Behind the Scenes

When writing inspiration hits, it takes a house fire to tear me away from my keyboard. It’s all I can do to remember to blink every now and then, once my fingers get to typing and the storyline is flowing out one word at a time. I rarely outline my novels, I almost always have the majority of the plot and characters developed in my mind alone, so when the whole thing comes together, it’s time to get to writing before I forget anything.

I write from my home office in Greenville, SC. Well, it’s not just MY office, my husband and I share the space. He’ll be developing graphics or catching up on his favorite woodworking blogs on the other side of the room, while I’m weaving together words and what-ifs just a few feet away. Sometimes I’ll listen to music to help me stay in character or set the mood for the scene I’m writing, but I’m not afraid of silence either.

Everything I’ve ever written was written on the same iMac. It’s been with me a long time, through a lot of rough drafts! Staring back at me from atop my computer is a small pewter statue of Holger Dansk, a miniature model of a red Mini Cooper, and a tiny porcelain alpaca. Each of these random doo-dads mean something different to me, and I consider them good luck charms. What do a Viking, bitty little car, and sweet-faced pack animal have in common? Nothing. I just like them. The viking is something I've had since I was 8 or 9, back when I lived in Denmark and visited castles on the weekends. My life was much cooler then. The mini Mini has been around since before I got my real life Mini that I enjoy driving a little too much. The alpaca was a gift from my husband because despite my begging, he wont let me have a real one in the house. Or the backyard. Maybe one day ;-)


My Worlds Have Officially Collided

I write. I make things. This is the first time I’ve written about making things.

My worlds have officially collided! For the first time ever, I’ve combined my love of writing with my addiction to all things handmade. Once Again Sam, my indie craft business, is where most of my time and creativity are invested. I enjoy working with my hands from sun up to sundown, all the while letting my mind dream up my next novel. Though I may be lost in the clouds thinking up new stories to write about later on, I’ve got a story right in front of me, in my hands. Each piece of jewelry I make has a story behind it, but I’ve never shared that until now.

My very first article was published in GreenCraft Magazine recently, and it tells the story of how I turn thrift store clothing into funky suede cuffs. In the article, you’ll get a little glimpse into how I started making jewelry with repurposed materials, as well as a step-by-step tutorial.


Now, for the story behind the story:

I never dreamed of writing for a magazine. Pitching my article to an editor and getting this kind of national press for my small business seemed way out of my league. It was a lot more daunting than when I first started shopping my novel around to literary agents and publishers. Fortunately, with just the right mix of information and motivation, it all came together beautifully.  

Last February I attended The Makers Summit here in Greenville, SC and heard all kinds of amazing advice from a wide range of industry experts. One speaker in particular, Amy Flurry, author of Recipe for Press, really stuck with me. She had so much to share about her experience in the magazine world, and what editors are looking for in a pitch. I purchased her book, read it 3 times through, and took a step I never thought I could take. I crafted my first magazine pitch, submitted that, along with a step-by-step how-to for making a suede cuff out of thrift store clothing, and sent it off to GreenCraft Magazine. I never expected to hear back from them. This week, I held the winter issue of GreenCraft Magazine and slowly read through my 4 page spread. I cannot express how amazing that felt! 

A Deleted Scene from Celia on the Run

By the time Celia on the Run was published, I had rearranged, removed, and reworked almost every scene in the book. The process took a couple of years! So what happened those lines and paragraphs that got cut? They're somewhere buried in my files, but today, for the first time, I'm sharing one of the scenes from the novel that didn't make the final cut.

 This scene was from chapter 6, when Nick and Celia are in the wild and carefree part of their road trip across the US. They have to lie, cheat, and steal to get by because they have no money and are technically runaways, but they're having a great time at this point in the story.

I still love this scene, so why on earth did I take it out? I removed it because there are an awful lot of scenes with Nick and Celia scheming and stealing. They get into a fair amount of trouble during the course of their trip, and I didn't want the reader to get distracted by all the mischief they get into in order to survive on the road, and miss out of the character development. This story is all about the characters, who they are, who they say they are, and who the become during the trip, not about all the laws they break and the people they swindle.  

**Deleted scene from Chapter 6 of Celia on the Run**

           The bells on the convenience store door jingled in chaos, announcing Celia’s arrival. That was her way, abruptly disturbing the peace with every door she opened. With a walk a little perkier than usual, she marched right up to the clerk, while Nick trailed closely behind, her eager-to-please shadow. Following a frustrated smile and a dramatic slap on the counter that was intense enough to rattle the cheap lighters out of their display, Celia said, “There’s something seriously wrong with this map,” and unfolded a road atlas.

           The clerk, who’s crooked nametag read Aaron, adjusted his glasses and managed to get out “Where are you…” before the pretty young girl before him cut him off with a wild hand gesture toward the map. “I mean, these crackpots sold us a map that’s completely ass-backwards. Where the hell’s Albuquerque?”

           Nick swallowed hard, avoiding eye contact with the clerk, the man they were about to swindle or rob or who knew what else. Celia hadn’t exactly shared her plan, she only said, “I’m hungry, we need gas, and we have no money,” before exiting the car just moments earlier. As Celia went on and on about how the map wasn’t to scale, and the clerk kindly tried assisting, Nick felt Celia stuff something into his pocket. He looked down in disbelief as she shoved another candy bar into his jeans, all the while chit-chatting with the clerk, who had given up on explaining the highway connectors at this point and was now eating up all the flirting Celia was throwing his way.  Nick had never shoplifted before, but certainly this would count, though it wasn’t his hands doing the crime, just his pockets.

            “So you’re saying we need to get back on route 40?” Celia asked, twirling her brown hair between her boney fingers. “Are you sure?” she asked in a helpless way that was more than believable.

            “Well, yeah,” Aaron began again. “It’s really the only road between here and Albuquerque. You were going the right way, just a little further than you thought.”

            Celia traced her finger over the road in question, the road she knew darn well was the only road to Albuquerque, and entertained Aaron with some more ridiculous but playful questions while she discretely helped herself to a lighter, a pack of gum, some crackers, and few sticks of beef jerky which she somehow managed to slide under her tight shirt without breaking eye contact or conversation. She was a pro. She even angled herself in such a way the security cameras would only ever see her face, and her back. Nick watched in amazement, truly impressed with this wild child next to him.

            Loaded down with about twenty dollars worth of junk food and whatever else was in reach from the customer side of the counter, Celia folded up the map, satisfied and ready to go. A larger woman in a bright flower print dress entered the store, barely clinking the bells on the door, and smiled at Nick and Celia, waiting to see if they were finished at the counter before approaching. “Go ahead,” Celia said, oh-so-politely, gesturing for the woman to take her turn. Celia continued to smooth out the map, just to have something to keep her hands busy.

            The new customer addressed the clerk, “Good afternoon to you. Forty dollars on pump number four, please.”

            “Certainly,” the clerk replied, accepting the cash. The woman turned and smiled at Nick and Celia again. She was one of those people who must have been raised to be kind to strangers, no matter how suspicious they looked.

            Nick whispered to Celia, “Are we leaving or what?” They were standing by the door with their stolen goods stashed in every pocket, which threatened to rustle in their wrappings, or worse, fall to the ground, and they hadn’t yet paid for the gas they desperately needed. Before Nick could ask any more questions of the always-scheming Celia, she shoved him towards the customer at the counter, causing the woman to spill her soda all over her flowered dress. Horrified, beyond embarrassed, Nick said, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry, ma’am”, which he absolutely meant, and reached for some napkins to help clean up the mess he’d caused. The woman assured him it was okay, just an accident, but he simply couldn’t stop apologizing. Nick's protruding ears were hot red. He turned to where Celia had just been standing by the door, ready to give her a pissed off look for doing this, but saw she was gone, and hadn't disturbed a single bell on the door upon her exit. As Nick helped Aaron and the woman mop up the soda from the already sticky floor, he glanced out to see Celia pulling the hose from pump number four all the way around to the other side, to pump number two, where she was now filling up Nick’s parents' car, most definitely forty dollars worth.



If I Were A Hitchhiker

If I ever found myself on the side of a highway with my thumb in the air, I’d like to think I wouldn’t have a destination in mind. I’d like to think I’d go anywhere by way of any route, and that the freedom of the road and whomever was at the wheel would take me somewhere beautiful.

I have never hitched a ride in my life, and thanks to my mom’s words of warning, I’ve never gotten into a car with a stranger. Maybe that’s why the idea of hitchhiking is so interesting to me! I do, however, regularly get into the car with my husband and set off on a drive to nowhere in particular, camera at the ready. We drive aimlessly through the countryside, just for the pleasure of it. When we do these random drives, we always always always find beautiful things in unexpected places, and it’s a joy to photograph these sights because I know it’s my only chance to capture them, we’d never be able to find our way back even if we tried. Dilapidated farm houses, unusual wildlife, amazing cloud formations, abandoned towns...these are all things you can’t plan on discovering, you can’t set out looking for them, you have to come upon them purely by chance.

I experienced a cross country roadtrip vicariously through Nick and Celia’s journey. Although my main characters had no specific route planned for their trip, I got to spend a lot of time looking at maps and deciding where to have their story unfold. I was able to tie in some of my own travel experiences with the story early on in the book, but as Nick and Celia drove on, I got to write about places I’ve never been before, and that was an enjoyable challenge.

Now that the novel is complete and published, I daydream about doing a Nick and Celia road trip and following along with the book to visit all the places they passed through, though I’d prefer not to have to beg, borrow, or steal along the way. 

Ladybug Storytime Review

Thank you Kristina at Ladybug Storytime for reading Celia on the Run and sharing your thoughts on your blog. So glad you enjoyed it! I'm in awe of readers and bloggers who can take on a book, read it, and are then able to write their own personal and original thoughts about it. This is something I have a hard time doing myself, but really want to work on. I love to read, I read quite a lot of books, but I never write reviews because I have a difficult time talking about other people's work, regardless of whether I enjoyed the story or not so much. Can't explain why that is! One of my goals this year is to start getting comfortable writing reviews, and by the end of the year, I'd like to have accomplished 10. Seems doable, seems like it should be pretty straightforward, but I promise you I'll get writers block when I sit down and try to write words about a story I read & loved. I do think reviews are extremely helpful when I'm looking for my next read, so I feel like such a slacker for not contributing. Going to change that this year!