Keeping Secrets from Friends

Beautiful Day

Beautiful Day

Today I’ll be brief. Writing, my job, and being a mom is catching up with my hands. Like most of us, I spend a ridiculous amount of time on my cell phone and laptop. And I don’t own a dishwasher so that means I am the dishwasher. Anyway–all this to say, my right hand and wrist are starting to feel tired, like carpel tunnel weak. But no complaints from me! I’m glad to have food to dirty my dishes and fortunate enough to write a story I love. So I’ll just have to incorporate  activities that don’t involve using my hands as much. Since the day is GORGEOUS I think a walk by the lake is long over due. 🙂

Before I do that, I wanted to share. I came across a journal my RAs gave me years ago with quotes and encouraging words. Finding little gems like this as I’m packing to move makes me happy. With the rush of life it’s important to take a moment to reflect, appreciate, and smile. I get the feeling that this RA knew I needed to hear these quotes. I still do.

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Hope these encourage you too!

Onto my WIP, the sequel to The Hall Speaks #fallsemester which, if all goes as planned, will be available in September. If this is your first time stopping by, I write about college life. My first novel is a NA contemporary drama about resident assistants (RAs). In another WIP Wednesday, I shared an excerpt featuring RAs Ethan and Carly. They have a past but are friends, so Carly believes. But Ethan has a secret that would cause irrevocable damage to their friendship. This except is from Ethan’s POV. 🙂

Math: April 23, 2014 comes out to 23 lines or so from blog post 14.

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Keeping Secrets From Friends

#Ethan

“Hey, man,” Ethan greeted the tall, long-haired guy. Their big hands clasped together like cymbals, sending a sharp echo through the lobby.

Ethan could feel his smile spreading across his face. He felt relieved to have friends that weren’t doing the Res-Life thing. And Finn didn’t live on campus which made it even better. He pulled Finn into a hug, arching his back so that Finn’s feet lifted off the tile.

“Guess, I’ll leave you two alone…enjoy the bromance,” Carly teased, wheeling away toward the hallway.

Finn’s eyes followed Carly, paying special attention to her wheelchair. Then he stared at Ethan.

“I know—don’t,” Ethan mumbled, rubbing his shoulder, thinking back to that night.

“I’m not. But you and,” he made a gesture with his hand, pointing to the hallway Carly left down, “…working together. How do you—?” he asked, squinting.

Ethan looked down at his Nike’s, avoiding the question.

“You’re not going to tell her, huh?” Finn didn’t wait for a response. “I don’t blame you,” he finished, catching sight of a girl walking by.

Ethan’s jaw tightened a cue for ‘shut up’ already. He wished a delete button existed. He’d use it, slamming his fist on every detail of that night—the night Kyle crashed into Patrick’s SUV. Ending Patrick’s life and leaving Carly…crippled.

He shook his head, hating that he thought of her that way. Even more he hated knowing  that he could have protected her–protected them both.

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Always, thanks for reading! If you’d like to take part in WIPpet just go here.  Be sure to check out other WIPpets, I’ll be doing my rounds later today. I’ve missed all the stories and excerpt shared during this time.  And thank you K. L. Schwengel for hosting! Happy reading All! Stay beautiful. 🙂

Hot Pink Stain–WIPpet

Have you ever met someone who has a bad attitude for no reason? Like, you ask a simple question and they snap back with a rude comment. It’s hard not to take it personally. And showing compassion for the person displaying this behavior–forget about it–not happening!  Because I know for me in those situations, I don’t exactly get this feeling:

1301088653-andy_parks_and_rec.gifhappy

Well, I’ve learned that there is always a reason–not that it’s justifiable–why people are mean. I’m convinced that 90% of road-rage has nothing to do with driving. Sometimes people go through horrible things and live with residual anger.  If any of you have ever seen Anger Management you know exactly what I’m talking about. Or one of my favorites, that moment in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark just goes mad-cow disease on his boss.

The way many people feel when life just gets crazy

The way many people feel when life just gets crazy

Unfortunately for my character, Kessa Daniels, her situation has no laughter involved. She’s carrying a dark burden. A burden that was forced, one that she never imagined carrying.  But she holds it with an attitude because it’s the only way to deal with the pain. Some folks smile the pain away, while others push everyone away.

In my first novel, The Hall Speaks #fallsemester, Kessa is introduced during RA training. She is playing the role of a cutter during the scenario and is so believable the other RAs get emotional watching. This happens during that scene:

But for Kessa, conjuring up tears was as easy as brushing her teeth.

She had more to cry about then any of them could ever know. 

My WIP scene is connected to this one, and it’s from RA Marcus Johnson’s POV. They are ‘just friends’ and he’s finally getting Kessa to trust him. Marcus asked Kessa to attend a divine nine fraternity banquet with him.

The math: April 2, 2014 so I’m giving you 22 lines (14+2+2+4) from blog post 8 (4th month multiplied by 2).

#Marcus

“Never mind, Marcus, I’ll get it myself,” she demanded, snatching the cup from his hand.

“Look–I’m sorry.”

Her expression softened. No one could be mad at Marcus for long. His dimples appeared when he talked. He accepted people and they accepted him right back.

Kessa gave him a quick smile. “It’s ok, I’m sorry too.”

“Hey, let me introduce you to one of the pillars in KSG…” Marcus shifted to the side, revealing the dark-skinned guy behind him. “This is Drake,” he introduced, patting his high set shoulders.

The most peculiar smile shaped Drake’s slender face as he studied Kessa’s form. Marcus frowned slightly because Drake stared at Kessa like he knew her in that way. He glanced at Kessa and felt even more lost.

She stood there, still as a tree in the eye of a storm. Her dark brown eyes focused on Drake, watering from a new emotion. Her fingers twitched. Before Marcus could mutter another word, she flung her drink in Drakes’ face. The red liquid dripped down his neck, staining his white collared shirt hot pink.

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Always, thanks for reading! If you’d like to take part in WIPpet just go here.  Be sure to check out other WIPpets, I’ll be doing my rounds tomorrow. And thank you K. L. Schwengel for hosting! Happy reading and let’s all keep writing!

Photo/Gif Credit: www.tucsonweekly.comgiphy.com245 × 235

 

Guilty–WIPpet

This month I’ve started editing the sequel to my debut novel, The Hall Speaks #fallsemester. It hasn’t been horrible, but I wish I could say that I’ve been working on it everyday and making great progress. Last week was full of student chaos–all fun, but nonetheless exhausting.  So, spending time with my characters got put hold a few days. I have one more major event that I’m planning and after that, I’m hoping the semester will slow down to a manageable pace.  🙂

Onto my WIPpet for today, March 19, 2014. My brain is loaded so I’m doing easy math, just adding it all together.

3+19+2=24 sentences or so, and 2+1+4= blog post 7

I thought it would be helpful to share exactly I write about since my premise is fairly unusual.  In short, my books are about Residence Life culture, specifically resident assistants (RAs).  They have this unique experience of living at their job with co-workers (other RAs), customers (residents), and the boss (Hall Director). As you can image, this set-up makes everything interesting. Especially on the relationship front. Boundaries are crossed, lines are blurred to a nonexistent level.  But who can blame them? It’s hard living with anyone without things getting personal at some point.

And this topic brings us to RAs Carly and Ethan that share a past, but still  must work together. And I’d like to add my choice of actors to play these rolls this week.  I usually don’t imagine the face of actors when I write, but what the heck! I wanted to add something fun to this weeks WIP excerpt. 🙂

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320_33569890389_571855389_1622798_4884_n_large.jpgEthan

In this scene they are in winter RA training. Carly is looking to finally get some answers from Ethan.

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#Carly

Carly watched as Janine walked towards them, wearing a colorful mess of clothes, smiling.

Janine held her arms out to the group as if waiting for a hug. “And to most of your residents that’s exactly what your transfer students will be like–strangers. Not starting the year with ya’ll is a real set-back socially, so it’s your job to Do It Like Grandma Does!”

The corner of Carly’s lip lifted, irritated. Ok I can totally zone out now… She peeked at Ethan next to her. Better idea.

She reached in her bag and grabbed a notebook; she figured it would look less suspicious, like they were taking notes on the presentation. She scribbled on the paper. Her handwriting hadn‘t been great since the accident but it was legible. She pushed the note under his elbow.

Ethan looked down, reading it.

Why didn’t you visit me? I know we didn’t end on the best terms – we had our ups and downs but I thought we were still friends. We’re cool, right? 

He sat there for a minute shifting uncomfortably in his seat, then picked up the pen and wrote:

I was working, sorry. And yeah, we’re cool.

Carly looked at Ethan as his eyes stayed on Janine. He was hiding something. She could smell guilt better than police dogs sniffing for street drugs. Having cheated on her boyfriend with Ethan last semester, she suffered from the guilt-disease for weeks. Whatever was going on with Ethan overflowed from his eyes, apparently affecting his vision. Since they’d gotten back from break, he hadn’t look at her–not really. None of it made sense.

Then her chest tightened as she gripped the sides of her new transportation. She groaned inwardly, hoping Ethan wasn’t getting all weird because she was in a wheelchair now. But that couldn’t be it, Carly decided. Ethan was lame sometimes, but not petty.

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Always, thanks for reading! If you’d like to take part in WIPpet just go here.  Be sure to check out other WIPpets, I’ll be doing my rounds tomorrow. And thank you K. L. Schwengel for hosting! Happy reading and let’s all keep writing!

Photo credit: http://data.whicdn.com/images, http://doctorwho.fm/wp-content/blogs

I’m no Beyoncé…

Photo: entertainmentwise.com

Photo: entertainmentwise.com

Isn’t it amazing how this lovely lady can drop an album without advertising for it at all and sell millions?! Well, any indie author knows it doesn’t quite work like that for us. So, here’s my update on being indie, using a pen name and marketing.

Deciding to use a pen name was just as difficult as deciding to go indie. Both are tremendously risky. Here’s some of the problems I’ve come across so far.

Problem 1: I’m a newbie so building a platform is hard.  

No one would every guess that I minored in marketing. I’m so bad at it—really. I don’t like selling stuff, something about it feels insincere to me (It’s not. I’m just weird about consumerism. I can’t even sit through commercials because I don’t want to be persuaded into buying something). I like being on social media sites to connect with others, but when it comes to marketing my book, I’m timid. I just don’t want to come across as annoying. And this is me projecting my anti-consumerism, because I often find mass-advertising annoying. Honestly, my husband has done more to market my book than I have at this point. I’ve contacted 20 friends who I thought would like my book. Some of the responses from my friends were funny. They were excited but many of them didn’t even know I’d written a novel– proof that my marketing skills need help. 🙂

What I’m going to do:

On to building a platform, still working on this, but I’m starting with ResLife. I’ve gotten the most positive feedback there because I think many RAs can relate to my story. Then on to book bloggers!

Problem 2: I don’t have any other works so I didn’t have a following for my writing.

Ok, I may have been a little ambitious, a novel being my first attempt at creative writing. So I hadn’t been blogging and gaining followers daily like other writers. But putting out a novel under a pen name that’s only existed for about five months hardly creates credibility. Reading a book by an unknown person is a risk that many readers are not willing to take.

How this happened:

I literally just had an idea and started writing—mostly for myself (It saved me from my post-pardon depression insomnia madness). And then, with two little babies, any free time I had was dedicated to working on my novel.

Problem 3: And this is major– readers don’t know what I look like.

I knew this would be a huge downside of my decision. People connect with pictures, especially pictures of other people. I’m guilty. I see a cool, friendly looking photo of a blogger and next thing I know I’m checking out their page. Marketing myself and while keeping my identity hush-hush…is difficult.

Why I did this:

My legal name already has an online presence and I wanted my writing endeavors to have a separate identity. Mostly because I’m not trying to sell myself as an author but I’m trying to sell a story, highlight the ResLife culture, and expose the truth. Also, I mentor college students and I want them to feel as comfortable as possible talking to me about their life. A lot of times they tell me extremely personal stuff—the kind of things they don’t want anyone to know about. So for me, it just felt safer to use a pen name. That way, no one would assume I’m writing about the students I work with. And if I choose to discuss a topic they bring up, they’d be protected.

On the upside, using a pen name is freeing, it hasn’t interfered with my job or personal life.  This pen name is a brand but I’m not. I can write in a different genre without losing my readers in this one. Harry Potter fans kind  of prove  that readers these days are more loyal to characters they love verse the author. Also, being anonymous creates a little mystery. I like that sometimes. With so many people online these days, the anon can sometimes stand out. There’s an anonymous literary agent on twitter and it’s created such a buzz. This anon even has other agents wondering about their identity.

So whether you choose to hide your identity or not these are just some of the things I’ve experienced. 🙂

Coming up with a Book Cover

Book covers are tricky business. While I was writing that was one thing I never envisioned. Sure, I could see the character, each scene unfolding like a blockbuster movie, but an intriguing cover–nothing. I mean nothing. And for me that was kinda hard to accept being a former fashion major. Knowing what looks good visually comes naturally, I can dress people surely I can dress a book. Boy was I wrong.

I started researching book covers in my category, New Adult, and well, there were all kinds of girl-lusting-after-boy covers, or the hunky guy exposing his sculpted chest. Not quite my style. However, I read on NA Alley that book covers with people on them sell better. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of characters on the covers of books, I understand why this sells. We are so relational and want to connect with others. Seeing a real person on the cover probably draws interest just because of that fact. However, I still wasn’t sold on the idea. I’m a child of the 90s and I know just how silly people can look when fashion goes wrong. Seriously, these would have been models for book covers in the 90s.

90s fashion Will Smith 90s

And we all know what this looks like to us now. I just couldn’t.

So, I thought of all the cool campus type images I could use as cover art: buildings, mascots, book bags. Along with all the Reslife stuff like, key cards, duty logs, t-shirts galore.  But then there’s this little copyright issue I kept running into that killed the dream I had in me.  I’d have to get permission and pay for most of the images I thought would work best, which led me in a different direction. I wanted to have a picture that wouldn’t violate copyright laws but display something meaningful to the story. And I wanted to include a person too, but without showing their gender or fashion style. This is what I came up with.

draft1

How did you decide on cover art? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I have to figure out an image for the last installment of the Hall Speaks. 🙂

*image source: Will Smith picture from www.fashionupevents.com

The first ever novel about…

Residence Life.

Ok. I didn’t do this intentionally. I just thought it would be cool to write a story about my experiences as a live-in college professional. But working in student affairs didn’t allow for much time for this goal. I mean, who wants to write about their job after working a 12 hour day? However…

After the Virginia Tech shooting that occurred in 2007, I started thinking about the resident assistant story more, the unexplored point-of-view of teenagers confronting crises. And if that isn’t enough, they have to live with their peers and deal with these situations often while trying to get a degree.  RAs deserve to have a book just for them.

When I started actually writing this story in 2010, I couldn’t figure out how to pitch the book (#writerproblems101).  At the time the New Adult category wasn’t around and the literary world didn’t see an audience for college-aged characters. And Reslife culture is so unique like the military; unless you’ve lived in it it’s hard to understand. But I went to a writers’ conference anyway and pitched it to one agent. They loved it but wanted me to make the characters fit more into the YA genre. I thought about it but the story didn’t work for me as a YA. So I was kind of frustrated, and didn’t query. Why bother? My book didn’t fit. I couldn’t find one novel centered on Residence Life.

As I read more and more novels, I kept coming back to mine and thought: What do I have to lose if I actually publish it? Well, it could fail. But then I thought about some advice my friend Lisa gave me in grad school because I was scared of flunking out. I was more than struggling with a few of my classes. She said, “So what if you do fail and get kicked out, you can always do something else.” Those words relieved so much pressure I was putting on myself.  And for some reason, remembering what she said helps me to not be afraid. In honor of Dory from finding Nemo, I’ll just keeping writing, writing, writing!! I’m writing the first ever Residence Life novels and that in a way is success.

In the next few days I’ll post an excerpt from, The Hall Speaks #fallsemester. 🙂

RA of the Month

RA of the month

Here’s the part of my blog where I recognize a really cool RA.The first RA of the month is Mandy Rae! Yay for Mandy!

mandy Rae

Mandy likes Harry Potter, Glee and the color yellow

She so graciously agreed to let me feature her on this post. After I finished the second draft of my book last year, I came across her tumblr: youknowyoureanrawhen, which made me smile and laugh. There was stuff on there about RAlife that I could really relate to, even though I haven’t been an RA in years. I find it comforting that the RA job hasn’t changed, proving that the Reslife culture is going strong. I snagged a few of the RA saying from her blog. Don’t fret; I’ll translate the RA lingo.

ykyramandypinkyouknowredyouknow

Duty—RAs have to walk around their building to make sure students are alright and not getting into trouble

Program—Planned events RAs provide for students

You can also find community on her blog–RAs trying to help each other. The job is pretty stressful: dealing with crisis situations and my goodness, the paperwork is like having three extra classes. So Mandy, providing a Dear Abby kind of section has been tremendously helpful for RAs everywhere. Like her tagline states, “A place where RA and (CAs) can share ideas and stories.”

Congratulations Mandy Rae on being RA of the Month!! Keep Shining!

If you’d like to recognize an RA let me know. I’d love to highlight  their awesomeness on my blog.;)