Top Ten Facts Behind the Fiction–CORRODED

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1. The acknowledgement section for Corroded is full of people, but the one that stands out the most is Laurie Halse Anderson. Yes, THE Laurie Halse Anderson. I was blessed to win a full manuscript critique during a fundraiser for the Joplin, Missouri tornado victims in 2011, one of the last full critiques she was able to do. I’ve been in contact with Laurie both before and after the critique and she’s been nothing but supportive. An ultimate mentor—my thanks, again!

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2. Mary Weber is the character that changed the most from how she was portrayed in the original drafts. She’s stronger and more relatable than she was to begin with, thanks in part to honest critique partners and beta readers who shared their displeasure of her with me.

3. In both of my books, my secondary characters vie to over-run the main one, and Corroded is the ultimate example. Ben Thomas was so well-loved by beta readers and my critique group, the story finally morphed to include his own point-of-view chapters.

4. Ben’s sensory issues are influenced by the sensitivities of several people on the autism spectrum including my son and the autobiographical tales by John Elder Robison, Temple Grandin, Donna Williams, and Erin Clemens (who the book is dedicated in part to.) But Ben’s story isn’t a one-size-fits-all autism story. Autism is a spectrum disorder. Each person on the spectrum is unique and lives with a different set of skills and sensitivities, just like anyone else.

5. Weighted blankets can help calm people on the spectrum and other individuals with sensory-related issues. Does it work for everyone? No, but it’s worth trying because it’s a safe, drug-free option to ease anxiety and quiet meltdowns.

6. Ben originally had one obsession—The Avengers, with a focus on Thor because I’m a Marvel girl. As his role expanded, he became more complex with his interests and the history geek emerged.

7. The town in Corroded, Santo Cordero, is based on the Rio Del Mar/Aptos area in Santa Cruz County where I lived during high school. The school I attended had a Mariner mascot—that’s where the idea for Sailor Suzy came from.

8. There was a place on campus called “the pit.” Photographic evidence: that’s me in the middle, rocking my flannel shirt and white moccasins in 1993.

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9. I found the Steinbeck Wax Museum on Cannery Row in Monterey totally creepy when I went there, but what else could you expect from a wax museum in a basement? It did not disappoint, in that regard.

10. I have two older sisters who are much cooler and more interesting than me. While growing up, I almost always shared a room with one of my siblings, but I did have my own room for about two years before my sister closest in age moved back in and I was forced to share my space. I played up those two experiences for Mary and Barbara’s relationship trouble.

Week of Mondays

It’s only Wednesday, but it’s been a week of Mondays here. And I mean that in the best possible way. I’m one of those people who love Mondays.

Mondays are a fresh start.
Mondays are productive.
Mondays are inspiring.
Mondays are peaceful (usually, in part, because I rarely have anywhere to rush off to, which leaves me to…)
Mondays are pajama days (most of the time—see above.)

This week has qualified as a week of awesome because:
1. FORTITUDE, my debut novel, will be out in one year. (Hooray!) 100_6830.1

2. Europe (Favorite. Band. EVER.) is releasing their US tour dates this Friday. (Hello, bucket list item number one—see Europe live!)

3. The Shannara TV series (first season based on my favorite Terry Brooks novel, The Elfstones of Shannara) keeps releasing cast news and pre-filming has begun (in New Zealand, of course.) 100_6841

4. I finally got to see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

5. I’m on schedule for finishing my edits of CORRODED, so I’m closer to sending it back into Query Land.

It’s been exciting in my little corner of the world. What bits of awesome are filling your week?

Turbo Charged

Good movies are fun to watch. They can be inspiring, emotional, or even just entertaining. I tend to love movies that are all of the above—laughter, tears, and cheering on the characters are what make watching movies (and reading) enjoyable.

One movie I adore is Turbo.

Yes, the movie about a racing snail.

Turbo

What makes it work? Nostalgic (to me) So Cal flavor, the underlining theme of never giving up (ridicule, injuries, and mishaps can’t stop him), voice talents of Paul Giamatti and Samuel L. Jackson, plus the whacked-out soundtrack (it almost makes my iPod on Shuffle look tame). Almost.

Haven’t watched it? Then you’re missing lines like:

• Yeah, I’m crazy! What made you think I was sane?

• No dream is too big, and no dreamer is too small.

• What happens if you wake up tomorrow and your powers are gone?

Then I better make the most of today.

Now it’s time for me to “snail up!” and get back to edits.

What’s your favorite movie line?

Movies and Me

This past month has been theater going, as promised. I’ve been to four movies in as many weeks, which is twice as many as I usually attend in a full year.

First up was Ender’s Game. Since I’d recently read the novel—as well as Ender’s Shadow—the storyline was a bit disappointing. Chop and hack galore. But the actors were great and it was visually impressive, as well as moving. My eyes were moist once, maybe twice. I think I hid it well.

Thor: The Dark World was epic! I’d waited almost two decades for Thor on the big screen, and all the movies featuring him have been awesome, but this one was fabulous. I cried once, and my husband didn’t tease me about it until afterwards.thor dark world

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was amazing. I went to this one alone and used my hoodie sleeve to wipe the tears running down my face more times than I can count.

Frozen was our Tuesday bargain today. I took two out of the three kidlets and we had the theater to ourselves, which is always good. My teen with autism isn’t the most quiet movie watcher and the little princess switched seats often. I was moved to tears during the “Let it Go” musical scene, even while the youngest was climbing around my lap.

Notice the pattern?

I’m sure I’ll shed more tears when I make it to The Book Thief, and probably for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. That should hold me over through New Year’s.

Have you enjoyed any of the new releases? Do you cry during movies? Please tell me I’m not alone.

Music for the Wait Time

It’s been two weeks since I finished the first major round of revisions (there were several edits along the journey) on FORTITUDE. While waiting to hear back from beta readers, I’m working on the synopsis and query letter for it. Plus, a lot of knitting and watching movies have happened—it’s not all work here. Also, I’ve been reading a couple of my friends’ manuscripts. Finished with one from MeLeesa Swann and now I’m on to Israel Parker’s latest epic.

The good news, among all this waiting, is that I can work on the official soundtrack for FORTITUDE. As noted in this post, I like the music to match the arc of the novel. With this being a historical journey, I’m trying to make sure the lyrics fit the times. (Think Bid Time Return—that’s Somewhere in Time to the movie buffs—so the listener/reader isn’t jarred out of the story. Yeah, I’m a geek.) So, out of over thirteen hours of FORTITUDE mood music, I’ve got to arrange a manageable list of timeless songs to share with others. But I’ve stumbled across a few gems in my regular playlist mixes that weren’t in my collection, including this one, which works perfectly during the lowest point for main character Claire O’Farrell, “Reason” by Europe.

Now for a dozen more.

The End Game

I don’t usually review books but once upon a time I listed them here and wrote a blurb about each one. Scaling down was the best option for me a few years back, but if you’re interested in what I’m reading, you can track them on Facebook. It’s not as visually pleasing but I update whenever I start something new.

That being said, I’m not going to post a book review, rather praise a novel’s introduction. Yep, the introduction. Though from what I’ve read so far, the book is good, too.

The fastest way to bump a book up on my TBR (to be read) pile is to release a movie. ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card has been on my “pile” for at least a decade. (The pile is too big to stack: I have books on random shelves around the house plus a list of books to get—at some point—from the library or at the bookstore.) This November is gonna rock in theaters! I might go to the movies twice a year, but with THOR: THE DARK WORLD, CATCHING FIRE, THE BOOK THIEF, and ENDER’S GAME all releasing in November, I might be going weekly. I used to collect THOR comic books (still have them), I’ve read The Hunger Games series as well as The Book Thief, and now I’m into Ender’s Game.

The old paperback that's been around the house for YEARS.

The old paperback that’s been around the house for YEARS.


Two nights ago, I started Ender’s journey from the beginning. I read books from beginning to end, from copyright page all the way through the dedication and to the author’s biography at the end. I love introductions and author’s notes and the introduction to the “Author’s Definitive Edition” of Ender’s Game published in 1991 was no let down. Orson Scott Card imparted reader/writer wisdom in a way that everyone can understand.

Here’s the breakdown of the main points that spoke to me:
1. A writer is always developing.
2. Simple writing does not equal weak writing. (One of the reasons I love children’s literature—it is powerful.)
3. Truth in fiction is what the reader learns about themselves while reading the story.
4. Writers bring the tools; the readers build the story in their own minds.

If you’re an avid reader or a writer—of any genre—I recommend tracking down a copy with the introduction and read it for yourself. It made me want to rush out and tackle my literary dreams as well as lose myself in a great book.

An Autism Literary Journey

It’s no secret that my oldest child is on the autism spectrum (check out posts under the “Autism” category) but this summer we passed a milestone: a READING benchmark.

Call me a bad parent, but one of my only questions for the neurologist who “helped” diagnosis my son with PDD-NOS was “Will he ever learn to read?”  My sweet son didn’t sit still long enough for me to read more than a page or two of a picture book—he was more interested in lining up his video cassettes.

Thankfully, he did learn to read and in the past year he’s been reading for pleasure. Every night, he’d read aloud to himself from The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter or the Curious George cannon. Over and over. I was happy to see him reading, and had to brush tears from my cheeks the first few times I caught his little brother and sister huddled around him in bed after lights out to listen to the stories, but I didn’t want him stimming on the same stories.

When his fourteenth birthday approached this July, I decided to formerly introduce him to my bookshelves which he passed dozens of times a day. I pointed out a section of middle grade novels and let him pick one of the E.B. White books since he was familiar with the characters from their movie reincarnations. He went through Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan the first week. He plowed through the complete Bunnicula series by James Howe and several Newbery books like Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Shiloh, The Whipping Boy, and Sarah, Plain and Tall. He even read Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

SIXTY books in two months! I gave him a journal when he began his novel reading journey and in it he draws the cover of each book he completes. Now, I need to go back to the bookstore and buy another journal.

I’ve always had a major children’s book collection happening but last week I started fearing for my home library. He’d moved from the lower middle grade novel—typically for 7-10 year olds—bookshelves to my personal favorites—the ten and up category.

So, we began this week with a trip to our local library branch like a good homeschool family. Usually, my guy would only look at the DVDs and a book or two if pressed. This time, I showed him the children’s fiction section and he started putting Roald Dahl and Beverly Cleary books in our bag. I’m majorly excited but a little sad that he’s got dibs on Lair & Spy by Rebecca Stead before me.