BREAKING THE RULES OF REVENGE, Chapter One!
I present you with Chapter One! And a French bulldog in a swing because I needed to add some sort of image. A little awkward. Just imagine it’s me watching you read it. Just kidding. I wouldn’t fit in that swing.
Ugh. It figures. She had missed the bus. Again. She’d been reading The Unrequited Duchess in the back of the library, not that Mallory would admit to it. Her of offcial story was— Actually, she didn’t need one. No one was going to ask.
As she zipped up her bag, Jill, her orchestra stand partner, ran up in a hurry. “Mallory, will you cover for me?” Jill sported smeared lipstick, mussed-up hair, and a partially undone blouse. “I’m, uh…”
“Yeah, I get it.” It was obvious what Jill was planning on doing.
“Yeah, anyway, if my dad calls, tell him I’m at your place, ’kay?”
“Sure thing.” Mallory regularly covered for Jill, who was only a few weeks into a hot-and-heavy relationship with the timpani player. Mallory sighed. She’d had her eye on the timpani player for ages. From the French horn section, she had the perfect view of him during rehearsal. The way he bit his lip when he focused on hard passages was so cute. C’est le vie. Someday it’d be her turn to make out in the stacks and pretend to stay out late with Jill.
At this point, it seemed like she had a sign on her back that read: “Do not touch. Future nun.”
Fighting away the “always a nun, never the bride” feeling she’d been having too often, she packed the legal limit for library checkout into her backpack and headed home. It was only four miles. Good exercise, she reasoned pragmatically. Except halfway there, it started raining. She pulled her hood up and double-timed it for fear the water would soak through and wreck her books.
Just when it started coming down harder, a car pulled up alongside her. She looked up through rain-splattered glasses hoping to see someone willing to give her a ride—anyone not driving a panel van who looked vaguely familiar would do. At this point, she had to admit that walking home in the rain with a twenty-five-pound French horn and thirty pounds of romance novels strapped to her back had not been a good idea. Clearly, she should have left on time, not checked out so many books, and played the flute. Basically, she should be someone else.
A car lled with faces from the track team looked back at her, faces she recognized from her sister’s friend list and every other page of her high school yearbook. “Yo, Jones-y! You need a ride, beyotch?” they called out.
The moment the driver realized she wasn’t her twin sister, his face went slack and he quit yelling out the window. Mallory tried not to let it get to her. She wanted a car full of boys to yell beyotch in her direction—in the way friends do, obviously. She wanted to belong.
Instead, he took all the fun out of his voice and said, “Oh. Mallory, I thought you were your sister.” Then he sped off, hosing her from head to toe with muddy water.
“Stop! Can you—” she yelled, but they couldn’t hear her.
To be Blake for a day. Sometimes Mallory didn’t want to be the frumpy Jones twin no one noticed, the one boys treated like their English teacher. Blake got all the rides, all the awards, all the boys. It was amazing how you could look exactly like someone and yet lead a completely different life. It couldn’t just be the glasses. If Mallory took out her ponytail and put in some contacts, nothing would change. Absolutely nothing.
The con dence and sparkle that made Blake shine like a shooting star and made boys drool bypassed Mallory completely. You’d think she would enjoy a fraction of Blake’s popularity—she had the same honey-gold hair and emerald eyes, features that inspired poetry from actual boys when displayed on Blake. Mallory, though, was the kind of girl who the best middle-distance runners at school would happily leave on the side of the road in the pouring rain with nothing but a backpack full of book boyfriends.
Clearly chivalry was dead.
Mallory would have broken into a run when her house came into view, but her legs were too stiff from the cold. With its wide welcoming front porch and grand white columns, her home was basically So a, North Carolina’s version of Tara, except her ancestors planted tobacco instead of cotton.
It was essentially a monument to slavery and lung cancer with original woodwork and two swimming pools.
Once safely out of the rain, she ran up the grand Scarlett O’Hara-style staircase to her own private sanctuary. Stepping inside her room was like climbing into one of those musical boxes with a tiny spinning ballerina—magical and completely safe. She’d painted her walls a perfectly tragic shade of cream, the same shade as Tess of the D’Urberville’s milky complexion or, more-to-the-point, a wedding dress. All weddings were tragic because it meant the book was over. Mallory hated “The End.”
She stripped off her wet clothes, wrapped herself in a fuzzy robe, and then went straight to the kitchen pantry. “Do you want soup, Blake?” Mallory called out to her sister, who was on the couch, staring at the living room ceiling.
In response, Blake moaned like a zombie and pulled a blanket over her face.
“Are you okay?”
“My life is over, Mallory.”
Just like it was yesterday and the day before that. It would be easy to hate Blake for all the selfish drama, but she couldn’t help it. Blake was born to live her life in front of an audience. Maybe theater would have helped. Track wasn’t the right outlet. You can’t outrun drama.
Mallory punched in one minute on the microwave. “I’ll make you some just in case.”
“Thanks. Maybe I am a little bit hungry. As long as it’s not the gross kind Dad likes.”
“Are you serious? I would never make that.” Mallory shivered at the thought. Their dad liked a fancy European soup brand, supposedly imported from France. The actual soup tasted like wet cat food. She and Blake called it Fancy Feast. Every now and then they heated up some Fancy Feast in a crystal bowl for him and then laughed like hyenas because he had no clue he was reenacting an actual cat food commercial. With his mane of white hair and bright blue eyes he even looked like the Fancy Feast cat.
When they heard the side door slam, Blake nally came to life. She sprinted up the stairs like someone had just shot the gun at the beginning of the two-hundred-yard dash, one of Blake’s top events. She rounded the corner right as their dad stomped into the living room.
He glanced around the kitchen and bellowed, “Blake Alexandra Jones, get your butt down here this instant!”
Mallory stopped turning the crank on the can opener. It no longer seemed like the right time for soup.
A moment later, Blake slinked down the stairs with the look of a frightened animal. Their father held up a card between two ngers. When Mallory squinted, she could see it was a driver’s license. “I have no words for this. No words.”
Mallory held her hands over her ears. She was about to remind him they weren’t deaf, but he looked like the vein in his forehead might bust open. Probably not the best time to complain.
Even Blake remained silent. She stood mutely, looking embarrassed and contrite, something Mallory hadn’t seen since…well, ever.
Their dad held up a st and extended ngers one by one as he listed grievances, getting louder and louder with each one. “Using my credit card for criminal purposes, using a fake ID, attempted arson, blaming an innocent party. And… behavior I would expect from a drunken frat boy.” He shook his head in disgust. “You could go to jail for this.”
Blake cowered. “Jail? I’m sixteen, Dad!”
“North Carolina considers everyone over sixteen an adult. They’ll lock you up and throw away the key,” he blustered.
Mallory had to admit, that sounded really harsh. There’s no way Blake would end up in prison, though. She’d get community service or something.
“Oh, Daddy. I can’t go to jail. I just can’t! Not for a silly prank.”
“If that’s what you call a silly prank, young lady… I feel like I don’t know you anymore.” He shook his head. “I’ve given you girls everything. You have the best school. The most beautiful home. The prettiest clothes. The newest phones. Why would you throw that all back in my face? What is your problem?”
Mallory opted not to point out that throwing money and things at your kids wasn’t a substitute for parenting. That had been his go-to strategy since she could remember.
Blake looked at her feet.
“I don’t understand. Why would you do this?”
“It’s not about you, Daddy.”
“It damn well is! Your behavior reflects on me. You are a Jones! That means something in this town.” He took some deep breaths and paced the room, presumably thinking over her punishment. It was like the end of a reality TV show when the host waits forever to announce who’s leaving the show that week.
Blake was actually crying. Mallory was willing to bet they were fake tears, though.
“You’re lucky Davis is the assistant DA in this case. He owes me big time. We had a little heart-to-heart, and I talked him down from charging you. As a favor to me, he agreed to ignore your little stunt, on one condition—you spend six weeks at summer camp.” With a piercing stare that made Blake melt into a pile of tears, he announced, “You’re going to Camp Pine Ridge. Pack your bags.”
Blake sank to her knees like she’d been shot. She held up her hands and raised her face to the heavens. “Suuuummer caaaamp!” she wailed. “Oh my God. That’s worse than jail. At least jail has TV. And just think of all the mosquitoes at camp. I’ll get the Zika virus, Daddy!”
He leveled an angry stare at her. “As long as you’re not pregnant, that shouldn’t be problem. And don’t try anything at camp. I spoke to the camp director. If he isn’t satis ed with you, Davis will charge you with everything he can.”
Summer camp—boo hoo! Mallory could have laughed. That was the most ridiculous sham nonpunishment she’d ever heard. The fact that her sister actually considered it worth crying about, that was funny. Sure enough, when she Googled Camp Pine Ridge on her phone, the website was vintage Americana, all pictures of smiling, happy kids posing with shing poles in front of the kind of lake other families visited for fun all the time.
While her sister and dad continued with their best Shakespeare-in-the-Living Room theater act, Mallory texted Jill for the details about whatever crime spree Blake had gone on. Mallory was the only one in the family without the drama gene. Blake and her dad, and she assumed her mother (reputed to have run off to Vegas), never stopped acting.
Jill answered: Idk. Something about a re alarm. Must have been while we were at the library.
Of all the days to use their free period to go to the public library.
Another text from Jill came in: Getting juicy! Just heard Iron Cloud was arrested. Don’t know full story. Been busy.
Mallory snorted. Busy making out.
Ben Iron Cloud.
With his coal black hair, heartthrob eyes, and lanky frame, Ben was easily the cutest guy at school. God knew why Blake wanted to mess with him, but she’d been doing exactly that all year long. He was probably the only gorgeous guy Blake hadn’t dated. Maybe that was the problem?
With act one of their play winding down, her dad decided to escalate the drama with some forced family togetherness. Sounding as angry as before, he stood at the bottom of the stairs and bellowed, “Dinnertime.”
After what might have been the most awkward family dinner ever—saved only by the homemade mac-n-cheese, courtesy of their housekeeper—Blake followed Mallory upstairs. While Mallory booted up her computer to work on her English essay, her sister said, “You know I can’t do summer camp. I just don’t have it in me. I’m not like you.”
She wanted to tell Blake to suck it up. Except for the looming threat of jail, which would almost certainly be downgraded to probation or community service, summer camp actually sounded really fun. It would be lled with the kind of childhood pastimes that they had missed out on— camp res and, well, whatever normal people did outside for fun. As always, Mallory held her tongue. If she kept quiet, Blake would give up and start texting someone else her woes.
Just as suddenly as it had disappeared, the defiant twinkle returned to Blake’s eyes. Oh no. She crawled across the pink shag rug on her knees and clasped her hands together like a little girl begging, “Can I have a pony, pretty please?” Instead Blake pleaded, “Mallory, my favoritest sister in the whole wide world, will you go to Camp Pine Ridge as me? No one will ever notice. Pretty please.”
Mallory conjured a vision of herself on the roadside covered in puddle water, a car of cute boys hightailing it away from her. Sure, there was some risk of her sister going to jail, but Camp Pine Ridge might be her one and only chance to try out life as the popular Jones twin.
The book will be up for preorder on Monday! I’ll update the site with links then. 🙂
I’m Back, Bitches!
My swoony, teen summer camp romance is coming your way!! It’s a little bit Wet Hot American Summer, except without all of the gross parts (because my editor made me take them out) and with a lot more romance (because my editor had me add that part in). It took me a couple of drafts to figure out that a romance can’t have that many poop jokes (current draft has zero) and the heroine should not wear Billy Bob teeth during important turning points in the story. I’m slow that way. Everyone say a prayer that I got it right in the end. I really hope I did. Please Lord, I hope I’m not an idiot.
(In the above photo I’m working on copy edits in front of the camp fire. My father-in-law probably thinks I’m nuts or a workaholic. I don’t think I am, but that’s just me.)
The timing is a little weird. I mean, 9/11 for a release date is slightly awkward. Supposedly, September sales are good, but still… I will probably have to postpone celebration until the 12th. Really, every day is a disaster, though. There’s never a good day to promote a book if you pay attention to what’s happening in the world. Sept 11th is my book’s birthday, poor thing.
After that, I have a adult romcom coming your way. I’m guessing sometime this spring. I’ll keep you updated.
Besides that, I’m working with a different publisher on a wild and quirky sci-fi. There will be a romantic subplot, but this book is a departure from my Entangled books. Hopefully, I can announce a deal soon. Once again, not holding my breath. Publishing is a dog eat dog industry, not that I really understand that phrase. I say it sometimes, but what does it even mean? The first page of Google results are nothing but articles about a 2016 Nicholas Cage film called Dog Eat Dog. There you go–life is nothing but a late-career Nicholas Cage film, which means my deal has a snowball’s chance, just to throw in another metaphor. Say another prayer, though. I think this book would be really good. I love the concept.
(Above photo: Selfie with toad, taken by eight-year-old.)
Besides books, life is normal. It’s a typical wild summer. I’ve been so busy with the kids that I can barely tell which end is up. We’ve been visiting relatives and catching toads pretty much nonstop. There are currently three toads living in the kids’ bedroom. I’m a little scared for them, but they seem fairly satisfied in an old fish tank eating ants so far. When I think about it, my book release nerves are nothing compared to what those poor toads must be thinking. Those poor things are fighting for their lives in a ten-gallon tank. Or maybe they’re fine? The kids contend they are.
Maybe we’re all fine? We’re all just fighting for our lives in a ten-gallon tank of our own making when it comes down to it.
With that, I leave you until next time.
Love, peace, and toads to all!
P.s.: I’ll include more information about the summer camp book in my next blog post.
P.p.s.: Sign up for my newsletter so that my publisher doesn’t think I’m such a loser!
Regularly Scheduled Existential Despair
Last month I promised to start posting once a month. I’m already behind schedule, mostly because I’ve been delayed by my biannual identity crisis. September brought cooler weather and the unshakable compulsion to rethink all my life choices. What’s the point blogging mid-existential crisis? Is there a God? Should I blog? Maybe I should have. I can live-tweet it next time.
At least my identity crisis made sense this time. I mean, I just sent the girls back to school. I sort of felt like someone has been banging pots and pans with wooden spoons right next to my head for three months (my kids are loud). September 6th, I dropped them off and mentally I was like, “Go time, Sam. Save the cheerleader, save the world!” but in reality, my ears were still ringing and I was even more disoriented than usual. Who am I? What is my purpose on earth? How can I contribute to the family income, be there 100% for my kids, and write another book? Also, I should potty train the two-year-old. Questions without answers, obviously. (I’m classifying potty training as an unanswered question, fyi.) It’s so important to avoid thinking about these things. You gotta keep your eyes fixed forward, make dinner, and try not to eat too many handfuls of chocolate chips.
In my confusion, I spent a couple of weeks writing a paranormal YA mystery. That was a new take on an identity crisis for me. Or not. I forget the last crises. Now, I’ve come back to my senses. This weekend, I’m starting a rom-com. Obviously, that is the most sensible thing to do, at least in my weird little slice of reality. Gotta build my author brand and I have two rom-coms coming out this year, assuming everything goes as planned.
Of course, nothing will go as planned. The books will probably come out in 2020 and I won’t even remember what they’re about. But here goes nothing. I’m writing a rom-com. I don’t expect any other major existential despair until I finish it and wonder why the hell I wrote a romantic comedy. My life is Groundhog Day. That’s life, though–every morning you wake up and you can either do a little good work and be a nice person or take a groundhog over a cliff Thelma & Louise style. I’m going to do my best to not kill any groundhogs. If that last paragraph didn’t make sense to you, rent Groundhog Day and get a pizza this weekend. You’ll have fun.
Happy almost October everyone!
Until next time,
So I haven’t posted since October. That is a looooong time. If anyone out there is still reading my blog, greetings and salutations! Actually, I know a few people are still visiting the site, emphasis on visiting. I like to take the time to read and enjoy my spam comments now and then. (Hope you appreciate that, spammers!)
A guy by the name of Nike Air (or maybe it was Movie Forum) said, “I am visiting this web site dailly and obtain fastidious data from here all the time.” I love that he claimed to be visiting sambohrman.com daily, despite the fact that I haven’t posted new content in about nine months. I should make him the president of my fan club (my mom isn’t into official roles). I also liked this one: “After six hours of continuous Googleing, at last I got it in your site.” That’s A LOT of googling, brother! Not to mention, how did he know he’d arrived at his destination when he found my site?? Side note: I’m just assuming those commenters are male because I watched Silicon Valley on HBO and it reinforced my assumption that most people in front of computers have a solid pin connector. Or maybe they’re robots? I don’t know enough about the spamming industry to fully imagine the spammers themselves. Anyway, Silicon Valley is AWESOME. I highly recommend.
Now that we’ve gone through my spam folder, let’s get to the news. Since my last post in October, I’ve written two books. Yes, I know that sounds crazy to most of the population and it’s the reason why I stopped posting, the second reason being that I think my mom is my only reader and I talk to her regularly anyway (Hi, Mom). As for the books… One of the books is a young adult romantic comedy set at a summer camp. It involves twin sisters, mistaken identity, and at least three kissing scenes. It’s called Breaking the Rules of Revenge, as far as I know. God knows when it’s coming out. Soonish. I’ll scream it from the rooftops when I figure it out.
The second book is an adult romantic comedy. The working title is Love Doctors, though it will definitely be renamed. The name Love Doctors is wildly unpopular at the publisher. This one is a little dirty, so I hope no one I know reads it. Feel free to buy it, though! It’s headed to the editor soon. No release date yet, but expect it during the next school year.
If you want to keep up to date with big news, sign up for my newsletter. I plan on sending one out before book releases, book sales, or big events worth mentioning. Also, I’m going to start posting here once a month. Expect to hear from me again in September!
FYI: the guy in the photo is Ernest Hemingway. That’s pretty much how I look when I’m writing, too. It’s a very romantic and outdoorsy process.
Until next time,
The Cable Guy So Gets Me
That’s the statement of a housebound woman. But, moving onto my story…
The cable internet guy arrived as we were about to leave this morning. He first came into the living room, which was an explosion of child paraphernalia and children using furniture like a jungle gym. It was like that scene from Home Alone when twelve people are trying to leave for Paris, except I just had to drop two kids off at school. I think it’s worth mentioning that the guy had already waited on the stoop with my compost bin, which is currently filled with coffee grounds, a pumpkin, and five gallons of rain water; a.k.a., a pumpkin floating in a giant bucket of cold coffee. He didn’t mention it. I feel better about my home when I think of it as the Weasly’s place.
The cable guy asked a question I didn’t understand regarding our half-assed router set-up, so I brought him to my husband who was foraging for socks in a loose pile of laundry in his boxers. I kept trying to explain to my husband that the cable guy was here and had a question, but he was too focused on socks to look up. Finally, I said quite loudly, “The cable guy is in the room with us.” That’s when Harley noticed he was half naked and standing next to the cable guy.
In that moment, I felt one with the cable guy. I was like, “Dude, do you see what I’m dealing with here?” and he was like, “Whoa, this is some crazy shit.” Maybe I read too much into that glance, but it was a moment. Thanks for that, cable guy.
In other news, I inherited a rusty metal box. See picture below (slightly obscured by applesauce on the lens). I half expected to find Gwyneth Paltrow’s head inside of it, but no, it is filled with documents from 1947. Basically, it’s all of the junk mail and fliers from my great grandfather’s kitchen circa 1947. His kitchen is now boxed up in my kitchen. Deep, huh? Actually, there is some dispute about who gets the box. That’s what happens when there’s nothing to fight over—you fight over nothing. Which takes me back to the living room and the kids…
Uno: A Game of World Domination
Last Sunday morning I woke up and played Tic Tac Toe and Uno with my six year old while drinking coffee. Even at the time I knew it was one of those moments I’d look back on fondly as the years wear on. At the same time, I gained a deeper appreciation for people living in deeply flawed political systems, the kind of places where you have no voice or chance of financial success or freedom, the kind of place where you only make strides because the government decides not to extinguish your tiny flame of hope (yet).
This is basically what it’s like playing Uno with Daphne. Her Uno cheating is flagrant and overblown. She always gives herself all of the exciting cards and me none. Each game takes approximately ten seconds because she crushes all opponents with her flagrant cheating. Then she spread propaganda about her prowess and Uno success.
Back when my oldest daughter, Lila, was in her cheating at Uno phase, she was subtler. She marked the deck and would boldly deal herself extra Wild cards right in front of the other players. We haven’t played Uno for three years because Daphne would army crawl from the room wailing every time Lila won. Also, it made family gatherings uncomfortable and not just because of the wailing. My brother came down hard on the Uno cheating. For him, every game of Uno is a moral crossroads. His kids might turn out better than mine.
All of our actions are a little like a game of Uno. The rules of Uno are just stated more clearly, which makes her manipulation more obvious. Winning at dinner or bedtime is a more nuanced game, though a game she plays just as well.
Yesterday the scoreboard in our house looked like this:
Mom: 0 Visiting Team: 5 (I’ve chosen to refer to the kids as “The Visiting Team.”)
My biggest failings: The kids won dinner, bedtime, TV time, and the middle of the night. At dinner, I was beaten by a sack of brown rice that took about five hours to cook.
Uno has betrayed all of our strategies. But the kids haven’t won yet. I’m playing the long game. I fully expect them to stop cheating at Uno and sleep through the night eventually. If they don’t, their spouses can blame me.
In other news, I think I’ll be writing another book soon! More to come on that…
Entangled Blog Hop!
I’m so glad you stopped by my website!! If you haven’t been here before, my name is Samantha Bohrman and I write for Entangled. My first book, Ruby’s Misadventures with Reality, is about a modern day Dorothy juggling her career, too many hot guys at once, and an unexpected mystery.
I figured I might post some Halloween-y stuff for this post, so I decided to look for Dorothy costumes online. I thought the people below had clever ones. I didn’t notice right off that they were missing their pants, etc. Pants or no, they’re pretty impressive costumes. Personally, I’d feel reluctant to paint all of those parts. So just in case you were wondered, I will not be painting myself blue for Halloween. Even if I was into that, I live in Minnesota and it’s supposed to snow. I’ll be wearing a hat that makes me look like a scarlet macaw is roosting on my head. I’ll probably pair it with pajamas.
If you like those costumes, you might also like my book! It also contains some costumes, a Wizard of Oz theme, and brief (but thrilling) nudity. Unlike the above picture, it doesn’t happen all in the same scene.
Rest assured, though, if you find a tin man or a scarecrow in my book, he will be the kind of guy you might enjoy seeing in nothing but silver paint and a tin foil hat. Today, someone on my street team (Hi Dana!) introduced me to a man she refers to as “Gandy Candy.” My hero never goes swimming (perhaps a mistake on my part!), but if he did, I’d like to imagine him like this:
Thanks so much for dropping by my website! For a chance to win an e-book of Ruby, please leave a comment. I’ll send a free e-book to two random commenters. Make sure to stop by the rest of the sites on this list for more trick or treating!
Total Eclipse with Children
Lunar eclipses are cool, but sometimes I just don’t care. I’m tired and there is TV to watch, books to read. Who has time to look up? Especially when the kids have completely sucked you dry. We were going to let the kids watch the eclipse, but at 6:30 I couldn’t imagine spending another fifteen minutes with my offspring. Definitely not three hours. My husband saw the look on my face and informed the kids, “They canceled that eclipse.”
After we finally got them in bed, I changed my mind. We hauled them into the driveway to watch the super blood moon. The toddler wouldn’t go to bed anyway, so it’s not like I could watch Austenland and drink a glass of wine (plan A). I’m using the term “watched” loosely. The one-year old pretended to mow the lawn and chased the cat while I chased him. My six-year old spent an hour arranging beanie babies so they would have an optimal view. My eight-year old read a book. My husband shone a spot light through everyone’s hands to see veins and climbed around in the tree house. My mom looked overwhelmed until she stood up and serenaded us with Total Eclipse of the Heart. I noticed some of the neighbors drinking beer and lounging. They were mostly sitting in chairs.
Here’s a picture of my toddler enjoying the super blood moon in my husband’s garage. (I’d prefer to distance myself from that mess.)
My mom could only remember one or two lines of the song, but the lyrics, which came to me later seem apt, especially the falling apart line: “Once upon I was falling in love. But now I’m only falling apart. It’s a total eclipse of the heart.” I might also be suffering from a total eclipse of the heart. Kids eclipse a whole lot of things. I don’t know which end is up anymore.
Speaking of that, you should watch the literal video version of Bonnie Tyler’s music video. It’s hysterical. Watching it tonight, it strikes me that it’s a pretty accurate portrayal of living with children, at least in its total randomness and all the spilled beverages at the preppy table scene. When you watch it, just imagine the ninjas and zombies as six-year olds. Imagine more juice boxes, toys, and Bonnie Tyler’s dress wrinkly and stained.
I should have known super blood moon would be more like a Bonnie Tyler video than an episode of The Wonder Years. Little kids don’t process things like lunar eclipses in chairs. They process them while running through the neighbor’s lawn in special moon-watching pants. That’s alright, though. The next blood moon, which my husband informed me will be in thirty years, I’ll get to do the whole thing again, except the crazy people mowing the lawn in the dark will be my grandkids, if I’m lucky.
Remodeling and Romance
Marriage is a series of compromises—where to eat, where to live, kids. It’s never ending. Some compromises stand out above the dull roar of everyday tacos-versus-hamburger negotiations. Some failures also stand out. For instance, this fridge.
This fridge is currently in my family’s living room. It stands, a dirty white symbol of our failure to compromise, not to mention my husband and myself. It’s aging poorly as the kids slowly destroy it. It freezes all my lettuce, not to mention my warm feelings towards my spouse. Before we can move the fridge into the kitchen, we need to purchase: 1) a smaller refrigerator and 2) and a new oven.
Today, the husband and I dragged the kids to Sears with moderately high hopes. I selected an oven while my husband was in the restroom. It took me three minutes. When he came out, he gave me a dirty look and asked the Sears guy about a stove with duel fuel and a split oven (ironic when you consider he only makes tacos).
We did however stop and spend a lot of time looking at this thing:
Crazy good deal, huh?! I’m not sure what it is. Husband thinks it’s an air purifier and will save us from dying of mold-related complications. I think he’s considering going back for it.
Last year the same thing happened. We went shopping for appliances to solve our fridge-in-the-living room problem. We couldn’t agree on a fridge, but we did buy this:
It’s some sort of high-powered fan. Harley was impressed with its large motor and it was only $90. Note that it’s still in the original packaging. Photo was taken today. Harley also purchased a fake Christmas tree on one of these trips, ironic given that we can’t have a tree until we move our fridge.
HGTV is like a crack dealer and we’re all a bunch of crack ho’s, strung out and binge watching International Househunters. When compressed into a twenty-three minute show headlined by the undeniably cute-times-two Property Brothers, remodeling looks like a great idea. Not to mention, there is an underlying romance to the idea of remodeling. There’s the American dream, picket fence piece, but more fundamentally, a house is a nest. No one wants a half-assed bird nest. In reality, remodeling is a dirty white Maytag stuck in the living room for a decade. Property Brothers, I’d be mad if you weren’t so cute. (I hope that wasn’t too many metaphors for you. I know it was a lot to keep up with.)
Needless to say, remodeling will make it difficult for me to write a romance novel (slotted for November-ish). How am I supposed to think romantic thoughts with the refrigerator of marital doom looming in the background? Maybe I’ll get one of those cute little Chinese screens to hide it.
I’m signing off now to spend quality time with my husband. We’ve successfully compromised on a television show. Actually, we’re watching a sci fi, but he told me I’ll like it because Halle Berry is in it.
Until next week,
Beyond Ted: Naming Characters and/or Your Children
Confession: I name all of my male characters Ted, at least until I think better of it. Sometimes Todd. My current MC is Roy. My brain is a Ted factory. All Teds come prefabricated with a vague resemblance to Keanu Reeves. I must have seen Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure at a highly formative moment. Three weeks ago I had a baby, my first boy.* I spent weeks working on lists of names. Naming my baby, who I did not name Ted, gave me some insight into picking a name.
Baby name websites are helpful. My favorite is Nameberry. I created my son’s list of potential names from Nameberry. I particularly like this website because of its carefully curated name lists. Examples of name lists include: cowboy names, antique baby names ready for restoration, and “the exoticizer” (a guide for making normal names exotic). It even generates a handy list of names similar to Ted or whatever your go-to name might be.
Most people don’t want their kid to be one of five Khaleesi’s in the kindergarten class (a surprisingly popular name this year). Likewise, most writers don’t want their main character to have the same name as every other MC in the agent’s inbox. In my many hours spent stalking agents on Twitter, I’ve seen plenty of comments such as, “OMG! Why is every character named Bailey today?!” Sure, the agent’s decision will be based on writing quality, concept, salability, etc. Still, it can’t be helpful if your MC is one of twelve Bailey’s in the submissions inbox. I recommend plugging potential character names into Baby Name Voyager. The site will show potential name’s popularity over time graphically.
A few weeks ago I went to see Rainbow Rowell speak. She shared some naming advice of her own. Rainbow (I’m on a first-name basis with her in my head), mentioned that she picks out character names before she starts writing. Once a character has a name, he or she becomes more real. Rainbow also mentioned that she doesn’t use “find and replace” to change names because a different name changes the way sentences sound. The names, she said, become an integral part of each sentence. The “th” in Beth is a soft sound that can’t be replaced to her satisfaction with a name like Peg or Katrina. The new sound changes the landscape of each sentence and undoes carefully constructed prose.
Crowd sourcing can also be fun. You can help your friends procrastinate and get a helpful reality check. Here are a few baby names from my list with comments from my friend Carol. (I ended up picking a baby name from her approved list.)
Maynard: Yes. But you must raise him in Georgia.
Maurice: Some call him the space cowboy.
Dalton: Dalton. Kind of sexy. Sorry I just called your baby sexy.
Nicolai: Russian ballet will love him!
Finally, I recommend picking a name that most people can pronounce. You don’t want readers stumbling over complicated names, unless you’ve written a 250,000-word sci-fi. In that case, all bets are off.
*Baby is now one and a half. I’m reposting this sucker because I took Labor Day off! 🙂