Crashing into the atmosphere!

Tomorrow marks the first day of my blog tour for Dying Embers. There will be interviews, excerpts posted and spotlights all over the internet! Well, at least a small portion of the internet. I can’t tell you how excited I am for this book to come out (in both senses of that term).

Dying Embers is the prequel to Forever Burn, which came out last March. It was written with a very specific purpose in mind. Let’s get to know Addison Lee far more than we did in Forever Burn. Addison turned out to be one of my favorite characters in this series, and I just couldn’t let her go after Forever Burn happened. She even makes an appearance in Ashes Fall, the third and final of this trilogy. delg

At the beginning of this novel, Addison is a bit lost. She’s making a move to a new city, new state, new job, and away from everything that she thought had been dragging her down. She thinks that as soon as she gets to Norwich everything is going to be better. She won’t be dealing with her old job and other people who have gifts like her, and most importantly, that she won’t be dealing with her nasty ex-fiance.

Well, leaving everything behind is far harder than Addison thought it would be. After moving, her old boss and sometimes-lover, keeps calling her to ask for help. Her new job is demanding, and not only that, but she made a massive mistake before she even started.

Throughout all of the chaos, she’s falling in love and trying to find herself at the same time. Addison is almost there when tragedy strikes, and she is forced to head home to Wyoming to help out. Nothing goes quite right for Addison throughout her first few months in Norwich, and she does her best just to keep afloat. definal3d-300x300

This story was something that was on my mind as soon as I finished Forever Burn. The characters were people I wanted to be my friends, people who were so alive that I couldn’t just cut off all ties with them and move on to my next group of friends. The process of creating was something I had latched onto and couldn’t let go.

I do want to talk a bit about this writing process (and the editing process). It seems to be one of the questions I see floating around the interwebs the most. Writing and editing for every author is a completely different process, and we all go about it in a different way. I tend to write very quickly. I have the story in my head and it’s just “Go! Go! Go!” until the story is done. Editing is where I spend most of my time.

For Dying Embers, I sent it through an amazing site called Project Team Beta. Two beta readers go through each chapter and give constructive feedback. When I’m ready and after a certain amount of chapters, I am allowed to choose permanent beta readers. I have one beta reader that I always use. Her name is Amy, and she’s awesome. Amy is meticulous in finding grammatical errors, something I am eternally appreciative of. (Amy is actually the first day on the blog tour.)

After I do my first round of edits after the beta readers get it, I do a second round. Then I print everything out and put it into a notebook. Once I finish all of my chapter edits, I take the notebook and a brightly colored pen and have at it. This time, though, I start from the back and I go through each sentence individually. At this point, I’m simply looking for typos, and you’d be surprised by how many I still find. (Sometimes I think I make more typos when I edit.)

Once all of this is done, I send it to my publisher. At that point (with this particular novel), we went through two more rounds of edits. It went through an editor and then back to me. Then back to the editor, then back to me. AND THEN we finally arrive at the final copy. I guarantee as soon as I get to see the final version in print, I will still find things that I want to change. I’m never completely happy, but I can’t keep it all to myself either.

Dying Embers was an exercise in my ability to write quickly. And I’m quite pleased with the final results. I hope you enjoy it too!

Blog Tour ScheduleFinalistSM-1

Nov 20: Amy
Nov 21: Autumn
Nov 23: Kirsten
Nov 25: Sarah
Nov 26: Samantha
Nov 28: Anna
Nov 29: Sirena

Dying Embers will be released on December 1, 2013. Right now, it is available for pre-order at Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and Kobo.

She’s somebody’s hero…

The topic for this Creative Buzz Hop is superheros. And while I could easily go on and on about superheros in comics, movies, literature, etc. I’d like to talk about my own hero. My mama =P

My mama is one of the strongest people I have ever known, and I don’t just say that because she’s my mom. While she would hate me saying this, in a few years and once I’m on my own, she may very well become my best friend. I enjoy her presence as much as I enjoy any good friend’s. My mom has always stood on her own two feet. She looks at the situation, sees what needs to be done and does it, and only rarely does she look back and regret.

If there is one thing that my mama has taught me is that I shouldn’t regret anything and that I should be exactly who I am and praise God for life every day.

This post is going to be a little long for the sake of what follows. In my junior year of college, I took a memoir class and this was one of the first things I wrote. I have since edited/revised it a lot, but I still love it for what it is.  So here you go.

Mama and Me (M2)

M2

Michele is my mother. She is the most wonderful mother and woman that I know—and this is not only because she is my mother. My mother’s point of view of my life gives me a greater understanding; I ask “Mama, what do you think?” Her view is always important and always welcome: although I don’t always want to hear it and I often disagree with her.  She is the scientist—the mathematician, and although I’m much quicker to figure answers by way of rounding, she can do higher math without the use of a calculator.  I, however, have the humanitarian side—I am the religion major, the one always striving to find different and new ways to ask questions which can never really be answered—I am okay without having the answer, she is not.  I am the opposite—yet the same, and surprisingly I’m okay with that.

My mother is strong willed, always has an opinion—but doesn’t overstate—she knows what to do in a crisis and she cares an insurmountable amount.  Her view of me is extremely important, I want to live up to her expectations, but she has taught me to have my own expectations of myself—those which far exceed her expectations of me.  My abilities, my life choices, and my reactions to situations are all, in my view, relevant to me from her view.  She is my mother, the one I strive and have wanted to be like.

Her View

I was working diligently: prepping the meat that would feed everyone.  Thank God, we’d gotten it as a gift.  It is one less meal to worry about, one less day to not be able to feed her. Glancing over I can see her, my Pumpkin, staring out the window, toes stretched on the arm of the ugly green floral couch.  I could see her fingers curling on the window sill as she tried so desperately to see outside.  White snow covered more than half the clear glass and fluff was still floating softly to the ground.  Winters were so different here than from back home—home on the East Coast, where my family is.  I focused on the task at hand, I needed to stop worrying about my baby and focus on this meal—I did not want to burn it. 

 

My stomach was a bundle of nerves threatening to tear through my flesh—ruthlessly trying to claw its way out.  It was ready.  Maybe.  Double check the directions—check, DO NOT BURN the turkey—check.  I would never hear the end of it if I burned this meal.  Mama had cooked the turkey at Christmas when I was little—I don’t remember much about her and it saddens me so, I remember her face barely—mostly I remember her smell.  She died when I was eleven and just as green.  I remember going to the hospital and finding out she was no longer with us.  After she died and we had returned home, her smell was the last thing to leave the house—it was a torture to smell her everyday.  I always wanted to be like her, but it frightens me to think that I might have to leave my daughter before it is time as well—it unnerves me.  It is a good thing that when I grew up I was like her—strong and always ready for what comes next.  Hopefully, my baby will become the same.  Now back to the turkey—the one task that my Mama could never manage to teach me.  I double checked the directions and the bird.

To Be Like Her

I hate that I rarely sleep—always trying so hard to be like her, to be the best that I can be.  It’s not that I want to be a scientist or to have gray hairs or be a bad cook.  If there is one thing that she taught me, it was to always strive for a new being—to learn new things and to be the best that I can be.  I love her and I hate that I’m always striving to be like her—like her, yet different.  I want to be myself.  I want her good qualities; I want her love, her determination and tenacity.  I have been called these things, and yet I still do not feel up to par with her.  She is where I came from; half of me is her, biologically.  Yet otherwise, as I have grown up only with her I have more her than him.  I am my mother’s daughter.

I am not afraid to do things on my own—I am not afraid to put myself in a situation where I might lose out.  I have friends that rely heavily on me—my caring nature from my mother.  They rely and I give, they need, so I help.  I am always willing to help another.  My Mama has had the rug ripped from under her feet so many times, she almost expects it to happen—she expects to fall.  I want to be like her, because in her expectations of falling she is still willing, she is a mother, a friend, a coworker, a boss, and a Christian. We are believers, but we also have doubt.

I do not look like her—except her eyes.  I have my mother’s eyes.  They are a pale blue with splashes of dark gray.  Our eyes change color easily, depending on what we wear. Our eyes are what we use for communication: our stress, worry, joy and excitement can all be discovered in our eyes.

My Mother

My mother and I used to live in a small quaint apartment on the basement floor of the ugly rectangle building.  On this particular day, it smelt gloriously of turkey.  It was our task to cook the turkey. The flavor seeped into the air to the point where I could taste it on my tongue.  It was wonderfully pleasant for a child who was starving.  My stomach rumbled and ate away at me from the inside out, it begged me to steal just a piece of that scrumptious meat, to shovel it into my mouth, and blow out warm air after burning my tongue; all hopefully before Mama saw.  I didn’t want her to see, I didn’t want her to know that I was eagerly awaiting this meal, finally something other than the dreadful bird—this was a gloriously tasty one.  I wandered around the apartment trying to not be noticed.  I was planning my move.  I was figuring out the details behind my stealing a piece of that white meat.  In this plan she would never know, Mama would never see me.  I paced through the rooms, my bare feet touching the cold linoleum of the kitchen and the short carpet of the bedrooms and hall.  This plan was going to be perfect.

The smell penetrated my mind, my stomach and my nostrils: going towards my center, the bird screamed “Eat me!”  I was obsessed with eating that turkey.  Mama looked at me with adoration as I reached for the oven, and I checked on my target.  Not done yet, I was trying to be sneaky yet conspicuous.  Mama saw me.  Shooing me out of the kitchen she reached over to shut the door to ensure the safety of the bird.  Mama wasn’t always so efficient in the kitchen, but after a year of eating bird, the memory of how to bake the whole entree was engrained on the tips of her brain.  She had struggled meal after meal to make it edible—it was never quite to the standard of being food.

The Bird

She had to cook duck every week.  She tediously and tirelessly pulled each feather from the flesh.  We got the duck for free—we were poor—we were below the poverty line and the church members often hunted duck, but no longer wished to eat it as it was difficult or annoying to cook.  But we had no choice.  We ate what we had.  I would watch her work away at that duck.  Pluck.  Pluck.  Pluck.  There were so many feathers to pluck.  Sometimes Mama would shave the duck, it was in an attempt to make it easier and faster to eat.  However, as Mama is a horrible cook, the ends of the feathers were left in the skin, causing the bird to be pokey and scratchy.  Even though it tasted disgusting, Mama found a way to provide for me—so I would eat, but not without a fight for a grumble at first.

Shave

I was desperate to shave my legs.  I was only ten years old, but we had moved to California and it was warm outside—I wanted to look nice and I wanted to be like her.  Sitting carefully in the bathtub of our one bedroom apartment, I lay the razor against my flesh.  Carefully, I pulled back.  It was so much easier than I thought! Smooth, my legs were smooth!  I ran my fingers over my skin feeling the lack of hair—I felt so grown up, so ready to go out into the world and declare my maturity.  I thought, at the time, that I was acting like Mama—I later found out that I was sadly mistaken, there was no way that I could measure up to the kind of woman she was and is.

Upon turning off the water, Mama walked into the bathroom as soon as I had finished—she was there to put aloe on my back: I was careless and had stayed in the sun too long, thus burning my skin.  She saw me and was not happy.  I was too young to shave my legs—too young to worry about those kinds of grown-up things.  Placing the aloe on my skin she didn’t speak.  She was silent, regarding me curiously the whole time—maybe she was ready for me to grow, at least just a little, but I’m fairly sure Mama didn’t want to admit that.

Burn

She had almost burned the turkey—again.  It was a good thing I was so determined to eat it and had kept nagging her to check on it.  She would have left the bird in there all day if I hadn’t forced her to take it out when the beeper went off.  Carefully, pulling the bird out with six year old, holey oven mitts that did barely anything to protect—dinner was ready.  Mama deemed the bird a success and I was long past ready to try it.  I was ready to feel my teeth sink into the meat of a well-cooked Christmas meal, all the flavors rotating around in my mouth, coming together to create a glorious frenzy of succulent splendor.  But Mama wouldn’t let me have any.  She pulled the turkey away from me.

Pull

Mama pulled me up the sledding hill in Bozeman—my favorite place to live.  I was old enough that I should have been walking but I wanted to ride—I wanted to glide along the white frozen snow below me.  Her hands were warm and covered with mittens as she gripped the rope tightly—but she dropped it as we reached the top of the hill.  It was time to slide down.  It was time for her to let go.  It was time for me to go down the hill and for her to watch me glide.

Let Go

I didn’t want to tell her, I knew she wouldn’t be happy and I knew she would say no.  I was going away to France on an exchange trip in two days and Mama was already worried about that.  This was an added stress, but I needed her signature—I needed her to okay it officially with the school before the school would officially approve it.  I was fifteen and green.  But I knew what I wanted and I knew what I needed.  So I began the conversation:

“Mama, I wanna graduate early.”

Silence.

“Mama, did you hear me?”

She nods.

“Mama, what do you think?”

“It’s your choice Pumpkin.”

She looked away.

Your Choice

I chose the school for me, but I did not choose right—or so I thought.  Six months into it, I hated the school; all I wanted was to go home, to be pulled on my sled for just a few more months.  “Mama, what do you think?” I asked her so many times.  What did she think?  Was I ready?  Well yes—and no.  I would not have lasted another year of High School, I was ready to graduate.  But I was barely seventeen years old and over 500 miles away from anyone I knew.  I felt so alone, so lost.  I wanted her to lead the way again.

Lead

I thought I was strong enough to do it.  Strong enough to walk through that build up of powdery snow. So I walked into the frozen air, stepping on those helpless bits of snow; my heavy boots pressing further into the cold cement, and my cheeks and nose reddened with protest.  Taking my first breath I could feel my nostrils begin to freeze; flecks of cold flowing into my lungs creating sharp shots of pain every moment.  I took a very cautious step up the first stair: white fluff compressed together under my weight and I prayed that my feet wouldn’t falter and let me fall.  My second foot followed, placing it gingerly next to the other.  I was still steady.  Mama had the same determined look on her face that I wore.

I could hear the snow crunching underneath the weight of my booted foot; the other would quickly follow begging the release of pressure on the knee.  Up each stair I went, finally, making it to the top.  Mama and I gently set the sled onto the heavy snow.  She took the ropes, wrapping the string solidly around her fist she pulled.  Pushing her way through waist high cold fluff I followed diligently behind her, the pre-made path of steps guiding my journey.  As I placed my foot into Mama’s crevassed print in the snow I carefully avoided all other white.  We made it to the end of the sidewalk before I gave up; the snow was too deep for my little body to contend with.  We’d made it to the beginning of the first playground and already I had to sit on the sled and have Mama pull me along behind her.

We

Mama and I grabbed the ends of the drywall board.  We hoisted it into the air and placed it against the wall.  Being strong I held it there—alone—while she screwed the plaster into place.  There were so many screws.  Finally she told me I could let go.  I had watched; making sure we had secured the protection wall before starting for the next one.  Upon finishing we sat back on our heels admiring our handiwork.  We had built our house.  Mama touched my hair softly as we looked at our home.  She loved me.  I loved her. We loved each other.  In that moment we, together, had built our house.  “Hey, Pumpkin,” her voice was soft, and tired.  We had done a lot of work that day and exhaustion was seeping into us.  “Let’s go get some ice cream.”

Pumpkin

My baby, my pumpkin, my sweet potato, and my sweet pea: my child, my daughter and my friend.  Softly I trail my finger across my infant’s forehead, over her brows and to the curve of her delicate cheek.  She sleeps soundly in my arms as I watch her.  She coos lightly, expressing her content.  My eyes are glued to her—what will she grow up to be?  Who will she become?  What does the future hold for her? Gingerly, I lay her in the crib, my hands trailing along the wood as I leave her in her dreams.  “Goodnight Pumpkin,” I whisper it quietly as I close the door behind me.

 

And I can’t help of thinking about my mama and these two songs. So if you have time, listen to them. “Mama’s Song” and “Somebody’s Hero”

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If you would like to join in the Creative Buzz Hop, write a post on the topic (Superheros) and post it on your blog. Then go here and link up to everyone else’s.

 

 

Come on, let’s celebrate!

8837096895_81577a234b_qWelcome to the creative buzz hop! It’s been a few weeks since I’ve participated because of traveling, but I have so much to celebrate that I couldn’t pass up this week’s topic. Celebration!

If you want to join in the Creative Buzz Hop, it’s simple as one, ,. Write a post, a poem, a short story, anything you want that relates to the topic. Celebration! Then display the Creative Buzz Hop logo in the post. Then go to HERE and link it up with everyone’s. That’s all it takes!

For fifteen days I am traveling around the US, in the East and in the West, three different time zones. On July 30th I took off in a plane to come visit my mother, whom I haven’t seen in seven months (Arlington, Virginia). That Friday we drove up to Maryland to go to a sci-fi convention. Yes, I will admit, I am a con goer, and I love it! This was my mom’s first, and we had so much fun. We met Bill Shatner, Brent Spiner, Saul Rubinek, Eddie McClintock, Amanda Tapping and so many twitter and fb friends that I lost count! After deciding to skip the beach and come back to Arlington for a few days, we’re relaxing and hanging out.

On Thursday I will be flying to Montana, which is the essence of why this trip is happening. On July 18th, 2013 two baby boys were born to my best friend and her husband. I am their godmother!! Yay! So…On Thursday I will be flying out to meet them and to visit with my older godson who is now seven. I can’t wait to spend time with these three boys. Since I’ll be home, I’ll also be visiting a multitude of friends and preaching at my home church on Sunday morning.

More celebrations? Why I do say there are.

My publisher emailed back my final edits that I needed to do and asked to move up my publication date for the book. By about three months. Dying Embers should be released around December 1st, 2013! That means I’ll have published two books in one year. Yipee! I also…*cough*…got the book cover proofs on Saturday! I should be doing a reveal in the next few months.

I have a new job starting on August 18th, I’ll most likely be moving at the end of this month or the next (which is absolutely a good thing), school is starting and it’s my last year, and frankly, LIFE IS FANTASTIC.

Celebrating the little things makes life so much better than it actually is. Celebrating the little things reminds us that the big things are greater and the bad things have nothing on us.