Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fake News at Its Finest

Life has a way of putting me in my place. I had grand intentions to post weekly, and three months later....

So I think it's great that people are talking about fake news these days, because fake news is at the heart of Off the Record. I have a sleezeball paparazzo named Derrick Fuchs (it looks like a swear word, but it's pronounced 'fooks,' a purposeful play on words to immediately show what a douche nozzle he is) in the novel. He writes his articles based on the latest gossip without really caring who he hurts or how much of it is made up. I haven't decided yet if the reader gets to meet him, but the excerpt today is the first article we see from him. Enjoy!

Helmore to Tour with Streakers and Madrigal
by Derrick Fuchs for Rocker Chic magazine

Jensen Branch, president and CEO of Branch Records, announced this morning that Devi Madrigal and Streakers will tour this summer with Traxton Helmore. The Unbelievable US tour kicks off next month in San Diego.
Helmore, pop music’s resident bad boy, is using this tour to attempt a reset of his career after a much publicized and embarrassing early end to his Delicious world tour last year. He was famously arrested for drugs after spitting on security and police hired to keep him safe and then assaulting the police officer who tried to arrest him. A video of him giving the judge a one-finger salute at his sentencing went viral last fall, garnering well over two million hits within a week of its posting.
After a stint in jail and completing rehab this spring, Helmore gushes to Rocker Chic that he can’t wait to get back on the road. “I disappointed my fans, and I let myself down. I can’t wait to make it up to you with incredible new music and the best show I’ve ever put out there.”
Helmore rose to fame as a teen with the release of his single “Oh Honey Say It Ain’t So” nearly ten years ago. His turbulent career will hopefully take a turn for the better after the drama following his arrest. His band refused to return to the tour after his implosion, saying in a full page ad they took out in the LA Times that continuing to work with Helmore would be “emotional and career suicide.”
Despite Helmore’s turbulent past, Branch remains optimistic about pairing his most lucrative yet most troubled star with the untested and inexperienced Streakers. “We believe in Trax and we’re ready to start fresh. Streakers will breathe new life into his music. His voice has matured and we’re ready to explore a new sound for him.”
The members of Streakers are themselves instant phenoms after a spectacular coup d’├ętat in the recent season finale of The Last Chord, where they dumped weak front woman Raina Skye in favor of vocal powerhouse Devi Madrigal. They recently hit the studio to record their first single, dropping next week, and Branch tells us that they’re bringing fresh music to the scene. “We’re making magic here,” he promises. “They’re bringing their garage band aesthetic to Hollywood. They just might single-handedly revive grunge with their acoustic badassery and Madrigal’s raw, sexy vocals.”
Some speculate that the untested Streakers will fall apart under the stress of a tour, but Branch isn’t worried. “Am I worried about them learning and playing twice the music under the grind and stress of a tour? No. This is a hard-working group that’s been together since high school. They’re living the dream right now, and I have no doubt they’re up to the challenge.”
And what about the different styles of the two singers now fronting this band? Branch again assures us he isn’t worried. “These guys are chameleons. They started as a cover band—they can play literally anything.”
As Helmore, Madrigal, and Streakers prepare to hit the road for an already sold out US tour, tongues can’t stop wagging about music’s newest darling Devi. Pictures have surfaced of her getting a little too cozy with bass player Mason James at the Branch Records after party the night of The Last Chord finale, despite James’ well-documented, long-term relationship with his high school sweetheart Allison Knight. If that weren’t enough, behind-the-scenes snaps from the photo shoot for the Unbelievable tour show Madrigal and Helmore looking very friendly indeed.
The question for Rocker Chic fans isn’t if the girl can sing. She proved her talent to the world when she stole the stage during a live show in front of millions—it’s whether Madrigal’s playgirl tendencies will derail Helmore as he continues to recover or break up a long-term relationship.
The Unbelievable tour kicks off in San Diego in one month.
Rock out!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Off the Record

It's been awhile, hasn't it? I'd love to say I've been busy writing all the things and being fabulous, but I can't. My absence involved needy kids and surgery because I'm a klutz. But that's ok! Because I'm back and I have a new novel about half done. It's called Off the Record, part of the Love Rocks anthology, and I love the premise: the story of a rocker girl named Devi who becomes like Kelly Clarkson famous, told intermittently through her own eyes and articles by people who cover her. I need motivate myself to finish, so every week I'm going to post some of it here.

So here you go: a snippet from Chapter 1!

“She rolled us into auditioning for The Last Chord,” Jess continued as Mark joined them, sitting across from James and mirroring his stance. “She got us out here, and then she started flaking. She missed rehearsals, and she wouldn’t take the voice lessons they offered her. I honestly don’t know why they didn’t boot us out a long time ago.”
Devi shook her head. “Your band is solid. She was always the question mark. You guys are good enough to win on your own, but I don’t think she has the pipes to sing Already Gone well enough to earn the grand prize. And I think she knew it, too. The more she threw attitude on the show, the worse her vocals were that week. You’re better off without her.”
“Thanks, man.” Mason smiled.
Jess carried on as if she hadn’t said anything. His anger grew with every word. “I’ve been saying all season that she was only using us until a better offer came along.”
“And we thought he was paranoid, because that is what Jess does best: paranoia.” James tipped his head at his twin with a shrug.
“The man never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like,” Mark teased.
“Shut up! I was right and you know it,” Jess burst out, standing with enough force to knock his chair backwards.
“He was,” Mason conceded, closing his eyes with a sad shake of the head. “She sent us a text this morning to let us know she found a producer who wants to get her solo career started, and she couldn’t make it to the finale tonight.”
“That’s some weak tea, y’all.” Devi pinched her lips.
“A little bit,” Jess said bitterly.
“I don’t get why you think I can help you,” she added. “My voice won’t do you any good at this point.”
“We think you’re wrong.” Mark beamed at her. “What if we get you onstage and you sing with us?”
She burst out laughing. “I see one huge problem with this. I look nothing like Raina Skye.”
“We can work around that,” James insisted.
“I don’t know what color sharpie you’ve been sniffing, but y’all won’t fool anyone. She’s five foot nothin’ and maybe a hundred pounds dripping wet with blonde hair. She’s as all-American white girl as it gets. People might buy that she got her hair dyed black, but one look at my quads and the eight inches I have on her, and no one is buying what you’re trying to sell.”
“I have an idea,” Mason said quietly, looking her right in the eye. His brown eyes pierced hers. “Do you trust me?”

Thursday, April 21, 2016

#cleanreads and the death of common sense

Twitter is a great place for righteous indignation and manufactured controversy. It also happens to be the best place for me to engage and interact with readers, so I'm there frequently. Yesterday I noticed some fellow authors loudly defending a publisher which only accepts "clean" submissions, so I went to Twitter to follow the hashtag # cleanreads to see what the big deal was.

Quick summary: a gay man was offended that this publisher (who uses #cleanreads to promote their books) doesn't accept submissions including gay story lines or characters. 

Much butt hurt and cyber bullying followed, on both sides. The man at the center of the firestorm was reasonable and kind in explaining his position. He seems like a truly decent human who felt strongly about something. I hope my post about why I think he's wrong shows the same restraint and respect.

 He gives the hashtag and the discrimination he feels he has suffered too much power because he thinks this publisher is calling his lifestyle dirty. I offer the following: first, being offended is a choice, and choosing not to be offended when you have been slighted (purposely or not) reclaims any power the other tried to take from you. Refusing to take little things on Twitter personally will bring a sense of peace to you that those purposely insulting or discriminating against you will never feel.

Second, I must address the idea of discrimination in publishing. Harsh truth:
Publishers are in business to provide a specific product to a target audience. There are LGBT publishers that only want to publish gay books for gay readers. And that's fine! Some publishers only want romance or thrillers or mystery, some want only books for kids, and some want books specifically for adults. Does this mean the publisher is discriminating illegally because they have chosen to focus on a specific demographic? Nope. Their discrimination is based on their business model.

I did a quick search for publishers that want the opposite of "clean" content. Screen cap from one such publisher is here.
The words this publisher has chosen to describe the books they want: Dirty. Naughty. Wicked. Brazen. (***update/edit*** These publishers themselves use words that are antonyms of the word clean. It makes sense, then, that readers not interested in such content would seek out something tagged 'clean' by the authors and publishers.) Readers who want books like this can shop from this publisher knowing they'll get exactly the kind of book they're looking for. I posit that "clean" publishers are doing just what these other publishers are doing--catering to a specific reader who wants to pick up a book and know exactly what to expect. Other businesses can and should be able to choose who they do business with (no shirt, no shoes, no service...sound familiar?) and not be accused of discrimination because of it. 

Does this mean I support homophobia or discrimination of any kind? Absolutely not. I'm a live and let live kind of girl, and I think it's a good idea to let people choose who they want to work with and where and how they want to do business.  I'm not a fan of the thought police, and I'm really not fond of attacking others for the egregious sin of not thinking like I do. 

The world can be a scary, ugly place. As a gay man, he's likely seen more than his fair share of that. Let's work together to end discrimination where it actually exists instead of getting our boxers in a bind because a publisher isn't telling the stories you think it should, or because you feel personally insulted by something that was never intended to be such. As a fellow writer, I can honestly say there's a place where your story is welcome, and that place isn't going to be in every single publishing house. (That would be nice, but it's just not reality.)  No story is worth the online outrage you've unwittingly spurred, or the anger you've brought to people who took up your cause along with their virtual torches and pitchforks. 

Let's support books and authors we love instead of attacking what we don't. Stand FOR something, not against its opposite. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

We nerd well

What did we do as a family yesterday? Rube Goldberg. We rube goldberged the crap out of your average Rube Goldberg project. I'm the mom who insists that my kids do their own homework and projects. Nobody did my homework back in the day, and I'm not doing anyone else's. 

To answer your question, no I didn't do my kid's project. I helped, and that's why the day rocked hard.

We spent the day brainstorming, planning, testing, and moving things around until she found a design that actually popped the balloon (the end goal.) We helped her figure out which simple machines would work. And in the end, she managed to pull a lever which released weights, which pulled up a balloon full of baking soda up to dump into a coke bottle full of vinegar at one end while releasing a steel ball at the other. While the chemical reaction in the bottle filled the balloon with air, the ball went down two tracks, into another bottle, transferred to an inclined plane with switchbacks, and hit a Lego car which set off a chain reaction with books, which pulled a string to release the toy plane with a pin in the tip to pop the now inflated balloon. Five hours of pure family time in exchange for 20 seconds on tape and a science grade. And I wouldn't trade it for anything.'s the money shot. Boom.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

One of Those Days

Have you ever had one of those days where you feel worthless? Lost and alone? Like nothing you ever say or do will matter to anyone?

I'm having that day. I struggle with anxiety and depression, and today is just one of those times where it kind of overtakes me. So if you're having that day, know you're not alone. When I feel like that, I take stock of the beautiful things in my life, like my daughters. Good books. Lifelong friendships. Chocolate. My obnoxious and hilarious family. A roof over my head. Tylenol for those raging headaches. The beach. 

I don't know what you're thankful for, but make your list. Don't let those feelings of worthlessness take over. It's not you--you are wonderful. It's our brain chemistry messing with us. 

Make your list and repeat it like a mantra. Give all the bad feels the finger. Find joy. Seek medical help if you need to, because this is nothing to be ashamed of. Your happiness is worth fighting for. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Jumping on the Bandwagon

I live in one of maybe four states that doesn't do a lottery. When the jackpot jumps over a billion, what's a girl to do? Well, she finishes her writerly stuff in the morning and takes a quick day trip to the next state over so she can wait in line with the rest of the world to buy a little hope. The pic below was taken from the rest area about 3/4 of the way there. (I drink a lot of Diet Coke and have a crazy small bladder). The view is not too shabby, I think. 

If I win a billion dollars, I won't share it with anyone. Because rich people are rude and selfish, right? I'll remember you all fondly as I look down on you and roll around naked in all my money. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I Survived the Urge to Craft 2015

It's a rare moment when I decide to get my craft on, but today, I found these snowflake ornaments on deep discount (thank you, after Christmas sales) and envisioned a cute little winter decoration type thingy for my boring white front door. 

In the process I hot glued my fingers together...more than once. I also glued a snowflake or two to my hand. I may or may not have burned the curious dog's furry little butt while wielding that glue gun. He for sure was confused and a little scared when I yelled very colorful words that he assumed were meant for him, given his history of being a vindictive pooper. In the end, I had a ridiculous amount of glitter on table and floor, and so much on me that I looked like a Vegs street walker leaving a hooker convention. (My brother says not to insult myself and make sure you know I'm not hooker material...only stripper material. Thanks for having big plans for me, bruh.)

Anyway, this is the final result. Burned skin and glitter in unmentionable places aside, I think it turned out ok.