the cutest blog on the block

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


So here I am, minding my own business, when Katriona, Sydney's older twin sister, decides to put in her two cents:

Katriona: You need to introduce Silas to Sydney already.

Me: Wait, where did you come from?

Katriona: Never mind that now. Why isn't Silas here yet? 

Me: Because it's not time to introduce him. 

Katriona: Time! Your brother leaves in January and I thought you wanted to get the story done by then! And my brother keeps making cow eyes at Ayden and Silas needs to come and break that up.

Me: You haven't even met Silas yet. Why are you so interested in him?

Katriona: I need someone to distract me from my brother mooning over Ayden.


Katriona: Yes, you are.

Sydney: She's annoying and intelligent, and the last thing I need right now is two intelligent females about to gang up on me.

Me: Sydney, go back to Halcyon House, please, and help Wyatt and Amos. 

Sydney: Fine. But I do not moon over anyone!

Katriona: He's so cute when he's in denial. 

Me: Sydney, go. Katriona, I honestly can not have you both having a battle of wits each other every time you show up.

Katriona: But it's fun and you're so good at it. And is Silas going to show up soon?

Me: I'm working on it.   

Katriona: See that you do. 

Ayden: Wait, why are you talking about my brother?
Katriona/Me: We're not.

Ayden: Because I distinctly heard Silas's name being mentioned. 

Katriona: I didn't say anything. (turns to me) Did you say anything?

Me: Not a word.

Ayden looks at us both suspiciously.

Ayden: If you're certain...
Katriona: Of course we're certain. Now come on, we need to look at more fabric swatches. 

Ayden: Not more fabric....

Me: That was close. (wipes brow)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Writer Recommedations

So I found two new books this week to read and I enjoyed them both immensely. They're both by Sally Gardner, The Red Necklace and The Silver Blade. Picture A Tale of Two Cities and the Scarlet Pimpernel, but with teenagers. Now that might strike horror in your literary soul, but really, they're very good books. They're set in Revolutionary France and England, and Mrs. Gardner does a really good job of describing the sheer horror and mob mentality of the era, where ideals like Liberty, Equality and Fraternity were scarified for violence, greed, and stupidity. The bad aristocrats are deliciously weak-minded and foppish, the villain, one Count Kalliovski, is one of the most genuinely creepy and evil bad guys I've read in recent teen fiction. It focuses on Yann Margoza, a mysterious Gypsy boy with unusual talents and Sido, the crippled daughter of a vain and cowardly marquis. To tell you any more might spoil the books, but for anyone who wants a good old-fashioned adventure/romance story with supernatural elements thrown in, pick these two up. Sally Gardner paints an accurate and sometimes wrenching portrait of Revolutionary France, with its Madame a la Guillotine the true ruler of the masses.
On the note of book recommendations, I have another story for you to pick up, should you be so inclined. I'm a sucker for re-told fairy tales and the standard fare is usually Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, or maybe (one in a while) Little Red Riding Hood. But one fairy tale is usually left out of the pantheon, Rumpelstiltskin. I've never been satisfied with the story, myself. Why would the miller tell the king "My daughter can spin straw into gold" and why would the king believe it? Why does the daughter go along with her father's preposterous yarn and then accept the help of the little man who shows up so unexpectedly and demands such strange payments? And why would she marry the king, after he threatens to kill her three times if she doesn't comply?  And finally, the miller's daughter turns on the only one who helps her the entire story, Rumpelstiltskin himself, by revealing his name and sending him to who-knows where.
See? The whole story makes no sense whatsoever. Modern scholars say that Rumpelstiltskin is one of the darker tales in the Brothers Grimm pantheon, a vehicle for anti-Semitism, Rumpelstiltskin being portrayed by the illustrators in the robes of a money-lender, the main occupation of Jews in Europe. So you'd think that a score of teen authors would try and breathe fresh life into the tale, wouldn't you?
The one really good retelling of Rumpelstiltskin I've read is A Curse Dark As Gold, by Elizabeth Bunce. She sets the story in alternate universe of pre-Industrial Revolution England, where steam-run machines are beginning to take over the work force. The main character is Charlotte Miller and her sister Rosie, trying desperately to save the family mill from foreclosure and from their grasping and so-called "genteel" Uncle Wheeler, who accept the dark bargain of the mysterious and frightening Jack Spinner. What I liked best about the story that it provides a really good reason for why Jack Spinner (the Rumpelstiltskin character) wants to "help" the Miller sisters. The "king" of the story is a banker, who is actually a really decent fellow who falls in love with Charlotte (the oldest daughter) and marrys her in all goodwill. It's full of magic, fascinating tidbits of English folklore and charms, and it sets the old story to rest easy. I highly recommend it to anyone, like myself, who has been displeased with the original story.
Over & Out,

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lyrics and Titles

So. Sydney likes Lifehouse and Johnny Cash.
Quite a combination. Though really, I hadn't planned on using so many songs in Halcyon House. It just sort of worked out that way. The original idea was to use the "In Which" format, which two of my favorite authors, Patricia C. Wrede and Diana Wynne Jones use to great affect in their books (see The Enchanted Forest Chronicles and Howl's Moving Castle) but it requires a lot of cleverness and ability to write those kind of chapter titles and not give too much away. So I decided to put it off for another story.
Now I basically raid my iPod for songs I think would go with the chapter and plot. So far I've used Switchfoot, Paramore, Taylor Swift, Leonard Cohen, and The Letter Black, just to name a few. I state the song title and the artist then I use a (brief) snippet of lyrics as my chapter title. For example, Chapter Three is "Out of Control" by Capital Lights. The format I'm using looks like this:
"Out of Control"--by Capital Lights
I'll write you out of the story like you knew that I would, living happily ever after never happens for good…
Of course, in the actual chapter, it looks a lot different. But I like using songs better than making up my own chapter titles; the lyrics do a much better job of explaining or foreshadowing the action that's about to take place than I would.
I've also decided to be a total cliche and have Sydney play an instrument. Two of them, actually. Specifically, guitar and piano. Every girl's dream, right? (Side note: to any guy besides Aaron who might read this--piano? Most romantic instrument ever. You will win any girl's heart if you can play a pretty song on the piano and play it well.) And it totally opens up the possibilities for me to use more songs! Especially Lifehouse. A lot of Lifehouse songs seem to speaking exactly for my Sydney. And Johnny Cash, as mentioned above. Hey, who doesn't like Johnny Cash? I've put a disclaimer at the top of the manuscript clearly stating that none of the songs used within are mine. I'm just using them because I like them so much.
Halcyon House might be winding down sooner than later, and I'll be sad to see it go. So I won't talk about it just yet. I'll just tell the story until Ayden and Sydney decide they want to get their acts together and put me out of my misery!
Over & Out,

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thank You's Go Out To...

Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone, full of the three essential F's--Food, Friends, and Family. Made even better because my oldest brother Aaron came home from college in Ohio and stayed the weekend. So, here are the things I'm thankful for...
1) My Family, all of them, for their combined craziness makes it's way into everything I write and somehow makes it interesting.
2) The Computer and Microsoft Word, for the incredibly useful and sometimes annoying spell and grammar check, because Bill Gates does not know more than Shakespeare!!
3) Nicole Petersen of my CW class, for being kind enough to edit the raw beginnings of Halycon House and putting up with my comma abuse. Also for being a fresh set of objective eyes and supplying some incredibly useful ideas for Halcyon House when she gave feedback to me.
5) My Dad, who knows how to smoke a turkey and do it really well.
6) Anne Osterlund, because her example of a blog inspired me to do this one...and I (literally!) wouldn't be here right now, typing this.
7) Last and not least, my Heavenly Father, Who has been kind enough to bless me with another year of life...and I hope more to come, so I can finally say I finished something!
Over & Out,

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Emerging of Ideas

Apologies to you all, gentle readers, who have been waiting for me to finally post a new entry. Real Life tends to take priority right now.
So I came up with an idea that might be brilliant for Halcyon House (that being my more urgent project).
Ayden need to renovate the house, yes? She obviously can't do it by herself and Sydney & Co. That only gives her, like, four people, maybe five, counting Katriona (Sydney's sister, and she's not really the hard labor type). She also needs to introduce her family to Sydney somehow, thus opening the door to their two families meeting at once. So what would be the most obvious course of action to take?
Have all the brothers come to Halcyon House and help Ayden fix it up.
At first, I didn't like the idea of it very much. I mean, the McKenna brothers have already established themselves as very strong, well-defined characters. Introduce them all at once and they could take over the plot completely, leaving Ayden and Sydney in the background. But the more I thought about it, the more it grew on me. It opens up the door to a reconciliation with Ayden and her brothers, since it proves to them that she isn't just the little sister who needs to be looked after and taken care of all the time. Ayden runs the show and looks after everything, and her brothers see that she is capable and competent and able to take care of herself. It's also an opportunity for Ayden's parents, Gregor and Natalia, to come see their daughter's handiwork and Liam's house restored to glory.
Though I may wait for a bit before having the McKenna boys descend on Ayden and Sydney like a horde of locusts. They need some time to work out the issues between themselves, and I need to finally establish why Sydney is at Halcyon House in the first place. For any of you who are wondering, I haven't quite figured that part out yet, but I'm pretty sure that my villain (more or less) Violet D'Ambrosia, will be making an appearance.
Yes, her name is Violet D'Ambrosia. No, I did not make it up entirely by myself. I saw it in one of the obituaries one Sunday and thought it was too good a name to go to waste. I wanted a very exotic, uncommon name for her, because she's an uncommon, exotic character (or at least, I hope she is). I'll leave the details of Violet up the imagination of the reader for now--she's too busy skulking in the background for me to get a very clear bead on her. Though from what she's shown me so far, she appears to be pretty nefarious!
Over & Out

Friday, November 12, 2010

And So It Begins

Ayden and Sydney have finally met.
Hurrah! Now the fun can start. Here's another brief excerpt from the Halcyon House detailing the infamous meeting.
* * *
It wasn’t until I actually found the kitchen when I realized something was off.
The kitchen wasn’t in the best condition it could be, but it was in significantly better shape than the rest of the house. I could hear the humming of the tiny refrigerator and the small, old-fashioned stove was clean.  There was an enormous table in the middle of the room and it was clean, well-scrubbed, with a half-eaten blueberry muffin on a plate. A cup of coffee was sitting on the counter. I stopped dead in the doorway and looked around; the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end.
Someone else was in the house. Someone else was in the house, with me.
My only comfort was that I was pretty sure ghosts didn’t eat muffins or drink coffee. Or at least, I hoped they didn’t.
Then again, a serial killer might.
I tried very hard not to think about the fact that I was five miles away from the only close town and I didn’t have anything on me remotely resembling a weapon, other than the key, and I didn’t know how much damage that would do. “Calm down, Ayden Harper,” I muttered to myself. “It’s just a muffin and coffee, for Pete’s sake.”
But I couldn’t calm down. I could feel every instinct in my body roaring into overdrive, with the urge to flight or fight most predominant. I took a very deep breath and closed my eyes, forcing my body to keep still. I opened my eyes again and the sight of the half-eaten muffin calmed my nerves for some ridiculous reason. It was a blueberry muffin, for crying out loud. I liked blueberry muffins. Whoever could possibly be here couldn’t be that bad, if they liked blueberry muffins the same as I did.
This delightful line of reasoning lasted for about fifteen seconds. Because that’s when I heard the unmistakable sound of footsteps over my head. It was too much to hope for that they were, maybe by some lucky chance, venturesome raccoons or squirrels trying to find a place to live for the winter. But no. That would be too easy. These were heavy, loud, definite footsteps in the room above me.  That’s also when the footsteps were heard trailing down the hall above me and then… coming down the stairs.
It can be safely admitted that I panicked.
I did the only thing I could think of. After looking around madly for something solid to hold on to, I grabbed a rolling pin, of all things, and hid behind the door like I was six years old. I heard the footsteps now coming down the hall, breathing that sounded to me like a dragon. I gripped my makeshift weapon tighter.
The door was pushed open and I could sense a large presence behind the wood. Breathing, steady and even, filled the sudden quiet of the room. My knuckles turned white around the rolling pin. I heard the someone standing in front of the door move around and then a low, pleasant tenor male voice said softly, “You might as well come out, whoever you are. Somehow I don’t think ghosts drive Grand Cherokees or leave the front doors open.”
Oh Lord, I thought. I’m gonna die. 
Without warning, the door slammed shut and I found myself face to face with--
A young man who appeared to be my age, maybe a little older. He had long, unruly black hair framing his face, and his clothes were bedraggled as the rest of him, wrinkled and by the looks of them unwashed. I only had a short time to take all this in. We stood there for at least thirty seconds without words, staring at each other like statues. I opened my mouth and was no doubt about to say something reasonable, mature, and sane.
I screamed bloody murder.
Not my proudest moment, I admit it. But it had the desired effect. The young man scrambled backward to avoid the arc of the swinging rolling pin and retreated into the furthest corner of the room, trying to get away from the crazy woman. “By God, woman, put that bloody thing down! You’ll kill someone with that!”
“That would be the idea!” I yelled back, now speaking actual words. “You’re the one in my house!
Your house?” the young man echoed in a voice of outrage. “The hell it’s your house, you psycho! I was here first!”
“‘I was here first’? What are you, five?” I asked indignantly, now recovering my senses a little. “And for the record, I signed the deed just last week, so I can safely say that it is indeed my house!”
“You’re insane,” he said calmly, folding his arms across his chest, staring at me. He had icy grey-blue eyes, with strong, slanting eyebrows drawn across his forehead. “I’ve been living here for the past six months and I’ve heard nothing of it. Liam would’ve told me.”
I felt my knees almost give out from under me. “You knew Grandda?”
The words had barely left my mouth when he blurted out, “You’re Liam’s granddaughter?”
As suddenly as it had begun, the shouting between us stopped. We stared at each other again, and I took the opportunity to realize that this…person (for lack of a better term) was…well…very good-looking. Very, very good-looking. He had an intelligent, handsome face, with full, curved mouth and a straight, Grecian nose, the kind I had always secretly envied. His clothes, I noted again, could stand with a wash and iron, but they looked like nice, expensive clothes. The kind I had seen in the store windows of the boutiques downtown. His eyes were clear, focused and intent, so him being some kind of a drug addict or drunk was out of the question. He had long lashes that were absolutely wasted on a boy. He was at least five inches taller than me, with a long, lean body that looked…toned. You know, healthy. Not oversized or bulky, like someone who constantly pumped iron, unlike some people I could mention.
Izzy would have definitely, indubitably, within a fraction of a second identified him as, to put it in her terms, freaking hot.
I, personally, didn’t care. I wanted to know what in blue blazes he was doing in Grandda’s house. And how he had gotten to know Grandda at all. And why, if what he said was true, was Grandda letting him stay in the house, and why didn’t he tell me?
It should be stated, here and now, that Grandda was always a bit of a meddler and inveterate matchmaker.  Da says he orchestrated Da’s first meeting with Ma by somehow willing his car to break down on the way to classes. Grandda never denied it.
I edged out of the corner I had put myself and very, very carefully, making no sudden movements, put the rolling pin on the table between us. “I’m sorry,” I said slowly. “Clearly, there’s been some kind of misunderstanding here.”
The young man snorted. “No, really, you think?”
I ignored his sarcasm and continued on, “Let’s start again, alright? I’m Ayden McKenna. You knew my Grandda?”
The young man eyed me warily, as if I might start swinging heavy objects at his head again, but his reply was straightforward enough: “I’m Sydney Jenkins. Liam’s an old friend of my family."
* * *
Hoo-hoo-hoo! Now we're cooking!
Over & Out,

Monday, November 1, 2010

How To Find the Sneaky Bugger (see previous post)

Want to know the scariest thing in the world?
It's a blank sheet of paper waiting for you to write on.
You think I'm joking? You sit yourself down, preparing to write the next Great American novel, and then it's like someone wiped clean the hard drive of your brain.  The blank page mocks you. "I'll just sit here taunting you because you're such a bad writer and have no real imagination. You'll be overrun by text-speakers by the time you're thirty and the English language will fall to the wayside and you'll never finish anything, MWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!" 
What to do when Inspiration (capital I and all) decides to abandon you, evil laugh not withstanding?
You get up and you leave it alone. Take a walk. Play music. Bake a cake. For me, personally, I clean. Really.  I like cleaning, much to my mother's joy. My speciality is I cleaning the kitchen and the living room and I'm really, really good at it. I dust the floor. I clear out the fridge and Windex the glass cabinets. Since I've been doing these jobs since I was twelve and can do them in my sleep, my brain is free to do something else to occupy itself with more interesting topics. I have a random association hermeneutic in my head (it's like a giant game of Word Association at all times), so it's surprising to see where my mind can go when I let it.  And usually, when I'm busy washing dishes or wiping down the counters or cleaning the stove, ideas will start coming and flowing. Scraps of dialogue and little bits of scenes will start form, and usually I go back to the computer feeling more focused and intent.
Also, I play music. Really loud music. My tastes are fairly eclectic, and if you were to ask the rest of my family, that just means weird. I have Joan Jett & the Blackhearts alongside Taylor Swift (yes, Taylor Swift! She's what I dance to when I put on make-up) and Paramore (just got into them very recently due to my twin Adam..."Misery Business" is Ayden's theme song right now) and Picture Me Broken (screaming rocker band with a female lead singer) with Carrie Underwood. I am also constantly playing Needtobreathe's newest album The Outsiders, because if Liam McKenna (the grandfather) had a series of songs written for him, it would be by Needtobreathe. And it would have an awesome choir in the background (I am a sucker for a good choir piece). One of the tracks on the album, "Girl Named Tennessee" inspired at least two whole scenes between Ayden/Sydney and Silas/Katriona all by itself. The title track seemed to solidify Ayden's determination to restore her grandfather's house on her own.

"On the outside/You're free to roam /On the outside/We found a home
On the outside/There's more to see/On the outside/We choose to be
On the outside/You're free to roam/On the outside/We found a home
On the outside/There's more to see/On the outside/We choose to be..."

Seriously. This song just seemed to sum up everything I wanted to say about Ayden's decisions and choices. I've been playing it to death on my long-suffering iPod. So yes. This is what I do for fun, people. I clean things and play music.
You would think my life interesting!
Over & Out,
P.S. Though, I personally, could care less, a happy and sincere congratulations to all the long-time, die-hard Giants fans out there. Especially to all my uncles on my dad's side of the family.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Inspiration--the Sneaky Bugger

It's almost frightening how easily my final project for CW is coming together. The characters have changed their skins so easily for this plot line that the ideas are flowing like crazy.  Ayden is a librarian (still), Sydney doesn't know what he wants to do quite just yet (maybe a teacher, but he likes the idea of carpentry, for some reason), Silas is a dojo owner/karate teacher, and the rest of the McKenna brothers (new characters created for this story) are forming their own personalities quite swiftly.
There is Arkady, the oldest McKenna boy, the first born, and he has aspirations to become a doctor. He's very stubborn about his role as the oldest, and sometimes thinks it necessary to upbraid his siblings (i.e. Silas, Ayden, Finn) for a lack of ambition. He means well and loves his family, but he can't forget growing up in the blue-collar class, which is why he wants to become a doctor.
Then there is Josef, the second oldest, who decided to join the army as a way of escaping the family neighborhood. He's not as rigid as Arkady (surprisingly) but he's the calm, peace-keeping mediator of the arguments between his siblings. For being in the army, Josef turning out to be more laid-back than I first thought, and he helps the younger siblings with their own personal goals.
Then there are the twins, Dante and Matteo, fun-loving and mischievous. They're lackadaisical, prank-playing and not impressed by Arkady and Josef's more lofty ambitions. They want to become stage magicians, or more accurately, flourishers, which is a fancy name for card dealers and their tricks. They rag on their siblings mercilessly, but will be the first to defend them from outsiders.
Silas, Ayden's favorite brother, as aforesaid, is a karate teacher/dojo owner. He still maintains the blunt, sarcastic, cynical personality I first imagined him with, but he's got a streak of pragmatic practicality to off-set the older boys. He's not as loud as Dante or Matteo, but he can be called upon to set Arkady in his place if his ambitions start running away from him.
And then the final brother, Ayden's second partner-in-crime, Finn, the artistic, sensitive, musically inclined one in this bunch. He encourages Ayden's desire to write and has plans to become a professional singer/guitarist when he gets older. He also has a edge of mad recklessness that worries his whole family and a quietly wicked sense of humor that Ayden and Silas share.
So there they are, the McKenna boys, and not a moment to spare, because I'm going to start writing this one in earnest--and who know where it will end up?    
Over & Out,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More Thoughts

So, quick housekeeping--after some thought, the story now takes place in just Connecticut, as opposed to New York City and Connecticut at once. It makes more sense to have it set in one place than having my characters drive every which where. Plus, being a West Coast girl and never having gone to the East Coast, it cuts down on any mistakes I might make when researching. Google only does so much. New York City will still be making an appearance, though.  
Ayden and Sydney will have, at the very least, a memorable first meeting. They don't even know the other existed by default, though Sydney vaguely recalls Liam (Ayden's grandfather) mentioning a granddaughter. Not that ever made an impact on Sydney, but he still doesn't know anything about her. (Ayden takes great offense to this and Sydney insists that it was not his fault that he wasn't paying attention.)
So here comes the great main root of the story--why is Sydney at Halcyon House? What is he running from? Why did Liam let him stay there? Does he have family? Do they know that he's there?Why the Halcyon House? What secrets is he keeping, and for that matter, what secrets does Halcyon House keep about the McKenna clan?
This is the fun part about writing a story like this. You can let the characters take you away on this journey as they tell you the story of their lives. "This is what happened to me, and I want you to write it," is the constant refrain in my head as I navigate the narrative. Sometimes it flows so naturally, so beautifully it's like waking up out of a wonderful dream when you're done. You look back on what you've written and you're like, "Wow, did all of that just come out of my head?"
Of course, the trouble with having such strong-willed characters like Ayden or Sydney or even Silas is that they have their own very definite ideas as to where the story should go. And you, as the writer, have the choice to submit to their whims or impose your will on them. Now, if you submit to the will of your characters, this can lead to a very character-driven story which can be very fun to write--and sometimes a clunky mess. Unfinished plot-lines, unresolved issues, loose ends by the boat load. So you can impose your will on them instead, and that leads to the story where you want it go--but the characters will sulk magnificently because they think you've given them the short shrift.
So where does this leave you, the narrator?
Let your characters talk, but don't let them steal the show. This is still your story that you're writing. You need to figure out where it goes and what it does and not let the overwhelming force of nature that are your characters browbeat you into compliance. And also, if a absolutely wonderful idea comes to you in one of those rare but brilliant "Eureka!" flashes, write it down before you forget--seriously, it will drive you absolutely crazy later if you don't remember it! 
So that's my advice to any aspiring writers who happen to scanning this. Good luck with any and all of your works!
Over & Out,

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Brief Excerpt

The following is a short extract from my creative writing final project, still untitled. Tenative idea: The Halcyon House. Any other ideas?
* * *
I could see outside the glass doors that it was a beautiful day, sunny and bright, heralding a beautiful summer. Students were milling about, here and there, along with locals and tourists. And what was I doing? Moldering in run-down building too full of silent books with long-dead authors with lots of pithy sayings and wisdom that could offer no advice for my current predicament.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I grabbed my coat off the chair behind the librarian’s desk and went to the facility lounge, where my bag was. Rebecca, the other librarian on duty was there, sipping a coffee and reading something on her Kindle. I felt my lip curl up in silent derision. As far as I was concerned, a book wasn’t a book unless it has pages, bindings and a cover. There was no point in an electronic device that essentially turned the pages for you. “Rebecca,” I told her, “Something came up with the lawyers—I need to check on it.”
She looked up, startled by my brusque and curt tone. “Um, okay…do you want me to run the front desk?”
I nodded briskly. “I’d be much obliged if you did. I’ll call you if I’m going to be back, okay?”
I’ll admit I didn’t give her a chance to respond; I just hurried out before she could say anything. I grabbed my bag from the cubbyhole and was out of there like a bat from hell, my bag hitting my hip as I moved. The sunlight and fresh air once I got outside was overwhelming for a moment, but I barreled on, too impatient to give myself time to adjust. I have no idea what I looked like to the passersby—a librarian escaping the library, almost running down the quad with her hair coming out its neat bun and her neat white shirt coming untucked from her black wool trousers. I didn’t slow down until I reached an empty bench a good distance away from the library. I sat down with a thump, breathing hard and feeling my shirt stick damply to my chest, pieces of hair coming out the bun I had so painstakingly twisted at the back of my head this morning. I stayed where I was a few moments, letting a breeze cool me down. The green lawns and people walking their dogs, lazing in the sun, or talking with their friends seemed foreign and remote after being in the library so long.
I killed time for bit, dug through my purse for gum, finding dry pens, empty notepads and old receipts, but no gum. Then I watched the people around me for a bit, doing the airport game, imagining their stories and their lives. My cell phone was blessedly silent.
I stalled for as long as I could, before finally coming to the decision I had so studiously avoided the entire week. For the entire month since that horrible day back in May, when my life started to crack and strain under pressure. I pulled out my cell phone and stared at it for a few long moments, as if it would speak to me and offer some advice. Then I gave up and dialed the number I had been dodging all week. I held it my ear and waited for one ring, two rings, and then three. Then the line picked up and I replied to the greeting, “Hello, my name is Ayden McKenna. I believe Mr. Magnus Fletcher is trying to get a hold of me?”
* * *
That's all you're getting until I work on it more. Thoughts?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Taking Title Suggestions

This is the inspiration for Ayden's house. It's bigger in my head.

My Creative Writing class at SJCC requires a final project handed in on the last day of class, a piece of original fiction, poetry, or drama. My intended piece features all three characters the previous entry mentioned (Ayden, Sydney, Silas), only set in a "real world"setting--no magic or secret societies or seventh-born gifts. The characters are all "human" and it takes place in New York City and Connecticut. I had intended to put it in the Hamptons (the only really high-end setting I could think of), but Michelle, my CW professor, suggested Connecticut instead. Since she's from New York originally, I decided to take the advice from someone who actually is from the East Coast. So Connecticut it is. (Lots of research required for this one.) The real differences between this story and my own fantasy works is changing Ayden's last name from Fletcher to McKenna and giving Ayden six older brothers instead of both brothers and sisters. I also mention her parents a lot more, even giving them names, Gregor and Natalia, and ethnic backgrounds--Irish-Italian, Russian-Romanian. Ayden has a family history now, a tangled, intense one, as opposed to The Seventh-born Chronicles, where Ayden and Silas seem to have sprung from the ground fully grown.  
The main premise of this story is this: Ayden is a librarian/aspiring writer in New York City. Her life is quiet, but contented. But her paternal grandfather dies suddenly, and Ayden discovers that he left her a house--one she had no idea existed until his death. It's a Victorian, Queen-Anne style mansion in the Connecticut country side. Ayden's grandfather, Liam McKenna, also left her a lot of money so she could renovate the house, which her family suggests she use to help them with their money problem. Ayden insists that she uses it for the intended purpose, fixing the house. She departs for Connecticut, amid a lot of tension and derision from her family. When she arrives, Ayden sees that it's falling apart and it's also home to a tenant: one Sydney Jenkins, the son of an old friend of her grandfather and coming to terms with a recent tragic accident. Ayden plans to fix up the house and sell it, hoping to help with her family's finances. Sydney takes offense to the plan, and after a lot conflict, they agree to fix up the house, and come to an agreement once the house is fully furnished. So begins my first "realistic fiction" story.  I still have no idea what I'm going to call it, but as the title of today's entry suggests, I'm open to suggestions.
So, any thoughts, people? I'm looking forward to hearing from all four of you! (Or more, if anyone accepts the invitations I sent out.)
Over & Out,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Players of the Drama

The characters in question for The Seventh-Born Chronicles are the process of an overactive imagination and too much time on my hands. They are, as follows:

Ayden Grace Fletcher: seventh-born and the heroine of the story. She is basically everything I would like to be (if I wasn't myself) and my favorite character (authors are allowed to have favorites, unlike parents). Her age changes with me (I was seventeen when I started writing, and so was Ayden, now she is nineteen like myself) and her appearance reflects whatever I think is appropriate for her personality. At the moment, she's a redhead. That will probably stay the same for the rest of the story. Literature needs more fiery redheaded heroines. Ayden is intelligent, strong-willed, and in her own terms, very sensible. She dislikes surprises and is not fully reconciled with her gifts as a seventh-born.

Sydney Jenkins: Wizard and secondary main character. Around these two the story circulates. Sydney is essentially an amalgam of the heroes of all my favorite books, with a lot inspiration from my oldest brother Aaron. I know it might seem to some people I've saddled Ayden with a boy's name and Sydney with a girl's, but Sydney's name is taken from Charles Dickens' immortal Sydney Carton, the hero (because it definitely wasn't Charles Darnay or Lucie Manette) from A Tale of Two Cities. Sydney Carton was my favorite character and I liked the careless, charming, reprobate aspect. Dickens' Sydney always reminded me of a con man, and I will always prefer a charming rogue to a brooding hero (they have no sense of humor). On another note, I couldn't very well name him Edward, since Mrs. Meyer already has the copyrights to that. But that's another blog entry for another time. Sydney has no qualms about driving Ayden crazy (he thinks it's funny) and is fiercely protective of her (and this drives Ayden crazy too). They spend their days arguing far more than anything else.

Silas Moses Fletcher: Ayden's older brother. Silas's original name was Senri, but as time went by, I realized it didn't make much sense to give Ayden an Irish name and her older brother a Japanese one. So after much deliberation, I decided on Silas, because I liked the Biblical aspect and the sound of it: it fit in well with his personality. Again, Silas is an expy of  Aaron, only more of a jerk (sorry, bro) and with a black belt in karate. He is very protective of his sister and is usually at odds with Sydney more often than not. He is sarcastic, blunt, and more cynical than his sister about her magical gift. Silas doesn't believe in magic at all. (But as Silas finds out, sometimes you have to face a nightmare to wake up from denial.)

These are the three main characters on whom the third story will relate to. The first two stories were done entirely in Ayden's point of view, and Sydney and Silas wanted a chance to say something in the third installment.  They wouldn't leave me alone about it for almost three weeks until I caved.
So there you have it. The Players of the Drama, as it were, and their adventures, believe me, are just beginning.
Over And Out,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Long-Awaited Explanation

Since no one but me understands the name of my blog and it's only fair to offer some kind of explanation, it comes from the title of a sequence of novels I've been working on for the past two/three years, since the winter of '08. They are fantasy novels, set in the real world (I'm not quite up to making up and creating my own world a la Tolkien and Lewis just yet), starring one Ayden Grace Fletcher (last name due to change soon) and the circumstances surrounding her birth, the seventh-child of a seventh-child. Traditionally, there has always been some special significance applied to the number seven, and the seventh-born child superstition was one that easily applied itself to my character, and open to interpretation to an aspiring writer like myself.
With that said, the original title of the story was "Panic! On a Winter's Night" because I thought it sounded hip and relevant, as my high school Bible teacher Mr. Cummings used to say, like the name of that band I've never listened to, "Panic at the Disco."  But as the story progressed and I realized Ayden & Co. simply wouldn't be satisfied with only one measly installment and they all had insisted to stretch it out to three, I knew name checks were in order. And it turned out that "Panic! On a Winter's Night" proved very difficult to come up with two other follow-up acts, such as "Disaster! On a Spring Evening" and something along the lines of "Catastrophe! On A Summer's Day" (though I never actually got that far in picking out names).
You see my problem.
So, keeping in with the changing-season theme, I changed "Panic!" to "Tale the First: Midwinter's Day," and the second and third installments are "Tale the Second: Midsummer's Night" and "Tale the Third: All Hallows Eve," respectively. And it seems to have worked out pretty well so far. The Seventh-Born Chronicles are still are work in progress (the third installment is giving me some trouble) and I hope to make some serious progress by the end of the year. 
And a word of warning: when given the chance, I'm going to talk about my stories as often and for as long as I can, so be prepared for a lot of introspective musings. If that's not your cup of tea, go text someone.
(Sorry. This blog is a text-speak/Web-slang free zone, where those who frequent are expected to use the actual ENGLISH LANGUAGE. Yes, I'm slightly sensitive about it. You're talking to a future novelist and librarian here.)
Over And Out,

Monday, October 18, 2010

This Is Just A Test

Well, I'm not sure if I'm going to continue this, to be honest. I started it up on a whim (in the middle of a class, no less) and might take it down just as suddenly. The main point of this blog, so near as I can figure it, is for me to hammer out the details of my works-in-progress and do some serious thinking about any other projects that happen to pop up. If it doesn't work out, no harm done. If it does, then anyone with a greater grasp on blogs and design and things is more than welcome to help me out and offer their expertise.
Until next time, I remain your determined blog master,

New Beginnings

Hello, People of the World. I have no idea if this is going to keep up or not, but if it does, let me say welcome and maybe I'll talk to you all soon.