the cutest blog on the block

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.