Monday, August 29, 2011

Brolly Folly

I’ve never tried a Magpie Tale before. Niamh Boyce and Brigid have written some
pretty impressive pieces, based on the picture prompts. Here’s my humble attempt:

Bree flicked her red umbrella shut and shook it fiercely to rid it of raindrops. She gazed up from the doorway of the bar to see a haggard man standing, mouth agape with a cigarette dangling from his cracked lips.

“You… you… just landed here from the sky. How did you do that?”

She chuckled as she leaned her umbrella against the wall. Then she entered the cave. Before she could stop herself, Bree scrunched her nose against the stench of stale beer and desperation. Recovering, she squared her shoulders and sashayed to the bar.

The only woman there, she felt every pair of eyes burn through her tiny dress.

“What’ll it be, Miss?” the stereotypical bartender asked, pouring a beer from the tap for another customer. He had the kind of face that invited customers to spill their secrets. Wouldn’t he like to know hers?

She opened her mouth to reply when the man from outside stumbled over to where she sat and took the next stool. “I saw what you did.”

Bree chuckled again, and again turned to the bartender. “You choose for me.” Men loved thinking they were in charge. When she opened her crimson handbag, the bartender waived his hand dismissively.

The haggard man stood and shouted, “This woman, she appeared out of thin air, right out of the sky.”

The men roared with laughter.

“Bill’s had too much to drink.”

“Who’s gonna take him home tonight?”

“Not me. I’ve wiped his vomit out of my car for the last time.”

Too drunk to be offended, he asked Bree, “Was it you who did it? Are you a witch? Or was it a magical umbrella?” He leaned in, his breath reeking worse than the bar. “I guess you could’ve enchanted the umbrella. I bet you’re a witch either way.”

“Maybe she’s freakin’ Mary Poppins.”

“Something like that.” Way back when she was respectable, she had been a nanny, but it paid like dreck. She held her mug up. “Cheers.” The haggard man skulked away.

“What do you do?” The man, who had on previous occasions wiped up vomit, asked.

“I’m a fortune teller.”

“Oh yeah? Tell me, am I gonna get lucky tonight?”

Just then, Bree spied a crack of light leak into the room. An ornery women in the doorframe looked squarely at her. Bree pretended she hadn’t noticed, cleared her throat and said, “I predict you won’t get lucky for some time. Your wife is going to be furious.”

The ornery woman marched over to the man who had just hit on Bree. A shouting match ensued between the couple. The inebriated men believed she had predicted it. Soon they begged for her to tell their fortunes. When she was done, the “fortune teller” had bamboozled over $200 from the men and gotten a few free drinks.

A success.

When Bree stepped outside, it was dark and clear. She reached down to retrieve her umbrella, but it was gone. Surely no man, even a drunk one, would be caught dead with a bright red umbrella. Then Bree realized her handbag was no longer on her arm. Maybe she’d had too much to drink. She hurried back into the nearly empty bar to retrieve her bag holding the cash…

… just as the haggard man ran off in the back alley of the bar, handbag in one hand, umbrella in the other.

He floated away.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Favorite Summer Read

Cherie Reich is hosting a favorite Summer Reads Blogfest.

I completed The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little on 04/09.

(I know that’s not summer. Stick with me.)

Here’s how I started my review on Goodreads:

This is one of those books when I found myself thinking, WoW as I read though it.

I'd heard great things about this novel, but I was hesitant to read it because when I was 14 years old, my mother fell down the stairs and landed in a coma for weeks. I knew this book would drudge up memories. And it did. Near the end of the book, something happens that I'd forgotten about, and I burst into tears.

Soon after, I received an email from the author, thanking me for the review and asking me about my mother’s accident. We had a few email exchanges on the subject. It was cool that she reached out. We became Facebook friends.

She held a contest to win a copy of her ARC Circle of Secrets . I won!

I finished the book on 08/14 (See, summer!). This is similar to the review on Goodreads :

Kimberley can write layered, complicated feelings - especially when it comes to mothers and daughters. She can also bring the bayou alive. Even though I hate humidity, heat, and mosquitoes, this author makes me long to live on a bayou, boat near the alligators, and eat gumbo. She does an authentic dialect as well.

Shelby is uprooted from her grandmother and father to live with a mother she's barely had contact with for a year. (The mother's name is Mirage - how apt is that?) Everything about her new life, including the secrets of the bayou, makes her nervous. But soon the allure of the bayou calls to her. So does the mystery of the notes hidden in the blue bottle tree. Who wrote them?

When she starts school, some mean classmates entice her to play a dangerous game of ‘Truth or Dare’. When Shelby flees, she meets Gwen at a graveyard. The girls immediately click. But something doesn't seem right. Can Shelby connect the clues to figure out why?

Kimberley Griffiths Little writes beautifully. She can get into the head of girls around age 11. She understands what adults seem like from the children's POV.

Often, when I ask to be a published author’s “friend”, I comment on their Facebook posts, but they don’t comment on mine. She’s not like that. Recently she said she hoped my writing was going well. When I mentioned my 8 rejections out of 15 queries, she wrote:

Most importantly, just keep writing. I wrote for more than a decade without any hope or knowing any other writers - before blogging and Facebook began on the internet, etc. I have tons of practice novels sitting in file cabinets.

There are many authors I admire for their writing. It’s rare that I also get to admire them as people. And even rarer that they take the time to encourage me.

Please share your favorite book so far this summer in the comments section.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Saga Continues

Dr. Jules Hilbert: The thing to determine conclusively is whether you are in a comedy or a tragedy. Have you met anyone who simply might loathe the very core of you?

Harold Crick: I'm an IRS agent. Everyone hates me.

Dr. Jules Hilbert: Well, that sounds like a comedy!

- Film “Stranger than Fiction”

It’s been another summer searching for jobs. I spent the spring through July looking for Social Studies positions. Back in June, I told myself if I didn’t find something in that field soon, I’d begin applying for Instructional Aide positions in Special Education and return to school to obtain a Special Education certification. Something had to give, right?

Well, by the end of July, no calls, no interviews. I applied for 2 Special Education jobs. Within 2 days, I received a call to interview for 1 of ‘em. The call came an hour before I left for Maine to visit my dad on Friday. OF COURSE I could make it. I scheduled it for the following week. My dad agreed to watch my children while I returned home to interview.

That Sunday, we had dinner at Young’s Lobster House in Belfast, Maine. Highly recommended. They steam your lobster. They also make corn (optional). You bring the rest and picnic on the deck overlooking the water. Lovely.

When I went to leave, my car wouldn’t start. I jiggled a few things around and it sprang to life. YaY! Figured it was because I parked on a steep hill. For the next couple of days, my dad did the driving in his car.

You see where this is heading, don’t you?

Late afternoon on Tuesday, I went to start my car to drive back to Cambridge. Same problem. Wouldn’t start. I pulled and prodded and jiggled and cursed. It took longer, but the car again sprang to life. I drove with trepidation. The car started with ease at the gas station.

I drove for four hours, hitting walls of rain and hail in between stretches of sun and clouds. It was raining when I returned home. My husband tried the car. It would only start after jiggling.

He suggested I rent a car for the interview and return to Maine. I agreed. We checked at least 6 places on-line all were out of cars. The exception: Logan Airport. Groan. One more search revealed an Enterprise in North Cambridge. Cars! I booked it.

The next morning, my husband started the car. It turned on 1st try. We both figured it probably would start with trouble here and there, but why take the chance? Something was breaking slowly.

We arrived at the rental place as soon as it opened. They upgraded me from a small car to a cool Dodge Avenger. Things were looking up!

I returned home and prepared for the interview.

I had said interview. I loved the team. I think they loved me.

At the end, one of the heads of the Special Education Department said, “You should be a Social Studies teacher.”

This was clearly a compliment, but did it mean she thought I shouldn’t do the assistant job?

The principal told me he’d contact me the following week.

Driving back to Maine in my Charger, I felt good.

I returned to Cambridge, got my car fixed, and waited.

And waited.

Suddenly, every question I answered was horrible. And their comments really had dual meanings. I’d bombed the interview. Obviously.

On Thursday, I missed the call from the school. I left a message after school hours.

I received the return call on Friday. Another employee at the school requested a change of jobs and was placed into my potential job. The principal was hoping student numbers would be there for another position. They were impressed with my resume and interview. Was I still interested in a job if he could create one? Could I wait until the following week?

I visited family in New York and waited.

And waited.

On Friday afternoon, I received the call. They lost 3 students. They thought they were gaining 1 student. If they got that student, I’d be hired. They had a meeting that morning. They didn’t get the student.

1 student.

No job.

I had braced myself all that time, but it didn’t lessen the sensation of my heart sinking into my stomach, along with all my hopes.

I applied for 4 jobs that afternoon.

The following Monday, I applied for several more, all of them Instructional Assistant jobs. I worked more on my college application.

I have 2 weeks. 2 weeks to not walk into a school as a substitute teacher.

2 short, desperate weeks.

“This may sound like gibberish, but I think I'm in a tragedy.”

- Harold Crick, film “Stranger than Fiction”

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday Savvy

Laura, wondering if I write fantasy or live in my own fantasy world?

I have a guest interview on Laura Barnes’s informative BLOG.

She asks me about writing and blogging.

And she gave me this lovely award:

If you visit, you can also find out about Rachael Harrie’s Platform Building Campaign, coming soon.

Please VISIT !

And consider following Laura's BLOG . She’s at 88 followers now.

I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend.

It’s my son’s 13th birthday today, so we’ll be having birthday-related fun.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Paradise 21 REVIEW

“Aries regained her feet and staggered until the sand dunes ran together in an endless tide, until she collapsed, disoriented and dehydrated. She opened her mouth to gasp in air, and her lips cracked, letting trickles of blood seep into the sand. As she closed her eyes, precious beads of sweat evaporated instantly from her forehead.

At least I died free.”

- Dionne, Aubrie. Paradise 21 (A New Dawn, #1)

This is a very exciting book review for me. Why, you ask? I read this in rough draft form for Aubrie Dionne last year and I’m in the book acknowledgements for being a beta reader. This is also the first time I’ve seen a book from its beginnings to its publication. I wouldn’t have agreed to write this post if I wasn’t certain I’d love the final version of the book.

Here’s the blurb:

Aries has lived her entire life aboard mankind's last hope, the New Dawn, a spaceship traveling toward a planet where mankind can begin anew- a planet that won't be reached in Aries' lifetime. As one of the last genetically desirable women in the universe, she must marry her designated genetic match and produce the next generation for this centuries long voyage.

But Aries has other plans.

When her desperate escape from the New Dawn strands her on a desert planet, Aries discovers rumors about pirates - humans who have escaped her before its demise - are true. Handsome, genetically imperfect Striker possesses the freedom Aries' envies, and the two connect on a level she never thought possible. But pursued by her match from above and hunted by the planet's native inhabitants, Aries quickly learns freedom will come at a hefty price.

The life of the man she loves.

The book begins with Aries about to crash land on a desert planet, which had me swept in from the beginning. I liked Aries’s combination of independence and vulnerability. From there, we learn more about Aries and why she had to leave through her unattractive intended, Commander Barliss’s point of view. Next we meet Striker, the space pirate who was abandoned on the forsaken planet. His charisma reminded me of Indiana Jones. While Striker is an asset to the desolate planet, the creepy creatures that also live there are not. Soon we’re introduced to Tiff, the petite Goth girl with a bite who abandoned Striker, and whom she still has feelings for. She regrets her decision to stop believing in him, but is she too late?

Aubrie Dionne builds three believable worlds in this book: on the ship Aries left behind, on the planet Aries finds, and on a pirate ship where Tiff subsides.

The author is skilled at getting in the heads of several characters enough that we feel we know them. It’s tricky for authors to pull off multiple points of view, but she does it well. Each character has dimension and a distinct voice. Even if I didn’t agree with or particularly like a character, I related to their perspectives.

While each of these characters travels through space, winds up on Paradise 21, and hurtles through space again, they go on their own inward journeys. The book had a good balance between action and character development. Caring about the characters made me invested that much more in their fates. I found myself pulling for Aries and Tiff, even though I wanted Striker to end up with Aries. Their chemistry was undeniable.

Paradise 21 is filled with interesting plot twists. The author is a master at writing action scenes that make me think, Oh no! They’re never getting out of this one!

Aubrie Dionne pulled off a terrific feat. Before I read her work, I was sure I didn’t read Science Fiction. Space Opera, what’s that? Apparently, if you throw a little romance into the mix in a future with space travel and distant planets, I’m hooked.

Paradise 21 is available on Amazon:


and KINDLE .

It's also available at Barnes and Noble .

Visit her blog HERE.

It’s been exciting to cheer Aubrie on as she queried, found an agent, and received a publishing contract with Entangled Publishing. I wish her success with Paradise 21 and the rest of the A New Dawn series. Congratulations, Aubrie!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pickles and Peroxide

“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”

- Mark Twain

Because I grew up in a less-than-happy house, I wanted my own home to be filled with love and laughter. I don’t want job searching and query rejections to leave a cloud over my kids’ heads. Have I succeeded? I hope so. Here’s a short window into our home:

Exhibit A

Sunday night, my husband and I were preparing dinner. For some reason that morning, my husband bought a GIANT jar of pickles. If you saw how crammed our refrigerator already is, you can imagine why I’d nag about said pickles.

While I tried to get my son to wonder with me why we needed such a large jar. He said, “Can I have a pickle?”

Guess my husband would be finding room in the fridge sooner than later.

My son put his pickle on the plate and left to set the table. I decided to take a bite of his pickle and pretend I didn’t do it.

Wow, it was sourer than I thought it would be.

While I chewed, I returned to the sink to wash dishes. I turned to see my husband take a bite off the other end of the pickle and return to the stove. That made me giggle. The vinegar burned the back of my throat. I began to cough and tears streamed out of my eyes.

My husband laughed at my appearance. This made him double over, coughing. I almost got control of it, but then glimpsed my husband, felt the sting, and started hacking all over again. My son returned to the room with my husband still laughing and choking and me spitting pickle bits into the sink.

“What’s going on with you guys?” he asked.

“We… were… playing… a joke on you… by biting your pickle.”

Exhibit B

Monday morning, my son and I lounged around reading, doing laundry, editing, and playing video games (guess who did what). Since my daughter is visiting her grandparents in New York, I decided to take my son out to lunch, just the two of us.

Around 10:00 am, my son returned to the living room from the bathroom. “We have no water.”

A couple of weeks ago, our third floor neighbor told us last minute a plumber was here because her shower hadn’t worked, so for two hours we were stuck without water when my nephew was visiting. We were smelly hostages in our own home. Was she getting work done again and failed to tell us?

I noticed there were several orange Cambridge-city trucks parked on our side street. Was it related?

I tried the water. Nothing.

“It’s probably the city, temporarily shutting off the water while they work. Let’s wait a little while. If it doesn’t turn back on, I’ll go out there and ask,” I said.

About fifteen minutes later, the water returned in little bursts. Was it beige? Must be a trick of the eyes. I ran it more. Nah, seemed clear. I announced the triumphant return of our water supply, and brushed my teeth and washed my face.

Then I turned on the shower...

It was like a scene out of a horror movie. Mixed in with the brown water, were bits of I don’t know what. Small enough to go down the drain at least.

Aaack! Was this the same water I’d just brushed my teeth with? I turned back on the sink water. Brown. What was in that water? Would I get sick? I put peroxide in my mouth and swished it vigorously. As my mouth fizzed, I realized I couldn’t exactly rinse it out with the contaminated. I ran to the kitchen and retrieved lemonade from my ultra-crowded (due to the pickles) fridge. I tipped lemonade in my mouth.

Except that I had just brushed my teeth… so, you know… lemonade.

I spit out the lemonade. I did it three more times to make sure I didn’t die of brown water bacteria or peroxide poisoning.

Then I went outside to talk to the workers. Turns out we had a water main break. Some “sediment” leaked into the pipe until they were able to repair it. (In a city, “sediment” means “You don’t want to know”.) I was told to run the water until it was clear and all should be well.

I did. After a few minutes of chunky brown water, it ran clear. I showered.

My son and I left for a lovely sushi lunch. We talked, we shared, we laughed.

See, my family is filled with the laughter I’d always hoped for.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Writing Influences

I have a post on Misha's Blog about WRITING INFLUENCES .

Please visit to learn what people/places/particulars influenced a couple of my stories (my first manuscript and my most recent short story). Then tell me the ingredients for your inspiration.

Visit HERE .

Happy weekend!
Love, Theresa xo