To See Clearly: An Excerpt

It’s been almost a year since I published GCA2: Diving In. I’ve been working on the third installment on and off since then, and I’d like to say that I’m close to publishing it as well, but alas. That would be a lie. Id like to tell you that I haven’t posted on this blog for four months because I’ve been steadily working on GCA3. Alas, that would also be a lie.

But I have been working on it rather steadily for the past few weeks, and I’m feeling confident that I will get there, and that this book will be finished soon. -ish.

You all have been waiting so very patiently for me to finish, though, and I’d like to thank you all for that. Therefore, here is an excerpt of GCA3: To See Clearly so you can get an idea of where this story is headed. I hope you enjoy it.

And SURPRISE! it’s not another story about Rahab at Grover Cleveland. The main character is Bracken Carnegie and the story is set two years before GCA1: Into the Flames.

B is for Bracken

B is for Bracken

~

Bracken got up and went to Analiese’s room. He rapped on her door and waited for her cheerful “come in” even though he could see through the door that she was just sitting on her bed. She had already changed out of her uniform and was wearing a Flogging Molly shirt and pajama pants.

Bracken sat down on her desk chair and propped his Converse up on the edge of her bed.

“Hey, there, stranger,” Analiese said. “What’s up with you?”

“I thought you wanted to talk about cheerleading camp.”

“Oh, what happens at cheerleading camp stays at cheerleading camp,” Analiese replied glibly. “I want to know if you found anything to do around here for the past two weeks while I was gone.”

“As much as usual,” he said. He thought about telling her about the tattoo, which was constantly reminding him of its existence with its itching, but he hadn’t gotten it to show off. It was there to remind himself that beneath the surface, he was different. That he would always be different. And that was something even Analiese wouldn’t understand.

“What are you thinking about?” Analiese asked, leaning over to scrutinize him. She had the same piercing deep blue eyes that he did. But they looked better on her pixie face, and he doubted they could see through solid objects.

“Do you remember Ianto?”

“Ianto?” Analiese scratched her head. “It sounds familiar. That’s a funny name, though, isn’t it?”

Bracken sighed; of course she wouldn’t remember. She had only been five, and Ianto, a teenage employee of their parents, wouldn’t have been interesting to her. “He was Mr. Jamison’s son,” Bracken said.

“Oh, yeah, I remember now. I had forgotten his name,” Analiese said. “He died when we were little, didn’t he?”

“Yeah.”

“You were thinking about him? Why?”

Bracken took a breath, ready to tell her about the vision, about how it was all his fault. But instead the words came out as, “No reason in particular.”

Her pursed lips told Bracken that she knew he was holding back, but she didn’t push it. She never did. Instead she said, “Mom’s being a jerk to me today.”

“According to you, she is always a jerk.”

“Yeah, but you’d think she could at least notice when I get home from a two-week camp. Like, ‘Hi, Ana, I’ll tell Maria to set another plate for dinner.’” Analiese flipped her hair. “Instead I had to go tell Maria I was back myself.”

“You love talking to Maria. And Maria loves to give you cookies and milk like you’re still five.”

“I know.” Bracken could almost hear the words she didn’t say: But that’s not the point.

They sat in silence for a minute, Analiese biting her nails and Bracken flicking his cigarette lighter on and off. Bracken had a vision of Analiese sitting in this very rom, packing to go off to her boarding school. Nothing too exciting there. What was the point of having visions if they were mundane things, things that he wouldn’t even want to change? What did Bracken care if Analiese packed three pairs of flip-flops?

Bracken heaved a sigh. The flashing lights of his visions often gave him a headache.

“What did The Patriarch have to say to you?” Analiese asked, probably thinking that was what the sigh was about.

“I got expelled from Manchester.”

“Big surprise there,” Analiese said. “You know, one of these days you could try not getting expelled.”

“Not getting expelled?” Bracken repeated, as if she had made a revolutionary suggestion.

“Yeah. Just, like, try not setting fire to the dorms. Or not playing strip poker with the dean’s daughter. Or not disassembling all the computers in the lab and selling the parts on e-bay.”

“I don’t need a list of all my grievances, thank you, counselor,” Bracken said. “And besides, the fire was an accident.”

“But why were you smoking in the dorms in the first place? Why do you do any of it in the first place?” Analiese crossed her arms. “You don’t strike me as the type of person to need attention from authority figures.”

“I do it to distract myself.”

“Distract yourself from what?”

Bracken stood up, knocking the chair over in the process. “I get enough of these interrogations from dad and my teachers. I don’t need them from you too.”

Analiese raised her hand to grab his arm. “Sorry, sorry. I’m sorry.”

Bracken sat back down. “It’s okay. I just…I know nobody believes me, but I don’t do it to get in trouble. I just…”

“Sorry,” Analiese said again. “So where’s dad sending you this time? Boot camp? Yank out that earring, and you’d make a fine soldier.”

“Ha ha, no thanks,” Bracken said. “No, he’s not desperate enough for military school yet.”

“So where is it?” Analiese asked.

“Does it matter? I’m just going to get expelled again.”

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13 Things You Should Ask Yourself before the End of 2013

Usually at the last minute, or even after the new year has started, I end up doing some new year’s resolutions. Most of the time I end up not meeting them. So instead, this year, I’m going to “steal” this list of questions from my friend Amanda’s blog and answer them. She in turn took the questions from a list of 25 things you should ask yourself, but I liked her idea of doing 13 questions for the year 2013. Here goes!

1. What am I most proud of this year?
I’m going to have to say publishing a novel and two short stories. Without my husband pushing me to do the things I love, I wouldn’t have gone through with it, but since he did, I am very proud of myself for allowing him to push me into doing it. It required much interaction with other people, quite a bit of patience, and a lot lot LOT of writing. But it was worth it.

I’m also very proud of the fact that my husband and I adopted our daughter this year. But that was more waiting for people to fill out paperwork than anything I did.

2. How can I become a better ________?
Editor? Mom? Housekeeper? Wife? I think the answer to all these questions is to pretend that I’m not tired.

3. Where do I need to allow myself grace?
I have no idea. I believe that every time I am hard on myself, I deserve it, so….

4. Am I passionate about my career?
I’m not sure how to answer this question. I am passionate about editing. But I’m not passionate about drumming up editing business for myself. I’d love to have a steady stream of manuscripts to work on, but what with taking care of two kids and trying to write/publish my own stuff, I don’t have time to look for this steady work. Boo.

5.  How did I spend my free time?
Mostly playing on the internet, sadly. Well, I did manage to read 29 books this year, so that was exciting. I’m hoping for 30+ in 2014.

6. When have I felt most creatively inspired?

a. When talking about my future books with either my sister and my husband. Talking is easier than actually writing it down. ;)

b. When designing my kids’ rooms. We finally moved and they each got a new room, and I have spent many hours browsing pinterest and Urban Outfitters and Etsy finding all the things I will buy once we have the money to redecorate. The boy’s room is going to be Doctor Who/Firefly, and the girl’s room is going to be steampunk/industrial. I’m very excited.

7. What projects have I completed?
a. One novel

b. Two short stories

c. Packing up a house and unpacking it into another house.

d. Can waiting for an adoption to go through count as a project?

8. In what ways can I restructure my time?
One of my resolutions for 2013 was to read more books and watch less TV. The volume of books I read this year was small, but still more than I read in 2012, so it was an improvement. But I’d like to improve myself even more in 2014 and read more books and watch less TV.

9. When have I felt the most alive?
As an ISTJ, I don’t think that “feeling alive” is really important enough to register with me. Looking back, I guess I’d have to say it is whenever I am watching my kids running outside and getting fresh air.

10. How can I improve my relationships?
As an ISTJ, I am fine having only a few friends. However, I shouldn’t use my introversion as an excuse to not make an effort to hang out with the few friends that I have. I should probably not just sit around waiting for them to text me.

11. What lessons have I learned in 2013?
a. Nagging gets things done.

b. Planning a meal list a week or two in advance makes dinner much less stressful.

c. Toddlers are like border collies. They love attention, and it takes a lot to wear them out. They are unlike border collies in that when they do get worn out, they cry a lot. A LOT.

12. What old habits would I like to release?
Staring at something that needs to be done and then thinking,”I should do that,” and not doing it. And then being mad at myself for not doing it.

13. What new habits would I like to cultivate?
Budgeting. It something we’ve never had to really pay attention to before, but Bigger House + New Car + Me Not Having a “Real” Job = Less Money. And if we don’t budget, then I will just spend all our money on redoing the kids’ rooms.

 

So that’s it! I have no idea how to do a linkup, but I’m supposed to link this up to Amanda and Beka and Kenzie and the original 25 things post. Or something. So check out their posts!

 

 

The Lady Okie Blog
Posted in Personal, reading | Tagged as: , , ,

On Publishing and Rejuvenation

So Diving In came out this summer. It was a great feeling, to finally see this book that I worked on for almost a year finally out there in the hands of the readers. I thought, I better get a start on the third book so I can get it out next year! And this will be even easier, because I wrote the rough draft of it two years ago for NaNoWriMo!

I was wrong. I spent three months rewriting the third book, and with each week that passed, my daily word count grew smaller and smaller. The harder I tried to continue, the harder it was for me to figure out what was supposed to come next. By the seventh chapter, my character was too tired to continue. I was tired. It sucked.

I tried rejuvenating myself with NaNoWriMo. I set aside To See Clearly and opened up GCA4, Flying Free. I thought if I focused on a different character and a different point in the charaters’ lives, I would be happier and type faster. And the knowledge that thousands of others were joining me in NaNoWriMo would spur me on to greater heights, right?

I got into the third chapter before I realized that November had suddenly passed me by and I was nowhere near the 50k mark. So much for that endeavor.

For NaNoWriMo, I do have somewhat of a legitimate excuse. My husband and I are in the process of buying a house. I’ve spent the majority of the past month packing and planning what kind of items we will need for our new house. Honestly, the situation has become slightly more stressful than I thought it would be. And thus, for the past three weeks I’ve hardly written a word. I haven’t even had time or the desire to read.

Then good news came this first week of December. The cover for my second short story was done. I received it from my cover artist, and with great joy I uploaded it for distribution to all e-book sales channels. By the way, A Telling, the second tale from Pocatello, is now available for the Kindle and the Nook!

jessie-telling-final-web

But that’s not what I came to tell you about. (Although I would appreciate it if you bought A Tellingand read it.) I’ve avoided posting here for over a month because I was tired of writing and ashamed of that fact. I love Rahab and the Grover Cleveland Academy series, but writing books three and four have been frustrating and unrewarding. Diving In came so easily to me. Why am I dragging my feet so slowly on these next two? Where is the motivation?

So for the past two or three weeks I have felt really bummed because I wasn’t writing and I didn’t feel like writing and I didn’t know what to do about it. And then, as soon as my cover came back to me, I felt like writing again. Maybe it was the visual image of something I had penned. Maybe it was just the remembrance of what my ultimate goal as a writer is. Maybe I had just languished long enough and my ennui expired.

What I did know was that I couldn’t ignore the sudden urge to write, not after it had been gone for so long. I opened up my fourth tale from Pocatello and began typing. Maybe it’s not the manuscript my “fans” are clamoring for, but it is a story that I love to work on, and it is something that I plan to publish next year.

It feels so good to be writing again. With all the stress of moving and Christmas and making sure my kids are bundled up enough to go play in the snow, sitting back and creating another world is peaceful. It is the rejuvenation I was hoping for last month.

Now, I’ve only been at this a couple of days, and once we move and begin to unpack and Christmas springs upon us, the writing will probably be placed on the back burner again. But then when January rolls around I can remember how much joy writing gave me, and maybe it’ll make it easier to start up again. And maybe, next time, it will be on Grover Cleveland Academy.

A Telling is  the second Tale from Pocatello. Approximately 8,600 words.

Natalie doesn’t fit in anywhere. To the Nerjans, she is just another slave, the daughter of a long-dead rebel. And Les Tristes, her enslaved people, shun her due to her ability to hold magic. Rejected by both worlds, Natalie knows that it is time to take control of her own future.
Allowing herself to be sold to a wealthy family in Nerja feels to Natalie more like an adventure than a sentencing. If she can keep her magic hidden, serving the noblemen of Nerja will be much better than slogging through the swamps with Les Tristes.
But when a Wanderer discovers her secret and her new start is threatened, Natalie realizes how truly limited her aspirations have been. Can a slave girl overcome her destitute beginnings, reach her potential, and find a place to belong?

Posted in NaNoWriMo, Pocatello | Tagged as: , , , , ,

David vs. Julia, continued

I stared across the counter at him with steely resolve. He was sitting at his usual table, one hand gripping the edge of the Daily Oklahoman that hid his face from view, the other idly playing with the handle of his cracked coffee mug. He had been a regular at the diner for almost five months. It was time to go for it.

I picked up the coffee pot and sauntered as casually as possible to his table. “Hi, David. How are you doing?”

He looked up from his newspaper, blinking as if emerging from a dimly lit room. “Good morning, Julia. I’m doing well. And you?”

I loved the melodic, romantic way my name rolled off his British tongue. It made my heart race. I told myself to stop being so superficial—I shouldn’t like a guy just because he had an accent. “I’m good,” I managed to gulp out. “Your usual bacon and eggs?”

“Yes, please,” he said. He smiled to reveal two crooked front teeth. They made me want to giggle like a little girl every time I saw them.

“Can I interest you in any toast or hash browns today?” I asked.

“No, not today, thank you,” he replied.

I had told the cook his order as soon as he had walked in the door, and he knew it. I took a deep breath, pretended to top off his coffee, and went off script. “So today is my birthday.”

“Is it? Many happy returns.” His deep-set brown eyes appraised me. “Sixteenth?” he guessed.

A flush of indignation crept up my cheeks. “Twenty-first, actually.” So that explained why he was always speaking down to me. Although I had figured he was only in his late twenties, he must have seen a bigger separation between our ages than I did. Was twenty-one still considered a kid to him? “I have…other…customers…” I stuttered, and bustled off to attend to them.

There were really only two other customers this early in the morning. Mr. Cox and Mr. Sullivan always stopped by for pancakes on their way to work. They were both engrossed in reading the news on their smart phones. David shook his newspaper out as he turned the opinions page. I focused on arranging the baked goods in the cabinet for the lunch crowd.

His order came up a minute later: four slices of crispy bacon and two fried eggs, slightly runny. I placed it in front of him with a clatter.

“Thank you,” he said, and as always, he made a large show of carefully folding his Daily Oklahoman to place next to his plate.

“So, um,” I said, trying to gain back my resolve.

“Yes?” he prompted. “These look delicious, by the way.”

“So a few friends and I are going to a club tonight, to celebrate my birthday. Kind of like a party.” I paused. “I was wondering if you’d like to come. To my birthday party. Sort-of party.”

The steady drizzle of syrup that he had been pouring over his bacon and eggs suddenly left the edge of the plate and came dangerously close to his newspaper. But then he recovered, setting the syrup bottle down and looking up at me with his usual tight smile. “Julia, I appreciate the offer. Were I a different sort, I would be delighted to join you. However, you might be aware of the peculiar fact that I am the most introverted person of my own acquaintance. Therefore, as you would be the only person I previously know at said party, it would be an excruciatingly painful experience for me. And I know it is not your desire to place me in such a situation.”

It took all of my willpower to keep the edges of my mouth from turning down and my eyes to wrinkle in despair. I wanted to whine, “But I want you to come!” but that would do nothing but enforce his belief that I was a child and would look silly and pathetic next to his speech. So I gulped and said, “You’re absolutely right. How silly of me not to think of that. I’m sorry for asking. Enjoy your breakfast.”

I raced back behind the counter to compose myself.

I hope you enjoyed the excerpt above. Sadly, you may never find out what happens to David and Julia, but I do have two novels and one short story published and several I plan to publish in the next year and a half.

Posted in My writing | Tagged as: , ,

Tinkering with Stories

Snoopy and typewriter

Must…needs…write!

For the past three months I’ve been working on To See Clearly, the third installment in my Grover Cleveland Academy series. Unfortunately, I haven’t made as much progress as I’d hoped I would by now, and I’m getting discouraged. It almost makes me not want to write at all. But not writing makes me feel worthless.

I blogged a few weeks ago about how I opened up my Aladdin retelling. Taking a break from what I’m “supposed” to write can be fun and rejuvenating. So this week I’ve been working on a different, but also older, story. This one, entitled David vs. Julia, is written purely for my own guilty pleasure and is borne out of watching too much Doctor Who at one time. Although, is that really possible?

I’ve included the opening lines of David vs. Julia below for your amusement. And hopefully I’ll have some more positive updates about the GCA series soon!

David Lothian thought he might be immortal. He hadn’t died yet, but still he wasn’t confident enough to test the theory. He wondered what the effect of Julia’s knife might be if she walked up and stabbed him in the heart. Would he bleed? Would there be a sharp, overwhelming pain? Would he gasp out his last few breaths gazing into Julia’s green eyes?

Or would he slowly recover, his heart beat again, his chest close the wound, and the skin scab over? Would he be given yet another chance to live?

But Julia wasn’t planning on stabbing him anywhere, much less his heart. She was merely slicing the Boston Crème Pie that she had just pulled out of the industrial oven and set on the diner’s linoleum counter. She looked up and smiled when she noticed him staring at her.

David looked down and straightened his newspaper loudly.

Posted in My writing, Personal | Tagged as: , , ,
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