Saturday, December 26, 2009

Road Trip

Remember Mommy’s new car – I first blogged about it in the November 18th post?
She did eventually get a top for it, and one weekend she announced, “We’re going to Reno!”
She wanted me to see snow – for the first time.
On our way back to the San Francisco Bay area it was cold, and slippery. We came to a stretch of road that had recently been plowed, but a sheet of ice remained. The car spun out of control. Around and around we went, down the wide desolate road.
When we came to a stop, Mom sighed in relief, realizing that we were okay.
While I giggled uncontrollably, “That was fun, do it again!”
So, she did. Again, and again, she spun donuts. Just to make me laugh.

Though it seems that my Mom was not aware of a car’s need for antifreeze, and soon learned what can happen without it: a cracked engine block.
That’s pretty bad, right? Well, remember, this is my Mom we’re talking about … it gets worse. The car caught on fire ... in the parking lot, while picking me up from daycare the next day.
Yes, that would be the same daycare I mentioned before. And once again, like she had on many other occasions, the snooty Mrs. Armstrong rolled her eyes as she watched us leave, hoping we would never come back.
You might be asking, what ever happened to the cute little convertible?
Well, Mom only had the car about six months. She had one problem after another with it, and the fire was the last straw.
She had the car towed to the dealership that night. She left the keys inside, with a note that read:
To whom it may concern;
I am sorry, but I cannot take care of this car anymore.
You can have it back.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Coming Soon

I will have a new post after the holidays. Sorry, I've been busy working on my manuscript, hoping to send it out after the new year. Happy Holidays.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Writing and Editing Process

A little over a year ago I wrote the first words of my first young adult novel. I didn’t have a plan, or an outline, just a couple of characters and a hint of an idea (that’s right, not even a complete idea). So, I just started writing – and I do mean writing, with pencil and paper. Page after page I scribbled down what ever came into my head. After about thirty pages I began trying to decipher my notes and copy them into the computer. It didn’t take long for me to realize it was easier to skip the first step and ditch the pencil and paper.
I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning, but kept at it. The plot changed over and over as the characters evolved. The more I wrote the better I got. I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote, and then I wrote some more. Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, now the process of editing.
I’ll break my novel into three main parts and my problem.
1. My protagonist, Melinda, is a present day sixteen year old girl. She’s a normal teenager, with not so normal problems.
2. My story started with a small prologue. Don’t cringe like I just said a bad word. I know a lot of people have issues with prologues. I was on the fence about it myself, but I needed to write a historical piece that would explain the world that Melinda was to uncover. Problem was, over time my small prologue grew. Eventually I had a prologue that was upwards of twenty pages. Not cool. But I felt that revealing more about the characters from the past, gave more weight to the journey in the present.
3. In addition to Melinda, I had Luke, a present day seventeen year old boy, and the link to the past that I mentioned. His story was unfolding at its’ own pace.
My problem – how do I cohesively blend these things together?
The process I used to overcome this obstacle was the very technical, not for the faint at heart. I call it Operation-sticky-notes. I had seen it done before, and wasn’t sure I could take it on, but I did.
Each sticky note represented a scene or chapter. I started by writing the time and place at the top, followed by some key points. Then I laid them all out in front of me and studied them. In no time at all, my chapters had found sequential heaven. What a great feeling when everything comes together and works!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Why I Write

I began writing – mostly poems – as a withdrawn teenager. It was like therapy, or an emotional outlet (more on my angst later). At the time I didn’t have the self-esteem to think that I could share any of my work. After all, no one listened to me when I spoke, why would I let them see my thoughts? Then life took over, otherwise known as practicality: job, marriage, and children. I was now a happier person, but had less time for my own guilty pleasures.
Over the years, as the children grew, I started dabbling again. I wrote some poetry, and I wrote and illustrated a couple of children’s books. I had the need to create, but couldn’t find my niche. I wanted to write something more profound than children’s picture books, but not necessarily adult topics. Then I found YA. I have fallen in love. I think about writing day and night. And I observe more of life thinking, how would I write that?
My goal is to create characters, and a story that my reader can connect with. I want to evoke true emotions, that leave you with a catch in your breath, or a quiver in your chest. I want you to feel a weakness in your limbs, and think about it when you go to sleep.

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Early Employment Experiences

When I was a teenager I had several different jobs - none lasted very long. I was a server for a catering company. I had a short stint as a music DJ, doing weddings and school dances. I delivered balloon bouquets dressed as a clown. And last but not least – for a very short time – I was a cashier for a parent teacher educational supply store (which also included some religious items).
My official statement regarding my abrupt departure from the store:
I was just supposed to ring people out, but they left me alone. It was not my fault that I offended that lady. I thought she was saying Doritos!
I’m referring to the little old Jewish lady, who asked if we had dreidels. Of course that is not where our exchange ended. The lady insisted we should have dreidels. I insisted we don’t, nor do we have Fritos or Cheetos, or any other kind of potato chips. Yes, I bow my head and admit that is what I said. I was young and clueless. And she clearly did not have a sense of humor.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mommy's New Car

“I got a new car today!” Mom said, as she excitedly led me out to the driveway.
There sat a tiny white Datsun convertible.
“It’s cute, Mommy,” I giggled, “Where’s the top?”
“Well. It doesn’t have one, that’s why it was so cheap,” Mom answered. “We live in California … we really don’t need one.”
I was four years old, but I wasn’t stupid.
Flash forward to rainy day, me and Mom driving down the California Freeway with an umbrella hovering over the two of us. I held onto that umbrella with all that I had, trying not to let the wind catch it and whip it from my tiny little arms … again.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's pronounced Michelle (mi-SHELL)

No one ever knows how to say my name. The story behind it is simply this. I was born in San Francisco in the 60's - wait there's more. My mother was a self-described weekend hippie, in other words creative and free, but sensible. Thank goodness or I could’ve been Sunshine or Moon Flower, although the name Michelle was a popular in 1968, and the Beatles song had come out the previous year. So Mom slapped an e on the end of Michael (my father) and voila, her version of the name was born.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Just Another Day

I was sitting on the sidewalk hanging out with my friends. The hot sun was beating down on us. I knew it would be time to go soon, and that’s when I thought to myself, I'm glad I parked in the shade.
Right on schedule a voice called out, “She’s here!” That was my cue.
I leapt to my feet. “See ya tomorrow!” Then I took off on my Donald Duck Hippity Hop to greet my mom.
By the way, I’m four years old and my mom’s picking me up from daycare. The friends I was hanging out with were ants, and I played with them everyday. I knew the ins and outs of that colony – who was in charge, who liked who, the workers, and the slackers.
So anyway, I hopped my way from the back play yard – remember, I’m on my Donald Duck Hippity Hop – and through the large classroom to the front door, where my mom was waiting.
Mrs. Armstrong was talking to Mom, again, “I’m just concerned that she hasn’t made any friends. She just sits on the sidewalk watching the ants all day.”
Mom just shook her head. “What am I supposed to do?” Truth was Mom wished I didn’t have to go to that crappy daycare.
“And what’s with the Hippity Hop?” Mrs. Armstrong said in a disgusted manner, as she looked down at me sitting on said Hippity Hop, with wide eyes looking at the grownups talking.
Mom just gave me a big smile, and said, “Let’s go sweetheart.”
As I hopped out the front door – did I mention I’m on my Donald Duck Hippity Hop? – I looked back at Mrs. Armstrong, flashed her a toothy grin and waved. “See ya tomorrow!”
Note: I had my Donald Duck Hippity Hop until I was thirteen. True story.