Teaser Tuesday: Mirror Image

>Going back to MIRROR IMAGE for this week’s Teaser Tuesday.  

This scene takes place as Lily realizes she’s not in love with Tyler and that she’s starting to have feelings for Jackson.

“Tell me a secret?” Jackson asked.
“A secret?”
“Yeah.  Tell me something no one else knows.”
I shook my head and gave him a coy smile.  “It won’t be a secret if I tell you.”
He crept closer to the mirror.  “Please, Tiger Lily, I promise not to tell anyone.”
I giggled.  “Who would you tell?”
“All right.”  I took a breath. “I still have my baby blanket.”
He smiled at me.  “Really?”
“Um hmm.” I got up and pulled open a drawer.  Inside was my pink baby blanket.  It was ratty and torn in a few places, but otherwise intact.  I held it up.  “See?”
He laughed as I tucked it back into the drawer and sat again.  “That’s very interesting,” he said.
“Your turn.”
He thought for a second and then said, “My mom has this fake flower arrangement in the front room and she likes it to be just so and it drives her crazy if it isn’t.  Every night before I go to bed, I turn it a quarter of a turn to the left.  When I get up in the morning, it’s back to its original position.”
I burst out laughing.  “Oh, that’s bad.  Does she know it’s you who’s doing it?”
“Probably.  Who else would it be?”
“Give me another,” he said, sending me one of his heart stopping smiles.
“I count the steps if I’m going up the stairs.”
“Toilet paper has to be over the roll, not under.”
“I know what I’m going to wear for three days in advance.”
“I have to let my ice-cream melt a little before I can eat it.”
“I never step on sidewalk cracks.”
            “Neither do I,” he gasped.  We were both laughing so hard we couldn’t catch our breath or finish our list.  Every time we’d stop, we’d look at each other and it would start all over again.
            Finally, when we’d stopped laughing, he said, “Tell me another secret.”
            “Another? Like what?”
            “How about what do you secretly want to be?  Every one has one.” He grinned at me.
I thought about it and then glanced at the door.  “I’ve always wanted to be a singer.”
            He raised an eyebrow and a strange look crept into his eyes.  “A singer?”
            “Yeah, but I’ve never been brave enough to do anything about it. That’s why you always hear me singing in here.  It’s the only place I’m brave enough to do it. I never realized anyone could hear me. I’ve wanted to be a singer ever since I was a little girl and I heard Jewel on the radio. I know it’s the smart thing to go to college and get my degree, but what I really want to do, is audition for American Idol.”
            “What is that?” he asked.
            “Uh, it’s a show where people from all over the country audition in front of people who’ve been in the business awhile and then they go on TV and sing in front of the whole country and people vote.  By the end of the season, whoever is last wins a recording contract.”
            “So, why don’t you do it?  Your voice is beautiful.  You’d win for sure.”
            I laughed “No.  I doubt that. One of the judges is a real ass, but he’s good and he knows what sells.  I heard him sing once.  He was awesome.  I’m sure he’d chew me up and spit me out.”
            “I don’t think so, Lily.  I’d bet he’d be singing your praises when you finished. No pun intended.  You’d be rich and famous.”
            I shrugged.  “My parents wouldn’t like that at all.  They’d never let me.”
            “Yeah, I know the feeling.  I tried starting a band once.  My mom put the brakes on that one immediately.”
            I chuckled and scooted my legs underneath me.  “You tried starting a band?  That’s so cool. ”
            “Yeah, I wanted to be the next Ricky Solano.”
            “Who’s Ricky Solano?”
            “Only the best lead singer for a rock band there is.  Hold on.” He ran over to his desk and a few seconds later music flowed from his speakers, a male voice crooning in direct contrast to the edgy beat
            After a few bars, I found myself bobbing my head along with it.  “Yeah, okay. I’ll agree with you.  I think he’s better than a lot of the ones we have here,” I said when he turned it back off.
            He walked back toward me, a huge grin on his face, but stopped when his mother poked her head in his room.  “Jacks?  It’s almost midnight. Why are you still awake?  You have a meet in the morning.”
            He glanced at me.  “Nervous, I guess.”
            She gave a light, tinkling laugh that made me smile. I’d never seen her before, and it was impossible not to stare. She was beautiful and he looked just her, down to the green eyes that sparkled in the lamplight.  “I would be, too. This is a big one.  You want me to make you some warm milk?  It’ll help you sleep.”
            My smile grew bigger.  My mom made me warm milk too when I couldn’t sleep and it always worked.  She reminded me of my mom, especially when she walked over and ruffled his hair.  My mom always did that with Alder, but unlike Alder, Jackson only grinned up at her instead of batting her away.
 “No, Mom. I’ll be fine.  I’ll go to sleep in a few minutes.”
            She kissed him.  “You’ll be great.  You always are.”
            She glanced over at the mirror, and her eyes narrowed and she shot a look over at Jackson, but said nothing as she walked out the door.
            When she left, he came back over.  “So, you like the band?”
            “Does your mom know about me?”  I asked, ignoring his question.
            He frowned and shook his head.  “No, why?”
            “She glanced over here and I would have swore she saw me.”
            He twisted his head to look at the door.  “I don’t know how and I’m sure she’d have said something if she had.  I mean really, remember how you handled it.  Do you think she’d have handled it any better?”
            I drew my eyebrows together.  “I guess not,” I mumbled.
            He ran a finger down the mirror between my eyes.  “So, what other secrets would you like to share?”
            “Jackson,” I said, with a smile and a shake of my head.  “You have a meet in the morning.  Go to sleep.”
            “No. I haven’t gotten to talk to you all day.”
            “We’ve talked for over an hour. Besides, I’ll be here when you get back.”
“No, you won’t.  I’ll bet Ty comes over and takes you somewhere.”
            “Yes I will.” I reached over and pulled out my compact from my purse, opening it to show him the tiny mirror.  “See, I have this.  Even if I go somewhere, I’ll be able to see you.”
            He studied it carefully.  “You think it’ll work?”
            “Sure.  We’re starting to see each other easier, why wouldn’t we?  Remember, I even saw you at Ty’s house.  Twice.”
            He yawned.  “Okay,” he said.  “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
            “Good luck! You better bring home the gold.”
            “The gold?  Why would I bring home gold?”
            I burst out laughing.  “Sorry, that’s what we say for the Olympics.  People who win first place get a gold medal.”
            “Oh.  Okay.  We just have places.  We get a trophy. Not in this one though.  It’s more of a qualifier.”
            “Qualifier?  For what?”
            “Well, it’s kind of complicated, but basically it’s the first of six races.  If I win this, then I’m considered a favorite, which is just a fancy way of saying I get a free ride into the next race.  The others who place move on too, but they have to ‘qualify’ first to see where they should be placed in the next race.  Each race gets harder and harder because only the best make it.”
            “So, what’s it for?  That Coubertin thing you told me about?”
            He puffed out his chest.  “Yep.”
            “Okay, well now you know that when I say ‘go for the gold’, I want you to win.  Which you will.”
            He grinned.  “I hope so.” He turned to walk to his bed.
            “Oh, wait,” I said and waited for him to face me.  “Does your mom take pictures?”
            He gave me a “duh” look.  “Doesn’t every mom?”
            “Good.  I want to see them.”
            “What?  Why?”
            “Well, I can’t be there to see it, but I want to.  So, I’ll have to settle for pictures.”
            He looked dumbfounded.  “You actually want to see me race?”
            I nodded eagerly.  “Yes.  Why wouldn’t I?”
            He came close to the mirror again.  “I’ve never wanted anyone at my races before, besides my mom, but I really want you there.”  He extended his hand and stroked the mirror where my cheek was.  “I’ll bring the pictures.”
            I put my hand on my cheek and could almost feel his hand under mine.  “I’ll be waiting.”
            His expression changed as the mirror glowed brighter and the feeling of his hand grew more intense.  Our eyes met and I saw his widen as we rushed to touch the mirror, but it was just as sturdy as always. 
            “Damn,” we both muttered.
            “I thought…maybe…” I said.
            “Yeah, me too,” he agreed. 
            We gazed at each other for a few more minutes, until I sighed.  “Go to sleep, Jacks.  I’ll see you in the morning.”
            He grinned.  “Do you hear what you just called me?”
            I thought back on it and bit my lip.  “Yeah. Is that okay?”
            “It’s fine.  It’s perfect. Tiger Lily.”
            “Go,” I whispered, secretly wishing he’d stay.
            “I will.”  He didn’t budge.  “I’ll see you tomorrow?”
            “I’ll come home straight after the meet.”
            I closed my eyes and backed away.  “I’ll be waiting.”  He didn’t say anything else and I opened my eyes to see the mirror bouncing my image back to me.   

Narrative Voice


Just wanted to share an article I found by Crawford Killian during my research that does an excellent job of explaining narrative voice, and what exactly the difference is between the different POVs.

Someone in your story has to tell us that Jeff pulled out his gun, that Samantha smiled at the tall stranger, that daylight was breaking over the valley. That someone is the narrator or “author’s persona.”
The author’s persona of a fictional narrative can help or hinder the success of the story. Which persona you adopt depends on what kind of story you are trying to tell, and what kind of emotional atmosphere works best for the story.
The persona develops from the personality and attitude of the narrator, which are expressed by the narrator’s choice of words and incidents. These in turn depend on the point of view of the story.
First-person point of view is usually subjective: we learn the narrator’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions to events. In first-person objective, however, the narrator tells us only what people said and did, without comment.
Other first-person modes include:
  • the observer-narrator, outside the main story (examples: Mr. Lockwood in Wuthering Heights, Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby)
  • detached autobiography (narrator looking back on long-past events)
  • multiple narrators (first-person accounts by several characters)
  • interior monologue (narrator recounts the story as a memory; stream of consciousness is an extreme form of this narrative)
  • dramatic monologue (narrator tells story out loud without major interruption)
  • letters or diary (narrator writes down events as they happen)
If the point of view is first-person, questions about the persona are simple: the character narrating the story has a particular personality and attitude, which is plausibly expressed by the way he or she describes events.
The second-person mode is rare: You knocked on the door. You went inside. Very few writers feel the need for it, and still fewer use it effectively.
If the point of view is third-person limited, persona again depends on the single character through whose eyes we witness the story. You may go inside the character’s mind and tell us how that character thinks and feels, or you may describe outside events in terms the character would use. Readers like this point of view because they know whom to “invest” in or identify with.
In third-person objective, we have no entry to anyone’s thoughts or feelings. The author simply describes, without emotion or editorializing, what the characters say and do. The author’s persona here is almost non-existent. Readers may be unsure whose fate they should care about, but it can be very powerful precisely because it invites the reader to supply the emotion that the persona does not. This is the persona of Icelandic sagas, which inspired not only Ernest Hemingway but a whole generation of “hard-boiled” writers.
If the point of view is third-person omniscient, however, the author’s persona can develop in any of several directions.
1.   “Episodically limited.” Whoever is the point of view for a particular scene determines the persona. An archbishop sees and describes events from his particular point of view, while a pickpocket does so quite differently. So the narrator, in a scene from the archbishop’s point of view, has a persona quite different from that of the pickpocket: a different vocabulary, a different set of values, a different set of priorities. (As a general rule, point of view should not change during a scene. So if an archbishop is the point of view in a scene involving him and a pickpocket, we shouldn’t suddenly switch to the pickpocket’s point of view until we’ve resolved the scene and moved on to another scene.)
2.   “Occasional interruptor.” The author intervenes from time to time to supply necessary information, but otherwise stays in the background. The dialogue, thoughts and behavior of the characters supply all other information the reader needs.
3.   “Editorial commentator.” The author’s persona has a distinct attitude toward the story’s characters and events, and frequently comments on them. The editorial commentator may be a character in the story, often with a name, but is usually at some distance from the main events; in some cases, we may even have an editorial commentator reporting the narrative of someone else about events involving still other people. The editorial commentator is not always reliable; he or she may lie to us, or misunderstand the true significance of events.
Third-person omniscient gives you the most freedom to develop the story, and it works especially well in stories with complex plots or large settings where we must use multiple viewpoints to tell the story. It can, however, cause the reader to feel uncertain about whom to identify with in the story. If you are going to skip from one point of view to another, start doing so early in the story, before the reader has fully identified with the original point of view.
The author’s persona can influence the reader’s reaction by helping the reader to feel close to or distant from the characters. Three major hazards arise from careless use of the persona:
1.   Sentimentality. The author’s editorial rhetoric tries to evoke an emotional response that the story’s events cannot evoke by themselves–something like a cheerleader trying to win applause for a team that doesn’t deserve it. A particular problem for the “editorial commentator.”
2.   Mannerism. The author’s persona seems more important than the story itself, and the author keeps reminding us of his or her presence through stylistic flamboyance, quirks of diction, or outright editorializing about the characters and events of the story. Also a problem for the editorial commentator. However, if the point of view is first person, and the narrator is a person given to stylistic flamboyance, quirks of diction, and so on, then the problem disappears; the persona is simply that of a rather egotistical individual who likes to show off.
3.   Frigidity. The persona’s excessive objectivity trivializes the events of the story, suggesting that the characters’ problems need not be taken seriously: a particular hazard for “hardboiled” fiction in the objective mode, whether first person or third person.
Verb tense can also affect the narrative style of the story. Most stories use the past tense: I knocked on the door. She pulled out her gun. This is usually quite adequate although flashbacks can cause awkwardness: I had knocked on the door. She had pulled out her gun. A little of that goes a long way.
Be careful to stay consistently in one verb tense unless your narrator is a person who might switch tenses: So I went to see my probation officer, and she tells me I can’t hang out with my old buddies no more.
Some writers achieve a kind of immediacy through use of the present tense: I knock on the door. She pulls out her gun. We don’t feel anyone knows the outcome of events because they are occurring as we read, in “real time.” Some writers also enjoy the present tense because it seems “arty” or experimental. But most readers of genre fiction don’t enjoy the present tense, so editors are often reluctant to let their authors use it. I learned that the hard way by using present tense in my first novel, The Empire of Time; it was enough to keep the manuscript in editorial limbo for months, and the final offer to publish was contingent on changing to past tense. Guess how long I agonized over that artistic decision!

Valentine’s Short Story


Here’s just a really quick, really short Valentine’s Day Short story.  Between a husband and his wife.  Enjoy.  And I hope you all have a great day filled with sweets and sweethearts.  

Light, butterfly strokes on my cheek woke me from my dream; the colorful ribbons of it just slipping out of my grasp.
            “Shh.  Don’t open your eyes just yet,” he said, his familiar voice smooth and deep and it sent tingles down my spine.  “I have a surprise for you.”
            A smile tugged the corners of my lips as his hands cupped my face between them. And his scent drifted to my nose as his lips brushed mine.  It was a scent I’d known for years.
            The mattress groaned and dipped as he shifted, but before I could open my eyes, he said again,  “No, not yet.” His fingers slid between mine, before grasping my hand and tugging me up so I was sitting upright.
            He caressed the back of my hand with his thumb and pressed another kiss to my cheek, before releasing my hand.  The mattress protested as he stood, but before I could form the words of my own protest, the delicate tinkling of metal against metal replaced the groan and something heavy was placed on my thighs.
            The scent of fried bread and bacon filled the air. “Can I open my eyes yet?” I asked, my voice still husky from sleep.
            “No.”  There was a chuckle in his tone.  “Not yet.”
            Something cool and sweet slid across my lips and I opened my mouth.  The flavor of bittersweet chocolate and tangy strawberries filled my mouth seconds before his lips took mine again.
            His flavor mixed with the others and made me lightheaded as butterflies frantically flew around in my belly.  His rough hands moved from my hips to my sides, and back again, sending tingles throughout my body. 
            Then he pulled back and again I opened my mouth to protest, but he placed his finger over it.  “Not yet,” he said again.
            His other hand trailed up my thigh, over my hip, and rested on my side as he pressed a kiss to my shoulder, then my neck just under my ear.  His lips brushed the sides of my mouth, and then each eye before moving back down to the sensitive spot just below my other ear. 
            My breath caught in my throat when he caressed along my collarbone and then up into my hair, entangling his fingers in its mass.  He drew me to him and again locked his lips to mine.
            My heart rate accelerated and I couldn’t catch my breath. 
After a minute, he moved away and then wrapped my hands around something cool and smooth.  The scent of roses drifted to my nose and I breathed deeply, enjoying the heady fragrance.
“I love you,” he whispered.
“I love you, too,” I said as tears slipped over my cheeks.

Funny Friday


Since today is Friday and, at least in Florida, raining mooses and cows.  LOL.  I decided to go and do something a little silly to perk up everyone’s spirits for the long holiday weekend.  Here’s a few newspaper oopses to brighten your day.  I hope you enjoy.  

1. IMPORTANT NOTICE: If you are one of hundreds of parachuting enthusiasts who bought our Easy Sky Diving book, please make the following correction: on page 8, line 7, the words “state zip code” should have read “pull rip cord.”

2. It was incorrectly reported last Friday that today is T-shirt Appreciation Day. In fact, it is actually Teacher Appreciation Day.

3. There was a mistake in an item sent in two weeks ago which stated that Ed Burnham entertained a party at crap shooting. It should have been trap shooting.

4.From a California bar association’s newsletter: Correction — the following typo appeared in our last bulletin: “Lunch will be gin at 12:15 p.m.” Please orrect to read “12 noon.”

5. We apologize to our readers who received, through an unfortunate computer error, the chest measurements of members of the Female Wrestlers Association instead of the figures on the sales of soybeans to foreign countries.

6. In Frank Washburn’s March column, Rebecca Varney was erroneously identified as a bookmaker. She is a typesetter.

7. There are two important corrections to the information in the update on our Deep Relaxation professional development program. First, the program will include meditation, not medication. Second, it is experiential, not experimental.

8. Our article about Jewish burial customs contained an error: Mourners’ clothing is rent — that is, torn — not rented.

9. In the City Beat section of Friday’s paper, firefighter Dwight Brady was misidentified. His nickname in the department is “Dewey.” Another firefighter is nicknamed “Weirdo.” We apologize for our mistake.

10. Just to keep the record straight, it was the famous Whistler’s Mother, not Hitler’s, that was exhibited. There is nothing to be gained in trying to explain how this error occurred.

11. Our newspaper carried the notice last week that Mr. Oscar Hoffnagle is a defective on the police force. This was a typographical error. Mr. Hoffnagle is, of course, a detective on the police farce.

12. Yesterday we mistakenly reported that a talk was given by a bottle-scared hero. We apologize for the error. We obviously meant that the talk was given by a battle-scarred hero.

13. In a recent edition, we referred to the chairman of Chrysler Corporation as Lee Iacoocoo. His real name is Lee Iacacca. The Gazette regrets the error.

14. Apology: I originally wrote, “Woodrow Wilson’s wife grazed sheep on front lawn of the White House.” I’m sorry that typesetting inadvertently left out the word “sheep.”

15. In one edition of today’s Food Section, an inaccurate number of jalapeno peppers was given for Jeanette Crowley’s Southwestern chicken salad recipe. The recipe should call for two, not 21, jalapeno peppers.

16. The marriage of Miss Freda vanAmburg and Willie Branton, which was announced in this paper a few weeks ago, was a mistake which we wish to correct.

Hope everyone enjoyed knowing that even editors forget to self-edit.  Enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you again for Teaser Tuesday.  

Professional editing: Is it worth it?


(photos courtesy of inmagine.com)

Sorry about my delay in writing a blog post for almost a week.  My cold darn near killed me.  LOL.  And then my rewrite of THE EXILED sucked me in.  J  So, my last big blog was on the benefits of self-editing, which despite this post I’m a major proponent of.  If you can’t edit yourself, hiring an editor will probably do you no good.
So, you’ve written your story and done everything you can to self edit and you’ve enlisted critique partners and beta readers, but you still think it needs work.  Well, one option is you can hire an editor.
Now the up side of this: It’s sure to make your book practically ready to publish.  The down side:  It’s expensive and doesn’t really help you if you don’t learn anything from it. 
Okay, so let’s talk about the up side.  Being professionally edited can teach you a ton of things.  If you pay attention.  You’ll learn how to beef things up, or tighten them.  You’ll learn the correct place for a semicolon or an exclamation point.  And they’ll make sure you don’t have any inconsistencies or plot holes.  They’ll help make sure that what you’re trying to say is said.  Among many other things that I just don’t know about.
Most of the editors either worked for or still work for the big publishers, so they know the current trends and can help steer your book in the right direction or let you know what book you should write instead.
For the first time writer, it may very well be a good idea, so you can learn from it.
On the other hand, it’s expensive and for a full size novel ranging at around 85,000 words, it can cost $1,000 or more.  So, not usually in the first time writer’s budget, especially when you can attend classes and conferences and learn the same thing for less.  And when you become published your agent and/or editor at the publishing house will do the same things as the paid editor.
Will it help you find that agent?  The reality is, probably not.  It’s the story they want.  Sure, they want it as good as possible, but most if not all agents are willing to spend a little editing time to make it perfect.  So, even if it’s not all the way, if they fall in love with the story they’ll still take you on.  If they don’t love it.  It doesn’t matter how well it’s written, they won’t pick it up. 
And on that same topic, most aren’t impressed with hiring professional editors.  They want to know the author can self-edit.  They want to know the writing is the author’s not just the collective efforts of paid editors.  Will it prevent you from getting an agent?  Probably not, but neither will it assure you that you will.
And if you want to go the small house route with publishing, you have another question to worry about.  Is your book going to make enough for you that it’s worth spending the money on?  It’s possible.  I won’t say it isn’t, but these are things you need to consider. 
And as all things in publishing, it’s a personal choice.  A friend of mine has done it and is happy with the results.  Another friend isn’t. 
I’m not for or against professional editing.  I know it isn’t for me.  Maybe I’ll change my mind one day, but for the moment I’m quite happy with my beta readers and critique partner. 
What’s your opinion?  Are you for or against professional editing? And tell me your reasons?