Monday, April 29, 2013

Fifteen Months Later

When I was pregnant with Spawn, I carried him all out front. I had what I referred to as a ba-donka-donk belly. It looked like I had a basketball under my shirt. I could set things on it.

I think this happens to some extent for all heavily pregnant women. Near the end, we are just so tired that resting any part of the body is a good thing, and that is why I think you see women resting their arms and hands atop their bellies. Sure, sure, it's to feel the life growing inside you, but for me, it was mostly about resting. I slept very little after my six month in.

Today, as I roamed around the lab and proctored a final exam, I rested my hand on what is left of my belly. I became conscious of what I was doing and wondered how many times I had done that after the pregnancy. I still get out of bed like I'm 9 months pregnant, but a few weeks ago, Fluffy caught me resting my arms on my tummy. Just habit now, I guess.

Anyway, so in the lab...I thought about resting my arm on my belly and how hard it was in those last months of pregnancy. It was too cramped in there, what with an 8 pound person sharing space with with my organs. If something pressed against me, Spawn fought back. If something pressed against me, my skin stung, and my inside felt uncomfortable.

For a while after I gave birth, my entire abdomen was soft and smushy, with reddish-purple lighting bolt-shaped stretch marks covering it like cracks in an egg shell. Now, there is a thick layer of soft and smushy, but under it, I've begun to rebuild muscle. My abs are stronger, tighter. The stretch marks are flesh-colored lighting bolts. When I rested my arms on my belly, they slipped off. When I rested my arms on my belly, my elbow hit my stomach -- my hard stomach -- and I thought, "There I am. Under all that destroyed mess of flesh and fat, there I am."

My body is ruined. It will never be as it was before, but I get these little hints.  There I am, under the wreckage. It's bittersweet. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Launch Day is coming!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013:

This is the day that the e-book version of Fairest goes live on Eternal Press' site and for Kindle on Amazon. From 1:00p.m. to 2:00p.m. (CDT) I will be in the Eternal Press chat room talking about my book and myself. To the few who read this, you are welcome to join me and hang out. You just make up a chat name, no accounts or anything else necessary, and chat away. Everyone I know and love is busy, so I expect is to be fairly quiet. Still, I think I'll be too wound up to be lonely.

EP link for my book: Fairest

Link to EP's chat room: EP Chat

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Book Update

The e-book for Fairest goes live at 12:01 a.m. pacific time on Eternal Press' website. EP offers five e-book formats: .pdf, .lit (microsoft reader), .pdb (palm), .mobi (works on a kindle), and .epub (which also works on a Nook). It will show up for Kindle at Amazon within 24 hours and then pop up at the various other vendors throughout the following couple of weeks. Vendors put the books up according to their own time schedule, so I can't be more specific. I'll try to keep tabs on this and post updates about it.

A paper version of the book should be available around the 7th on the EP site. Print is at the usual Amazon, B&N, and others, but on their schedule. E-books at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Blio, Itunes, All Romance/Omnilit, Overdrive/Content Reserve, Zola and others.

I'm supposed to have a book launch chat on the site on May 1st. I haven't selected a time slot, but my options are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (EST). I'm supposed to invite my friends, family, and fans to chat with me. If you know me, you know that I'm sitting here thinking, "These are terrible times. No one I know is going to show up for this thing, which is just as well since I will spend most of my time there not chatting but struggling to keep Spawn off my mouse." On top of that, this launch day is right in the middle of finals. I don't think this would be so stressful if I didn't have 4 or 5 other important things pressing on me all at the same time. Oh well.

Keep swimming, right?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Rain-tinted Glasses

          Clouds blanket the sky.  Everything is saturated and squishy, but I take pleasure in the sharp contrasts found only when the land is drenched.  Wet like this, things appear to exist more.  The world looks skewed, as if I have been transported to a realm similar to my own but where every color is deeper, bolder, richer.  Everything is off-set just a bit, distances seem further, and the empty spaces, emptier.  

          The tree bark is almost as black as the asphalt.  Where they reach into the puffy, gray sky, more naked branches, limbs, and twigs of the white oak are visible in the tops of the trees.  The ultra-green of the pine needles glows when compared to the trunks.  The vinca blossoms are purpler, the fallen leaves burnt orange instead of dry, dull brown.  The tiny, dripping leaves of the boxwoods seemed livelier, and the dormant grass, a warmer shade of beige.
          I first felt this shift, this different realm, as a child.  I pulled my mother outside and said, "Look how different everything is!"   

          "It's just wet, honey," she said and went back inside the house. 
          She didn't see.  Confounded by her reaction, I focused harder, trying to see the world as it had been when dry.  I couldn't.  I never have been able to, and I wonder how anyone with eyes can.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Due in May

Here is the cover for FAIREST, my modern re-telling of the Grimm's "Snow White." I turned out so well. Release date is set for May 1, 2013, via Eternal Press. Aint she pretty?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My List of Abused and Overused Words

I shared this with my Tumblr friends, but I thought I should post it here, too.

Why I need my list: As an aspiring author, one thing I have been told repeatedly is to edit the hell out of everything before trying to get it published. This stands to reason, as a manuscript full of typos and incorrect word usage is a turn-off for agents, editors, and publishers. Great, but no one has ever told me how to edit the hell out of something. I figured that grammar and spell checks factored in, but beyond that, I wasn't sure, and those checks don't catch everything. Thus, I developed a system for myself, and this list of words is a big part of that.

How I started my list: After I sent my mother the first novel I ever wrote, she called me and said, "I am sick and tired of Mr. Chuckles." I had used that word over 50 times in 300 pages. No one chuckles that much. Because of that, I did some searching <ctrl+f> and came up with a list of words that I abuse. I always search these when editing. For the overused words, I don't remove all of them, just enough to spread it out so you don't notice it. (The book I am currently reading has "diffidently" 20 times in 400 pages. That is too much for an adverb!) The others are words that are abused - used incorrectly or typed in error.

My List:
cliches and colloquialisms (grammar check catches most of these, for American English)
your/you're (a mortifying mistake for an author, but it happens)
there/their/they're (another mortifying mistake)
words that end with -wards should be -ward (toward not towards)
piece of [my, his, her] mind/peace of mind
you not inside a quotation
had/passive voice (you can't get rid of them all; you can't!)
is/was (you can't get rid of them all, and you shouldn't)
fuck/shit/piss/hell/damn (no one should curse all the time)
my own (replace with "mine" or just "my" whenever possible)
snicker/snigger usage (I don't think anyone really uses snigger anymore)
flop (my characters flop onto furniture a lot)
hum (related to sex scenes)
like (when I should use "as if," "as," or "as though")
words in place of "said" (don't over-do it)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Stone Skipping Over Water

Our relationship was like that - here and there only a moment of interaction but with enough impact to make a mark (not a bad one, mind you).

Our mothers played tennis together, and this was how we first met. My mother often dragged me to the courts and left me in the clubhouse with a lunchbox of toys. Even though I would've preferred being left at the swimming pool, this wasn't often possible, but I had an active imagination and could make do with my toys and an almost-house.

One day, I sat upon one of the bamboo sofas with neon palm tree printed cushions (hey, it was the 80's) and applied makeup to a Barbie head. He came in, looked at me, and said, "That's terrible, and look at her hair!" It didn't matter that he was six years older, he sat with me and showed me how to brush the tangled from her hair without ripping it out of her scalp. Why would he play with me? This, I asked my mother.  "He has a little sister. He knows your brother." Judging by how rarely my brother allowed me to play with him, I couldn't understand how this was an answer.

<long skip>

He sat with me on the porch of the clubhouse and helped me tear out dresses for my paper dolls. "Don't be impatient or you'll rip the folding tabs." No, I couldn't abide that. This obsessive trait, we mutually understood.

<long skip>

"Here," my tennis coach said, "Practice returning Jason's serve." It glanced off the top of my racket and hit me in the chin. He crossed the net to have a look at it. "Sorry," he said and smiled.

<long skip>

I stood beside an outdoor fireplace, Solo cup of keg beer in hand, chatting with another girl. I saw him and he me. "Oh my God, [Summa]! Is that you?" Yes, it was. "How old are you?" I was eighteen. "Really?" We talked for three hours.

<short skip>

I hugged him at his engagement party. By now, he was a dentist, and I was working on my bachelor's.

<short skip>

I chatted with him at someone else's engagement party, told him I was married and that I was a teacher. "You're too smart to do that." Well, kids need smart teachers. "It was good to see you." You, too, and it was the last time.

<the stone sinks>

Monday, April 1, 2013


I remember staring west, waiting and watching as the sun dipped below the tree tops, below the street that curved to meet our driveway at the top of the hill. I heard it then -- groaning, rumbling, rushing.  At any moment, I expected to see great giants crash through the three line to trample my house and my family.

"Do you hear that?" I asked my brother.  "It changes, but I hear it every night."

"It's just the trees growing," my father said.

Later, I learned that, whether it was air masses colliding or the pounding of my pulse in my ears, the sound was thunder.  Now, when I hear either one, I think, It's just the trees growing, and I'm not afraid.