26.1.10

Teaser Tuesday


This is the beginning of my untitled SNI.

Store-fronts and houses have long since morphed into tall, skeletal trees, that look like brittle bones in the pale sunlight. I won't mention it to my brother, but I have a feeling we've been driving around in circles. If I had a quarter for every time the car drifted pass the lake, I would be a very rich woman.

We were obviously lost, but Allan was just like every other member of his species. He was hell-bent on finding his way back onto the main road, without any help. Which meant no maps, and no stopping to ask for directions.

"You must really like that giant rock," I said, turning so that I was facing him. His eyes never left the road, but I could see the frustration boiling deep within them.

"Why do you say that?" he asked, dryly.

"Maybe because we passed it like three thousand times."

Allan gripped the steering-wheel even tighter. "No, we haven't."

"Yes, we have."

"We're not lost, okay."

I could feel my lips pulling up at the corners. "I didn't say we were."

"I know. You implied it."

"Did I?" I leaned back in my seat, and put my feet up on the dashboard.

Allan nodded. "And maybe it wasn't the same giant rock. There could be a lot out here. You never know."

"True, true. But not all of them would say Johnny plus Sam forever."

"You don't know that."

"You're right," I said, sighing. "But one thing I know for sure is that Annie is freaking out right now."

Allan reached over and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear, like he used to do when we were little kids.

"Don't worry," he said. "We'll get there soon. I promise."

I wanted to tell him not to make promises he couldn't keep but I was tired of talking, and all I could think about was Annie, our mother's mother. Not our grandmother. She hated that word because it made her feel old. So we called her Annie, all the time, even though we were taught that it was disrespectful to call an adult by their first name. But we respected Annie. Besides our aunt Jo and uncle Ben, she was the only family we had left.

All the rest were buried in the cemetery along with our mother and father.



25.1.10

Music Monday

Happy Monday everyone!

For today's Music Monday, I picked a song that inspired my latest project.

I don't want to give a lot away, but I will tell you that it's about dead birds, man-eating trees, magic, witch doctors, lost souls, and grave robbers. It has to do with a lot of Irish mythology and a whole lot of other creepy stuff.

After listening to this song a million times, I finally found out what I wanted the story to be about. Hopefully you love it as much as I do.

Invasion by Eisley
21.1.10

Whitewashing and Diversity in YA




Go to the bookstore.

Pick up a random book in the YA section, and read a few pages.

What do you think of the main character? The author may not describe the MC right off the bat, but as you're reading, a picture of him or her is forming in your mind.

Is she or he white?

About 99.9% of the time, the character is. I don't know why. But it's like we're programmed to think that the main character of any story is white, unless we are given descriptions. Or unless, the person on the cover is white.

Is that a problem?

Yes and no.

I don't care if the character is white. I don't care if they're green. As long as the story has a great plot, and as long as the character is relate-able, then I will be content.

But everyone has their own definition of relate-able.

I have been reading a lot of blog post that centered around this exact same topic. There was even a YA litchat about this over at Twitter.

Even though it may not seem like it, people are aware of the lack of diversity in YA. I live in a predominately black neighborhood. I went to an all black elementary school. My middle school, however, was more diverse. It was then that I started to appreciate different cultures more.

Diversity, to me, is beautiful. I mean, America is supposed to be this gigantic melting pot but when it comes to YA, it's a different story.

I don't remember the last time I read a story with a black MC or an Asian MC or to put it this way, a character that isn't white.

Sure there are African American authors and Asian American authors, but getting back to the whole relate-able thing. I can't relate to books written by African Americans. A lot of people think that is weird because I am African American.

But here's the thing. There are stereotypes. When I read a book with a black character in it this said character has an attitude or they're portrayed as street smart kids who like Rap music.

Very stereotypical.

And it seems to me that a non-white person can only be on a cover if she or he is so light that they can pass for white. If you've heard about the Liar controversy, then you know what I'm talking about.

Getting back to the point, relating has nothing to do with skin color. But it does have everything to do with feelings and beliefs. If you look past the skin, past culture, past the languages we speak, we are all a like. We are all humans, and humanity is something we all know.

The key word in that sentence is: know. One tip a lot of authors give writers is to "write what you know." This roughly translates to: If you are white, then your main character has to be white. If you are black, then your main character has to be black. If you are Asian, If you are Indian, if you are Mexican and so on and so forth.

Writing what you know has nothing to do with skin color. I don't know how many times I have to say that, to get the message across. How do you know a color? Someone, please, answer that question. Enlighten me, make me understand. Because I don't understand colors. I only understand thoughts and voices and beliefs and feelings.

But don't get me wrong. It would be wonderful to see more diversity in YA. It would be wonderful to read a book about a 'minority' where her ethnicity isn't the main focus of the story. It would be nice to read about an Indian main character or a Muslim one or a Jewish one.

This doesn't mean I want you to change your characters so that they don't fit the whitewashing profile. No, please don't do that. Diversity is diversity, and if you don't have it in your book, it's okay. No one will hate you for it.

I just think it's about time that we stop hiding behind stereotypes and start broadening our horizons. People mentioned that if they did have a character that wasn't white, they would have to do research. If you want them to come from a different country or if they practice a different religion, maybe.

But if they are American, let's be real. Every American teen is the same one way or another. We might not all be the same color. We might speak more than one language. We might belong to the middle-class or the upper-class. But no matter what, we are all American.

There is no such thing as 'white' culture. There is no such thing as 'black' culture. America is supposed to be a melting pot of all cultures, so it's time to look past black and white, and notice the gray area for a change.
19.1.10

Teaser Tuesday


This is a short story I've been working on. I don't have a title for it yet, but I hope you enjoy this.


My family was real old-fashioned. Every choice we made, was made by Papa. Eva and I couldn't even date a boy, unless he approved of him.

And I was sure he would approve of Francis.

"Isn't your house back that way?" Francis asked, as I made a turn on Gingham Road.

"We're not going back to my place," I said, a smile on my lips.

The night was growing darker and darker by the minute. I couldn't even see the sun anymore. It was swallowed up by the angry black clouds that were rolling in.

A storm was coming. I could feel it in my bones. I could feel it under my skin. Francis could too. But he wasn't from Bristol. He didn't grow up chasing thunder claps. He didn't grow up wading through the swamps, and dancing in the rain.

"You think we should be out here, Ann?"

"Well, you got to meet my Papa. And tonight's the perfect night to meet him."

Just as I spoke, an electric-blue streak skidded through the sky.

One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Four - the thunder sounded. The storm was three miles away and we were getting closer and closer to it.

Francis fidgeted in his seat. "Babe, where exactly are we going, again?"'

My smile grew wider. I wanted to kiss him. I wanted to do so many other things to him too, but not til he met Papa. No, not until he met Papa.

It was time for him to know,"The cemetery."

I kept my gaze on him, to gauge his reaction. They usually never took it well, but Francis, he was a trooper. He nodded his head, a couple of times, and sat back in his seat.

"The cemetery," he whispered.

"Don't worry, I won't let nothing get you." I reached over and found his hand in the darkness. His fingers looped through mines. They were cold and clammy like he had been holding it against the window this whole time.

The rain started to fall. It tap-danced across the roof of the car, sounding like a million shards of glass. I couldn't see through the thick, gray veil, but I knew these lands like the blood in my veins.

Francis squeezed my hand.

"Maybe we should wait the storm out. Park by the side of the road or something."

I smiled. It was so very tempting. Parking with him.

"One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three..." We were on the storm's tail now. The sky shook the earth, and then lightning was spider-webbing through my vision.

"I never liked cemeteries. Or storms," Francis breathed.

"They're not so bad."

I could feel his eyes on me as I drove. They were large and probing. Like he was trying to figure me out. None of them ever figured me out.

"There's something peaceful about tombstones and forgotten souls."

Francis nodded, "How long has your father been dead?"

"Not long. I mean, he still comes around, so it doesn't feel like a long time."

A soft, nervous chuckle filled the car. I was losing him. My fingernails were digging into his skin, but I was the one who was hurting. He let a gasp seep through his lips, and I knew what he was about to say.

But I wasn't going to give him the chance to speak. I pulled the car to a stop, and unbuckled my seatbelt.

"You're right," I said, looking at him. "We should wait this storm out for a bit."

I climbed over until I was in his lap. His heart beat against mine. Never have I heard something so vibrant, so strong. I wanted to devour the sound, but I knew I couldn't. Francis didn't need to know everything about me. He placed his hands on either side of my face, and pulled me down until my lips were hovering inches above his. I could smell the desire oozing off of his tongue.

"If you weren't so damn beautiful," he whispered, his mouth crashing against mine. I kissed him hard. I kissed him deep. Deeper than I have ever kissed his kind before.

The storm waged war around us. And the cemetery was calling my name. Papa was waiting, but he would just have to wait a little while longer.
18.1.10

Music Monday

I missed last week, but I'm back with a song that I truly love from a band that is extremely incredible.

Enjoy.


17.1.10

Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta


"What do you want from me?" he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.

In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.


Review

I had heard a lot of good things about Jellicoe Road before I decided to finally read it. Usually, I judge a book by the first line. If it hooks me, then there is a chance I might like the book. If it doesn't hook me, then I won't waste my money on the book unless someone I know reads it and says it was good.

My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die.

This is how Jellicoe Road begins. So many questions swirled around in my head when I read that line, and I knew that I had to know more about this character. So, I was pretty excited when I got this book for Christmas.

The beginning was a little slow and confusing. But I was intrigued by the idea of Houses and leaders and this "territory war" that seemed to be taking place. Although from the book description, I knew it was a boarding school, it seemed like something more. Like this story took place in a distant future.

As I started to learn more about Taylor, I fell in love with her. She has a distinctive, original voice, that is loud in my ears. I laughed at some parts. I cried at most parts. Mainly because I could relate to her feeling of being abandoned. Of not knowing who her father is. Of not knowing where she belonged.

One thing I liked about Taylor was that she wasn't a weak character, but she was definitely vulnerable. I think there should be more characters like her in YA, because often writers tend to portray girl characters as damsels in distress and Taylor isn't a damsel in distress. She's so much more than that.

As I said, the beginning starts off really slow and as you're reading you won't find out the big picture until the book is over, until you read the last page. Jellicoe Road is a mystery with many different nooks and crannies and doors you need to unlock yourself.

And then there's Jonah. Rough on the outside, but inside he's just like any other guy. He has a lot of emotional baggage, and he tries desperately to hide his feelings but sometimes it doesn't work out. I seriously have a crush on this character. He makes being a Cadet HOT. Seriously.

But Jellicoe Road is not just a love story. It's not even just Taylor's story. It's a story about how this 'war' was started. It's a story about how one must know their past before they can understand their present and realize their future. It's a story about broken hearts and death and seeing through walls that have been up for a long time.

I can't explain to you how beautiful, how heart-breaking, how touching this book is. I really can't. When I finished reading Jellicoe Road tears were streaming down my face, because this book was just that good.

I'm not even going to rate this book because it would pointless. This book goes beyond any rating system out there and ... JUST READ THE BOOK.

I promise you that you'll love it as much as I did.


12.1.10

Teaser Tuesday

I'm a bit late, but I've been having one of those weeks. A lot of homework. A lot of other stuff to do, so this might be the only blog I post this week.

This teaser is from BURNOUT.

***


We scatter her ashes around the house. Under the great Oak tree in the backyard. In mom's garden, in the grass. Everywhere her feet, her hands touched.

"She'll live on here," Dad says.

It was hard to believe that someone like my sister could die. Cease to exist. She was like the fucking sun. All bright and beautiful and always so damn optimistic that it got on my nerves.

She wasn't like other girls. That was for sure.

Perfume annoyed the hell out of her and she would always get on me about how my cologne was contributing to global warming. Whatever that meant.

When she would walk past my room, instead of saying hi or what's up, she'd turn my light out and walk away.

At dinner, she would pick at her food, instead of eating it, knowing that it worried our mother to death.

"People in third world countries can't eat. So why should I?" she'd ask.

Yeah, Hailey was weird like that. Always putting everyone before her.

But this time was different. She was selfish, and took a razor to her wrist.

I was the one who found her. The bathroom door was creaked open, the water was still running. I didn't mean to go in, but Hailey never left the water running. She said wasting water should be a sin.

After about ten minutes she'd turn it off. But a whole hour had passed, and it was still running.

My mom, my dad, everyone else - can't get over the fact that I was the one who found her.

Red slits across her cold, pale skin, head lulled back, mouth slack. Chest still.

Dead.

Hailey killed herself.

It came to a shock to everyone, and for days I couldn't sleep. When I was eating breakfast or shooting hoops outside, I would feel my heart getting heavy in my chest, and I'd cry. The tears would start slipping out of my eyes and they wouldn't stop.

Everyone tried to console me. Ex-girlfriends sent cards and flowers and called constantly, even though I never answered the phone.

The guys on the basketball team acted normal when they were around me. We used to joke around saying that crying was for bitches, losers.

And here I was, red lining my irises, tears staining my cheeks. Soon the kind words, the pats on the shoulder, the subtle glances, were too much to bare.

I didn't want anyone to feel sorry for me. There was nothing to be sorry for. My sister did this to herself. She was the one who filled the bathtub up, and cut open her veins, wide enough so that the blood would spill out.

That's all I can remember of my sister now. Everything else didn't matter anymore once I looked into her cold, glassy eyes.

She was dead.

I didn't cry at her funeral. Or memorial. You needed a casket for it to be a funeral. And there wasn't a casket. We were all just crowded into a hot, stuffy room, staring up front at the giant picture of Hailey.

I took it last summer on her birthday. She didn't want a cake or a party, so we all just sat around the dinner table as usual, and talked.

We always talked. My family was perfect. Not Brady Bunch perfect, but we were perfect in our own way.

Game nights, picnics, walks in the park, we did it all. I never liked spending time with my parent's because when they weren't arguing over some stupid thing, they were singing songs from 'back in their day'.

But Hailey loved that type of stuff. I used to tolerate our family time just for her, because I was the oldest. If she could do it, I could do it.

My family was perfect. We always talked. We never kept secrets.

We never kept secrets.
6.1.10

Road Trip Wednesday: When I Was Young(er)...


I wasn't like most kids when I was five years old. While other girls were playing with dolls and having imaginary tea parties, I was scribbling words into my mom's medical books and reading. But I mostly liked to scribble, until my mom bought me a notebook. She thought it would solve the scribbling problem, but I scribbled in there too, until I realized I had stories to tell. Stories that weren't about nap times and chocolate cake, because we all know that at that age, those play very important roles in our young lives.

I wrote about counterfeit pennies and magical elephants. I wrote about spaghetti that came to life and started attacking the family who was trying to eat him. My head was always in the clouds at that age, and I never really read over what I wrote. I just picked up a pencil and started to write, even though I couldn't stay in the lines.

But I thought those stories were epic. I thought they were the best stories in the whole wide world. My mom thought so, too. That was why she started showing it to people. Yeah, if I had known how much my writing truly sucked when I was five, I would not have let her leave the house with any one of my stories.

Unfortunately, I don't feel like digging through boxes to find poems and other stories that I wrote when I was five, but I do have a few of my old work saved on my computer.

Work that still make me cringe every time I read over it.

AGE: NINE

When I turned nine, I went through a phase. You know the one I'm talking about. The fantasy phase. Almost every writer went through it. I blame C.S. Lewis and a great number of cartoons, for this.

My first novel, The Chronicles of Pyra, (later renamed Pyra) was over 50,000 words and I wrote it when I was nine. So, at the time, I was pretty much obsessed with fantasy. I loved magical powers and hidden worlds and knights and princesses. Mostly princesses though, because I REALLY wanted to be one.

To satisfy my need to be a princess, I made my main character one.

Lily grew up thinking she was a normal girl, until she found a portal and entered it. She discovered a world full of knights and witches and mermaids and other creatures like her -fairies. Soon, she finds out that her real family, the royal family of Flames, had been missing for quite some time and now it was up to her to find them, while trying to keep the magic world from falling into the hands of a power-hungry Demon called Amblen.

So, the premise isn't that great, but when I was nine I adored that story. I couldn't stop writing it. The characters were in my head and they weren't going to leave. Luckily, I realized that there was so much wrong with the story. My characters had no depth, the dialogue was horrible. In fact, ninety percent of the story is dialogue and the only thing cool about this novel is the world and all the names I made up. Okay, I'll admit I still have a soft spot in my heart for Pyra and I often think about rewriting it, but then I read certain parts.... *cringes*

Two Selphaen monsters ran toward them trying to slice them in half with their blade like arms. Moon rolled under the huge monster and sliced him from behind. Then without stopping he ran until he came face to face with a Ceraton. Moon could remember battling a Ceraton but he couldn't seem to figure out when.
Suddenly Moon heard a distant scream so forgetting the Ceraton he ran toward it. There standing in the middle of the path was a child weak and powerless.
" Save me Moon, save me!" the girl pleaded
" How did you know my name?" Moon asked
Then the girl disappeared and Moon suddenly realized who the child was it was Princess Pyra. Except Moon knew Pyra would be his age by now so the child must have symbolized weakness and fear and the path must have meant she was near but Moon couldn't figure out where. Just then the Ceraton came running at him. Moon turned around quickly and stabbed it in the heart hopping it would die quickly. Then he heard another distant scream but this time it sounded like Irin screaming for help.
" Irin I'm coming!" Moon screamed loudly
When he reached Irin he was still battling the Selphaen monster but it doubled in size.
" Irin, catch this slice it in the back!" Moon screamed holding the sword high enough for Irin to see it
" Michael, I don't need your help I'm strong enough." Irin snapped shooting the monster again
" Look! We need to fight together this is real Irin, we feel pain. It's not because we're not strong enough it's because we weren't wise enough." Moon said charging for the beast
Irin fell to the ground not being able to move or speak. Moon, stabs the monster in it’s back and pulled his sword out. He picked up Irin and ran through the crowd of monsters slicing everyone in his path. Until he came to the end of the course and the room turned back to normal.
" Lye, him, down." Chalai commanded" Sirinus Healus"
" Will he be alright?" Moon asked seriously
" Yes he just needs to sleep." Chalai replied with a half smile

AGE: ELEVEN

It didn't stop there. No, I've been sucking for a quite a long time. When I turned eleven, I devoured Jane Eyre. I can't explain to you how much I LOVE that book. I loved that book so much that I got an SNI from it.

This said shiny new idea was called Hazel. It was a Victorian-esque fantasy-romance about a girl named Katherin Hartley who lost her parents at a very young age. Her mother, who hated her, fell ill and her father supposedly committed suicide. With her family gone, she was sent to go live in an orphanage with people who she later finds out are her family on her mother's side. As time progresses, she finds out that she might be a princess of a magical world.

So, Hazel and Pyra were similar in a lot of ways, but even though Hazel made me cringe, I could see how much my writing improved over the course of two years.

Hazel
Chapter 1

The air was dry as Erin dug through the wet snow to pick flowers for her mother. She could feel the tiny sharp pains piercing her skin as she touched the snow. Later that day, guests from the city were coming to visit them for two days. Even though they were her mother's guest, Erin wished they would get there before the frost got worse. She would hate for anyone to get hurt.
It was going to rain soon, but Erin didn´t care because she liked the rain. As the grey clouds blanketed the sky, she soon forgot about the lilies and climbed up the steep hill to her house. The first drop of rain fell onto her face like a soft caress. If only Miss Hilda hadn't been calling her, Erin would have let the rain embrace her. When Erin stepped into the house she took off her wet boots and threw them to the side. All day, Erin's father, Michael, had sat in his office in his big red chair reading a book. His face was long and cold for he looked tired. Dried up tears rested on his face to show he was stressed. Erin put down her pale of flowers and walked towards her father. He looked glad to see her and immediately hugged her.
" You did your morning exercise I see." Michael exclaimed
" Miss Hilda wanted these flowers picked for her guests. She wanted perfect ones but they've been wilted by the snow." Erin explained sighing
" They're beautiful. All they need is a little light and warm water." Michael suggested
" Well father, I'm going to show Miss Hilda before she has a cow waiting for me." Erin said, running upstairs to her mother's room
" What took you so long?" Hilda asked angrily
" It was very cold outside and........." Erin started
" Did poor Erin freeze her hands while picking flowers outside in the snow?" Hilda asked sarcastically
" I try not to complain about it but you took my gloves. So of course my hands were cold." Erin replied softly
As she talked, she felt a hard sting hit the side of her face. A tear welled up in Erin's eyes but it never fell. She would not show Miss Hilda she was afraid of her even though she feared her piercing, eyes.
" Erin, you are useless! I told you to pick flowers that or not wilted but you pick everything but that. My friends are coming and they'll be very disappointed to see my house isn't complete. Leave me to rest. I don't want to see your hideous face any longer." Hilda shouted angrily
" But Miss Hilda it's snowing outside and all the flowers are buried under snow so of course they're going to be wilted." Erin explained kindly
" I said leave!" Hilda shouted
Feeling like she once again failed her mother, Erin ran off to finish her chores. She tried to hold back her tears but they wouldn't stay in. Her father had seen her crying and ran to hug her.
" Sweetheart, what's wrong?" Michael asked sadly
" Miss Hilda is never going to approve of anything I do." Erin replied through her tears
" She just wants everything to be right for her friends." Michael explained sighing
" But the way she treats us is horrible Father! We should just leave her here to do things for herself." Erin said angrily
" Now dear, don't talk like that. Your mother loves you." Michael said closing his eyes
" Father, you know I'm right! That's why you close your eyes! I don't understand why you just don't make things right. She should be kind to you because you were kind enough to marry her! " Erin exclaimed, pouting
" Bless your heart Erin! You have shown nothing but kindness to your mother for these past thirteen years you've been on this earth. There's only one more thing I ask of you, darling." Michael said softly
" What? Anything!" Erin asked frowning
" When you have neither one of us with you, I want you to live a respectable life. I pray it will only get better for you." Michael replied, crying.
AGE: THIRTEEN



When I turned thirteen I became more serious about my writing. I was still deeply in love with Regency/Victorian novels and so, when I turned thirteen I wrote The Jane Effect.

Do you know what it means to love, Miss Greenly?” Sir Harvey asked, turning to look at her.
Elizabeth smiled. It wasn’t too long ago when she asked her father a question of this same caliber. The answer that he gave, made her sure that she understood love more than anyone else.
“Yes,” she replied.
“And what do you know of it?”
“It is a feeling of pure bliss, from what I’ve heard,”
“Well you have been misinformed,” he retorted, moving towards her.
There was nothing that could be said to atone for Sir Harvey’s weird manner, so Elizabeth just stood there, watching as the flame fluctuated in the still air.
“Love isn’t real. It doesn’t exist and for you to participate in such a fancy makes you a very unwise person, Miss Greenly,” Sir Harvey, continued harshly.
Red shot up her neck, like a wildfire as those fiery words were ignited in her face. Not wanting him to see her annoyance, Elizabeth turned away from Edward and tried to gather her thoughts.
“You are not a friend or a respected man of society. So what gives you the right to address me in such ways?” she spat.
“I am merely trying to warn you of the dangers of…” he started, defensively.
“The dangers of what, Sir Harvey? Yes, I know that your brother doesn’t love me but I can learn to love him as long as…” Tears formed in her eyes, making Elizabeth move deeper into the darkness. Admitting out loud that William could never hold any affection towards her, made her heart break. She only wished the atmosphere would remain tranquil, so that she could slip away into a dark hole. But silence wouldn’t have his chance to reign. Sir Harvey decided to speak. His voice was even more severe than before but it quivered when it left his lips. Elizabeth knew that he wasn’t crying, for he had no reason let alone the heart to do so.
AGE: FOURTEEN
(This is from Papillon)

France 1814

Though it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife, all truths have flaws just as perfection always comes with a fault. Louis, Comte de Ventilées, took this philosophy to heart as he mounted the awaiting carriage.
It was a fine day. The night had gave to the morning a fine layer of dew upon the grass and the blooming flowers of spring. Even the sky was fresh and bright, as they drove through the torrent of green pastures and expanses of land where farm animals grazed. It was a fine day indeed, but Louis knew better than to judge a book by it’s cover.
The journey to Dame d’VentilĂ©es establishment in Paris would be a long and tiresome one. Each time he tried to succumb to sleep, the carriage hit a ditch in the road, causing the car to jerk to and fro. And it was bitterly cold inside. Not even the black cloak he had on could relieve the chill. He could see his breath release from his lips, with every grunt that resonated in his throat.
Unable to sleep, he thought about what he would say to his mother for he had not seen her in more than a fortnight. She was a grand woman and went about life in a more dignified fashion. Her nights were often spent hosting galas amongst the respected members of society. Her mornings were wasted finding a spouse for him for she believed in the truth that was said to be universally acknowledged. Silently he had cursed the mind that had brought forth such a thought for he possessed both an estate and an amiable fortune but detested the thought of marrying. He was a free spirit and wanted to remain so for the rest of his life but his mother wanted otherwise. She wanted grandchildren and like all mothers of rank and wealth in that day and age, she also wanted the prospects of their fortune to increase. This was in fact the meaning of Louis’s visit with his mother on this fine day.
Knowing his mother like the back of his vervain scented hand, he know that the only reason she had ordered his presence was to tell him that she had found a lady with a want of a husband who was indeed wealthy.
Louis had seen two-and-twenty summers and on his travels, he had saw many women who had captured his eye but never his heart. They were beautiful creatures, with their coquettish ways and alluring wiles. If he were in want of a wife, he would at least want a beautiful woman who could please him in every way possible. His mother would not know that there was a flaw in the philosophy she held dear, for every wealthy man wanted a beautiful wife.

(This is from a YA contemporary called If Love is not Enough)

Her room was like a war-zone. The army consisting of dangerous pictures and lethal memorabilia. My mom was slumped over a box, her eyes crying. The tears danced across a picture she was holding. It was Marco on his twelfth birthday. A smile was pasted on his face and it was wide, almost as big as a watermelon on a hot Summer day. He was standing in front of a bike that Dad had bought him. It was blue, with orange and red flames painted on the sides. Unlike his other bike, this one didn't have any training wheels. His eyes were beaming as he stared at it. I could remember him spending that whole afternoon riding up and down the street. Dad had this look in his eye, like he was proud of Marco or something, while Mom was just shaking her head. She didn't want Marco to have a bike or a skateboard or roller blades. To her, they were just more things that would get him hurt.

That night, I could hear them arguing. They were arguing over the bike. My mom was asking my father why he had to go behind her back and buy something that Marco didn't need. It lasted for hours, their voices slamming against the wall and running up and down the hallways. I used to cry a lot when I was little. My eyes would fill up with hot and salty raindrops. They'd slide down my face endlessly, until Marco or Mom came in to comfort me, but no one came. Soon, everyone was sleep and the argument was over, but the worst wasn't over yet.

The next morning, dad woke up early and got into his jeep. The bike was in the back, strapped down by some ropes. I watched him drive off, the engine sputtering and moaning as the car moved down the street. Marco was angry for the rest of the day. He ignored my mother and made it his business to slam things. My mom paid a doctor to tell her that the source of my brother's unhappiness was his father's death, but really that wasn't the truth. Marco has always been against our mother, it just wasn't apparent because dad was around and that was all he really needed.


I am afraid that this is where the journey ends. I am now fifteen, and hopefully, over the years I have improved.

Some of my writing really makes me want to go hide, but other old works of mine, make me want to pat myself on the back. It makes me proud that I kept writing, even though in the beginning I sucked.

What about you? What was your writing like when you were younger?


5.1.10

Teaser Tuesday


Happy Teaser Tuesday guys!

Today's teaser is from Mirror, Mirror. I posted the first half of chapter 1 in SYW because I thought I needed a few harsh critiques. Turns out, the beginning didn't suck it just needed a little more work. So, this is probably the fourth (?) draft of the beginning. I got a lot of great feedback and I'm trying to incorporate all the suggestions that I can. Hopefully this works.


***

Pris said it was all in the eyes. You could be the worst liar in the world, but if you put your eyes into it, nothing could go wrong. The eyes were the windows to your soul, your heart.

"You ready?" she asked, her blue eyes washing over me.

"Yeah," I lied.

"Pris," Low said, putting his hand on my shoulder, " can't she just wait outside?"

His touch sent heat through my body. It wasn't a good feeling. I shrugged away from him, and then looked at Pris, my eyes furrowed.

"I don't need to wait out here. I'm ready."

She popped her gum a few times, and nodded.

"She has to go anyways. Kips orders."

"Well, Kip isn't here." The way his lips curled around Kip's name, made me want to punch him. I could feel my fingers curling and uncurling, but I kept control of myself. It wasn't like me to act violent, but there was something about Low that always put me on edge.

"Let's just go inside," I muttered, stepping up onto the sidewalk. The light spilling out of the windows of the convenient store reminded me of heaven. All pearly and white. My fingers found the tarnished cross hanging from my neck.

"Forgive me," I whispered, as I pushed open the door. A bell jingled above my head and I could see the clerk sitting behind the counter, smoking a cigarette. His black eyes met mine, and he put the cigarette out, as if he weren't supposed to be smoking when customers were around.

I wanted to tell him that it was okay. Keep smoking. We weren't customers. We were something worse.

"Hello, sir," Pris said, flashing her million dollar smile at him.

"Evening, miss." The clerk nodded his head, and the lines in his face seemed to even out. Guys always relaxed around a pretty girl. And Pris was pretty. Beautiful, even.

The kind of beautiful you see in magazines, except her teeth were yellow and she was as thin as a pole. But the man couldn't see her flaws from where he was sitting. With the fluorescent lights glowing all around her, I bet to him, she looked like an angel.

With a smile still pasted on her lips, she curled her hand around mine. "Remember the plan."

Right, the plan. I couldn't forget the plan. It was practically engraved in my mind. We went over it for days, making sure I had it down. Even though I've did this type of thing before, Kip just wanted to make sure I didn't mess up.

I was always messing up.

Pris pulled me down an aisle. I picked up a basket with my free hand, just to make it look like we were shopping.

"Good idea," she said. Snap. Snap. I hated the way she chewed her gum. It was like the whole world had to hear her.

Once we were at the end of the aisle, she let go of my hand and looked at me, her eyes burning with icy intensity. "We're counting on you, Ken."

"I know."

"I mean it, Kendall." Her voice dropped. "Don't screw up."

"I won't."
4.1.10

Music Monday

Before I started writing prose, I wrote a lot of poetry and song lyrics. Music has always been a huge part of my life. I love scribbling verses down on random sheets of paper and I get really excited when I hear a really good song.

It's like, I can close my eyes and every word, every verse, speaks to me or my characters.

Today's song reminded me of Ellis, one of my love-interest in Mirror, Mirror. Kendall and Ellis have a very complicated relationship. One that quickly falls apart once the truth comes out.


And you kiss me like you know inside of me
And you watch me fight my own insanity

Those two lines screamed Ellis and how he feels about Kendall, when everything is said and done.

Enjoy.



If you want to participate in Music Monday, just grab your iPod, a random playlist, or an MP3 player, push shuffle and post the first song that comes up.
2.1.10

No Kiss Blogfest


I just found out that today is No-Kiss Day. Remember, last time there was the official Kissing Day where you had to post a kissing scene from your WIP or your favorite book or a movie that you liked? Well, this is sort of like that but instead of posting a kissing scene, you're posting an almost kissing scene.

Take New Moon for example. We were all on the edge of our seats, waiting for Jacob to kiss Bella, but it didn't happen. I remember everyone was so disappointed, and I bet Kristen Stewart was too.

By the way, this was started by Frankie over at Frankie Writes. I read her post for today, and was a really good read. Great tension, and a boat-load of emotion. Go check it out and be sure to post your favorite almost kiss scene.

This is a tweaked scene from Mirror, Mirror. It might change later on when I get to this scene in the editing process, but for now, it's written so that it fits today.


***


"I used to ride this?"

We were standing outside now, the air was still, the sky was a faded blue. Ellis was leaning against a black motorcycle with flames curling up on the sides.

"Yeah," he replied, nodding "We used to go out all the time on this baby."

"Baby?" I chuckled.

Ellis smiled, his lips stretching from ear to ear. "What? I had her for a long time. So of course she's my baby."

"Her?" I rolled my eyes. "So, let me guess, you named her too."

"Her name is Marisol."

"Marisol," I repeated.

"It was my mother's name." I looked at him, as if I were seeing him for the first time.

Was.

I hated that word. I used it a lot after my mother died.

"I'm sorry," I said.

"Me too," he replied, looking down at the sidewalk.

I don't know how long we stood there. Seconds, minutes, hours. A whole day could have passed by while we let the wind carry the words we didn't speak on it's back.

He cast his eyes to the sky, and then looked at me, a faint smile on his lips.

"Let's go for a ride."

"No, I don't think so."

If I rode with him, I would have to wrap my arms around his waist, lean my head into his back. That was too intimate. I couldn't do it.

He stuck his lower lip out. "Please."

"No, Ellis."

"Come on, babe, you know you want to."

"I don't want to."

He took my hands into his, tugging me forward. I didn't budge.

"What are you afraid of? We're not going to crash or anything."

"I'm not afraid of anything." Yes, I was afraid. I was afraid of this. I was afraid that Ellis might get too close. I was afraid that he might become more involved and if he did he would find out the truth. He didn't need to know the truth.

"Is that so?" His voice was seductive, and it made my heart stop.

"Let me go, Ellis." He let me go, but not entirely. His hands formed make-shift manacles around my wrist, and he pulled me closer, until there was only a sliver of air separating our bodies.

"No. I did that once. I can't do it again."

"Let me..." Our foreheads touched. His lips were inches away from mine.

I could taste his breath on my tongue. For a moment, I wondered what it would be like to feel his lips on my lips. His heart on my heart.

I looked into his eyes. He was wondering the same thing. But he would do more than just wonder. He leaned in, and rested his lips on my neck. They made a trail down to my collarbone.

He wasn't kissing me, just sliding his mouth across my skin, setting me on fire.

"Ellis." I could barely say his name without sounding weak, defenseless.

"Hmm." But he didn't pull away. His lips made their way up to my jaw line, my chin.

They were so close to my lips, it hurt.

He couldn't kiss me, and I couldn't kiss him. If our lips touched there would be no turning back.

I couldn't find my voice, but I found the strength to push him away.

"Sarah," Ellis breathed. "what's wrong?"

I looked away. My heart was racing. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't think.

"Sarah." He stepped into my line of sight and I turned away. I looked at the cars slowly moving down the street, the old lady watering her flowers, the butterflies flapping their wings in the air. I looked at everything but him.

His arms curled around my waist, and leaned his head on my shoulder. Dark strands of hair tickled my skin.

"Did I do something wrong?"

I didn't answer him. He took my silence as a yes.

"I don't know what I was thinking. We're outside, in public. If your father looked out the window right now, he'd storm out here with his..."

"Ellis."

"Yes?"

"Shut up."

He laughed against my neck.

"Yes, ma'am," he breathed.

I liked the feeling of his arms around my waist, his chin in my shoulder. It felt so good, so right.

But it was wrong. I pulled away.

"Sarah, please." He pulled me back to him. "I liked standing with you like this."

"Not out here."

"Let's go someplace. Anywhere. Let's..."

"No, Ellis. No."

I turned to look at him.

"We don't have to do anything you don't want to do, Sarah. But I just want to be alone with you."

He tried to take my hands again, but I didn't let him.

"I want to stay home today," I lied, looking away.

"Sarah," he whispered. "look at me."

I shook my head. I couldn't look at him. I couldn't let him get attached to me.

"Sarah," he repeated.

When I didn't look up at him, he gently pushed my chin up, so that I was forced to drown in his eyes.

Our lips were now centimeters apart.

"Ellis, please."

His hand combed through my hair, and down my back, sending shivers up my spine. He didn't let me go. He wouldn't let Sarah go.

"I'm just not ready." My eyebrows furrowed. "You understand, right?"

I could see it in his eyes. He understood but he didn't want to.

"I'm sorry, Sarah. I just wish..."

Ellis clamped his lips shut, and looked away. I knew what he was going to say. He wished everything was back to however they were before.

But things could never be the same.

What I'm Working On


Well, for starters, I'm working on not losing my mind. I really don't want this vacation to be over. It feels like somebody pushed the fast forward button and now I have two days left before I go back to school.

And I haven't even finished my homework. Which is so easy it hurts. I hate when my homework is easy, because then I feel like a huge baby for not wanting to do it. I just really don't feel like doing anything but lazing about and reading. That's what breaks are for, right?

Writing wise? I'm not writing anything new. I had a severe case of SNI-itis but I really don't think I'm going to write any one of them. Because right now, I'm editing. Editing, editing, editing.

And when I don't feel like editing, I'm reading. I am about to finish Beautiful Creatures. Finally. Because this book is so long and I didn't think I was going to finish it. Next in my pile is Jellicoe Road. I read the first sentence and was immediately hooked, so I can't wait to read it.

This year, I'm not going to stress myself out. I'll write when I want, and what I want. I have too many other things to worry about.

But I haven't touched Mirror, Mirror in two days. I got sucked into a Criminal Minds marathon with my grandma yesterday. I have never watched that show before, but it is so interesting.

And Dr. Spencer Reed....


Possibly the hottest and cutest nerd on television. So, don't be surprised if I start fangirling about him or the show.

How about you? What are you working on?
1.1.10

New Year, New Things, New Look


This year, for me, is all about transformation. Becoming a better person than I was last year. With that said, I wanted my blog to look better then it did last year.

So this is the new look and I hope you guys like it. Seriously, there were so many layouts to chose from. Most of them were bright and fun, but I like dark colors for some reason. And I happen to have Beautiful Creatures on my desk. The cover to that book is gorgeous and so once I saw this layout, I knew I had to have it, because it reminds me of Beautiful Creatures which I am about to finish and I hope to have a review of it up, soon.

Anyways, Happy New Years!

I hope everyone had a good time last night. I read, watched some TV and I watched the ball drop, so I didn't do anything really glamorous this year.

I am so excited that it's 2010. It's a clean slate, a new beginning. This year I hope to live more, love more, laugh more, and hopefully get a job.

But enough about personal resolutions. I need blog resolutions. Since it's a new year and I have a new look for my blog, it's only right that I start doing some amazingly awesome stuff on this blog.

This includes:
  • Interviews: So, this wasn't my idea at all. But I do think it's a cool idea. I mean, let's face it, I am a HORRIBLE (yes, it needed to be in caps) blogger. My blog would most definitely win the award for the most boring blog EVER. Seriously. So, it would be nice if I had some cool people, namely my writing buddies (you know who you are) interviewed on this blog. I know nothing about interviewing, but I hope people are interested in being interviewed.
  • Guest blogs: This is self-explanatory, but if anyone is interested in guest blogging just say so. I really wouldn't mind having someone guest blogging. I would appreciate it, even. But whatever you talk about has to be YA related. It could be a controversial topic or something else.
  • Music Monday: I did this on my other blog before I abandoned it. Music Monday is where I push shuffle on my iPod, playlist etc. and post the song that comes up.
  • WIP Spotlight: I *know* a lot of amazing writers with WIPs that should be agented. I have this on my schedule for Thursday's post, but I was thinking maybe I could showcase somebody's WIP. Make a generic cover for it, post a blurb under it and have the person answer five questions about that WIP, just for fun. If nobody is cool with me spotlighting their WIP. Just pretend I never said this.
  • Poetry Friday: I LOVE poetry. It was what I used to write before I turned to prose. But anyways, on Fridays I will either post a poem I wrote or a poem by some famous poet from way back when. And I'll find a picture to go with it and everything. (This idea was actually mine.)
  • Book Reviews: I got quite a few books for Christmas, so I will be posting reviews of them.

Of course there's things like Teaser Tuesdays and WIP Wednesdays, so I think I have every day of the week covered.

SO tell me what you think of these ideas. Do they suck or are they as awesome as I want to believe they are? Come on, tell me the truth. I won't cry. Okay, I might shed a tear or two, but no big deal.

And if you have any suggestions or if you're interested in being interviewed or guest blogging, just leave me a comment.

Thanks!

P.S. There's an awesome contest going on over at The Raven Desk. Go check it out. I promise you it is awesome.