September 10, 2010

Book Two and Why NOT Blog Monthly?

Woo hoo - last post was a month ago, looks like I'm on a roll. Watch out now.

I've got a few things going on, and being the patient, gracious enabler that you are, you'll forgive me for not writing sooner. We dropped our youngest off at college out of state a few weeks ago, and I've been scrambling ever since to get ready to attend the American Christian Fiction Writer's annual conference in Indianapolis. My first ACFW conference, and yeah, I'm excited. And I'm also shedding hair and bleeding internally trying to get ready. There is so much to do. You have to shave, print out snappy looking one-sheets, get banquet heels (eeeek), research the publishing houses attending (again), load your suitcase with chocolate for bribing editors, decide on an Editor Appointment Outfit that says "Look, I'm professional, but I don't take myself too seriously," and is stylish enough to say "Um, yeah, I can be Hip when I need to be," yet is bohemian enough to say "And yet ever the Artist." Piece o cake.

And then there's practicing your Pitch. That's code for Selling Your Baby to Nice But Scary People In Suits. I happen to know that some writers go through the motions of practicing their pitch, yet all the while a little voice inside screams YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME I JUST WANT TO WRITE ALL DAY IN MY PJS AND NOT WORRY ABOUT HAIRY LEGS. Okay, guys, those days are over. If you want some help honing that pitch, check out Susie May Warren's My Book Therapy. There's help.

I decided I should practice my pitch like a cold call. I could go out and strike up a conversation with total strangers and then tell them about my story. See what piques their interest (alarm), where the pitch is clear or not, see if I can be succinct enough to get it out before they blink or duck over to the Tom Clancy aisle. Maybe I could see what kind of interest there would be from a buying audience. I'm sure it's legal. The Public Library in my small town would be a good place to start, don't you think? If I do that, maybe I'll get someone to video it, and maybe add classical music and some cool FX and stick it on YouTube. Or not.

In other news...

With Book One* looking for a publishing home (*Like There's No Tomorrow - a contemporary occasionally humorous love story about a youth counselor and her hunky Scottish pen-pal who fall in love even though her dark secret may destroy him), I've resumed work on my second novel, temporarily titled My Father's House. It's about a tough social worker turned surrogate mom to a messed up bunch of outcast teens who fights to save the group home she's worked so hard to build. Her only hope lies with the last person she'd want help from: A beefy handyman with a guitar, a questionable past and a God he keeps calling Father.


If that sounds interesting and you're hoping to get a little sample of how the book begins, you are so in luck. Read on.

* * * * * *

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows— this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
Psalm 68:5-6


The Escalade’s brake lights didn’t even blink.

As the SUV disappeared from sight, Sue Quinn stuffed shaking fists into the pockets of her jeans and bit back a string of words that could have torched every clump of sagebrush in the entire Oregon outback. Drawing a calming breath, she turned her attention to the dark-skinned girl rooted to the bottom step. Sue had no idea what was going through the kid’s mind, but one thing she did know: Juniper Ranch’s newest resident didn’t need to hear what Sue thought of the occupants of the retreating vehicle, the couple who had so proudly signed on as parents and eight months later changed their minds. Like the way people change their minds about a box of cereal in their grocery cart at checkout. Oh, sorry, they’d say to the checker, I guess I don’t want this. Could you put it back?

Sue exhaled and looked the girl over. Cambodian, maybe Vietnamese, about eleven or twelve. She would have to rely on her best guess since the girl’s intake paperwork was probably a maze of lies and inconsistencies.

“Hey, Jasmine, you hungry? Need to use the bathroom?”

The girl stared at the long, empty driveway leading away from Juniper Ranch. The ribbon of dust stirred by the departing Escalade continued to rise and spread slowly, drifting in the noonday sun, bound to settle, eventually, in another place. A matching pair of Barbie-pink suitcases flanked Jasmine’s feet on either side like bookends, gem-shaped price tags still attached. A couple of bags that held everything. And nothing. Much like the beat-up green Samsonite that had once accompanied Sue to more foster homes than she could count.

Sue forced a smile. “All right. Let’s get your stuff inside. We’ll get you all set up in your new room.”

Jasmine turned then, eyes almost level with Sue’s. No shocker there. At five foot two, Sue was long accustomed to meeting pre-teens eye to eye. She studied the lanky girl’s face. Nothing remarkable, a face some would call plain. Wide nose, small eyes. But no abnormalities, no cleft palate, no physical handicap that Sue could perceive. None of the deformities that usually gave Mr. and Mrs. Disenchanted an excuse to terminate an adoption, which further fueled Sue’s suspicions. Once she had a chance to go through Jasmine’s paperwork, she would no doubt find the photo sent by the orphanage to the parents. A photo of a much younger, lighter-skinned, prettier child. The photo they showed off to family, the one that invoked the admiration of friends because they were doing such a charitable thing, bringing an underprivileged child to the US for a better life.

“I no need room.” A frown creased the girl’s brow. “I no . . . I not staying here.”

Sue nodded. How many times had she heard that one? “Well, we can discuss that. Just not here on the front porch. Okay?” She let the question rest on a raised brow.

Jasmine’s frown deepened. Then thick tears pooled, turning her dark eyes glittery.

Oh, little friend, don’t . . . A quiet ache squeezed Sue’s heart. She bent and reached for one of the suitcases. It wasn’t the first time Sue had stood here, a silent witness to the aftermath of a failed adoption. But no matter how many times she’d done it, she couldn’t get used to watching a young heart break on the weathered steps of her front porch.

Sue hoisted the bag and motioned toward the house with a toss of her head. “C’mon in. This way.” She opened the door wide, went inside and kept going. If she hesitated or looked back, it wouldn’t work. Holding her breath, she headed up the staircase, straining to hear. Fourth step. Sixth. Ninth.

The sooner you stop needing them, the sooner you’ll be strong enough to stand on your own.

As the temptation to look back reached a cresting point, she heard light, shuffling footsteps and the soft click of the front door. Sue let out her breath, turned, and gave the rigid girl with the pink suitcase a half-smile.

“C’mon, slowpoke. Follow me.”

* * *

1 comment:

Jessica Nelson said...

I love how you blurbed your second book! Definitely sounds like stuff I like to read.
Hope you have an awesome time at ACFW!



I've published five novels and 2 novellas (more about those on my website.) I've been writing all my life, but decided in 2007 to get serious about being published.

I love action movies and Jane Austen. (she’s dead, I know. I found that out when I tried to get her to endorse my novel)

They let me play Bass guitar and sing in a worship band.

I can produce 4 dozen homemade cinnamon rolls in a flash for a crowd of drooling young adults. Or publishing house editors.

I used to have a Harley. Now we have six (going on seven) grandkiddos. Decent trade, really.

I am a proud Grammy. Don't even think about taking candy from my babies.

I hate shopping (Yes, I'm aware that I'm a girl)

I've lived in Oregon all my life, spent time in Eugene (Go DUCKS!), Springfield, Reedsport, and Smith River. Which is not really a town, but a river, about 70 miles long, a tributary of the Umpqua River in southwest Oregon.

Although it's not a town, it is a community with a strong sense of pioneer history. It's cool to say you've lived there, especially if you lived there during the days when you had to take a boat to school. No joke! The old farmhouse my grandfather and my mother grew up in still stands, nestled into a narrow, pasture carpeted valley, complete with a swimmin' hole and its own 'crick'. It may turn up in one of my novels.

There's a rumor that my ancestors had a connection with the Mafia back in Sicily. I used to fantasize as a kid about a big black limo with tinted windows pulling up and whisking me away from school. Ahhh. So THAT'S why I'm having so much trouble conjugating my dangling participles now.

NOT RANDOM: I am challenged by the truth and amazed by the grace of God. And it's either in spite of or because of that grace that I hold a PhD in Learning Stuff the Hard Way.