Monday, September 29, 2014

Flash Fiction: Thirteen

For #MondayBlogs today, I decided to post an old flash fiction, from around the same time I wrote the Red Wheelbarrow stories. It's old and rough in spots, and I'm not happy with it...but it still means something to me. My younger sister went through chemotherapy at age thirteen, which is what inspired this character and this story. So really, it's dedicated to her and all she went through at that crucial age. Anyway, here. *hides*


I let my mind drift, let the sound of beeping monitors and bustling nurses fade into the background. I’ve always been good at escaping. Mentally, anyway.

There was a time I tried escaping physically, too, when mental escape wasn’t enough. It was a night not so long ago, the night before I could officially call myself a teen, and I told myself that thirteen was young.

Thirteen was strong.

And maybe, I thought, if I could make it home, Jess wouldn’t have to spend our birthday at the hospital.

By the time I ripped the tubes from my nose and the I.V. from the back of my hand, the nurses had me surrounded, reminding me that age meant nothing. Not to my fatigued muscles and not to my fragile bones, strong and vibrant only eight months before.

Jess stayed by my side the entire day following, celebrating my newfound teenage-hood with the very nurses who kept me prisoner. I hate her guilt. I hate the way it makes her decisions. For as long as I can remember, Jess and I have celebrated our birthdays together, since I was born on her third. But I begged her not to that time. It was her sixteenth, and I begged her to spend it the way a teenage girl should.

But as usual, Jess never left my side. Instead of boys, music, and dancing were tears, infection, and a catheter.

Instead of trendy clothes were hats, and even a mildly attractive wig.

I stare out the blackened hospital window now, unable to sleep. I take my thoughts elsewhere, somewhere far away and safe.  Somewhere where I am healthy and strong. In that place, I’m not poor, brave Haley, but beautiful, powerful Haley.

I draw my finger along the scar that stretches from the middle of my ribcage to just above my belly button, where it splits and continues down both sides of my abdomen—branding my stomach with the most horrific, twelve-inch upside-down Y. The raised skin is still sensitive, even raw in places, but I imagine it smooth, imagine that I wasn’t just opened like a lily six months ago.

I feel my hand over my silky head and imagine hair, too, imagine braids and ponytails and the annoyance I would feel when the wind blows it in my eyes. I would give anything to feel that annoyance again.

I feel a draft against my uneven skull instead.

It used to be red, my hair. Fiery and full of light, as Mom used to say. And once upon a time, my freckles, that seem so out of place now, matched.

My eyes burn and I set my jaw against the quivering.

I’m supposed to be strong. The strong, young cancer patient, smiling to give her mother the same hope she faked herself.

But Mom is gone and the nurses cackle outside my cracked door as though life isn’t slipping away in the rooms around them. For the first time in months, I’m alone—really and truly alone. And my solitude frees me.

I leave my bravery on the rolling tray table, along with the pudding I never touch, and let the tears spill. Tonight, I just want to be pretty again.

I want to dance like I used to, like gravity isn’t my worst enemy.

I want my first kiss, and though I know it’ll never happen, I imagine the way it would feel to have a boy’s lips against mine. Maybe Mark’s, the boy whose name decorates last year’s hot pink binder.

My solitude is interrupted when Mom enters the room, catching me in the middle of a breathless, teary gulp. She sees the tears drenching my cheeks and drops her purse at the door, rushing to me. For the briefest instant, I regret everything, because Mom could always cry at the drop of a hat, and usually I can soothe her.

But I’m still weak from leaving my strength on the tray table, and all I can do is cry the way Mom usually does.

Something strange happens when her arms encircle me. I feel something I don’t understand, coming from deep within and swelling in my chest. Almost like…strength. Then a warmth, the very warmth I’ve been fighting against. It too enters my soul, and my weeps drain me.

I don’t want to be alone, I realize, never again. But I’m not, because for the first time since the diagnosis, I absorb comfort from the same arms that rocked me as a young child, the arms I used to run to and the arms I’ve only recently rejected. These arms, warm and soft and smelling like childhood, give me something I can no longer give everyone else. They give me what I lacked all along and what I realize I’ve always wanted.

Thoughts of dancing again, maybe with her; thoughts of running and thoughts of hair, so long it tangles; thoughts of laughter and a body that knows no bounds.

The arms of my mother give me hope.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Deadly Seven

Okay, so not deadly, unless you're talking Death By Boredom. I was tagged by a twitter friend, Paige Randall, to do a blog post called "7 Lovely Things About You." Technically, I do still have a little over an hour of Monday remaining, according to PST, so this will also count as that Monday Blogs post I felt like I should write. Because, of course, this is vital stuff.

That being said, these things aren't "lovely." They're But I will try to make them as beautiful-sounding as I can. Sometimes I can write good well.

*Update: I did not make them as beautiful-sounding as I could.

  1. I hate being scared. You might wonder why I would list something so obvious, because--duh--who likes being scared? Well, apparently most people do. Because they spend tons of money every year on scary movies, and haunted houses at Halloween. When I say I hate being scared, I really mean it. I mean Get that shit away from me. Being frightened is NOT my idea of a good time.
  2. When I was fifteen, and at the peek of my awkwardness--and when I had just moved to a new school and was trying to make friends (not easy for an introvert and once-upon-a-time shy teen)--I dyed my hair after one-too-many trips to the pool that summer, and it turned my hair blue. BLUE. My mom took me to a salon and they were dumbfounded. There was nothing even professionals could do to get it back to normal. It was too damaged from too many dye jobs and too much chlorine. If this had happened now, I probably would have just left it and went with it; after all, that hair color is kind of in right now. But back then, 16 years ago? No way. I was MORTIFIED, and wouldn't go to school. So what did I do? I went back to that salon and had them chop of the damaged blue/green hair, leaving just the natural-colored, healthy roots. So, when I was fifteen and trying to make new friends at a new school, I had my hair cut like a boy. And I knew NOTHING about style back then. Nothing. I didn't know how to wear it, and let me tell you: my face shape and short hair like that do NOT mix. *shivers* Anyway, it totally wrecked my social standing that I had slowly been building. Unfortunately, that's how high school was/is. I even heard a year later how one of the boys was going to ask me out...until I cut my hair. He never talked to me after that.
  3. Oh, and to make matters in number two worse, I didn't get boobs until I was sixteen. Up until then, I was the flat-chested, lanky, elf-eared, boy-girl. Not much else to say about that.
  4. Sometimes I daydream of wandering into a charming mill, with brick interior walls, and surprising the lonely janitor while he works single-handedly in the bathroom.
  5. I love inside jokes.
  6. I also love analyzing my real dreams. I have a dream analyzing website marked on my browser because of how frequently I use it. Tornadoes? Going back to high school? Unable to find a bathroom stall? Trapped in a maze of a locker room? You're not alone.
  7. Back when I used to write poetry and verses as a teen and in my young twenties, I could write only dark things. The dark things are all that inspired me. But I'm pretty sure if I started writing poetry again, now, it would be the complete opposite. If you ask me, the light is winning.
There you have it, folks. And no, I'm not going to tag anyone. I don't like to inflict pain on others. But feel free to tag yourself!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Work In Progress Blog Tour

My rather glamorous WIP process

I know it's not Monday Blogs, but I like to go against the grain. Plus, I was nominated by Sonya Craig in the WIP Blog Tour. Sonya is basically the life to our twitter party. And probably to any party she attends. Or any room she walks into, actually. One of my only extroverted writer friends, Sonya writes kick-ass sci-fi and makes me laugh on a daily basis, and then some. On top of all that though, and even on top of the fact that she is a kick-ass artist, she is one of the most amazing and strong women I know. One of my dearest friends and soul sisters, who comes in a cute, petite package of crazy, and who uses her cat, Fat Cat, as a weapon. Check out her blog, and if you're on twitter, follow her. You'll never have a dull day again.

Okay, the rules for this blog tour are simple. 1. Link back to the person who nominated you. (I'm already acing this.) 2. Share a little about your WIP. 3. Share the first sentence from the first three chapters. (I'm a rule-breaker and rebel generous person, so I will probably share a bit more than the first line.) 4. Nominate four one writers to do the same. (This is my blog, so I can change the rules.)

Anyone who knows me knows that my WIP is currently in editorial/publication phase. HEMLOCK VEILS will be available on ebook and paperback on November 25, courtesy Swoon Romance! This process has been so very exciting, and watching my baby (my novel) go through these publication stages has been a dream come true. When I first began writing Henry and Elizabeth's story, which is a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I had no intention of going public with it. This one was special to me, and I wrote it with no industry standards in mind. This was mine, and I wrote my heart. I didn't think anyone else would find it lovable.

Then I finished it and decided I wanted a couple of people to read it. Long story short, I found out that others loved it, too. And after many months of grueling rejections and alterations, here we are!

HEMLOCK VEILS is the first in a paranormal romance series (the next book, VEIL OF THE ROSE, will be released from Swoon Romance next April). It begins the story of Elizabeth Ashton, who ends up in the small Oregon town of Hemlock Veils. She is immediately introduced to the magic of that place, and the monster that the town is cursed with. It roams the forest every night, and because she is the only one who isn't afraid, she discovers his secrets. But the beast isn't the only one who has secrets. Elizabeth has her own demons she is running from. Fears are faced, real demons are fought, and the true power of love--even sacrifice--is realized.

Chapter 1

Every trace of Willem’s blood had been scrubbed away days before, but Elizabeth Ashton’s hands would never be clean. It caked the space beneath her otherwise spotless fingernails, embedded there for life.

Chapter 2

Elizabeth couldn’t swallow. Did she stand in one of the places her father used to speak of—a place where magic existed?

Chapter 3

Regina Washington—with a narrowed, cautious stare—poured Brian Dane another cup of steaming coffee, then returned her hand to her ample hip.

Up next, I'm nominating one of my favorite authors, Matt King. Matt is another writer and friend in our twitter clan--and when it comes down to it, one of my kindred spirits. He's the best kind of nerd there is and will talk Marvel Cinematic Universe with you for hours if you let him, which is just one of the reasons he is super awesome. All that, and even his gut-busting sense of humor, aside, he is honestly one of the best writers out there. It blows my mind that he isn't published yet, but when it does happen, his name will one everyone knows. In the meantime, I'd like to get it out there that I'm the first fangirl of his CIRCLE WAR series (which is about--you guessed it--superheroes). I just hope he remembers us little people when he's famous. I'm currently reading GODSEND, the first book in the series, and I can't put it down (metaphorically speaking). Check out his blog, where you can see little glimpses of that amazing talent, or follow him on twitter and he might add you to his People Who Do Not Suck list. But don't ask him to get large insects out of your car. DON'T!