When Maggie summons her twin Josie for lunch in the middle of a work day, Josie knows there’s a favor looming. When Maggie asks asexual Josie to be her surrogate, Josie is tempted to brush aside the clump of hair that’s hidden her eyes since high school to see if she’s serious. But when Maggie insists that Josie get pregnant the old-fashioned way, by sleeping with her husband, Josie’s heard enough. She packs up her salad and heads for the door.
That’s when Maggie says if Josie doesn’t do it, she’ll use a former classmate who just ducked embezzlement charges and wants to have sex with her husband. What choice does Josie have? She’s spent her life protecting Maggie, saving her soul at the expense of her own. She’s never said no to Maggie. After all, they’re practically one person.
But there’s a lot about Maggie that Josie doesn’t know — the reason for her infertility, that she’s having an affair . . . her compulsion to claim for herself everyone who has ever wanted Josie. Flirty and adorable, Maggie doesn’t expect the shift in her husband’s affection. It never occurred to her that he could fall for sexless Josie. Or Josie for him.
Told from the perspectives of Maggie, Josie and their husbands (one of whom is unreliable), it turns out Maggie’s not the only one with something to hide. In the aftermath of the “act,” their marriages seemingly over and the twins at odds, the couples wait to learn whether Josie is pregnant. At long last, Maggie and Josie must come to terms with the incestuous relationship that turned them toward and away from each other, and molded their identities.
Josie’s cell phone rang again, the ringtone it came programmed with emanating from the battered vinyl purse slung over the back of her desk chair. It had been ringing repeatedly for an hour which meant it was Maggie. When her twin wanted to talk, she meant now. Maggie didn’t know what it meant to work. That you can’t stop an experiment mid-culture to yack about whether Maggie should try bangs or to congratulate her on losing two pounds.
Eighteen. Josie counted the rings subconsciously. She was math-y that way. Numbers spoke to her better than people.
“Would you pick up the damn phone, Josie? It’s driving me nuts,” Jack Randall called from the next office. It wasn’t like Jack, who co-directed the forensic lab with her, couldn’t be annoying. He spent plenty of time on YouTube and Hulu while he set up cultures and rubber-stamped requisitions. If he was doing something rote, it never occurred to him that Josie might be trying to concentrate, even if she pointedly closed her door. But Josie never spoke up, never told him off, didn’t today. She wasn’t that way.
The office walls were paper thin. They weren’t even proper walls, just dividers that gave lab directors the illusion they’d risen above the mere benches. As a result, Josie knew way too much about Jack, his rocky marriage, his druggie kid, his gambling, his girlfriend. She didn’t want him, or anyone, to know about her.
Seventeen-year-old Sherry Anne Maes is a hand-shakin’, state-travelin’, good-luck-givin’ girl. Born with a rabbit’s foot attached to her hipbone, her palm contains the power to bestow good luck to those she chooses.
But unfortunately, using that luck to save her cancer-riddled father is another story. And when he dies, he not only leaves Sherry with a grudge against her handshake, but he truth-bombs her with a long-kept secret about her birth. Suddenly, she feels like an outsider, a dumpster baby no one wants, and so Sherry gets the hell out of her hometown and gets highway bound via Buick Skylark.
Traveling across the US of A, Sherry tries to outrun the gift of her handshake, while working to unravel clues about her past left behind in her father’s letters. Letters which eventually lead her to learn that she is not alone in the world. That there are others out there like her, those called Weirdos.
Curious to connect with her own kind, Sherry hitches a ride with her boot-knockin’-boy Catch Shepard, lead singer of a busking bluegrass band. However, her efforts to track down her fellow Weirdos are derailed when Sherry discovers one of her past handshakes has gone wrong. Now she must rush against time, and fight against a meddling cocaine-addled fiddle player, to right the good luck she has pressed to the wrong person, even if it means letting her own run luck—and life—run out.
First 250 Words:
I was born fur on fire.
Fourth of July morning, a full moon high in the sky good enough to howl at, my little town of Mariah, Montana went insane. Because I came into this world with a rabbit’s foot attached to my hipbone.
Small and floppy, this furry extra appendage dangled off my right side, high up, an afterthought like one of those unwanted skin flaps old people get. A silky gray-brown pelt dotted with small orbs of pearly white. Cushy pink pads on the bottom of a dainty paw. An honest-to-god rabbit’s foot.
I’ve got photos as evidence. In the faded, grainy prints taken by hospital staff, the foot’s tiny, about a pinkie-length, and pretty in an odd holy-shit-this-shouldn’t-be- possible kind of way. Like babies born with vestigial tails or cutaneous horns. And at least those conditions have been documented throughout history. Medical anomalies which have an explanation for the skin-covered bundle of nerves and tissue buried beneath the flesh of the afflicted. So far, science tells me I’m the first in history to be born with something that should only be carried on a key chain. Sold at dirty truck stop gas stations along with a pack of KOOLS and Astroglide.
I’ve got the foot too.
Local doctors removed it a week after my birth. Snipped it off with great big medical scissors and stitched up my hip, leaving behind a four-inch raised scar. Today the scar resembles braided white twine coiled on my bony hipbone and ending near the top of my waist.
Word Count: 105k
Rebel son to a real-estate mogul, Dante Arzola stays as far away from his father’s illicit hotel business as possible. The need for him to distance himself from the blood-soaked dealings of his family is only exemplified the night his mother passes away, leaving him with a hole in his chest and two years’ probation. In his world of wealth and corruption, his childhood friend has always stood as a beacon of goodness and light. Now he wants more than friendship. He wants her.
Sadie Trajkovski isn’t as innocent as Dante thinks.
Blackmailed by her former partner, Sadie must find a way to protect herself from one man’s callous revenge and keep Dante from learning the truth that dangles right within his view. She is in love with his brother. However, as her blackmailer’s threats turn more sinister, Sadie will have no choice but to pick—betray Dante’s trust or risk her life fighting an enemy she has no clue how to defeat.
First 250 Words:
I can’t get caught. I can’t. My stomach churns as I unclench my fist. I am so close…so close to the truth I can taste it, and if I get caught, she’ll take it away from me. She did it once. She’ll do it again. I keep my eyes locked on the kitchen archway. Toes curled in the plush living room carpet. Sweat gathers under my arms and behind my knees, in the area where my boobs meet the wire of my bra, and I’ve never been so thankful for nonstick deodorant. My heart drums wildly in my ears, much louder than the air conditioning humming or the gentle wind pulling the smell of salt-water and rain through the open windows. I wipe my palm down my shorts before I inch my hand into my mother’s purse. Slowly. Slowly. Fingers touch metal and plastic.
The first time I heard some things were better left alone was when I was twelve.
During primary school, I would spend each summer at the Arzola Estate in Coral Gables. The manicured lawns were my playground. The oceanfront was a mini paradise I would swim in for hours on end. One day when the chauffeur dropped me off, he turned to me with dead-set eyes and said, “Nobody has this much money unless they’re involved in bad things. If you know what I mean.” But I didn’t know what he meant, though I’d soon find out.
Hello, all you #SonOfAPitch- es! I am so happy to be a judge in this contest, which is now officially entering its second year! Son of a Pitch was the first contest I had the honor of judging.
Last January, I saw on Facebook and Twitter that Katie Hamstead was starting a new contest. I’ve always wanted to be a contest judge. I’d just had my first book published—my LGBTQ romantic suspense novel, Love or Money, which came out on January 12, 2016. I’d also signed a contract on my Other Place Series. When it hit me that I was actually eligible to be a contest judge…it was an amazing feeling. I’d spent two years of my life certain I’d never be a published author.
But I was. I messaged Katie right away asking if she needed more judges. She did!
The moral of this story is: perseverance pays off. I’m also able to tell you that the perseverance can’t end when you get that first publishing contract. I remind myself every day that all my hard work and tears are worth it. Some day I will make enough money off writing and editing to live comfortably and put money away for my kid’s college. Not that I’m uncomfortable now: even if I get rich, I’ll probably still live in my tiny house on my family’s ten acre farm, but I’d also be able to rent a practice space where I could keep my drum set and other music gear. 🙂
Below, I’m sharing my successful queries, to give you an idea of what worked for me. I’m also sharing a short publication story with each.
LOVE OR MONEY
I wrote this book because I was tired of being told my writing was okay, but my characters were hard to relate to and my plots were unexpected. I tried to write a “regular” romance, but it still turned out weird…however, the book sold easily. I didn’t send out regular queries on it. I pitched it on #PitMad, and ended up with two offers.
The novel, entitled THE HUSTLE, is complete at 77,000 words.
am a musician, and a prolific writer for young adults and adults. I have another novel, Love or Money, coming out through Limitless Publications on January 12, 2016. I am a board member of the San Luis Obispo NightWriters association, assistant editor and columnist for their newsletter, and have had a short story published by Akashic Books.
When I was considering whether to accept Limitless’ offer, I had another publisher show interest. The acquisitions editor recommended they sign the book, but the higher-ups declined because they already had a book about mental illness on their list.
The struggle for diverse books is real. Be sure to read them, recommend them, and give them reviews, so agents and editors begin to see the market for them.
I’ve been inspired by the women who ran from NYC to DC to raise money for Planned Parenthood. I’ve had an idea, and I want to put out feelers to see what kind of support this idea would have, because it will be a difficult thing to do and I need to know it would have an effect before I set out to do it.
I would like to walk from here (Yakima, WA) to our state capital (Olympia, WA), a distance of around 180 miles. I would be living homeless, in order to raise awareness and money about the plight of the homeless and neurodiverse. I wouldn’t be accepting money directly for these causes – I would ask for pledges to charities like NAMI.
I’d like to know who would be willing to donate, and who would help me by amplifying my social media presence with regard to this. I would love to hear your thoughts, and would love it even more if you’d retweet, reblog, or share this post to see if any of your friends might be interested in supporting me one way or another on this journey.
If I got enough awareness, my next trip would be to DC.
And yes, I’d be living homeless, as authentically as possible, but I’d make it as safe as I could in ways I will brainstorm with you and discuss later.
Who’s with me?
As some of you know, I recently finished drafting my SIXTEENTH manuscript!
I would like to celebrate this milestone, along with the upcoming release of LOVE AND WAR, the third installment in THE OTHER PLACE SERIES, which is set to drop on March 7, 2017.
I would like to send you all cake and champagne and kisses, but the logistics of that are difficult. Instead, I’m going to have a contest. I’m going to pick SIXTEEN WINNERS. Fourteen of those winners will get a free Kindle copy of one of my books – their choice. The second place winner will get a free signed paperback of one of my books – again, their choice. The grand prize winner will get a signed paperback, AND A $50 AMAZON GIFT CARD.
Yes. I did say $50. And I meant it.
The rules are simple. If you are already signed up for my newsletter, you are entered. If you’re not signed up yet, SIGN UP HERE to enter. You’ll also get a free anthology for signing up!
If you want an EXTRA ENTRY, refer someone else to sign up for my newsletter, and either comment on this entry , send me a DM on Twitter or Facebook, or shoot me an email to tell me who you referred.
Winners will be picked randomly on MARCH 7, 2017 – which is the release date for LOVE AND WAR.
Thank you for your support!
Yo, California dudes and dudesses! I’ll be speaking tomorrow at the San Luis Obispo NightWriters’ monthly meeting. The topic will be online writing competitions like Pitch Wars, Nightmare on Query Street and #PitMad. I hope to see you there!
Presentation starts at 6:30 and takes place at the United Church of Christ meeting hall, 11245 Los Osos Valley Drive.
Hello! Yakima-area peeps, I’m one of the panel speakers this afternoon, November 14, at a forum put on by the National Alliance for Mental Illness. The forum is to discuss ways to ease the transition into society for people with mental illness and addiction, after they’ve been incarcerated, institutionalized, or in a treatment facility.
The forum will take place from 3-5 p.m. at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church on 40th and Richey Road. I hope to see you there!
It has been suggested to me that I blog about my experience living in a tiny house. I’m going to do that, not only because I’m having a lot of fun figuring out how to live this way, but also because I need to shift the focus of my blog for a while.
I currently live in an 11 x 14 cabin that I renovated myself, along with a 6 x 6 bathroom addition that I built mostly out of reclaimed wood. I live very cheaply, growing and preserving most of my own food. I’m not yet making perfect use of my space or my situation, but I enjoy the (constant) work in progress, and I’m having a lot of fun living this way.
This first blog post is going to detail how I came to live in a tiny house. My future blog posts will get into the nitty-gritty of my daily life: how I arrange and utilize my space; how I grow, process, and cook my food (this is mostly an excuse to take pictures of my beautiful canned goods and share my recipes); how I budget; and probably a bunch of other random stuff and off-topic tirades.
This isn’t the first time I’ve lived in a little house; in fact, it isn’t the first time I’ve lived in THIS house. Tiny house living is something I can honestly say I did before it was cool.
The year was 1998. I was finishing up my bachelor’s at The Evergreen State College in Olympia Washington, which is some sort of weirdo clown college where you can “design your own education”. This means you can write a “independent study” proposal saying you want to explore the possibility of cat telepathy. The college will undoubtedly approve this proposal, so then you can spend the whole quarter lying in bed staring at your cat, write a report on the experience, and the college will give you 16 credits as long as you pay your tuition. They don’t have to pay a professor, and you don’t have to listen to one. It’s a win-win.
So, anyway, I spent the last two quarters of my senior year doing one of those independent study contracts. I moved back to my hometown in Eastern Washington State and helped my mom start a small organic farming business.
My parents live on a beautiful ten-acre fruit orchard, which is where I grew up. It’s also where my dad grew up—my grandparents owned 40 acres back then, but sold off 30 of it. It’s been a working farm for way over a hundred years, so whenever you dig in the dirt or explore the rafters of the old outbuildings you find some pretty bomb-ass stuff, like those glass beads white people used to trade to the Native Americans; and boxes of 1950s porno, which is mostly just boobs.
One of the old outbuildings is a little eleven-by-fourteen cabin built in the ‘30’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was one of the Depression-era programs started by FDR. When I moved back home for the farming gig, I decided I’d restore it and live there.
It was a cute cabin, made of indestructible redwood, but it had been used over the years as a chicken coop and skeevy teenager hangout and a bunch of other things that involved a lot of grodyness that I had to scrape out. It also had one of those old wood-burning stoves—the kind people used to actually cook and bake—which was awesome, but it was all rusted out and no longer fire-friendly, so I had to haul that heavy metal bitch out of there and into one of the outbuildings. Then, because there is EVERY THING IMAGINABLE somewhere on my parents’ property, I found another wood stove—a cast-iron potbelly—and hauled THAT heavy metal bitch INTO the cabin.
After that, though I’d never done anything of the sort before, I reroofed it, put in insulation, drywall, plumbing (a sink with cold water only), a skylight, etc. etc. My boyfriend’s dad built me a bed that sat about four feet off the ground and had a built-in dresser and storage underneath. It was really cool.
I lived there for a couple of years. It was peaceful and beautiful, and I loved it.
A bunch of yadda-yadda happens here. I moved out, started working as a paralegal (a job I hated desperately) got married about sixty billion times, and had a kid. I lived a lot of places, and owned a couple of houses that I really liked, but I always missed my cabin. Whenever I went back to my parents’ house to visit, I’d walk by there…but I’d never open the door. I hate moving, so when I moved out, I left it a wreck, with food still on the shelves and clothes and weird shit you don’t want to know about all over the place. The fact that I’d left my peaceful little house in that state really bugged me. In fact, I had frequently-recurring dreams about having to clean it out, except it always had more rooms than I’d remembered, and a labyrinthine basement full of mummies and evil rodents and rotten sandwiches, but I knew if I could just get it all cleaned up and in order my whole life would fall into place and be peaceful and beautiful like it had been before. (Though, let’s be honest, it never truly had been…but my cabin had been a safe place that made me feel it was.)
Even more yadda-yadda happens now, which I won’t rant about here, since I’ve spent about 906 blog posts rehashing it already. Long story short, my marriage fell apart in a blaze of glory. We had moved to California for his job, so when he served me divorce papers, I was in this weird place with like ZERO emotional resources to call upon. I mean that literally. I’m bipolar, and I was stressed out enough that I was not taking care of myself whatsoever. I was drinking almost every day, having psychotic episodes, and attempting suicide.
I didn’t know what to do with myself and my kid. All I knew is that I wanted to keep writing books. It was something I loved to do more than anything else, and something that helped me emotionally and psychologically. Plus, my husband had told me I wasn’t capable of making a living at it, and that I was wrong to want to write in the first place: that I was selfish and immature to have that dream.
I wouldn’t allow his spirit to rise up from the grave of our marriage and force me into a bitter, hopeless life working a job I hated and that I was ill-suited for. I didn’t want him to win. I wanted to be my own woman, on my own terms.
Of course, life never works out that neatly. I wasn’t able to spring triumphant from the ashes of my old life, valiant and stable and perfect. By the time my husband served me divorce papers, I had one book published, and a contract on two more, but I wasn’t making any sort of royalties. I had editing skills and was capable of setting up a freelance business to bring in some cash, but in order to make ends meet that way (at least at first) I’d have to live cheaply. Really cheaply.
I’m lucky enough to have extremely supportive parents with a beautiful 10-acre farm, and they were hinting pretty strongly that my psychotic, suicidal, rock-bottom ass needed to come back home like six months ago, along with their beautiful granddaughter.
I love my parents, and I love the farm, but I knew I couldn’t live long-term in their house. I’m a person who very much needs to have her own space. So, it was time to finally open the door of my old cabin and start mucking out the mummies and evil rodents and rotten sandwiches. It was time to finally get my life together.