Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Walk in the Burbs

My suburban neighborhood may not seem like the most exciting place to take a walk. The route I like best takes me down a quiet street lined with tidy houses, trimmed lawns and colorful flowers beds.
Mr. Long Tail gets some sun
The intersecting cross streets are named after colleges: Harvard, Cambridge, Stanford, Cornell. I nod hello to neighbors out walking dogs or pushing strollers. Most people are listening to music or talking on cell phones, but not me. When I walk, there’s usually a character from one of my novels keeping me company.

We have intense conversations, work through plot twists, invent back story. It’s all good, unless someone sees my lips moving.

I can’t help it. Walking is great for coming up with new ideas. While the left side of your brain, the critical side, is distracted with keeping your feet moving, the right side, the creative side, has the freedom to imagine new ideas and soar. (Showering works great too. While your hands are busy soaping up your body parts, your mind is free. I’ve gotten some of my best ideas while standing under running water.)
Dharma keeping the neighborhood safe

This morning it may have seemed like I was walking though a commonplace suburban landscape, scooting from tree to tree to take advantage of the shade, feet smacking the sidewalk in mindless cadenced repetition. Really I was with Glendin spying on her odd Jeliken neighbors from the bushes, or with Noni in the Gray City, dodging Corporate Security Rattletraps, or fighting off a viciwolf attack with Taela in the Darkling Forest.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Contest Time! Birthday Blowout First Page Contest

Being the industrious, ambitious writer that I am, I've decided to enter yet another contest put on by the wonderful Shelley Watters of the Is It Hot In Here Or Is It This Book? Blog. No, gentle readers, I didn't win the last one. But in the spirit of never-say-die, I am ready for another go.

The Birthday Blowout First Page Contest is being judged by Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency. This time the contest is only open to writers of YA or Middle Grade Fiction, and (yay for me!) I happen to write YA and Middle Grade Fiction. (It's also open to writers of memoir, pop-culture non-fiction, and women’s commercial fiction, but never mind that) The lucky winner will receive a full request from Victoria (which will include at least a partial critique). She will also request partials for the runners up that she selects.

So with apologies for repeating myself, here again for your perusal are the first 250 words of my novel.

Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 68,000


The heavy stoneware crock slipped from Taela’s grasp, and smashed to the dirt floor. She jumped back as shards of pottery and summerbeans scattered at her feet. She bent to clean the mess and heard footsteps approach from the other side of the weathered door. Cursing herself for her carelessness, she ducked behind a barrel.

Blood rushed in Taela’s ears. Ribbons of moonlight shone through the slats of the storage shed illuminating the casks, barrels and crates stacked around her. The sour smell of vinegar soaking the dirt overpowered the scents of aging wood and hay.

The wooden handle turned and the door inched open. Taela hunched in the shadows, holding her breath. A young woman wearing a white nightdress entered, flickering candlelight illuminating her face. Selita. Long brown hair hung loose around her shoulders and she carried a wooden spoon as if it were a club. Misshapen shadows cast by the candlelight danced on the opposite wall.

Taela shifted to ease a cramp and her boot scuffed the hard-packed dirt. Selita turned toward the sound. “Who’s there? Show yourself or I’ll let in the dogs.” She was bluffing. The dogs weren’t anywhere near or their yapping would have given Taela away. Selita took another step toward her hiding place.

Taela cursed under her breath. She'd almost gotten away with it. Conceding defeat, she stood. “Selita, it’s me.”

Her cousin shrieked, then laughed. “Taela, you nearly startled me to death! I thought you were a Terrinian raider.”