28 July 2013



It is a word that calls up so many memories of my grandparents. Growing up I spent nearly every summer of my childhood bouncing back and forth across the Minnesota-North Dakota border from my mom's parents to my dad's parents. And I loved it.

(in fact, I just disappeared to see how much flights are running these days...)

Every summer Grandpa S. would buy me a summer pass to the pool and I would spend pretty much every afternoon at the pool. There were days that would pass where I would wear only pajamas and a swimsuit.

Some days we would go to a lake.

Some days we would go to the farm.

Some days we would go to Fergus or to Fargo and Grandpa V. would buy me a cassette of whatever music I was into at the time.

Some days we would travel to Wisconsin to visit family there. I read the entire Anne of Green Gables series during one such week.

I had a house full of friends who lived next door to Grandpa and Grandma S.

Every day was filled with love. Summer was my safe and comfortable place.

Fall, winter, and spring were different. They were times of divorces and times of change. I went to elementary school at four different school in four different towns and three different states. I was good at making new friends and then leaving those friends behind. The only friends that I kept during those years were my summer friends. I rarely had contact with them for the other nine months of the year, but during the summer months we were thick as thieves from the first day I arrived until the inevitable day I would depart.

Adult summers are a different beast. There is work and a great many more responsibilities. I've lived in this house longer than I've lived in any other place during my entire life...and it's only been eight years. While I am happy with my life, content with the choices I've made, there are still some days when I want to get in an airplane and fly to the smallest of airports where my grandparents will be waiting for me, along with an entire summer of bike rides and swimming pools.

07 July 2013

Writing, Vacation, and First Lines

It's a lazy sort of Sunday morning around here. Zelda's snoozing on the back patio, E's still buried beneath the covers of our bed and I'm settled in the library with an iced coffee (made with our amazing Toddy cold brewing system...YUM!) and the sound of the bookcase clock ticking off the time. The sky is still gray, though I suspect (I have yet to check the forecast) that within a few hours there will be sunshine and blue skies.

Today is a sort of bittersweet day, as the last day of lovely vacations tend to be. And this was a lovely vacation. I haven't felt a calm that runs this deep since, well, that weekend I spent at the beach last October. I feel...relaxed.

This vacation has been filled with grand adventures (LeakyCon...which I still can't stop thinking about, in fact, I'm fairly certain I've convinced E to join me in Orlando next year) and it's been filled with quiet afternoons in the backyard reading books and lounging in the sun. I've wandered to various coffee shops trying to find a new writing space. I've hung out with some of my favorite people.

I've been reading and writing and reading about writing. I spent a great deal of time the other day writing about the manuscript I've been trying to finish. I essentially combined a character bio with an outline and just talked about the story and the people in the story. I wrote about the motivations, the reasons behind the actions, hoping to get a stronger sense for what was working and what wasn't working...and I think it really helped. I think I understand my story in a much clearer way and as I continue working on the manuscript, I think I finally understand the changes that must be made, for the good of the story.

I also spent some time looking back at my Pick-Up Lines post from the end of May. For some mysterious reason I absolutely cannot find the post on my Facebook page where people commented on which first line they wanted to see more of. I'm kind of bummed about that. I figured I was long overdue to take the second challenge and write the first paragraph. I went with the line I remembered multiple people selecting, "Tell me," Jeremiah said, "how it is you ended up here, at my door in the middle of the night, when you are supposed to be on a plane to the other side of the world."

Let's just say I ended up writing a bit more than a paragraph and if you're curious you can find it here.

So all and all, I'd say this was exactly the sort of vacation I needed. Though there is a part of me that wishes I never had to go back to work, there is a part of me that's ready to go back and see the awesome people I get to work with and surround myself with books.

Picked Up (a follow-up to the Pick-Up Lines Post)

At the end of May I wrote a post about first lines and did an exercise based around that. The original post can be found here. This past week I took the next challenge which was to turn a first line (which if memory serves was one that most people were interested in knowing more about) into the first paragraph. I couldn't stop with one paragraph and ended up writing a whole page. I was surprised by what came out. It was not at all what I was expecting.

I'm already thinking about NaNoWriMo 2013 and the story that I'll tell this year. Perhaps it will be this one, perhaps I'll find something else entirely. I do know that I'm going to do more pre-planning this time perhaps even doing a story outline (in some form or another).

But for now, in case you were curious, here's what came out of that first line:

"Tell me," Jeremiah said, "how it is you ended up here, at my door in the middle of the night, when you are supposed to be on a plane to the other side of the world."
All the way from the airport, riding in the back of a taxi that seemed to contain the stench of every passenger who’d come before, I’d been thinking of this moment, the moment when Jeremiah would open the door and I would finally tell him the words that I had been saving for 10 years, words I’d been holding back since we were seventeen and he caught me smoking a cigarette outside, alone, during our senior prom. Words I should have spoken then but didn’t because his date was two steps behind him.
Now there were no excuses left. I would finally tell him the truth, how I’d had a crush on him since we were 14 and fate had given us neighboring lockers on the first day of high school.
“Who is it?” I heard an unfamiliar woman’s sleep-coated voice emerge from darkness of the apartment.
Jeremiah looked at me and then looked back towards the apartment. “It’s just a friend, babe. I’m going to step outside for a minute.”
I could feel the tears rising from the depths. I’d always been good at swallowing them down, but this time I couldn’t make them stop. I turned and walked down the hallway to the door leading to the staircase and opened it, not looking back to see if Jeremiah was still behind me.
I should have known this was a horrible idea. I should have gotten on the plane and left for my new life, leaving old friends and unrequited loves behind, in the past where they belonged. Maybe I’d watched too many romantic films or maybe I’d had one too many mojitos in the airport bar as I waited for my plane to begin boarding. Whatever it was I wished I could go back in time and erase it so I’d never end up here, sitting alone in a stairwell, embarrassed, alone and crying.
My personal pity part was really starting to heat up when I heard the door open and close behind me. I buried my tear-streaked face in my hands so Jeremiah wouldn’t be able to see.
He sat down beside me and I felt the weight and warmth of his arm wrap around me. “Alice,” he said, his voice steady, calm, and sure. “What happened?”
Here I was, faced with that moment of truth, the opportunity to say those very words I’d come here to say.
Instead I said, “My flight was cancelled and I just didn’t know where else to go.”
Another lie.
And whether Jeremiah believed me or not, he accepted those words.

03 July 2013

Life After Leaky

It's been a strange sort of transition from the four days I spent at LeakyCon to the very normalness of every day life. I'm really glad I decided to take an entire week off before going back to work. One, because I would have been completely exhausted, and two, because I think I really needed this time to process the entire experience.

There were times when I was lonely, times when I was surrounded by thousands of literal people and yet, completely alone. There were times when I felt like I didn't belong, like I was too old to be a part of this experience. Those were the hard times.

And then there were the times when I felt like I was surrounded by two thousand friends with four thousand welcoming arms, times when I danced with strangers for hours and hours, times when I laughed, times when I cried, times when I laughed until I cried.

And I was inspired.

I saw so many brilliant, funny, and kind authors, agents, editors. I watched them lie and read stories they wrote when they were teenagers. I listened to their struggles, their triumphs, their stories.

And I was reminded of my own stories.

And I was reminded that it's still important to tell them.

A selection of photos from LeakyCon 2013