Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2: 8-14

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmasy Stuff

Even though we are running behind on Christmas due to combination of a) leaving things until the last moment, and b) a horrible virus that caused us to lose an entire week of December, we've still managed to get a few Christmasy things done.

Thanks to Walmart One Hour Photo, I manged to slap together a Christmas card!

And we finally hung up the sparkly snowflakes that we glittered in early December. Yay for toddler art projects! And for finding something for this really strange, large, open window!

It's December 22! I'm still getting out Christmas decorations! Oh boy. Next year I am going to be done with gift shopping early... as in September!

How are you doing? Are you ready for the big day?

Friday, December 16, 2011

While the Giant is Sleeping

One of the most interesting geographical features of Helena, Montana, is the Sleeping Giant. There is a section of our mountain range that really, truly looks like a giant laying on his back. The cool thing is the Sleeping Giant is perfectly framed out of our new back window!

Alycia Holston is an author and Helena resident and, I'm glad to say, also a friend of mine. She and illustrator Suzi Stranahan have produced a charming picture book called While the Giant is Sleeping that follows the Sleeping Giant throughout the year as the seasons change around him. This well written and beautifully illustrated book is a treat for both children and their parents. Both of my young children loved reading about all of the wildlife and weather that pass through "while the giant is sleeping." I highly recommend this book, especially if your children are interested in nature.

Alycia and Suzi are currently having a giveaway on their site Calm Creations for a copy of While the Giant is Sleeping. All you have to do to enter the giveaway is visit their site today, let them know which of the winter illustrations from While the Giant is Sleeping is your favorite (the illustrations are on their site), and make sure to leave your name and email address in your comment. Easy peasy!

You can also purchase a copy of While the Giant Sleeping on Amazon or through CrossRiver Media.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Revealing the Cover for My Novel!

Oh my gosh, I am so stinking excited that I cannot contain myself! Today on my author site I am revealing the cover for my novel Awake: A Fairytale. I would really love if you could head on over and check it out!

I'm kind of bummed to have missed out on the Sew, Mama, Sew Giveaway Day - but come on guys, it's a real book! I promise to not miss out next time (May, right?!?!)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Look Who's a Winner

I honestly thought I'd feel a lot more excited about this...

But I guess at a certain point you realize that getting the first 50k is a great milestone, but you are so far from done that it's a little bit "ho, hum, guess I'm still going into the office tomorrow."

And by office, I mean Starbucks.

The middle is looking great. I've still got to write the end...and the hero and heroine's entire relationship prior to the middle (so yes, that would be the beginning, or at least large sections of the beginning).

But, yay for me! I've written the middle of a novel in the month of November!

Now to commence a major freak out about how much is left to do in an incredibly short amount of time if I want it out by August 2012. Ah, good times.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway

Did you know I have another blog? Yup! I started a site for my pen name - Jessica Grey. It's all pretty and shiny AND right now I' am participating in a 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway and Blog Hop. I'm giving away two books and a Starbucks card. Free coffee, people, you can't beat it. You should totally head on over and enter my giveaway (and the others that are going on too, they are all great!) The giveaway will be open through December 12th.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review: His Good Opinion by Nancy Kelley

Last week I reviewed my friend Nancy Kelley's book His Good Opinion, A Mr. Darcy Novel on the site Indie Jane.

“But Jess,” you might say, “you’re really good friends with Nancy. You run Indie Jane with her. How can you give an impartial review of her book?”

“Well, you,” I might answer back, “I am friends with Nancy, and she is nice enough to put up with my crazy shenanigans and blog with me, but I’m totally just a cool, impartial chick and if this book sucked I totally would tell you.”

Actually, if this book sucked I would just sort of of slink off into a corner and pretend that I’d never read it or been asked to review it… avoidance is my go to response in those sorts of situations. But luckily for me, and the world in general, this book is frickin’ frackin’ brilliant and now it is available for you all to read so you can agree with me!

So yes, I know Nancy as personally as one can on the interwebs, and this is going to be a gush fest – I didn’t create the hashtag #HotDarcy on Twitter when talking about this book because I just had nothing better to do…I created it cause Nancy writes a really #HotDarcy AND I had nothing better to do!

So, now that we’ve gotten that cleared up, here is my review!

Darcy is hot. He is really, really hot. There is more than one occasion on which he loosens his cravat and is all sexy and hot like. You should buy this book. The end.

This review brought to you by the puddle of goo formerly known as Jess.

Kidding! Well, actually that’s a pretty decent summation, but here is my real review!

In His Good Opinion, author Nancy Kelley sets out to tell the story of Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy's point of view. Although Darcy is the hero in Pride and Prejudice, for the first part of the book he comes across to Elizabeth (as well as everyone else in Hertfordshire) and the reader as proud and aloof. In the second half of the novel, Austen shows us how Darcy changes and Darcy himself admits to flaws in his behavior. But why was Darcy seemingly so proud? Why did he refuse to be easily pleased, withholding his good opinion more often than he bestowed it. And why would someone like Darcy fall in love with a girl like Elizabeth - someone open and vivacious and not at all concerned with securing his good opinion?

Told from Darcy's point of view, this novel follows Darcy from London where he has become increasingly turned off by the artifices of society, to the country where he meets Elizabeth for the first time. As he become enchanted with her the reader is similarly enchanted by this version of Mr. Darcy. The blow of Lizzy's rejection of Darcy's proposal is felt more keenly than ever before because we as readers find ourselves rooting for Darcy. His heartbreak is real and touching, and frankly, makes him irresistible. As he comes to term with the rejection and takes Lizzy's criticisms to heart, he endeavors to become a man worthy of her love - even if he can never have her.

The book follows the timeline of Pride and Prejudice, but because it is told from Darcy's point of view, readers are treated to scenes that we have previously been imagined, such as Darcy's hunt of Wickham and his eventual confrontation with him in London. We are also get to see the relationship between Darcy and his sister Georgiana, as well his relationship with his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam. All of this serves to flesh Darcy out and make him an even more desirable hero.

And here is where Nancy Kelley's genius really shines. Darcy is already an incredibly loved, and if we are all honest with ourselves, desired, hero. She has managed in this story, to make him even more desirable while also injecting levels of sensitivity and vulnerability that are absolutely heart-wrenching. While this book could be given a G rating based on it's content, Ms. Kelley manages to raise the reader's temperature with a look or a gesture. In fact, every time Darcy loosened his cravat I melted into a tiny puddle of goo.

The tagline of this novel is "Mr. Darcy speaks from the heart," and in the end that is what endears readers the most to this incarnation of Mr. Darcy. Yes, he's tall, dark and handsome (and has ten thousand a year), and yes he is very, very hot. But in this retelling of Pride and Prejudice it is his heart that truly shines through. And I think it is that heart that will make readers fall in love with him all over again and wish that they too could be a woman worthy of... His Good Opinion.

Five Stars

And guess what! Right now on Indie Jane we are giving away two copies of this book! Head on over and enter!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Yellow House

Sorry for being MIA recently. Between moving and writing for NaNoWriMo I've barely got time to breathe!

I grew up in a little yellow house, so maybe that is why they seem so homey to me.

Now we are finally moved into our new yellow house here in Helena, Montana.

And right after we moved it snowed. A lot.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Knight/Prince Phillip Maddie and Dragon James!

Shining armor and a cape!


And for your viewing pleasure ... Maddie hunts dragons!

Monday, October 24, 2011


Being from Southern California we aren't really used to the major season changes that most of the country experiences. The seasons change, but it is just a lot more subtle that everywhere else.

Here in Helena there are a lot of fir trees (we are up on a mountain after all), but there are still quite a few that are putting on a spectacular show for us.

This is our neighbor's tree, it's right off our deck. Pretty.

These are in the little canyon right behind us:

We are also seeing lots of deer around. These guys walked right past our deck and ate up the grass in the front. I took this picture from our deck, so you can see how close they were!

As pretty as fall is, I hear in Montana it is pretty short! And for proof of that, word on the street (and by street I mean my iPhone weather app) we are supposed to get a mix of rain and snow tonight. What do you think? Do these clouds look like they've got snow in them?

Now might be a good time to invest in some long sleeve shirts...Pretty sure I only have two that fit! If you live in colder climate, where is your favorite place to shop for winter clothes?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fairy Tale Giveaway on My Author Site!

I'm having a pretty awesome giveaway on my author site

I'm giving away a copy of two of my favorite fairy tale books: Beauty by Robin McKinley and The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, and this super amazing fairy tale necklace!

Come on by and check it out!

Friday, October 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo is Almost Here!

The insanity known as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short) is just around the corner! I will be working on my Austenesque novel Attempting Elizabeth as I also try to move and prepare for the holidays.

My daughter, Maddie, loves fast rides. She puts her hands up on roller coasters. She's three. Actually, she's been doing this since she was two. Gadget's Go-Go-Coaster in Toontown at Disneyland? Front row. Hands up. Yes siree, Bob. She also has tackled the Matterhorn at least four times. Her dry comment as we whizzed by the Abominable Snowman? "Oooooh, 'citing!"

This could be partially my fault. I've always tried to have her look at things as exciting instead of scary. I started this really young with Maddie, before I knew that she was a natural born dare-devil. I am now rethinking that particular parenting strategy (do you know kids that literally climb walls? I have one!)

However, I think that Maddie has a pretty darn good outlook on roller coasters, and on life. It doesn't have to be scary. It can be "'citing!" So that is how I choose to look at NaNoWriMo and the whole rest of November. It's going to be an exciting ride!

Front row.

Hands up.

Here we go!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Swinging Like Big Kids

Winter is coming! There are only so many play outside days left in the calendar year!

So what do we do? When it is cold and blustery, and the rain clouds are coming in over the mountains, we put on our hoodies and head out to the park!

Nothing better than swinging like big kids!

On the tire swing even!

Because everyone knows that swings are fun!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Longer Sample of My Novel!!

I've put up a longer sample of my novel Awake: A Sleeping Beauty Story up on my author blog.

I would love if you could check it out and let me know what you think!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Introducing Jessica Grey

I've gone back and forth on whether to use a pen name for my writing. And I've finally decided to go ahead and use one. So, without further ado, meet Jessica Grey.

Hey! That girl looks just like me!

So, why Jessica Grey?

Grey is my mother’s maiden name, and my first book, Awake: A Sleeping Beauty Story is dedicated to my late grandfather, Charles Richard Grey, who was a huge influence in my life and a great reader. He introduced me to Mary Stewart, one of my biggest literary influences, and I still have his copies of his (and mine!) favorite Stewart novels. I actually began using Grey as a pen name when I was in middle school, and so when I decided to publish under one, it was the best and most obvious choice.

I am launching my new online presence this week, and would love if you would join me on my new blog! I will be sharing fun writing stuff, excerpts from my upcoming book, and random ramblings on music from my infamous writing playlists. Good times all around. I also have a Twitter account dedicated to my new pen name @_JessicaGrey.

We are actually getting pretty close to the launch of Awake! Only four more months to go!

I am excited!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Review: Caroline Bingley by Jennifer Becton

Caroline Bingley. For Austen fans, even hearing the name can bring up feelings varying from annoyance to revulsion. For me, the feeling I get is kind of the same as the one that shimmies up your spine when someone scrapes their nails down a chalkboard. That “Oh my gosh, why? Make it stooooop” feeling. Caroline is one of the best examples of what I call “Austen’s smack-able characters,” and she could write some pretty darn smack worthy characters (pretty much everyone in Sense and Sensibility for example)! You love to hate Caroline.

So what is Jennifer Becton thinking centering a whole entire Pride and Prejudice continuation on this smack-able, nails-down-the-chalkboard, crazy girl? I have been wondering that every since I heard Caroline Bingley was coming out. I loved Jennifer Becton’s other Personages of Pride and Prejudice novel, Charlotte Collins. I really, really loved it. I also really enjoyed her thriller Absolute Liability. I mean the woman can write . . . but CAROLINE BINGLEY? Surely, you jest.

I don’t know quite how she did it, but at the end of this book I like Caroline. Not only do I LIKE Caroline, I totally get her. I sympathize with her. I want her to succeed. I want her to be happy. Up is down . . . wrong is right . . . “Dogs and cats living together . . . MASS HYSTERIA!”

The story picks up right after the end of Pride and Prejudice with Caroline being banished to her mother’s home in the north by her brother Charles for her interference in his romance with Jane Bennet (and her refusal to apologize to Elizabeth). To Caroline, who wants only to help further her families connections in society and to find her own home, this is a truly harsh punishment.

While in the north Caroline continues to try to advance her standing in society, but her best-laid plans seem to come to naught. To make matters worse for Caroline, her brother has saddled her with a paid companion, Rosemary, a woman she cannot stand. Caroline desires to distance her family from their roots in trade, but her mother’s husband doesn’t seem to be ashamed of his trade as a bridge designer at all, and his partner, the young and handsome Mr. Rushton, has the audacity not only to not be ashamed of his trade, but to find Caroline and her machinations amusing.

Can Caroline let go of her fear long enough to find her own home? Could it be be possible that Caroline will find a true friend where she least expects? Could Mr. Rushton be any more hot? The answer to that last one is no. If he was anymore hot readers everywhere would be spontaneously combusting, and I can’t imagine Ms. Becton wants that on her conscious, so she wisely went with an appropriate level of hotness.

So here I am, all confused and feeling slightly like I’ve cheated on Lizzy Bennet by ending up liking Caroline Bingley as a character. We often forget that Caroline is so very young, that was one of the first things that struck me while I was reading this book. She tried so hard to present a sophisticated and urbane front that, I, at least, forget she was the same age as Lizzy. Also, as the reader comes to learn more about Caroline’s history as Becton presents it, and the pressure put on her by her father (intentionally or not), and how she internalized that pressure, she becomes a much more understandable and sympathetic character. I’m not saying that she is easy to love, but there is something about the difficulty in getting past those prickles that makes the reward worthwhile.

Did I mention Mr. Rushton is hot?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Check Out My Interview for the Teatime Ten

The lovely Emily at O Beauty Unattempted! has interviewed Nancy Kelley and myself (the co-creators of Indie Jane) for her Teatime Ten feature this week. We were honored that Emily would included us in this popular weekly feature. I would love it if you could check it out and comment! Thanks!!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Same Same, Different Different

Are they twins?

It gets asked a lot when we are out. James is really only a few inches shorter than his sister, and when they're sitting down it's actually hard to tell that she's longer and more gangly than he is.

They're alike in so many ways, that I kind of think they are de facto twins . . .

But then sometimes they are so different it's like they are little opposites of each other.

Maddie likes her cereal dry. Always.

James likes his with milk and a spoon. All is right with his world if he has cereal, milk, and spoon.

Maddie loves grape juice.

James loves orange juice.

Maddie will occasionally sample the orange juice but she says it's "too spice" and screws up her face in a horrifically comical manner. "Too spice" from the child that eats pickles for breakfast. Meanwhile, James will chug limeade straight. Go figure. He prefers the citrus based juices I guess.

Maddie prefers Little Einsteins

James prefers Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

This causes fights.

Madie loves to snuggle under blankets.

James hates sleeping with a blanket over him with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns.

Maddie's snacks on raw celery. James, not so much.

James snacks on raw brocolli. Maddie is horrified by this.

Luckily, in spite of their differences, they still love each other.

(blanket was for story time purposes only, after which it was kicked off)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Nothing Says NaNoWriMo Like Moving House

I'm super committed to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year. I fizzled last year, having written something sad and pitiful like 4,615 words of Awake (quality, not quantity, people!) but I have redeemed myself by actually finishing the sucker once we moved here to Montana.

So, guess what I am doing November 1st? Kicking off NaNoWriMo here and on Indie Jane . . . aaaaand MOVING! Yes!

We are moving from our condo to a house. Still renting, but the exciting things are:

a) it's cheaper . . . mind-blowing.
b) it's bigger, although same number of bedrooms and only one bath, the downstairs is bigger than our whole condo.
c) it's got a yard, and that yard is FENCED.
d) we can paint the walls . . . pause for happy dance.

The cons are:

a) it's a WHOLE LOTTA work to move.

So wish me luck as I'm writing, editing, and packing like a mad woman this coming month. Only to be writing and unpacking like a mad woman in November! Yay!

Friday, September 23, 2011


This is how James spends our shopping trips.

He picks it out himself from the produce section.

It's not exactly clean, but far be it from me to stop him.

If I did he'd just throw a tantrum and fish it out of the bag when I'm not looking.

Occasionally people stop us and ask me how I get him to eat it.

I dunno. He just likes it.

But really, I think it should earn me some kind of parenting award.

However, unless you think I'm super granola mummy who magically convinces her children to only eat good, wholesome things . . .

I present to you . . .

Rocky Road cake pops.


Balance is important in life, I think.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

100 Days

There are only 100 days left until Christmas. Less if you're on the other side of the world.

Don't believe me? Check out the Christmas Countdown Clock.

Cause you know, we all need more stress in our lives - countdown clocks really ratchet up that old spazz level. You can sit there and watch it tick down. Freaky.

In twelve hours from this writing, there will be only 99 days left . . . double digits! Omg.

Pause for freakout.

I am unprepared.

Extremely unprepared.

For a lot of things actually . . . not just the 100 days until Christmas (lists? sewing? what?)

Slightly less than a month and half after that lovely little Christmas Countdown Clock hits zero and resets to 355 (actually my favorite part) I will be releasing my first novel into the wild.

Pause for slightly larger freakout.

Maybe I should create a countdown for that . . . just to see how high my blood pressure can get as I watch it tick down. It would be like a medical experiment!

There are also less than 7 weeks to the start of November, which means NaNoWriMo!
Planning, outlining, deciding how the darn thing ends?
Sure. Whatevs.

Not pausing for a freakout here because I am in d-e-n-i-a-l.

It's September. I now live in Montana. It could snow any day. Fall is like the blink of an eye here, at least that is what they tell me.

Pause for huge, out of control, I-have-no-winter-clothes-and-wear-flip-flops-everyday freakout.

But enough about me . . . and the celebration of the Christ Child's birth . . .

The biggest, most important countdown clock is this:

There are only 13 regular games left in my team's regular baseball season!


Mind blown.
Whatever am I going to do with myself after the season is over?
Maybe, you know, finish editing that novel, sew those Christmas presents, buy some real shoes, or curl up in a ball and cry until spring training.
It's really a toss up.

Meanwhile, we are 3 back in the division race and starting to make some noise in the very intriguing wild card race . . . so GO ANGELS!
The rest of it can wait.

At least for another 13 games or so.

(gratuitous cute kid picture with Angels tie in. Um, yes, he's restrained with a jump rope, he seems ok with it, my kids are weird.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Because I am Insane

I am really looking forward to this year's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November. My plan is to work on my Austenesque novel Attempting Elizabeth which I am expanding from the short story I wrote last year. I am currently doing some serious actual planning and plotting for it, which is so unlike me.

But here is the thing. I've been editing for weeks. And now I am planning something I won't be actually writing until November. That's eight weeks away! What is a girl to do? A girl who is itching to get some real, actual writing in?

Apparently what I am doing is writing a completely different novel! Yes sirree Bob! This week I started the sequel to Awake. Don't worry, they are stand-alone, you will definitely get a resolution to Awake . . . no waiting for months for the next book to come out after being left dangling off a huge plot-precipice. I hate that.

So, what is it about? I can't tell you much other than that it is a redux of Beauty and the Beast. Love! It's been done a lot. It's been done really well (especially well by Robin McKinley, not once but twice for goodness sake!), but I am hopeful that my story will add something new and fun to the grand tradition of La Belle et La BĂȘte.

That may be aiming a bit high, let's just say I hope it's really fun to read!

So, I write my booty off until NaNoWriMo and then I guess I take a break from Beauty and work on Austen . . . OR I could finish Beauty and the Beast before then . . . it only means writing 11,250 words a week.

No problem.


I would love to finish the rough draft by November first. It would be brilliant. But I am not going to throw myself off a cliff if I don't. After all, I'm only 7,000 words in. I'm having fun though!

While I can't tell you anything about my plot (hint: there is a beauty in it . . . and maybe a beast), I can share with you these amazing photos! Did you know that Drew Barrymore did a Beauty and the Beast spread a few years ago for Vanity Fair? I am dying over these dresses. Aren't they so pretty? You really must see them all!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dear Jane Pen Pal Project

I have been so swamped recently with all the awesome, cool, exciting stuff I have some how managed to get myself involved in. As it turns out, there are only 24 hours in the day, and a significant portion of those are required for sleep if you want to be at all functional.
Whose idea was that?

One of the super rad projects I am working on is the Dear Jane Pen Pal Program over on my site Indie Jane. We are connecting Austen fans and readers all over the world and reviving the lost art of letter writing. Sign ups are running through 9/15 so there is still time to be a part. I would love for some of my blog readers to join us! It doesn't matter what level of Austen-fan you are, if you love literature and letter writing (or want to love letter writing) please join us!

Image provided by Simon Howden /

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Issue with Journals

I have issues with journals. Don't get me wrong. I want to be a journal writer. I love those gorgeous leather bound journals. I gaze at them longingly in the book store and think of all the wonderful things other people could write in them. But I am scared. Literally paralyzed by my own fears . . . I have huge, huge issues with writing in them myself. They are so pretty so I want everything I write to be perfect. I cannot handle mistakes. This is why I write in pencil (because it has an eraser) and in word processors. Just the thought of it not being perfect makes me want to never start. I call it avoidance perfectionism. If I don't ever actually DO it, then the concept of it can remain perfect in my mind.

Perfectly undone.

This probably sounds totally weird to most people. But I know there are others like me out there. It spills out into other parts of my life, it's not just journals, but they are a really prime example of it. Case in point. My husband gave me a gorgeous wood covered journal for my twenty-seventh birthday and I haven't written in it yet. I am thirty-two.

There's actually a book for people like me. A "journal" that gives you instructions about how to dirty it up. Do this with that page, crumple up and throw this page away, etc. The problem here is that I would literally get so caught up in following the instructions perfectly that it would completely defeat the purpose of the darn book.

Completely. Defeat.

I got another journal for my birthday this year. The cover is a gorgeous deep brown leather with beautiful flowers. There's a lovely inscription in it. It's from a woman here in our new town, the wife of my husband's coworker. She threw me a surprise birthday party. She has no idea about my avoidance perfectionism because I really do come off as a normal person. It is so pretty I don't want to unpretty it.

I've had it for almost two months.

Enough is enough.

I gave myself permission to unpretty this journal.

I got supplies. Including PENS.

I put pictures in the front. I didn't worry about the fact that my kids tore the picture of Maddie (so sad, I only have one untorn one left), I just tore the others to match.

I wrote in it.

On several pages.

I'm going to try to write in it more tomorrow. And more the next day. I might skip a day . . . I don't know. The point is I can skip and still come back to it. I can jump around. It doesn't have to be orderly or perfect. It just has to be used. This journal was made to be written in.

And once I've filled this one up, I'll start on my wooden journal.

I refuse to maintain a false perfection by just avoiding. I have to embrace the imperfection.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Debut of Chapter One

Here it is! The long awaited (ok, maybe only by me) debut of the first chapter of Awake: A Sleeping Beauty Story.

If you need a quick refresher on what my novel is about, click on over here to read the synopsis. Otherwise, without further ado, here is the first chapter:

Awake: A Sleeping Beauty Story

Chapter One

The last place Alexandra Martin expected to see Luke Reed was at orientation for summer interns at the Museum Guild of Los Angeles.

Quite honestly, Alex hadn’t expected to see Luke anywhere after graduation, except maybe in the occasional news report about minor league baseball and eventually the majors. Rumor had it he’d already signed a contract with a major league team and was going to be playing in their minor league farm system starting that summer. Not that Alex paid any attention to rumors about Luke Reed.

And yet there he was, slouching in one of the museum’s ancient folding chairs, arms crossed behind his head as he gazed soulfully up at the ceiling. What he found so fascinating about the yellowing acoustic tiles Alex couldn’t even begin to fathom. A group of girls seated a row behind him, obviously destined for a summer of interning at the art museum if their black clothing and red lips were any indication, ogled him blatantly. It was entirely possible that he studied the tiles more to avoid their predatory gazes than from any real interest in the ceiling.

Alex lingered in the doorway and wondered for a single heartbeat if she could escape unnoticed. Maybe she could tell the receptionist she wasn’t feeling well and see if she could be excused from orientation. It was, after all, her fourth summer interning at the Gem and Mineral Museum; she was already fully oriented.

But that would be cowardly.

And he’d already lowered his gaze from his contemplation of the ceiling and spotted her.

“Hey Lex, saved you a seat,” Luke flashed her his trademark killer grin - a grin that caused most females of the species to swoon and giggle like they’d suddenly dropped twenty IQ points, but the only feeling it aroused in Alex was minor irritation.

Alex eyed the seat next to him. She supposed it would be horribly rude to sit anywhere else, seeing as he had just announced to the entire room that he had saved it for her. Alex had never been horribly rude to anyone in her life. She doubted she could even pull off horribly rude if she wanted to.

“Luke,” she acknowledged as she stepped over his long legs to reach the folding chair next to him, ignoring the incredulous, mildly jealous, stares from the gaggle of art interns. Alex sat, hugging her backpack in her lap in front of her and resting her chin on the top of it as she stared at the empty podium at the front of the meeting room.

“Aren’t you going to ask me what I’m doing here?” Luke teased her after a few moments of awkward silence.

Without looking over at him she answered, “I would think it was pretty obvious, as it’s summer intern orientation, that you’re here because you’re interning at one of the museums.”

“Hmm, yes, logic always has been your strong suit,” he replied. “You’re at the GeMMLA too, right?” He laughed as Alex’s head snapped towards him, her eyes widening at his use of the word “too.” “Of course you are, you’ve always had a thing for rocks.”

Alex stared at him, her brain refusing to wrap itself around the concept that Luke Reed of all people was going to be spending the entire summer at the Gem and Mineral Museum of Los Angeles.

“Luke,” she finally asked in bewilderment, “what in God’s name are you doing here?”

He flashed her another lethal grin, but Alex was already too off balance to feel her normal irritation.

“I’m spending the next nine weeks doing all sorts of geeky rock stuff with you, short stuff.”

Alex winced at the old term of endearment. “Luke, you and I haven’t been friends since the seventh grade,” she pointed out. When everyone began to notice how talented he was on the baseball field, he had started getting popular, while Alex, who’d possessed no discernible talent other than for schoolwork and being slightly awkward, had remained as unpopular as ever. It wasn’t that Alex had been a social outcast, that would have required her peers taking enough notice of her to cast her out. She just sort of quietly was, whereas Luke’s good looks, charm, and athletic talent had rocketed him into the popularity stratosphere. “We’ve barely even spoken to each other since middle school.”

“Lex, I asked you to the junior formal last year. Doesn’t exactly qualify as not talking to each other.”

“Your mother made you ask me.”

Luke laughed. “Is that why you said no? Because you think my mom made me ask you?”

Alex glared at him, silently daring him to lie to her. “Okay,” he conceded, “she may have mentioned that your mom told her you didn’t have a date to the dance, although I already knew that because you never go to dances . . .”

“There is no sense,” Alex interrupted irritably, “in a person like me ever attempting to go to a dance. That aside,” she continued when it looked as if he might argue with her, “I am sure there is an actual valid reason you’re planning on wasting your summer doing ‘geeky rock stuff.’”


“Yup, what?” Alex asked, exasperated.

“Yup, I do have a valid reason,” Luke answered.

Alex glared at him for a moment, but he didn’t seem inclined to elaborate. “Well, there you go,” she said sarcastically.

She glanced up at the clock, hoping orientation would start soon. The museums had staggered closed days. The only two days all six were open at the same time were Wednesdays and Saturdays. Even the organizers of the summer internship program realized the cruelty of asking teenagers to sit through an orientation on a Saturday in July. So here they all were, every teen within a thirty mile radius who had even thought of setting foot in a museum during the summer, about twenty-five of them, spending their Wednesday morning waiting to get sorted out and dispersed amongst the main museums.

The six museums were grouped together in a hodgepodge circle surrounding a large open grassy area referred to, quite creatively, as “the lawn.” Other than the occasional errand between museums, the lawn was the only place interns from different museums would ever run into each other. This usually happened during lunch breaks since most of the restaurants around the museum guild were priced out of the average high school student’s budget.

The Gem and Mineral Museum was definitely not the most glamorous museum in the Guild, and therefore it garnered the least amount of interest. Becca Ward, who had volunteered with Alex the last three summers, had waved exuberantly at Alex as she came into the room a few moments earlier. Becca had noticed mid-wave that Alex wasn’t sitting alone. She’d raised her eyebrows almost comically high at Alex as she walked by them and took a seat in the back corner with a group of interns from the Science Museum. Alex tried to flash her a “save me” look, but she was pretty sure Becca hadn’t seen it, or she’d just decided to abandon Alex to her fate.

Alex had figured this year, just like last, it would only be herself and Becca, who would end up at GeMMLA. But now, of course, there was Luke.

The clock slowly ticked down the last few moments to ten when the orientation was scheduled to start. Luke, wisely reading her last comment as signaling the end of the conversation, had resumed his perusal of the ceiling tiles. Alex wondered idly who would be doing this year’s presentation. It was pretty much the same material every year, an overview of the program, usually dryly presented by someone from the Art Museum, as they got the most interns, or occasionally by someone from Science. It was too much to hope it might be someone from GeMMLA, and definitely too much to hope that it might be him. As evidenced by the fact that she was sitting next to Luke Reed and therefore already feeling out of sorts and slightly inadequate, she was just not that lucky today.

Exactly one minute before ten, the door swung open and he walked in, a stack of stapled handouts tucked under one arm. Alex’s mouth went dry and her cheeks flushed as he caught sight of her and gave her a smile and a wave. She could hear the gaggle of art interns whispering furiously amongst themselves. Alex figured they must be wondering how she rated a saved seat from the hot blond athlete and a smile and a wave from the handsome dark-haired advisor. She had to consciously stop the almost frantic giggle that rose up in her throat, because she totally agreed with them.

Luke had also noticed the smile and wave, as well as Alex’s reaction to it. He gave her a little smile, different than his usually casual grin, and Alex had no idea what to make of it.

“Hey everyone, my name is Nicholas Grey, and I am the intern advisor for the Gem and Mineral Museum.” Nicholas dropped his stack of papers on the podium with an audible thud, then leaned against it, ankles crossed with one arm casually draped across the top. In his dark jeans and sports coat over a t-shirt featuring the logo of a classic rock band, he was the epitome of academic chic. Alex could almost hear the art interns rethinking their museum choice.

“I’m also working on my doctoral thesis,” Nicholas continued, “so I’m a student just like you guys.”

Alex was pretty sure Nicholas could not honestly be compared to any of the high school students or soon-to-be-college students in the room. With the possible exception of Luke, no one else here was as comfortable in their own skin. Unlike Luke’s innate athletic grace, Nicholas radiated a sort of calm energy that came from maturity and experience.

“The information we are going to go over this morning is pretty basic and general, just a bit about the program and the six different museums that make up the Guild. You’ll get more detailed info from your respective intern advisors. I’ve got a list of all your names, so I’ll read it off and make sure everyone is here.”

He paused to pull out a pair of horn-rimmed glasses from his coat pocket and slipped them on. It was really unfair, Alex reflected, that Nicholas’s glasses managed to make him look even hotter, while hers just managed to obscure her eyes and highlight the too-small bridge of her nose by slipping down continuously.

“Alexandra, would you mind passing out these handouts while I take attendance?” Nicholas shot Alex another smile.

Alex set her backpack on the floor and wiped her suddenly damp palms on the front of her jeans before she stood up, almost tripping over her discarded backpack. Before she could even react to the fact that she was tipping over, Luke’s arm shot out to the side and he snagged a finger through the back belt loop of her jeans, stopping her forward momentum. Three thoughts flashed simultaneously through Alex’s mind. The first was that she was glad her jeans, as well worn as they were, didn’t rip. The second was relief that Luke had been so quick that he had effectively prevented her from making a total fool of herself and had done it in such a way that only those sitting behind her could even tell there was a problem. Nicholas, standing as he was in front and to the left of her, couldn’t even see Luke’s arm steadying her or his hand gripping her waistband.

The third was that Luke was really, really strong.

“Easy, short stuff,” Luke said under his breath. “Make him guess at least a little.” Alex turned and glared at him with what she hoped was enough force to kill. He just chuckled under his breath and tugged on her belt loop once before letting her go.

Alex concentrated on taking careful, measured steps on her way to the podium and accepted the stack of handouts from Nicholas without fully meeting his eye. As she passed them out, she ignored the snide sideways glances from the art interns, who, being seated behind her, had unfortunately had a great view of her near mishap and the heroic save by Luke. She sat back in her chair and resumed her clock watching, this time counting down the seconds until the orientation was over and she could escape to the calming environs of GeMMLA. She made the mistake of glancing over at Luke once, and when he gave her a broad wink, she realized with a small sinking feeling that her sanctuary, the one place she felt relatively normal, was about to be invaded by the person in whose presence she tended to appear the most unspecial and inadequate. And this invasion was going to happen in front of the one person that she desperately wanted to see her as special and adequate.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hello Beautiful

It's official! I have turned into my mother.

In the morning, this is the most beautiful sight . . . just think, this time last year I wasn't a coffee drinker at all. And now here I have my own pot and everything!

I can't really claim to have fully turned into my mom quite yet, she drinks it black. Hard core. I still have to throw some flavored creamer into my cup. Someday though, someday I will drink it black as night and dark as pitch. And like it.

Make sure to stop by here on Monday to read the first chapter of my novel in it's entirety!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Butterflies in My Tummy

This upcoming Monday, August 22, I will be debuting the complete first chapter of my novel Awake: A Sleeping Beauty Story here and at Indie Jane.

I am a little bit excited and a lot terrified.

I really hope you will come by on Monday and let me know what you think!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fried Green Beans

Someone from church gave us an entire grocery bag full of freshly picked green beans and in my search for recipes to help use them up, I have discovered the awesomeness of fried green beans. These are amazing! They are so addictive! I am not quite sure if they should be considered a health food (fresh green beans after all!) or a horribly fattening snack (deep fried, but the flour coating is minimal at best). Whatever else they are they are most definitely yum! Here is the recipe I have been using, although I just eyeball everything, measuring kills my mojo:

Fresh green beans, I make about 1/2 lb at a time, washed with the ends snapped off
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup(ish) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper

1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
Oil for deep frying (I just use about 1/2 cup in a small saute pan)

Mix the flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder in bowl.
Dip the green beans in milk and then roll in the flour mixture.
Deep fry until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels

Great for snacks, or as a side dish for your summer burgers. Yum . . . burgers . . .

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ten Things I Know to Be True

1. There are not enough hours in my day.

2. I will never be as perfect or as accomplished as I want to be.

3. My eyes are bigger than my tummy.

4. Piles of unfinished projects are both overwhelming and depressing.

5. I suck at prioritizing.

6. Caffeine is a miracle drug to which I am hopelessly addicted.

7. Yo Gabba Gabba was obviously created by people high on illegal narcotics.

8. We only get warm sunny days for so many days out of the year, I should be making sure my kids are out enjoying more of them.

9. I would love to lock myself in a hotel room for a weekend just to write . . . a caffeine fueled writing and editing binge without worrying about anything but the pieces of story in my head. Trifling things like dishes, laundry, nap times, and showering. However, if I actually ever did this the Mommy guilt would kill me.

10. His grace is sufficient.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Advent of Becca

Our friend Becca is visiting us for a month! The kids (and mommy and daddy) were excited out their minds about her coming for weeks before she actually got here. Every time someone would leave James would wig out thinking they were going to pick up Becca without him.

Becca sent Maddie and James a "Countdown to Becca" calendar. Or as I like to call it, a Becca Advent Calendar. It's almost like Christmas! (In a totally non-sacrilegious way).

Becca has been here for a week and we've been busy doing all sorts of fun Montana-y stuff. Here is Becca, Maddie, and James in Reeder's Alley in downtown Helena. Reeder's Alley was originally bachelor apartments for miners, and now it is cute little shops and restaurant.

Some friends from church (also originally from California) took us out Saturday on their boat and we went up the Missouri River through the Gates of the Mountain. Ah-maz-ing. Maddie looks pretty darn thrilled.

We drove up to a "ghost town" in the mountains called Rimini, it wasn't much of a town, or very ghosty, just some old buildings and a few newer houses, but there was a pretty awesome waterfall that we walked up to.

We went rainbow hunting in an afternoon thunderstorm, and we were rewarded with a double rainbow. This may be my new favorite picture of all time.

Here is to another week of fun!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New Post on Indie Jane

Hello there beautiful people! I have a new post today up on Indie Jane in which I discuss how adaptable Austen is and share artwork from my upcoming Pride and Prejudice children's book. I would love if you could check it out and comment. Thanks!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Just for Fun

Just for fun I created a Wordle word cloud of my novel (as it stands now mid-editing) and then I took an Instagram picture of it, because everything is better with Instagram.

The best part is that none of my overused words appear anywhere on this! Progress my lovelies, progress!

I am hoping to release the first chapter as a sample soon . . . anyone interested?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Just a Reminder - Giveaways on Indie Jane

Just a quick reminder that we have two ah-mah-zing giveaways going on at Indie Jane right now! The first is for a Kindle. Um, yeah. You have through 8/11 to enter and there are lots of easy ways to enter!

We are also giving away two copies of Charlotte Collins by Jennifer Becton, one paperback and one ebook. That giveaway ends this Tuesday, so make sure to head on over and enter!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Realizing You Have a Problem is Half the Battle

I know there are certain words I overuse when I am writing a rough draft. That's kind of the point of the rough draft, you have to turn off that internal editor as much as possible and just plow through.

I know I use "suddenly" way too much. Apparently things never happen at a slow pace in my novel. Another one is "seemed" (and seemingly and seems), maybe part of that is that I am writing scenes with magic so I default back to my own unbelief and say something "seemed to happen" instead of actually happening.

I had no idea that there was another word that I overuse. A lot.

Realized. Who knew? It appears to be one of my favorite words and I didn't even realize it (ahem). This was pointed out to me by one of my beta readers, Victoria. Her awareness of it was likely enhanced by the fact that because she's in Australia, her spell check underlined each and every instance of it in annoying, squiggly red. I'm glad it did or I would never have known!

After a few hours of editing . . . the occurrence is much lower. Yay for the awesome "find" feature in Pages, I really do get more out of it than the one in Word.

Are there any words you overuse? Do you own a thesaurus? My Mom swears by good dictionaries with an included thesaurus. Luckily for me, there are some online, it makes editing so much easier!