Tuesday, June 28, 2011

There's No Such Thing...

As a bad Brandy Alexander Mystery.

The last few days I've been feeling under the weather, so instead of working on the second book in my YA series, I've been re-reading this catchy series by Shelly Fredman.

I've been an avid reader since I first learned how to read, and I don't foresee that changing just because I'm writing my own books. I love reading, love getting lost in the story and becoming part of the characters' world. I know the book is a smashing hit when I have a hard time separating my reality from the characters'.

There have been times I've read a book or a series, and have been at a loss with what to do with myself for days afterwards.

Almost like coming out of a fog.

And I've seen a lot of fog since I originated in the Pacific Northwest.

True, I haven't published anything... YET, but I know I will. I want my readers to have the same problem as I have when I read a good book. I want them to relate, and if not relate then be intrigued with what is going on in the lives of my characters.

Barring that, I'd be happy with them lusting after the leading men... and there are some sexy leading men.

I'm sure there are other things I should be doing now (like reading more Brandy Alexander--or maybe working on I2), so I leave you with this: If you haven't checked out the Brandy Alexander Mysteries, you should. You won't regret it. :)


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Take Two: 250 Word Submission

After re-evaluating the first 250 words, and taking into account the suggestions of others (thanks, by the way), here is the first 250 words of my first complete ('Complete' being subjective. It is after all, the first draft and in no way the final version of the story) YA novel.

Genre/Word Count: YA/40,000

October 18, 1992       
            The baby's hair was a soft smattering of auburn silk. Her tiny hand wrapped around his finger; held it in its grip, and he knew he would live and die for her. Power ran through him, warm and fluid.  
            "She's your responsibility now." With a light heart the mother gently placed the child in the man's arms. He was hardly older than a child, but his Destiny was to accompany the girl through every stage of her life.
            "She is mine, and I am her Guardian." His eyes never left the child now sleeping in his arms. The connection was instantaneous. His power knew her, accepted her, covered her, and would protect her. It might be in him, but it belonged to the tiny child he held.  "I will keep her safe. I accept my Destiny." A bright aura of blue surrounded them, and power sizzled through the air, sealing the pact. His eyes never left the face of the newborn, as he lightly traced her mouth with his thumb. "What is her name?"
            "Deliah." The mother said, a smile laced with exhaustion curved her lips.
            "Hello, Deliah. My name is Cian, and I give my life to you."
            The mother reached for her husband's hand, twining their fingers together. With a smile she looked at the Guardian in front of them and relaxed back against the pillows of her hospital bed. Her husband squeezed her hand and said, "Welcome to our family Cian Rion."

Friday, June 24, 2011

Shelly Watters Contest!

It's time for a first page contest with Victoria Marini as judge. These contests are an amazing way to connect with other writers, get some feedback, and have your first 250 words read by an awesome agent. Check out the link below:


In Other Words Contest...

           Genre: Y.A.
Word Count: Approx 40,000 words

          The baby's hair was a soft smattering of auburn silk. Her tiny hand wrapped around his finger; held it in its grip, and he knew that he would live and die for her. There was no question about whether or not he would shirk his duty. Power ran through him, warm and fluid.  
            "She's your responsibility now" The mother gently placed the child in the man's arms. She reflected, with a heart heavy with love, that the man before her was hardly older than a child, but he was the one who would walk through life with her daughter. His Destiny was to accompany her child through every stage of her life. He was the Guardian of the greatest thing she'd ever done.
            "She is mine." His eyes never left the child now sleeping in his arms. The connection was instantaneous. His power knew her, accepted her, covered her, and would protect her. It might be in him, but it belonged to the tiny child he held.  "I will keep her safe. I accept my Destiny." A bright aura of blue surrounded them, and power sizzled through the air, sealing the pact. His eyes never left the face of the child, as he lightly traced her mouth with his thumb. "What is her name?"
            "Deliah." The mother smiled, tired, but happy.
            "Hello, Deliah. My name is Cian, and I give my life to you." 
            The mother reached for her husband's hand, twinning their fingers together. With a smile she looked at

the Guardian in front of them and relaxed back against the pillows of her hospital bed.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Life as a Military Spouse; A Privilege, Not a Right.

Life as a Military Spouse; A Privilege, Not a Right.
I've spent over half my adult life married to a United States Marine. Before that, I was what is commonly referred to as a Navy Brat. Having spent all of my life associated with the military in one form or another, including a stint of my own in the United States Army, I've seen many types of spouses. Some good, some bad, some just indifferent. There are several things I've learned after meeting these women, and being on both side of the military lifestyle.

 I'd like to share them with you.

First and foremost, since in my experience, there seems to be some confusion as to what being in the military actually means. The definition of military is: anything relating to war-like matters.  Yes, this means the sexy man you're dating or coveting from afar, has signed on to go to war

In case you're confused about what going to war might entail--because you've been living in a cave or under a rock for the last decade or longer, depending on your age--just turn on your local news station, pick up a newspaper, or check your Yahoo! email. I guarantee there is at least one link on the home page related to the ongoing war in the Middle East, and the military rarely (if ever) accepts  the feelings of a conscientious objector once the contract is signed.  

On the off chance those little glimpses into the life of a Solider, Airman, Seaman, or Marine aren't enough for you; let me break it down so you'll understand what the war means to your life, and how it will affect you.
If you choose to marry someone in the military, understand they will deploy. This is not a possibility, it's a guarantee. Those few who don't ever see a deployment are the exception. Not the rule.  

While they are deployed- for three, six, nine, or even eighteen months- you're going to be alone. Often in a place where you have no friends, family, or any semblance of a support system. You'll have to learn to do everything by yourself. You're going to have to be mother, father, handyman, gardener, taxman, and lawman. You'll be wearing so many hats, juggling so many jobs, you'll often fall into bed so exhausted you can't think straight. 

Then the heartache comes. 

You'll carry your phone around with you compulsively; showers will be the fastest known to man, and you'll be sad and withdrawn for days if you miss a chance to hear the often tinny, garbled voice of your husband as he calls from a finicky satellite phone. You'll find yourself lonely in a way you never experienced before, and loneliness is a vicious mistress; one you'll spend more time with than your actual husband.  

During their deployment, anything that can go wrong will. For the first time in ten years, you'll come down with the worst stomach virus ever, your child will be rushed to the emergency room because of an unexplainable cough, the house you painstakingly clean daily will suddenly become infested with roaches, and that brand new car you purchased right before he left will breakdown for unknown and mysterious reasons.

Sounds fun, right? 

I haven't even started yet. 

Now, imagine being alone in a strange place, and essentially re-experiencing everything negative about high school. 

That's what the military is like.

 A bunch of boys and girls with the legal right--and access-- to weapons. Being old enough to fight for your country or get married, doesn't guarantee you're old enough to be a decent human being. 

As a military wife you're dropped directly into the path of every single person intent on wreaking the most havoc on those in their path. It's like a real life version of the movie, Mean Girls; only with worse hair, makeup, and wardrobe--and in some cases-- a few more years in age; though at times you'll be hard pressed to find the maturity and wisdom you'd expect from someone who graduated a decade ago. 

While your husband is in some random XXX-stan country, dodging bullets, keeping his head down, and praying to whatever deity he believes in, you'll be navigating your own minefield. Yours isn't deadly, but it's still treacherous, and can prove to be lethal to your husband's career.

That's right, being a military wive means everything you do is a direct representation of the person you married. You go out for a wild night of carousing with the girls, dance on a few tables, take a few body shots, and post a few scantily clad, raunchy photos of yourself on the internet. This can-- and often will-- come back to bite your husband in the ass. 

You think since you didn't sign on the dotted line when he enlisted, military rules don't apply to you. You're wrong. With access to the many benefits that come with the 'dependent' status, there are rules and responsibilities.

A few of these, let's call them expectations, include: not wandering around public areas, such as the commissary and the exchange, in your pajamas; not becoming a barracks bunny-- hooking up with those Soldiers, Airmen, Seamen, and Marines who aren't deployed; showing appropriate decorum-- for those confused, this includes table dancing and taking body shots outside of the comfort of your own home-- at all functions, while on base, on any other government installation, or in public; showing up to Command functions appropriately attired, in this case, appropriate would not include something you'd wear to bed, or to round up business on the local street corner.

Yes, that means your wardrobe choices are going to have to fully cover you, or you'll be asked, and usually not nicely, to return to your home and attire yourself properly. 

After all, this is the real world, and in the real world you can't get something--while dressed like Lady Gaga on crack-- for nothing. 

Life as a military spouse can be a highly rewarding existence, but it isn't for everyone. There are several signs you should be aware of before making the commitment. If you realize this lifestyle isn't for you, that's okay, no one will hold it against you, and in many cases will even applaud your sense of self, and your maturity for not putting yourself in a situation where you'll be miserable, and therefore, make others around you miserable as well.

*  If you can't handle living away from your family and childhood friends, don't become a military spouse. You'll only waste money traveling home every time your Soldier, Airman, Seaman, or Marine has to stand duty, go through training, or work a late night.

*  If you find it hard to remain faithful to your significant other during long separations, don't become a military spouse. Nobody likes a home wrecker, or a barracks bunny, and you'll find yourself on the bad side of the military chain of command very quickly if you get caught.

*  If you're unable to leave the drama from high school, in high school where it belongs, for God's sake don't become a military spouse. There is enough drama in the military already without adding more to it.

*  If you are afraid to get dirty, unwilling to learn, or predisposed to believing that women are meant to be taken care of, you'll find yourself unhappy and miserable. Don't become a military spouse, find yourself a nice Prince to marry. There's little royalty found here.

*  If your life isn't complete without constant attention and entertaining, you're doomed to disappointment if you marry a military member. Make yourself happy in the long run. Marry a banker. 

*  If you can't handle being alone for months at a time, whine about how unfair each deployment is, and constantly complain about how hard it is for you; don't become a military spouse. Every one of us have gone through it. Some multiple times. We understand it's difficult, but we aren't going to coddle you. Suck it up Buttercup or marry a school teacher. 

*  If you don't believe in the war, what our country is fighting for, or the taking of 'innocent' lives, you won't make it as a military spouse. Trust me on this, we're not a very understanding bunch when it comes to those beliefs. After all, if you're not willing to stand behind our troops; feel free to stand in front of them.   

Friday, June 17, 2011


 You've just made it through the longest twelve years of your life...

Last night, my eldest niece graduated from high school, and I had the privilege, and the joy of a numb ass, to sit through the two hour ceremony.

I'm extremely proud of her for surviving twelve years of boredom, catty drama, and in many instances educational mediocrity, for a chance to walk across a stage, have her name mispronounced, and receive-- not the delightful piece of parchment paper with her name on it, but a textured plastic cover her highly coveted piece of parchment paper will one day rest... after she stands in another line for X number of hours.

It's been...a while... since I made my own walk across a similar stage, wearing similar colors, and accepting my very own empty plastic diploma cover. Like with so many things, the passage of time has made a few things glaringly obvious, and 20/20 clear.

The state of California has taken the 'leave no child behind' idea and ran with it.

Now, I realize it's been a 'few' years since I graduated, and maybe I'm a little rusty on the definition of Valedictorian, so I took some time and looked it up.

Valedictorian: a student, usually the one ranking highest academically in a school graduating class, who delivers the valedictory  at the commencement exercises.

While I was sitting on the metal bleachers, the same ones that were uncomfortable as a flat-assed teen and haven't gotten any more comfortable in the passing years, I was confused when the Principal of the school announced there was not one Valedictorian, but SIX



Holy Crap! 

Apparently, there were six students with the highest academic rating in the school. The thought running rampant through our group: There wasn't a single half a percentage point difference between any of them? Yeah, right. 

Unfortunately, that was the only part of the definition they seem to have gotten wrong. 

Each one of those six Valedictorians strode across the stage in their ill-fitting gowns, fighting to keep their caps on in the growing High Desert winds, and gave their speech. 

It's hard to imagine as adults with  responsibilities, families, jobs, advanced years, and jaded personalities, that we were ever that young and naive. 

The first speech was impassioned with the growth and experiences of high school, promises of taking the world by storm, and the knowledge the Class of 2011 were the best and the brightest. 

After the second one that lamented their heroes--Rugrats and SpongeBob SquarePants-- and other important experiences in high school-- lunchtime, dances, and rugby games-- I quit listening. 

These were the highest ranked in academics?   

No child left behind is right, though I'm not sure if this is what George W. Bush had in mind when it was proposed January 23, 2001. 

Then again, maybe it was. 

After the longest  thirty minutes known to man, the last Valedictorian exited the stage, and the school choir did their thing--a performance of songs which seemed to have little to do with commencement. 

Out of the two hours we sat on those benches, the wind blowing, and the sky darkening; it took thirty minutes for the actual graduation. Thirty minutes to call the names of the graduates, congratulate them, and hand them the only tangible evidence of their last twelve years. 

I'm incredibly proud of my niece. She's an amazing girl with the ability to do whatever she wants to in life. 

Congratulations, T-Dawg. Welcome to real life. There are no Valedictorians here...but there is still catty drama. 

Maybe real life really isn't that different, but I really hope it is.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead...

The month of May found me not only awaiting the return of my husband who spent the last seven months deployed to Afghanistan, but also found me eyebrows deep in Statistics and Probability. Anyone who knows me, knows I don't just hate math, I loathe it.

I am happy to say however, I'm officially finished with math. My math requirements have been fulfilled, and all that remains of my degree are English focused classes.

After four gruelingly, fast paced weeks of statistical formulas and confusing probabilities on whether or not it was a likely probability that a couple would get a girl out of their pregnancy, or whether or not there would be more yellow pea pods than green; I not only finished my math class with a passing grade-- I got an "A". The only time in the long history of my education I've ever seen that particular letter in conjunction with the subject.

That's right, I took a bite out of Math. We faced off in the dark alley of higher education and I wiped the floor with it.

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, the Wicked Witch is Dead. 

Don't worry, I remembered to grab Math's ruby red slippers. They were far too sexy for the subject anyway.

All in all, the month ended on a high note. My husband was returned safely to me, my family is once again back together and whole, and the vile subject--math--is eating my dust.

I think it's time to celebrate with a few glasses (bottles) of wine, and a refocusing on my YA series.

I've missed it.