for a specific audience, my creative writing students, who would come to class all wanting to write different things. So I covered all the stuff I’d written and published to that point (2007), a wide spectrum from journalism and criticism to poetry and short stories to creative non-fiction. Even a screenplay treatment. And of course my blog, here since 2002.

After YWYS came out, I focused on getting my many novels published. Again, I didn’t stick to one kind of novel, but Luke’s #1 Rule is the book of my heart, the book I always wanted to write but also feared writing. That’s when I know I should write something. If it scares me, pushes my boundaries, it’s good.

How does my writing process work?

It’s a bit chaotic, as I also teach and tweet. Plus I’m on a quest for better health via food and exercise. So I try to write first thing. Often, I have to check for email from my publisher before “first thing” 🙂 Many days I end up tweeting for an hour or blogging for two before I manage to get those new pages written, but that is the plan right now. New pages for next novel every day. Start on them early.

So far, I’ve been writing longhand. I bought a new pen and notebook, a ritual for each new book. I researched some background on Eddie and his first love (they meet again at their 20th high school reunion) and wrote a bit from each of the four POVs. After I fill the notebook, it’s time to write a draft in Word docx.

I’ve tagged Edith Andersen, and Sylvia Hubbard, and Gretchen Riley, three wonderful — and wildly different — writers.

The Mysterious Series

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There’s been quite a bit of activity on the part of my unconscious self, and I’m thinking today is the day I am reining in all that ‘intuitive’ business. I have tasks needed done now, rather than spending my days chasing down just exactly what I am doing with this paranormal series called “Traveling Girls.”

Everything I do with these books is out of sequence, disorderly, not my usual MO while writing a novel. First, I started putting up scenes from Gypsy, the mother of the series, on my blog. Then for Christmas, I put the entire book on my website for free. Happy Holidays! Next, I  once again interrupted the book of my heart, just days from its being finished, to indie publish Gypsy I haven’t done a lot of promo, but expected I’d give Gypsy some free days on Kindle at some point.

Then a chance meeting with my Gypsy cover artist the other day resulted in me telling him about what I’d heard regarding New Adult series. (If Gypsy is the mother book, the traveling girls are her NA offspring.) One of the things I heard about NA series is that readers like the covers the same, not exactly, but similar enough to be recognizable. James* said “I have the perfect cover for you.”

I didn’t even have a name for the second book yet, although I had pulled the manuscript out of the deep file it was buried in. So James and I did a bit of brainstorming and between us figured out how to fit “Traveling Girls” into the cover. I found my perfect title. The image is stunning, but really, a cover before a properly edited story? I just didn’t want him to sell it to anyone else. Once he sells a cover, he takes it off his “buy” shelf.

So I decided it would be fun to put the cover up as a blog post. Ha! I have this thing, I don’t know why, but many, many of my photos get cut off when I transfer them from my pictures to Word Press. I tried so many fixes, and my lovely friend Bodicia offered to help as hours were going by and I was not getting the image right.

I tried a few more things and presto! I had my blog entry. Just the new cover shot with the new book title, but I loved it. The title was at the bottom instead of the top, but that’s fine. Then I noticed my sidebar was blank. Oh dear. I went ahead and tried to correct it but when all came to nothing, took Bodicia up on her offer to help. She restored my book images and links as well as some other stuff.

I do have plans for this series that mysteriously inserted itself into my conscious mind, front and center, at a not-so-great time. Maybe it’s good cosmic timing. You will be hearing more about this paranormal series soon, but for now, I’m keeping it under wraps until I can wind up that book of my heart that I finally finished.

*If you’d like to inquire further about James and his work: aepbookcovers@gmail.com