Thursday, March 25, 2010

Damaged Goods

Damaged Goods is my very first novel, and one I never thought anyone but I would care about. With an inter-racial romance between a hooker for a heroine and a man who thinks he's a murderer, as well as a female sociopath killer, well - who but me would ever care about that? Then I took a deep breath and entered it in a few contests.

Low and behold, many judges liked it. It finalled in three contests, and one judge suggested I enter it in the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest. I laughed at first, then decided, what the hell.

So today, March 25, I get the phone call, Damaged Goods is a finalist. Means I'll be in the ceremony in Nashville in July, have to get head-shots done, and a gown, the whole shebang.

I'm amazed, and stunned.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I refuse to surrender to normal

Like I said, Life Must Go On (at least, I certainly hope so). I'm winding down with MO1. Someone's critiquing it now, and I'm hoping to find a few beta readers to look at the whole thing and give me feedback before I ship it off to my agent. Which means, I get to go back to work on one of my adult books. The Last Logan (LL for short)

If you're interested, here's the beginning of the Romantic Suspense saga featuring the intrepid reporter, Beverly Jefferson and the sensitive artist turned reluctant hero, Kyle Logan.
The last time Beverly Jefferson saw Patrick Logan alive, his gaze moved over her body as if measuring her for a coffin. Then he laughed and said, “A woman’s true place is groveling under a man.” Now she stood in a corner of a rain soaked cemetery. Waited, under a sky empty of any rainbow heralding new promise and life, to see his remains lowered into the earth. A horde of Chicago’s elite--politicians, ministers, sports figures and celebrities--crowded around the coffin. All pretending they weren’t relieved by Patrick’s passing. The minister hired by the family could extol his virtues forever. She knew the truth. Right about now, what passed for Patrick Logan’s soul was engaged in a blazing argument with Satan about who Hell’s lord and master truly was. Beverly wore an old denim skirt and jacket and had no makeup on her dark brown skin. The morning rain and continued high humidity left her hair crimped. She hadn’t bothered decking herself out for this assignment. Powerful men and women in all parts of the Midwest feared becoming the subject of a Beverly Jefferson investigation. Cringed at the prospect of finding their crimes and illicit activities spilled on the pages of the Chicago Messenger. No need pretending to be a beauty when you had power. She remained at a distance from the crowd out of respect for the few people who might actually mourn the deceased. If the dead man’s father chose to seek her out, that was his problem. She hadn’t run from Patrick. Wouldn’t run from his father. “My son’s accident changes things,” Mitchell Logan said as he approached. The sixty-four-year-old man leaned heavily on his cane. His suit probably cost four figures, but no tailor alive could design clothes capable of camouflaging the deterioration that left his once burly body a candidate for one of the Field Museum’s mummy cases. “Nothing’s changed, except your son won’t spend time in prison.” She paused to wonder why those words made the old man tremble. Whether Patrick’s death was an accident or suicide no longer mattered. Her money would be on the coward’s way out, but she wouldn’t waste energy trying to force reality on the old man. At least the state was spared the expense of a trial. “My son did nothing wrong.” “Nothing?” Mitchell opened his lips. The Adam’s apple in his wrinkled neck bobbed as he swallowed back his words. Beverly rubbed a hand across her forehead and reminded herself to let the past go. She knew the family spin. Patrick Logan pillar of the community, servant of the people, future CEO of Logan Industries. This was all a misunderstanding instigated by that insignificant reporter. What was her name again? Oh yes, Jefferson. Wasn’t there something about a vendetta? Only facts mattered. Fact--Patrick Logan was dead and wasn’t coming back. Ever. Neither was the one member of the family she really wanted dead.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Future Imperfect

Well, I have the word. I've been tested, re-tested, met with doctors and anesthesiologists, and th big day is Tuesday. Starting Monday I have to stop eating, head for the hospital on Tuesday morning, they put me to sleep and I wake up minus all the troublesome parts. Four to six days in t he hospital - I'll try to think of it as a strange vacation. Maybe I'll even find a way to make use of this in a book someday.

After that, a month of recovery.

I must admit I like this doctor batter than the first guy. Both are nice, and probably both equally competent. But there's only so much overwhelming optimisim this realist can take. If you need your hand held, the other one is perfect. Me, I'm a look me in the eye and give me the facts kind of girl.

Anyway, I'm off to the races.

Wish me luck if you get a moment.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Getting back to normal (and to my writing)

Today I'm back to the real reason for this blog, my writing. I've decided to put out the beginning of my WIP's and take a look to see which I should concentrate on next, since I finally think I'm bringing the story that initially was titled Life sucks, and now holds the name, Minority of One (MO1) to a close.

I'll begin by giving the opening of MO1, my sequel to PULL MY STRING today.
Cold day in hell has its own meaning when you’re standing outside school in a minus twenty wind chill waiting for your boyfriend. The gray clouds promise another blizzard will hit soon. Nothing combats Chicago weather in January, not even my brown bomber jacket. And don’t mention the so-called magic of gore-tex. Commercials lie. Cold flows up through the bottom of my boots and my toes burn.

Where the heck is Carl?

He worried about first semester finals last week. I understood when he said he had no time to get together. Carl’s always been silent and moody. Artists can be like that. I understand. But he’s grown worse since school started again after winter break.

No. Even before.

Carl’s acted strange ever since his uncle, the old guy who claims he’s no longer gay, lost his job and moved into the family’s basement. The whole Redkin family acts different. They even skipped church yesterday. Probably the first time Carl’s mother’s voice didn’t overpower the choir since the days of Noah.

Most students moving around me and climbing the stairs to Farrington High School’s doors act like I’m just another lump of dirty snow. Doesn’t matter, I see Carl at the end of the block.

His solid frame looks better than usual. Or maybe it’s just that I haven’t seen him in so long. Even bundled in that bulky down coat his parents insisted on buying him, the one he says makes him look like a human marshmallow, he looks good.

I feel hard and tight and ready to go off like a Fourth of July bottle rocket as I jump to his side and give him a slap on the back. “Where you been, man? Damn near froze my ass off waiting on you.”

“Don’t.” He jumps and pulls himself free like my fingers are knives. “I…we need to talk.”

I know what that means. Code for, I’ve found someone else. It all comes together. His silence, the way he’s found excuses not to meet, the unanswered phone calls.

Who is he, I want to ask. What’s the name of the guy who’s taken Carl away? I’m ready to order him to stay with me. Dad used to call me Orders ’R Us, and even my big brother sometimes finds it easier to just salute and let me rule. But that’s not what I want with Carl.

“It was all a mistake.” Carl bites his lower lip the way he always does when he’s nervous. “I’m not gay. I’m…I want to be normal.”

“What are you talking about?”

Carl stands with his arms crossed tightly around himself, as if to push off an attack. “I just want to be normal. Is that too much to ask?”

For Carl to be normal, he has to dump me.

Maybe I didn’t really think we could be a forever couple.

Or maybe I did.

I thrust my hands deep into my pockets so he can’t see them shake and try making a joke. “We’re not abby-normal.” Stupid, and way below my usual standards. “There’s nothing wrong with us. Nothing except we’re standing out here with our nuts freezing when we should be smart enough to get inside.”

He frowns so hard his cheeks bulge. “My uncle says it’s a choice I have to make. He did, and it worked for him.” The eyes barely visible below his cap are wide and so dark they’re almost black instead of the coconut brown I fell for a year ago. The visor keeps snow from landing on his face, but moisture gleams on his cheeks and the tips of his eyelashes are white. The future doctor in me wants to tell him to brush the tears away before they freeze and make him sick. The lover in me wants to kiss him and make all this go away.

When I move closer, his eyes open and he steps back. “I’ve gotta change. You can handle this Neill, you’re strong. But I can’t deal anymore.”

Strong? It’s ten below and snowing and every word he says leaves me ready to melt into the salt-strewn sidewalk. “Nothing’s wrong with us.”

“There is no us anymore. I won’t be gay anymore.”

Just like that. As if he can turn his feelings off.

Maybe he can.

“I can’t deal,” Carl continues. “My family says--”

“Don’t listen to them.” I know what they tell him. I’ve heard it myself. God hates you fags. Homos are an abomination.

How do you argue with the God thing?

“Don’t listen to Mom and Dad? My uncle? I’m tired of being called a queer, faggot, or fudge-packer. Listening to my mother crying and praying because I’m on the fast path to hell.”

He turns.

I jump forward and grab his sleeve.

People stream around us. The first period bell will ring in a few minutes. Neither Carl nor I are invisible. Bet the talk’s already raging about the family squabble.
Ex family.

“Are you saying you don’t love me anymore?” My heart pounds as I wait for his answer.

He doesn’t turn and look me in the face. Just nods like some bobble-head doll. “We can still be friends.”

Friends. The word is a knife in my chest.

When I release him, he heads up the stairs to the school entrance. As he disappears through the doors, the words of Kanye’s song run through my head. Now that that don’t kill me can only make me stronger.

Who’d ever want to be so fucking strong?

If Mom and Dad were still alive--

What would I do? Run home through the snow and throw myself in Mom’s lap? Been there, done that back in seventh grade, the first time a kid called me a butt-eating faggot. I won’t let my feelings control me. I’m Neill. My parents knew what they were doing when they named me chief. I know what I am and I won’t drop to my knees and go bitching about what Carl and I have.

What we had.

Yeah, my hero's gay. And he's got a heck of an arc to go through.
Tomorrow I'll go for Girl Marked X (Adult Romantic Suspense)