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 I am simply too wowed by Blogger to continue on here at LiveJournal.  I hate abandoning this blog, but I think you'll like my new one better.

Please find me at: http://jessie-harrell.blogspot.com

Friday Flashback: The Yearbook

 Today was my daughters' last day of school.  *sniff, sniff*  So of course, this week kids were running around the hallways, yearbooks and markers in hand, begging each other for signatures.  Can't you just feel the memories flooding back to you now?
I remember my freshman yearbook cover in particular because I got my name embossed on it.  Or rather, my nickname.  DOLPHIN.  Yeah, you heard that right.  I was a marine nut, my last name was Dalton; the nickname is sort of obvious. *head-palm*

My sophomore year I was actually on the yearbook staff.  Because I'm a sucker, I ended up in the ads department, making those sappy end of the year farewells to seniors and selling advertising space.  That was a one-year gig.  I was pictured a lot in that one though...

Skip junior year.  Nothing memorable comes to mind.  Senior year.  Yearbook theme: Paper or Plastic.  (It's been 15 freakin' years and I still remember that.)  The theme was all about choices we would be making as we enter the real world.  Seniors in general always featured prominently in the yearbook, so this might be another reason I recall it so well.

I wish I had my yearbooks close at hand so I could go back over the inscriptions.  (Darn you, storage unit, not being at my house.)  I'm sure there are some things in there that would make me laugh, blush, cry...  I remember the prettiest girl in school & our homecoming queen writing in my yearbook one year that I was beautiful.  It was memorable because she misspelled beautiful wrong.  At least God didn't give her brains and beauty.

I remember my best friend and I had an inside joke.  We both took French and one day I did her a favor.  Instead of telling me "Je t'aime," she said "Je aime tu."  She wrote that in my yearbook one year.  I think sophomore??  

Anyway, that's my little trip down memory lane.  I'm sure you all have some good yearbook follies you can share.  Please dish!

A BP Boycott?

So, after watching Anderson Cooper 360 for the past couple of nights, I was all prepared to get on my Soap Box this am and call for a BP Boycott.  I mean, have you see the pictures of what their failed drilling practices are doing to our waters?  It's only a matter of time before islands are totally destroyed, species are endangered, and oil spreads past even the Gulf Coast states.  It's a travesty and I'm convinced not enough is being done.

But I figured I'd do some research first, and I came across this article.www.winknews.com/Local-Florida/2010-05-24/Local-BP-gas-station-owners-say-boycotting-them-doesnt-hurt-BP  In short, gas station owners say that a boycott only hurts the locally-owned business, who might not even be selling BP gas.  (WHAT???  This is a whole 'nother topic I could be angry about.)  And BP, which sells its crude oil for far more products than the just gas, won't feel the pinch at all. 

They say the answer, if you want to send a message to BP, is to write your state representative and demand that BP be fined.  So now I'm torn.  Is that enough?  I have no interest in shutting down American-owned business because of the actions of a British conglomerate.  But at the same time, I feel a message needs to be sent from the people, not just the government, that you can't do this to our environment and get away with it.

What do you think?  What are you doing, if anything, about the disaster?


Friday Flashback: Dress for the Ex

 Note: I know that it may appear I have abandoned my blog here in favor of the really kick ass collaborative blog called Oasis for YA over on blogger - http://oasisforya.blogspot.com - but I do intend to keep up with ya'll here. I've just been busy.  That's all.  Now back to your regularly scheduled (albeit tardy) Friday Flashback.  
This week: Dress for the Ex


So I was in Lacoste with hubby the other day and there’s this girl frantically picking out a new outfit because she’s got a party to go to and her ex is going to be there. Not the guy she’s in love with or the one she wants to hook up with. Her ex. I know this because she won’t shut up about it to the equally annoying sales girl.

When she goes into the dressing room, I roll my eyes and snort about how I should tuck away that little nugget for my next YA novel or something. I felt pretty superior for about 30 seconds. When I remembered I had done the same exact freaking thing in college.

Granted, Lacoste was not involved (as it would not have been part of my college budget), but I distinctly remember dressing up for a back-to-school party-like-thing my ex was going to be attending. And why do I remember this so clearly? Because he and I were the ONLY two people who were dressed up. Everyone else was in shorts and t-shirts, drinking a beer and watching the Gators kill whatever whipping post team we paid that first week to come play us.

But not Donny and me. I was in a sun dress. We was in -- something. Hell, I don’t remember. Maybe a button down? The point is, it wasn’t like our circle of friends expanded over the summer. We knew who was going to be there and there would be no trawling for a fresh catch going down. We were just trying to show the other person that we had risen above and still looked damn good, thank you very much. It’s that whole “look what you’re missing out on” non-verbal statement.

Absurd? Perhaps. But I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same thing even now. I just wouldn’t be so overt about it. What about you? Did you dress to impress when coming in contact with the ex? Or were you a more mature teen than I?

"You see things; and you say "Why?" But I dream things that never were; and I say "Why Not?" ~ George Bernard Shaw

K, here's the deal-e-o. I have no new writing of my own to post, so I'm going to share a writing lesson I learned from the he book I just picked up and finished this weekend. I know. An author commenting on another author's work is treading on dangerous ground. By virtue of the very fact that Claudia Gray has been published and landed a 4 book deal with HarperCollins tells me any criticism I might have with her work should be my own personal cross to bear. Right?

Apparently I'm not smart enough to keep my mouth shut. So I offer you this lesson in the spirit of learning, because I learned something very important about writing while I read Evernight

First, let me just say that I read this book in a weekend.  That's a major compliment.  I'm a fast reader, but not particularly a night owl.  I was up till midnight two nights in a row to finish.  Since I place high value on my sleep, you can rest assured that Evernight was a page-turner.

Here's what made me mad taught me something important about writing.  You know how writers are FOREVER being told not to start a book with a dream sequence?  It's like a broken promise to your reader.  You get them going on this really cool premise and then you're like, oops, never mind, it was a dream. Not cool.  I feel like that's what happened to me at chapter 8 or 9 of this book.  Like there was a reality sitting out there that was hidden from me and then sprung on me.  Wha-bam!

And it was SO contrary to what we'd be led to believe.  Not like, all the signs were there and you should have seen it coming, but completely the opposite.  I was actually pretty darn angry about it.  Not enough to stop reading, mind you.  And not even enough to keep me from ordering up book 2 on my Kindle (which I did this afternoon), but mad enough to make me stop and think about all the mantra-like advice we hear all the time: don't start your book with a dream.

So I'm going to expound on that just a little.  As an author, I will endeavor to give me readers a twist, something they didn't see coming.  But not at the expense of leaving my readers all fuzzy headed like they just woke up from a dream.  They should be able to look back and say, "of course!' not, "WTF?"  So, I have learned not to make my plot twists so unpredictable and out of left field that they are little better than starting off with a dream.

Launch of Oasis for YA


I am SO, SO excited to announce that Oasis for YA - a collaborate blog between A.E. Rought, J.A. Souders, Nikki Katz, Sheri Larsen and myself is launching tomorrow.  It's designed to be a sanctuary from the often chaotic world of writing, revising and submitting.  Stop by each day for a fun, new post on these topics: Monday's Sanctuary (easing the stress), Tuesday Tunes (check out our favorite tunes for the week and post your own), Writer's Wednesday (writing tips), Thankful for Thursday (let's share our good news for the week), Friday Freestyle (including interviews, reviews and/or give-aways).

I hope you'll drop by, become our friend, and leave your feedback.  I know we could all use a little more sanctuary in the day.

Friday Flashback: First Car

Hmm... why do I have a penchant for embarrassing myself on the internet? I guess it’s better than someone else doing it for me.

My first car was my mom’s hand-me-down. The year was 1994. The car was vintage 1988. Six years old you say? That’s not so bad. Wrong. I haven’t told you the make and model yet.

Mercury. Topaz.
(OMG - now that I see one again, it’s even worse than I remembered.) But it’s worse even than what’s pictured. My mom bought the car used from a rental car agency which had decided from some inexplicable reason to “pimp” the car. They covered a perfectly good metal roof with a leather-like substance. I’m talking on the OUTSIDE here, people.

(Something like this little two-tone effect. Only my car was white with a tan top.)

By the time I got the car, the top had deteriorated and torn. It was truly a “rag top” in the most horrific way you can imagine.

And once the pleather started to go, water got trapped underneath. You guessed it. The top rusted out. Every time it rained, my dome light filled up with water. And in case you didn’t know, it rains quite a bit in south Florida.

I do have one awesome memory in that car though. My best friend and I drove to Tampa to see the Eagles in concert. The speedometer, as it turns out, only read up to 80 mph. Literally. On the far right side it said: 80. Underneath that it said: mph. So as we’re rocking and rolling on our way back from Tampa, we realize we have no idea how fast we’re going. Figuring ignorance would be a good defense, if I got pulled over for speeding and the officer asked me if I knew how fast I was going, I had a retort all planned out.

“I don’t know, officer. What does mph mean to you?”

I know. I never would’ve had the guts to say that. But my friend and I still think of that trip and laugh about it to this day.

So, what were your first wheels? Have any lasting memories you want to share?

A Rant About Cupid & Psyche

For those of you who know me and actually read this blog, you probably know that my completed novel, Destined, is a retelling of the ancient myth of Cupid and Psyche. I love this myth. I've loved it ever since I read it as a classical studies major in college. As the major suggests, I learned a thing or two about Greek and Roman mythology.

Fact: the first recorded version we have of the Cupid and Psyche myth comes to us as part of Lucius Apuleius' tale, The Golden Ass.

Apuleius was a Roman. So, even though he though his story was about a Greek princess, he used the Roman names for the gods and goddesses. This is why the story has come down to us through the ages as Cupid and Psyche and not Eros and Psyche.

Now, I don't live in a glass bubble.  I don't expect that everyone will understand the origins of the myth and it may cause some initial confusion.  And if and when I get an agent and a publisher and THEY feel really strongly that I should change the names back to the Greek gods, I just may well do that.  In the interim, I'm sticking to the original myth.

What brought about this rant was a comment I received about my work on a forum today. This was made by a lady who had written an Egyptian historical novel (which suggests she knows something about ancient history), so I was rather blindsided by her critique.  Her comment went something -- no exactly -- like this:

I’m extremely confused about your choice to use the name Venus, which is Roman, in place of Aphrodite, who is the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Nothing in the sample page has made it clear why a Greek princess is bothering herself about Roman gods. My guess is the research hasn’t happened to make this a serious historical romance, and for me personally, that means I’d pass on the book. Other “agents” (*wink*) might feel differently, though. The writing isn’t bad at all, but I’m too much of an ancient history nut to willingly go along with the choices you’ve made here. If I really felt myself drawn to the writing, I might offer to re-consider the full after revisions.

Maybe I shouldn't let this comment get to me so much.  In fact, I know it shouldn't.  But it does.  It really gets under my skin that someone calls out my research -- which I assure you, was extensive -- in a public forum when it's abundantly clear that they do not have one clue what they are talking about.  Since I posted my first 250 words in one of those Secret Agent contests, and I have to remain anonymous in that forum for now, I cannot publicly rebut her attack on my work there.  I can only hope it doesn't affect the secret agent's decision.

That's why you, my faithful friends, have to listen to me.  Sorry.  Really, I promise I'm not normally this sensitive.  Critique my writing, my plot lines, any of it, and I'm more than willing to listen with open ears and an open mind.  But when you attack something over which I actually have no control (the original recording of the myth) and use it to suggest that I haven't done my research, that makes me angry.

And now I'm done.  :)

Tuesday Tales: The New Novel

 Hello all - I'm starting to work on novel #2 and rather than outlining, I'm writing the synopsis.  (It's not quite done yet in case you're wondering why it ends at the climax.  I'm sort of stuck there at the moment.)  Before I go on, I'm curious if this book sounds like something that would interest you?  It's a YA romantic thriller set on an exclusive but rustic island in the upper peninsula of Michigan.  

Seventeen year old Wren had big plans for the summer, and they didn’t include total isolation for two weeks.

After her parents depart for a three week cruise and her best friend, Cass, gets grounded for two of those weeks, Wren is left alone on the summer island of the uber rich in the upper peninsula of Michigan. In this land of antique Chris Crafts and personal sailboats, Wren nearly gets run over by the only guy cruising around in a Donzi. Twenty-one year old Chase Mortenson is new money and bad news.

But since there’s no one else on the island yet, Wren ends up hanging out with Chase and his eighteen year old sister, Annie. In the company of of a seemingly loving sister and a doting labrador, Wren comes to think Chase can’t be all bad. As they spend more and more time together, Chase quickly pushes the limits of Wren’s chastity vow, making her pulse race and her blood boil.

Then, with Wren’s eighteenth birthday right around the corner, Chase whisks Wren off to Vegas to celebrate. A night of inebriation ends at the Twinkling Stars Wedding Chapel, where a balding, Mexican Elvis unites them in holy matrimony. And the chastity vow comes to an end. Still hung-over, Chase delivers Wren back to Michigan before heading to his parents’ home in Indianapolis, promising Wren he’ll get their marriage annulled before returning.

Only he never comes back. And Annie’s no where to be found either.

Now completely alone, Wren is left cursing herself for surrendering to a guy her first instinct told her was no good. Two days later, police arrive at Wren’s cottage, demanding to know where Chase is and why she took out a five million dollar insurance policy on his life. Things really get weird when buckets of Chase’s blood are found on his sister, Annie’s boat. The cops don’t think Chase could have survived so much blood loss and rule his disappearance a homicide. They suspect that the youngest Mortenson offed her brother to get the full share of her parents’ dwindling fortunes and Chase’s trust fund. They also figure Annie never knew Chase had a new heir.

Wren is shocked when the local papers report that Annie’s been arrested for her brother’s murder. She’s even more surprised when Annie calls, asking her to bail her out of jail.

As Wren works to free Annie, who swears she did nothing wrong, the $5 million insurance check is wired into Wren’s personal account. While Wren doesn’t think she signed any such insurance policy, lots of things about that last night with Chase are hazy. She’s also not sure how she’s supposed to feel. It’s not like she loved Chase after a week, but she certainly misses him.

About the same time, weird things start happening in Wren’s home. Doors she knows she locked are left open. A kitchen window is broken. Cass is only days away from being off restriction and coming up to join her, so Wren figures she can tough it out. But then Chase’s devoted labrador is left mutilated on her doorstep.

Panicked, Wren bolts out of the house and runs headlong into Chase. Only he doesn’t look nearly as happy to see her as she is to see him. Chase abducts Wren at knifepoint and secrets her back to his cottage. There, he demands she transfer the insurance money into an offshore account. Not only in his name, but in his sister’s. When Annie walks around the corner with a wicked grin, Wren suddenly realizes she’s been set up.

Chase and Annie tie Wren up and lock her in the cellar until nightfall.

Flashback Friday: The Class Ring

Ok, so last week's post on heartbreak got me thinking about the corollary - love. I thought about describing how I first got asked out in a precisely-folded note (oh yeah, early-90s baby!)

or how I almost broke up with my boyfriend the first time he told me he loved me because it totally freaked me out!! But one of the more memorable moments of my early relationship was the night "Donny" gave me his class ring.

I think we'd only been together about a week. On our first real date we went with a group of friends to the Martin County Fair. In Martin County, the fair is a big deal. We played games, ate funnel cake, rode the Gravitron. Toward the end of the evening, we somehow managed to sneak a few minutes alone. Standing in front of the Zipper, with screaming, nearly-puking riders spinning helplessly behind us, Donny gave me his class ring.

If that's not romance, I don't know what is...

You've got to remember here: Donny = Junior; me = Freshman. We're talking like total freak-out moment as I realize I am now the keeper of a coveted symbol of upper classman-ness. (Yeah, I invented that word, whatcha gonna do about it?)

So I took off my silver necklace -- already loaded down with funky crystals and charms (I was like a decade ahead of the Lena-of Beautiful Creatures-trend) -- and slipped on the ring.

Thankfully his family was poor like mine, and he had a nickel ring instead of a gold one, so it matched okay. I'm pretty sure the ring ended up getting its own real estate eventually, as the charms got bumped to jewelry-box-only status.

(I can't believe I found this pic on line 'cause it looks so much like Donny's ring - minus the cross. I'm pretty sure he had band and a tiger - school mascot - on the sides of his.)

So here's what I want to know. Are high school guys still gifting their rings to their younger girlfriends?
I'll note that I did give Donny's ring back to him after we broke up 'cause it wouldn't be cool to keep such a thing. What did/would you ladies do? Keep the ring, or give it back?