Secret Heart Soundtrack Track 2: Closer

Avery is pretty much a fictional version of Tegan and Sara, so it’s only natural that the soundtrack to Secret Hearis full of Tegan and Sara songs. Also, a little known fact: I was at a Tegan and Sara show in 2012 when the seed of this story was planted (at the time I was calling it  Prom and Prejudice) and during NaNoWriMo in 2012 I had “Closer” on repeat.

 

 

 

And here’s the official video with dogs!

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Secret Heart Soundtrack Track 1: This is Anarchy

In creating my soundtrack for Secret Heart, I wanted to include bands I love. The first song on Avery’s playlist in the book is “This is Anarchy” by Tacocat, a feminist-pop quartet from Seattle.

Smash the state, dirty plates, sleep all day so I can stay up late

This is anarchy

Just can’t do the daily grind, finally found somethin’ I can get behind

 

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Cover Reveal: Secret Heart

Due to the chaotic life of self-publishing, I’ve had to push back my release of SECRET HEART until Tuesday, October 11th. It is actually perfect because it is also National Coming Out Day. After much work, the brilliant Alex Kahler has created a beautiful cover based on my description, “Something that looks like a Taylor Swift album cover.”

We also have new back jacket copy.

Avery Jennings is a punk-rock guitarist with a secret weakness for rom-coms and Taylor Swift. Her band, Detonate the Gazelle is ready to move to Austin after graduation, but Avery is having second thoughts. She’s fallen hard for Madison Shea, student council president with a douchebag boyfriend, after their orbits collide at Oak Bluff High’s inaugural Gay-Straight Alliance meeting. Even though it goes against her rules about crushing on straight girls, Avery relentlessly pursues Madison. Their chemistry is too magnetic to deny and soon they are making out in car washes and school bathrooms and holding hands under tables.  Avery wants to take their relationship public but Madison is afraid of her conservative family’s reaction and that it’ll ruin her chances as Prom Queen. Their secret relationship is put to the ultimate test when student council vetoes a proposal for a gay-friendly prom and the club decides to throw a free Unprom the same night as Prom with Detonate the Gazelle as the headliner. If Unprom proves to be more popular than Prom, Madison will hold it against her and Avery will lose her shot at taking her relationship with Madison public. What started off as a love song may have just turned into a breakup ballad.

 

More fun news: Proceeds from my book sales will go to the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network because all teens needs a safe space in school.

Links for preorders for SECRET HEART will be up soon!

And finally, the cover reveal:

SecretHeart1

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New flash fiction “Graylight”

For the second week in a row I’ve had a short story published. Last week it was “Agenda” in 200 cc’s and today brings you “Graylight” in Dime Show Review. It will also appear in a print issue of Dime Show Review later this year.

“Graylight” is a genderqueer sci-fi rom-com set in the Seattle Public Library. I’ve never written sci-fi before, so it was kind of a fun trip to see how the story unfolded. The world-building in “Graylight” was not that different than the world-building in any of my contemporary stories.

And of course, in my version of the future everyone in genderqueer.

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New Flash Fiction: “Agenda”

My life has been a cross between chaos and a situation comedy lately, so in between my mom-fog and putting the final touches and doing legal legwork for SECRET HEART, I completely forgot that my flash fiction piece, “Agenda” was publishing today over at 200 cc’s. This was the first short story I wrote after BB was born (I wrote it while we were at Seattle Children’s Hospital) and the first one I sold since “The End of Them” was published in Stratus.

I’m over the moon on how well it turned out. You can read all 199 words of it here.

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Breaking news: I’m self-publishing

After two years of being on submission and getting super close more times than I can count, I’ve decided to self-publish my YA romantic dramedy, SECRET HEART.

SECRET HEART is a teenage KISSING JESSICA STEIN with a DAWSON’S CREEK vibe set to a soundtrack of Sleater-Kinney, Tegan and Sara and Taylor Swift. In fact, the lyrics to Tegan and Sara’s new song “Boyfriend” are pretty much the synopsis to SECRET HEART.

This story is my heart and it’s been killing me for the last two years (3 3/4 years if you count the first draft during NaNoWriMo 2012) that it’s not in the hands of those who might need it most. I could keep waiting for the right editor to find it in their inbox, but it’s more important to me right now to forge my own path than to wait for a trail guide to lead me along the rocky terrain.

And then there’s Orlando. 

I grew up in what I lovingly refer to as the armpit of Florida, a small town on the Gulf Coast, about 100 miles from Orlando.

There’s a reason why everything I write is set in Florida. There’s all the comedy news bits about snakes driving tractors and alligators at Walmart and sink holes swallowing up trailers and then you have the Florida that I grew up in. This is the Florida where my lesbian bff wasn’t comfortable to be out and my gay friends dropped out of high school because it wasn’t safe place for them, where the oppressive humidity made you question your life, and where there are still places where the Civil War is still being fought. I lived on a weird peninsula that was always and never in the direct path of a hurricane. We were too far north to have the Yankee transplants and fabulousness that is Miami and too far south to be called the South. My town was too small to be a real city and too large to be a small town. No one drove over 30 mph. It was retirees as far as the eye could see.

During my teenage years 20 years ago, this was a cultural wasteland. We had the mall and movies and that was pretty much it. There was nothing for teenagers to do but drive around aimlessly, hang out at Steak and Shake or Dennys, and walk the beach at night. We were full of angst, desperate to hightail the hell out of there after graduation.

Avery, my main character in SECRET HEART, has the same history with Florida that I do. She loves and loathes it. And while she is open and living the life she wants to live, it doesn’t work like that for everyone. And so I wrote that novel. A novel about a girl falling in love with another girl, one who wasn’t comfortable in her own skin and ready to be labeled. I wrote a novel about best friends who support each other and give each other shit. I wrote a novel about a community of students who decide to stand up to their high school’s antiquated ways and prejudices and throw their own damn Prom.

I wrote the novel I wanted to read at 17. A novel that my best friend should have had to read.

My agent and I had already made the decision to self-publish SECRET HEART before the terror in Orlando, and those horrible events only made me want to contribute to the community I love even more. It felt like the right decision not to wait anymore. It was time that I shared the book I love with the characters I love like they are my own damn kids with everyone.

On September 13th, 2016 everyone will get to meet Avery, Scott and Madison.* In the meantime, rock out to Tegan and Sara.

 

*If you don’t like sex, swearing, and sarcasm, you probably won’t like SECRET HEART. And I’m cool with that.

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June 20, 2016 · 3:36 pm

Mother’s Day Musings

If there’s one thing I seem to write about more than anything lately, it’s motherhood. It’s hard not to write about what consumes your life 24/7/366 (Leap Year, holla!) I wrote CRyP6VWVEAAyeiRabout my mom in 2014  and about my first Mother’s Day last year. This year I wrote about celebrating Mother’s Day in the hospital for Preemie Babies 101.

As cliche as it sounds, I had no idea how much my life would change once I became a mom. Granted, I also had a complicated pregnancy, a premature baby, and a very hard first yeaCaya51mUUAA51Nir as a parent with BB in the hospital for so long and coming home on a feeding tube. The writing life I knew before having a kid is gone. My leisurely days in the cafe with my writing partner are far and few. It’s more difficult to write at home in my writing cave with the sound of a toddler running after dogs overhead. I’ve yet to master writing during BB’s nap times because a) they are practically nonexistent and b) I’m so exhausted from chasing a F3 tornado that I nap. I’ve got the kid who needs even less sleep than I do.

And so my writing has changed this year. I’ve struggled with the fact I’m no longer as prolific as I once was. When the words don’t come easy I throw a toddler-sized tantrum on Twitter. The middle grade novel I’ve been working on for two years has started and stalled too many times to count.

Despite all this, my writing has gotten better. When I do find time to write, I write. My words are careful if not meticulous at times. I don’t have time (or energy) to do anything half-assed now only to scrap it later. My time is valuable. I love my kid and want to be with him as much as I can, so all the time I leave the house with a laptop in hand I have to be productive. Otherwise, what the hell am I doing? I could be using that much needed me time to go to the gym, to read a book, or take a nap. 12309897_10207436962496748_320479077348579794_o

BB took his first steps on a night I was out writing. As soon as my car pulled out of the driveway, BB turned from the baby gate and took six steps toward my husband. I was halfway to the cafe where I meet Kristin, another writing partner, when I got the text You’re missing his first steps. To be honest, I cried. I’d just spent the last 12 hours (none of which included a nap) with BB and he’d shown no signs of walking. But I didn’t turn my  car around and go home. I drove to the cafe where I bought two lavender bubble teas and wrote a chapter in my middle grade novel, pausing only to watch the videos of BB walking that my husband texted to me. It was then that I realized I’d probably miss a lot of firsts and that was okay. Writing is important to me as is time away from BB. That space allows me to be a better mom which makes me a better writer, but I’ll save that for another essay one day.CO_HqMNUEAARh6W

Since becoming a mom, I’ve returned to my first love: flash fiction. It’s what I started writing years ago, publishing my first short story in 2003. The first real thing I wrote after BB was born in the hospital was a 200-word flash piece which I recently sold to 200 CC’s. “Agenda” will be published later this summer. Flash fiction is a perfect outlet for me now. I can get my thoughts and ideas down and challenge myself without the mental fatigue. I’m writing more now than ever because it’s easy to dip in and out of a short story, unlike my MG novel. I’m carving out time to write short pieces on my lunch break at work, in the evening after BB has fallen asleep, or while my husband drives. In 2016 alone I’ve written 7 nCdxyJ3NUsAAtBDrew flash pieces and three essays and I’ve placed four pieces. I’m now a contributor to Preemie Babies 101 thanks to a door opened for me by another writing mom.

As challenging as motherhood is, I’m extremely grateful for the direction it has led me in my writing life. BB won’t be a F3 tornado forever and maybe I’ll crank out two novels a year again like I used to. In the meantime though. I’m going to embrace the insane moments and use them as inspiration for flash fiction and essays. And I’m going to keep working on that middle grade novel. With any luck, it’ll be done by the time BB can read.

 

 

 

 

 

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Bad Poetry Friday

There’s only two more days left in National Poetry Month. Make them count!Tofino 049

23

Sundays were for sleep

Now the calendar is full

of toddler playdates

 

 

24

Getting jealous thoughts

when I read an amazing book

is how I will fall

 

25

Drink coffee coffee

coffee coffee drink coffee

coffee coffee drink

 

26

Everything I write

is hot wet garbage left out

for vultures to eat

 

27

This would be easy

if I actually said things

that sounded profound

 

28

2016 has been a

series of obituary

headlines in papers

 

29

Why do I grow old

each day when I still feel young

inside my body?

 

30

This month of poems has

flown out the window on a

blustery spring breeze

 

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Bad Poetry Friday

9

Sometimes poetry

sneaks up behind you

and taps your shoulder

10

Sometimes poetry

hides from your heart and the words

slowly disappear

11

Sometimes poetry

is a cat on a brown couch

teasing a little dog

12

Sometimes poetry

isn’t anything at all

beacuse your brain hurts

13

Haiku, I haven’t

forgotten you, even though it

seems like Megan has

14

My baby waddled

into toddlerhood when

I wasn’t looking

15

Tiny toddler

is a f-5 tornado

tearing through my house

12924562_10208413148740794_2629591681837581550_n16

Summer snuck in while

Spring was busy stopping to

smell the new flowers

17

I can’t tell which is

worse-this idea or these

poems I dare to write

18

April brings baseball

cool nights listening to the

radio broadcast

19

I can’t stop reading

books that make me ugly cry

Shelve them with Kleenex

20

What if I ran out

of things to say right smack

in the middle of–

21

Sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep

chasing that dragon nightly

sleep sleep sleep sleep

22

Today was awful

too many bad things to share

But I ate pizza

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Bad Poetry Friday

April is National Poetry month. Inspired by the amazing Jason Reynolds I am writing a poem a day, though mostly haikus.

These are the poems from April 1st-8th

(1)

April is for poems

but I am not a poet

This will surely suck

 

(2)

Haikus are just texts

sent before there were cell phones

poet to poet

 

(3)

Early bird wakes me up

Drinking coffee under the trees

Dad is still asleep

 

IMG_1435

(4)

Wherever we go

it always rains on our trips

Metaphor for life?

 

(5)

The tide is too high

for dogs to chase seagulls

Goodbye, Oregon

 

(6)

My kid hogs my bed

steals covers and my pillow

Wish I fit in cribs

 

(7)

Summer has snuck in

much like a teenager who

has broken curfew

 

(8)

I used to dream of

going on wild adventures

Now I dream of naps

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