Oh my, &*(^&^@#%^!!! It’s SNOWING again.
I bought little cute sandals, capris, and tee-shirts. I got my toes painted a sunny orange-creamsicle. There’s a tube of sunscreen in my day bag and even a fold up hat. The calendar says spring—winter should be over.
But now it’s snowing big, fluffy, Christmas card flakes that are rapidly piling up outside my window. I haven’t seen more than a hint of sun in a week. Writing at my desk in shorts with the space heater on isn’t cutting it. I think the real reason so many writers commit suicide is because they can’t all live at the beach. People think the world will end in a fiery ball, but I know the truth. It will end in ice, in frozen wasteland, in snow.
Snow. Worst four-letter word ever.
Set in the same world as Beatrysel, Johnny Worthen’s novelette Dr. Stuart’s Heart delves into the world of lost love, longing, and an academic approach to modern magick. Dr. Stuart is a history professor and hopeful necromancer who believes a talented graduate student’s research project may bring him his heart’s desire. It’s a quick read that will satisfy Beatrysel fans and introduce new readers to the deep, dark, occult worlds Johnny creates. Call it literary horror or a love story with a twist, it’s a great momentary escape with an icy Diet Coke and a bag of chips.
Dr. Stuart’s Heart is available through Amazon.
From the popularity of movies like Fatal Attraction to the TLC reality series My Strange Addiction, it’s no surprise that we’re fascinated by the extreme forms love, hate, desire, fear, and need take. Little Visible Delight is an anthology of darkly twisted obsession tales written by eleven talented novelists from the Omnium Gatherum Media stable.
Like most anthologies, the stories are varied in tone, pacing, and style. A couple of them stand out for their literary echos: A Thousand Stitches by Kate Jonez and The Point by Johnny Worthen. I particularly enjoyed these two for the thought-provoking themes that stayed with me long after I’d read them.
The one that still keeps me up all night is JP by Brent Michael Kelly. You’ll never look at people who carry little dogs everywhere the same way again.
The most difficult for me to relate to was An Unattributed Lyric, In Blood, On a Bathroom Wall by Ennis Drake. The story form is on the experimental side, and it explores the futility of trying to capture the human experience in literature. Perhaps it hits a little too close to home.
A special bonus and one of my favorite things about this analogy are the authors’ notes at end of each story that explain their inspiration and how particular themes continually reoccur—obsess them, really—as writers.
Perfect for late night reading, Little Visible Delight is sure to take the reader on paths seldom traveled. Flashlight under the covers recommended.
Oh, hell’s bells. I have to buy new swimwear.
When I was a kid, this meant going with Mom to Sears or JC Penney and trying on a new bikini. No big deal. Bonus if we stopped for guri-guri on the way home. In Hawaii in the 1970s, we all wore bikinis because kids didn’t grow out of them as fast as one-piece suits, and compared to the nudist colony living up the beach from us in Kihei, my sister and I looked like Amish kids. Besides, wearing bikini bottoms under dresses allowed me to yell, “Face!” to boys who chanted, “I saw London, I saw France, I saw Lehua’s underpants!” when I climbed a mango tree or swung on the monkey bars at school.
Back in the day popping a young boy’s bubble with I’m wearing a bikini! Face! was the ultimate burn. Things were simpler.
In the 1980s, I started wearing sleek one piece suits, caring more that the shoulder straps stayed in place while boogie boarding than how high the leg openings were. Remember the French-cut suits that went as high as your hip? I had legs fo’days. Looking at old photos, my ultra-conservative daughter can’t believe her grandmother let me leave the house, let alone walk on public beaches. Wop her jaws when I told her Nana bought them for me.
In the 1990s, I started wearing saggy t-shirts with the sleeves cut off over conservative one piece suits while scuba diving. Around 2000, I switched to baggy shorts and tankinis under big shirts and started playing lifeguard more than swimming myself.
It was inevitable given my new body shape (the non-gym, non-volleyball playing, post-Mom with too many cookies version) that I’d have to fight a battle between what looked good poolside and what was practical to swim in. In the water, skirts and tankinis ride up and most shorts puff out, holding more water than a sponge. Swimsuits that allow you to swim also show every lump, bulge, and chocolate brownie you ever ate. It got to the point where vanity trumped swimming. I put on flirty swim dresses with burka-like cover-ups and stayed out of the water.
It was mainly kiddie pools anyway.
But after losing 40 lbs., all my old swimwear is too big. The family is planning a week-long seashore adventure and I don’t have a thing to wear. I want to swim in the ocean again—no more froofy poolside suits for me. But dang! While the lumps and bumps are smaller, there’s no way I can wear a normal swimsuit in public and not scar little children for life.
Right now, I’m planning on high-rise bike-style shorts under a dresskini top from Lands End–assuming it ships here in time. Plan B is a longer tankini top from Junonia. Plan C is a swim bra under a rash guard. All are a far cry from the sexy French-cuts I used to wear, but at least I’m back in the water.
PS: Of course, none of these photos are of me. Photos of me in swimwear? Are you crazy?
If a writer gets an idea, she’ll need an icy Diet Coke before she can sit down and write. When she goes to get a can from the fridge, she’ll notice the salad dressing next to it is expired.
If she notices the date is two months past, she’ll wonder what else is old.
If she opens the produce drawers, she’ll see wilted lettuce, wizened carrots, and squishy avocados. Looking harder, she’ll notice past its prime sour cream, yogurt, and a lack of milk and orange juice. Digging deeper, she’ll find suspicious things in containers that may or may not be alive. Disgusted, she’ll drag the trash can over and start dumping.
After filling two trash bags, she will realize that the shelves are cruddy.
If she thinks the shelves are cruddy, she will empty out the entire fridge to clean it. When she goes to get a dish rag, she will discover the towel drawer is empty. Running upstairs into the laundry room will send her into a major freak out over what her daughter has (hasn’t) done with the towels. She will fling open doors to kids’ bedrooms and bathrooms and freak out more.
Going back downstairs she will open the pantry for paper towels and hyperventilate when she sees spilled cocoa and sugar all over the floor. Calming down, she will sweep, scrub the fridge, take out the trash, and discover that Mother Hubbard’s cupboards are bare.
Hopping into the car, she’ll realize that a run to the grocery store isn’t going to cut it, so it’s down the canyon to Costco. While sixty miles from home, she’ll think of more errands to run and will stop in a luxury department store to buy make-up on sale and get distracted by all the new handbags.
Until she checks the price, it will take all her will-power to leave her favorite bag there.
Six hours later, she’ll return home, restock the fridge, and tell everybody to clean their rooms and make their own dinner from Costco roast chicken, Caesar salad mix, and sour dough bread.
Finally, she will sit down to write the awesome what comes next, stare blankly at the computer screen, research the best online price for the handbag, and write a blog post instead.
The calendar says first day of Spring, but the snow flurries are flying. In defiance I’m wearing my new summer capris and a t-shirt, but in the space heater under my desk is on. The sun peeks through bare branches to shine hazily through my office window. I know in a couple of months I’ll be longing for frozen ice pops and air conditioning, but right now a little heat sounds good.
Until then I’ll shiver in my slippahs and try to soak up the weak winter rays that trickle through the slatted blinds. Staring at the computer screen, I’ll dream of the taste of saltwater in the back of my throat, the tightness of too much sun across my shoulders, and the sand-kiss hiss of shore-break as it marks the changing tides.
Maybe tomorrow the trees will bud and the snow will melt.
On Feb. 28, 2014 authors Christine Haggerty, Angela Hartley, and I held two creative writing workshops at Uintah High School in Vernal, UT. I talked about being an author and building craft skills and Angela gave a presentation about the power of synesthesia in writing. Synesthesia mixes the experiences of senses in powerful ways like tasting green or hearing chocolate. Angela then showed the students this image and asked them to write about it. Below are a few excerpts. For more examples, please see Christine or Angela‘s blog.
The fog descended through the trees tasting like soapy water. ~ Nichole
It was early morning and Samantha was already out running through the woods. ~Jeff
I bit my lips. They tasted sweet like the blossoms of the bush next to the road. ~Brianne
The sounds of a car and dogs behind him. Chester ran faster. He could almost feel the yelling coming from the ranch director. He was not going back to that place. ~Dalton
It had been weeks since Kasanalea had seen another person. ~Aspynn
Just as she began to feel the suffocating effects of the fog closing in, salvation came. ~ Jesse
As the sun finally began to rise, Kim breathed a sigh of relief. ~ Harmony
“I thought you said we would be safe here,” she accused. ~ Stacia
I was standing in the fog. Dark. Cold. I couldn’t see anything, but I could hear something. I shouldn’t be out this late. ~ Trestyn
Out of breath, my muscles aching. I sucked in the crisp morning air as I ran faster into the light. ~ Jaeley
Leaves scattered out of the way as we sped down the pavement. ~ Paige
On Thursday, February 27, 2014 authors Angela Hartley, Christine Haggerty, and I held two drama workshops at Union High School in Roosevelt, UT. I gave a short presentation about how writing is really for the dogs and then we workshopped five original scenes. The students’ performances were amazing. For more about our adventures, check out Christine and Angela’s blogs.
I don’t believe in writer’s block, even though I’ve been stalled out on book three in the Niuhi Shark Saga for several months now. It’s not that I can’t write—I’ve continued to write and even publish other works—it’s that I haven’t wanted to work on the series.
It’s not block, it’s apathy.
Part of the apathy comes from the publisher wanting to wrap it up as a trilogy instead of a five book series—oh, but Lehua, we’d like you to keep the third book’s ending open enough that if sales warrant it, there’s the option to write books four and five. In the meantime, we’d like to see something else. I could go on ad nauseam about the challenges of working with an understaffed, underfunded new publishing house, but if you’re a writer, you’ve heard it all before.
So five into three. Really three into one, since the first two are already published. No matter how you do the math, it doesn’t fit.
I thought about simply writing book three the way I originally envisioned it and then self-publishing four and five—heck, I’d give them away to anyone who asked.
But a series with three nice books sitting on a shelf and two only available on the nearest eReader didn’t feel right. I didn’t know what would. Some days I even convinced myself that I didn’t care, the same way people convince themselves that a large Diet Coke cancels out the buttered popcorn and peanut M&Ms they consume at a movie.
For the past year, every time I sit down to write I have to do it around the three-ton shark sitting on my keyboard. Go back to starring in Shark Week shows, I’d think. Aren’t there some white-bellied tourists from Wisconsin you can haunt? Unlike bigger budgeted publishing houses, in my experience, small presses don’t bug you much about deadlines, particularly when they’re busy trying to hook bigger fish.
It was therefore easy, sorta, to ignore Jaws Junior and the tsunami wave of story hovering over my head. Easy, that is, until book two started percolating through the kid-lit jungle net and kids started sending me email.
Aunty Lehua!!!!! I can’t believe you ended it that way!!!!!! What happens next?!!!!!!!
Middle grade readers love exclamation points.
They also send major guilt-trip vibes.
Working as a content editor with other authors made me realize my real problem wasn’t finding a way to tie up all the loose ends. It was reconciling what made sense in a third book based on the first two. In my head I had too much story. But if Zader chooses to do something else…
Suddenly, a completely new and different shape for a third book began to emerge. I bounced ideas off published authors who had read One Boy, No Water and One Shark, No Swim, but had no preconceived ideas of where the story was heading. I then went to my ace in the hole—a few middle grade readers–and asked what they’d like to see in the last book. While radically different from my original ideas, the new book three made sense.
With a clearer vision in mind, I finally feel ready to write the last book of Zader’s Niuhi shark saga. The series will end, questions will be answered, and Zader’s journey will be worth it—both for him and the reader.
Cue the theme from Jaws.
Rounding out the week of cover reveals is Daddy Doin’ Work by Doyin Richards. Doyin started a parenting blog a couple of years ago and has a large social media following. Known for his down-to-earth, if you’re taking care of your own kids, it’s called parenting, not babysitting, approach to fatherhood, this book is sure to entertain, enlighten, and bring out the inner-dad in all fathers. From the back of the book:
Doyin Richards’s Daddy Doin’ Work: Empowering Mothers to Evolve Fatherhood answers questions about fatherhood that many women want to know, and does so in a no-nonsense and entertaining style that ladies will enjoy. Similar to how Steve Harvey’s best-selling title Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man empowers women to make smart relationship decisions by entering the minds of men, Daddy Doin’ Work empowers new mothers to enter the minds of new dads to change the perception of what should be expected from a modern father.
Readers will be exposed to the manipulative secrets of deadbeat dads, moms will learn practical tips to help hard-working dads understand that being a father encompasses more than paying the bills, and women in
relationships with amazing dads will learn methods to ensure their men stay on-track while inspiring more fathers to be just like them. Most importantly, women will be forced to take a long look in the mirror to
determine if they are part of the solution or part of the problem in shaping the behavior of modern fathers.