You can check out my books on, and at Barnes & Noble too.

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Strange Week

Mysterious swelling in Markus's leg - which is much, much better, but still mind-boggling in origin - and I've been sick. Note to self: going gluten free doesn't mean there aren't still tainted bags of lettuce waiting to strike. I threw down a table spoon of this -

- at my farrier's suggestion, because sometimes other horse people have better answers than human medical professionals. Strangely enough, it helped.

Writing has its own medicinal qualities. My first novel - which will remain in a dark corner of my flash drive until I finally get around to revamping the whole thing - was reactionary. I'd written my whole life, but when I began sketching that story, I was driven by a sense of injustice that influenced every touch of my fingertips against the keyboard. The result? A rather sloppy, underdeveloped finished product.

Between the first and second, I regrouped. I practiced. I rediscovered writing as an art as opposed to an outlet and found myself writing with greater care: taking those mental snapshots and lining them up with a reader's interests in mind.

I'm extremely driven with my current novel too, but this time, it's excitement pushing me. Is it pompous to say that I feel like my two main protagonists are living inside a TV and that I'm watching their lives unfold? That I feel really lucky I stumbled upon the channel airing them and even luckier that they let me document their experiences? Maybe it sounds more crazy, but that's what it's like to write about these people. No frustration, no putting my own BS into a story as a way to vent. No Hollywood action-sequence gimmicks. I care about Tam and Jo and want them to be happy, to take their seperate paths and come to realizations that are completely their own along the way.

There's a lot of not-so-perfect writing out there (have you been to the book store lately?) and I feel like I learn something new with each book, that I refine my process and technique. That I take greater strides toward capturing something worthwhile between the pages. Some stories are vinegar: they don't taste great and kinda make you gag, but you start to feel better after and they help you focus on what you need to be writing instead.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Outside the Blog

I'm 21,207 words into my next book - which is 45 single spaced pages and a little less than a quarter of the total length. Lightning and Breaking are books, yes, but this is the next book that I'll pitch to agents when it's completed. I've been on a bit of a tear with it the past week: it's very different from anything else I've worked on and for that reason, it's become all-consuming.

For me, it's so easy to tumble head-first into a new story, a new cast of characters and live with them for the months it takes to write their book. But it's so difficult to make the pitch: to package the idea in a tidy, crisp presentation.

Excerpt from Keep You

                The wind hit her like a slap, snatching her hair over her shoulder, pulling the breath out of her lungs. The air had a bite to it, a few stinging drops of rain, and with only the light of the streetlamp at the end of the drive, she could still tell that the clouds ahead were a roiling dark mass. Crisp, brown leaves tumbled across the pavement with loud scraping sounds, the boughs that shaded the drive tossed together, creaking, groaning. It felt like one of those magically cool, chaotic nights that always seemed to bring people closer together in movies.
                  Tam drove an old sky-blue Chevy Malibu that he said was his mother’s – it was the only thing he’d ever said about his mother – and he was climbing into it, sitting down behind the wheel and closing his door with one of those heavy, solid metal thunks old cars made. Jo clutched the bag of cookies to her chest and jogged toward him. As the engine turned over with a roar, she pulled open the passenger door and slipped inside. When she shut the door, all the noise – the wind, the blowing leaves, the tree limbs, even the rumble of the car – faded, and then all she could hear was her own breathing.
                  Tam didn’t seem surprised to see her. He turned toward her, one hand braced casually on the wheel, and in the glow of the dash lights, she saw that he wore a small, amused smile. “I feel like the poor unsuspecting shmuck at a gas station who just had a beautiful bank robber jump in my car with a bag of stolen money. You thinking Canada or Mexico?”

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I've been playing around with Instagram. My favorite photos are always up-close and a little abstract: sometimes the beauty is in the vistas, but other times, it's in the simplest of details.

If every fictional character is a unique individual, then he or she sees the world as real people: through a set of filters. These filters add light and darkness to otherwise flat landscapes. They highlight things others might not see. They are formed through experience and upbringing, hopes, dreams and doubts. I think it's important for readers to see a character's world through these filters so that, however different a story is from our own life experiences, we see it through the character's eyes and we understand.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I'm Reading

Congo by Michael Crichton right now. I have this guilty love of commercial thrillers. Crichton doesn't saturate with sensory details quite the way I like (I crave sensory details like chocolate) but he has a way of blending fact and fiction, research and yarn-spinning in a seamless way. Whether it's dinosaurs, time travel, or a predatory species of gorilla impeding a diamond hunting expedition, I somehow buy whatever he's selling. And, it's just fun. I love to dive into a world or specialty I know nothing about and feel like I'm learning while I'm gripping the edge of my seat.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

You know you're a geek when

You name your farm and it's:

     Their horses were of great stature, strong and clean-limbed; their grey coats glistened, their long tails flowed in the wind, their manes were braided on their proud necks. The Men that rode them matched them well; tall and long-limbed; their hair, flaxen-pale, flowed under their light helms, and streamed in long braids behind them; their faces were stern and keen. In their hands were tall spears of ash, painted shields were slung at their backs, long swords were at their belts, their burnished shirts of mail hung down upon their knees.
     In pairs they rode by, and though every now and then one rose in his stirrups and gazed ahead and to either side, they appeared not to perceive the three strangers sitting silently and watching them. The host had almost passed when suddenly Aragorn stood up, and called in a loud voice:
    "What news from the North, Riders of Rohan?"


"[W]anderers in the Riddermark would be wise to be less haughty in these days of doubt."

- The Two Towers, J.R.R. Tolkien

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


The apple was small and withered, but when she bit into it, a trickle of juice ran down her chin and the green skin snapped beneath her teeth. She found a black piece of rot and dug it out with dirty, ragged fingernails, and kept eating. She’d forgotten the names she’d always wanted to give to her children, the color of her favorite dress, the things her mother had told her about proper manners. All that existed was food, and shelter, listening and living. All she knew was survival.

Monday, June 4, 2012

On Characters

I’ve been thinking a lot about characters lately, those I love in literature and my own, and asking myself how I can improve my characterization process. When writing new stories, I always work backward: the characters come first, just ideas, snapshots, and I add meat and backstory, scars and mental triggers, and then the story grows on them like some kind of plot fungus or something. This process is pretty organic and very hard for me to nail down – explaining ideas, even in my own mind, seems to take some of the fun out of them – but in the interest of growing as a writer, I want to try and better understand my thought process.
While I work on Lightning and Breaking, I’m thinking ahead to my next story. Borderline obsession with a song has generated two new characters who I’m growing quite fond of, and when I tentatively shared them with my mom (because you don’t just throw ideas at just anyone) a look came across her face that told me, “you don’t usually write about that sort of thing.” And I don’t, but that’s why it’s really appealing to me.

I think every author puts a piece – even just a tiny little piece – of him- or herself in each character: it’s how we relate to them as humans, after all, how we get inside their heads. But because my characters are not replicas of me, it enables me to explore desires, hopes, beliefs and mindsets I may never get to experience: it’s a little mental vacation. As a reader, I don’t have to be just like the protagonist in order to identify with or like him or her. But this character has to be inherently human in his or her vulnerabilities. They have to be relatable. Their logic has to be just that: logical, and their emotions have to make sense. Even if the character is not anyone I’d want to meet in real life, I have to believe that, yes, this isn’t a trope or piece of cardboard, but a real person, ready to climb out of the pages.

I appreciate this same level of reality between characters. I love romances that go beyond surface attraction. Whether it’s weird and complex, weighs on the poor characters, or built on strong friendship, I like to feel that I’ve read about a worthwhile pairing. Romps can be fun, but romps don’t inspire me and don’t encourage me to shove a book in someone’s hands and demand she read it.

It might be fun to write up some character analysis posts. Okay, no “might” about it. I’ll have to think on it.