Popstars, Friends & Lovers are Headed Your Way

So, this was me on Friday.

I finished the first draft of Popstars, Friends & Lovers: a dreamer’s tale. I’ve been writing like a woman possessed for the past month. If anyone has been wondering why I haven’t called or written or texted it’s  because when I set a deadline, I hit a deadline. And because I was dying to share this story with everyone who has told me they are waiting for it. 

There is still some work to be done. I am shopping for a proofreader, working with the goddesses at Deranged Doctor Designs on a cover and having it beta read. But we will get there, my latest labor of love will be available as an e-book (at first) and I’m here to make the big announcement today. 

Mark your calendars.
To prepare you for this sequel to my debut novel I am going to be sharing the first few chapters of Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story on my blog.  Starting next Monday. This might inspire any of you sitting on the fence to read book one before book two (always works better that way). 
Then …. I will also post the first few chapters of Popstars on this blog in the weeks before the release. 
Finally … I will debut the cover for Popstars here, on my blog. 

In other words …. keep an eye on this blog.



Dare to Dream

In a review of Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story the reviewer noted that she didn’t like the fact that the burnouts didn’t seem to have much ambition. It’s true, they don’t. But ambition comes from dreams, specifically dreams that you believe have a chance of coming true. It’s dreams that the burnouts lack and that lack is the theme of my second novel, Popstars, Friends & Lovers: a dreamer’s tale. (note the new addition to the title!)

One of my favorite scenes in the first book was Ben and the burnouts having breakfast together when he was kidnapped. It’s career day at school and the burnouts don’t feel the need to be there. It’s a traditional skip day for them and that alone speaks volumes about the prospects these kids see for their futures. When they question Ben about his plans the differences become clear. He has a dream, and a clear plan to reach it, and a family that supports him in his dream. 

I Wanna Be a Rock Star …

In contrast Casey hopes to get a job at a local factory and MG has unrealistic dreams of herself and Carrie moving to New York and walking right in to glamorous jobs. Carrie, Gina and Steve have no specific dreams for the future because no one ever told them they could. Dreaming starts at home, in families that tell their kids that they are not only allowed to have a dream, but the family will put time and money and love into helping make that dream come true. I agree that their lack of aspirations is frustrating, but I wrote it that way because it establishes one of the results of their home lives and also opens the door for so much to happen in book two.

Once out of the cocoon of high school outside forces start to define their lives. If you don’t have a specific plan and people to help you keep on track, you tend to drift with the flow and hope for the best. Even Ben finds his dreams changing as life happens to him in book one. 

I’m spending most of the day on most days writing Popstars, Friends & Lovers: a dreamer’s tale (again, cool new addition to the title) and I love the complexity of this theme. Popular culture tends to show dreams as a one size fits all kind of thing. We are told we should dream and dream big; then we should relentlessly go in the direction of our dreams and never, never give up. Until you have a movie star’s body, face, spouse, house and paycheck you have not made it. 

I can’t wait to dispel that myth. Through MG and Steve and a bunch of new characters I’m turning that cliche, Disneyesque idea on its head. Because its only when we grow up and figure out what we truly want from life that daring to dream becomes powerful. Book two is all about those dreams, the ones that when they do come true bring peace-of-mind, contentment and love (cause it’s a love story – after all). 

Popstars, Friends & Lovers Sneak Peek and Timeline

I’ve been remiss and sporadic with posting on this blog lately. My only explanation is that summer happened: summer travel, summer camps, summer weather. I’m not sure if I am happy or not that it will be coming to an end soon. School starts in our world in three weeks. 
Writing on my second book “Popstars, Friends & Lovers” is the other thing that has been too sporadic this summer. I am determined to hit my October deadline, so I revised my end-of-summer schedule to include more time for novel writing. In order to accomplish this, I will only be blogging on Mondays. I still have a lot to share with my readers so I don’t want to let it go completely, but I need to dedicate more mornings to MG and Steve. 
After a rocky start, I’m really happy with the direction things are going in for my favorite couple/noncouple from “Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks.” Here’s a sneak peek at chapter two – Steve after graduation and after MG left him to go to New York.  Enjoy and follow my progress on social media with #♪☺♥.

**This excerpt and the novel are recommended for readers age 17 and older.**

Steve’s afternoons with Carrie were the highlight of his week.  Since his dad refused to get a phone for their apartment (Don’t wantanyone to call me) he had to just hope he would see her pull up in Ben’s jeep on Tuesdays and Thursdays at three.
They watched reruns together, she brought him food from the restaurant where she worked, and being around her reminded him of high school, and MG.  There was no way to justify how much he missed MG.  She was never really his girlfriend so she never broke up with him, but she left him behind, just the same.  Now she was in New York, with her mom, chasing some dream of big money and a big life. And he was here, hanging out with her best friend, clinging to the way he had felt when he was around her.  
His dad wandered into the kitchen, which could easily be seen from the living room.  He and Steve worked the night shift together at Tricon, so he was just getting up and, as usual, he hadn’t bothered to put pants on.  
“Put some god-damned pants on,” Steve yelled.  He had to tell him this every time Carrie was coming over.  
“Why, that lil cutie comin over again?”
Steve glared at his dad.  It almost seemed like he wanted Carrie to catch him in his underwear.  Like she’d be interested in some sorry-assed, middle-aged man.  Steve looked at his dad, slumped over the door of the refrigerator, searching the contents for anything edible.  He was tall, lean and lanky; just like Steve.  And like his son, he was also a lot stronger than he looked.  Steve had seen him heft some seriously heavy boxes at the warehouse.  But time and bad living was definitely taking a toll on him.  He had blotchy skin on his face, some from too much sun, some old scars.  His hair was starting to recede from his forehead, particularly on the sides.  And he had the nastiest smoker’s hack when he woke up, like now.  Coming up empty on his search of the fridge, he scoured the cabinets, lungs rattling, working up to a vile-sounding coughing fit.  
Steve snubbed his own cigarette out in the overflowing ashtray on the floor next to the couch, “Her name’s Carrie and she doesn’t want to see you in your underwear.”
“How do you know? She smiled at me last time she was here.”
Shit!Sometimes his old man just drove him insane, maybe because they were too much alike.  At one point in time, Jim Shrader was a charmer and a flirt and a ladies man.  Then he met Steve’s mom, his waterloo.  He fell hard for her and was actually thrilled when she got pregnant their junior year of high school, the result being Steve’s older brother, Tony.  To this day he kinda wondered if Tony really was his full brother.  They were nothing alike, in looks or personality.  He wondered if his mom had just decided Jim Shrader was most likely to marry her. A marriage that lasted all of 10 months before she bolted, leaving Jim with a newborn.  The other thing Steve never understood was why his dad took her back five years later, when she had Steve then left again.  His best guess was that his mom was a drug addict and Jim thought he could save her, or she was reformed briefly, or something like that.
Not that he would ever know those answers.  Neither he nor Jim was much for talking.  They were both so laid back they could be home together for days and never say more than two words to each other.  Yep, him and his dad, two mellow-assed saps for women.  It depressed the hell out of him how much his life was starting to look like his dad’s.
Carrie knocked on the door.  Steve pleaded with his eyes for his dad to go in his room.  Jim reluctantly complied.  
“They were out of chicken fried steak, so I got you meatloaf.”
She spoiled him.  She went out of her way to do things to make him happy.  With her boyfriend Ben away at basic training, it was like she needed someone to dote on as much as he liked being doted on, so it worked.
“Meatloaf’s great, thanks.” He held the door then closed it behind her.
“I grabbed a bunch of plastic forks and knives from the take-out bin too.”  
The first time she showed up with a meal for him they had to look under the couch for one of the three forks he and his dad owned.  It took a lot of hot water to get the gunk off it.  She had been bringing plastic utensils ever since.  
“Good idea.” He dropped his voice a little, “My dad’s here and awake, so let’s just go in my room.”
Carrie set the bag containing his dinner on the floor and plopped on his mattress, which sat on the floor.  Her Swiss-themed uniform skirt poofed out in a circle around her.  Steve shut the door, retrieved the bag of food and propped himself up against the wall, sitting on his pillow, to eat his meatloaf.
“You will not believe what I heard today.”  Carrie laid down, her head on his out-stretched legs.  This was something new, touching each other – nothing sexual, just touching in some way, filling the gaping affection void in both their lives.  
“Rat-boy got busted.”  Rat-boy was their nickname for a kid from their class who, well, had a rat face.  He opened a pizza place right after graduation, but everyone knew it was a front for his drug dealing.  
“Fuckin’ moron, probably sold to a cop.”
Carrie smiled and nodded, “if he names names, would you be in trouble?”
Steve popped another chunk of meatloaf in his mouth and shook his head no.  He never bought from Rat boy because he was a stupid fuck who cheated his way through high school. He doubted he’d changed much in the seven months since they graduated. 
Carrie rolled onto her back and picked at a torn cuticle.  Steve finished his dinner.  He set the plate on the crate he used as a side table, almost knocking the card off of it.  It was a graduation card from MG and her mom, the only one he got.  He set the card upright again.  
“Are you going out Friday night?” It would be New Year’s Eve, 1999.  People were going crazy all over the place with big parties or fears of the world ending.
He shrugged.  “Party at Chuck’s house.  I might go.  You?”
“Probably just stay at Casey’s and hang out with her and Gina.”  Carrie looked up at him and smiled, “So tonight I’m gonna party like its 1999,” she sang.  Steve chuckled softly and tugged at a tendril of her hair that was lying across his knee.  He stretched and grabbed an ashtray with a half-smoked joint in it.  He lit it, held the smoke in his lungs then blew it away from Carrie.  
“I definitely thought life after high school would be more exciting than this, didn’t you?”
He shrugged.
“Is this what you want to be doing? Ten years from now?”
He shook his head, “But I don’t have a fucking clue what else I could do.”  He thought about his old man, 25 years at Tricon, hefting boxes, moving crates, night after night.
“What do you say we just take off, start driving, see where we end up?”
He smiled at her, “In what?”
She smirked, “Good point.”  Neither of them owned a car.  He used his brother’s motorcycle while Stony was in jail and Carrie was using Ben’s jeep while he was in basic training.  

Carrie thought about asking him where he would want to go, if they could just take off, but she pretty much already knew the answer, New York.  

High As A Kite I Just Might Stop To Check You Out

How I see Steve **

Long title today, but I couldn’t resist the Violent Femmes reference.  It goes with the territory I’ve been in lately.  I’m working on Popstars, Friends & Lovers the sequeal to Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story. So I’m spending a lot of time with my favorite burnout, Steve Shrader. He is often high as a kite and today’s the day we will stop to check him out. 

In a way Steve is the Midwest version of Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He’s the funny, charming guy who cruises through high school on a perpetual high. Other students think he’s funny and teachers like him more than they would ever admit.  That is definitely part of this character and the side that he shows the world. But as book one progresses and into book two we learn that he is so much more complicated that what he lets you see.

A big part of his character is that he loves girls. Sure all guys say they do, but it borders on obsession with Steve. (See my 10/3/13 post – A Primer on Men Who Love Women) This overwhelming need to connect to females comes from the lack of any female in his early life. He’s never known his mother and only briefly connected to one of his dad’s girlfriends. He spends time with and studies girls. He flirts with any female he comes across because he loves to make them smile. And all that studying and flirting make him an amazing lover, even at sixteen. He’s not a player, looking to see how many girls he can score with. He’s an aficionado of all things female who can’t resist getting to study the objects of his desire.  

And the one he connects with most is MG. His laid back side is drawn to her hell-bent need to have fun. He’s her perfect partner in crime, willing to go along and support all her schemes. He’s more than happy to just bask in her glow, never needing the spotlight she craves. But MG wants more from life than he can (or is willing to) offer. 

Book two is Steve and MG’s story, but also a story about dreams. The problem with Steve is that he just doesn’t have any. He was raised without expectations or permission to hope for anything more than a third shift life moving boxes at a warehouse. His laid back nature works against him and he just lets life happen to him. Until something pushes him to take the reins of his own life and go after what he truly dreams of. 

The surprising side to Steve Shrader is his passion. I can’t wait for everyone to get to see this side of him this November when I tell his story.  

Working from Your Gut

I’ve written a few blog posts about working alone, at home.  I have three jobs (Mom, Writer and Instructor) and none require I actually go to an office.  There are drawbacks, loneliness being the biggest one, but that is eclipsed by the benefits.  I love my flexible schedule and non-existent work uniform, the quiet work area and fully stocked lunch room.

Having so much flexibility can be great, but it really puts all the weight on my shoulders to get results and define what kind of results I want.  It’s an exciting challenge but I’m starting to get a better feel of the daily choices necessary to be a CEO.  I’m having to filter out more than I let in or I’ll just keep spinning my wheels in place.

I have fallen into the wide sea of book marketing sources.  Once you put it out there that you are a self-published author, idea and programs start pouring in to help you market your book.  Some of it is great, some of it is crap, and I could spend (waste?) days sorting through it all.  At some point I have to stop researching, make some decision and move forward.  Of course, the minute I do I receive a new article telling me that the option I just chose was the worst one another author ever used.  (frowney face)

I have definitely made some mistakes while self-publishing and most have been due to a lack of information. It gets tempting to over-read and over-research my next move when I run into one of these errors.  I could easily get into a mobius-strip cycle where I might think I was getting somewhere, only to find I’m actually just running in circles.  

But I’ve learned another thing along the way (this just recently). I have to listen to my gut, to the way something feels, and base my decisions on that.  What was a bad move for one author, might not be for me.  Books are like fingerprints, each unique, so they need a fingerprint marketing plan.  I created my book so I am the only one who can get a “feel” if I am on the right track.  

By self-publishing I moved myself from worker bee to CEO.  No one can give me a list of tasks that need to be completed.  There is something so satisfying about crossing tasks off a to-do list and patting yourself on the back that you are on track.  But it is so much more satisfying to study, research, plan, implement, analyze then start over again, learning from my mistakes along the way.  I’m developing my CEO gut instincts with each move I make and it’s a thrill ride. 

MG Ulrich – Pot stirrer, boat rocker, purveyor of fun

There has to be one in every group (or at least any group worth belonging to).  She’s the one who looks for trouble (otherwise known as fun) then grabs a few friends and brings them along for the ride.  In “Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story” that girl is MG Ulrich.  

Although not based on any one specific person, I knew MG in high school.  These were girls who were pied pipers, leading willing followers astray. They either knew where the great parties were, or they created one.  They were unpredictable, creative and usually lucky in life.  All MG traits.  

The fact that MG has never used her given name gives some insight into her personality.  She is her own person and creates the world the way she wants it to be. Her style changes with her whims. She lives in the present and doesn’t let things like not knowing her father or other negatives in her past effect her. She also gives little thought to her future. With no specific plans she is happy to tag along on her mom’s dreams and just see where life takes her.  

Her friends are her family, and that includes her mom. Only seventeen years apart, they are more friends than parent and child.  This gives her too much freedom, but it also develops her sense of self-sufficiency. She may not do it in a traditional (or safe) way, but MG can take care of herself and others.  She is a cheerleader (sometimes literally) for her friends. 

People are drawn to her good looks and energetic personality and she gets a lot of perks in life. She is aware of her windfall and loves to share it with her friends. 

She may not know where she wants to go in her future, but she knows what she doesn’t want. Like her mother she loves luxury and a very comfortable life. Anything that might keep her from that life is ruled out, including love. At seventeen she sees obvious and attainable benefits in material gratification and love as a dangerous distraction. 

Although her fate is hinted at in “Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks”, the details of her story and that of her friend/boyfriend/lover Steve won’t be known ’til book two, “Popstars, Friends & Lovers” – October 2014.  

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