Friday, July 22, 2011

My truck 'sploded and I became a statistic

After many questions yesterday resulting from people reading frantic short messages on my twitter/facebook, I decided to explain here.

Many of you know I was laid off in December (the third time in two years) and have had difficulty finding a job. I have a part time position that was barely keeping me afloat until a few months ago, when the available hours all but dried up and I was forced to exhaust my savings.

My parents asked me to move in with them several times over the last year, but I stubbornly resisted. Why? I felt like it would be admitting defeat, admitting I couldn't make it on my own. I pictured myself crawling back home (an entirely abstract concept to me, but that's another post) to lick my wounds - and I loathed the idea.

Not to mention, they live in the Florida Keys. I know what so many of you are thinking right now: "Living in the land of eternal summer, palm trees and beaches? Yeah Sarah, that sounds soo rough." A lot of people see the Keys as paradise but they don't realize how few permanent residents there are. And how little industry. Which means few worthwhile job opportunities.

I know countless people my age are having to do this same thing right now, but I thought I shouldn't have to. I was better than that... Wasn't I? Apparently not, because when our lease was up and I still didn't have steady income, I decided to accept my parents' offer.

But in a little while. After a few last-ditch efforts to find a job. After I wore out my welcome on several generous friends' couches. After a going-away party of epic proportions. Just a few more weeks to spend with friends whom I love like family and a writers group full of trusted people who would tear my writing to shreds.

But the universe had different plans for me. When I was driving to work Friday, my truck started shaking and making clanking noises. The gas pedal didn't respond. Steam bellowed from beneath my hood. Amidst a stream of not-so-lady-like curses, I pulled over on to the shoulder, momentum the only thing moving me forward, the rumble strips finally slowing me to a stop.

I called my daddy, the mechanic, who immediately said that he would be up to take me and my truck back home with him in 6 hours. (For most mechanical problems, even considering gas, it's cheaper for him to come up than to go to a mechanic.)

6 hours. And it took me four hours to get a ride back to where I was staying. No time for goodbyes.

While waiting for the tow truck driver, my battery died with my window rolled down. And this is July in Orlando: thunderstorms are compulsory. After I got towed to my old apartment complex, with a jammed middle finger (a moving-related injury), I began taping up my window. I tore the tape with my teeth. It fluttered in the hot humid wind and grabbed at my lips, ripping enough skin off to make them bleed in two places.

I nearly broke down right there. You know, last straw and all that. But I'm not usually one to let things get me down. Two weeks ago I served as my sister's maid of honor, moved both my roommate and me, and threw two parties that people will be talking about for years - all in 6 days while under the stress of having no job and no actual place to move to. When my roommate told her coworker about my situation she said, "How is she doing it? If I was her I'd be projectile vomiting." If I do say so myself, I pulled it off with grace.

So as I stood there in a baking parking lot with the threat of tears stinging my eyes, I said, "No! Not now. You can cry when you get home." And so I am, as I write this.

My dad tried to start up my truck before he put it on the trailer. After listening for a second he said, "That doesn't sound good." Coming from my dad, the guy who can fix anything?

Now I sit in my parents' house in the Keys with a future more uncertain than mine has ever been, so thankful I have a place to run to when so much is going wrong. I still hold hope of finding a job in Orlando and returning to the life I love there. But that hope is dwindling.

And I can't dawdle for long. With no savings and bills like student loans, storage, and truck insurance, I NEED an income. Fast.

So many of you have asked what's going on and I hope I haven't told you more than you'd like to know. I don't ask for anything but your prayers/well-wishes/mojo/whatever-you-believe-in. And job leads, if you have them. And if any of you happen to know Meg Cabot? (She lives in Key West) How about convincing her she needs an assistant and I would be perfect for the job? ;-)

But I still have hope. I'm a hard-working intelligent young woman with a degree in engineering, natural leadership abilities and a knack for words; someone has to hire me eventually. I have the best family and friends this side of the Andromeda Galaxy. I'm working on a new book that I truly believe in. I reflect on J.K. Rowling's story - writing what would soon become the most beloved children's series while almost homeless (ha! Beat here there; I was homeless for 8 days) and reusing the same tea bag over and over - and I know there must be a light at the end of this darkness.

I just I wish I knew how far away it waits.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

RTW: A villain is always a hero - in the villain's eyes

It's Wednesday and you know what that means...

Road Trip Wednesday is a blog carnival hosted every week by the lovely writers of YA Highway where the contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. This week's topic?

Who are your favorite literary villains/antagonists, and why?

"Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story." ~John Barth

I'm not sure when I first heard this quote, but I have taken it to heart - especially when it comes to literary villains. For me, the best villains believe they are the hero. You'll see this in nearly every villain that I write or love to read about. I'm entirely enthralled when a villain is doing his evil deeds: because he thinks it will make the world a much better place, for love, to right a perceived wrong, etc.

In fact, I recently had a conversation with my writers group about the "villains" in my current WIP. I told them, "None of them are 'bad.' [air quotes were applied] They're just trying to do the best for the people they love."

My favorite villains aren't mean or cruel, necessarily. They're (in their own eyes) doing what they need to do to protect themselves/the ones they love/the world. That's why I love:

What about you? What do you love to see in a villain and who are your favorites?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Two For Tuesday: Project Wonderful &

It's time for another Two for Tuesday!

1) Kellie, one of our reviewers at Sift, told me about Project Wonderful and we've been using it at Sift for ads on our site. What is it? A much more personal version of web advertising where you can choose which ads appear on your site AND which sites your ads appear on. The cost of the ad changes based on how much people are willing to pay for it. What does this mean for you?

YOU can now advertise on Sift for pennies (or a penny) a day! Check out the ads in the sidebar at Sift for more info. This would be a perfect opportunity for you if you offer services helpful to a self-pubbed author like editing, cover design, web design, etc!

2) My former roommates and I are currently loving The Glee Project. If you have the Oxygen channel and you like Glee, you should totally watch it. There's a lot of TV news chatter on why this show isn't drawing such a big audience even though it's a good show so I wanted to share it with you - especially now that the contestant I couldn't stand is gone!

(BTW, it's not getting a big audience, oh TV geniuses, because (1) it's on the Oxygen channel! wrong demographic, people! and (2) it wasn't that well advertised. I only knew about it because my sister started DVRing it and my roommate only knew about it because I told her.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Auntie B's Book Club Contest

So I know I posted two weeks ago all ready to start blogging more regularly and all that... then dropped off the face of the earth! Well, my sister got married (I was the maid of honor)...

And me and my two roommates moved...

But now I'm back! And just in time to enter Auntie B's Book Club Contest! Since it's not a requirement that this be a completed manuscript, I'm going to enter with my WIP, Dragons Are People Too!

You can click through to the contest page for more information, but basically y'all have two days to help me get my entry in the best shape possible for our discerning  judges (actual, live teenagers!). So here goes... please provide constructive criticism in the comments!

Sixteen-year-old Kitty is a weredragon operative for the US government. When the government turns its back on the dragons, she must choose between loyalty to her country and allegiance to her family. (Keep in mind, the pitch must be 35 words or less! This is 34)

First 250 words
Well, crap. Mission Intelligence got it wrong. Again.

I mean, seriously? Heat sensors? When your operatives have a core body temperature of 142 degrees, that should be the first thing you check for. I daydream about ripping Simon a new one as I scale up the three stories of crumbling stone.

So now I cling to the east stone wall of the Lebanese embassy in DC with a diplomatic document pouch hanging from my belt.

I am overly conscious of the two security cameras aimed at my back, despite the full-body black catsuit with matching ski-mask that Draconic Intelligence Command (or, as I liked to call it, DIC) requires me to wear. Sirens blare, telling me security already knows we are here, but I still can't let them see my face. And, more importantly, I can't let them see me change.

Beside me, Wallace scrabbles, then loses his balance and falls twenty feet to the ground, hitting the wall at least twice in the process. Rookie. His breath comes fast, but he is uninjured. He could probably fall from three times that height without a scratch.

"Kitty," he whispers. Even his whisper has a British accent. He lies sprawled on the immaculate lawn of the Embassy and slowly makes his way to his feet. "I can't make it without changing."

"No!" I yell, then catch myself and lower my voice to something more like a hiss. "Absolutely not. Do you have any idea how many cameras are on you right now?"


SO... to the comments with the criticism! Thanks!!