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    Monday, March 26, 2012

    Pinterest Boards and Falling in Love with Characters

    Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

    I wasn’t going to join Pinterest. I was just going to make fun of my mom’s newest obsession. But then my friend, Brandy Vallance, told me she’d made a Pinterest board for her novel after reading about the idea on agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog. I checked out her board for The Covered Deep and knew I had to make boards for two of my completed novels and an inspiration board for my work in progress.

    Let me just admit right now, that yes, I get a crush on the hero of whichever novel I’m working on. It’s the nature of the game.

    But as I compiled my board for Bran's Door, I took a moment, cleared my head of my work in progress, and savored the world of that novel once again.

    Bran’s Door is about a young woman, recovering from an illness, who discovers a brounie living in the wall of her apartment. Brounies are house fairies. They do chores in exchange for small gifts of food. Bran, Elodie’s personal brounie, is human-sized and oh, so incredibly hot. From the get-go, actor James McEvoy inspired Bran’s looks. It’s amazing how much it helps to imagine a specific person’s face as you’re writing about physical expressions. In Bran/James’ case I became obsessed with the tiny imbalance of his upper and lower lips, with the upper being just a bit fuller. Naturally, the heroine, Elodie, dwells on this feature in delicious detail.

    Perhaps because of the intense attention I gave to Bran’s physicality, or maybe because he’s a hot guy who does chores, his particular character stayed with me. Invariably, every woman who reads the story says, “I want one! Where’s my brounie?” This really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

    But the novel is about more than a lucky girl who meets the perfect guy when he literally pops out of her wall. In Bran’s Door, I examined what it would really be like if someone showed up in your life with no other desire than to serve you. Of course we think that would be cake and roses! But really, how would you handle someone who waits on you, not in a sycophantic way, but out of an incomprehensible, supernatural love?

    Elodie finds the effects of Bran’s devotion life-changing, but she struggles to accept what he offers.

    Bellow is a passage from the novel showing Elodie’s turmoil. Would you react as she does? Would it be hard to allow someone to serve you and love you when you could never earn their devotion? And just for fun, what chore makes you desperate for a house fairy?

    Excerpt from Bran's Door

    Just before I lowered my aching limbs into the seat, I glimpsed a downward twist of his mouth. I paused, propped up against the frame of the car.

    “What’s wrong, Bran?”

    The words he ground out stunned me with their intensity. “It’s hard for me, Mistress.” He looked away, hiding his smoke-colored eyes.

    “What you did today? Saving that little girl?”

    “No.” He erupted into restless energy, shifting his weight, pulling the ends of his scarf, running one long hand through his shaggy hair. He winced, as though the words behind his lips pained him.

    Finally, he whispered. “Being your brounie is difficult.”

    Numbness permeated my heart. My body, already weak and drained, lost yet another measure of vitality. I turned my head as I mumbled a pathetic apology. “I’m sorry for the way I am. I wish—you don’t know how much I wish—that I was different.”

    His violent reaction shocked me. He buried his hands in his hair, shaking his own head and groaning.

    I grabbed his shoulder. “Stop! Don’t.”

    Huge, tortured eyes locked on me. “I would feed you. Protect you. Carry you when you stumble. Hang flowers in the sky for you. If you would let me.”

    Alex’s offer to take care of me echoed in the back of my mind, his commitment a flimsy shadow in the light of Bran’s utter devotion. But Bran’s impassioned words didn’t cover me in humiliation like Alex’s. Instead of feeble and useless, I felt precious, cherished—a treasure of fathomless worth.

    There, supported by a car door, with the wind lashing my hair against my face, and a faerie creature’s eyes burning into mine, I transformed into a princess. But not any real type of royalty or even a fancy movie version. No, a Fey princess, wrapped in the warmest light, possessing a priceless magic, untouchable by any harm.

    But then a thought niggled into my warm world. How could I deserve such esteem? What could I trade for this complete, beautiful acceptance? The answer, of course, was nothing. Even at my best, my talents would be mud compared to this blissful offer.

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    The Pooper Shoot

    Well, yesterday stank.

    Everything was perfectly peachy. I wrote 1,800 words on my Work in Progress and was feeling so good about it that I decided to hop in the car and run get the caramel apple lollipops Monkey’s been begging for.

    And then I got an email that shot the peach right out of me. I’m not going to go into details, but I will say that it was another cruel blow to my staggering writer’s ego.

    Picture Katniss, starving and wounded in the arena. Then shoot her.

    I had myself a pity party without any refreshments because I’m on a stupid diet. Why can’t bad news come when I’m not dieting? Oh, because I’m on a diet eleven out of twelve months in the year.

    I was grouchy with my kids, the dog, my husband and may have even yelled at Roger the box turtle.

    But this morning, just before dawn, I hit the real low point.

    I dreamed I was unclogging a toilet. And it wasn’t even our toilet. It was somebody else’s toilet. And it was bad. We’re talking bean burrito bad.

    When I woke up I decided God must’ve sent the dream because He knew I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed otherwise. Then I speculated on whether He was trying to tell me that I’m called to be a plumber, not a writer.

    I told one of my writing buddies, Mild-Mannered Missionary Mary, about the dream. Mary is writing a book about a woman who interprets dreams so she decided to give mine a go, because fiction authors become experts in whatever topic they’re currently writing about. Anyway, Mary said, “Evangeline, I came up with two possible interpretations for your dream. 1. Your life is full of crap. 2. You’re feeling stuck and you need to let things move along, so to speak.”

    Profound words of wisdom.

    Thank God I’m surrounded by awesome people like Mary, my husband, mom, and writer friends who don’t run when the mess of my life overflows.

    You know, let’s be honest. It flat out stinks. But like another sweet writer friend said, “Take some time to mourn and be angry. Then pull yourself up by the bootstraps, when you’re ready and not before.”

    And that’s what I intend to do.

    In the meantime, if you’re in need of plumbing services, look me up under Evangeline Knows Poo.

    UPDATE: Mary wrote the following gem just to cheer me up. Be sure to check out her thoughts at the end (hee hee) on how unclogging a toilet is a metaphor for the writing life.

    How to Unclog a Toilet:
    For those stuck with the job

    1. Realize that this is going to stink. There just isn’t any way around this.
    2. Stop complaining that you are not the one who created this mess.
    3. Accept the fact that closing and permanently sealing off the door with Caution tape is not an option.
    4. Tools. Make sure you have tools. Believe me, without them, this only becomes a way crappier job.
    5. Turn on the bathroom fan and take a deep breath. It could be your last good one for a while.
    6. Open the door and step into the room. Yup, there is no plunger handle long enough to avoid that one.
    7. Lift the lid. (Keep holding that deep breath.)
    8. The plunger must be placed and aligned directly onto the “obstruction” for best performance. Not looking will only prolong the matter.
    9. The harder you work, the quicker things will, uh… move along.
    10. Try to flush. When the water rises to the top, pull the handle up and in no uncertain terms yell at the toilet to stop. (Mine always listens.)
    11. Repeat Steps #8-10 until successful or it is necessary to call the plumber. In which case, you will be thrilled that a human exists to do such vile things.
    12. From here on after promise to flush responsibly so things move along as they should.

    Please note, any comparison to the actual life of an on-the-verge-of-being-published author, is purely intentional. Sometimes we get stuck with… well, let’s just be honest, crap. We don’t want to deal with it, we don’t want to talk about it, we don’t even want to look at it. But, it won’t solve itself. Bravery is required on our behalf. Armed with the tools of our craft, we can and must work hard until we are successful or call in a writing surgeon. Either way, walking away is not an option. Just as a toilet is designed to… make things go away. Far, far away. It’s only when it doesn’t do its job that things go awry. Even so, writers write. Sometimes we get stuck. But, repeating the process is not just the wise choice, it’s the only choice.

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    St. Patty's Day

    Happy Saint Patrick's Day! This is one of my favorite holidays, and it feels weird not to have corned beef and cabbage in the crockpot or Guinness stew in the works. But it has been a crazy week, and we had a booksigning today so we're keeping St. Patty's low key.

    But I did want to share a bit of Irish cheer with you. I thought this video was hilarious. Enjoy!

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    Turtle Snacking

    Moms know it’s difficult to spend a weekend away from home being someone other than MOM. As much fun as conferences and conventions are, there’s always that voice in the back of your mind saying, “Your kids are home eating glue right now.”

    It’s not that you really believe your husband will run an errand and forget to take the kids with him. Or let them play with power tools in the garage. It’s just that when you call home to check on your kids it goes something like this:

    “Hi, buddy, how are you doing?”

    “Fine, Mommy.”

    “What are you doing?”

    “Watching Mythbusters with Dad.”

    “Did you take your bath?”


    “Did you get dressed?”


    “Did you have breakfast?”


    “What did you eat?”

    “Gummy Bears and pudding.”

    “Put you dad on the phone please.”

    Really, I understand that staying home with Dad is, by definition, an entirely different experience than the every day routine with Mom. And that’s okay. The occasional bowl of Gummy Bears and pudding won’t do too much harm.

    But the other day I came home from a long day working at a convention to discover a strange sight. I walked by the turtle enclosure and did a double take. There were corn chips in the turtle’s food dish.

    “Who gave the turtles corn chips?!”

    To my surprise, my husband answered. “I did.”

    I looked from him to our turtle, Roger. (Molly, our girl turtle, is in hibernation, but Roger is too sociable for his own good.)

    “Why?” I asked.

    “He wanted them.”

    I arched a brow at Kory. “Did he ask for salsa, too?”

    He gave me a look only an engineer possessed of a quiet but devious sense of humor can. “No.”

    We had a brief discussion on turtle nutrition, but I was too tired to hop online and see if corn chips were deadly for box turtles. Apparently, they aren’t.

    I dumped the corn chips out of the dish, and the next time Roger surfaced, I fixed him a lovely salad. (Kory teases me mercilessly about my dedication to turtle dinner presentation.)

    Roger trundled over, investigated his salad then walked right over the top of it. (He does this all the time and it upsets me, which I tell him, but he doesn’t care.) I figured he wasn’t hungry, but a few minutes later I walked by the enclosure to find Roger digging in his substrate. I leaned closer to investigate and discovered he was eating a piece of chip I’d missed. I texted Kory this picture of Roger and his chip crumb and told him, “Our turtle is addicted to junk food. I blame you!”

    I guess next time I call to check I’ll have to ask Roger what he had for breakfast too.