Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Teaser Tuesday...It's Cold Here, so a Nice Skinny Dipping Scene Where It's Warmer!

Aw, it's my last Teaser Tuesday of 2009! *Sniffles* This one is from Life is a Highway, and it after the group makes it to the ranch in Montana. Actually, it's their first night on the ranch, and they're looking for something fun to do! So, they're sitting by the lake, looking at the stars! It looks long, but that's cuz it's all diaglogue mainly!


“Hey, isn’t that your Uranus?” Christian asked, but he put way more emphasis on the anus part. When Chloe and I glanced over at him, his body already shook from laughter.

“God, Chris, you’re so immature sometimes!” Chloe cried, smacking him on the arm.

“Easy, Mutt. Don’t wanna hurt these guns.”

She snorted. “Ooh, I’m so scared!!!”

“What the hell are you guys doing?” Liam asked, as he strolled across the dock towards us.

“Just chilling out here under the stars,” Aidan replied, as he rolled into a sitting position.

“Hmm, sounds thrilling,” Liam mused, with a smile.

Christian snapped his fingers. “Dude, I’ve got a great idea.

“And what would that be?” I tentatively asked. Something about the gleam in his eye made me a little nervous.

“Let’s really kick this trip up a notch. Who’s up for some skinny dipping?”

I gasped. “S-skinny d-dipping?”

“Hell yeah! That sounds awesome!” Aidan replied.

I whirled around to stare at him incredulously. “Are you serious?”

He gave me a wicked grin. “Ah, come on, Nicholson. Where’s your sense of adventure?”

“Uh, I don’t know exactly, but I’m pretty sure wherever it is, it’s fully clothed!”

Chloe snorted. “Oh leave her alone, Aidan. You know Two-Shoes here isn’t gonna go skinny dipping.”

“And you are?” I asked.

Chloe stared at the guys before looking back at me. In one swift movement, she whipped her shirt over her head.

“Oh lord!” Liam cried. He ducked his head while Aidan and Christian hooted in appreciation.

“Well, are we going to do this or not?” she asked, as she brought her hand to the button of her shorts.

“Oh, yeah, we’re doing this,” Christian replied, whisking off his shirt and shoes. Liam and I hung back as the other shed their clothing. They were shadowy wisps in the night as they scuttled off the pier and ran down to the shoreline.

“Are you…?” I asked

When I looked again, Christian’s bare ass gleamed at me in the moonlight. Liam snorted. “Yeah, what the hell. You only live once!”

I didn’t dare peer down at the water’s edge to see if I could get a peek at Aidan. I’d seen him stripped down to his boxers before, but that’s as far as I’d seen.

I heard the others crashing into the water. “Come on, Maddie,” Liam urged. Before I could protest, his tossed his shirt at me. It slapped me in the face, and I couldn’t help laughing. “Fine. But I’m keeping on my underwear.”

“Okay, whatever, you say.”

It was so dark I could barely see the others as I dipped my toes in the water. “Whoa, wait a minute. Maddie’s coming in?” Aidan asked.

“Yes,” I snapped.

I swam over to the others. Aidan was grinning at me. “Lemme guess. You’ve still got your underwear on?”

“Maybe. What’s it to you?” I huffed, trying to keep my distance from him. But he wasn’t having any part of it.

“But if you’ve got your underwear on, you’re not really skinny dipping, are you?” he asked.

“I’m in here with you guys, isn’t that enough?”

Aidan slowly shook his head back and forth. “Come on, Maddie. Take it all off,” he taunted.

“No,” I replied, emphatically.

He leaned in closer—his naked body almost touching mine—and lowered his voice. “Take it off for me?”

In spite of the hot evening, a shiver ran down my spine. His words lit me on fire in a way I’d tried to fight. He wasn’t supposed to make me tingle just from a request.

Without taking my eyes off of his, my trembling hands reached for the straps of my bra. Slowly I pulled them down over my arms, and then brought my hands to my back to unhook it. Cool water rushed over my chest, causing me to gasp. I balled the bra in my hand and shoved it across to him. “There.”

He grinned as he took it from me. “Thank you.”

I knew the panties were going to be a little harder. “Need some help?” he asked, his hand grazing against my stomach.

“No, I don’t!” I hissed, knocking his hand away.

Laughter rolled through him. “Aw, Maddie, I love how modest and innocent you are. Sometimes I wonder if you’re going to die a virgin.”

This time his words caused seething anger to pulse through me. I’d managed to wiggle out of my panties. Without a word, I reared back and slapped him in the face with them.

Throwing my shoulders back, I stared at him. “And that, Mr. Cleary, is as close to my panties as you’re ever going to come!”

Thursday, December 24, 2009

AND THE WINNER IS.....

With the help of the contest generator at buzzmyblog.com, I haz a winner for my contest. The winner is......

AMNA aka GeekPride!!!

Congrats love! You get your choice of $25.00 gift card to wherever!!

Thanks to everyone who partipated in the contest!!

Merry Christmas, and may you have a safe, happy, and blessed holiday!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

LAST DAY OF MY 12 BLOGS OF XMAS...yeah, I was sick and had to cheat a bit!

That's why I want you to know.
I'm starting with the man in the mirror.
I'm asking him to change his ways.
And no message could have been any clearer.
If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself,
and make a change.


For my last blog of the 12 Blogs of Christmas, I’m taking something that’s been on my heart and mind for awhile and applying it to Michael Jackson. So, what do I have to do with Man in the Mirror, you ask? Well, I was a huge Michael Jackson fan. Regardless of everything that went on his personal life, the man gave us some awesome, thought provoking music. When I was five, I had one of those little turntable record players(it was 84' people!), and besides read alongs like The Fox and the Hound, I had Michael Jackson’s We Are the World. Even at five, I felt I empowered, and that I wanted to do for others.

2009 hasn’t been the best year…well, up until October 17 when I got my first agent call it hasn’t. I’ve not been my best physically—suffering from anemia that wipes me out—as well as some tough times with depression. Plus, it’s had work drama, friend drama I never expected and never really experienced, man drama that sadly I’m used too, EXTREME drama on the AW boards, and frankly, it’s exhausting. I’d love to act like some of the high schoolers I teach and say, “Well, it’s not my fault!” Nope, I’m doing what MJ suggests. I’m starting with the “Man in the Mirror”! I’m gonna change my ways.

I’m gonna try removing myself from drama next year. There’s such greater things going on in the world that I just can’t be a part of pettiness, witchiness, and doing things to make others feel bad about themselves. I just can go there. If it means removing myself from places and certain groups, then so be it. But hey, I’m not totally blameless in this, and I take full accountability for what I’ve done. I just want something better and brighter for 2010. Yeah, it’s corny, but I want 2010 to be the best that’s ever been!

When my mom was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor seven years ago, we were bombarded by people helping us. Although my mother only lived a month, we didn’t cook a meal in that month. People were generous not only monetarily, but with their time. My mom’s sister, and my grandmother’s only other child, died just a month later from complications from Muscular Dystrophy. Once again, my grandmother, cousin, and I were overwhelmed by people’s generosity, prayers, and kind, thoughtful visits, cards, and words. In those years, I’ve tried to pay a little back at a time, not just to those who helped, but to others. Kinda a “pay it forward” mentality. And now I really feel it’s time to step up to the plate and do some ultra paying it forward!

Through the Bible Study Classes of 2012 and 2014 at my school, I’m planning on launching the Creekview Angels. Yeah, it happens to go along with my YA UF The Guardians. Besides helping the wayward teens they're assigned to, each of the earthbound angels also has a job helping others. Elijah volunteers with dying children on the Pediatric Oncology floor, Cassie sings and rocks babies born addicted to drugs and alcohol, and Rafe works the homeless shelters on skid row. Through the Creekview Angels, I want to reach out to those in needs. I saw on someone’s twitter where they were delivering books to Youth Detention centers before Christmas. I totally dug the idea of doing a book drive with the kids and taking to Family Violence Shelters, group homes, and youth detention centers. I’ve also had the idea of doing jars for spare change called “Change for a Change”, which could benefit food pantries and needy families in the community.

There are so many in need, and so much good that can be done. As a Christian, it’s my duty, but as a person, I feel it’s a necessary cleansing for the soul.

So, here's to 2010!!!

12 Blogs of Christmas Day 2: My Unsung Supporters, Chance, Sassy, and Sam

So, there's some unsung heroes in my quest for publication. That would be my dog, Chance, and my cats, Sassy and Sam. They give me unconditional love no matter what. I can be having the worst day, and they come around giving me support and lifting my spirits. During the agent quest that lasted from January to October, believe me there were some toughies! But my furbabies were right by myside, literally at times. When I would be writing, I would usually have Chance konked out on the couch across from me and at least one or two of my cats hanging around me by my chair. Chance even got conditioned to the sound of the computer shutting down meant it was time to get up and either go outside or go to bed! They don't care if I ever got an agent or get published. They love me just for me, and that's awesome!

And there you have it. A shout-out to my furbabies and pets everywhere!

Sassy hanging out in the laundry room!













A basket full of Sam on my writing chair downstairs!

















Chance on the couch in upstairs office during my many FNW sessions!!

















Chance in my writing chair downstairs!




Monday, December 21, 2009

12 Blogs of Christmas Day 3: Three Ways I've Used Writing to Teach

For me, being an English teacher means bringing my own writing in to be creative or to help students. Over the years, I've written stories, essays, and projects to go along with what my students were doing. Here's my Top #3 "writerly" assignments.
Here's where we were in the Newspaper!
It was way cool!
War Crimes Trial

When I was getting my endorsement to teach gifted and Honors students, I was asked to come up with a tiered lesson plan—one that drew on writing, research, performance, history, etc. Since I love teaching the Holocaust, I decided I wanted to do something with it. I realized after several years of teaching, students had no concept past Hitler dying, Germany surrendering, and the war ending. They didn’t realize there were such things as war crimes trials where Nazi’s were held accountable for the unspeakable atrocities they committed. So, I decided to create my own trial like those at Nuremburg. Using a fictitious Camp X in Poland, I began shaping my cast of characters. I wanted everything to be accurate down to the names, ranks, etc. I knew I would take a little poetic license with my defense and prosecution teams. Then, I created three defendants a Nazi general like that of Hermann Goering, a doctor modeled after the notorious Dr. Mengele at Auschwitz, and a female guard like that of Isla Koch, known as the Bitch of Buchenwald. Then I went about forming my cast of victims and liberators. Not only did I have adults, fathers, mothers, children, but I had two teenage sisters who a German couple helped to hide. I had American liberators(outfitted in my dad’s dress green uniform and fatigues from Vietnam!).

I had some surreal moments when students said they couldn’t find anything on their person. They hadn’t fully realized these were made up characters, and they took their characters’ name and googled them. Some funny moments came when one my male students wanted to make his soldier part of the Rainbow Division, trying to be funny. The only way I’d let him was if he could historically find a Rainbow Unit. Low and behold, there was a 51st Rainbow Unit, so Hunter was thrilled to be the Major of it, lol, and he's the one in the picture above. The girl in the above picture isn't actually in a wheelchair. We came up with the wheelchair bound aspect of her story due to torture at the camps not for dramatic purposes. Nope, the skirt she was wearing was almost see through, so we decided we had to have her sitting down at all times. Thus, the story of her injuries was born. CRAZY!

I did the trials for three years, and now that I’m in high school, I really miss it. I might try to see if I can squeeze it in this year after our study of Night.





Boots of a Soldier

Part of my Tiered Lesson plan included the Boots of a Soldier story. I had students write from the perspective of a pair of soldiers boots. After they had read about liberation in Night, I also showed them the excerpt from Band of Brothers Why We Fight where the 101st Airborne Division liberates a concentration Camp. To help them visualize a soldier’s boots, I used the boots my father wore during his tour of Vietnam in 66 and 67. I held them up and asked the students to imagine what kind of stories these boots could tell if they could talk. Then my students were asked to write in the first person perspective the boots, and they choose to be an Allied soldier’s, an Axis’s powers, or they could have been put on the feet of someone during liberation.


Before they started writing, I read to them my own personal Memoir of a Soldier’s Boots. For some of them, it was the first time they had seen or heard my writing, and it never ceases to amaze me how impressed and complimentary they are. Here's a snip from it:


After storming through the locked gates, the world around us seemed to change. It felt as if we had entered the gates of hell. Fires raged and smoke blinded the soldiers’ eyes. Instead of winter snow blanketing the camp, an ashy film of human remains made the landscape gray. Blinking again and again, the soldiers tried to clear their eyes and minds of the horrors they were witnessing. Trudging and sloshing through the mud that was a sea of tears, blood, and broken lives and hearts. Time after time they would meet the hollow eyes of a prisoner. Their sunken eyes burned with a haunted look of those who had danced with death, but somehow managed to overcome.


Dr. Phil Show with The Odyssey


Teaching the Odyssey isn’t one of my favorite things. I guess you could say I’m not a big mythology person. So, the only thing that gets me through is comparing and contrasting it with O Brother Where Art Thou, and doing the Dr. Phil Show—a kinda of reunion for the characters after the Odyssey. It has the usual characters like Odysseus, Penelope, and gods and goddesses like Zeus and Athena, but it also has some new faces like Fortula whose husband was one of the men eaten by the Cyclops. She and her daughters, Cassandra and Daphne, are both part of the show coming to confront both Odysseus and the Cyclops. Since I hate to assign a “hideous” part, I wrote a twist for the Cyclops where his father, Poseidon, gives him an Extreme Makeover. The first year one of my girl students went way over the top and gave him a sex change as well. The students really enjoy it, and it usually helps them review for their test.


Of course, I, myself, have a part in all the craziness. I'm Dr. Philemena, the host of the show. Here's a picture of me in costume for the "show"! And yes, if you peek really hard, you will see a Twilight poster on my filing cabinet!! LOL













12 Blogs of Christmas AND Official Kissing Day Combined!

Here's Day 4 of my 12 Blogs of Christmas Contest. Unfortunately, I didn't get to post the last two days because I have been really under the weather. Today was the first day I ventured off the couch and out into the world!

So, for Day 4, here's 4 kissing scenes from 3 Completed YA Manuscripts and 1 Work in Progress! Enjoy!

THE GUARDIANS

I stared into Abby’s eyes. Her hand reached up and gently wiped the tears from my face. We stayed that way, my face inches from hers, gazing into each other’s eyes, for what seemed like an eternity. Then ever so slightly she moved closer to me and brought her lips to mine. Softly our lips touched until something broke loose within me.

Locking my arms around her, I crushed her close against me. I let all the pent up desire of the last few months flow out through my kisses. As her lips parted, instinct took over for me. My tongue sought hers, her warmth, her taste. Our kisses deepened, as if we were trying to break through to each other’s souls. It was desperate, breathless, and aching, and I never wanted it to end.

It was then that the thought of angels with fiery swords guarding The Garden of Eden entered my mind. But I didn’t care. I knew then if I was going to fall, I was going to do it in a blaze of glory

DON’T HATE THE PLAYER

Katie’s lips curled into a smile. “Noah, will you do something for me?”

Oh, shit. I didn’t like the sinfully sing-song tone of her voice. “What?” I croaked.

“Would you stop acting like a gentleman for five minutes and kiss me?”

I swear to God her lips were already pursed, and she was purring. No lie, she was freakin’ purring like a cat in heat. Before I could protest, she wrapped her arms around me. She stared up into my eyes, and I couldn’t help myself. I brought my lips to hers. They were everything I’d imagined they’d be. Warm. Soft. Inviting. Sexy.

NETS AND LIES

Will glanced the clock on the wall. “Geez, it’s after four. I guess I better be getting home.”

Closing my eyes, I pressed my nose against his neck and inhaled of his comforting scent. “Why don’t you stay?”

He didn’t answer me. I pulled away to look in his face. “Will?”

His expression was pained. “Are you sure that’s a good idea? I mean, considering the circumstances and all.”

“But I like having you here with me. You make me feel safe, like I’m at home.” To prove there wasn’t any reason why he couldn’t stay, I brought my lips to his. I pulled away and whispered, “Stay.”

He answered my request by wrapping his arms tightly around me. And that night, Will and I slept together for the first time. Sharing a bed wasn’t after our “first time together” experience. Instead, it was about different needs and desires.

THE WAR WITHIN

A voice brought me back to reality. I rose up from the hood of the car and peered at the person. It was Joaquin. His perfect model face was etched in concern. He shuffled on his feet—unsure of what to do. Finally, he took a step towards me. “What happened? Are you all right?”

“No,” I whispered.

That simple word had him at my side. He pushed my hair back and stared into my eyes. I closed them and ducked my head—desperately wanting to shield myself from his questions. Instead, I felt his hand cup my chin.

“He loves you, Mia. No matter what you think or what he said, he does love you,” he said, softly.

My eyebrows jerked up in surprise. “Who are you talking about?”

“Your father,” he murmured.

“But…”

He sighed. “Livia told me everything.”

I gasped. If she’d told Joaquin about my father and his banishment, then he knew about Him. When I stared into his dark eyes, I saw the answer. Joaquin knew it all, and he didn’t care.

Waves of emotions crashed over me, causing my body to shudder. Joaquin gripped my shoulders, pulling me to him. It was such a caring gesture that I began crying again.

His hot breath hovered over my ear as he whispered, “Shh, don’t cry. Everything’s all right.”

And then I knew. I knew what I’d been denying myself for the last month. And before I could argue or he could protest, I brought my lips to his.

Friday, December 18, 2009

12 Blogs of Christmas Day 5

So, I'm running a little today, huh? Yeah, last day of school for 2009, grading to get done, late papers to take and grade...aka, exhaustion. Today's post is my Top Five Favorite Books I've read in 2009. In no particular order....drumroll please....








Break by Hannah Moskowitz. This is a favorite of mine for many reasons. The prose and figurative language rock, and the characters are memorable. Let's not forget this awesome chick was only SIXTEEN when she wrote it. Sighs, green monster of envy grumbles! But the number one reason why I love this book is its narrated by male MC, Jonah. Male MC's are close to my heart since DHtP is narrated by a male MC. I expect great, big, and fantastical things from Hannah.



Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon. Cindy is probably one of the kindest, coolest, most giving writers I know. I met her through the AW boards, and she was kind enough to answer some questions I had about my own career. I read Silver Phoenix late into the night, devouring the fantastic world building and characters that Cindy created, not to mention listening to my growling stomach at her menu of delicacies! I can't wait to read the sequel!




Shiver by Maggie Stievfvater

I'm not a big vampire and werewolf person; I'll admit it. But I heard a lot of buzz about this book, and after it was especially raved about by my good buddy, Jamie, I thought I'd give it a shot. I LOVED it! I devoured in one night, and I was totally sad for it to end. I'm stoked that I don't have to wait a long time for the sequel!






The Unbiden Series: Moonstone and Moon Rise by Marilee Brothers

Talk about under appreciated authors...Marilee has one of the freshest and funniest YA voices I've heard in a long, long time. From the first page of Moonstone, I was snorting with laughter and totally connected with Allie Emerson, the heroine. I fell in love with Junior, was angst ridden when he went away in the 2nd book, but then fell equally hard for the semi bad boy Beck. I can't wait for the 3rd book to come out, and I'm stoked to here it includes FAIRIES! Awesome!













And last, but not least, is the Harry Potter series. Yes, I know they've been out FOREVER, but I didn't read them until this summer. I devoured all seven books at a stealthy pace, often reading late, late into the night because I just couldn't bear to put them down. I'm a self-professed PotterHead, and I'm proud of it. The world, the characters, the mystery, the magic, that JK Rowling created is beyond comprehension, and I'm just bummed I missed out on it all these years!!

And it goes without saying that besides these 5 pubbed books, I've been blessed and privileged to read some awesome unpubbed works by writer buddies. You guys rock, and I can't wait to see you in print!













Thursday, December 17, 2009

12 Blogs of Christmas Day 6...6 More People I'm Grateful For!

After dividing my epic post of gratefulness, here is Part Deux!!

(3). My Teacher Buds: Jane, Lisa, Danita.
All of the English Department at CHS rocks, but there’s a few in particular who have really been interested and believed in my writing career. After Jane read the opening of Road to Damascus, she always took the time to ask me about what was happening with the book and my writing career. Thanks for the proofing , Jane! Lisa was my cheerleader/pimp, and whenever anyone came in three feet, she was sure to let them know, “Hey, did you know she’s written a book, and she’s going to be famous someday?!!” And to Danita, my fellow carpooler, who always listened intently to me whine and moan about the business, but never doubted it would happen for me. She read the opening of Road to Damascus and gave it high praise, and cheered me on when I got an agent. She’s the first to comment on Facebook about my writing, and I know she’s going to be a wonderful pimp, er, supporter, of my books!

(2). My cousin, Andrea
Both only children, Andrea and I were raised like sisters. She’s three years older than me, and I usually see her everyday at my grandmother’s. Like me, Andrea is an avid reader, so I knew I wanted her to read RTD. I also knew her opinion would be important. You can imagine the pride when she told me, “This is the best book I’ve ever read, and I’m not joking!” Andrea was awesome in her ability to remember detail, so she was the most fun to talk with over plot points and all. Although reluctant to read YA, she did read the draft of the draft of the draft of TG, and she LOVED it! As soon as she was finished, she asked when could she read the sequel. I’ve promised to take her with me when I go on a book tour!!


(1). My Mom and My Grandmother
The two people who have meant the most to my writing career are my mom and my grandmother. Sadly, my mother isn’t here to see the progress I’ve made. She passed away seven years ago from cancer. However, I have no doubt in my mind that she foresaw all of this. When I was little, my mom always read my stories. She praised me and gave me the necessary self-esteem boost to keep on chugging. As I got older, she constantly told me I’d be her Pulitizer Prize Winner to which I’d joke that I’d write more Danielle Steelesque novels! The incredible bond I had with her can be seen in the relationships with Noah and his mom in Don’t Hate the Player and Mia and her mom in The War Within. And the theme of motherless children is seen in Road to Damascus and The Guardians. My mom was the best mother anyone could ever ask for. She sacrificed for me each and everyday, and there wasn’t a minute in the day that I didn’t feel loved, appreciated, or special.

Besides the Lord, there’s been someone shadowing me every step of this journey, and that’s my grandmother, or Big Mama as she’s called. When I first told Big Mama I was writing RTD, her surprise turned to complete and total support. I’ll never forget when she read the first three chapters last September. With total nepotism, she said, “This will be made into a movie, and you’ll be on Oprah!” Since then, she’s read TG and DHtP. More importantly, she was there through ever emotional breakdown of the agent search—talking me through it, comforting me, and putting up some serious prayers for my success. She talked me down from the ledge so many times I've lost count. Bless her heart, she also witnessed and bore the brunt of a lot of the frustration and rollercoaster mood swings. I could not and would not have made it through without her. Whenever I wanted to throw in the towel, she wouldn’t let me. She always said, “You WILL get an agent, and your book WILL sell…I just don’t know when! But I know in my heart, it WILL happen” I’m hoping since she was right on the first count, she’ll be on the second! Her love and devotion to me is limitless, and it’s hard to put into words how much I admire, cherish, and adore her. She's a great lady, and I'm happy she's on my side!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

12 Blogs of Christmas Contest: 7 People I'm Grateful For and Who Have Influenced My Writing

So, as you've noticed, I'm a long winded gal. I'd love to just drop some names and thanks and run for this 12 Blogs of Christmas thing...but I can't! Because of that factor, I'm going to break up today's post with tomorrow's. Really in today's post, I give shout-outs to at least 7 peeps...just in long winded mode. Don't forget to comment to win!

7). MamaLiz aka Elizabeth Martinelli: It would be hard to say how much my friend, Liz, has meant to my writing. I met Liz seven years ago when we were teaching on the same team in 8th grade. That year, tragedy came to both of us—my mother died and her grandson, Caden, was born, suffered through many health issues and then passed away. We became united in our grief, and a very unlikely, but longlasting bond was formed. Yeah, Liz is old enough to be my mom, but she’s one of the truest friends I have. Her grandchildren call her Mama Liz, and I’ve kinda adopted it as well because I see her as a 2nd mom now. She likes to say I’m the daughter she never had. Liz was one of the first people besides my grandmother and cousin to read RTD. I valued her input, and I thanked God when it was good. At the time, her cousin was working as an agent, and she tried to get me the hook up. Unfortunately, her cousin had to retire, although she did say the novel had a lot of merit.

But where I appreciate the Liz the most is with The Guardians. Through the 9000 rewrites, she’s been right there, sometimes even reading it line by line with me and trying to improve it. If there was anyone who wanted me agented and published as much as myself and grandmother, it’s Liz. She even went so far as to get an unbiased opinion of TG by giving it to some of her 8th graders to read and critique. I treasure her friendship and her love, and I’ve promised if I ever make it big, she can be my Assistant/Secretary!!

(6). My South Georgia Fan Club President, Draven Pierce.

It was through Liz that I come to someone else I’m thankful for. Draven was given probably the draft of the draft of the draft of The Guardians. But he loved it, and he single handedly led a charge through the 8th grade of Martha Puckett Middle School to where kids were reading whatever printed chunks of TG they could get their hands on. He loved and believed in the story enough to want to start a Fan Club, and he asked to be my President. Hopefully, wherever my writing takes me, he’ll want to stay as President. And you guys should go ahead and get familiar with that name since Draven is an awesome writer in his own right. I expect things out of him in the future.

(5). My Students.

Seriously, I don’t know where I’d be without you guys—and I mean all my students over the nine years I’ve taught in two different counties and four different schools. We’ve had some wonderful moments together, and most of those times have gone into molding and shaping each of the characters I’ve written. What amazed me about my students is they believed in me even when I didn’t. From the summaries they read of my stories, they were itching to buy them. thank last year’s 1st, 2nd, and 6th periods to asking if I’d heard any news, to getting excited when I “thought I had an agent and it fell through in late May”. To this year’s 4th and 6th periods, who believed in me before I got my agent, and who still believe in me now that my book is on submission. And how could I forget this year’s 7th period with my 22 boys who hate reading what I put before them, but who offered to camp out at Barnes and Noble when my book came out.

(4 ). Special Student Shout Outs:
First, Brooke Gunsauley. I had the priviledge of teaching Brooke in the 8th grade and 9th grade. She’s a dedicated, hard working student, and a pleasure to have in class. But last year when Brooke got wind I’d written a novel, she came to me with her own novel. I was excited to get to read and critique her book. Brooke is the first and only student to read my work. She was my first beta read on The Guardians, and because of her help and hard work, I named a character for her. She’s a minor character in the first book of TG, but one that grows if, God willing, I get to do books 2 and 3. Brooke always checked in with me to see how the agent search was going. I really felt like she was as disappointed as I was when things didn’t work out. Then she was very, very excited when I got my agent. As editor of the school newspaper, Brooke did me a great honor. For the first ever teacher spotlight, she chose to interview me.

To Cole Ross for leading the charge to start the Ms. Ashe Fan Club and have t-shirts. Now that I’m agented, I may take him up on this. Halley Ramsey, one of my basketball cheerleaders but more importantly, book cheerleaders, who offered to help sell my books out the trunk of my car or anyone’s car for that matter!!!

To Emily Reno, a fellow writer, who always believed in me and my writing, and who offered to dedicate her first novel to me. *Yes, I wanted a tissue after that one! And to Jennifer Shirley and Aubreigh Fuller who also believed in my writing and keep me happy with constant posters of Robert Pattinson adorning my room!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: 8 Lines!!

So keeping with my spirit of the 12 Blogs of Christmas, I decided to do 8 lines from a WIP. Well, the problem arose of what WIP, and then it hit me. I'm trying to begin promoting RTD since it'll be pubbed in January or February. So, I decided to do a teaser from the sequel to RTD, which is a YA Literary Fiction. I don't have a name yet, but most of the characters from RTD will be making an appearance as well as some new characters. The story moves from 1939 when the story left off to 1964, and it follows Jackson Tate's cousin, Parker's, three daughters: Eighteen year old Caroline, Seventeen year old Julianne or Jules, and fifteen year old, Emma Katherine, or Emmie.

The sweltering summer of 64’ changed us. Forged in the fiery inferno that almost consumed us, that threatened to squelch our voice and even snuff out our very lives, we were molded into the women we became. I turned fifteen that summer. The tomboy, the baby, the sheltered child of antiquated privilege made off the backs of cotton mill workers. Until then, all I knew was how much I admired the delicate, lady-like gentility of my oldest sister, Caroline, and how I coveted the rebellious, free-spirit of my middle sister, Julianne, or Jules as she was called. That summer we didn’t need black and white scenes on the TV of bloodied brutality coupled with cries for freedom and the anthem of “We Shall Overcome” from places like Selma, Birmingham, or even Atlanta because the drums of war raged all around us. The sins of our father, long submerged in the river of time, floated to the surface like a body weighed down with rocks—bloated, putrid, and hideously distorted. From society ladies frenzied fanning, the wind brought fragments of the truth about a place I only thought existed in the Bible and of man I thought was only a ghost. Damascus. John Christian

Monday, December 14, 2009

9, er, more like 19 or 29 Writing Buds I'm Grateful For

So, I started to do a post about all the people I'm thankful for who have helped me along the writing road. Then, that turned into an EPIC, longwinded post, so I decided to divide it up. So, here's the ladies of Absolutewrite I'm thankful for....

(9). My Buds from Absolutewrite

I don’t know where I’d be without the Absolutewrite forums. I stumbled upon them last December when trying to write a query for RTD. It took me until May to find a home in the OPWFT thread and find a kinship as well as kindred spirits among the writers there. I spend way too much time there, but it’s time well spent!!

Laura/Common is someone I believe could have been my twin, and we were separated at birth! We have a lot of the same interests, beliefs, and life experiences. The bummer is she’s an American living across the pond, so it’s not like we can meet up anytime soon. BUT one day we will. Laura is an amazingly giving person and gifted writer, and I’m truly blessed to have become friends with her.

Gretchen McNeil/Blondchen: I seriously don’t know what I can say about Gretchen. She’s a triple threat: singer, voice over actress, writer…actually she’s a quadruple threat because she’s funny as hell. She’s one of those people who have great one liners that you spit your drink out for. Gretchen not only gave me some TG query help, but she welcomed me to one of the threads and went out of her way to make me feel at home and at ease before I found my home in the OPWFT thread. I also owe about three paragraphs of the opening of DHtP to her after we did the Purgy Mashup!!

Marilee Brothers/Mamabro: It was a fluke that I met Marilee. She responded to a post in the Ask the Agent Forum, and I guess you could say the rest is history. I had RTD and TG on sub to the same publishers who pubbed her YA Paranormal series, The Unbiden Series. If you haven’t read Moonstone and Moon Rise, then you’re doing yourself a major disservice. Marilee’s MC, Allie, is HILARIOUS, and I can’t wait to read the next book because they’re action packed with suspense as well as romance. She's always been there to support me and answer any writing questions or concerns I had. I hope to one day meet up with her!

Then the ladies of the OPWFT Thread: HerbChick, my fellow GA gal I’ll be meeting up with soon, Vero, Race, Leasie, Amy, Debra, Kathleen, Lee, Kaitlin, Chanelley, Amanda(Sage), Sarah, Holen, LeahMichelle(who I’m so pumped she ressurected herself and came back to the thread), Kidd, Kate, Laurie, Cory, Heather...my fellow teacher writers: Rachele, Amanda(Char), and Bethany,

(8). My Teen Buds from Absolutewrite.

Emilia/Peachie: I’ll be forever grateful that Peachie decided to pop into the oldsters thread because I’d be bummed to have not become friends with her. Yeah, she’s sixteen, but she’s an amazing writer, and she knows more about the business than a lot of adults. She also gave me a great honor by being the first person to interview me as an agented writer.

Amna/GeekPride: She’s seriously about the least geeky person I know. I don’t know why people click, but something with us clicked. I’m totally digging her latest WIP, and I’m expecting great things from it!! Amna also did my first interview when she interview about one of my WIPS, The War Within. She was so awesome to want to hear me ramble around about my writing that I’m forever indebted!

Kristin/Red: What can I say about the talented Kristin Briana? She beta read TG for me, told me pretty frankly about a certain scene that wasn’t working, and I basically did the pouty write her off like, “Hrumph, what does she know?” Yeah, that lasted a few weeks until I realized, she did know exactly what she was talking about, and I owe her props for a major rewrite I did. But then we have our obsession, er, love of Twilight that we share although me being Team Edward and she being Team Jacob does divide us! Kristen’s a fabulous writer who I expect great things from once her book hits the submission wagon. I’m sure it won’t be there long. J

And I can’t forget Blindwriter/Kody for her beta reading of TG. And for Rachele/Horserider, Elysium, and Karla for bringing their young selves into our thread and sharing their writing stories, wips, etc.

My Golden Girl Book Tour Members: Annie, Becca, Jamie, Steph, and Hannah. Words are completely inadequate right now. I seriously couldn’t have made it through this crazy rollercoaster ride without you guys. You were there to laugh with me, cry with me, encourage me, and give me not only the will to go on, but the belief that my writing was good and my stories deserved to be out there. Who could forget our killer IMing sessions like the epic night of Jamie saying, “Steph? Damn, we’ve lost Steph!” and me, Bex, and Hannah cackling like morons! You guys have saved my ass on more than, oh four or five occasions by beta reading. I’m forever in your debt for making my books as good as they could be. Annie, I love your sweet spirit, infectious positive attitude, and appreciation for smexiness and hot guys. I’ll never forget your enthusiasm for Noah and DHtP. Jamie, I treasure not only your friendship, but your insight, your humor, and your ability to keep on keeping it on through the tough times. You're a fabulous writer, and I never know where you're going to go next. Like the other gals of the group, it's been my honor to beta read for you. Bex, my fellow GWTW fan and Steel Magnolia, I love your humor and how we’ve gone through some similar stuff. Hang in there, girlie, keep strong and keep writing cause I know you've got some stories to tell. Steph, what can I say? You’re my online BFF, and I’m your stand in child caregiver if only we lived closer!! I love your humor, compassion, and ability to wanna smex up most of the male characters in our books! Like Jamie, I never know where your imagination is going to go next, but I look forward to it! Hannah…SMACK…I love your semi-violent side, lol, but I love how you use it to get me in line and to think positively about myself and my writing. I couldn’t make it without our daily IM’s about everything and nothing, and the fact of how much you support my writing and my person life…ready to phone YP, right? LOL. I'll always be indebted to you for what you did for TG, and I loved, loved, loved TM, and I look forward to reading everything else you write!

Last May when we became friends, God was looking out for me. He knew what lay ahead, and he put you guys into my life for a reason. Now whether or not he blesses me with any RPatz time, that is to be seen!!!

So there you have it....some of the peeps I'm grateful for. Wednesday I'm gonna pick up with 7 more outsid eof Absolutewrite.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Ten Reasons Why My Grandfather, Herbert Ashe, Was One of the Finest Men to Walk the Earth

Today is twenty-two years since I lost my beloved grandfather. It's hard to put into words what he meant to me and what he still means to me all these years later. Since he had an effect on both me as a person and a writer, I'm memorializing him in this blog post.


























(10). He is one of the reasons I’m the writer I am today. Although I only had Papa eight and a half short years, he is certainly one I give credit for honing my writing gift. When I was little, he would always put me on his knee and tell me stories from his childhood. The favorite one was of Skippy, his loyal hound dog who warmed his feet on cold winter nights and was the best dog in the world, until a mad dog bit him, and they had to shoot Skippy. Yeah, I begged to hear that one over and over although I cried through it most of the times.



Or we’d go sit in the little swing below the house, and he’d make up stories. They were usually all about a wonderful, sweet, kind, beautiful Princess named Krista. And in the stories, Princess Krista was always doing good and helping others. His favorite story was about an ogre of sorts called a “Whatchmacallit” that was shunned by society, but who Princess Krista(of course!) made friends with and brought it out of its shell. He taught me not only about storytelling, but how I should treat others,especially those less fortunate than me.






















(9). Papa was a writer himself. Among my dad’s possessions, I came across stories Papa had written about growing up. They’re homespun stories in the vein of Lewis Grizzard and Garrison Keilor. He would have had some amazing stories to tell of his time in the war, his faith, and his family.


(8). Papa was a WWII veteran. He served in the Navy on the USS Kenyon destroyer in the Pacific. One of his favorites was to kid my grandmother about my father’s birth. Although he was gone for many years, he had leave up in Massachusettes(I believe...up north somewhere!), and she took my aunt and went to visit him. On that trip, my father was conceived, and he was six weeks old when Papa came home. Papa loved to joke he’d been away for over three years and came home to a six week old son!





















*Papa was quite a looker, huh ladies? LOL

(7). My favorite story of Papa is one of faith. When my dad was in Vietnam, Papa said he stayed close enough to God that he could reach out and touch him. One evening on the news, he watched as an elderly Vietnamese man was taken from his home and forced to flee from his village. That unknown man an ocean away touched my grandfather, and he fell down on his knees and began praying for that man. Even with my dad in a foreign land, Papa never forgot that Vietnamese man, and he prayed for him every time he prayed. Every time I tell that story, tears come to my eyes, and I hope to have the same faith that he did.

(6). Papa was a preacher, and he was the pastor of both Turniptown Baptist Church in Ellijah, GA as well as New Hightower. In my church, Riverdale, his sweet, humble presence as a towering man of faith is still remembered to this day.


(5). Papa was a stellar athlete. He won a basketball schorlship during the Depression to Snead College in Alabama. However, he had to come home because times were tough. Not only did he play basketball and football at Nelson High School, but he was a very talented baseball player. He had a tryout with the Atlanta Crackers pro Baseball team. Although he had the opportunity to play, he turned it down. He cited the fact he’d been away from his family too long during the war to leave them again.


(4). He had a tender-heart. Things touched him, bothered him, and worried him deeper than they did other people. He had a sensitivity that touched people. He couldn’t stand to see people or animals mistreated. When I was little, there was a hound dog up the street that was skin and bones. I named it Big Dog, and everyday we would feed Big Dog and try to fatten it up.


I know I’ve inherited my tender-heart from Papa. Sometimes it’s both a blessing and curse.



(3). Papa had a wicked sense of humor. He loved to tell jokes, sometimes not the kinds you’d expect from a preacher!!


(2). Papa loved his grandchildren. He even had a tag on the front of his car that read, “Let Me Tell You About My Grandchildren”. My cousins, David and Stephen, were twelve and eight when I was born, so they had a lot of years being spoiled rotten by Papa, but he wasn’t burned out on spoiling by the time I came along. Papa was the type if you wanted to get up at 2 in the morning and play Little People, well then, you just got up and played Little People!


(1). From time to time when the ache from missing him gets so hard I can’t breathe, a feeling will come over me. It’s as if he’s saying, “I’m still here with you, and I love you and I’m proud of you.” The way I felt about Papa influenced the relationship with George Lester and Sarah in The Road to Damascus. Here’s a scene from later in the book where that is particularly seen:



He held out his arms, and she fell into them, weeping uncontrollably. Since the day he’d died, she’d dreamed of the day when she’d feel his arms around her again. There was a divine aura of light all about him, and within the shining light was heavenly love.


“I can’t believe it’s really you! I’ve missed you so much!” Sarah cried.


“But I’ve been with you all this time.” George pointed to her heart. “I’ve been right here.”


Tears streamed down her face. “I know you have. I felt you and your prayers. They were the only things that got me through sometimes.”


“That’s what they’re there for, darlin’. When you love somebody, you bottle up prayers along the way, and when they need them, they’re poured out like anointing them with oil.


One day, I’ll have this reunion with my grandfather. It won’t be on earth, but somewhere beyond the skies.

11 Things About My Adult Novel, The Road to Damascus, which will be published in 2010!!

So, while some of the biggie New York pubs are hashing it out over my YA novel, Don't Hate the Player, I've decided to go ahead and locally publish my adult novel, The Road to Damascus. Why? Well, RTD is special because it's like Goldilocks in some ways. It's too Christian for secular publishers, and then it's too secular for Christian publishers. Plus, people are hankering(Southern word here!) to read some of my writing, so I thought why not. I retain my rights in case I ever want to big time publish later. So, it should be published in late January, early February. And here's 11 Things You Didn't Know(or maybe wish you hadn't!)

Here's a summary first of what Road to Damascus is about.....

Like it's biblical namesamke, the road into the Depression era, mountain community of Damascus, Georgia holds the same mythical powers of redemption and repentance. Within its rocky pathways lies the secret that binds a preacher’s daughter, the son of a cotton baron, and a black drifter to a lynching fifty years earlier.

Jackson Tate makes his pilgrimage to Damascus out of greed rather than soul searching. On a mission to acquire land for his family’s booming cotton mill business, he doesn’t anticipate his only stumbling block to be in mild mannered, Luke Nations, the pastor of a small church. Nor does he take too kindly when Luke’s daughter, Sarah, cools his sexual advances with a pitcher of ice cold water. But when a flash of blinding light leaves him a contemporary Saul, broken and bruised on the road to Damascus, the world Jackson knew is forever changed.

Amid the lush landscape of the mountains, Jackson is reborn not only through salvation at the very church he wanted take, but through the kindness of the Nations family who shelter and care for him during his recovery. It isn’t long before the reformed Jackson wins Sarah’s heart. When he brings her out of the mountains and back to his home in the big city, their newlywed life is forever changed when they befriend, John Christian, an elderly black drifter.

When John is falsely accused of murdering of a young, white woman, Jackson and Sarah hold John’s fate in their hands. Do they falsify a deposition claiming John wasn’t with them the night of the murder, or do they stand up to Jackson’s prejudiced family and execute a daring prison break along a backwoods road, embarking on a harsh trek to freedom through the rugged North Georgia mountains with Klansmen and hired mercenaries on their heels. Ultimately, the answer lies somewhere on the road to Damascus.


(11). I began writing RTD in June of 2008 after almost seven years of having the story with me, tucked away for the right time. When I finished in November of 2008, it was 160k words. Yes, it was an Epic Southern story! Since then, I’ve amped up the word wacker to shave off almost 65K words. Before you panic that I no longer have a story, I took out repetitive scenes, tightened the story, weeded out wordy parts, etc. There’s maybe three scenes that I’m really bummed to lose, but hey, that’s how the biz goes!


(10). The Road to Damascus is a story modeled after some of my favorite books and movies. To Kill a Mockingbird was a great source of inspiration, and it’s my favorite book of all time! While Tom Robinson is falsely accused of rape in TKMB, John Christian is falsely accused of murdering a young, white woman. Both the book, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Café, and the film, Fried Green Tomatoes, score right up there with my influences. I pay homage to FGW with The Mustard Seed Café where Sarah works and first meets Jackson, and with the undeniable bond between FGT characters, Idgy Threadgoode and Big George, with my characters Sarah and John Christian. Cold Sassy Tree is another Southern story I drew on, especially with trying to nail aspects of dialect. And the prejudice of the time period and the strength of those in society without a voice such as women and blacks, is seen in another one of my favorites, Places in the Heart with Sally Field and Danny Glover.



(9). I pay homage to another epic Southern story, Gone with the Wind, through Sarah’s nightmares from childhood. In GWTW, Scarlett often has dreams where she’s alone in the mist and searching for something she cannot find. In RTD, Sarah’s dreams stem from the premonition of her grandfather, George Lester. He dreamed when she was just six that she was alone in the woods with evil looming around her, and upon his deathbed, he warned her that if she was ever lost and alone in the woods, she should pray to him and he would lead her out. Since his death, she experienced the dreams. Often, they foreshadow when evil is about to effect one or more of the characters. And the dreams play out in the finale to something very interesting and extraordinary.



(8). Damascus is supposed to be an Eden on earth where everyone has a good heart and are genuinely good people. It is shown in sharp contrast to city of Marietta where Jackson is from, which is riddled with drinking, whorehouses, rape, murder, and child molestation.


(7). The fictional “Damascus” in the North Georgia mountains is based on a real place. Since my childhood, I was raised on almost mythical stories of Turniptown in Ellijah, GA where my paternal grandmother’s family is from. Damascus Baptist Church is modeled after Turniptown Baptist where my paternal grandfather was once the pastor(more on him tomorrow).



(6). Because of the divine aspect of Damascus, every character from there has a biblical name. The only ones who don’t are Leigh, the Cherokee Indian woman who married Luke Nation’s brother, Andrew, and her father, Gray Son.



(5). I did borrow names from family members. My grandmother, Jewel, and her sister, Essie, are both represented since Jewel and Ester are both biblical names. Jackson’s aunt and one of my favorite characters, Gigi, is actually named, Virginia, for my Big Mama, Virginia. Jackson is a name I love since my mother’s maiden name was Jackson, and if I’m blessed to have a son, he will be named Jackson in memory of her and my aunt and grandfather. Sarah is also very special because it’s the name of my cousin, Sarah Disharoon, who I was a nanny for eighteen months, and she feels like my own!

But the name I borrowed the most would be my great-grandfather’s name, George Lester Lanning. When I first started writing the prologue, I had him only represented as “the stranger” like the Good Samaritan. But, I knew I needed a name, and I knew some aspects of this character were based off Papa Lanning’s name, so I made the character George Lester, and it stuck! This picture sits on my piano which faces the writing chair where I wrote all of RTD. I felt like he was watching over me from time to time.





(4). Leigh Nations was an amazing character to write since she is skilled in the Native American art of healing, and she is the one who saves Jackson’s life after his accident on the road to Damascus. She also uses the biblical teaching of The Power of the Blood to save Jackson, which comes from the Book of Ezekiel.


(3). I had several “woooo” moments or weird moments while writing. The first came when I was searching for scripture to put into a certain scene. I knew I wanted it to be the story of Lazarus and the rich man. I’m ashamed to say I don’t know my Bible as well as I should because I didn’t know which book that story was in. When I found it was in the book of Luke, I had goosebumps since Luke is the name of the character who would actually be saying the sermon. I had that happen on two separate occasions.


Then, I knew I wanted Damascus church to look like Turniptown, but I had nothing to base it off since the original church has been rebuilt. Then during the summer, I came across a picture of the original church, and I had ANOTHER goosebump moment because it was exactly how I saw it in my mind.


(2). At its heart, RTD is a love story—both romantic and in its relationship between people. The unlikely romance between Sarah, a preacher’s daughter from the mountains, and Jackson, a rich cotton baron’s son, is just one of the great love stories of the book.


(1). While writing RTD, I sometimes pulled all nighters, and I wrote from midnight to when the first rays of dawn stretched across the skies. Those nights were pure EXHILERATION. I sometimes felt like I was right there in the mountains with my characters.


So, there's just a bit of info on The Road to Damascus. As it comes closer to publishing time, I'll be doing more behind the scenes info stuff!