I mean, don’t get me wrong, she’s kooky and crazy and lives out loud, but she’s got this inner Zen thing going on that makes her come out with some true treasures of insight every once in a while.
One such gem was pretty simple: she said real writers, WRITE. They don’t perseverate, they don’t make up bullshit excuses. They just write – nose to the keyboarded, possible drink in their hand (hello, Hemmingway), and a brilliant fire in their belly that demands they tell the story.
I didn’t have that drive to write when I first messed around with UNDERTOW, but once I got really rolling inside Eila’s world, I loved it – the feel of the abused keys under my fingers and how the voices and scenes washed away the world as I worked. I mean, literally – the house could catch fire and I may not realize it.
So anytime I try to excuse myself from my keyboard, I remember my mother’s words (and the fact that my readers will get on my case if I don’t finish my next novel) and I get back down to business.
But I like to think that I’m actually a storyteller first, a writer second. The tough thing about being an obsessive storyteller is that you have a MILLION stories to tell. And because the new characters and tales are screaming to come out, I sometimes think I can weave them ALL into a current WIP (work in progress). Sometimes I do, but sometimes I control the urge and tell myself they deserve their own novels. Most of the time I spin so many stories in my head, that they all jockey for attention at once, which literally melts my brain.
At night I go running for a few miles, music blaring in my ears, seeking the muse within. While I pound the pavement, those stories that are whispered in my mind suddenly come vividly to life. I no longer see the road, but rather an entire scene playing before me like a ghostly movie screen. Literally, I no longer have any sense of where I am, only that I SEE the scene in front of me. The stories that win the right to be the next one written, are the ones that build scene after scene, night after night as I run.
Tonight I went walking with Kalli, and while we strolled she suddenly asked me why I was feeling the leaves.
I didn’t even know I was doing it.
I was walking under a low slung oak branch and my fingers were trailing through the tips of the leaves above me. But in my mind, I wasn’t touching them – my character was and the leaves weren’t soft and green, but curled and windburnt.
I turned to my daughter and simply replied, “I’m writing,” as I dropped my hands and shrugged.
Of course, she thought I was not normal and commented as such. A minute or two of silence sat between the two of us as we walked in the near darkness. I glanced at her out of the corner of my eye as she fiddled with her phone, seeming flustered, but then she finally huffed in aggravation and halted. “DAMN IT! Now I’m gonna obsessed about what you’re writing!”
I smiled like the cat who ingested Tweety and pointed to the tree, sitting content and deep green in the night air, and said, “The leaves, in my mind, are burnt and the damage isn’t from nature. I see it every night when I run.”
Kalli looked at me, a stone-still stare that she has perfected over the years, and only her lips moved. “You are so weird.”
Yup. That’s me. The weird one.
I am my mother’s daughter. Apple. Tree.
My daughter is totally doomed to inherit that gene.
Below is the opening of a WIP I call THE COFFIN CREW . . . a story I see in the broken fences and fields of my nighttime runs . . .
THE COFFIN CREW
The prayer is well practiced.
It slips from my lips, a whispered plea for strength and salvation as my cheek fits tightly against the damp metal, my hand steady, my heart calm. I breathe the words, sending them flowing down the honed steel and polished wood as I ease my shoulder down an inch, enhancing my field of vision.
“Béni soit le Seigneur ma force , qui enseigne mes mains au combat, et mes doigts à la bataille. O mon Dieu, je fais confiance en toi : permettez-moi de ne pas avoir honte , ne laissez pas mes ennemis triompher de moi.”
A part of me, a dark corner of my heart, knows the truth: that the words, once so dear to me, have turned bitter on my tongue, evolving into a talisman against Death, rather than a direct line to God. An incantation that now toes the line between witchcraft and superstition, for I know salvation is no longer mine to ask for.
I’ve sacrificed my soul – and my faith – for the land I lay on, my stained blouse doing little to fend off the damp dirt and trampled wheat beneath me. The slow, shallow breaths I maintain force my chest to dig into the soft earth, the little buttons pressing against my fair skin, but my back doesn’t rise.
Tucked in behind the rotting log, my only company is a delicate spider stepping over the gnarled bark, inches from my nose. I study how it moves, a coordinated ballet of eight needle thin legs, and I wonder if it knows its destination, or does instinct drive it?
Does it sense the difference between a granite stone and a decaying body?
I refocus my eyes on the road that cuts through the field when I hear the distant sound of an engine. It’s a well-worn passage point, a scar that digs into the land by those who have turned the green fields of my country to crimson.
I watch from my hidden spot among the grain, grateful that dawn has brought with her a veil of fog that clings to the trees like cobwebs and makes me invisible to those on the road.
From my low point on the ground, however, I can see.
A slow moving truck rattles and protests as it appears from the tall pines, followed by three armed guards on foot, the jagged double S on their uniforms leaving little doubt as to who they are.
I whisper the words once again as I carefully roll my chest to the left and the barrel of my rifle slides silently to the right, causing the spider to freeze. “Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teaches my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.”
I count carefully in my head. One driver. One passenger. Three on foot.
I have never taken on five, but I won’t allow them to pass, even if where I lay will be where I die. I wonder, morbidly, if it would take long to decay? Would the animals scuffle over my bones and my rifle rust into the log? And years from now, would a child find my bones and my gun, and thank me because they were once again free?
Or would we never be free again, doomed to this hell for all eternity?
I ease my finger over the trigger, closing my left eye as I take aim for the walking soldier with the long-barreled rifle. He is laughing at something his comrade is saying, oblivious to my presence.
I draw breath and the prayer eases from my lungs as my hand stills to stone. “O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not my enemies triumph over me,” I whisper, pulling the trigger.
A howling crack splits the fog and drops the laughing soldier to the ground, lifeless, as the rifle kicks hard into my shoulder. It’s painful, but I’m immune to the gun’s bruising recoil at this point.
Slamming the second bullet into the chamber before I take a breath, I instantly adjust my aim as the men yell, reacting to the first shot and the dead comrade in their midst.
I fire again and my bullet cracks through the land, scattering the birds in nearby trees as the men scramble to find me before my sniper scope finds them. I’ve put another clean shot through the head of the Joker, and he hits the ground like lead, probably before he even had a chance to understand what happened to his laughing comrade.
They begin firing blindly into the fog, desperate to stop me, but I am lethal and calculating, reading their body language as the panic. I can tell where they will run before they do, making escape impossible and death imminent.
Within a matter of seconds, I take the remaining three lives cleanly, though one man moves briefly on the ground after my bullet lodges in his chest. His hand grabs for the dirt, as if seeking comfort from the damaged land, and I slowly rise, watching the truck wobble into the field, still in drive, until it catches on a broken fence post and stalls.
I sling the faithful American rifle back over my shoulder and the strap tugs on my long braid before I pull my hair free. It was becoming a burden, my hair, making me both easily recognizable as a girl and often tangling with my father’s gun, but I keep it long. I remember Mother’s love of brushing it, and braiding it, and for that reason, I have yet to take the sheers to it.
I keep it long to keep their memory alive.
I look out over the field and the carnage I have caused and note that the man is no longer moving. I don’t wretch at the site of my kills anymore, and I wonder if my parents have finally found freedom in the arms of Death, or do they watch me still, horrified by what I’ve become?
Glancing once more to the log that hid me so well and cross myself, thankful I will live to see another day though I doubt God stands alongside any killer, even if the death of those five men may have saved hundreds.
I notice the spider has continued his trek, unconcerned for the suffering of mankind, and perhaps he is the only one worth saving.
Perhaps none of us deserve any kindness once this war is over.
Perhaps in our quest to save humanity, we’ve destroyed our own.
Huge thanks to Novels All Night for their review of Eila nd her motley crew :)
Title: Undertow (Undertow #1)
Author: K.R Conway
Publisher: Wicked Whale Publishing
Release Date: July 21, 2015
Format: eARC via Netgalley
My Rating: 4/5 stars
If Eila Walker ever had any luck at all it was bad luck. That’s why she is so surprised to find out that she’s inherited a million dollar home in Cape Cod. Her guardian, Mae, and her decide that his might be exactly what they need…a fresh start. Her new town isn’t perfect but she quickly makes a few new friends. MJ and Ana are great and help make starting a new school bearable. Then there’s Raef O’Reilly…the mysterious guy who she feels drawn to. All her luck seems to be changing until shes pulled under the water by an unnatural undertow and is saved by Raef. The strange thing is the way his eyes turn completely black. Raef and her friends can no longer hide…
View original 458 more words
The weather on ol’ Cape Cod has been terrific and I’ve been parking my sandy butt at the beach nearly every day after work. In honor of summer and the beachside paradise I adore, I’ve dropped UNDERTOW and CRUEL SUMMER to $.99 on Amazon’s Kindle. ENJOY! Click a title name below and be teleported to the right amazon page . . . like magic!
I will be at Mashpee High School on May 8th, 2015 with the following fabulous (if not a tad weird) authors. We will also appear at the Sandwich library in the evening from 6-8pm for a panel – ask us questions, eat food, and get books signed!
Bio: Trisha Leaver lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three children, and one rather irreverent black lab. She is a chronic daydreamer who prefers the cozy confines of her own imagination to the mundane routine of everyday life. She writes Young Adult Contemporary fiction, Psychological Horror and Science Fiction and is published with FSG/ Macmillan, Flux/Llewellyn and Merit Press.
Trisha Leaver’s Books:
BIO: I write young adult literature that’s part fantasy/science fiction, part romance, part mystery. My most recent projects are contemporaries, but they also contain history. Mostly I enjoy writing whatever my characters suggest, and I hope you enjoy reading about them in whatever genre mix they’ve chosen to have their hearts broken, their certainties challenged, and their lives changed forever.
Jen Brooks’ Book
BIO: Born into an Italian-Irish family (hence the short temper and the freckles), Lori grew up on the Jersey Shore and now makes her home outside of Boston in a place close enough to the ocean that on the right day, she can smell the sea from her back deck, and yet it still takes an hour to get to the beach.
With a journalism degree from Lehigh University, she worked as a writer, editor, and graphic designer before embracing her love of fictional people. As a young girl, Lori would make a tent with her bed sheet and clasp a flashlight in one hand and a book in the other. She’d read into the wee hours, way past her bedtime. Today, she not only reads past her bedtime, she writes too. (And waking up tired has never felt so good.)
Like Julia Child, her idol and fellow Massachusetts resident who also found success in a second career, Lori shares a love of traveling, cooking, and eating great food—the weirder, the better—with her husband.
When not writing or reading (preferably from a sandy locale), Lori can be found chatting books, obsessing over The Vampire Diaries, and perfecting the art of efficient writing through Twitter. Find her at @loriagoldstein.
Lori Goldstein’s Book
BIO: Sure, I could give you my business resume (and my formal bio and media kit are below if you just want to skip there), but where’s the fun in that? Wouldn’t it be more enjoyable for all of us if I told you a few random things about, well, me? Thought so. Here ya go:
1. My college boyfriend wanted to go to Europe with me the summer after graduation. Then he broke up with me (don’t worry- we’re now friends on Facebook). I decided to get revenge on him by one-upping his trip plans, so I saved for a loooong time until I could finance a solo round-the-world trip that took me to forty-three countries over ten months on approximately $23 a day (free advice: do not try to save money by sleeping in an ATM kiosk during Spain’s annual Running of the Bulls). My favorites were Nepal and Prague. Somewhere in here is a lesson about revenge and boys, but who cares, because NEPAL!!!!!
2. I met my husband on the highway. Literally. He passed my car and I made a face at him (I was with my BFF and we sometimes- fine, often- did silly stuff like make faces at total strangers). Then HE made a face back at me the next time we passed, which was both nerdy and cool. I happen to like nerdy and cool. So I wrote my BFF’s cell phone number (because this was the Dark Ages and I didn’t own a cell phone yet) on a piece of paper and held it up to the window. He called. We married. There was some dating in between.
3. My twin boys are soooo identical that they won second place in the Most Identical contest at the International Twin Festival. You should definitely check out the International Twin Festival sometime. Best people watching around.
4. I also have a daughter. Despite having won no medals, she’s more of a diva than both boys combined. I completely applaud this. Until she’s a teenager and then I am in So. Much. Trouble.
5. For a bunch of years I worked as a publicist for 20th Century Fox. It was super tough work. I “had to” walk the red carpet alongside George Clooney, hang in a hotel room with a shirtless Mark Wahlberg (so what if his wife was there too) and sleep in Oprah’s hotel room at The Four Seasons (she’d checked out early and, I mean, we’d already paid for the room, so…).
6. Many, many, MANY years ago (when the longest thing I’d written was a grocery list) a psychic told me I would write a book with a purple cover and live in a big white house by the water. Imagine my surprise when I first laid eyes on the cover Simon & Schuster designed for AT YOUR SERVICE. Beach house, here I come!
7. I have a teeny tiny, make that HUGE, thing for hedgehogs.
Still can’t get enough of me? I believe I hear my children snorting. Anyhoo… you can visit FUN STUFF for an interview, a list of online musings, and links to my blog(s).
Jen Malone’s Books
BIO: Young Adult novelist, K.R. (Kate) Conway, has been a professional journalist since 1999. She is also an editor, graphic designer, and critique partner for other writers. She was named “Writer in Residence” of the award winning Sturgis West high school in Massachusetts. She is also a member of the SCBWI.
Her debut, self-pubbed novels Undertow and Stormfront frequent the Amazon bestseller lists and were added to high school summer reading lists and teen book clubs. The series has spawned fan fiction, won top-pick awards from reviewers and librarians, and drawn reluctant readers into a twisted tale of murder and mayhem set on Cape Cod.
Conway, who holds a BA in dangerous weirdos (forensic psych) from Mount Holyoke College, also drives a 16-ton school bus filled with her iPod-toting target audience simply because she likes the torture. She lives on Cape Cod with two opinionated kids, a fishing-obsessed husband, and an assortment of mismatched pets. Her website offers a peek into her twisted psyche: http://www.capecodscribe.com
K.R. Conway’s Books
#1: I love to play hide and seek with my kids, but due to my warped nature, it has been renamed “Dark House” as I turn off all the lights and hide in the shadows. I try not to laugh as I listen to my kids try and nervously convince one another to “go find Ma!” The game involves loads of screaming – I’m surprised the neighbors haven’t called the cops.
#2. I hate soda. Actually, anything “fizzy” in general is horrid. I once mistook my friend’s Sprite as water and chugged a few mouthfuls. I freaked out, howling that I was going to die. My friend wanted to die as well, probably because we were in the movies at the time and the cute boys behind us thought we were on crack.
#3. I can roller skate, but I can’t rollerblade. Okay, that’s not entirely true – I CAN rollerblade, I just can’t stop. At all. No seriously, there is a tennis court fence at my alma mater with a permanent indent of my screaming face pressed into it.
#4. My teenaged daughter, after reading CRUEL SUMMER, said to me with an accusing finger, “Ya know, Ma. You do realize that I’m going to base on my future relationships on YOUR books!” I simply replied, “Honey, I write fiction and my stuff is a TOTAL fantasy.”
#5. I tend to juggle too many things at once – literally. I once tried to carry a crockpot full of sweet and sour meatballs up my second floor stairs and slipped. Do you have any idea what a white stairwell looks like after dousing it in red, spicy sauce? Two words: Crime Scene.
#6. I’ve been a journalist for, like, ever. Grabbed right out of college to work for the magazines and newspapers, I was often given the craziest assignment, including freezing my a** off at the Hyannis docks to interview the Frostbite Fleet. I’m pretty sure that young = sucker in the eyes of my editors.
#7. My upbringing consisted of crazy inventions (my father) and crazier characters (my mother). While most kids listened to their mom read them Judy Blume and the Box Car Children, I listened to my mother practice lines for whatever upcoming play she was in. Her version of a drunken Virginia Woolf was quite, uh, colorful. My dad even played with my dollhouse with me, though he did make my dinosaurs rip the people though the windows and eat them . . . it was awesome. No wonder Jurassic Park was one of my favorite novels in high school.
#8. My Undertow Series of books contains little shout-outs to my beloved Cape Cod, with a few lines here and there that only the natives will catch fully. It was a blast to do it – like Carol Burnett, who’d tug her ear to let her kids know she was headed home soon.
#9. I was born and raised on Cape Cod and if there was ever a place where everyone knows everyone, it’s the Cape. I love that about the area, though you have to be careful of gossip as it flies faster that ET’s ship and everybody knows everybody.
#10. It is my hope to someday be a hybrid author, with Undertow in my indie pocket, and one of my WIPs in the hands of a great agent with a killer sense of humor. I mean, seriously, whoever reps me better be able to laugh because my life is one wild ride to Nutville.
AND LASTLY . . . I drive a 16 ton school bus during the school year, with a mini Toothless stuck to the dash (he is my guard-dragon – don’t screw with him). Undeniable proof that I am far from normal. Run. Run now.