17 Years

<— I haven’t seen my natural hair color in years!

Seventeen years ago today, in the garden of a little Victorian “mansion” (let’s face it, it was a house), we were married. It was Mother’s Day then, too. We hadn’t known when we picked the date that it would be Mother’s Day, but oh well. At least my best friend Tara was also our florist and got us the flowers at cost.

It was a small ceremony, not even 100 guests. We wanted to be able to talk to everyone at the reception. So many of our friends and family contributed in various ways—my dad’s best friend is a professional photographer, and he came and took all our photos as a gift to us; Scott’s cousin works in the film industry and was our videographer (using the camera we’d been given as a wedding gift). He did this amazing thing where he went around and spoke to people to ask them how they knew me and/or Scott and to give little memories about us.

We were married by a Reform rabbi who incorporated both religious backgrounds into the ceremony. (When people ask, “Oh, are you Jewish?” I answer, “Only by marriage.”) It was sweet and personal and unique and very us.

So here’s to 17 years of holding it together. And also a happy Mother’s Day, which we will spend at a haunted house. Should be fun?

A Random Pile of Thoughts

Well, 2018 is 25% finished. How have you done so far this year? How are you feeling? Looking at the goals I set at the start of the year, well . . . Um . . . I’ve had to rearrange a few things. Here’s what I originally set:

  1. Finish Changers 2. Deadline: 1 March
  2. Find an agent for Hamlette. Deadline: 1 May
  3. Lose 15 lbs. Deadline: 1 June
  4. Finish Faebourne. Deadline: 1 September

Changers 2 is not anywhere near finished. In fact, it’s been backburnered in favor of Faebourne, which now has a pub date of 7 August. So that’s been prioritized.

As for Hamlette, based on feedback from agents, my hopes for it have dimmed considerably. I’m now at the point where I need to decide whether to trunk it or self-publish.

But I’m pleased to say I’ve lost some weight! I now only have 10 lbs to lose.

Revised goals:

  1. Finish Faebourne. Deadline: 20 July
  2. Lose 10 lbs. Deadline: 1 June
  3. Finish Changers 2. Deadline: ???
  4. Decide what to do with Hamlette Deadline: ???

Today is Easter as well as April Fool’s Day. I’m not one for pranks. I don’t have the patience for that kind of thing; I guess I’m too serious-minded. It’s why I don’t watch movies with juvenile bathroom humor. I just don’t find that funny.

Still, the kids hunted eggs this morning. One of the plastic eggs had been eaten through by a squirrel, which makes me worry the squirrel went away with a stomach ache. Eating plastic like that can’t have been good for him. But bravo for the determination, little guy. (And he did take some of the candy out of the egg, too. So it wasn’t entirely for naught.)

We went to a Passover seder last night, too, at my in-laws. So there are just a lot of holidays stacked this weekend. And it’s spring break for my kids as well.

It occurred to me recently that my kids have somewhat posh hobbies. My daughter takes horseback riding lessons, and the boys do fencing. And this morning they were all out back doing archery. I suppose it’s all good until one of them decides they want to take up tennis.

Here is hoping you have a wonderful holiday, whichever you may celebrate, and a wonderful spring in general. And I hope any goals you set for 2018 are beginning to bear fruit—more than mine, anyway!

BTW, tune in to the Indie Beginning podcast tomorrow to hear some of Brynnde! And the following Monday, April 9, will feature yours truly!

The Naughty List: A Holiday Writing Tag from Jenna Moreci

Find it for yourself here.

THE RULES:

1) Provide a brief description of your novel before beginning. NO MORE THAN 5 SENTENCES.

2) If your cast is fewer than 15 characters, you can’t use the same name more than twice. If your cast is larger than 15 characters, you can’t use the same name more than once.

MY NOVEL:

16-year-old Nerissa Dey is the daughter of an A-list actor. When her dad dies unexpectedly, Nerissa hurries home from boarding school to discover her mom has married her dad’s brother. Now she’s living out a Shakespeare drama and trying to avoid the tragic ending.

THE QUESTIONS:

#1 Which character is SO into the holidays, they nearly cause a street-wide power outage from all their Christmas lights?

Mrs. Polley. Hey, she bakes cookies practically every day.

#2 Which character attends the office new years party with ONE date… and goes home with someone else?

Liam. He’s not a player or anything, he’s just easily distracted by a pretty face.

#3 Which character is more than happy to steal Hanukkah gelt from poor, unsuspecting children? [Note: Hanukkah gelt = chocolate coins]

Uncle Eoin, of course.

#4 Fill in the blanks: I saw ____[character]____ doing a whole lot more than ____[verb]____-ing Santa Claus. They were full on ____[action]____.

Rosalind; kissing; snogging.

#5 One of your characters decides to pregame before church and passes out in the middle of the Christmas service. Which character is it?

Ophelia Chase (Nerissa’s mom).

#6 Which character hasn’t been seen since winter began because they refuse to deal with the snow?

Nerissa!

#7 Which character completely forgot about the holidays and ends up regifting to everyone?

Also Nerissa.

#8 Which character has such crappy luck, they only discover their potato allergy after pigging out on latkes?

Gwendolyn. Poor girl.

#9 The Krampus has arrived to punish your very bad characters. Which character is kinda into it?

Rosalind.

#10 One of your characters should be on the naughty list, but has convinced Santa to clear their name. Which character is it, and what was their means of persuasion?

Nerissa’s mom Ophelia. She paid Santa off.

IWSG: Regrets?

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

Question of the Month: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes and failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

I recently posted a retrospective of 2017 in terms of my writing, and overall it’s been a really good year. However, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do some things a little differently! For one, instead of releasing one book in February and another in May, I’d have spread them out more. I had strong sales over the summer, but due to a lack of anything new (except my Moriarty story), things began slumping come October. Well, I attribute at least some of that slump to having no other big release. I know part of it is probably holidays, too. I really should write something seasonal . . .

WIPjoy #30 & 5 More Answers

30. How do your characters celebrate Halloween (or other holiday) if they do?

Nerissa isn’t much for parties, though she doesn’t mind dressing up. She thinks it’s kind of fun, actually. But she’s too old to trick-or-treat. Her ideal Hallowe’en is hanging around a bonfire.

 

***

 

11.Your first MC.

Uh . . . I don’t remember. Back when I wrote those Fanta-C magazines, I wrote about characters from movies and television. I’d give news on what Han Solo and Indiana Jones were up to (they were identical cousins, you know, because my mom would come home for lunch and we’d watch Patty Duke reruns).

My first original MC would have been the Hemlock sisters? My best friend and I made them up: a pair of sleuthing sisters who lived with their Aunt Miranda. Their parents had died under mysterious circumstances, so the running thread was to discover how and why their parents had died. In the meantime, they solved other mysteries in their small town.

12. Favorite trope.

I use metaphor a lot. Really, though, I’m not sure I have a favorite trope (if by “trope” you mean a common theme or structure seen in many books, television shows, and movies). I have a lot that I dislike, but few that I think: I love that! I guess maybe the repressed personality that is moved to express emotion? Because I identify with that.

13. Least favorite trope.

Oh, here it is! I don’t have a least favorite because I dislike them all equally. The chosen one/snowflake (yes, even though Cee is kind of one of these); the overwrought love triangle (again, even though Cee sort of has one); the perfect MC who still somehow thinks she’s ugly or stupid, even though guys are tripping all over themselves for her. I’m sure there are a ton more that I’m just not thinking about this minute because I try not to think about them ever.

14. Least favorite OC.

Of mine? That I made up? That’s just mean, asking me to pick on one of my literary children. I love them all, though probably not equally. I think Akkad—the MC of my thesis—might be one of my least favorite characters. If I ever go rewrite my thesis, I’ll flesh him out a bit more and make him less whiny.

15. Worst writing habit.

Procrastination, often in the form of doing just this kind of thing: blogging, tweeting, faffing about online instead of writing.

All Hallows Write

The Rules:

#1 – Provide a BRIEF description of your novel before starting.
#2 – Don’t use the same character for more than 3 answers.

Okay, so here is my brief description of my novel:

Sixteen-year-old Nerissa Dey must do her father’s ghost’s bidding by bringing his murderers to justice.

More of a log line, but whatever.

The Questions:

1. It’s Halloween night! What is your protagonist dressed up as?

Probably something she could just pull out of her closet. She’s not the type to have planned ahead and bought a costume. She might put on a gown and some makeup and be a starlet, or just wear a lot of black and go goth for the night.

2. Who in your cast refuses to dress up and shows up at the Halloween party without a costume?

Well, if that’s an option, probably Nerissa.

3. Which character wears the most outrageous costume, and what would it be?

Nerissa’s mother Ophelia. She loves attention. So she’d definitely be in something slinky and eye catching. Maybe the Queen of Hearts.

4. On Halloween, werewolves, vampires, and zombies are on the prowl. Which of your characters gets caught in their clutches, and which creature do they subsequently turn into?

Poor Gwendolyn. This might be her fate. She’d be a werewolf, but a very cute and sweet one.

5. Who wins the contest for best costume?

Rosalind? Probably Rosalind.

6. Who hands out toothbrushes to the trick and treaters?

This is unintentionally funny (you’ll see why when you read the book). Um, Uncle Eoin. Cuz he sucks.

7. Which two of your characters decide to pair up and do an angel/devil costume together?

Rosalind and Gwendolyn would do this. Rosalind as the devil, of course, and Gwendolyn as the angel.

8. Someone is too scared to even attend the Halloween party. Who is it?

This could also be Gwendolyn.

9. Who overdoses on Halloween candy and ends up sick?

Liam? He’s kind of big and dumb and

10. Which character is most likely to place a curse/hex on someone and who would they curse?

Ophelia (Nissa’s mom) is nasty enough to do it. But I don’t think she’d curse Nerissa since she (Ophelia) is very aware of appearances. So she’d curse Nissa’s best friend Bea, just to get at Nerissa, or possibly to drive them apart.

Your turn! You can grab the rules and questions from this Tumblr page. #AllHallowsWrite

Swing

The winter break is over and my kids went back to school today. I’d say things are getting back to normal, but they aren’t, really—just before the holidays, my youngest broke his leg. So he has a full-leg cast and is in a wheelchair, has to be carried up and down the stairs and to and from the bathroom (well, he can use his wheelchair in the downstairs bathroom). I’m definitely getting my weightlifting in.

Still, I’ve managed to make progress with my work over the break, partly because we were more housebound than planned. We couldn’t do all the outings we’d originally thought to do, what with one of us in a wheelchair, and then the rain set in and kept us mostly indoors as well. This allowed me to finish rewrites on Brynnde and send ARCs to my brave volunteers. If you’d like to be an advance reader for my books, be sure to sign up for my newsletter there on the sidebar; I offer ARCs when I have new releases.

Now it’s back to The Great Divide (aka Changers 2). Time to get back into the swing . . . I hope you’ve had a productive start to your year as well!