Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hi, my name is Lisa; it's been three months since my last blog...

So much has gone on in my life over the last three months, mostly stressful, but I decided to start blogging again after a hiatus. This is a more personal one and cathartic in nature. Recently, I decided to finally sit down and write a review about a child care facility I enrolled my son in. Only when I went online to do so, I had to cut it down. Here is the gritty original that I think highlights the problem some parents face when your child isn't "normal," yet there's nothing really wrong with him. Yep, he's hyper and weird like his mom.

"A Step Ahead: more like one behind"

They completely ruined the first school experience for the child and parents. In short, if your kid follows rules, listens intently, is a child care veteran, or is a perfect angel, then this probably is a fantastic school. If your kid is high energy, has never been in child care, wants to be where the toys are, or is immature, STAY AWAY!

These are pros and cons in comparison to four other preschools I toured:
  • Pros—academic focus, clean facility, mature kids
  • Cons (for us at least)—no bathroom in classroom, a fully potty trained 3 year-old means no assistance at all and expected to go down to hallway bathroom, no teacher aide or floater to assist teachers (director steps in when needed, but didn’t sound happy about it in our situation), separate cafeteria, use Styrofoam, combine classes for eating and napping, uneven gender ratio (3-4 year olds at least—all girls, 1 boy), child got what looked like flea bites on his ankles the two days he went (we have no pets, hasn’t happened since), rigid routines without flexibility or backup plans for noncompliant children, high expectations for age group, and unprofessional with “problem” children.

The last one warrants an explanation. My son was premature, so has a social lag, is hyperactive, is an only child, and had never been in child care before. They were forewarned about him three times where I even wondered if they could handle him, was reassured “we’ve never had a problem,” and I found out why the hard way. If they treat any challenging child, the way they did ours, then they dismiss him/her. Only instead of simply taking the high road and admitting they could not handle him, they told me he “may be autistic and needed screening,” and after I assured them he had been screened, “there’s definitely something going on there.” That was the first day, a week later after being treated for an ear infection (probably the reason for his antisocial behavior), he returned. They dismissed him halfway in the day for being “out of control,” where I had to scramble around to find someone to pick him up and arrange for child care the remainder of the week. This time, they told us “he is mentally disabled and needs to be tested through the school system” and he needed “go to a special needs school” or “needs one-on-one care.” I cannot tell you how much this broke my heart, blew up my anxiety level, and saddened my son. They single-handedly ruined our first school experience; I can’t even look at the pictures that I took that first day without feeling bad. The one below was chosen because it was the only one that wasn't blurry from his excitement.

Looking for the school bus (although I was driving him)

The problem I have is they are not qualified or certified to diagnose children and after he was tested and did not fit on the ASD scale, the director said she could give us the 8-week period the doctor said it would take to adjust, but dismissed him without giving him a chance. I waited to write this review until we were sure it was them and not our child. After numerous doctor visits and evaluations and tests: social lag, ADHD candidate (but he doesn’t “check all the boxes” as the doctor phrased it—only impulsiveness and hyperactivity).

In his new school, it took him about 4 days to adjust but he is thriving and the specialist is happy with his social improvement. He is on par or excelled in all developmental categories with only a lag in social. This school has more outside play time and they allow him fidget toys in circle time, and they recognized right away that even when he’s playing, he’s listening.

I could just say this was a bad fit because that happens a lot, but when I tell other parents about my experience they are floored and appalled by the director’s audacity to say such things. Most people, including myself, have never heard of children being dismissed so quickly and without any aggressive or hurtful behavior (they freely admitted he wasn’t hurting anyone). She most likely thought she was doing the right thing, but I’m not sure how you can tell anything about a child in such a short time span or have the confidence to try to overrule a doctor’s and a specialist’s opinion.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

8 Things to Never Say to Parents of One


Parents of an only child constantly get flack for not wanting or not being able to have more children. When someone talks to a new parent, the first question is when more offspring are coming like having an only child is a grievous sin. There seems to be a double standard—fecund is fabulous, barren is bad. What no one thinks about, however, is why or how the decision of one came to be and how someone feels when you ask him or her about it. Here are things you should never say to a parent of one.
  1. “When’s his little sister or brother coming?” Yeah, this phrasing is never a good idea because it sounds like you’re accusing a woman with a baby weight belly of being pregnant. After some awkward fumbling and setting right what is actually intended, the mother must now explain there are no more babies coming, ever. That response is usually never enough for nosey strangers who won’t let it go, which brings us to number two.
  2. “Why not?” When a parent of one tries to respond with the “one and done” joke, she probably is just trying to avoid a longwinded discussion or a subject that may be sensitive. When you press with a “why not?” you’re forcing the question further. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t like to share personal information about my body to others. Basically, there may be a real reason why they are only having one child. Some kids may be adopted and it may not be affordable to adopt another. Some parents had complications that almost killed them or may have striped a woman of her baby making ability. Some women may have had grueling attempts at battling infertility and finally were successful. The point is, you could be rehashing past turmoil for someone. For some, pregnancy and birth is not always a beautiful experience. Forcing someone to explain themselves is tantamount to asking someone about their nose job—offensive and really none of their business.
  3. “Wasn’t it worth it?”  Um, of course. You’ll never hear parents say they wish they hadn’t had a child; however, they may contemplate whether they would’ve done it if they knew exactly what would happen walking into it. Most would say they’d do it again in a heartbeat and good for them. Some parents of only children though hesitate, perhaps cringe, or change the subject. Sometimes childbirth is not all bells and whistles with a Hollywood ending where you hold your naked squawking baby against your chest, the planets align, and the universe is one again. Sometimes you have horrific complications that strip birth of its beauty, where the risk factor goes up into possibly fatalities, with lingering health issues for both parties. For some, we are told that this more likely will happen again than not. If that doesn’t want you to seal up the baby factory forever, then you are made of stronger stuff. Childbirth, despite modern science, is still a dangerous gamble. Some people choose not to have more, not to selfishly save their own lives but to spare others the pain they went through when you and the baby were held in limbo. I look at my family of three and feel the need to be there and alive for them weighs much more heavily than making us a four.
  4. "Your kid will be spoiled.” Spoiling a child has no relation to how many children are in the family. We’ve all seen families with one, two, three or more kids that are absolute spoiled rotten, where the parents meekly say “no” to deaf ears and the little spawns wreak havoc on all around them doing as they please, their demands being met at every turn, parents giving into every whim. We’ve also seen children who act like angels sitting quietly in their chairs listening to their parents, showing manners, empathy, and kindness to others. A healthy child’s behavior has direct correlation to the parents and parenting, not how many children the parents can produce. The only way to respond to this logical fallacy is with, “spoiled by love and attention, maybe.” That usually ends the conversation on a light note because you’re not disagreeing with them blatantly, but simultaneously saying you’re not going to buy your child the world just because there’s only one.
  5. "You’ll regret it.” These people think they have a crystal ball. They look into your future and see you as being unfulfilled because they can’t imagine life without the rest of their brood. But how can one regret what they don’t know? Parents of an only child will never know what we are missing, so in a sense, why would we regret it? What you could say to these people is, “I’ll get a fur baby.”
  6. “What if something happens to him?” Um, there’s no proper response to this one that would be polite. The days of an heir and a spare are gone. To ask this a person forces you to momentarily imagine life without your child, which is the most horrific idea you could ever contemplate. Someone actually asked me this and after my stunned expression wore of I sassily replied, “Oh, so if one of yours died, you’d be fine, because you have three, huh?” That will end the conversation quickly, but tread lightly because this person probably won’t ever talk to you again. Anyone who has lost a child would understand how ridiculous this question is. Love is not divisible among children and parents all know this.
  7. “He’ll be lonely.” This one is hard to tackle but honestly, having a second child just so the first has a playmate has more flawed logic than worrying about loneliness. There are play dates, classes, sports, and other extracurricular activities, and daycare/school. Thinking back into your own childhood, not all fond memories come from siblings, but also good books, loving parents, friends, sport competitions, classmates, pets, etc. There are so many things to do that I doubt any child HAS to feel lonely without a sibling.
  8. “You’re being selfish.” Yes, yes we are. If filling the overpopulated country with children is a selfless goal, then the “one and done” club is selfish. But we may have our reasons. Some of us want a successful career, to enjoy hobbies, to one day to travel the world. Some of us just want a moment to breathe now and then, a night out with the spouse without being so tired that we fall asleep before midnight. Some of us want to live within our means and the more children we would have, the less likely that would become.
The point is that how many children one has should not matter at all. We are all parents no matter if we have one or twenty kids. We are not all the same, but we should all support one another without judgment and stop asking questions that are a bit pertinent and unwelcomed. Perhaps reframing the question if you are so eager for a response would help: “Do you plan on having more or are you content with him?” “What brought you to making that decision?” One could not find offense with these questions. They show empathy and understanding towards everyone in any situation. There are no assumptions, judgments, or allegations; this is what selflessness is, not a number on what makes a “proper” family. There should be no shame in families of three or families of twelve, so stop shaming parents and instead strive to understand our differences. Parenting is fabulous no matter what.

Monday, June 29, 2015

5 Problems Writers Face...with a Couple Solutions



1. Writer's Block
The dreadful writer's block creeps upon even the best and most creative writers at some point in their careers. The blank screen just seems intimidating, the words feel forced like scraping paste out of your brain, or there's an obstacle that is even worse--lack of time. There are so many ways to overcome this and many blogs that discuss it. You need to do what works best for you, since everyone is different. Besides a lack of time to write, I've overcome every instance of writer's block easily. What I do is simply keep writing, something else of course. Be it a blog entry like this, a new short story or new premise to a novel, I write no matter how bad it is. I actually am always "working" on about 5-8 pieces. When I'm stumped somewhere, I move onto a different one. Rarely do I get through looking at all the projects and still am unable to write. Every blue moon when that occurs, I go into my own slush pile, comb through the ideas, snippets, and drivel I've written years ago (I've kept manuscripts written in high school). If there's nothing there that inspires me to write I read a book. It takes me out of my own plot for a couple days, and then I get back to work. Another great tip I've seen out there is to change your medium by handwriting if you're used to typing, or record your voice telling the story. I also bounce my ideas off friends and let them contribute. More than none the ideas don't end up in my draft but their ideas spark some of my own.

2. Perfectionist Tendencies
This is a hard one. Being a perfectionist is rough in writing because it never is perfect. You edit draft after draft, and revise it until the book is now rotted pulp on the bottom of floor of a paper factory. It feels that bad. Then after you get it professionally edited (huge internet debate where some claim a good writer needs no editor, but that's nonsense because no one is perfect), which I still do despite being an English professor, someone finds a missing comma and you want to throw yourself off a bridge. You simply have to learn to let go. It's tantamount to dropping your kid off at school for the first time. You've prepped him, prepared him, but you won't be there to ensure he is perfectly behaved or does well. You have to--in the words of Frozen's Elsa--"Let it go." I had someone criticize my blog because I  had a few typos (I posted and then proofread when able to back then), and this person said, "It's not worth doing unless you can do it perfectly." I lived that way for a long time, which is why I  never had a blog, never tried to get published, and never let anyone read my book. I would never get anywhere in life if I only acted upon things that would be perfect. I don't think anyone would because no one is perfect, especially in a subjective business such as writing where style and content are almost as equally valued as perfect grammar.

3. Bad Criticism or Reviews
The subjectivity of the industry leads to this one. Recently on Facebook I saw a link writers were up in arms about. An author verbally attacked a reader for giving a bad review. It was your average bad review, not even scathing, just the reader admitted that she did not like the novel and it was falsely described as similar to other novels in the genre. The man went insane on her as far as accusing her to stealing the food out of his mouth and ruining his career. All my writer friends could not believe the audacity of the author. Yes, we all take bad reviews and negative criticism badly. It's like someone criticizes your child as a failure because you've put so much sweat, tears, and energy into creating the novel. However, you must learn to handle it and turn it to constructive criticism. After I initially get over the negative feedback, like swallowing cough syrup, it fades. Then I go back and read it and see what I can glean out of it to improve myself or my writing. I really hate still when someone is not constructive--"I hated it. I don't now why, but I just did"--does not help anyone. Every review I leave, whether good or bad, I spell out what I thought could use improvement and what I thought worked well. There's no real advice on how to get over this hurdle but just know they happen and you should never verbally challenge them unless the reader is absolutely wrong. I saw this once where a reader proclaimed historical inaccuracies and the author sent the reader a very nice response with a link to educate the reader that in fact the author had it right. This peaceful exchange made the reader add another star to the review. Authors and readers are all people, so treat them that way. Even though they can't see each other's face, cyberbullying is ridiculous and childish.

4. Test Groups
This one is the largest challenge for me. It is always a good idea to have about ten readers to read your book and give it feedback if you've never been published. I have seen this advice on many publishers and agents websites, one even wanting a list and their written feedback. This is problematic. If the book does not yet have a copyright you want to give it to people you trust. I know a man who had his poetry stolen, put into a contest where the woman won, and had to sue and prove his copyright to get the prize, money, and the magazine even paid and interviewed him about the incident and how it is a problem today to post writing on the internet. Fearing this kind of situation, you give it to friends and family. However, these people will rarely give you negative feedback; in fact, I'm learning that although they are very interested in helping you by reading your story, they actually don't do it. They either don't make the time, or worse, they can't get into it or dislike it but don't have the heart to tell you. I sent my novel to ten people to read. Two read it and it's been six months. One was a glowing review, one had some constructive criticism but read the roughest draft I had. I am still trying to figure this one out.

5. Time Constraints
Whether it is a deadline, a full time job, childrearing, or a full social calendar, writers lack time to actually write. This is the largest problem I have and there's little advice out there about what to do except to make time. And I do. Some days it's twenty minutes of sketching out a plot or writing out an exposition scene that establishes a character; I do something--every single day. At times it is only jotting down what my daydreaming yielded on the way home from work or writing a scene in my head before bed, mentally saving it for later. No matter what, I find the time. Even right now my three year old son is looking over my shoulder telling which letters I'm pressing. To be a writer, you have to write, and ignore distractions, so you truly must make time. Sometimes my notes, plot outlines, character sketches, and random scenes don't get used until summer, where I don't work much. Then I have plenty of time to hang out with my child and to write.

No matter what, writers have obstacles. It s a hard, subjective business, that takes a lot of effort and work. Not everyone can do it. But there are ways to make things easier if it is simply letting go of notions of perfection or making the time to hone your craft. These all can be overcome with some conditioning and by making small changes in life.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Contest Season: "Skin" (A Subverted Fairy Tale Office Romance)

Meet the Hero...



Chapter 2

                Russell had been at Lordon PR and Marketing for seven years but rose up the ranks for doing an exceptional job. He was efficient, finished before deadlines, ideas came quickly to him, and he had a lot of free time. Being a reserved and kind man, he never really got to date much. A few girls in the past were bold enough to instigate a relationship with him, one being Sally whom he dated for three years. The relationship became companionable, so much so that when she suggested marriage he refused and they parted ways. There wasn’t even a fight. He never even missed her. He actually was quite happy to give her the apartment and moved into a much bigger one downtown.

                He worried from time to time about his lonely and dull life with its constant routines: coffee shop mornings, work, the gym, watching TV or reading a book, and Friday meeting up with friends. On the weekend he’d clean the apartment and take care of all the other miscellaneous things life needed to run smoothly. One Sunday every month, he visited family: golf, dinners, or a BBQ at his older brother Jim and his partner Larry’s house in the suburbs.

                His life was full, but there was no spark. His friend Brian made him meet up with girls every Friday, always scheduling double dates. Sometimes Russell slept with them, sometimes he didn’t, but rarely did he ever pursue them. He longed for something to happen to him. Brian lectured him that he had to drop the “adolescent apathetic act and grab life by the horns and make his own adventure,” but he just couldn’t figure out how or who to start the next chapter of his life with.

                Then one day, a bubbly, blond intern walked in the door. Goldie was beautiful so he knew his boss George, who thought with his cock all the time, would hire her. Russell liked to watch her, not in a creepy way but he found everything about her to be exciting. She was like a live wire, always full of energy. In meetings her foot would tap on the floor driving him to distraction; she would bite the end of her pen when she was thinking hard. She was outspoken always giving input, and she was intelligent, although for some reason she seemed to hide it. She made herself memorable and when they had a meeting to discuss hiring on one of the interns, he suggested Goldie by listing all of her good work and the accounts she helped in. No one thought anything of his recommendation, since Russell was known to be punctilious about everything. They thought he just kept track of everything about everyone.

                Russell couldn’t fool himself though. He was beginning to have a thing for her; the more he learned about her, the more he liked. Finally that spark he had been looking for was happening. He was just too damn timid to randomly ask her out. He listened to her talk about terrible boyfriends and horrible dates to Kelly, her only co-worker friend (a former intern herself a year before), with tolerance, at times subduing the green monster within him. He listened to colleagues criticize and belittle her, the men with a lustful “respect” towards her “real assets” and the women with venomous and thinly veiled jealousy, digging desperately for flaws to make their more unappealing looks be comparable to the stunning Goldie. A few guys even tried to ask her out, but she turned them down gently with the cliché I-don’t-date-co-workers excuse. This backfired on her when Martin, the “copy guy,” quit in hopes to go out with her and she denied him. He scampered back in with his tail between his legs begging for his job back. He didn’t get it. Now George had her in his scope and only two things happened to the women at the firm after George made his advances: they’d sleep with him or he’d find a legal way to fire them. He wondered when he should act, when he should talk to her even. All the banter between them was a few sentences in board meetings about work related things. She hardly even ever looked at him or acknowledged his presence.

Patience, he told himself repeatedly. An opportunity must arise to throw them together, he told himself; isn’t that the way in movies and novels after all?

Then one day while he was handing over the Dormer account information to Sara, the crone mentioned Goldie getting her raise in conference room A while lewdly poking her tongue in her cheek to gesture a blow job. He found his opportunity. Without even think about the repercussions or what he was doing or saying, just thinking about poor innocent Goldie in the clutches of George he opened his usually passive mouth.

“Sara, that’s the kind of gossip that will get you fired,” Russell said quietly with a smile. Sara’s mouth dropped open in shock and she flustered and stammered out something unintelligible. The two other women whose names escaped him scattered off back into their cubicles like ants in the rain. “Conference room A you said?” Then he left her, her mouth dangling open still.

Not knowing how to quell the storm of rage inside of him, he walked down the hall. He was about to get fired because he’d never let George get to her, not Goldie, not someone who represented perfection and innocence wrapped in beauty.

George stormed out of the conference room with a smug grin and walked briskly down the hall. Russell sighed with relief that his boss didn’t see him approaching or talk to him because Russell knew what he’d say would in fact lose him his job and any hope of references.

Russell, heart pounding wildly in his chest, stood outside the door hesitant on what his next move should be.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Contest Season: Skin (a subverted fairytale office romance)


Now that I am free from laborious job related tasks, I'm free to write again and my summer plans are crazy, so much so I most likely will not be able to do it all. First on my list is entering contests, two of which have the first few days of June as the deadlines. Considering most of May consisted of a sleepless grade-athon where I had to ignore my poor son, I'm making it up to him on a staycation we are having with my family from abroad. This fantastic downtime is exactly what I needed, but leaves little time or energy to write. Since that little smile appearing on my guy's face and him finally telling us he loves us (he's not a softy) are much more important than entering a contest, I've placed my priorities well.

Now, I have time. I'm sharing this link below since I don't believe in competition but writing alliances and support. If you have time, enter too! I may not be able to finish this novella in time, but it is a great exercise and I might turn it into a full-length novel later. The contest guidelines are below followed by Chapter 1 of my novella.

Subverted Fairy Tales: Got a 10,000-word to 30,000-word romance based on a classic fairy tale but subverted in fun, fresh, original ways? Perhaps Beauty is a beta-male librarian and Beast is a brusque, female kickboxing champion whose paths cross? There are so many possibilities here and we want to see your modern take on these classic favorites. (submission deadline June 1, 2015) - See more at: http://www.crimsonromance.com/submissions/#sthash.PHIWJACS.dpuf


I'm halfway completed and it is an office romance based loosely on Rumpelstiltskin, called Skin. Just a recap of a version of the fairytale, Rumpelstiltskin helps the Miller's daughter spin hay into gold so she can marry a prince, but must promise her firstborn child unless she can guess his name. She manages to do so after some help and saves her firstborn living happily ever after.

My Rumpel will be much more attractive of course

Here you meet the heroine, Goldie (Miller's daughter), and her plight, where Chapter 2 will introduce the sweet, yet dark and intense, trickster Russell (Rumpelstiltskin).

                Goldie Miller had been a social media specialist for two months after her year long stint as an intern. She more than paid her dues getting coffee, relentlessly posting on media sites, and dodging the CEO’s perverted remarks. The catch to the last job responsibility was that he was hot, a millionaire, but married. All the women at work fawned over him, the men had an adoration of wanting to be him. He was as charismatic as they came, giving, and a savvy businessman, but he cheated on his wife openly and repeatedly. Goldie was his new target and she refused to let him take control over her; she simply would let her job performance speak for itself. She had denied three advances already.
                “Gold-ee,” Sara purred leaning over the cubicle wall.
                Goldie stiffened in her seat. Sara was the office diva, a drama queen, the town crier, a woman who made it her job to butt into everyone else’s lives in an attempt to destroy them. She wanted people more miserable than her and went through great lengths to do so. No one liked her, yet no one dared voice that and cross her; otherwise, she’d make people’s lives hell. The fact the boss was into Goldie did not win her brownie points with Sara.
                “Sara,” Goldie said with her sweetest voice. She turned and gave Sara her Miss Rhode Island runner up smile. “Yes?”
                “Just thought I’d tell you Mr. Shipman needs you in his office pronto. I did you the largest favor, so you owe me.”
                A “favor” from Sara was never really a favor but usually a nightmare wrapped up in vindictive insincerities.
                “What did you do?” Goldie couldn’t hide the strain in her voice.
                “I just spoke so highly of you that he’s put you as head of the Mercer-Bottnick account.”
                “That’s what’s-his-name’s account. You know, the senior executive PR guy, the quiet one with the glasses. It’s his gig. I couldn’t. I don’t even know how to.”
                “Oops, well. I’m sure that you’ll figure it out. I was just trying to help.” Sara gave her a simpering smirk and sauntered off whistling to herself.
                Mercer-Bottnick was the largest client of the firm and if she messed up, then she was going to be on the chopping block.
                Before she could flee, type up her two weeks’ notice, or just scream, George Shipman, the CEO, cleared his throat behind her. She jumped.
                “Miss Miller, could I have a word with you in conference room A? Got a project for you I’d like to discuss in private.” His lecherous voice even insinuated something beyond a “project.” She tried not to cringe as she simpered an affirmation following him. She saw Sara smirking with triumph at her. Goldie really wished she could punch the woman in the face. Like really, wind it up and break her face, blood everywhere, just like the movies.
                George Shipman was an attractive man, pushing fifty but had a dignified look, and dressed well. Had she met him elsewhere she might show a tad of interest…until she saw what he was really like. He was a pervert of the highest degree. She really couldn’t figure out how he hadn’t been sued for sexual harassment by now.
                “May I call you Goldie? Please Goldie sit,” he said. He didn’t even wait for her to acquiesce but simply continued on. “You’ve done such good work in the past, proven yourself time over time, and I think it is time to step up the game here. Give you something to really challenge you. Please, sit.”
                Finally Goldie sat in one of the chairs. He sat on the desk looming over her, too close to her. She had to look up at him feeling like a child. He was overly intimidating and she realized he situated himself this way on purpose. She was like deer in headlights, not knowing what to say or do. She felt faint and his voice faded away; all she could hear was her own thumping heartbeat. She shook her head to bring herself back to reality.
                “So here you go. I know you have it in you.”
                She had missed what he had said but Sara’s snide warning gave enough away as to what he was asking of her.
                “Really sir, I’m flattered, but that account and event is beyond me. I am grateful for the offer but…”
                He cut her off. “It wasn’t offer but a demand. I know you’ll rise to the occasion, especially when your job is on the line if you fail.”
                “You’re giving me a job I’m not trained or qualified for and are going to fire me if I fail?” Goldie asked incredulously. She hadn’t meant for it to sound accusatory but really, who did he think he was to put her head on the chopping block for his libidinal purposes?
                “No, I’m sure there’s something we can work out if needs be.” He said it with a leery grin and touched her shoulder giving a gentle squeeze. His eyes raked over her chest chilling her to the core despite the layers of clothing protecting her from his gaze.
                “What?” Goldie asked. She knew exactly what he was alluding to but had to say something.
                “Nothing. Don’t worry. You’ll do fine. I have a feeling you will rise to the challenge.”
                And with that comment, one he somehow made wanton, he got up and left the room.
                Goldie stood up and tried to leave but her stomach turned soured and the bile rose. She choked it back, her eyes watering, and then he tears came. Goldie, who thought of herself as a strong confident woman, was now a blubbering mess due to her plight. She wasn't one to want saving normally, but here she just wished prince charming was real and he'd come to her rescue.
 
Stay turned for Chapter 2

Monday, April 6, 2015

Young or New?

When attempting to unsuccessfully sell your novel, as an author it's always good to regroup to figure out the why. I like to talk it out, or write it out so to speak. I read countless blogs, articles, and books by professionals; by now, the do's and don't's of the industry are ingrained in my mind. So if I did not commit any literary faux pas, then what pray is keeping me from landing an agent? Most people will say it's a subjective business, the right time and agent combination is needed, you have to know someone, blah, blah, blah. Taking the standard rejection letter reasons as the end all truth won't help you even if it may be true. 
 




Let me walk you through this experience. You have a finished novel, copy edited on its 50th draft (no, not really exaggerating, first draft was handwritten in 2008), and you are ready to share it. After countless hours of crafting a story, bringing characters to life, putting your blood, sweat, and tears into your work, you need to boil it all down to a little blurb so that a potential agent can get a gist of your book without having to read it all. They don't have the time to read ALL of the manuscripts sent their way. After all, in this digital age everyone thinks they are publishable authors. They get a lot of garbage and I'm not trying to pick on people, but I've read my share of books where plots go no where, characters are flat, and the cardinal rule taught in your very first writing class is ignored: show the reader, don't tell (in case you never had a creative writing class).

Basically you have to write the agent a query letter. In this letter you include a hook, or sentence to encapsulate very many things but foremost the agent's attention and interest. Next, there's a paragraph synopsis of novel--by far, an arduous task to boil down 300 pages into a paragraph and give it justice. Next, you describe yourself, credentials (daunting if you're not published at all), and compare/contrast your work with famous works in the genre. Last, you ask agents if you may send your manuscript to them not forgetting to add a personal compliment to fluff their ego and show them you are well researched. The writing of the letter is one task but the research is another time consuming process. Some agencies only represent certain genres, only some agents will represent your line of work from there. It is best to research the type of books they represent, past sales, currents authors, and most importantly whether they are taking queries and what their submission policies are (they vary).

So you've done your homework, crafted a killer query letter, and sent a few off. Then you wait. Rarely do you get productive feedback. Again, agents have limited time. What is an author to do? 

A smart writer will look for reasons it may have been overlooked, ignored, or rejected. After having published colleagues view the letter, I had a suggestion to change the hook. I had a lot of trouble with the hook, so this made sense. I drafted a few, asked the Facebook masses and selected a new one. I knew this wasn't enough. I needed to make the book more marketable. A good idea is only a good idea, without a target audience, it's just not a lucrative product.

When I sent out my queries, an experimental genre was in the works, but it wasn't well represented at the time. It's called New Adult and it is still a new genre. Whereas I thought books with a protagonist age 17-19 was a very marketable age bracket, like Twilight, Hunger Games, and Divergent, it actually is not. It's straddling the Young Adult genre and adult genres. You would think this would give you the best of both worlds, but I'm finding that's not necessarily the case. This is why New Adult has arisen. It is much like Young Adult literature from my understanding, but it can pick and choose its level of romantic intensity and can face issues that are too taboo to allow kids to read. Now, I'm not for sheltering the youth of our nation, but it is a fact that Young Adult books are read by children, sometimes as young as ten or even younger. Keeping graphic things away from kids is a pretty good idea; we don't want eight year-olds reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Where Twilight toyed with sex, the protagonist was over 18, married, and it was a plot convention (as in sex equals half-vampire baby that takes her life, ergo making her vampriric change necessary and not a choice, not suicide). Much like the series, my series uses it as a plot device too in a way. My characters contemplate sex and begin these actions but are prevented. It is a very necessary plot element that they try to be intimate but are stopped. While writing the scene, I felt awkward, even though it is done in other YA books, and I felt that perhaps my book spoke more towards adults. I often consciously censored characters' thoughts and behaviors to appear more PG-13, when I shouldn't have.

Note the difference in covers:


The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden (The Coincidence, #1)
New Adult
Young Adult

                    





















After discussing these issues out loud to a friend, she suggested I revamp the book and make it for New Adults and to make it a little more risqué. So now I'm trying give it a overhaul without changing too much. By sliding the timeline forward by six months my protagonist could be graduating high school and starting college in the second book (where the sex actually occurs). Looking at the New Adult genre, I realize now that my main character and book may not fit nicely into any other genre. I will need to tweak it to make her slightly older and finishing high school, but all the points of sexual tension and attraction in the story will no longer need to be watered down. 
The moral of the story is to know the industry (constantly keep up with the industry), know your audience, and to write what you want to write without censorship or hindrance. I need to stop thinking about how people will react to certain scenes and just write. Perhaps I'm intended to be a romance writer rather than a Young Adult author.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Problem with Being Empathetic


Empathy, defined as the ability to understand and share feelings with other people, is a good trait to have. You can imagine being in someone else's shoes, live vicariously through them, deal with and grow from experiences that don't actually physically affect your life. I am proud to consider myself an empathetic person. But honestly, it really sucks sometimes for a variety of reasons.

1. Their loss is your loss. One of my best friends recently lost her child in utero 7 months along. I was living vicariously through her due to the likelihood I'll never have another child (see The Mother's Grimm Tale). When she had to tell me they lost him, so I could but the brakes on the baby shower, her pain became my pain. I couldn't stop my imagination from following them through the process of having to give birth although the child was stillborn, to visually see the nursery when they got home with all the baby things that had anticipated the arrival of the child. All the wasted time hoping and envisioning a future with that child, all the dreams for the future were gone. I also couldn't stop making parallels. It's how I, or any empathetic person, digests a difficult situation. My pregnancy problems came into play around the same time. My baby was induced and born about the same gestational time. My baby and I lived despite the complications. Although I'm exceeding thankful for that, I feel utterly guilty that some people die and some survive. I imagine if it had been me instead, and I want to weep thinking of my life without my boy. I feel like I've lost my unborn child, and I cling to my alive one praying nothing will ever harm him.

2. Their gain is your gain... until you realize that you aren't really physically benefiting from their experience. It's tantamount to winning the lottery and then saying, "oh, sorry, wrong person." The same day I heard about my friend's baby passing away, I was informed of a friend who was expecting again. I was excited, ecstatic for her. Since she formerly had trouble getting pregnant before her twins, it was a dream come true. She discussed how they'd have to move into a new house, something they probably could afford because her new job. I was smiling like a idiot on the phone. After I hung up I felt deflated though. While she described their plans, I walked with her though the rooms of new, bigger houses, envisioned a baby again, a sibling for her boys to dote on. The success she feels, even when exhausted that she has a good job and money to be able to support a family of five, maybe not comfortably, but able. Then I realize, this isn't me living this dream, but my friend. And my deflation doesn't stem from jealousy or coveting this ideal life I pictured with and for her. It comes from feeling overwhelming joy for someone and then taking a step back. Those feelings of euphoria are for someone else, not me. Although I am happy for her, and I do not want a large family, huge house, and I love my job and family, I want to keep that joyful feeling when someone shares good news. It's like I came down off a good high, an adrenaline rush gone. I wish they could bottle up that joy and sell it. Whoever could would be millionaires.

3. You never stop feeling. This is the worst. An empathetic person always feels, so he or she is constantly happy, sad, angry, embarrassed--whatever emotion the person you're connected to feels. So there's no numb feeling, or bored feeling. You constantly feel and it is exhausting. Take the day I had the other day--pregnant--yay! Baby passed away--OMG I want to puke! I felt so much in that day I was rendered exhausted and useless. I actually went to bed early from being so tired. Any scenario on a daily basis can call upon your empathetic nature. You walk by a park where you first kissed someone and your heart flutters again with feelings of new love. You see a lonely old man in the bar who seems depressed and nags the bartender trying to get a listener to his woes, so you say hi knowing well he will unburden himself on you and make you depressed. You realize it's okay, though, because he's been carrying it long enough. Honestly, I wish I could turn it off and not feel, not care.

4. You don't have anyone for emotional support...unless they are a fellow empathetic person. Since you are at the top of the sensitivity pole and place yourself in dire and pivotal situations mentally speaking, you'd expect the same of others. Instead they pity your plight or ignore the situation not knowing how to deal with it properly. They seem insincere, almost as if you can see "better you than me" or "poor thing" burning in their eyes. Emotional support and connection is necessary to get through any difficulty. The way I can get over something is when friends share something similar, bare their soul to me, and shows that they have been there; they are okay now. This gives me hope, and helps me feel as if I'm no longer alone. It makes whatever the difficulty is much easier to face. This is the goal of an empathetic person for his or her friend in need.

5. You are forever misunderstood. People mistaken empathetic reasoning for narcissism, egoism, or blatant selfishness. The way an empathetic mind works is it tries to make a parallel with one's own life to get a point of reference, to know how to connect and feel with the person. If this connection is spoken aloud, a friend can sometimes get upset. I've been told "It's not about you!" once before, but in saying that, the person has exposed him or herself as making it all about his or herself as well. Your problems ARE about me, as in I am your friend, your confidant, the person you came to for advice. By telling me, you have enveloped me into your problem and I am a part of it too, not as much as you obviously but I am. Being an empathetic person involves me even more now. By making a parallel, I am trying to show you I am here for you and I can feel this with you, not competing with you. According to Berkeley University, "listening is never enough. The second trait is to make ourselves vulnerable. Removing our masks and revealing our feelings to someone is vital for creating a strong empathic bond. Empathy is a two-way street that, at its best, is built upon mutual understanding—an exchange of our most important beliefs and experiences."6 Habits of Empathetic People What they mean is we must exchange experiences and make parallels in order to truly bond and create an understanding. I'm not actually trying to make you feel better because I think my situation is worse. Honestly, why would I want to have a bigger problem than yours? No thanks!


In the end, I'm still happy that I'm empathetic. It is much better than being cold-hearted or pitying others when they really need that empathetic bond to help them. We strive to have this connection to others, to parallel our experiences so we can feel together. No one really wants to feel alone, to struggle alone. We want others to reach out to us, connect, and experience it together. I think I'm a good person through my empathy. Why else would so many people, even strangers, come up to me and discuss their problems? For example, an old man sat down with me yesterday at the mall (the only Starbucks seat left) and started talking to me. After five minutes, he was discussing the loss of his daughter. People can see that others are empathetic, that they'll listen, and connect. He saw that in me. Another part of being empathetic is being the go-to friend. One of my friends calls me on a regular basis to bounce her ideas, problems, and situations off me because I "give the best advice." I objected by saying, "but I never tell you what you should do," and she responded with, "You make me see what I want, make me talk through it, and you are there for me." And this is what an empathetic friend does, he or she is there for others. They are in the moment feeling with the friend. I don't think that's a bad person to be.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Fifty Shades of Romance

As a special Valentine's Day entry for the lovers out there, I'm going to delve in and examine Romance novels (in general terms from YA to erotica) and our sometimes peculiar fascination with them. My studies of them and my recent launch into reading them is because of this: romance novels are the most widely published form of fiction (a 1.44 billion dollar industry in 2013 according the therichest.com). If so many are published, then perhaps I can get published. Solid logic, right? Worth a shot anyway, I think.

Only, there is something that heavily disturbs me about these books, and I'm not talking about the sex. It's the fact that the heroines sometimes make me want to vomit. Just imagine Bella Swan from the Twilight Saga as a nympho and bam! we have our heroine. Now, I am a closet-Twilight lover, I must admit (although while I do, I cringe). I can see some positives in the story: reinvents vampire lore and the Byronic hero, promotes abstinence until marriage (not realistic perhaps but a very noble notion), and its success speaks for itself. However, my paradoxical dilemma is that the very fabric of its success relies on chauvinistic patriarchal expectations of womanhood. Whoa, that's a mouthful. What I mean is the the protagonist Bella is a whiny, sniveling, weak (physically and mentally), super insecure girl. I say "girl" because she never seems to reach womanhood, not because she becomes a vampire and stops aging, but because she never grows as a character through her vampiric transition, marriage, and motherhood. Essentially, she has no redeeming qualities (except her capability to love), and no personality (except she is clumsy). The fact her self-esteem is so low is depressing. How many guys like her and fight over her and she still thinks she's just "ordinary"? This cookie-cutter girl with no self esteem sold the book to audiences, though, and is why the novels were so successful. By nature teenage girls, for the most part, are insecure. The blank personality allows us girls and women to insert ourselves into Bella's shoes and have vampires and werewolves fight over us and live the happily forever after. That's the paradox: weak women equals dollar signs.


This is a large problem, especially when one goes to write a romance novel. If spineless waifs without personalities sell books, what does that say about us as a society? This issue is compounded by books like Fifty Shades of Grey. I must undermine my credibility for a moment here and admit I haven't read it, yet nothing about it makes me want to. All the things people praise it for turn me completely off. The premise has been described to me as "Billionaire attempts to control and make ordinary girl his S&M sex slave." Hmm. Perhaps I have too much feminist ideology to delve into this, but pain and submission just aren't my cup of tea. I don't care how rich a man is; I will never be dictated to the point my autonomy is out the window. The point is, this seems to be another fine example of successful romance, but again, the situation doesn't warrant any positive feelings toward the protagonist. I won't condemn the author for a the wimpy damsel, however, as this trilogy started out as erotic fan fiction based on none other than Twilight (a major improvement some say).

I feel that romance novels should be romantic, about love, an equal love between two people. Bella lives only for Edward's love and dies for it. Ana Steele is expected to leave her autonomy at the front door and become a slave. How is either situation actually romantic? We don't really want to be Juliet or Bella or Ana, not when they give up so much for love that a happy ending in the real world wouldn't be quantifiable.

Not all romance is like this. I gravitated as of late to historical romance, which I think is hard to pull of due to the difficulty in being historically accurate. What I love about the genre (besides I'm a sucker for period dramas), is the protagonists all seem to use a Lizzie Bennet type mold and throw in a healthy sex drive (after marriage of course). Lizzie, the icon of the Modern woman, from Austen's Pride and Prejudice doesn't take crap from any man especially the rich Darcys of the world. She's never degrades herself to slavery for a man or live and die for him. In fact, what Austen does, (purposefully maybe) is show that a man and woman must be on equal ground for love (even in a patriarchal society). This message echoes across historical romance where heroines break the glass ceiling of damsels in distress and rescue the men (emotionally or physically, or both) sometimes in outlandish, historically inaccurate ways. Personally, I'd rather read historical inaccuracies than a sniveling weak woman who needs, like actually needs, a man to breathe.


Let me put my ax-wielding feminist views on the back burner. These books with the weak damsel in distress sell. In fact, it seems at times that the weaker and characteristic-less heroines sell the most books. Apparently, it is what women want because they can relate to it. But this should not be so. This was enough to turn me off writing or reading another romance, but then I found a few gems among the rough: strong heroines. Think Katniss Everdene (Hunger Games) getting freaky and then falling in love despite her desire to never settle down. There's a huge difference, and a pleasing one, to see a strong woman falter a little when loving, than a slip of a girl groveling until a man finally saves her.  An example of what I mean is how the movie Eclipse (yes, more Twilight, but just listen) actually has Bella save Edward's life. Yeah, that wasn't in the book--in the book, she's was like "okay, let me think about saving him, oh no, cool, he didn't need me to because he's (batt eyelashes) oh-so perfect." Okay, she didn't say that, but that's my interpretation of it. However, she actually did get scolded like a child for almost hurting herself to save him. Normally, I hate when the movie strays from the book, but almost everything the movie franchise did was beneficial to the saga.

This view may sound jaded, but we need to support those novels that have strong female characters, not to the point where the man becomes Bella Swan--because that's not hot either. Men that cry about nothing, not sexy. The puppy-dog we need to fix, not fun (or realistic) either, but men in romance novels is a whole other problem that needs fixing. What we need to do is show what feminism really stands for: equality of genders. The heroes and heroine should both be strong people, that perhaps butt heads, find themselves in a predicament to overcome, a problem to solve, are in an entertaining or dramatic situation, who falter briefly when realizing they're in love, and hopefully live happily ever after in the calm after a battle. We need to rewrite true love. It shouldn't end in suicide to be together, or dying to be with someone (literally) then changing species; it shouldn't involve slavery, pain, or submission of a physical sense, especially with law binding contracts; it shouldn't have either gender ruling the other. It should be what James Baldwin proclaimed: “Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.” To me, that is a romance novel worth reading.


Monday, January 26, 2015

"Good" Advice: No, You Don't Know How To Parent...

Idio(t)m--"Good" Advice: No, You Don't Know How To Parent...Someone Else's Child.

We've all heard the sometimes dreaded and condescending statement issued from lips of well meaning but sometimes ignorant (at least of your situation) people: "Let me give you a bit of advice..." Then we bite our tongue and listen hoping there will be some profound answer in their next few sentences, but more than not it ends up useless. We can empathize with others but we can't truly understand unless we are in the trenches with them. This statement never bothered me much, this is, until I became a parent.

My son just turned 3. I've been getting well meaning but useless advice from a lot of parents for over three years (yes, the hypothetical advice starts while that child is in utero). They don't get it; they don't understand because their child is not yours. They're different--the parents and the children. The only good advice I've been given (since the doctors constantly have said, "nothing you can do about it" and "he'll grow out of it") is from my parents, grandmother, and those other "lucky" individuals who have those hyperactive, colic, acid reflux, and/or premature children.

The same goes for me. Will I be able to give you advice on how to get your reserved and scared child to play with other kids? Probably not, considering my child runs up to kids he's never seen before, squeals with delight, tags them, and runs off laughing. Will I be able to help you figure out how to curb a certain behavior in your child? Definitely not, considering my child is hardly the malleable type. I can only tell you what we tried and what works for us, but that probably won't work for you. Parenting is a lonely idiosyncratic business in that you have to experiment to see what works for your family, not what works for others.

You're alone, yes, but can get support, and some advice can help you feel at ease or "normal." If you ask me what dealing with colic is, I'll be able to paint a pretty picture, give you a little advice, but most likely I'll tell you to call me for help when you begin crying louder than the baby (yes colic is that bad). Because it sucks, others will judge your child as the Antichrist, go as far as blame you for letting your child suffer (which basically says in a roundabout way that they think you're a lousy parent torturing your own child) and as the doctors love to say, "there's nothing you can do about it." With colic you just wait for the changeling to leave and your sanity to return (after you've tried every old wives' tale cure, herb, and over the counter "remedy," naturally, plus referencing Dr. Google about the condition).


So why do we give people unwanted advice? We see others struggle and wish to help but without a full understanding of the child, meaning we see him/her every day for hours on end, we can't give any sound advice. What works for us as parents doesn't work for others. I've been told by a few well meaning people that I need to take my discipline up a notch. They don't see how I discipline so saying that irks me (in this day and age I'm afraid to actually discipline in public since social services are called and investigate the slightest things--like letting a 10 yr old walk home alone, going to the store with messy kids, etc). People assume since my child is wild, loves to get into everything, and runs everywhere, and I mean RUN (can't wait to get him into track), that he is never reprimanded for his behavior.

Oh boy, he's been reprimanded let me tell you! We've tried almost everything to teach him to listen and to not act certain ways (time outs, taking toys away, losing privileges, scolding, talking it out, and more--all multiple times); I've studied up on discipline theories, reviewed what I learned in child psychology, yet nothing seems to curb bad behaviors except redirection and rewards. And when I say bad behaviors, it's what others consider "bad." In our house we pick our battles. My child doesn't hit, kick, bite, scratch and rarely is aggressive towards others. He cries sometimes, but it's never those long hysterical tantrums I see some kids perform. We don't worry too much about his picky eating, his inability to follow directions at times, and his insane energy level that leaves clouds of messes in his wake. I mean, when I scold him for dumping out toys or tearing pages out of books and he tells me with tears in his eyes, "I can't help it!" I feel sorry for him; even the doctor said he is hyperactive and literally can't control himself at times, that the impulses are so strong that he does wrong knowingly. My child is wild but in a harmless way (unless you consider making messes and being loud cardinal sins--and some people act like they are).

So when the parent whose child is biting another or talking back to an adult lectures me about my discipline style, I smile, nod and refrain from pointing my finger at their children, even though it is so hard to bite your tongue when they put your child down and ignore the behavior in their own! As most know, toddlers are hard to deal with on any level. It seems every 2/3 year old has some evil streak his/her parent wishes to ignore, which is why they project their aggressive criticism onto other parents. I don't want to be like them, to lash out at others due to insecurities. I've accepted that in the eyes of society I'm not perfect and my son is not either, but the most important thing I've discovered is I wouldn't change a thing about my son for the world. In my eyes he's amazing, his personality adorable, and his energy, well, I'm darn jealous. I'd be a millionaire if I could somehow bottle it up.

My son and I aren't the problem here. People who think they and their children are perfect, who expect perfection from everyone, are the real problem. They need to back off, mind their own business, and stop trying to police other parents. Being a parent is difficult and most first-time parents are very insecure in their new roles, so there's no reason to make the parents feel like failures because everything isn't "perfect." Having a premature child automatically makes you an insecure mother; you unconsciously blame yourself for every little issue with your child, because more often than not the problem is linked to the fact you inadequately carried your child. It's like you fail the first Mommy test--you can't even keep the baby safe and healthy for nine months. These are the kind of thoughts--guilt, self loathing, despair, and anxiety--that plague a mother of a premature child. The last thing this mother needs is unwanted and useless advice, and criticism. It took me a year to figure all this out, ignore others, and to be confident in my parenting abilities; plus most of my son's issues cleared up by then.

As a rule, I now only give advice when a friend asks for it, or asks how I handle it, and even then I explain what worked for me or what I think but stress it's just my view on things and for the parent to do what he/she deems right. I turn a blind eye to strange or obnoxious toddler behavior when in public; I actually find it endearing at times how toddlers have no filter for their emotions. I no longer judge the parent--alright most of the time. That guy who backhanded his toddler in the restaurant and the chick who left her kid in a cabin for three days to get drugs--there's a special place in Hell, and jail, for them. But the average parent doesn't deserve our judgement, especially from childless people who have yet to be in the trenches with us. To give advice without experience is just plain silly. Before you get offended, think of it this way: would I give you advice how to play a perfect game of basketball? No, because I am 5 feet tall, don't really remember the rules, and don't watch it.
So give advice if you like but those parents will only do what is best for their particular situation. Don't offend them and don't get offended by them. Parent your own children and I'll parent my own. If someone asks for your advice, try to word it a way that doesn't seem to dictact what they should be doing as if what they're doing is all wrong. Merely tell them what particularly worked for you and add kindly, "but all kids are different." It doesn't take much to be kind to others rather than critical. And you just let me deal with this on my own.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Purgatory: A Prologue

In 2013, I joined the NaNoWriMo NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project to challenge myself as a writer. I knew I'd fail the challenge, but decided to go through with it in order to attempt to make writing more of a routine no matter how busy I was. The rules were simple. In the month of November, the contestant was to write and post as much writing as possible, the end goal being 50,000 words. November is actually the worst month possible for me to do this in (or April), but I didn't have a choice in the matter. So as I graded papers and then lengthy research papers (not to mention taking care of the wild toddler son), I squeezed in writing where I could. I ended up with over 8,000 words. Not near the almost impossible goal they set for me, but I was proud nevertheless.
This excerpt from my NaNoWriMo project is the prologue to Purgatory, a YA paranormal romance novel surrounding two teens whose lives intertwine in the limbo of afterlife where they struggle to resolve unfinished business, guided by William, a ghost child who long ago forgot his identity. In their new situation they learn to rely on each other and that salvation may actually be found in each other.
Let me know what you think. It's pretty dark, mind. I may finish it or completely scrap it. 

The church bells tolled announcing nine pm. Her parents might notice her missing soon, but then again, probably not. Her mother was most likely drunk and her father still working in his home office. Not that it mattered much; at least she told herself that. She had planned this for a long time, and was ready, so why was it so hard to follow through with it? As always she second guessed herself, faltered in her flimsy convictions. She was on the precipice, literally staring off into the sea from the cliff’s top. The wind whipped her midnight hair around her which obscured her view, but that was a good thing. The drop off was a few hundred feet. She shivered trying not to think about how cold it was in the water below. The New England winters were something she hated, one of the many things. In fact, she was here because she hated everything about herself and the world. Everything except HIM. And he had no idea she existed, and he never would. She didn’t want him to feel bad about this, to ever know that her heart panged her beyond expressible words. If only she could talk to him, tell him how she felt. But now he was as lofty as a god, the popularity wagon had just scooped him up and he was going on a date with HER, the one lead henchmen of the popularity clique, the girl that ruined her life on a daily basis. She was in the letter, she was to blame, and she would learn and hopefully feel guilty about driving another girl to her death.
Yes, that was what she was here for—to die. She felt her jacket pocket; her letter was still snug in a Ziploc bag, as well as her cell phone. They’d see it all, all that those girls and even a few guys had done: the hazing, bullying, lying, stalking, harassing, and the relentless texts messages from various numbers making fun of her. It was beyond what one person could endure. She knew her father was too busy to care, but once they found her body he would see to it justice was done. He would care when it was too late, and her mother would lose herself down a whiskey bottle but that was nothing new. She just felt bad for her brother, but he was off at college starting a new life; he had protected her her entire life up to this point. She saw that now. She was too fragile out in the cold, wild world. She was supposed to cling on two more years and start afresh in college according to the school counselor, but it was too far and it wasn’t a dream. College was another nightmare that would follow this. This life was hell, which was where she was headed according to her faith.
It didn’t matter now. The love of her life, her soul mate—she was so sure—was on a date with her enemy. She was packing it up and Hell would be better than where she was at in life right now. All she had to do was lean forward, embrace the wind and let gravity guide her down…
The screeching of tires broke her from her morbid conviction. Some reckless driver was taking the turn too quick. Didn’t the idiot know about black ice? The car was careening out of control and was coming right for her. It was a blue jeep, the same blue jeep HE had just bought with his years of lifeguarding money. He had only gotten his license a couple weeks ago and wasn’t experienced on the ice.  This was typical of the sick, twisted thing called fate. She wanted to commit suicide, yet she wouldn’t even be given that chance. She would be accidentally killed by the very person she loved most.
However, the car slammed violently into the guardrail and then flipped over only once onto its hood. The rail had done its job and the crashed car was now immobile, and she was still safe on the cliff’s edge. She took a step towards the car in hopes to save him, somehow help. Perhaps serendipity had given her some luck and threw them together in this situation so that she could finally talk to him. No, that wasn’t her typical luck. Her other foot slipped over the edge of the cliff and she fell down smacking her head on the crags. She felt gravity pull on her legs as the world began swirl around her, and in that instant before she lost consciousness, she saw his face in the overturned car. His eyes met hers, and then all faded to black.