Lucky 7 & An Unlucky Fairy Godmother

One of my very favorite indie authors, Kait Nolan, tagged me for the Lucky 7 challenge. The rules?

Go to page 7 or 77 in your current WIP.

  • Go to line 7
  • Post on your blog the next 7 sentence or 7 lines — as they are!
  • Tag 7 people and do the same

A Little Fairy Dust coverSo here’s my entry from page 7 of A Little Fairy Dust, the next short story coming out (hopefully) in August! Faye is a fairy godmother in training, Jet is her ex, and she gets caught working a little magic.

“What is it, Faye?”

“Why should I tell you?” I dropped my caught-off-guard tone and moved to my he’s-still-a-liar tone. He’d hid plenty from me, so whatever I was up to was none of his business.

“Because you might be doing something else to sabotage the team.”

“Something else? What did I do before?”

Jet tilted his head and held up his casted hand, like it was a smoking gun.

“I didn’t do that,” I answered. “You punched the wall.”

[Now imagine a serious, booming voice.] “Why did Jet punch the wall? Why is he blaming Faye? Is Faye sabotaging the football team? Why is this guy named after a plane?

“Find out when you read A Little Fairy Dust — coming soon!” 🙂

ROW80 Goals

It’s time again to announce my goals for the next round of A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Last round, I set only five goals and did reasonably well reaching them. I’m going to keep it streamlined once again.

1. Finish editing Sharing Hunter, young adult contemporary novel. I’m already making better progress on this, by the way.

2. Edit, polish, and release two more short stories in my Paranormal Playground series. Release dates will probably be mid-August and late September.

3. Read 12 books. This remains a good number for me, and my reading will include both fiction and nonfiction.

4. Attend RWA Conference and Day of YA in San Antonio and follow-up as needed. The conference is July 23-26.

That’s it! A few specific goals that are do-able, yet stretch me all the same.

I am forgoing sponsor duty this time around, since summers are kind of crazy for me, but I’m glad to stay involved. ROW80 has been a boost to my work productivity and a great chance to support other authors. If you’re a writer looking for some inspiration, motivation, and/or accountability, check it out here.

How’s your writing or your week gone? What goals have you set for yourself? And, just for fun, who’s your favorite fairy in fiction?

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My Name is Julie, and I’m a Binge-TV Addict

Binge-watch is in the dictionary now. Check out the Dictionary.com definition (based on Random House):

binge-watch definition

I still remember the days before Netflix and Hulu, before DVD players, before VCRs . . . the long-past days when you had to plant yourself before the TV right as your favorite show aired or you flat-out missed it. There was no catching up online, recording the show for later, or view on demand anywhere. You were either there at Monday 8:00 p.m., or the show went ahead without you.

Thank goodness that’s changed.

But I’ve gone farther lately than catching up on a show here and there I missed. Instead, I catch up on the whole TV series I missed. My name is Julie, and I’m a binge-TV addict.

White Collar Logo
My current binge-watch show

Here are some reasons why:

I’m extremely impatient. (Really! Just ask my husband.) Don’t you hate that cliffhanger at the end of a season, and then you have to wait months and months to see that plot line resolved? Wait no longer! If you’re impatient like me, you just watch the whole series as you want. Too eager to wait for the season 3? Simply cue it up at the end of season 2. Binge-watching was made with the impatient in mind.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Logo
Didn’t catch it? Binge-watch it!

I can get cool really quick. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I missed quite a few good shows. I was a little busy parenting young children and thus watching series like Blue’s Clues, Maisy, and Bear in the Big Blue House. So when people talked about how cool Buffy the Vampire Slayer was, I had no idea what they were talking about. I vaguely recalled seeing a commercial with a blond chick and fanged people, right before I turned to the channel back to Disney. Now with binge-watching, I’m back at the cool table. Yep, binge-watching got me caught up on shows like ScrubsCharmedBuffy, Arrested Development, and Leverage.

I feel a little queen-like when the series is at my beck-and-call. When other little girls were oohing and aahing over Barbie and her fashion accessories, I was enamored with a Miss America doll we owned — because she had a crown and scepter and was clearly in charge of something. I’ve been knocked down enough in life by now that I’ve learned a sufficient amount of humility; however, that desire to rule can peek through at times and get sated just enough by binge-watching a whole series. As if I’m Queen of the TV World, I simply summon the next show when I’m ready — like royalty would summon their entertainment in the form of a minstrel or court jester.

I more easily grasp the big picture. When you watch a series in a compressed period of time, you get a better sense of the series as a whole. Which means you can spot references to previous plot lines, recurring characters, the broader character arc, and — yes, indeed — mistakes and contradictions with previous shows in the series. I can see the big picture because there isn’t so much time between the first episode and the middle episode and the finale.

Jericho TV series logo
Just one of my many casualties. Sorry!

If I watch shows as they air, I kill them. I’m convinced that merely by my watching a show, its chances of survival decrease by 63%. Don’t try to tell me otherwise. It’s simply safer for me to wait until the show has had its full run — whether that’s one season or eight — and then watch the whole series. That way, my choice to partake in a series doesn’t impact its renewal outcome.

Now if only I could binge-write and binge-edit . . . successfully. Instead, here’s my step-by-step progress in A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life.

1. Read 12 books. I’m in the middle of three different books right now! I’m reading Sketchy Behavior by Erynn Mangum.; Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain; and while sitting in an ER lobby without nothing to do while I waited, I downloaded The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and started reading. I didn’t finish any of these this week, however. So I’m still at 10 of 12 completed.

2. Finish editing SHARING HUNTER, a young adult contemporary novel. Didn’t happen.

3. Edit one short story to publication quality. I received comments back from one teenage beta reader on the next short and agreed with her summary. When I receive the other beta reader’s comments, I’ll finish editing and polishing that story.

In the meantime, I did work on some editing for a third story. Some progress.

4. Publish and promote two short storiesMy Sister’s Demon is available on Amazon. I’ve been troubleshooting some issues with the Barnes & Noble account and think I have it worked out finally to upload the story there this week. Half done!

5. Stay on top of ROW80 sponsor duties. I did not get to check in this week, since my internet time was very limited.

Why was your internet time limited, and why were you sitting in an ER this past week? you ask. Well, I was at church camp with no WiFi and on the last day a kid got a concussion, but he’s fine now. Thanks for asking! 🙂

Do you binge-watch any TV series? Why or why not? And how was your week?

My Words: Exorcising My Sister

Welcome to Amazing Words Wednesday, the day we enter the labyrinth of language and see what we can discover. The first Wednesday of each month, I share some of my own words (you know, being a writer and all 😉 ).

This fall, I took an online short story course from the young adult chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America). During this class and beyond, I wrote, edited, and polished a teen paranormal tale titled Exorcising My Sister. I plan to compile several paranormal shorts and self-publish the stories in 2014.

Today, I’m sharing a teaser (chapter one) from this 9,300-word short story.

Chapter 1: Today’s the Day

I burrow under my fleece purple blanket, not yet ready to face this day. Wednesday the 16th — the only calendar day not marked for my parents and Nickie to visit a physician, psychiatrist, principal, juvie court judge, or some other authority.

All futile attempts to knock my big sister back from raging lunacy to her normal — still annoying — self, the self she was four months ago, before this hell started.

“Okay, okay . . .” I mumble to the alarm clock, the repeated buzz feeling like fists punching my ears. My feet slide through the warm sheets to the cool tile, and my hands rub my eyes to coax them open. A shove to my back tells me Biggun, our oversized tabby cat, is also awake.

He crawls onto my lap and bats at my hands with his nose. I scratch his ears, and Biggun purrs. Since my sister freaked, his affection demands are all on me. He won’t get within ten feet of Nickie.

Apparently, the cat and I are the only ones wise to Nickie’s real problem. It’s not an emotional breakdown, a delinquent phase, or some deep-seated cry for help.

My big sister Nickie is possessed.

Literally.

With a demon.

I give Biggun a few more pats, then walk to the mirror and stare at my disheveled self. Prickles electrify my scalp and travel down my arms and legs. “Courtney Pater, this is it.”

My voice sounds hard and determined, like a drill sergeant inspiring troops, and my body stiffens. I may be fifteen years old, a nerdy misfit at school, and 110 pounds holding a watermelon, but I’m my family’s only hope.

While my parents explore logical explanations for Nickie’s deviant behavior, I’m doing the truly reasonable thing — the only thing to prevent her from eventually ripping our family to shreds. And with the mischief, violence, and criminal record growing daily, we’re out of time.

“Yep,” I say, “today’s the day to exorcise your sister.”

Ψ Ψ Ψ

Here’s the blurb for the story:

Girl illustratedSome teens think their older sibling is possessed. Courtney’s sister actually is. No one else gets the real reason for Nickie’s recent personality change, so it’s up to 15-year-old Courtney to save her big sister and exorcise the demon.

What paranormal creatures or subjects do you like to read about? What short story authors do you enjoy? And have you ever exorcised a demon — like from a family member?

My Words: A Young Adult Short Story

Welcome to Amazing Words Wednesday, the day we enter the labyrinth of language and we see what we can find. On the first Wednesday of each month, I’m featuring some snippet of my words; that is, my writing.

In April of this year, ORANGE KAREN: TRIBUTE TO A WARRIOR was released. This anthology features more than 30 short stories from various genres. Among them is my young adult contemporary short story, Color Me Happy. Here’s an excerpt:

Orange Pompoms

Oh, how I wanted to be the girl-on-top.

I know what you’re thinking, but the term had nothing to do with sexual aggressiveness or sluthood. I’m not like that. I’m talking cheerleading pyramid.

Splits, back flips, herkies, toe-touch jumps, tumbling passes—I could do them in my sleep. I’d been tumbling since elementary school and a cheerleader since the first tryouts in junior high. I’d craved that top spot since I’d made the high school varsity squad, and finally the cheerleading coach had designated me to be “the girl-on-top.”

We came out in orange football jerseys with tight white shorts, shaking our orange-and-white pompoms. With my natural light red—okay, orange—hair, I looked like a striped traffic cone. The first part of our routine went smoothly—a choreographed dance to a pop and hip-hop medley. Then it was go time for our stunts. The lifts and jumps were as smooth as the satin ribbons in our hair, as three of us were hoisted up and thrown into flips and twists, each caught by three spotters below. The students clapped and yelled as we performed our daring feats . . . or showed off our legs—take your pick.

Then we gathered up into a bunch and started to form the final trick. I was lifted like before, but this time even higher. At the top, I raised one leg over my head and stood single-footed on the flattened hands of junior Tara Smith. The crowd erupted with cheers, and the stands rumbled with the feet of hundreds of students expressing their admiration. I was there—at the top to hear and see it all.

My heart thumped wildly, and my head floated further above my third-story location. The music ended on a boom, and the praise of our spectators washed over me anew. This was exactly where I’d wanted to be.

And then I felt it. A slight movement at the bottom of the pyramid, like the princess felt the pea or Yertle the Turtle burped at the bottom. Immediately, I lowered my leg, and Tara quickly responded by spreading out her hands to let me stand in a more stable position. But her hand faltered. Her balance wavered. Time slowed to a crawl, and I could see what was happening before I fell.

The cheerleaders’ hold gave way, and I went down like an ice cream scoop onto the sidewalk. Spotters scrambled beneath me. I had one last thought before I landed: “Please, no one put this on YouTube.”

ORANGE KAREN Book CoverTo read more, check out the book: ORANGE KAREN: TRIBUTE TO A WARRIOR. The current Kindle price is only $3.99, and Amazon Prime members can borrow it for free!

Do you enjoy short stories? Do you have any anthology recommendations? And have you ever been on the top of a cheerleading pyramid?

My Published Words

Welcome to Amazing Words Wednesday, the day we enter the labyrinth of language and see what fabulous fun we can discover together.

Normally it’s something about grammar, word play, etymology, famous quotes, etc. But today I got into the maze, turned a corner, and voila, there it was! The Goblin KingThe Goblet of Fire. Okay, actually it was this:

Orange Karen Cover

If you follow my blog, you know I’ve already mentioned the Orange Karen Tribute Anthology–oh, maybe three or twenty times. But tomorrow feels rather special to me because I finally get to share my wordsmy languagemy story with readers.

Tomorrow, April 11, is the official release day for this anthology featuring short stories from various genres. My YA contemporary short, COLOR ME HAPPY, is among them.

Karen DeLabar
“Orange Karen”

I began writing over four years ago, but this is the first fiction piece I’ve had published. And the cause is such a good one–supporting our marvelous writer friend, Karen DeLabar, as she continues to battle the fallout of Toxic Shock Syndrome.

But I thought I’d share some other words of mine today as well. Because while this is my first fiction piece in print, it isn’t the first thing I’ve had published.

You see, I made an appearance in the December/January 2001 issue of Child magazine. Was I giving parenting advice? Oh no. I was asking for it. I had read all of the What to Expect books, but the pregnancy/motherhood books that most helped me gain perspective were the Girlfriend’s Guide books written by Vicki Iovine. She had an advice column in the magazine, and I submitted a question. Yep, I was Sleepless in Texas.

Child Magazine page

And then there was the 2011 DFW Writers’ Conference. Penguin Promo had a booth in the exhibit hall. Several days beforehand, they ran a contest for t-shirt slogans. The prize was simply that your slogan would be chosen, sold at the conference, and you would receive a freebie. I submitted a few slogans, and one was chosen to grace the front of a shirt.

T-shirt: I'd grovel to publish my novel.
I’d grovel to publish my novel.

So having been “published” already, should I really be that exuberant about the release of my short story?

WELL, I AM.

I’m thrilled to start my fiction publications with a short story, in the YA genre, among a group of quality authors, and for the benefit of Karen. What better way to have a “debut”?!

If you would like to read my words–and/or those of the other 38 authors involved in this project–here’s where you can buy, starting Thursday, April 11.

Amazon print book: ORANGE KAREN: TRIBUTE TO A WARRIOR

Amazon ebook: ORANGE KAREN: TRIBUTE TO A WARRIOR

Also be sure to mark this a “Want to Read” on Goodreads and post a review (if you do that sort of thing).

Remember that all proceeds go toward helping Karen pay her medical and rehabilitation expenses. And a massive thanks to Christina Esdon, the leader of this project, who has been gracious at every turn and a delightful person to work with.

So what were the first words you ever had published? Have you ever written in to a magazine or newspaper? Have you ever come up with a slogan? Which of your words are you particularly proud of?