Let me fill you in

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.  I am such a blogging slacker.  I don’t even have a good excuse, but for all 5 of you who read this (when you see it posted on my facebook page), here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • Publishing Honor’s Lark!  The book went live on May 13th on Amazon, with the official release (i.e. me telling everyone I know about it) on May 15th.  Sales and reviews have been trickling in slowly (like really slowly.  like glacially slowly.  like the hare lapped the tortoise twice and is coming up on lap #3), but I’m so proud of it.  Even if only one person buys it and reads it, I’ll be happy (and my mom did both, so I’m good!).
  • Fulfilling a lifelong dream.  My friend Brooke and I went on a 9 day trip to London, baby!  It was amazing.  I’ve been jokingly calling it my Jane Austen pilgrimage because we literally did everything I could find that was Jane Austen related.  We went to her house in Chawton, which has been converted to a museum, and saw the rooms where she ate, slept, and most importantly – wrote.  It was a literal dream come true.  I cried. Not heaving sobs or anything, but dainty, Austen-like tears.  (Hell, I cried when the plane landed in London.)  We went to the British Library, where they have a copy of Persuasion written in her hand and her old writing desk.  We went to the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, where she once lived.  We walked streets and saw buildings she wrote about.  We did a lot of other things in London and it was all amazing, but I would have been happy to just travel to Chawton and spend all day there.
  • Celebrating.  My friend Tracy Banghart’s self-published book, Shattered Veil, was bought by Alloy Entertainment as part of the launch of their Amazon digital first imprint!  The book (which is amazing and you should definitely read) is now titled Rebel Wing and is available exclusively on Amazon.  We went out last night and had a blast celebrating the awesomeness that is Tracy and her book.  You should definitely go and check out the twitter feed from the party, after all, you need to know what the official hashtag (#flamingscorpion) is all about.
  • Celebrating.  My two best friends both had babies in May!  I have two beautiful new nieces, Finley and Emerson.  They are so sweet.  I’ve been so busy, I’ve only been able to see Finley once, but I’m going to rectify that really soon.
  • Celebrating.  My sister is pregnant again!  Another little boy or girl will be joining our family in January.  Plus, we had an adorable Minnie Mouse-themed second birthday party for my niece Addison in June.
  • Turning 30.  Oh, the big 3-0.  It came, it went, I survived.  I even got a tattoo in honor of the occasion!  Abby would be so proud.
The Honor's Lark paperbacks arrive
The Honor’s Lark paperbacks arrive
My new tattoo.  Sometimes I need a reminder...
My new tattoo. Sometimes I need a reminder…
My sister, niece, and brother-in-law at the cutest Minnie Mouse birthday party ever
My sister, niece, and brother-in-law at the cutest Minnie Mouse birthday party ever
Jane Austen's home in Chawton
Jane Austen’s home in Chawton

I’ve Been Busy

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, I’ve been a busy girl!  Here’s what I’ve been up to:Image

3/17/12 St. Patrick’s Day weekend with my sister and brother-in-law in Charlotte.  Had an amazing time drinking and walking around all day (2 things I never do!)

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3/19/12 My nephew, Lane, was born!  He was a really big baby- 9 lbs 10 oz!

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3/24/12 My Brookie got married!  Above is the Bridesmaids’ (and Bridesman’s) luncheon.  Below is the happy couple.

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3/31/12 Altar Ego Fashion Show which featured some gorgeous table designs by your’s truly and a brilliant team of event professionals.

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4/3-6/12 Seattle, Baby!  My old college buddy, Brittany, and I went to visit my old college roommate, Brad.  We saw all the main touristy-type sites, plus Brad knew the best local places to visit to get the true Seattle experience.  It was really refreshing to be able to spend time with these people I haven’t seen in years and still feel like we were close.  I think that’s something you have with college friends that you don’t really have with people from other times in your life.  In college everyone is growing and changing, so it never seems weird that they’ve evolved, you know?

More Seattle pics:

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3/31/12 I got the keys to my new apartment!  Yay!  Finally a place of my own.  I didn’t really move into it until after I got back from Seattle, though, and I’m still steadily working on making it a home.  There’s a lot of stuff I need/want, but the best part about it is my brand new, grown up bed!

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I’ve also been busy planning weddings and my sister’s baby shower:

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So I hope you’ll forgive me for being MIA!

Saying “Yes” to Halloween

I continued my Saying Yes to Life campaign last night by spending the Halloween weekend in Charlotte with my sisters and their husbands.  Here’s my costume- it was definitely outside of my comfort zone!

And yes, in case you were wondering, I did have a few people actually pay me for kisses, and I gave some away for free!  I’ve never been the type of girl to go all slutty on Halloween, and I think this was a great compromise!  I had a blast hanging out with my sisters and bros-in-law; I always forget how much I laugh when I’m around them.

So, here’s to kissing strangers and spending time with family, and laughing my ass off.  Saying yes is working 🙂

My Father

My father is a quiet man.  A strange man, I suppose.  He finds pleasure in few things: beer, fishing, watching sports on tv.  I often feel sorry for him because I don’t think he has any friends and I’m not sure if he’s very happy with his life.  But I also love him, very much.  The way only a daughter can love her father.

We’ve always had a different connection than he has with my other siblings.  The joke is that I’m his favorite child, but I think over the years the joke has grown less and less funny as my siblings regard him less and less.  Which also makes me sad.

Right before or right after I was born, my father was laid off from his job, so my mother became the sole breadwinner of our small family for a short time.  She went to work while he took care of my older sister and I.  Of the four of us, I was the only one who he primarily cared for during infancy.  Our family thinks this is where our special bond comes from.

I have no memory of this time of our lives, obviously, but there’s a story Mom loves to tell.  My older sister was between two and three, I was under one, and Dad was making cookies in our small Buffalo apartment.  Just the thought of Dad making cookies is pretty funny- he’s really not the domestic type at all.  But anyways.  He was making cookies, but left the apartment for a few minutes to retrieve a load from the laundry room across the hall.  When he returned, he found the door shut and locked. My sister had locked him out.

I don’t know if he panicked thinking of his young daughters all alone in the apartment with the oven on, but I’m inclined to say he didn’t.  He probably kept his head- he isn’t one to panic normally.  I don’t know who he called, or how (this was before cell phones) but eventually he got back into the apartment, where he found my sister and I shut in a closet, my sister playing school with me as if I were her very own baby doll.  I imagine he was relieved we were there, safe, but that isn’t part of the story, so I can’t know for sure.  It would ruin it to ask.

There aren’t a lot of memories of my dad from my childhood.  He worked, Mom raised us.  Mom did the girl scout troops, the PTA, the class trips and awards ceremonies.  But I remember every Christmas morning- my siblings convincing me to wake Mommy and Daddy up so we could open presents because Daddy wouldn’t get mad at Me.  And fishing- on Lake Erie in a boat with my dad, my cousin Erin, and my Uncle Jim; and on the banks of a lake at a park near our home in North Carolina.  I raced my brother back to the parking lot one time, tripped and skinned my knees so badly I still have the scars.  My dad put me in his newly remodeled Chevy pickup truck and drove to the nearest gas station, holding napkins against my knee.  He cleaned the wound with cool water from a pump outside the station’s store, gently, like my mother would have if she had been there.  And I remember hiding his cigarettes because I hated his smoking.

My friend, Myron, used to ask me if my father worked for the CIA, because he was never around, never involved like my mother.

I remember a t-shirt I had in kindergarten, “Daddy’s Girl,” it said.  Black fabric with white block letters.  I wore it to an outing, some sort of party at my teacher’s house where we played Duck, Duck, Goose.  My mother was there.  I don’t think Dad was.

I remember finding a similar shirt when I was older, middle or high school age.  It was also black, but with purple, glittery, cursive lettering also reading “Daddy’s Girl.”  I imagine he has no idea I ever possessed any such articles.

I don’t know if this is coming out right.  I never doubted his importance in our family circle.  I never resented him for not being “more involved.”  He took care of us the way he knew how- by working and bringing home a paycheck.

My biggest memory- the best- the one I’ll cherish for the rest of my life, the one I’ll remember one day when he’s gone, is the day I graduated college.  My parents, sisters, and grandmother drove to Wilmington, attended the awards ceremonies, and took me out to lunch before helping me pack up my college life and apartment so I could leave.  That night, back in our house in Burlington, standing in his kitchen, talking about God-only-knows what- probably not even really talking, maybe me just looking in the fridge- he said, “I’m proud of you.”  Then, he motioned me over and hugged me.

It’s the only hug I can remember receiving from him, even though there are pictures from when I was little.  I imagine that, unless I get married some day, it will be the only hug I ever get.  But it let me know how much he loves me, and being the only one somehow makes it mean so much more.

I Won A Writing Contest Once

when I was ten years old.  I was in the fifth grade and my AG teacher, Ms. Pyles, encouraged me to enter.  (AG stands for Academically Gifted.  Shortly after I left elementary school, they changed it to AIG, Academically and Intellectually Gifted.  I cannot attest to the truth or suitability of myself being labeled as AG, but I was tested in the third grade, and there you are.)  My best friend, Ashley, also entered and won.

I don’t have a lot of memories about the actual contest, I don’t know if other members of our AG class entered or if it was just Ashley and I and so we won by default, but I do remember Ms. Pyles inviting me to her house for tea so we could “edit” the story before it was bound into a little book.  My sister Theresa, such a great big sister, drew illustrations to go along with the story.

I’m very surprised I’ve never posted the story on this blog, because it really cracks me up, so I’m going to post it now!  I posted it on The Next Big Writer a long time ago and here are some of the remarks I got:

Well, Rachel, LOL! What a cute story for a ten year old to write. I can see how you won the contest, and I know you’re proud to look back at the little book and reminisce. While I was reading it I couldn’t help but think about that old song “Purple People Eater.”

Anyways, thanks for sharing this with us. It made me laugh!

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Ooohhh, I have three brothers, does this martian have any friends? Especially for my older brother, I would love to control him for just about ten minutes MWaaaaaahhhaaaaaaahaaaaaa. Very cool story. I wrote a novel when I was 9 called the mystery of the doorknob. My older brother found it a little bit ago and had to point out all my faults. 😦 . Very well done, a neat little story.

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LOL Rachel! THere’s still not a frickin nit in this blasted thing! And you were TEN! Oh man, you read my stuff when i was ten and you’d realize how incredibly talented you really were and still are! You’re right, your voice hasnt changed all that much, just you’ve gotten even better at storytelling.

I’d hate to be your little brother! LOL! 🙂

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Rach, when you said ten, I couldn’t resist. That’s the age my students are! I love your story! It has a clear beginning, middle, and end, which is the hardest thing to get them to do. Most of the stories end with one sentence, like: And then they went home and everything was okay. 😦

I see some typical ten year old stuff, like what is it with ‘whispering excitedly’?? lol Everyone in a story by a ten year old girl whispers excitedly.

Darn good story, dear!

Does that make you want to read it??? Okay, here you go, my contest-winning short story: “The Summer Aliens Ate My Brother’s Brain”

 

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Dedication: This book is dedicated to Theresa Hamm for illustrating my book and being a great big sister.

Hey!  My name is Rachel.  I have a brother named Danny and a sister named Amanda.  We live with Mom and Dad in Burlington, North Carolina.  My story begins on a windy July afternoon…

“Hey Danny!  Wanna play some football?  You can be the Buffalo Bills.  Please!!”  I shouted to Danny, who was in Amanda’s and my bedroom looking for something.

He came down slowly, looking smug.  “I’ll play if you let me read your journal.”

“No way!  I’ll get Manda to play with me.”  I went outside where the wind blew my hair back.

“Amanda! Where are you?” I shouted in the wind.

“I’m right here!” she yelled, jumping out of our treehouse.

“Wanna play some foo…”

“Dinnertime!” interrupted my mother.  We ran inside and ate dinner.  Then we went to bed.

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In the morning, I slipped quietly out of bed and tiptoed downstairs to Danny’s room.  The door creaked when I opened it, and I crept softly to his bed.  I slid my hand under the covers and tickled his feet.  He opened his eyes and stared blankly at the ceiling.  He didn’t laugh or say anything.  I figured he was putting on an act.  Then I saw it!  A small green and purple polka-dotted, well, thing, climbing out of Danny’s ear.

He was shaped like a human.  He had arms and legs and hands and feet.  He was just as tall as my pinkie finger.  His ears were huge, as big as his face.  He looked a lot like Ross Perot.  He stared at me blankly.

“What are you?!” I asked.

“Huh-oh, Me?! I’m a Martian!  I now own your brother’s brain,” he said gleefully.

“You mean you invaded his brain?!  I can’t believe this.  Are you sure?” I asked in one breath.

“Yes, quite sure.”

I was speechless.  I didn’t know what to do.  Suddenly I grabbed the creature. “Fix my brother now or I’ll fix you!” I was angry.  With Danny’s brain being invaded, I couldn’t tease him any more.

“Rachel, are you in there?” Amanda asked slipping into the room.

I turned around. “Look at this!” I cried thrusting the Martian in front of her.

“Cool! What is it?” Amanda exlaimed.

“A Martian!  He invaded Danny’s brain!”

“Wow!  Let’s keep him.  It’s so cool that he actually invaded Danny’s brain,” Amanda whispered excitedly.

“You know, now that I think about it, it is cool.  Let’s keep him a secret,” I said, suddenly realizing this could be exciting.

“Hey! What’s going on here?” asked the Martian.  I’m not a toy, you know.  I don’t like this!”

“Don’t worry.  Everything will be fine, just fine.  You keep controlling his brain, and we’ll keep you safe!”

“OK,” the Martian answered warily.

We all went upstairs and got dressed.  I put the Martian in my jumper pocket.  Then we went downstairs to eat breakfast.

“Mornin’ girls!  Go wake up Danny for me, will ya?” sang my mother.

“Sure thing, Mom,” I replied.  Amanda and I dashed to Danny’s room.  We went in and I got the Martian out of my pocket.

“Tell Danny to get out of bed, get dressed, and eat breakfast!” I told the Martian.  He climbed in Danny’s ear and went to work.  Danny got out of bed, dressed, and went to the table.

“All right!” Amanda shrieked.  We ran out and had breakfast.

After breakfast, I had to do the dishes.  I didn’t feel like it, so I told the Martian to tell Danny, “Clear the dishes off the table, rinse them in the sink, and put them in the washer.”

“Right.” said the Martian.  He climbed in Danny’s ear and told him, “Clear the dishes off the table, rinse them in the sink, and put them in the washer.”

Danny went in to the kitchen and got to work.  I went upstairs where Amanda was waiting.  She had set up Monopoly, and we started playing.  Then, all of a sudden, I heard the washing machine running.  I flew down the stairs and raced to the kitchen.  Danny had put the dishes in the washing machine.


“Oh, no!  What did you do?!  Oh no!  This is my fault!  I gave the wrong directions!” I exclaimed.  I turned off the washer and looked in.

“Even worse!  The dishes are broken.  What now?!” I asked myself.  I took out the pieces, and tried to put them together.

“Oh, what’s the use?”  I threw down my hands and put the pieces in the garbage.  I was just about to slip out the back door so I could go and buy new dishes, when my mom came in.

“Where are you goin’?” she asked suspiciously.

“Just out for fresh air,” I replied.  I went out and ran across the lawn.  I walked timidly to the store to buy some new dishes.  I got them, and I was out of the store.  I ran as fast as I could home.  I ran inside and put the dishes away.

I decided that this Martian thing wasn’t going to work.  Sure, it was fun for a little while, but not any more.  I talked to Amanda about this, and she agreed. So I got the

Martian out of my pocket and said, “You need to stop controlling Danny, please.  This isn’t going to work.  Will you please go back to Mars, so that we won’t get in any trouble any more?”

“Yes, I’ll go home.  Besides, I was planning on it anyway,” he replied.

“Oh, good!  Thanks so much!” Amanda shrieked.  We said goodbye to him as we watched his spaceship float in the sky.

Everything at our house turned back to normal, and no one ever heard from the Martian again.


My Spot on the Shelf

I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I last posted!  I’ve been busy, which is nothing unusual, and I just haven’t given much thought to writing the past two weeks.

I hate that.

But sometimes I don’t have control over everything in my life.  It kinda sucks, but it’s kinda okay too.  Okay because I’ve been working with a lot of wedding clients and I’ve been hanging out with some friends and, you know, actually having a life!

I thought about writing today, though.  First, at work, I had a minute or two of downtime here and there and I started created a family tree for my next project (A serial story about Family Dynamics- get ready for it!), then, I was in Barnes and Noble for a brief second and I couldn’t stop myself.  I went to the Fiction and Literature section and glanced at the titles.  I found my way to the H’s.  I found the spot where my book would be if I ever get published.

Is it weird that I do this?  Because this isn’t the first time I’ve looked for where my book belongs in a bookstore.  (And just for the record, I’d be to the left of Seeing Stars by Diane Hammond- in case you don’t know my awesome last name.)  It’s motivating to me.  The idea that maybe, possibly, someday I could walk in a bookstore and when I find that spot on the shelf my book will actually BE there.  It’s a pipe dream, I know.  But maybe.  Just possibly.

I got a review on TNBW the other day for my poem “Observations in Ten Minutes” in which the reader/reviewer asked if I’d ever thought of publishing my poetry.  Of course I have!  I’ve thought about it and dreamed about it.  But I haven’t really done much to make it happen.  I know I need to.  I need to send out queries and letters and let the publishing world know that I exist.  But when?  When’s the right time?  I don’t think I’m ready.  I want to be.  But I don’t think I am.

I read a few poems I wrote in high school last night.  Oh my God were they awful.  TERRIBLE.  I can’t believe I ever thought they were good (which, PS, I did).  What if I think the same thing about the stuff I’m writing now, the novel and short stories and poetry I’ve written over the last year and a half?  I want my best work out there.  I don’t want to put my name on something that isn’t perfect.

And therein lies another problem.  It will never be perfect.  Even books I LOVE have moments of terrible writing (Jane Austen being the obvious exception).  So do I take the chance now that someone will see the brilliance in my work (not that my work is brilliant by any means, but I think you know what I’m going for) and overlook the horridness?  Or do I spend another year or so editing and perfecting, making it better?  I feel like life is too short for that.  I need more time though!  I started a round of edits on Twenty-Five, but I think I only got through chapter 6 or so.  I’ve been so exhausted in the evenings and busy on the weekends, I haven’t gone back to it.

Okay, seriously Rach.  Enough whining.  Just do it!

It’s the only way you’ll ever get anywhere- you can’t move forward by standing still.

So I guess I’ll be getting off my ass now.

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And a little thing that makes me happy: Getting comments from People who read my blog! (HINT HINT!)

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Quick Update on the Trifecta of Milestones approaching:

This is my 92nd post.

I’ve had 4,895 views to date.

And there are 6 weeks and 4 days left until my One Year Blogiversary!

Short Attention Span

It’s funny, I’ve spent the past couple of days wishing I had time to write a blog post, and yet when I just opened up the “Add New Post” page and set my fingers on the keyboard, my mind went completely blank.  I had nothing to say.  So that’s why you are getting this little rambling to kick things off.

Let’s see, what’s been going on?

Well, I just spent the last couple of days in Marilla, New York with my dad’s parents (so for those of you who commented on my last post, I’m so sorry I haven’t responded yet, I’m going to right after I finish this post).  For those of you who don’t know western New York, Marilla is close to East Aurora which is close to Buffalo.  Marilla is such a small town that my grandparents mailing address is East Aurora.  But anyways.  Being with family you only see once every couple of years or so (if that) is always awkward, but it’s nice too.  Like seeing my dad get hammered with his brother and sisters around makes me realize how all his children got to be the smart asses they are today.

Of course, there’s always the inevitable “we’re interested in your life” conversations which lead to things like my uncle checking my hands to see if there are any engagement rings there (for the record, there aren’t) or being told by my seventeen year old cousin that I need to get married soon so he could come down and visit us again (he and his family came for my younger sister’s wedding last year and we had a blast) or being told by my grandmother that there’s always the internet to find someone or being asked by my aunt if I even have a boyfriend.  At least my grandfather told me I looked slimmer than the last time he saw me (though I’m probably not).

I did get some time on the plane ride to Buffalo to type up a few random chapters of The Death Effect that have been waiting in my notebook for a week or two.  My current word count is 37,163!  I’m about 1/2 way there.  I can’t believe how long it is taking me to write this book, but I should remember that writing Twenty-Five in a month was a real fluke, and I shouldn’t expect that from every book I attempt to write.  It got me thinking about how much I’ve written on some of my other ideas, probably not much!  So, of course, I looked.  Here it is:

Thirty-Four: 35,988

30 Dates in 30 Days: 2,598

Anita’s Dream Diary: 21,525

Aribelle: 5,328

David and Adrian: 14,551

Love or Friendship: 4,133

The First Mermaid: 1,870

Apparently the long novel is not something I’m very good at, the longest one on this list is the “sequel” to Twenty-Five!  Or at least, I don’t have the attention span for it.  My friend Ang once asked if I’d ever thought of doing a collection of short stories.  She may be on to something, since it seems I think in 5,000 words or less most of the time.  I’d love some suggestions of what to write about- what would you guys enjoy reading?

And a little thing that makes me happy: A pen that writes really really really well.