Monday, January 16, 2017


This bit was written in response to a Chuck Wendig blog post asking people to write about something that scares them. This snippet is fiction, but feel free to pull tendrils of my broken psyche out of it.

I forgot my water bottle.

Not a big deal, really. I can pick up a bottle of water in the lobby of my building. I won’t even have to pay for it. Courtesy water for guests and employees. That’s me. An employee. Definitely not a guest.

I still need to drink.

I’m pretty sure I can make it through this fifteen minute bus ride. Fifteen minutes to a bottle of water.

My throat is parched. There is a tickle of a cough lurking there, threatening to burst free. A single swallow of water would wash it away, send it swirling down to my stomach.

I swallow. The trickle of saliva in my mouth is nowhere near enough. I cough. A single sharp bark.

Four heads turn to look at me. The eyes are nervous.

I meet the eyes of the man next to me. His eyes are a soft brown, they should be comforting. The skin around them is pulled tight, pinched at the corners into a frown. There is no welcome there.

I let my gaze drift down to his hands, to the stoppered blue glass held in them. His fingers tighten, curl around the cool surface.

I swallow again. I am not the only one to hear the click in my throat.

The man stands and moves away, taking his water to the safety of a seat further away from the thirsty girl.

A quick glance around shows all the bottles are guarded, held close. They are not for me.

A second quick glance to my arm shows that I have twelve minutes to go.

I close my eyes and try not to think about water. All I see on the inside of my lids is a vast ocean. Clouds overhead drip down, adding to the already swollen sea.

I want to wade in and dip my head, drop my jaw and take it all in.

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink. Imaginary water, anyway.

I open my eyes and check my watch again. Nine minutes.

I lift my hand, intending to wipe sweat from my brow. My hand shakes, trembles and tumbles against my skin. There is not a single bead of moisture there. The skin on my forehead feels thin, fragile, stretched tight.

My hand falls, the tremors accelerating as it sinks to my lap.

I feel that same tremor inside. My cells quivering, quaking as they shrink ever so slightly.

I slump in my seat, my head tipping back against the unforgiving glass of the window. The heat from outside seeps through, scorching my skin. It steals more of my moisture. I have none to spare. I am dry.

My eyes drift closed. The lids scratch and scrape, sand blowing across the Sahara.

I was wrong. Fifteen minutes is too long.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Year of Words

I finished twelve books in December:

Cress by Marissa Meyer
90 Days to Your Novel by Sarah Domet
Company Confessions by Christopher Moran
Bossypants by Tina Fey
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
George by Alex Gino
Isolation Ward by Joshua Spanogle
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Splendor by Anna Godbersen
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

This puts my total for 2016 at 123 books! I made it to my GoodReads goal, with a little room to spare. Of those books, twenty-two books earned a five-star rating from me (the list of five-star reads is at the end of this post).

Choosing a favorite read of the year is tough. I read a lot of books that I loved. But if you are mean enough to make me choose a favorite, I would have to go with The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. Close behind is the The Winner’s series by Marie Rutkoski.

Both of these series have unique stories set in slightly odd worlds that have enough in common with the world we live in to pull you deeply into the story. Both of these series have characters riddled with flaws and issues. Both of these series have a lovely use of language, though Maggie wins my heart here for her unexpected and exactly perfect turn of a phrase.

These two series have colored how I see the world around me. And who I am as a writer. They have become the point of comparison for my own work.

Which brings me to the other number news of 2016. I wrote over 230,000 words this year. That includes the rough draft for a novel that I am pretty sure will never leave the virtual shelf it sits on as well as two? three? eight hundred? revisions of the novel I am currently querying. Tossed in there are a few shorts as well.

That seems like a huge number, but it was not far over half of my word count goal for the year (420,000). That goal was a little huge, considering I work full time, and have a house full of humans and cats that like my attention now and then.

The goals for 2017:

Read 120 books.
Draft the contemporary YA story that has been swirling in my brain for the last year or so.
Revise said draft.
I would love to put sign with an agent on this goal list, but that involves too many things that are outside of my control to qualify as a goal. Instead I will list continuing to query.

What are your goals for the year?

Twenty-two 5 star reads in 2016 (not in order of favoritism, in order by authors last name for fairness!):
The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Light Fantastic by Sarah Combs
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati
X by Sue Grafton
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Lisey’s Story by Stephen King
The Art and Craft of Storytelling by Nancy Lamb
The Birth House by Ami McKay
Cinder and Cress by Marissa Meyer
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater (all four books in the series)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein