September 1, 2014

JO is OUT TODAY!!!

She's alive! She's alive! She's....okay, well, she's mostly dead throughout most of the book, but my JO releases TODAY! As in, you can order my brand-new, modern-day retelling of the classic Frankenstein-style story RIGHT NOW! 

So my only question is....WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Oh. Links. Right. I can help with that.




I'll update this post as I figure out all the other links today (it can take a while to appear in some of the other ebook distribution spots), but those are the three main ones for now!

If you've been waiting to find out why JO is almost dead, today's the day! Go check it out! There's a sample available at all three vendors, so you can see what you're getting yourself into. If you read the sample, I hope you love it enough to buy it. If you buy it, I hope you remember to leave a review, because reviews are the nicest things you can do for any author. 

And for now, I'll leave you with this - one of my favorite excerpts from JO!

****

“It’s okay, Luce. It’s just the girls.” I looked around me, and even in the darkness I could see their unsteady shapes, rising from their tables. My eyes were adjusting rapidly to the lack of light, and I found if I squinted, I could see pretty well. “Girls, it’s okay. Lucy, it’s okay. Everyone, we’re going to be okay.” I remembered how scared I’d been when I’d awoken. “I’m here. I’m Jo. I’m just like you, and I can help you.”
From around me came the rustling and banging of stiff, uncoordinated bodies sitting up and sliding off tables. There were crashes as some rolled and fell to the floor. Just like I had. And still I stood, motionless, speaking, watching. “I’m here to help. You’re going to be fine.” I spoke with a confidence I didn’t know I possessed.
I felt a hand on my arm. A girl stood beside me, unsteady and unsure. She was one of the blondes, and even in the pallor of her partial death, even in the darkness, she was beautiful. Her skin was supple, where mine was taut and gray. She reached with her other hand and held my arm in both of hers.
“Lucy,” I whispered. “Luce, come over here.”
“I can’t,” she whispered loudly. “I think I’m stuck. I can’t see you. Where are you?” She’d moved further down the wall, toward a corner, clearly not feeling the kinship that I felt with the girls. There were five of them between us.
I covered the hands on my arm with my own, and squeezed. “I know you’re scared,” I said to the girl attached to the hands. “But I’m here. It’s okay.”
Around us, the girls stumbled as they walked. They seemed to be targeting Lucy and me, which made sense. They were scared. They needed comfort. Then one let out a moan, and I smiled, remembering my own experiences in re-learning speech.
“It’s okay,” I said to her. “Go ahead and moan if you need to. You’ll figure out how to make words again in a minute. Keep practicing.”
Around me, other girls took up the moaning. The sounds were guttural, primitive, and I wondered: Did I sound that bad?
“Jo?” Lucy’s voice cut through the moans, though it was meek, shaking. She was terrified.
“Calm down, Lucy. We’re going to help these girls, aren’t we?” I squeezed the hands on my arm again, patting them as comfortingly as I could.
The hands on my arm began to squeeze. The blonde girl attached to them began to moan, quietly at first, and then louder, her voice blending with those already filling the room. She squeezed harder.
With horror, but without pain, I felt the fingers penetrate the flesh on my arm, reaching through until they hit bone. I felt the brittle bone break.
“Stop,” I said. “Don’t do that!” I tried to pry her hands from my arm. I couldn’t. The girl moaned again.
It sounded different, though, than I remembered my own voice sounding when I first tried to speak. These moans were more animal, less human. Feral. Vicious.

And suddenly, I was terrified.



August 26, 2014

JO! Ebook Available for Pre-Order!

Hey friends! Guess what! The ebook version of JO is available for pre-order NOW!!!! Check it out!

Links will be below, but first, a quick note:

JO will be available as a paperback, too. It will be $13.95. Right now, the ebook is $2.99. BUT if you order the paperback for JO, it's enrolled in Amazon's Match Book Program, meaning you'll get an e-copy for FREE with every paperback! So it's like saving $3.00.

SO! If you want to get the paperback, don't pre-order the ebook (much as I'd love to have tons of ebook pre-orders). Wait and get the paperback via Amazon and get the ebook free!

SO!

Links!!!

Here's JO at Amazon!

Here's JO at Smashwords

(Smashwords is a distributor and bookseller in its own right. You can get all kinds of e-formats there.)

One more quick note:

Pre-orders help with Amazon rankings and such. If you do plan on purchasing the ebook only, please consider pre-ordering! I'd love it if you would!

Also! There's a Goodreads giveaway for two free copies of the JO paperback! You should enter! I'd love it if you won!

So that's all I have. Forgive me! I'm a little over-excited!

August 22, 2014

#ALSIceBucketChallenge COMPLETE

ALS sucks. I never really knew how much until last year, when I saw a play (33 Variations at Threshold Theatre here in Charleston) that depicted a brilliant woman's struggle with - and ultimately loss to - the insidiousness of this disease.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has been going on a few weeks now and I was consistently resisting dumping ice water on my head because really - in this day and age, and in times of civil and international chaos, what could be more stupid than dumping ice water on my head?

So we gave to an ALS charity after Charles and I were nominated for the challenge, but I had no intention of actually getting wet.

Then I saw this video, created by 26-year-old man who will ultimately die of ALS without drastic changes in ALS research and treatments. It broke my heart because, as I watched him care for his mother - dying from the disease - I wondered who will take care of him when his disease advances? Who will fill his feeding tube and change his oxygen tank? He could die alone, all because we haven't found a cure...

Yet.

Still...why get wet, right?

Well, in the video, this young man mentioned that every time he sees another Ice Bucket Challenge video, it lifts his spirits. It gives him hope. It lets him know we care.

And then I noticed a friend of mine whose father died several years ago from ALS. She's sharing all the videos made by her friends and family. Her brother's been diagnosed with ALS, too. She needs all the support she can get.

We gave, sure. But what was I doing to help lift my friend's spirits?

So.

I got wet.

And since Zoe wanted in on the "fun," too...so did she. And yes, I took the opportunity to explain what ALS is, what it does, and why we need to fight for the cure.

So.

Here is me, getting wet in the #ALSIceBucketChallenge.
(Don't mind Zoe's fingers in the frame. What can I say? She's an amateur filmmaker!)



And here is Zoe, getting wet in the #ALSIceBucketChallenge.



If, by adding our voices to the fight, we have helped anyone at all, then we've done our part. I hope we have.

August 20, 2014

JO: An Early Review!!!!

Well, you guys, here's the thing. Sending out a book for review is the most nerve-wracking thing a writer can do. You see, once someone agrees to review your book, it's out of your hands. The reviewer may love it; they may hate it. You may get a five-star Amazon review; you may get a one-star BLAST. You just never know.

That's why, when this early review of JO went up late last week, I almost cried with relief. It says things like this: 


"This fast paced book had me gripped - and I mean completely hooked - and I simply had to keep reading till dawn."


and this:


"Jo was a brilliantly written, compelling read."


and this:


"It's a unique read, and something I've not read before: a refreshing change and a great addition to my horror library." 


I really couldn't have dreamed of a review like this. 

So....thanks so much to Carole at Gadget Girl Reviews, and do check out her blog when you have a minute. It's a fun mix of geeky gadgets and books; I think most of y'all will love it.

And JO!! She's out in less than two weeks if you can believe that!!! I can't wait for the rest of you to see what she has in store!



August 19, 2014

Oh, Mexico....

Some of you may have noticed I was quieter than usual last week. Some of you may have been relieved that I was quieter than usual last week. Regardless, I was quiet. It's true. I left on a jet plane with Charles and Zoe and my dad and headed to the Great Internet Black Hole known as Cozumel. It's a little island off the coast of Mexico, and it was to be the location of my brother's wedding.

So yeah. It was a fun week. We left on a Wednesday, with three flights on United Air staring us in the face. Honestly, I didn't expect to make it to Mexico at all, let alone on time and with both of our checked bags in tow. Amazingly enough, though, all the stars aligned and we landed in the tiny little Cozumel airport exactly when we were supposed to. It was unreal.

We had to turn off all cellular service to our phones in order to avoid Mega Roaming Charges, and at Charles's request I'd left my computer at home (it was VACATION DARNIT, or so he pointed out a half-dozen times before we left), so we'd be relying on our hotel's wifi in order to stay connected to the world.

Which would have been fine...except apparently the hotel's router was being powered by a cucaracha on a hamster wheel, and we each only had service in a little 5x5 square in the lobby. Weird thing, though? Some of us had internet by one door; my father had internet on a particular couch. These little sweet spots of internet were often heavily populated by People With Phones, and I maybe got to check email once a day. I rarely responded. Sorry to anyone I ignored.

But it was VACATION DARNIT.

And speaking of sweet spots...here's a funny thing about our hotel room: the shower had separate hot and cold knobs. They spun in both directions. In order to turn on the shower, you had to wiggle the knob back and forth, hoping to find the sweet spot of Water Being On for both hot AND cold. This wasn't the real problem, though. The REAL problem was doing it in reverse, and finding the sweet spot to turn OFF the shower. No lie: one morning I spent about 5 minutes trying to turn off the shower. 

But, you know, it wasn't all bad. Most of it was pretty fantastic, in fact. There was a little cove of ocean in which we could snorkel, and though Zoe turned out to be surprisingly afraid of big fish, we all had a great time feeding the smaller ones with bits of stale bread. Zoe and my new step-niece (that sounds funny...in the future she can just be my niece) hit it off despite a 4 year age difference (Zoe's six, my new niece is 10), and they spent much of the week together in the pools. They also shared a love of chess (who knew??) and played with the life-size chess board almost daily. In short, they wore each other out, and by dinnertime we usually had two very tired girls on our hands.

I also got to spend time with my nephew and original niece, which was great. Except for that time my niece stepped on a bee...for the SECOND TIME IN FOUR DAYS! And I had to get the stinger out because OHMIGOSH THE PEOPLE AT THE FIRST AID STATION WERE GONNA USE TWEEZERS AND SQUEEZE ALL THAT BEE-VENOM BACK INTO HER FOOT and so that wasn't so great.

The food was less than stellar - it's the first time I've ever seen my Southern husband (think: manners) spit out food into his napkin at a dinner table. But that's what mealy shrimp will do to you.

But again! Fun! It was VACATION DARNIT!

We drove in a Jeep that had no seat belts, nor any other safety feature. I drank coconut water directly from a coconut (YUM!) and ate a mango sprinkled with paprika and shoved onto a stick so it looked like a popsicle (DOUBLE YUM!!!). We walked around town and were heckled by all the hawkers (Tip: don't wear a Batman t-shirt in a Mexican tourist spot as all the shop workers will call you Batman to try to entice you into their shops. My brother learned this the hard way.). We had a late night marine biology lesson, learning about sea cucarachas, urchins, starfish, and hermit crabs. We laughed a lot. We drank even more. I did a tequila shot on the last day, and it made me make ugly faces, but whatever, it was VACATION DARNIT!

And, most importantly, we had family time. I got to see both my brothers at the same time, got to spend a lot of time with my brand-new sister-in-law, and Zoe got to be a co-flower-girl-ring-bearer in the wedding. I did the hair of the bridal party (minus the bride, who had her hair done by a woman who put more mousse in it than I ever considered possible - no worries, though, the bride looked AMAZING), and the wedding itself was perfect. See? Even Charles's iPhone agrees.


It was an amazing time but I was glad to get home on Sunday night. Zoe started school yesterday and is off and running in the First Grade (GAH!!!) And so, for now, I'll leave you with these, my official impressions of Mexico:
  • Gorgeous beaches and water; 
  • No internet;
  • Great location for kids and weddings; and, most importantly
  • Don't eat the shrimp

August 12, 2014

Thank you, Robin Williams

Dear Mr. Williams.

No. That's not right. I don't imagine you'd ever want to be called Mr. Williams. 

Dear Robin doesn't sound right, either. Could you just be Robin? A sidekick to someone else's Batman?

No. That's not it.

Dear Mork? That's getting closer. Ork calling Mork is probably even better.

Dear Genie and Peter Pan and Mr. Keating and Adrian Cronauer and Mrs. Doubtfire and oh my God there are way too many characters to even attempt to name a fraction of them all...

No. It's not quite right. Let's go with...

Hey you. Yeah, you. The ubiquitous face from my childhood. The face who made me laugh when I wanted to cry, to cry when I wanted to laugh.

Yeah. You.

Thank you.

Thank you for bringing joy and laughter into so many of our households for so many years. Thank you for the movies that made me laugh. Thank you for Aladdin, which I used to watch while laying on my brother's water bed (Yes. Waterbed.). I can still sing all the songs.

Thank you for Good Morning Vietnam. It came out when I was very young (eight, in fact) and I remember watching it with my father and laughing, though half the time I didn't get the jokes. I get them now. You made a distant topic (the Vietnam War) feel close and immediate and important. Later, when I found myself very sick with Lyme's Disease, it reminded me that, as much as it sucked to be sick, at least I was home and safe and warm and dry. 

Thank you for Hook. Oh my God, thank you for Hook. I watched it over and over as a child, and when I recently introduced it to my daughter, Zoe, I half-expected to hate it, that it wouldn't live up to my memories. But the magic of that movie was unchanged for me, and when Zoe asked to watch it again the following morning I was thrilled to turn it back on. To see a grown man be so fresh and playful and fun is to see something magic. 

Thank you for Mork and Mindy. Thank you for that, the show that made me giggle when I was so small I can hardly remember. Thank you for being funny and bright.

Thank you for Dead Poets Society, which came out two days after my 10th birthday. You taught me to love words, to love life, and you taught me to YAWP. You taught me that teachers care (an important lesson for a 10-year-old already bored with school), and that students sometimes teach. 

And listen: I know you didn't write these movies. I know you didn't create them. But you created the characters from your own flesh and blood. From your own heart. You made them feel so real, like I knew them, and you often made me fall in love.

Hey you. Yeah, you. You with the rubber face and the kind blue eyes. I'm so grateful for all you gave our world.

It seems like every time there's a celebrity death, the reaction is greatly divided. Some people take to social media to be sad; others to complain that we, the ones who didn't know you, have no right to be sad; others to spout angry vitriol at the newly dead. But you. Yeah, you. I want you to know that last night on all the social media I follow, I saw only sadness. Profound sadness. And regret that we'd never get to see you again. And regret that, for all the laughter you shared, it seems we couldn't give enough back to you in the end.

And to those who say we, the little people, can't mourn, I say this: our relationships with the faces that populated our childhood (faces like yours, you see) are simple and elegant, with none of the complexities indigenous to real-life relationships. We saw only the good in you, and we loved you for all that good. I mourn the loss of someone I loved from afar.

Also, to those curmudgeons, I'll add this: if the funniest man in a generation could succumb to depression, couldn't any of us? Don't we all know someone battling depression on some level? Wake up, people. Depression is a thing and it's real and it's far more dangerous than we like to admit. If you love someone who's fighting it, help them. If you're fighting it yourself, don't fight alone. Please.

But this isn't about that. This is about you, sir. Mr. Williams. Robin. The man who made us all so happy.

Thank you for that. Thank you for the laughs, the tears, the memories. Thank you for all you gave this world.

To die is an awfully big adventure, it's true. But to have lived, and to have brought so much joy onto this planet....that was an awfully big adventure, too. I thank you for letting us be a part of it.

August 10, 2014

Kid stuff

Growing up, I never wanted kids. Like, at all. 

The weird thing is, I always loved kids! Summers spent at the pool always found my best friend and me taking care of her little brother and sisters and the various other smaller children found in the shallow end. We loved it.

But I never wanted my own.

I always babysat. There were families for whom I babysat that I still love today, families who weren't related to me but by now feel like they are. It was a great gig for me, the girl who loved kids. I got to play with kids, play with their toys, and I got paid to do it.

Seriously. It was the best job ever.

But I was always happy to give the children back at the end of the day. Always. No matter how much I loved them, I was always happy to go home and not have to play with kids, to not have to cook for them and clean up after them. I always appreciated the amount of work kids entail, and I always appreciated my down time.

Until college.

That's when I met a particular family, with a particularly sweet little boy who stole my heart (and let's be honest...even though he's old and in high school now, there's still a part of my heart that's forever his). 

I remember going to his house, and he was always so happy to see me! His mom would leave and we'd play with Play Doh, we'd crash his cars, we'd run around and do cartwheels outside, and I'd think, "Man, this kid really loves me, and I really love him. This is so cool!"

But then came the inevitable moment: his mom (who I loved just as much - dad, too - they were just that kind of a family) would come home, and something would change in the little boy's face, in his entire being. While we played he'd be having fun, but as soon as his mom came home, something shifted. Something relaxed. It was as if the show he'd be putting on for me could finally end because, oh, thank goodness, Mom was home. Hooray for Mom! Mom makes everything...not better, no, because things were already pretty good when it was just the two of us playing...but...for that little boy, Mom was home. She made home for him.

I remember, in those moments, knowing nothing could ever be better than to be a mom and to have a sweet little kid love you so much. And to love a sweet little kid so much.

Those were the first moments I ever even considered having a kid of my own.

****

Flash forward more years than I'm going to admit (I'm still 29, right?!?!?). I've got a kid of my own, and I love her more than I ever imagined possible...because that's what happens, right? And we've spent the WHOLE summer side-by-side, rarely being out of each other's sight for more than an hour or two. So we're pretty tight...and I'm pretty exhausted and ready for some time to myself again. 

Last night Zoe was having a sleepover with her NaNa so Charles and I could finally go see Guardians of the Galaxy (and also because Zoe LOVES sleepovers with her NaNa, and NaNa LOVES sleepovers with her Zoe). All was going great. She's had a bazillion sleepovers there, and we've never had a problem.

Until last night.

As the movie was nearing the closing credits, my phone rang. It was NaNa. I suddenly became that obnoxious girl, answering my phone in the crowded movie theater, stage-whispering until I reached the hallway. 

It seemed Zoe had something in her eye at bedtime, and now she couldn't sleep.

She got on the phone and immediately started crying. And not just any crying. It was that desperate, choking, hiccuping kind of crying. The kind that breaks your heart.

It only took a second before I agreed to come get her. 

So off we drove, 35 minutes across a flooded downtown, to the other side of Charleston to get her. And as soon as we walked into the room where she lay, sleepy and sniffly and blanketed on the couch, I saw it.

She relaxed. She sighed. She was suddenly confident that everything was right in the world because Mom - ME - and Dad - CHARLES - were there!

Don't get me wrong. Things with NaNa were good. They were great, in fact. So great Zoe somehow conned NaNa and our aunt into contributing $40 to Zoe's American Girl Doll fund.

But when Charles and I walked in....just like when my friend would come home when I was babysitting her little boy....things were suddenly right again.

So yeah. That was nice. This whole parenting thing is....

Excuse me.

*YAWN*

Can someone please pass the coffee? I was up a bit late last night.