Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I never regret my insanely overpopulated graveyard because I feel like sooner or later, the good ideas work their way into another story. This particular excerpt may not be for everyone, so sorry in advance if it's offensive or anything. :-) Anyway, here's today's offering:
GETTING BACK TO PERFECT
My phone vibrated again, tickling my leg from inside my pocket. I knew who it was. I knew he was waiting.
“What I don’t get,” the counselor continued. “Is how you’ve kept your grades up without actually attending class.”
Right. I guess it never occurred to her that I was actually still smart.
“In fact, Miss Rowan. You’re three absences away from retention.”
Right. I guess it never occurred to her that I didn’t give a shit.
“Do you understand what’ll happen?”
“I fail twelfth grade?”
She looked stunned. Was she expecting a different answer? A plea maybe? My phone vibrated again.
“Well, yes. You would fail. But it also means that you won’t be attending college with all of your friends. Is that what you want?”
It pretty much was.
“I’ll overlook this latest absence,” she said, pushing the glasses up on her long nose. “But you’d better not miss anymore classes. This is your final warning.”
“I understand, Mrs. Cromwell.” This was actually my third final warning.
She pursed her lips and I felt the sickening twist in my stomach. I knew what was coming.
“I know,” she confided like we were best gal pals. “That you’re still hurting from you mother’s death. I know it can be so hard. But if you ever need to talk, Camilla, I’m here to listen.”
I smiled politely even though my mouth twitched, wanting to scream. Because God forbid I screw up without blaming it on my mother. God forbid anyone think I’m anything other than poor little Camilla who couldn’t handle her mother’s death.
How about this? I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to know them. They never knew me. No one did.
My phone vibrated.
“I should get to class,” I said, sounding very studious. She seemed to like that.
“Great. Well then, have a good day, honey.”
Gross. The honey was completely unnecessary.
I stood up and she didn’t walk me to her door although she did the half stand motion that looked like she would have if I hadn’t bolted. I barely made it out the door when my phone started in again. I pulled it out and put it to my ear.
“Holy shit. Impatient much?”
“I’m coming now.”
“You’re skipping class?” Ryan asked, obviously fully aware that I was skipping class since he was waiting for me in the parking lot.
“I’m a rebel. Haven’t you heard?”
“Oh, I’ve heard.” He sounded devious. “I heard you’re into all sorts of naughty things.”
“You’re such an ass.” But I laughed. He was the only one that made me laugh anymore.
I darted a look down the school hallway before pushing through the double doors and out into the Oregon sunshine. I squinted against it, trying to shield my eyes with my palm.
Ryan whistled. “Hey, gorgeous,” he called out the open passenger window. And there he was, sitting in his black SUV, grinning at me. Looking so right.
I dropped down the stairs, feeling the weight of the school behind me, the ease of the air in front of me. I climbed in Ryan’s car and the minute I shut the door, I exhaled.
“You missed me, huh?” he asked, leaning his head back on the seat to stare at me. I turned to him.
“Definitely not.” But I did. He knew I did. And I was happy because if there was
one thing Ryan didn’t ask me to do, it was talk. And I loved that about him.
“You’re such a sweetheart,” he said and chuckled. Then he shifted into gear and began the drive toward our spot. The only place where we could hang out without the world spying on us. Somewhere without parents or ex-boyfriends or parole officers.
I put my hand in the wind outside the car, letting it lift in the rushing air. I could still remember the first time I met Ryan, outside on my front lawn, watching a police cruiser drop him off across the street. He was fourteen. I was twelve. He flipped me off.
“Remember when you gave me the finger out in front of your house?” I asked absently, staring at the passing trees.
“You still mad about that?”
“It wasn’t nice.” I looked over and raised my eyebrow.
“Aw,” he took my hand and wrapped it with his. “What can I say? I was a troublemaker and you were the cute blonde next door. It was my job to piss you off.”
“You were very professional.”
He kissed my fingers as he took a turn down the dirt road. “I’m pretty nice to you now, aren’t I?” He bit my knuckle and I pulled it back, smiling.
“You’re alright.” And he was. Despite his reputation, Ryan was great to me. Sweet to me. Patient with me.
The lighthouse was just ahead and I was so happy to see it, I nearly broke out in tears.
“So Miss Rowan,” he said. “Any major breakthroughs in counseling?”
“Tons. Oh, hey,” I said wide-eyed. “Did you know that if you failed twelfth grade you don’t get to go college with assholes?”
“Really?” he asked. “I did not know that. I thought assholes were a prerequisite for life. But wow. If dropping out saved me four years of assholedom, I’m glad I ignored my father.”
Ryan was making light of it. His dropping out had been a major deal. One that involved a police visit for domestic disturbance.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Today I have a guest post from author and friend Amanda K. Morgan. She's hilarious! Go for it, Amanda!
Hey all! Suzanne asked me to guest blog….and since I’ve recently received revisions from my awesome new agent (shout out, Mary) I’m going to talk about them. So.
Just after I graduated from high school, I snagged a job at the Game and Parks on Lake McConaughy. I thought I’d be a pretty easy job; after all, my brother did it and it didn’t sound so bad. He mostly mowed lawns, painted, and sometimes took swims in the lake when he was finished early. After work, he’d sit on the beach with the other workers and drink beer.
When I applied for the same job, I definitely wasn’t dreading it. In fact, I was sort of looking forward to it. It all sounded kind of fun.
Except that one small detail hadn’t been mentioned.
I wouldn’t be doing much mowing or painting.
My main job would be collecting money on the busy weekend nights when the campers rolled in, towing boats and haphazardly concealed cases of Busch Light—and, of course, cleaning port-a-potties and bath houses.
Yep. I was what the bosses fondly referred to as a Pots Girl.
Go ahead. Imagine it.
It’s just like that, only worse.
But there were perks; we’d back our trucks up to buildings so we crawl onto the roofs to eat lunch; we got to use handles on the CB radios (it’s the little things, guys); and generally, work with cool people.
Collecting the money was much, much worse.
I’m sure my bosses, seeing how my brother is something of a scientific/mathematical prodigy and worked for NASA before he ever graduated from college—well, I’m sure they thought if I was half as good at math, I’d be fine being in charge of the money for the kiosk.
Let’s get one thing straight here: I don’t have one bit of mathematical talent. I think that calculators on cell phones are an invention on the same level as light bulbs. And the only reason I was ever a good math tutor is because I knew how to break things down into tiny bits so I could figure it out.
And, at the end of the night, if my figures were off—and trust me, they always were, by some weird number like 36 cents—we had to recount everything. And then we’d discover I’d added 4+9 and ended up with 49 or something. And we’d just sit there, trying to figure out where we went wrong, looking in horror at my hideous scrawl of numbers and wondering if we were going to have to stay until 1:00 a.m. again.
Anyway, when I started revising one of my early novels not long after I finished this job, I’d start to have horrible Game and Parks flashbacks and I’d sit there and stare at the word document, wondering if I randomly picked a spot in the middle I might find out where I went wrong and hope that all of the numbers add up in the end.
And then I’d scroll back to the beginning and start revising at Word One. And then, slowly, I realized that revising wasn’t so bad. First of all, I didn’t have to deal with any numbers, other than the ones at the top of the page, so that made me feel better. And then I realized revising wasn’t the act of finding a little plot hole to fill or deleting a scene. It’s making everything better, word-by-word. It’s not pinpointing an error—it’s improving every sentence.Basically—and fortunately—revising a novel isn’t a math problem. It’s not looking at a question your reader asks and answering it. It’s asking yourself why your reader asked the question in the first place.
Thanks, Amanda! And please check her out at her blog! Have a great day everyone!
Friday, March 19, 2010
To catch up on WRONG ANSWER, first check out the posts HERE. (These are excerpts from unfinished manuscripts that have been sitting lonely in my files. They are unedited.)
WARNING: This has racy content. If you are sensitive to this type of thing, please look away. :-)
I opened my mouth to tell him goodbye but Nathan grinned so I just spun around, and walked through the slotted wooden door.
My dad stood up from the lounge chair the minute I walked out of the red TARGET doorway arches.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I was thirty pages from the end of CF!!! So I halfheartedly said, "Sure. What's it called?"
"It's called, I Hate My Brother So Much."
At that instant both me and my husband instinctively looked at each other in that silent parent communication. She later changed the title to, "My Brother is in Love" (to irritate him) and tried to ruin the pictures. But here's just a little taste of her magic. Hey, Scholastic Book Club, are you watching this?? haha
Monday, March 15, 2010
To catch up on the story, please first visit it HERE!
WRONG ANSWER (continued)
This was the ultimate in awful. And stupid, hands-all-over-me Nathan Wright was just sitting there, grinning and staring. I rolled my eyes and turned in my seat to look out the window.
“I have to run to the restroom,” Mrs. Hornsby said. I curled my lip. I really didn’t need all the info. “No talking while I’m gone.”
I watched as she walked out, a little awkwardly and I wondered just how bad the mean old lady had to pee. Nathan kicked my desk.
Glaring at him, I crossed my arms over my chest, mostly to block his view. “What is your problem?” I asked. “You’ve never talked to me before, you get me in trouble, you drag me out of my cafeteria seat and now your kicking my damn desk? Do you have a chemical imbalance?”
He laughed, reaching out to grab the back of my chair to slide it toward him. The room filled with a screech, but no way it was as loud as my heartbeat. When I was within touching distance, he stopped.
“Why are you so mean to me?” he asked, biting on his bottom lip and looking very amused. I wondered if Mrs. Hornsby fell in the toilet because it felt like she’d been gone forever. Although in reality it was probably more like fifteen seconds.
“Do you think your assholeness has anything to do with it?” I shrugged innocently.
But rather than scaring him off, my insults actually seemed to turn him on. Like, he actually said “Mm…” as if I was a tasty slice of cake in front of him. I dropped my arms, leaning away from him.
“I like you,” he said, mostly to himself.
“I don’t like you.” I actually sort of did.
“Yes,” he said, checking me out. “You do. I can tell.”
Really? He could tell a thing like that? “How?” I asked doubtfully.
But Nathan reached out and ran his index finger over the bridge of my nose, across my cheek. “Because you’re blushing,” he whispered.
Right. Well I was also freaking out! Nathan rested his hand on my desk, but he was leaning over and I could smell his cologne. He smelled good. His blue eyes crinkled when he smiled.
“Want to come to my house after this?” he asked.
“Uh, no.” I furrowed my brow. Did he even know who I was? Didn’t he realize that I was less than active in the high school sexual Olympics?
“Why not?” Absently, he reached up to take one of my curls, wrapping it around his finger playfully.
“You have pretty hair,” he said, bringing it up to his nose. “I like long hair like this.”
“Great,” I said, but I didn’t pull away. My hair had grown to halfway down my back and I admired the way he was caressing the blonde strands in his hand. It was relaxing.
“Come to my house,” he said quietly, smiling at me.
He was close. “No,” I whispered, mocking him.
His eyes narrowed on mine as his finger unwound my curl. He shrugged as if he didn’t give a damn anyway. Then he pushed my desk back from where he dragged me and stood up. I watched him, stunned silent, as he walked to the door and out of the classroom.
Hey! No fair. I still had detention.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Today I'm featuring writer Bethany Griffin--fantastic author of Handcuffs--available now!
So, I’m guest blogging for Suzanne today, and I’m sitting here with The Naughty List on my desk, in all of its…pinkness. So what do I write about? I won’t make you guess since I put it in the title. Today I am musing about cheerleaders. First, let me say that how cool and brave I think it is that Suz tackled cheerleaders as the main characters in this book. From my (admittedly skewed) perspective of high school, there is really no group who are more hated and stereotyped. I’m going to give it to you honestly here, high-school-bethany was not a fan of the cheerleaders.
After I graduated from college, I went back to high school with my resume in hand, and my senior English teacher (who had become a principal) was like, (laughing) well, we need a cheerleading coach. And then he laughed some more. There was lot of laughing. At this point in time (the present) I sponsor the anime/manga club, the literary club, and the gay-straight alliance/anti-bullying club. Cheerleaders? Yeah, all I can say is, it was pretty lame to try to get a job from a person who once offered to buy my entire first period English class doughnuts if I came to class on time for a whole month (nobody got doughnuts, but I didn’t care because I spent many first periods at an all you can eat place that had pancake sticks).
I became the emo coach like this, I have a co-worker who refers to all the other teachers as coach. As in, “Hi, coach!” “Good weather we’re having today, coach” etc. So one day he called me coach, and I raised my eyebrows ironically, and he said, “well, you’re the emo-coach, aren’t you?” and, I guess I am. I mean, I don’t know how much coaching they need, they say hi to me in the hallways sometimes…
But back to cheerleaders. They have this stereotypical image that evokes strong emotions (loathing?) in some people. Why? I mean, if I’m honest, I have to admit that they seem to be having fun, and they stay in good shape, and they can balance well, and they often have cute outfits. Good balance is a characteristic/life skill that I really envy in people. I was a mopey, awkward, slightly depressed and extremely lazy teenager. In what universe did I think I had the right to scorn cheerleaders? As an adult in high school, I’ve had those stereotypes turned upside down and around. I’ve taught cheerleaders who were smarter than the emo kids who hang out to discuss music with me. I’ve had cheerleaders hang out to discuss music with me. I’ve taught cheerleaders who were smarter than me, smarter than the administration, possibly smarter than people in the math department (though I’m not able to do the equations to figure that one out). I’ve had cheerleaders who were gracious, kind, giving, and not the least bit snobby, stuck up, or self involved. What I’m sort of trying to say, is that cheerleaders should be respected because they have good balance. Or, no, that cheerleaders should not be loathed, because loathing entire groups of people without good reason makes you loathsome. Or, what I really want to say, is how awesome it is that Suzanne wrote about cheerleaders. Because mopey emo-kids have their share of books. But fun books? That are pink? With cheerleaders? We need more of those!
Thank you, Bethany!! Everyone, she's always this awesome! Visit her website HERE!
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Last week I introduced WRONG ANSWER. You can read the excerpt HERE.
Here's the next installment of WA:
“Thank you, Ms. Parrish,” Mrs. Hornsby said as I handed in my test. I stood awkwardly in front of her, shocked she’d called me up.
And then, straight from my nightmares, the withered old woman stood up and dramatically ripped my test in two, letting the pieces flutter around her to the floor. The classroom collectively gasped. I didn’t move.
“There is no cheating allowed in my class. Ever.”
What a bitch. If she knew I gave Nathan the answer, why didn’t she rip up his test first? And why, may I ask, did she wait twenty minutes and fifty hard problems later to do this? I balled my hands into fists.
“Mr. Wright,” she called over my shoulder.
“Yes, Honey?” he answered. The class snickered. I would have too if I weren’t hating my teacher’s guts for humiliating me.
She tsked. “I’ll see you and Ms. Parrish at three o’clock.”
“It’s a date.”
I dropped my eyes, feeling them sting with the beginning of angry-tears. “Can I sit down now?” I asked in a low, just-got-in-trouble voice.
“Yes you may,” she said. Was that a trace of guilt in her gravelly old voice? Too late. I’d already wished her heart would explode during lunchtime. No take-backs.
My sandals scraped the linoleum floor as I walked back to my desk. No one laughed, not at me. It was too shocking. This was the stuff legends were made of. The school brain and the school bad-boy cheating together on a test? Scandalous.
I dropped in my desk, twitching my nose because the burning in my nostrils was making my eyes run, or vice versa. Please. Let the classroom open up into the netherworld and suck me in. Everyone was staring at me.
He had to be kidding me. I would never, in a million years, look at him again.
“Don’t make me psst you again,” he whispered.
Damn. A tear leaked out of my eye. I turned my head quickly, wiping at it. How embarrassing. I was a big, blubbery baby and now I just had to sit here, testless for the next five minutes.
I heard Nathan adjust in his seat, but I didn’t look over. I was too busy being pathetic. With no other way to cover my face, I folded my arms over my desktop and laid my head on them. And cried. Because I was that uncool.
“For reals?” Madeline asked, pushing her glasses up on her face. They weren’t the geeky bifocal kind either. They were cute, all cat-eyed and drama-club-chic. The rest of our lunch table was enthralled, hearing the tales of Corinne and the Calculus debacle.
“This has been the worst day of my junior year and quite possibly my life.”
“Not true,” Madeline said. “You once puked on Bucky Smifford.”
“Oh, good call.”
“It was totally gross.” She picked up the top bun of her hamburger to examine the patty
beneath it. The noise of the lunchroom was deafening if you didn’t know how to tune it out. Luckily, having a little sister gave me loads of practice with selective hearing.
“But,” Madeline said, dropping her bread and pushing her tray away. “What I want to know is why in the hell you’d give him the answer?”
Hm. I’d like to know why myself.
Madeline straightened her glasses, widening her eyes behind them. “Heads up,” she said quickly. “Known felon alert.”
Damn. That was the raspy voice of Nathan Wright saying my name. Standing over my shoulder, no doubt looking down at the top of my head. I could ignore him, wait until he shuffled away.
“Hey,” he said, sounding annoyed. He tapped my shoulder. I spun around, alarmed that he would a.) want to talk to me again and b.) put his well-trained fingers on my body.
“What?” I snapped at him.
He stepped back, his dark leather hiking boots scraping the floor. His mouth hung open as he looked me over. He was sexy when he was irritated.
“Come walk with me for a minute,” he said, looking bored as he glanced over the room. I started at him.
“Uh…hell no?” Who did he think he was?
His eyes darted to mine. “Corinne Parrish,” he said in a controlled sort of anger. “Get your ass out of that seat and come walk with me.”
Madeline kicked my sandal under the table, but I wouldn’t break Nathan’s glare. How dare he talk to me like that? Like he could just order me around. Make me cheat on tests.
“Nathan Wright,” I said, mocking his tone. “My rear is quite fine where it is. Go harass someone else.” So I was a little mad. I had every reason to be. I’d never in my life gotten a test ripped up. That would be a zero forever recorded on my academic record. And now he was mad at me because I wouldn’t let him apologize?
But instead of quietly brooding like a good misunderstood-hottie, he had the nerve to walk over, take my elbow and pull me up and out of my seat. He wasn’t rough, I was too stunned to fight, and before I could signal the rent-a-cop in the corner, Nathan ushered me forward and out the cafeteria doors.
It took about three steps into the hallway for me to realize I was being manhandled by an eighteen-year-old degenerate. I yanked my arm out of his grasp and spun around to face him. Damn. He was even better looking up close.
“Are you nuts?” I asked. His eyes were narrowed and my heart was racing and good God, this was intense. Why was he talking to me? Was it the fact that I was blowing him off? Guys like him probably weren’t used to that. Well that made two of us. I wasn’t used to guys like him blowing me on.
“I’m sorry I got you in trouble,” he said, crossing his arms over his black t-shirt. When his eyes met mine, I felt a tingle rush through me. They were so gorgeously blue.
“So…. you physically assault me to force your apology?” Yes. I was being melodramatic.
“Assault?” he asked.
“Grabbing, assault, whatever.”
He stared at me, looking confused. “You’re weird,” he said, shaking his head. “Are you a bitch to everyone?”
“Yes.” But ouch! Was I really a bitch?
Nathan looked me over one more time with the same devirginizing stare he’d used earlier. “You know what you need?” he said, his crooked smile working it’s magic.
Uh, oh. Perverted line alert. “What?” Why did I ask?
He dropped his arm and reached for my hand. “I’ll show you.” But my entire body set on fire with white-hot embarrassment as I let Nathan pull me forward toward the front exit. This was insane. I couldn’t go anywhere with him. Especially not off the school grounds.
“Stop,” I said, pulling my hand free. “I…I can’t skip class.”
He bit on his lower lip, stepping closer to me. Wow. I was prickling all over. “Maybe after school then,” he whispered, staring at my mouth.
Okay. Freeze frame. What the hell was happening? How did my day suddenly become an after-school special on abstinence? Especially when this was the first conversation I’d ever had with Mr. Hit-it-and-quit-it.
“Oh my God,” I said, backing away and holding up my arms defensively. “I’m not going anywhere with you.”
His playboy expression faltered and his eyes changed to something more self-conscious. Hot boys were so insecure.
“Not interested,” I said, regaining some of my self-respect. “I don’t date, and I definitely don’t more. So if you’re looking for good-time-fun, you’ve got the wrong gal.” Franchesta’s cleavage shot into my mind. “So I suggest you back away slowly before my knee meets your balls.”
His mouth opened, surprised, probably too soon to be angry. Pig. He just tried to sneak me out of school for a roll in the figurative hay. Really it would be a roll in the back of his Mustang and gross, like I would lose it there.
I turned quickly, letting my body adjust to the dramatic mood swings I’d just undergone and stomped back toward the cafeteria. Just as I got through the doors, I heard a chuckle.
“See you at three o’clock, Corinne.”
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
But, I've finally found a use for them. At least for a little while. I'm going to post an excerpt a week from one of my novel graveyard books. So come back next Wednesday for the next installment! Keep in mind, these are ROUGH, UNEDITED BOOKS. So don't be scared :-)
The first sacrifice to the blogging gods comes from the distant past of 2007. It's:
Was that for me? I kept my eyes on the Math test, but the lead of my pencil stayed fixed on the space below the equals line.
“Psst… ” Even louder.
Without making any sudden movements, (I didn’t want to look stupid by assuming it was for me), I slid my pupils to the corners of my eyes. Shoot. It was for me.
“Number four,” Nathan Wright whispered.
Of course. Why else would he speak to me unless he was trying to cheat? Nathan wasn’t exactly into smart chicks. Unless of course I had the D cups of Franchesta Horowitz. Which I didn’t. Nope. Divide them by two.
“Corinne,” he hissed. “Number four.”
Nervousness twisted my stomach. I wanted to tell him to piss off, but at the same time, it was exciting to see him looking sideways at me. The way his dark hair spiked out and his blue eyes narrowed deviously, making him hot in that dangerous, on-parole sort of way. I turned to him.
As our eyes met, he smiled. That crooked sly way a guy grins when he wants something. I melted a little.
“No,” I said. I wasn’t that melty.
His mouth opened, then he snapped it shut to clench his jaw. After a glance to the front at the haplessly distracted Mrs. Hornsby, Nathan leaned on his desk, ducking behind the guy in front of him.
“Number four,” he said slowly.
“I heard you.” I matched his tone. “But I’m not giving you the answer.” Okay. I could have just given it to him. I mean, it wasn’t a hard question. But for some reason, the fact that he expected me to just hand it over pissed me off. He may have every other girl at Washington High wrapped around his…pinky. But not me. Nathan Wright was eye candy. Nothing more.
I stared as his tongue darted out to lick his bottom lip. It looked delicious. I would lick it too if I were him. He sat back in his seat, glaring. This was the point where I needed to look away, only I couldn’t. He was hypnotizing me with his hotness.
His eyes traveled over my face, looking slowly down my body, then back up, pausing at my mouth. When he finally met my stare, I felt like I’d lost my virginity during a Calculus test. I was breathing quickly.
And then, as if all was forgiven, he winked. Sigh.
Nathan went back to staring down at his test and I watched him, surprised he’d given up, shocked that he’d checked me out, and flipping stunned that he’d used his gorgeous left eye to communicate with me.
“X equals twenty-five,” I blurted in a whisper. Wow. I was absolutely lame.
“Thanks, Corinne.” He smiled but didn’t look up. I waited a second, still tingling from my touch-free erotic moment, then I went back to my test.
But I couldn’t think of one more damn answer.