Icky Part Three

A continuation of my contribution to the
Outside My Box Blog Hop at Tessa's Blurb
(You have until Dec 5 to join!)

Link to Part One

Link to Part Two

An Icky Valentine's Day
Part Three

Danny was hauled off to the principal's office, and ten minutes later they came for Icky.  She stepped into the principal’s office just as he finished saying, “…one more infraction of the rules and there will be serious consequences, Mr. Eldridge.”  He looked up and saw Icky walking in.  “Good afternoon, Miss Karp.  Mr. Eldridge has something he’d like to say to you.”
Danny looked up from his hands, his face was flushed, and mumbled, “I’m sorry that I flattened you on the equipment and invaded your personal space.”
“Ahem,” the principal prodded.
“It won’t happen again,” Danny added. 
Icky nodded her indifferent acceptance of the apology.
 “Very nice,” the principal commented.  “Now, Miss Karp, Mr. Eldridge tells me an interesting story about water-solvable—I assume he means soluble—poisons.  Why is it that he would suspect that you poisoned his juice box?”
“I suppose because I was telling him about thallium sulphate earlier and then at lunch I discovered that someone had switched his juice bag.  I suppose he thought that I was the one who did it.”
 “Miss Karp, did you switch his juice bag?” the principal asked.
“Yes,” Icky answered.
The principal’s eyebrows went up in surprise at this admission.  “Did…did you poison his juice?” he seemed compelled to ask.
“I’m just a child, sir.  How would I get a hold of thallium sulphate?”
“I’m sure that I don’t know how you’ve ever even heard of thallium sulphate, but please answer the question.”
“I did not poison his juice, sir.”
The principal smiled and nearly let out a laugh.  That was surely a statement he’d never expected to hear in his elementary school office.  As he was rising from his chair to dismiss her, Icky spoke again.
“If I were going to poison someone, I’d be more likely to use ricin.”
The principal dropped back into his chair and gaped at her.
“Also a slow-acting poison,” Icky explained. “It’d be several hours before the victim showed any signs—trouble breathing, dehydration.  It’s from the beans of a castor plant, a common ornamental in the United States, so very easy to get your hands on.  And it can be made into a powder and sprinkled on food…or candies.”
A glint of concern crept into the principal’s features.
“Oh, don’t worry.  It tastes really bad, so it would have to be sprinkled on in very small amounts to be undetectable.  Someone would have to eat approximately ten packs of Smarties all at once for it to be lethal.”  Icky heard Danny shift suddenly in his chair next to her.  Before he said anything, she added, “Stealing is a serious infraction of the rules, isn’t it, sir?”
“I...uh...ehrm, yes, yes it is, Miss Karp,” the principal said, seemingly confused at the unconnected statements.  Not another sound came from Danny’s direction.
Icky stayed silent and stared at the principal in her dubious fashion.  He sighed and gave his head a quick shake, as if that would help things make sense.   Then he laid both of his hands on the desk and leaned forward.  It was the position he took when he meant business. 
“I’m going to send you back to class now, Miss Karp.  As his punishment, Mr. Eldridge will be staying with me for the duration of the party.  Now, there is to be no more talk of poison in this school—is that understood?”
“That will require a revision to the fifth grade science curriculum.  Would you like me to inform the teachers?” Icky responded.
“I’ll speak with the teachers,” the principal assured her.
“You may also want to talk with the custodians,” Icky suggested.  “I suspect they’ve got all manner of potentially lethal chemicals in their closet.”
“I’ll take care of it, Miss Karp,” the principal said, his smile tightening as he grinded his back teeth.  “Now run along to that party.”
Icky ran along and the party passed without incident.  She consumed four glasses of punch and seven cupcakes, but thought it best to avoid the Valentines candies brought in by the other students.  You never knew what kinds of plants might have grown in their parents’ gardens.  Before all the sugar and flour had begun to digest, the school bell rang and the children were dismissed for the day.
Alone in her seat on the bus, Icky looked out the window.  She’d not seen Danny again after the meeting in the principal’s office.  He had perhaps complained of a stomach ache by now and his mother had picked him up from school.

When he got home, he’d have trouble catching his breath and would feel very thirsty.  He’d tell his parents that he was becoming dehydrated and would make all kinds of accusations concerning Icky, but they’d likely heard him say so many outrageous things about the strange girl over the years that they wouldn’t pay him much mind.  They’d probably make him go to bed early, tired of listening to his gibberish and thinking that he might be coming down with the flu or something.

Danny would lay in bed very frightened.  He might even cry himself to sleep.  And then…
He’d wake up the next morning and realize that he was still alive, and that he didn’t feel any worse, and that Icky hadn’t poisoned him, after all.  After that, one of three things would happen: he’d either be so happy to be alive that he’d repent for all his wrongdoings and become a nicer person, or he’d shrug it off and forget the whole thing instantly, or—and this was the most likely—he’d return to school and retaliate. 
It didn’t make much difference to Icky what Danny did.  In her unconventional mind, she’d avenged her Poindexter, and that was all that mattered.  Yes, justice had been wrought at St. Ingnatius Elementary on this fine Valentine’s Day, and Isadora Cuthbert Karp was a hero to heroes, an intellectual mastermind, and in the end, a true humanitarian. 
But she was still weird.



Retro Recap - EIU Book Signing

It had been over a decade since I'd set foot on the campus of Eastern Illinois University. I'd been excited about the trip, but I hadn't realized how good it would feel to be back there.  I spent less than ten percent of my earthly existence there, but somehow EIU still feels like home.
We re-visited several "scenes" from Three Daves, and I wonder---how is it that when I'm so forgetful in my everyday life (seriously, where are my car keys?), I'd somehow recalled all of those places in such vivid detail when recreating them in the story?  They were exactly as I'd remembered, right down to the loud and truly horrible punk band in the warehouse-like setting. It was awesome. :)  

And it's a good thing the nostalgia was well worth the trip in itself, because the book sales...not so much.  The demographic at the golf outing where I'd arranged my signing wasn't what I was expecting, and although we had fun and did what we could to chat people up about the book, at some point I had to accept that they just weren't that into me. But hey, a few people bought copies and everyone went home with a postcard, so more seeds sown, right?  And we found more than enough enthusiasm for Three Daves out at the bars later that night and on campus the next morning to make me happy.  We'll see where it leads.

A few quick ideas for anyone planning a signing 
(Some of these I did, some I wish I'd done):

  • If there's an opportunity to get informational postcards to your audience ahead of time, do it.
  • Have your book trailer playing on your laptop (thanks for the tip Alison).
  • Set up easily visible signage to explain why you and your book are relevant to the event.
  • Bring along a fun and encouraging posse. (Thanks guys!)   
  • Tell me about your event so I can put it on my side-bar!


      Whisper of Light - Sneak Peek!

      Just in time for Halloween, tomorrow is the release of paranormal romance, Whisper of Light, second in The Light Series by Jennifer DeLucy.  One of the best perks of being a Developmental Editor is that I get to read great stories like this before they are released.

      Here's a peek at the back cover blurb (it's all true):

      Jennifer DeLucy again plunges us into the world of lingering spirits, dark apparitions, and malicious vampires. But this time she takes us to the California coast where we get to know a new ensemble of gifted souls that are just as vibrant and endearing as the Sentients we came to love in Seers of Light.  In Whisper of Light, DeLucy delivers exciting supernatural encounters as well as very human interactions that will both break your heart and make it soar.   

      Jennifer graciously indulged me by answering questions about some of my favorite aspects of the book:

      1. While staying consistent with the themes set forth in Seers of Light, you did a fantastic job of giving Whisper of Light its own distinct flavor. One of the first tastes is the setting—you take us from out east all the way to the California coast. Was it difficult for you to adjust to this new and very different setting? What kinds of things did you do to help yourself make the mental switch?

      More easily than you'd think. For one, I've always wanted to live by the ocean, and this book was as close to doing so as I've gotten so far! I looked at photographic and video gems, read government tourism info and climate guides, and did a lot of fact research on the area as I went along so that I could get a real feel for the redwood coast. It's always such an amazing, magical thing to get to experience a new place, and writing a book is one way to kind of do that. In fact, I'm moving to Washington state soon, and one of the things I most look forward to is taking a trip south to see the redwoods with my own eyes. I'm sure I'll be blown away.

      2. In Whisper of Light we meet a whole new houseful of Sentients who are every bit as unique and engaging as the group we met in Seers. I enjoyed them all (but Gilford Boyd is the one who ran away with my heart), and I’m wondering—which member of the Pacific Northwest Sentients was the most fun for you to write?

      You know--I did love Gil, the little nerd. He was definitely fun to write. But when I really think about this question, the answer is Nicole--which may seem odd, since she's got a really angst filled story line, but the way she handles it, her inner dialogue, her self-deprecation just makes me laugh. She doesn't take her emo life so seriously that she can't make fun of herself, which I enjoyed writing.

      3. Music plays a huge part in this story, and the scenes where Nicole is swept away in her piano playing were some of the most powerful I’ve ever read—not just in your stories, but anywhere. You are a lifelong musician and lover of music as well as a gifted writer, so what was it like to combine your passions and translate music into words?

      It was like a sigh of relief! I got to really put some of myself into this character in that way, and it was a very emotional thing for me--and something that felt natural. People don't realize how vital music is to not only enjoying life but inspiring life, inspiring change and goodness, and it's second nature for me to express that on paper. In fact, it was easier to write about that than anything else.

      4. So, after the story is written, polished, submitted, and accepted by the publisher, what is your favorite part of the publication process and why?

      Oh, there are so many aspects that I enjoy. Heck, I really love the whole process, from working with a designer on the cover to editing the manuscript... especially editing the manuscript, because I am always so moved by the way that a devoted editor can take your story and make you rise to a new level with it. I don't imagine any book would be as finally good or complete without the insight of their editor. That process touches me.

      5. And now I think you probably know what I’m going to ask: you once again wrote your own magnificent composition for the book trailer; however, supposing you weren’t such a superior mortal and had to select one song of someone else’s invention that captures the essence of Whisper of Light, what would it be?

      First of all, I love you. Secondly, I'd choose Sara Bareilles - The Light.


      Love ya too, Jen. ;)

      Whisper of Light can be purchased at  
      Omnific Publishing and Amazon Kindle 
      starting tomorrow, October 26, 2010

      (Looking for the Blog Hop?  Is below.)

      Do You Have a Signing Event Coming Up?

      I've added a new feature on my sidebar where I list upcoming book signings for any of my 100 gorgeous Blogger followers.  So please tell me if you have a signing event scheduled and I'll add the date to my list with a link to your blog or website!  Lisa Sanchez has one tomorrow in Tracy, CA.  Have fun, Lisa!      

      That's right, you heard me---I have 100 Blogger followers AND 100 Facebook followers! (Thanks Mia and George for getting me there.) Only two more to go on Twitter before I unleash my Trifecta Contest.
      I had a signing event of my own over the weekend; I'll get pictures loaded and ready to share with you on Wednesday. 

      And...Meet an Author Monday is here once again.  Please stop by and visit any of the lovely authors below to see what wisdom they can impart upon your day.  And don't miss my upcoming interview with Jennifer DeLucy about her brand spanking new novel, Whisper of Light to be released tomorrow!

      If you are a published author and join our hop, please paste the blog hop icon and code in your post so readers can keep hopping.


      Icky Part Two

      A continuation of my contribution to Outside My Box Blogontest at Tessa's Blurb.
      Read Part One

      An Icky Valentine's Day
      Part Two

      The bus pulled up and soon all the students were sitting in the classroom, listening to their teachers. 
      “There are actually three Saint Valentines, all of whom are said to have been martyred on February 14,” Icky’s teacher informed the class. 
      Icky’s hand shot in the air.  Her teacher pressed her lips together and seemed to take a calming inhale before forcing out a stiff, “Yes, Isadora?”
      “Did any of them die from poisoning?” Icky asked flatly.
      The teacher raised her eyebrows in slight surprise.  The question was certainly odd, but not nearly as odd as some of the things Icky came up with.  “Hm, that’s actually an interesting question,” the teacher responded. “You see, not much is known of any of the three Valentines, so we don’t know exactly how or why it is that they died.  As a matter of fact, it’s because of this questionable history that the feast of Saint Valentine was removed from the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar in 1969.”  
       Icky dug in her pocket and pulled out a fistful of small brown pellets.  She held them up and opened up her fist so the class could see the tiny ridged cylinders lying flat on her pudgy palm.  “Crinoid fossils,” she announced and left the random statement at that.
      Ah yes, this was more in line with Icky’s eccentric style.
      “They look more like rat turds,” Kevin murmured under his breath and Danny snickered.
      “Also known as St. Cuthbert’s beads, also thought to protect from poisoning,” Icky continued, staring forward at her teacher. 
      Her teacher smiled that patient smile of hers—the one that had gotten Icky assigned to her classroom in the first place—and said, “Thank you, Ic-…sadora.  Well, class, it’s now time to go to the library, but we’ll be passing out Valentines before lunch, so why don’t you get them out of your backpacks and put them on your desk.”
       Icky dutifully went to her backpack and pulled out her paper shopping bag.  In it were the puppy and kitten Valentines from the previous year, and taped to each was a loosely wrapped roll of Smarties.  She set the bag very purposefully next to her desk, which was directly in front of Danny’s, and left it wide open. 
      The students lined up and went as a group to the library, but were free to drift back to the classroom once they’d selected their books for quiet reading time.  Icky lingered in the library for a long while, even though the book she’d be reading that day wasn’t one you could find in an elementary school library.
       Icky eventually returned to the classroom and went to her desk to retrieve her book.  When she did, she looked down into her bag of Valentines and saw that several of the Smarties candies had been removed.  At least half of them.  She looked back at Danny’s desk and saw telltale cellophane wrappers crumpled underneath.  Without any reaction whatsoever to the theft, Icky picked up her book and went to a corner of the classroom to sit on the floor and read. 
      It wasn’t long before Danny exhausted his miniscule attention span and his eyes wandered the classroom, looking for something new to entertain him.  Icky was usually a good place to start, and today he hit the mother lode.  In front of her unkempt head was an almost life-sized image of Saddam Hussein’s face, positioned so that it appeared to sit on her shoulders.  Across Hussein’s forehead were the words: The Man and His Methods

      Such books weren’t generally encouraged at the school, but arguing with Icky about her reading material and consequently going head to head with her permissive father were exercises in futility, and so long as Icky’s book kept her quiet for forty-five minutes a day, her teacher allowed it. 
      Danny elbowed Kevin in the ribs.  “Looks like we’ve got an evil Icktator in our classroom, heh, heh.”  He maneuvered closer to Icky and wadded up a piece of paper and threw it over the top of her book so that it bonked her in the forehead.  She lowered the book so that her impassive eyes peered over the edge at him.  “Interesting book?” he sneered.
      “Yes,” she answered and began to raise the book again.
       “Did you get to the part yet where they caught him living in a rat hole and they beheaded him?” Danny pressed on in a nasty whisper. 
      Icky lowered the book further this time and whispered a considerably longer response. “No.  I’m at the part where he poisons his colleagues with thallium sulphate.  It was his poison of choice, because it’s slow acting; the symptoms often don’t kick in until the next day, so nothing can be proven. 

      "At first it feels like the flu, but then, before the doctors can figure out what’s going on, all of the victims’ hair falls out, and then they are wracked with hideous joint and flesh pain.  The patients lie screaming and thrashing, but there’s nothing anyone can do to help, because they don’t know what’s happening.  Eventually, the victims will suffer paralysis and respiratory failure.

      "They’ll try to get a gasp of breath, but their lungs won’t function, so they slowly suffocate, lying in a bed surrounded by loved ones who can do nothing but watch them suffer and die.”
       Danny and Kevin sat gape-mouthed at the coldness with which Icky delivered the analysis.  But then she smiled and a sparkle danced across her typically doleful eyes.
      “The best part is—thallium sulphate is completely water soluble, like salt, but it’s colorless, odorless and virtually tasteless, so it can be mixed into any drink, and the victims have no idea they’ve ingested anything malicious until it’s far too late.  By the time anyone suspects poisoning, the nervous system is well on its way to shutting down.”      
      Danny gulped, trying to restore moisture to his mouth, and then whispered hoarsely, “You’re a freak, Ickadora Rat-Poop Karp,” before he and his friend scootched across the floor again, away from Icky.
      Quiet reading time ended and the students had a math lesson, and then they passed out the Valentines—with much excitement by most of the other children, but much apathy on Icky’s part.  It stung a little when she thought back to the previous year, how foolish she’d been with her childhood notions of improving the world through silly cards.  She was wiser now.  Now she understood that nothing good could come of Valentines. 
      By the time this exercise was completed, it was time for lunch, and the boxes of pink and red cards would wait to be opened that afternoon at the classroom party.  At lunch, Icky sat at the end of the table all alone, as usual.  She got up to throw away her trash, and paused along the way when she reached the section of the long table where Danny and his friends sat.  Danny was taking a huge gulp from his juice bag. 
      “Is that Lemon Breeze flavor?” Icky asked.
       Danny wrinkled his face and mumbled irritably with his teeth still clutching the straw.  “I dunno.”
       Icky shrugged and moved on, but when she returned, she stopped again and let out a small giggle.
      “What is your problem?” Danny grunted.
       “I could’ve sworn you brought Island Punch today.  Are you sure your drinks weren’t switched?”
      “What do you care?”
      “Yes, I guess that would be difficult to prove.”  Icky shrugged again and returned to her seat. 
      But through the corner of her eye, she saw Danny turn his juice bag around in his hand and look at it with confusion.  His friends had moved on to their banal discussion, but Danny continued to stare at the bag, his expression becoming more disturbed as he seemed to slowly put together the pieces of an intricate puzzle.  A little bit later, he wrapped his arm around his stomach and hunched over, as if he had cramps.  His skin looked a little green when he shot a menacing glance down the table at Icky.    
      The students were dismissed to recess and it was only a matter of minutes before Icky found herself with her face pressed up against the cold metal pole of playground equipment. 
       “Give me the anti-poison beads, Ickbert!” Danny demanded.  “I know you didn’t poison me, but I’m going to take those beads just in case.”
      Icky didn’t move or say a thing.   
      “Fine, I’ll get them myself,” Danny said and shoved his hand under Icky’s woolen coat and into the front pocket of her pants.  It was then that she screamed.
       The lunch lady was there in a flash.  “Daniel Eldridge!  Get your hands off of her!”
      Danny stepped back and shouted, “I didn’t do anything!  She started it!”
      “Save it for the principal, Eldridge.”

      To be continued 

      Link to Part Three



      Dang! I Wish I Would've Known That!!!

      As I'm sure has become painfully obvious, I'm learning as I go on this whole promotion business, and it seems I'm always saying, "Dang, I wish I would've known that!" Then it occurred to me...maybe I'm not the only one who didn't know that...perhaps I should share my newfound wisdom.  So  here I am with my most recently acquired tidbit. 

      It's quite possible that I'm the very last person on Earth to learn this, but have you heard of the "Book Rate" at the U.S. Post Office (maybe in other countries too)?  It's this amazing thing where you say to your postal clerk "Send this at the book rate," and the postage is magically MUCH less!  For the last seven months I've been paying $5+ a pop to send out copies of Three Daves to contest winners, friends, and book reviewers, but today I walked in, said the magic words, and *poof* $2.38!  Two dollars and thirty-eight cents!!!  Less than half the cost! 

      *Inhale* *Exhale* No rant, because I'll consider the money I've tossed away a goodwill donation to the flailing USPS and simply be grateful that I've finally discovered the error of my ways.  And if my mistake can help you, then all the better. Please note that there is a slower delivery time with the book rate---I've heard it can take up to two weeks---but if you've got time to spare, it's the way to go. 

      And now, I'm going to go pack for my road trip tomorrow to my alma mater.  Oh, how I hope they still have Tainted Love on the jukebox at Marty's.  Pictures to follow next week. 

      Oh, but before I go -- THANK YOU to everyone who's helped me eek out more followers for my Trifecta goal.  I don't want to count my chickens and all that, but I think I feel a (ridiculous) 100 follower contest coming on soon...

      P.S. Anyone going to the Florida Writers Association Conference this weekend?  If so, look for Alison Oburia, who will be there signing copies of her romantic suspense novel, Passion Fish.   I promise, meeting her will add a little sunshine to your day.


      Space Invaders

      Congratulations Alex J. Cavanaugh!

      Today is the release of his debut novel, CassaStar, a Sci-Fi space opera adventure.  I'm rather eclectic in my reading tastes and haven't had nearly enough exposure to ths genre, so I'm looking forward to it.  Plus, this Byron character sounds rather intriguing...

      CassaStar can be purchased at:

      “…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” 
      - Library Journal

      Even though I know Alex is extremely busy with a crazy blog tour schedule, I couldn't resist asking him my all time favorite author question:

      Moi: If you had to choose one song that best captures the essence of CassaStar, what would it be?

      Alex: Guilt Machine's "Green and Cream."  It's just for the sheer rush of energy, perfect for the space battles, mixed with introspective progressive rock, layered and detailed for the human element to the story.



      Help! an Author Monday

      I am SO close to a 100 Follower Trifecta!  On Blogger, Facebook & Twitter I'm less than 10 followers away from reaching that golden threshhold. And so, I'm putting out a plea on all three social networks to see if I can close the gaps.

      And when I do...I'll give you a 100 Follower Contest unlike any you've seen so far!  The only thing I'll tell you about it is that it's going to be absolutely ridiculous.  Up for it?  If you'd like to help me get there, please follow me on any and all of the following: Blogger (duh), Facebook, and Twitter.  Danke shoen! ;)  
      I know I've been a little blog hop happy lately, but I can't help it---people keep coming up with such good ones!  The new Blog Hop I've entered is an extremely cool one for writers of all shapes and sizes.  You can read more about it in the post below.

      And...Meet an Author Monday is here once again.  Please stop by and visit any of the lovely authors below to see what wisdom they can impart upon your day.

      If you are a published author and join our hop, please paste the blog hop icon and code in your post so readers can keep hopping.


      Out of the Box Blogontest

      Tessa's Blurb is hosting an interesting new Blogontest: Outside of My Box, in which she challenges us to stretch ourselves and write something outside our norm (thanks Roland D. Yeomans: Writing in the Crosshairs for tipping me off).  You have until December 5 to write up something and join.  Please note that you should link DIRECTLY TO YOUR ENTRY rather than to your blog in general.

      Instead of writing something new, I'd like to share with you something I wrote earlier this year that stretched me outside my Adult Romance comfort zone into more sinister waters.  I guess I'd label it Middle Grade Suspense/Horror.  It's so outside my norm that it got rejected for inclusion in an anthology for which I was a shoo-in.  (I did manage to write an acceptable story for the anthology, but was forced back into my box to write it...and I *hmphf*ed the whole way.) 

      The story is just over 3000 words, so I'm going to break it into three posts, which I'll put up over the course of three Sundays, appropriately culminating on Halloween. This is the first time I'm sharing this story publicly.  I hope you like it.

      An Icky Valentine's Day

      Part One

      Isadora Cuthbert Karp was weird.  The way she looked, the things she said, the way she smelled.  Even her name was weird.  And it didn’t escape the notice of the other children at school that her initials spelled ick, not with Danny Eldridge around to kindly point it out to anyone who may have missed that little tidbit.
      The bus squeaked to a high-pitched stop in front of Icky, and she hoisted her backpack resolutely onto her shoulders and ascended the steps.  The bus was usually pretty full by the time it reached her stop, and today was no exception.

      Most seats were two and three full, but about halfway back one was completely empty.  This seat was always empty when Icky arrived.  It was the only way the other children could ensure they wouldn’t have to sit by her.  The arrangement was just peachy with Icky, especially today when she’d be able to lay her extra-full backpack gingerly on the seat next to her. 

      She was hauling precious cargo: her Valentines for the fifth grade Valentine’s party.  And these were no ordinary Valentines.  These were the Valentines with which she was going to exact her revenge on Danny Eldridge.
      The bus pulled forward with a jerk and Izzy looked out the window, thinking about the fourth grade Valentine’s party, exactly one year ago…
      She hadn’t been able to believe it when, a month before the party, she’d discovered them on-line—a full set of Valentines featuring the greatest team of superheroes ever.  The Bronze Goatee and Poindexter.  They were unstoppable: brave, smart, and most of all, underestimated, misunderstood and unappreciated.

      They didn’t sell these Valentines at any of the big chain stores, or any stores for that matter.  But there they were at an obscure Web site, just waiting for her. 
      Icky had printed out the page and brought it immediately to her parents.  She had heard in her mother’s sigh the familiar but no longer spoken lament: “Why can’t you just be normal?”  But all she’d said aloud was, “What about those kitten and puppy Valentines I brought home yesterday?  Don’t you think that will be more like what the other girls are handing out?”
       Icky didn’t say a word, just stood with her thin, winter-chaffed lips pressed together and her overly-large brown eyes leveled at her mother.  She stared not with pleading, not with resentment, not with any emotion at all. 
      “Come now, dear,” her father had chided her mother. “We know our little Izzy isn’t one to cave in to the tastes of the outside world.  She makes her own rules,” he’d said with the air of someone who was convinced that his child was going through a phase and that if he simply surrounded her with forced optimism, she’d one day snap out of it.

      He nearly reinforced his encouragement with a pat to his daughter’s head, but seemed to think better of it when he noticed that a few extra snarls had mysteriously appeared in her dark hair.
      So she’d gotten the Valentines and signed them proudly.  She was bringing the Bronze Goatee and Poindexter to St. Ingnatius Elementary; this would be a Valentines Day for the history books.  The children would open their Valentines and know that they were looking at something special, something unique, something worthy of their notice. 
      Getting up for her third cup of Valentine’s punch (red Kool-Aid with floating mini-marshmallows, as far as she could tell), Icky had seen Danny Eldridge’s Valentines lying in a mess on his desk.  Most of them were bent and had a white blob of raw paper in the middle from where Danny had ripped off the candies that had been taped to them—which was precisely why Icky had gone candyless that year.  She would do nothing to risk marring the flawless images of her heroes.

      As she passed Danny’s desk, her eyes were drawn to Poindexter at the top of the heap.  Fitting, she thought.  Then she looked closer.       
      Underneath Poindexter’s pointy nose, curving over and past his lip and swirling up into two symmetric curly-cues was a black moustache!  In ink.  Permanent ink.  Icky’s plastic cup had crumpled in her clenched fist.

      Danny was turned backwards in his chair, carefully aiming spit wads at Tricia across the room, and so was oblivious to the furious glare Icky leveled at him.  She stood in place and shook for a full twenty seconds, trying to decide the best way to go about dismembering those horrid fingers that had done this to her Poindexter. 
      But then she thought:  What would Poindexter do?  He wouldn’t use brute force.  No.  Poindexter would use his brains to deal with the villain, and so would Icky.  Even if it took a whole year.  Which it had…

      To be continued
      Read Part Two


      If trees could scream,

      would we be so cavalier 
      about cutting them down?

      We might,

      if they screamed all the time, 

      for no good reason.


      The First Novel that Moved Me

      Hey, I'm double blog-hopping today, because while hopping on the first one I saw a second one that was too delicious to pass up.  It's hosted by Brad Jaeger, and the theme on which we are to blog is "The First Novel that Moved Me."

      The first novel that ever moved me, that ever sucked me in and wouldn't let go until the adventure was completed, that clung to me long after I finished reading was Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.  I don't remember exactly how old I was when I first read it, but I think it was either 4th or 5th grade.

      It was the cute mousey on the cover that drew me in, but it was the intrigue and mystery of the rats and the secret of Mr. Frisby's past that kept me turning the pages.

      And the resilient Mrs. Frisby was such a simple but admirable protagonist for my young mind to relate to.  I think she's the reason this story has resonated with me after all these years, because she felt so very real to me, and real-feeling characters---no matter what crazy situation they're thrown into---are my number one requirement in stories that I read and write.

      So how about you?  What's the first story that ever moved you? (You have 'till midnight to join le hop.)

      Mwahahahah Monday!

      Two things for ya this Monday:
                        #1 Meet an Author Monday blog hop.  You know the drill.
                        #2 The Full Moon Web Hunt is on!  Yet another way to discover new 
                             authors AND win prizes! 

      And another piece of blog business---I've been blog-tagged by The Fallen Monkey, who has an awesome post up right now about Mix Tapes and Manuscripts. And so I shall answer the required questions:

      1. If you could have any superpower, what would you have? Why?
      The ability to conjure dinner by just thinking about it.  Because it's better than spitting flames whenever I'm asked, "What's for dinner?" 

      2. Who is your style icon?
      I wouldn't say I have a style icon, but someone whose personal style I've admired that isn't terribly far off from my own is Cameron Diaz.  She's a casual girl who is often spotted in jeans & a tee.  Dang, I've gotta wear scarves more often.

      3. What is your favorite quote?

      Hey Bozo, we're standing in it.   -David Letterman

      4. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

      You're the nicest lunch lady.  -Heartland Elementary kids :)

      5. What playlist/cd is in your CD player/iPod right now?

      On my mp3 player, Swingers soundrack.  My Favorites playlist on You Tube is going right now with "Happy Birthday" by Flipsyde just finishing. In my car, a mix for a story I'm working on.  I think AC/DC is the latest band that played.

      6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?
      Hmm, I'm not much of either.  Don't care much for afternoons, either, to be quite frank with you.

      7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
      Paws down, cats.

       8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?
      It's a twist on Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey from SNL.  I generally stay away from getting too deep; it can only lead to trouble.

      And now, everyone on the list below is IT!


      80s College Life Hits the Small Screen!

      Hmm, let's see...1980s...college life...Midwest...why does the premise for this new TBS show to begin airing November 16 sound so familiar?   Could it be because it's the exact same premise for my novel?  Well okay, maybe not exactly exact:  Glory Daze is set in Wisconsin while Three Daves is in Illinois (HUGE difference), and the TV show is about a group of fraternity guys whereas the novel centers on one girl's dating plight. But even still, quite the exciting coincidence, no?

      Yet more evidence that the world craves its 80s!  

      But as thrilled as I am about the impending blast from the past, I'm not getting my hopes up too high.  Mostly because of these promo photos of the Glory Daze cast:

      Um, what's wrong with these pictures?  

      Don't worry, I'll tell you:

      #1 Where are the mullets?

      #2 Why is that Polo collar not up?

      #3 Why does the blonde's hair not extend 
      to beyond the top of the photo frame???

      These are small things I know, but come on---there was nothing small about hair and shirt collars in the 80s, so to me, those seem like rather large details to miss.  Ah well, I'll still be tuning into TBS on November 16 to give Glory Daze a shot.  Who's gonna join me?


      One Lovely Blog

      A Big THANK YOU to the always fun and interesting Zoe C. Courtman, horror writer for awarding me with the One Lovely Blog Award.

      I confess, I've been coveting this one ever since I first saw it on someone else's blog.  And thanks to Blogger's easy peasy template designer, I actually feel like I deserve it.  Doesn't it look so great with my grey background? Thanks Zoe.

      While I'm busy patting myself on the back...I'm tickled to tell you that the Three Daves book trailer has surpassed 1500 views! Eternal gratitude to the director and editor, Barb Hallworth. (If you wanna help me get to 2000, give it a watch. ;))

      And now, to accept the One Lovely Blog Award, I am to bestow it upon fifteen worthy blogs that I have recently discovered.  I must have amazing taste in blogs, because so many of the ones I follow already won this award!  Congrats to all of you, and to the fifteen new recipients whose blogs are lovely inside and out:   


      The Guy with the Dragon Tattoo

      I just won this book!  

      It's from Sandra Ulbrich Almazan: Speculative Fiction Author as part of her 100 follower giveaway.  Thanks Sandra!

      I honestly didn't know anything about this one, but I liked the name of it.  And now that I take a good look at it, I...I rather like the cover too. ;)
      Like I said---thanks Sandra!


      Meet an Author Monday

      Welcome to Meet and Author Monday! To meet new authors and discover great reads, simply visit any of the author links at our hostess, Cali Cheer Mom's, blog post.  Look for our "Meet an Author Monday" icon at any of the blogs listed there to keep on hoppin.  

      Authors! Have a book out? Are you under contract for publication? Join in the hop for a great way to network your blog and let readers know who you are.

      While you're hopping, you'll see that the awesome Jennifer Lane, author of With Good Behavior, has posted an interview with moi and a four star review of Three Daves!  Along with listing her favorite 80s moments in the book, she had some very nice things to say, including:

      I really thought that Nicki Elson showed a realistic portrayal of college. Sure, we grow intellectually at college, but personal development seems to matter the most during these years. The formation of Jen's identity was subtle yet strong, aided by the Three Daves along the way. She starts off as a chameleon but grows into a confident young woman who is not afraid to be herself. In terms of which Dave she chose at the end, I was very satisfied. (He was my choice too!)

      Read the whole review HERE.  Thanks Jennifer!