October 31, 2013

in need of nano beauty sleep

You can tell we're hours away from National Novel Writing Month beginning, because the creative juices or flowing. Obviously. I mean, how else did I come up with this totally brilliant song while I was getting out of bed this morning?

Waking up his hard to do

Don't take more sleep away from me
Don't you make my eyes so sleepy
Alarm I kind of hate you
'Cause waking up his hard to do

Here's the thing I didn't sleep tight
And I tossed and turned all the night
I have more sleep to get through
Waking up is hard to do

They say that waking up is hard to do
Now I know, I know that it's true
Don't say to get up sleepy head
Instead of waking up I wish that I was going back to bed

I beg of you, please say goodnight
Can't we give more sleep another try
Come on alarm, it's time to snooze
'Cause waking up is hard to do

They say that waking up is hard to do
Now I know, I know that it's true
Don't say to get up sleepy head
Instead of waking up I wish that I was going back to bed

I beg of you, please say goodnight
Can't we give more sleep another try
Come on alarm, it's time to snooze
'Cause waking up is hard to do

OK, so maybe I didn't completely come up with that song out of nowhere. And I probably borrowed way too many of the lyrics from the original song, but now I definitely can't stop singing it.

Speaking of NaNoWriMo, if you follow me on Facebook and Twitter then you may have seen that I met up with fellow local NaNo participants for coffee and conversation to celebrate the kick-off. A group of people are getting together tonight at midnight to start writing, and I'm considering joining them. That is, if I can sneak in a nap tonight after the hard time I had waking up this morning.

Are you ready for NaNoWriMo?

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October 30, 2013

little laura channels her inner jane austen

Blogger's Note: Thanks to my family's pack-rat tendencies -- and my vanity -- I've managed to keep documentation of my progress as a writer from kindergarten on. Instead of letting those cedar chest gems go to waste, I figured I might as well do what I do best -- post them to my blog. This is Little Laura Learns the Ropes.

No. 16: Rewrite a Fable: Will and Virtue
Date: Spring 2003
Age: 16
Quickly glancing in the mirror, Caroline tied her bonnet on top of her blonde curls. Her brown eyes were sparkling with excitement. She would be joining her dear friend Alice on an open carriage ride. A thick wood of trees shaded the lane, and the late summer breeze was cool and the sun pleasantly warm. They would be driving to town, and there was much news to be shared. Only the day before, Mr. Harris a beaux of Caroline’s, had confided in her the promise of a potential ball. With her influence, he would not only set a date, but an immediate one. If her speculations were correct, that would not be the end to his date setting.

She heard the horse hooves clomping down on the grassy lane. As she reached the front entrance, her elder sister Katherine entered.

“Oh, hello Caroline,” Katherine smiled pleasantly. “I believe I saw Alice and her carriage down the lane. Are you to drive to town?”

“Yes we will. I heard the carriage and am only just preparing to leave. Dearest sister, won't you join us? Her carriage is not limited to two, I am sure,” Caroline invited.

Gently removing her gloves and bonnet, Katherine declined, “As kind as it is of you to consider me, I could not possibly. I have long been negligent of my studies. As I have already taken my walk, I am afraid I simply must focus.”

Laughing heartily, Caroline did not attempt to hide her amusement. She could not understand why Katherine felt the need to always acquire intellect. Their family was well respected, and she would certainly find a suitor. Furthermore, should her own desires be forgotten to fulfill their parent’s wishes?

“My sister,” Katherine explained, “not everyone has been blessed with the good looks and charms you seem to carry in spades. If I am to find a suitable husband someday, I must possess in character and virtue what I do not in my appearance. My own enjoyments are not far from what I do. I enjoy my studies exceedingly.”

At only twenty-one, Katherine could not have believed her hopes of finding a proper husband were so bleak. Certainly not as stunning as herself, she was a rather handsome girl. Her brown hair and blue eyes were reputed to catch the fancy of many a young man. No, she would marry yet, but perhaps not as well as Caroline believed she would.


Alone at last, Katherine began to examine her newest piece of music. She allowed the music to flow through her fingers yet she couldn’t set her mind completely on the piece.

She wondered of her future. Was she destined to remain a spinster, or would she find someone? While she carried the pretense that she would be quite sensible in marriage, she knew that to be a partial falsehood. Nothing but a deep love would allow her to enter marriage. Her family was well enough off that she would not need to resort to marriage to find socioeconomic contentment.

Her thoughts then turned to Caroline, who believed herself to be in love with Mr. Harris. It was quite certain it was he Caroline was venturing to town to see. Katherine was too intelligent to doubt their approaching engagement, yet she couldn’t help but wonder of his motives. His character and situation were questionable as his spending always exceeded his annual, and he was linked with a number of exploits and romantic scandals. If his love was true and his will proper, Katherine could only be happy for her sister. She only hoped Mr. Harris would manage his expenditures properly.


As Caroline predicted, Mr. Harris set a date for the ball. It would be the following Friday evening. Then as she had hoped and as Katherine had foreseen, Mr. Harris had requested they set another date as well. Their marriage would occur in a month, and the two would take up residence in London. What a laugh it was that at only nineteen, she had secured her future happiness. While her sister had constantly striven to excel at matters of intellect and talent, and Caroline in that of fashion and society, it was the latter to find martial splendor and the former to be left searching. If only she could see her sister so well attached.

This could only occur if she could convince her sister to join their family at the ball. Parties were not typical of Katherine, but her sister never declined an invitation by a family friend, and Mr. Harris was most certainly very dear to the family.


The music of the string ensemble floated through the air. Katherine sat in a chair along a wall watching as her sister danced partner to partner and song to song. Her recent engagement obviously had not dampened her flirtatious carriage. At least the music was beautiful. She had just stood up to find one of her friends when she felt a hand softly touch her arm.

“Please excuse me, Miss,” the stranger with deep blue eyes spoke quietly, “I wonder if I might claim the next dance, unless of course you are otherwise engaged.”

She hardly knew what to say, but agreed to dance. Katherine learned that the young man’s name was Mr. Carleton. As a cousin to Mr. Harris, he was in the country visiting with him and had only just arrived. She found him to be a shy, pleasant man, and immediately enjoyed his company. The two spent much of the remaining evening together dancing but mostly by sharing their views on various issues of intellect. Mr. Carleton was just as impressed by Katherine as she was by him.


The next morning, Katherine hardly knew what to think. She believed she could actually grow to care for Mr. Carleton and hoped to meet with him again. While she was staring blankly at her needlepoint and thinking of the wonderful man she had just met, Caroline entered the sitting room to give her some unwanted news. Mr. Carleton had been called to London on urgent business and would not return for quite some time. Caroline hadn’t quite approved of Mr. Carleton, so she was pleased by this information. She had found him to be much too quiet and did not enjoy the nature of his conversation. Matters of intellect were a bore.

Hoping to thrust a different young man into her sister’s life, she concealed a letter, which he had written to Katherine. Instead she suggested a stroll to town. Katherine declined, and instead began to focus more seriously on her needlepoint. The one time she had allowed herself to begin dreaming of love, it was shattered before it could begin. She had learned her lesson. A person gains nothing by flitting about at parties.


A month later, while preparing for her sister’s wedding that afternoon, Katherine stumbled upon a letter addressed to her! She had never seen this before in her life. Uncertain whether or not she should open it, curiosity gained the upper hand, and Katherine opened it. It was a letter from Mr. Carleton. He apologized for being so forward by writing a letter of this proportion, and so soon in their acquaintance, but he informed her of his business in town, and requested that she write to him. He told her that while they had only known one another a day, he felt as though he had known her for years. Tears nearly came to her eyes when she read his closing lines.

‘Do tell me, do you believe in love at first sight? Until I saw you and felt a surge of power in my heart, I never believed it to be so. I hope your response to this is yes you do, or even that you are not certain. If it is either one of these, I beg of you to consider my proposition. We will never know if we had love at first sight unless it is given a chance to grow. Please allow this to grow. Help me to care for this seedling that will one day blossom into a garden.’

Shocked beyond belief to know how he felt and to realize she felt so similar, Katherine knew that things would work out. She wondered why her sister had concealed this from her, but could make no sense of it. While she longed to question her sister, she instead chose to leave her wedding day alone. Hopefully the harm done by concealment would not negate Mr. Carleton’s feelings and she could correct the wrong.


Katherine was once again sitting against a wall at her sister’s wedding party. The ceremony had been beautiful, and as a bridesmaid, she had a lovely gown as well. Hoping to make an early retreat, Katherine stood to leave but felt a hand lightly on her arm. She knew who it was even before she turned to face him. The happiness she felt at that moment reached her eyes, and before he could reproach her for never giving an answer he saw her eyes and knew what it was. Holding her arm, he led her outside where they could converse in solitude. She revealed all that had happened and confessed her feelings to him. He was so overpowered by joy he began ranting uncontrollably how her words impacted him. The next day, they consulted her parent’s permission to marry. They were wed within a month.


Many years later, Mr. and Mrs. Carleton remain happily settled. They have been blessed with a beautiful home with vast grounds, and a set of children so wonderful, they can scarce find reason to complain. Unfortunately for Mr. and Mrs. Harris, things did not turn out so well. Mr. Harris continued to invest poorly, and by joint expenditures the two lost all of their money. Even with the economic assistance of the Carletons, the Harris find it difficult to struggle. By now Mrs. Harris sees the error in her adolescent time but it is too late. If only she had used her time wisely, and gained knowledge, she could have made a more wise marital decision or at least prevented their expenditures from growing. One thing is for certain, a good mind is a necessity and must come first before looks. Those who dance must pay the fiddler, and Mrs. Harris is now having to pay while Mrs. Carleton had already paid up front.
I discovered Jane Austen shortly after I delved into the Chick Lit world. I picked up Bridget Jones's Diary sophomore year of high school. After falling for that story, I realized I needed to give the novel that inspired it a shot. And on the drive to and from southwestern Colorado, I read Pride and Prejudice.

Junior year, I followed up that read with Sense and Sensibility, which was the book I was reading at the time I received this assignment in creative writing class. We had block scheduling, which meant each class lasted a quarter in length, so everything was pretty heavily concentrated. We were expected to do a lot of reading and even more writing in short time. That really doesn't have much impact on what Little Laura was getting at with this story, bu tit does give a little context, I suppose.

Selecting Austen as an inspiration for writing a re-imagining of a fable was a pretty good idea for LL. Though, with all of the preachiness and melodrama of this story, it kind of comes off more like a Gothic cautionary tale than anything else.

I'm trying to figure out when exactly Little Laura will figure out how to correctly use commas. And, oh man, who am I kidding. I can't get into this analysis. My head is spinning after reading this Little Laura piece, and I just can't. I have a NaNoWriMo book to plot.

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October 28, 2013

the road to breck

When I took a long weekend to visit my friend Jacie in Denver, my primary objective was to check out my friend's new home and spend time with one of my favorite writing buddies. But, in the days leading up to the trip, I realized another objective. I wanted to find a setting for "Twelve Drummers Drumming," my romantic holiday short, which will be published in Merry & Bright on Nov. 15.

I had a vague idea about what I wanted TDD to be about. The original concept had been to do a Twelve Days of Christmas-themed book, and I snagged up Twelve Drummers. Why? Because as the daughter of a drummer, the ex-girlfriend of several musicians and a recovering band geek, I figured I'd done enough research to be able to come up with some sort of a story.

But in the week before my trip to Denver, the story became clearer. I wanted to tell the story of a young woman who'd recently married the drummer of an up-and-coming band, who was heading back to one of his favorite childhood spots. That seemed to have all kinds of potential. What would she learn about her husband? Would she find out he was someone completely different than the man she married? And where exactly were they going for this trip?

I always saw it as a mountain resort of some kind. And despite all of my travels in the past few years, I've never spent any time in one of those mountain towns. Were they as quaint as I imagined.

Naturally, when Jacie asked me if I'd want to take a day trip to Breckenridge, Vail or Estes Park I jumped at the opportunity. Maybe, I'd find the setting for my story. I admit, when we hopped in her car early Sunday morning, I felt just like a Hollywood producer, or whoever it is that goes location scouting for movies.

Large coffees in hand, Jacie and I were ready to hit the road. We left behind sunny Denver, which had been in the 70s the day before, and headed west for the mountains.


The higher we climbed, the more the scenery changed. I'm not just talking about tall trees and even taller mountains. The temperature dropped drastically and it started snowing. We hit some stand-still traffic, but my brain was running at high speed. This was how I'd start my story -- my main character (who still didn't have a name) and her husband (who was also nameless at this point) would be stuck in traffic on their way to their winter vacation spot.

I even found some inspiration in the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel. I used to write for railroad publications, and I'd done a few stories on track work through the Moffat Tunnel, which is a rail tunnel comparable to the Eisenhower Tunnel, and (as nerdy as this sounds) I've always been intrigued to go through these tunnels.

A quick Google search (which, really wasn't that fast, because my reception sucked so badly at this point) revealed a few fun facts about the tunnel. For example:
  • It is one of the world's highest tunnels for vehicles to pass through. (More than 11,000 feet above sea level.)
  • It is the longest and highest interstate tunnel in the U.S. (1.693 miles long westbound and 1.697 miles eastbound)
  • The tunnel passes under the Continental Divide. (For those of you who don't know, the Continental Divide of the Americas is a hydrological divide. Basically, most waterwayswest of the divide flow west to the Pacific Ocean and everything east flows east to the Atlantic Ocean. There's more to it than that, but it's science, y'all.)

None of those tidbits were actually going to make it into my story, but it sure had me excited about the destination. So excited, I started snapping a bunch of photos and jotting notes. I even typed out the basics of that first scene on my iPhone while Jacie was focusing her attention on the roads. (Sometimes, it's better to be neither seen or heard when you're a passenger in tough driving conditions.)

One scene-setting bit I wanted to include were these signs that ran the course of several miles on the west side of the tunnel.

I've seen a lot of road signs in my travels across the country, but this was the one and only time I've ever seen the phrase, "TRUCKERS DON'T BE FOOLED." I don't know why, but it was ridiculously funny to me, and I had to remember it.

Then we turned off the Interstate and made the final 15-minute stretch to Breckenridge. Even in my I'm-so-shaky-because-I-drank-a-huge-coffee-on-an-empty-stomach mindset, I realized I'd not only found my first scene, but I'd found the setting for my holiday story.

I'll share the spots in Breckenridge that inspired the rest of my story in another post.

About the Book
Sip your eggnog, linger under the mistletoe, and make a Christmas wish. Merry & Bright brings you six tales of Christmas cheer, featuring stories of budding romances, Southern charm, lost loves, heaps of humor, and lots of pie by authors Isabella Louise Anderson, Cindy Arora, Laura Chapman, Lauren Clark, Libby Mercer, and Nancy Scrofano. From sunny Los Angeles to the Rocky Mountains to the Deep South, Merry & Bright will take you on a heartwarming adventure you'll love to visit again and again. Wrap yourself in holiday mirth and prepare to be swept off your feet.
Merry & Bright, featuring "Twelve Drummers Drumming" is available from Simon & Fig. Add to Goodreads. Buy it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Kobo.

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October 26, 2013

interview of the author of 'the blog affair'

Blogger's Note: I'm pleased to welcome Alissa Baxter to Change the Word for an interview about her new novel, The Blog Affair, which was just released yesterday. Tell us about the most romantic date you’ve ever been on in the comments below and stand a chance to win a free ebook copy of The Blog Affair. The contest will close on Nov. 2. Include your email address with the response to be included in the drawing.

Change the Word: Your MC blogs about the men she's encountered in relationships. What do you think are the three best traits for a potential love interest to have? (give a little explanation, please)
Alissa Baxter: Obviously finding your love interest physically attractive is important, but once this has been established I think intelligence, a great sense of humour and kindness are the three best traits for a potential love interest to have.

CTW: How about the worst?
AB: In a good relationship, a woman feels safe with her man, and even though the early stages of a relationship can be fraught with misunderstandings and misperceptions, ultimately it’s important to feel that even if you don’t always see eye to eye with your guy, that he will always be a safe port for you. If a man ever makes you feel unsafe, listen to your gut reaction and run a mile! Other red flags to look out for – a man who either subtly (or unsubtly) belittles and criticises you, and someone who has an ungenerous nature (if he fails to tip the waiter, it’s very likely this lack of generosity will extend into other areas of his life).

CTW: What surprised you most writing this book?
AB: What surprised me most while writing this book was the realisation that we all pretty much have the exact romantic relationship we want in our lives. What I mean by this is that if you examine a friend’s dating history, for instance, and observe that they only attract emotionally unavailable men, if you look closer at the situation you’ll probably see that your friend is in some way emotionally unavailable herself – otherwise she wouldn’t attract that kind of man into her life. It’s fascinating how we put out signals as to the type of relationship we want, even if those signals are unconscious.

CTW: What was the biggest challenge you faced?
AB: In order to write well, you need to be brutally honest with yourself. And writing authentically about emotions means you have to draw on your own experiences, which is not always easy as it can make you feel emotionally vulnerable. This is quite a challenge to face up to sometimes!

CTW: How did you overcome it?
AB: I took a deep breath and jumped right in!

CTW: What are you most excited about with your new release?
AB: I’m excited about the format of the book which combines blogs and instant messaging, and illustrates how technology has changed the way we communicate with each other. On the one hand, social media is a very open platform where people often reveal intimate details of their lives. There is also a more secretive side to online communication, however, where people can post their innermost thoughts anonymously. It was exciting to examine this brave new world in which we are living and to create a fun story centred on it.

CTW: What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
AB: That it’s important to simply sit down and write, rather than to wait for inspiration.

CTW: How about the worst?
AB: Some writers say that it’s important to write every day if you wish to be a professional writer. However, I’m pretty much an all or nothing person and after I’ve completed a book I’m emotionally and intellectually drained. I take a good break after I’ve finished writing a book to recover creatively which flies in this face of this advice! But everyone’s different.

CTW: What's next for you and your writing career?
AB: I tend to become intrigued with the lives of the secondary characters in my books, and I’m writing a story at the moment about a character who appeared in The Blog Affair.

CTW: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
AB: Thanks so much for welcoming to your blog, Laura! It’s been a pleasure to be here.

About The Blog Affair
Emma Bradshaw has a pattern of falling for unsuitable men and starts a blog about these so-called “serial datists.”  Her search for new beginnings takes her to Cape Town, where she gets a job working for sexy author, Nick Reynolds. When an anonymous male reader of Emma’s blog challenges her on her ideas about men, Emma realises she must confront her past before love can blossom again in her future.

About the Author
Alissa Baxter was born in South Africa, and grew up with her nose in a book on a poultry and cattle farm. After school and university, where she majored in Political Science and French, she published her first novel, The Dashing Debutante. Alissa travelled to London, England, and did an odd assortment of jobs while researching her second novel, Lord Fenmore’s Wager, which she wrote after she moved back to South Africa and settled in Durban. Alissa then relocated to Cape Town where she wrote her third novel, Send and Receive, before moving to Johannesburg, where she currently lives with her husband and son.

Book Excerpt

For the past few weeks, she had been thinking a lot about changing her life, and had been toying with the idea of creating her own blog so that she could clarify her thought processes. She’d always kept a diary, and a blog, in a lot of ways, was an online diary—with the added benefit that she could interact with people online. The idea of venting her emotions in cyberspace was appealing, and in some way, symbolic of letting go…. And she certainly needed to let go.

She went through the blog registration process, and then frowned at the blank screen as she contemplated what she should write for her first post.

After a few moments, she started typing.



Serial Datism

The first time I ever met a serial datist, I was nineteen years old. At that age, I wasn’t capable of recognising the warning signs of this particular species of the human male. Needless to say, I got burned. Badly.

Serial datism is a concept I’ve been pondering recently. And it’s something I hope to examine in this blog. Any comments from readers are welcome, therefore, as I attempt to shed light on a variety of the dating male that has me completely bemused.

The best way to do this, I’ve decided, is to debate in an open forum—where I, and any other participants in the discussion, can flick on the switch, in a manner of speaking, and illuminate the matter.

I attract serial datists, and so it is perfectly fitting that I should introduce this topic into cyber space. But this doesn’t mean I’m an expert at identifying them. You see, the tricky thing about serial datists is that they aren’t easily defined.

They come in many shapes and sizes and forms, and they may even mutate! They can start off in one form and end up in quite another shape and size within a small space of time. And therein lies their danger.

Okay—to introduce myself. I’m Penelope (well, that’s one of my names) and this blog is called Penelope’s Pantry, because like Penelope from ancient Greek mythology, I’ve had loads of suitors in my life.

And the pantry part? Well, a pantry is a dark storeroom, and this is where I hope to stockpile my thoughts and feelings and emotions. On neatly stacked shelves, of course. I’m a fanatically neat person, and like things to be tidy.

So let’s start at the very beginning (my ordered mind demands this) with a definition of a serial datist: He is a male who, like a bee, goes from one woman to the next, landing on each female blossom for a short period of time. When he leaves, he stings them.

But unfortunately, unlike a bee, a serial datist doesn’t die after he stings. He goes on to sting again and again, and the only way to kill him is to swat him, or stomp on him with your heel. Or leave out a bowl of sugared water in which he can drown. But, on second thoughts, I think the latter technique is for ants....

Be that as it may, before anyone starts wondering whether I’m a convicted killer, I hasten to assure you I am not. I’ve certainly felt a strong desire to stomp on the various bees that have entered my life, but fortunately for these creatures, the thought of killing causes me to break out in hives. Therefore, it is only a fantasy I have indulged in from time to time.

Now that we’ve cleared up the fact that I’m not a murderer, I would like to point out that the bee who delivers his nasty stings is the real killer in the scenario. Why? Well, it’s obvious. He kills your feelings, and leaves your emotions bleeding to death. Some more pedantic readers out there might point out that bee stings don’t cause you to bleed. So what—I’m using it in a figurative sense.
But, and here I’m not being figurative at all, bees can make you swell up. Besides the fact that their stings can cause you to comfort-eat, it is possible to develop a life-threatening allergy to them. And I’m afraid that’s what’s happened to me. I am allergic to serial datists AKA bees AKA Emotionally Unavailable Men.

But I’m jumping ahead of myself. That is simply one of the categories of serial datists. According to my calculations, there are at least four others.

Allow me to list them:
1) The afore-mentioned Emotionally Unavailable Male
2) The Wannabe Player
3) The Commitment-Phobe
4) The Bad Boy
5) The Misogynist (before he finds a woman to control)
I will be examining each category in more detail later. But in the meantime—any comments from readers on what I’ve already expounded are most welcome.
Posted by Penelope on Tuesday, July 8 at 08:32 p.m.
Connect with Alissa
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/alissa.baxter.writer
Twitter: https://twitter.com/alissa_baxter
Blog: http://alissabaxter.blogspot.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1146980.Alissa_Baxter
Website: www.alissabaxter.com

Buy the Book
Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/18PXh1c
Amazon.uk: http://amzn.to/1fY6J6Y

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October 25, 2013

prince charming - MEGATRON!!!

Last Sunday, I had the chance to do something I've been waiting to do all season. Yes, I finally screamed "Megatron" at full volume in celebration of my beloved's big performance, which secured a Cinderella's Fellas victory.

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, you're probably reading this and thinking, "Wait a minute, Laura, why are you talking about that Decepticon guy from Transformers? I thought this was a series about your silly Fantasy Football league. And I'm pretty sure the only robot in football is the stupid dancing machine Fox insists on using during all NFL games and promotions."

Well, my friends, Megatron is more than just a naughty transformer...

He's also this:

The most amazing wide receiver in the world: Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions, my Prince Charming of the week.

As a Packer's fan, I'm honor-bound to hate on the Lions, Vikings and Bears (oh my!), but after Calvin Megatron Johnson saved my Fantasy Football team last year and scored me a spot in the playoffs, I have nothing but love for this stud. After losing a majority of the games in the first half of the season, I almost gave up my dream of going to the playoffs, which is the equivalent of Cinderella going to the ball. I felt just like homegirl did after her wicked stepsisters ripped her dress to shreds and left her sitting alone in a pumpkin patch with a bunch of rodents keeping her company.

But Megatron, Calvin (with some help from Peyton Manning) made me believe again. I felt just like a princess the day I finished the regular season in second place and won an automatic spot to the semi-finals (we had a three-week playoff system, which meant the top two teams were able to skip the first week of post-season). That might not mean much to you, but that, my friends, was how my team earned its name: Cinderella's Fellas.

But enough about the past. Let's talk about the present, and the beautiful future I see with my main squeeze Calvin. Though the Lions lost to the Bengals (hahaha, another opportunity to make the same Wizard of Oz joke!), Calvin proved he was a real winner. He scored two touchdowns, caught nine passes and had 155 yards during the game. That meant 27.5 points for me PLUS helping my quarterback (who is also Calvin's QB, Matt Stafford) score me an additional 26.28 points. Not bad boys, not bad at all.

They, along with the other men of Cinderellas Fellas, won their third consecutive game, securing me the top spot in my ten-team league and taking our record to 6-1. Sadly, Cinderella's Ball lost last week's game, taking our record to 4-3. Fortunately, just about everyone else in that league had a sucky week, so I'm still third of 12 teams thanks to how many points my boys score me week after week.

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October 24, 2013

little laura goes big - part ii

Blogger's Note: Thanks to my family's pack-rat tendencies -- and my vanity -- I've managed to keep documentation of my progress as a writer from kindergarten on. Instead of letting those cedar chest gems go to waste, I figured I might as well do what I do best -- post them to my blog. This is Little Laura Learns the Ropes.

No. 15: Write a Short Story: A Simple Promise - Part II
Date: Fall 2000
Age: 14

(Continued from Part I)

The next morning, Amalia was all smiles when she woke up and headed down the stairs. Her happiness was shattered when, upon entering the living room, she found her Grandmother Helen Bryan holding Jared’s sobbing grandmother, Marian Hamilton.

“What’s wrong?” Amalia asked looking very concerned.

“Amalia, dear, maybe you should sit down,” Helen said seriously. Once Amalia was seated, her grandmother began to calmly explain what was amiss. Early this morning, Harry Hamilton and Jared had been in a car accident on the way to the docks. Harry was killed and Jared was in critical condition at the local hospital.

Amalia was in complete denial. When she finally was able to accept this, all she could do was cry. Once Marian and Amalia composed themselves, Helen drove them to the hospital. When they got to the hospital, Amalia sat out in the waiting room while Marian went in to sit with an unconscious Jared. While she sat there, Amalia began to remember a couple of the moments she and Jared had shared during the summer.

Two months ago, the two of them got up really early one Sunday morning, before the sun rose. They drove up to a mountain pond in Acadia National Park. They sat fishing, though they spent more time talking about their lives, and hopes and dreams.

“I love music and words,” Amalia said, eyes aglow. “They are my passion in life. I feel completely at peace while I write and sing. What about you, Jar, what is the thing that makes you so happy?”

Jared looked thoughtful for a few moments before answering. “I guess sailing. When I’m on the ocean, it’s like no other feeling in the world.” They looked at one another and started giggling. Not because what he said was funny, but because it was a way to get over their nervous feeling. That was the first moment that the two of them completely connected.

Amalia smiled at the memory. She looked up to see Marian walk out of Jared’s hospital room.

“Why don’t you go in and sit with him for a while, Amalia darling,” Marian said giving her a brave smile. Once settled in the room, Amalia started remembering yet another time they were together. This one had been only last week in her Grandma Helen’s living room.

Good Will Hunting was playing on the television screen that the two teens were watching.

“I’ve really got to stop letting you pick out the movies,” Jared said rolling his eyes. “I don’t know how many more chick flicks I can handle in one summer.”

Amalia laughed at the face he was making. “Silly, Jar. I don’t pick out that many chick flicks.” Jared rolled his eyes again, “Okay maybe I do. Who cares what you say? I won’t let you ruin this movie for me.”

They watched the movie for a while longer. Then Amalia got up to get some more popcorn. When she came back, she set the popcorn down and sat down to read a letter she had just gotten.

“Let me see, let me see,” Jared said grabbing the letter. “Who is it from?”

“My best-friend, Mel,” Amalia said, pretending to look annoyed.

“How cute, Mal and Mel,” Jared teased. The letter read:

‘Dear Malli,
Hey girl? How are you doing? I’m fine. From what your letters say, it sounds like you are having a blast up there in Maine. Who’d have guessed you would in Small Town, U.S.A? Things here have been pretty uneventful.

Aaron, the evil ex, has been bothering me to try to get your Grandma’s address. Since we’re best buds, I told him no. He says he misses you, and that he is a “changed man”. I wouldn’t buy it. He is really obsessed with you. Blah, how did you ever go out with him? What did you see in him, other than that fact that he was rich, popular and good looking? Wait a minute, I just answered my own question. Thank God you got over looking for that in a guy.

I can’t wait till you come back and tell me about your summer. I know I’ve got a lot for you to hear. Speaking of sharing tid-bits, I can’t wait to hear about that hottie you have next door to you. I really liked the picture you sent me of you two. Tell me one thing, did you two ever hook up? If you didn’t, that’s such a shame. I mean, two attractive, nice people not together, what a crime?

Anyway, I’ve got to go, but HAPPY (early) BIRTHDAY. I’ll see you soon!

Lots of Love,


Jared looked up from the letter and raised an eyebrow. “Wow, so she thinks I’m a hottie.” He was desperately trying to hide his concern about what he read about her ex-boyfriend Aaron. “So who is Aaron, a former boyfriend?”

Amalia looked away from the screen briefly, “Yeah he is. I broke up with him back at the end of April. He was a major jerk. Mel sure is funny.”

“Why, cause she thinks I’m a ‘hottie’?” Jared sarcastically asked.

“You’re so funny, Jar. Maybe you should think about pursuing a career as a stand up comic,” Amalia said looking at the t.v. again.

“So, Mal,” Jared said slyly, “have we decided to make it official? You know, become an item. After all, I’d hate to disappoint your friend.”

“Boy that Matt Damon is a stud muffin,” Amalia said, changing the subject. “And Ben Affleck isn’t so bad either.”

Jared made a face and said, “I prefer Minnie Driver, myself.”

“Good for you,” Amalia said causing the two of them to burst out in a fit of giggles. They spent the rest of the afternoon watching movies and teasing one another.

What Amalia would give to have those days back, she didn’t know. She would probably give up everything she had, so Jared could pull through and come back to her. Amalia was with Jared when he woke up.

“Hey gorgeous,” Jared said smiling at her once his eyes focused. “I love you, sweetie.”

Gently squeezing his hand, Amalia answered back, “I love you too, Jar. You’re going to be okay, I know you will. We’re both going to be together always.” Wincing slightly at a pain in his side, Jared gazed into Amalia’s eyes. After a few moments, Jared spoke up, “In case I forget later, I just wanted to say thank you.” Amalia looked at him perplexed, “What do you mean?”

“Thank you,” he said breathing harshly, “for teaching me what it is to love and be loved. I will forever be indebted to you. That is why it’s so hard for me to ask you this.”

“What is it?” Amalia asked holding his hand up to her cheek.

“Remember of few things for me,’” Jared stopped for a minute.
“Remember…?” Amalia gently prodded.

“Remember that I’ll never give up without a fight. If it’s not too much trouble, watch out for Gram, she’ll need it. Then, remember that I’ll forever love you.” “I’ll love you too,” Amalia said kissing his hand. Jared smiled at her and winked. Then he closed his eyes once more. A tear slid down Amalia’s cheek as she said, “I’ll keep my promise no matter what.”

* * *

The sun shined on the dew-covered grass, as it rose over the Atlantic Ocean. A funeral was in procession. Three women sat very close to one another. Dressed in black, the two women sit holding onto one another. One of them is crying. The young lady, also garbed in black, who sat next to the elderly woman who was comforting the other, sat very stiffly.

Her long auburn was pulled into a tight bun at her nape. Her dark sunglasses hid her eyes, and her face held no expression other than her lips held together tightly.

“… His tragic death has taken him away from us, but this will not prevent him from being forever remembered. God bless you. Amen.” At the conclusion of the prayer, the three women each placed a single red rose on top of the casket.

While the two elderly women thanked the well wishers that came to the dinner following, the young lady snuck out of the house and walked down to the beach. She pulled out her hair and let it blow freely in the wind. She took off her shoes and the sunglasses. She waded out into the ocean and stared off into the horizon.

After some time, she softly spoke. “I love you. I will fulfill my promise, Jar. I will see you again, soon. I promise.”

* * *

A little less than a week after the funeral, a car pulled up to Mrs. Helen Bryan’s house. Amalia looked out the window and saw the car. She jumped out of the chair and ran out of the house. She opened the passenger side door and pulled the person off of the seat and gave them a huge hug.

“Oh it’s been forever. I missed you so much. You can’t know how much I’ve missed you,” Amalia said very quickly.

‘Woah Mal,” the young man with black hair and sparkly eyes gasped. “Remember, I’m and injured man. You wouldn’t want to see me back in the hospital, would you? You saw me last night, anyway.”

“Of course I don’t want to see you back in the hospital. I also know that I saw you yesterday, but it seems like so much more time when I was waiting for you Jar,” Amalia said, breathlessly.

“Yes it does, Mal,” Jared said, pushing a piece of hair away from her eyes, so he could look into them better. “Hey great news! My application to Boston College has already been accepted. Imagine that, not even started my senior year and I’m already accepted as long as I keep my grades up.”

“Hey that’s so great! Now we can definitely be together,” Amalia said smiling. “Have I told you, lately, how much I love you?”

“I don’t know,” Jared said pretending to look thoughtful. “How much?”

“This much,” Amalia then grabbed Jared closer and kissed him. It was a kiss of hope and promise for the future—their future.

The End
Well. That was... interesting.

Before I get bogged down in a lot of heavy critiquing, there are a few things about this basically ridiculous story that were done right. For one thing, I did a lot of research. Sure, Little Laura messed up the spelling of 'NSYNC (but who doesn't get confused about how to write that band's name?) and a few other proper nouns and words. (Would it kill you to grab a dictionary?)

But she also spent a full weekend doing research before she wrote her story. She researched locations. Settled on Maine. Picked a town. Found local landmarks, stores, restaurants. She even discovered local slang, like "ay'ah." (Do people still use that, or was it just in Sarah, Plain and Tall?)

She also created, and stuck with, a writing schedule. After completing her research Sunday afternoon, she wrote the first part. On Monday, she sat down and wrote for a couple of hours after school. She finished her first draft on Tuesday or Wednesday, made a few revisions and had it ready to go for peer reviews the following Friday.

That much is good, Little Laura. I wish I had half of your discipline, today. Granted, even I can hunker down for some serious writing for one week, but still... well done.

You're still fascinated by the East Coast, which is great, considering how poorly traveled you were at that point in your life. It's good you're interested in exploring the world, even if it's through stories.

Now for the parts that need work.

Don't use so many flashbacks. This story is between 5,000 and 6,000 words, and you don't need to have half of them be in italics. You also get more than a little confusing with your attempt to psych people out and make them think Jared is dead. I see where you were going, but it didn't quite work, did it? And you knew it at the time, but you pushed forward regardless.

It's kind of lazy to turn in something you know doesn't work, but I know you were trying to be clever by having that ending and the flashbacks. And that's good. You should always try to be clever. Even if you miss the mark. If you go for boring and what's always expected, you'll never succeed at writing something people will want to read.

You're still obsessed with writing about love. Even now, you're still a big fan of books about relationships, but there is more to them. I'm just concerned, because ever since middle school, everything you write is about finding love, and nothing else, really.

Little Laura, don't you know there's more to life than finding man and tying yourself to him before you even graduate high school? Don't you? There's this whole wide world out there. Yes, there's love. Yes, it's beautiful. Yes, it can hurt. And yes, sometimes that hurt is worth it. But it isn't absolutely everything. Sometimes, people don't have to have a serious relationship to be happy.

Sigh. I feel like I should tell you what happens, Little Laura, before you get too caught up in your romantic notions. You're going to find your first serious boyfriend in a few months. It'll be a sweet -- but overly dramatic -- relationship that will fizzle out halfway through sophomore year. Then you'll find another boyfriend. This relationship will be even faster, more intense and even more heartbreaking when it ends. It will take you most of junior year to get over it.

Then you will find your high school sweetheart. And it will be a beautiful, but complicated relationship that lasts through most of college. You even think he might be your forever. But he won't be. And that relationship will end, too. And it will hurt more than you let on. It will hurt for a long time. But then you're OK. And you'll focus on something other than your relationship status. You'll travel the country. You'll have bad and good jobs. You'll be happy, and you'll be sad. You'll be alone a lot of the time. But you'll be OK.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: In life, sometimes you find love and it lasts forever. Sometimes you find it, but it takes a long time. And sometimes, you have to focus on loving yourself instead of waiting for a man to swoop in and save the day. I know this is pretty heavy, but I think it's for the best you know this before you decide to become a novelist.

Man, it's too bad you're so uptight, Little Laura, or I'd suggest we go grab a drink after that serious truth bomb. Want a coffee? What? You don't really like coffee yet? Wow. I feel like I hardly know you.

I know. Let's bond by listening to some classic 'NSYNC. We can even play the song you wrote into your story.

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October 23, 2013

little laura goes big - part i

Blogger's Note: Thanks to my family's pack-rat tendencies -- and my vanity -- I've managed to keep documentation of my progress as a writer from kindergarten on. Instead of letting those cedar chest gems go to waste, I figured I might as well do what I do best -- post them to my blog. This is Little Laura Learns the Ropes.

No. 15: Write a Short Story: A Simple Promise - Part I
Date: Fall 2000
Age: 14

“Jared,” Marian Hamilton called up the stairs. “Jared Bradley, do you hear me? I said that Amalia is here.”

“Coming Gram,” Jared yelled to his grandmother while he quickly checked his short black hair in the mirror. He quickly ran down the stairs where his dark blue eyes met another pair of eyes that were equally blue.

Jared smiled back at the smiling face of his friend Amalia Rodgers. Amalia had been staying next door with her grandmother Helen Bryan for the summer. While she was in Bar Harbor, Maine, Jared had promised to show her around the smile island town and hang out with her.

“Are you ready, Mal?” Jared asked uncertainly. “I know I am, or at least I think I am. Well, am I or not?”

Amalia had her long auburn hair pulled back into a ponytail. She was wearing an orange spaghetti strap shirt with a pair of jean capris. She checked over the outfit Jared had on. He was wearing a very typical Jared outfit; faded blue jeans and a short sleeved blue T-shirt.

Sobering her face, Amalia made a dramatic sigh and said in mock despair, “I don’t know, but I guess you’ll have to do.” A smile once again came to her face and she leaned over to give Jared a big hug.

“So what are we doing today? You know I’ll only be here for another week. Where has the time gone? It seems like only yesterday I was just getting here.”

Both Jared and Amalia remembered their first meeting very well. It had been at the Bar Harbor airport. Amalia had been on an hour-long plane ride from her home in Boston Massachusetts.

Jared was beginning to suspect that the plane was late. He was getting ready to go ask a person at the information desk about it, when a pretty girl with auburn hair caught his attention. He quickly cleared his throat and walked over to where she was standing looking very lost.

“Excuse me, Miss, but are you Amalia Rodgers?”

Amalia quickly turned around to face the person who had just approached her. “Yes I am, but how do you know my name?”

Jared calmly held out his hand and said, “I’m Jared Bradley. I live next door to your grandmother. She didn’t feel up to making the drive, so I offered to come pick you up.”

Amalia accepted the offered hand with a smile and her own hand. Shaking Jared’s hand, she said, “Hi, Jared, it’s so nice to meet you. My grandma has mentioned you before. It was so nice of you to come and get me for her. Mom and I worry about her making too many car trips. How old did you say you were? I’m 16—well close enough anyway. I’ll be 16 on August 17. I’m from Boston, Massachusetts, lived there my whole life. I’ve never been to Maine, though. How long have you lived here? Do you have—oh I’m sorry. I’ve been rambling again, haven’t I? If I do that again, just tell me to shut up.”

Jared just stood there taking it all in. He wasn’t much of talker then, and so hearing her talk so openly threw him off a bit. Jared slightly smiled back at her and shyly said, “It’s nice to meet you, too. It was no problem for me coming to get you. I just got off work and it’s on the way. Let me see if I can answer your questions. I turned 17 in May. I’ve been living here in Bar Harbor with my grandparents for the past eight years. Here, let me take a couple of those bags for you.”

Amalia handed him two of her suitcases leaving herself her purse, a bag and a suitcase. Once again smiling, she began to talk.

“Thank you so much, Jared. You really are such a gentleman. I wish I could find at least one nice guy back in Boston, but never mind that. So Jared, tell me about yourself. Do you have any siblings? Friends? Family? Pets? Girlfriend? Anything to say that might help us get better aquatinted.”

On the drive to the house, Amalia and Jared learned about one another. Jared found out Amalia had two siblings. Her brother Preston was 11 years old and her sister Carrie was 8. Her father, Alan, was an engineering professor at MIT. Her mother Judy, was a pediatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital. Amalia was going to be a junior at Savio Prep where she played basketball and volleyball. She was a member of the School Newspaper, and her favorite classes were Music Composition and Journalism. Her family lived in the ritziest part of Boston, Beacon Hill.

Likewise, Amalia heard about Jared’s life, though it took a bit of persuasion to get it out of him. Jared was an only child. His dad left when he was four, so he’d never really known him. Jared’s mother, Diana, was an archeologist, and always away on the job. Currently, she was in Greece studying the ancient ruins. Due to these circumstances, he lived with his grandpa, Harry Hamilton and his grandma, Marian. He was going to be a senior, the next year, at Harbor High. He was on the basketball and soccer teams. His favorite class was psychology and he was looking forward to his sociology class.

Ever since, they had been practically inseparable. Jared and Amalia spent every spare moment of their summer together.

On this day they had decided to drive into the shopping area of the small town of 4,500 people. They spent most of the drive just teasing one another and making small talk. As they approached the stores, Jared glanced over to the passenger side of his truck.

“So, Mal, where do we go first?”

Amalia looked over at Jared and said decidedly, “I think that we should definitely go to Sherman’s Book Store. I’d like to see if they have a book I’m looking for. Then, we should go to one of the clothing stores and see if we can get you something to wear.”

Ignoring her last comment, Jared dryly laughed and asked, “May I inquire as to what books and c.d.’s you want to squander your money on today? No, no, just stop. You keep forgetting how well I truly know you. You also don’t seem to remember that I know you have a ton of birthday money to spend. After all it’s your birthday.”

Amalia put her dramatic skills to a good use by rolling her eyes, “And you Jar, keep forgetting that you’ve only known me for two and a half months. Plus, my birthday is still almost a whole day away.”

“Ah’yah, but Mal, I saw the fat envelopes with money and cards in them that you got from your Grandma Bryan, your Grandma and Grandpa Rodgers, your four sets of aunts and uncles. Plus, you have that money your parents sent you to buy accessories for your present that is sitting in your garage that is red, has four wheels, leather seats, a c.d. player and a sun roof.” Jared paused for a quick breath of air before continuing. “Believe me, I know.”

“Well at least it’s good to know that you got over you little speech impediment,” Amalia said directing her gaze to the view outside the window of the black truck.

“Speech impediment?” Jared said bringing the car to an abrupt stop in front of Sherman’s. “I resent that!”

Opening the door, Amalia hopped out of the truck and walked up to the side walk. “Oh really? Puh-lease… it took me, like, twenty minutes of straight rambling to get a few words out of you. Oh well, you know I can’t hate you because, well how could anyone ever hate someone with those beautiful baby blues you’ve got glaring at me right now.”

They walked into Sherman’s BookStore together. Jared said, “So what you’re saying is that it’s just like I can’t hate you because of that cute little Boston accent that keeps sputtering out annoying sentence fragments.” Before she could yell another insult at him, Jared continued, “Anyway, let’s hurry up. After all that work this morning, I made quite an appetite for myself. How about we go to the Lompoc Cafe --.”

“I’m buying this time,” Amalia interrupted quietly heading off towards the ‘Fiction’ Section. She hadn’t meant to sound harsh. She just didn’t like Jared spending so much money on her. She knew that he got paid next to nothing at the job he had.

Every morning, except Sunday morning, Jared worked from 5:30 am till noon at one of the many coastal fishing shops. He didn’t get paid much, and Amalia knew that he was saving his money up for college. One day, Jared hoped to be a behavioral sciences investigator, while Amalia wanted to be a writer of books and music.

This pretty much meant that they were from two completely different worlds. He didn’t have the money to spoil her the way he did. Amalia cared about him more than she had for anyone else, and she truly hoped that he could go to college and accomplish his dream and she didn’t want to be the cause of his never getting to.

Just as she was about ready to head towards the counter, Jared pulled her aside and covered his eyes.

“Okay, let me guess what c.d.’s you have today… um… *N SYNC: No Strings Attached, Blink 182: The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show, 98 Degrees Revelation and Back Street Boys: Millenium. The books you have are The Silence of the Lambs, The Cider House Rules, Salem’s Lot and Hannibal.” Jared opened his eyes and put a triumphant grin on his face.

“Ooo,” Amalia said sarcastically, “so close, but wrong as usual. I have No Strings Attached, The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show, No Authority, and the Titian A.E. Soundtrack. As for books, I’ve got The Silence of the Lambs, The Cider House Rules, Roots and Troubling a Star. But sorry, no Back Street Boys, 98 Degrees or Hannibal.”

“Wha—bu—“ Jared sputtered. “How could you NOT buy Salem's Lot after I let you read it? And what’s this book Troubling A Star, anyway?”

“Well, Jar Sweet Pea, it’s very simple. I was so disgusted after reading that book, I decided that I would wait until somebody just decided to give me his or her copy. As for Troubling a Star, that is a book that I have been trying to find for a few years now. It is written by one of my favorite authors, Madeleine L’Engle. I have been reading the Austin series for a while now, and now I finally found this book. All I have to say to you right now is HA!” Amalia smiled happily at defeating his thinking that he knew her perfectly. “You also know of my not so secret love of the songs on the Titan A.E. Soundtrack and how I have been pining for the No Authority album for a while. Ugh, the Back Street Boys, I’m not even going to go there right now.”

Scowling slightly, Jared mumbled something under the lines of, “I knew I shouldn’t have taken her to the Titan A.E. movie. Should’ve guessed she’d want the c.d. Stupid Boy Bands, what’s the difference between one or the other anyway?”

“I heard that,” Amalia called out then turned her attention and smile to the clerk, a boy of about 14 whom seemed nervous around her. She waited patiently for him to add up the total.

Jared also grinned at the nervous boy, whose name was Anderson. Jared knew exactly why Anderson was nervous and completely felt empathy for the boy. Jared of all people knew the effect Amalia could have on a person.

It had been about a month prior to this day, at Acadia National Park Campgrounds. Jared and Amalia had decided to go camping. It was about 9:00pm and they had just watched the sun set, together. This was almost the moment that he fell head over heals for the pretty big city girl.

Jared was starting a bon-fire and meanwhile, Amalia pulled out her acoustic guitar and began tuning it and warming up her voice. Jared settled down next to her and turned his full attention towards her. Jared knew that she played the piano, he too played and they had discussed this before. It did surprise him a little to see that she could play the guitar, but then again, nothing Amalia did ever took him completely by surprise.

She began to sing a song he knew, and he joined her in singing. Their voices blended nicely and the song sounded amazing. When this song was completed, she continued to sing some more songs. Some of the songs she sang were church songs, while others were original compositions she had written herself.

Amalia started to sing one of her songs, and it caught Jared instantly. It was a song about pain, heartache, and losing someone you love. The song told of how her family had helped her through it. At this moment, Jared felt tears come to his eyes and turned slightly away from her. This sudden movement made Amalia look up and over to Jared. This had disturbed her.

In a concerned voice, Amalia said, “Jar, what’s wrong? Are you all right? Please, talk to me. Tell me what I did wrong.”

Turning back towards Amalia, with his eyes watery. His voice shook with emotion as he said, “You did nothing wrong Mal. The song was amazing. It just made me feel… I don’t know, I’m horrible with words. I’m not good at using them, like you are. Your song just made me feel emotions I didn’t count on. You are a truly beautiful person, Mal. You see things the way they are. You know how to make someone feel emotions. Someday, you’re going to be an amazing writer.”

He stopped and turned away. He did flinch a little when he felt Amalia’s arms go around his shoulders. She held him in a tight embrace, and his arms went around her waist. The held one another for a long time, Amalia comforting him as best as she could. That was the moment when Jared began to feel feelings towards Amalia he had never felt for another person.

Since then, the way he felt about her had intensified. He didn’t know what he would do when she left in a week and a half. For the moment, he didn’t want to think about that.

It was going to hurt too much. Right now, he just needed to think of a way he could tell her how he felt. He was scared of rejection. He didn’t want to have Amalia tell him that she didn’t feel the same way, but he knew he had to tell her. Even if she just wanted to be friends, he would still find a way of letting her know.

His thoughts were ridiculous. How could a girl like Amalia ever learn to love a person like him? She was beautiful, rich, sweet—she was Amalia. It still amazed Jared every time he thought of her. How a girl like her could be unattached was shocking, but Jared knew why she was. He knew that a girl like Amalia could only handle so many egotistical jerks in one lifetime. Jared would have liked to get his hands on the guy who had hurt Amalia so badly. Did that guy even know what a treasure he had while he had her?

They walked to the restaurant in silence. They then ate dinner at the Lompoc Café, a nice little family restaurant. After eating, they walked back to the truck. Amalia stopped at the window to Jack’s Jewelry Garden.

“Look Jar,” Amalia said pulling the hand she was holding back so Jared could see what she was looking at. “Isn’t that pretty?” Amalia pointed to a pink piece of coral on a golden chain. “Someday, I will own it!”

Jared looked at the necklace and nodded. He tugged lightly on her hand to get her to start walking again. After walking in silence, Jared stopped, turned to Amalia and picked up her other hand in his.

“Would you like to go out with me tomorrow night—to celebrate your birthday, of course. It would be a lot of fun,” Jared persuaded.

Amalia smiled slightly at him and said, “That would be great!”

‘To celebrate your birthday, of course.’ Amalia continued to repeat this line through her head. And why shouldn’t he want to do something with her when it was her birthday. This shouldn’t have bothered her, but only Amalia could know why it did. She wanted him to ask her out sometime, without there needing to be a cause. Amalia was certain he never would, after all, he did only think that they were friends. She wanted there to be more.

'How can life be so unfair,’ she silently wondered. ‘How can God create two people on earth that are so compatible, and only let one of them fall in love with the other?’

Amalia knew it and felt no use in denying it any longer. A little crush she had developed on him almost a month and a half ago had turned, slowly but surly, turned into more than infatuation and grown into love. It all started while she and Jared had been sharing one of their favorite past times together: basketball.

Jared stole the ball from Amalia and made his way towards the basket. Amalia ran ahead of him to block him. While running she tripped. Jared turned around just in time to see her fall. For a moment she just sat there stunned. She saw the blood trickling down her knee, and tears came to her eyes.

Jared ran over to her and sat down next to her. He put his arm around her and gently held her whispering some words of comfort. He released her fairly quickly, then he grabbed a water bottle and began to rinse her cut. Jared pulled a bandanna out of his pocket and wrapped it around her knee.

He stood up then carefully pulled her up, too. Amalia looked into his eyes and that was the moment it hit. The way he looked at her, his gaze full of tenderness, just made her feelings for him begin to take form in a different direction.
It had happened so quickly and innocently enough, that it shouldn’t have happened that way. At least Amalia had never heard of love happening that fast. Love wasn’t as great as people said it was. It hurt, especially when you were in love with someone who wasn’t in love with you.

When they got back to their houses, Jared gave Amalia a hug goodbye. He said that he had some things to do.

“Remember, I’ll pick you up at 6:30 tomorrow. Dress up a bit too.”

* * *

The next night, Jared took Amalia to one of Bar Harbor’s nicest restaurants, Anthony’s Cucina Italiana. After this, they went for a walk on the beach. The sun had already set, so they had a beautiful star filled sky over head.

Jared suddenly reached over and gave Amalia a hug. When he pulled away and she looked down at a cold ring around her neck, Amalia saw the pink coral necklace she had been admiring in the window of Jack’s.

Before she could speak, Jared pulled her over to a spot where a blanket had been spread. He had her sit down, and he pulled out a guitar. She sat there looking confused, she knew that Jared didn’t know how to play, and she wondered if he wanted her to. As she reached out for the guitar, Jared began to play a song she recognized very well. He was playing her favorite song, ‘This I Promise You’. The fact that he was singing for her a song he hated was so sweet. Why would he do that for her?

Amalia felt like asking him, but he started singing along with the part he was playing. The last thing he sang was what touched her most.

‘And I will take, you in my arms,
And hold you right where you belong.
Till the day my life is through,
This I promise you,
This I promise you.’

She felt tears come to her eyes. It wasn’t the words that got her, as much as it was the look in his eyes. It was a look that she had never seen from him before. When he finished the song, it was all she could do not to attack him. So, as calmly as possible, Amalia crawled over to where he was and and put her arms around Jared’s neck.

Pulling away from her grasp just enough so he could see her, Jared said,

“I love you, Mal. You are everything to me. You know I’m not very good with words, but I love you. I am also promising that I will be here for you. Whenever you need someone, I’ll be the one you can turn to. If you don’t want to be that way, I understand, and we can just be—“

“Jar,” Amalia interrupted. “Could you please just stop for a minute. If you would’ve been quiet for a minute, you would’ve heard me say something under the lines of this. I love you, too, Jar. You may not think that you’re very good at words, but I think that you did just fine Jared. You said you loved me, that is all I need.”


“Really, Jared.”

“I love you so much. I’ve wanted to tell you for so long. I did mean what I said. You know, about the promising to be here for you forever. Even if being together doesn’t work out with our plans, you must know that I’ll be your friend. I know you don’t need another controlling guy, so I think that we should just take this slowly. Give us both a chance to be together before we make any huge decisions,” pausing and blushing, Jared continued. “God I’m rambling, but I did mean every word of that. If everything goes well, I’ll be with you all the time next year.”

Looking confused, Amalia asked, “What do you mean?”

“I’m going to apply myself to school more than ever, this year, and then I’ll hope I can go to Boston College. I’d do anything to be with you,” Jared explained.

Amalia smiled and gave him a light kiss.

Click here for the rest of the story. 
Yes, there's a rest of the story. 
Haven't you figured out Little Laura was writing an epic romance novel for teens?

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October 22, 2013

casting 'the three month plan'

Blogger's Note: I'm pleased to welcome Kimberley Patterson to Change the Word as part of her Chick Lit Plus blog tour to celebrate her novel, The Three Month Plan. I asked Kimberley to share her dream cast for if her book was made into a movie.

By Kimberley Patterson
Guest blogger

It's funny you ask this, because this is typically the first thing I imagine when finishing a manuscript. My dream cast would be as follows:

Kelly: The heroine in my new novel, The Three Month Plan, isn’t your typical drop dead gorgeous nineteen year old. She’s attractive, but shy, self-confident, and tired of failed relationships. She isn’t easily definable, but relatable. She was brought up by a loving family who instilled strong moral values in her life and always played the good girl role. It was an easy selection looks wise of who would play her. I chose Lucy Hale. Lucy is a terrific actress and can play both the average look and glamorous look Kelly needed. A close second to her was Lily Collins.

Jake Carter embodied everything that was the polar opposite of Kelly. Jake is your typical horny teenage boy, only caring about his next score. Girls throw themselves at him from every direction. He is gorgeous, with a nice body and overly confident. At the same time, he has some underlying issues which prevents him from changing his ways. I chose Zac Efron. Aside from the eye color Zac has the acting ability and looks to pull off both sides to Jake.

Brian MacMillan has been Kelly’s best friend since they were kids. He grew up in an unstable home with a father who ran off, and a mother bound for depression. Kelly was his saving grace. They were nearly inseparable, like brother and sister, until Jake Carter came into the picture. Brian is your typical surfer type, blonde shaggy hair, blue eyes and a surfer's body. As far as looks wise, there really wasn't a comparison. I chose Alex Pettyfer. I believe he has both the intensity and the softer side to pull off Brian's character.

Supporting Cast:
Michelle is Kelly's best friend, and she is less conservative than Kelly. I wanted an actress who could pull off the wild side of Michelle, but also the sensitive side of her as well. Even though Michelle is instrumental in Kelly starting the bet, she also proves to be a great friend throughout the story. I chose Kaya Scodelario. Her hair would need to be more of an auburn color, and eyes green but I think she has Michelle's look very closely.

Paul - Brian's best friend (besides Kelly) and a true surfer. Paul is a fun loving, good looking guy who gets along with everyone, but Michelle. He has had a crush on her for a long time and she doesn't give him the time of day. For Paul I chose Xavier Samuel. With his board shorts and shaggier hair he fits the part well. He is also a bit older than Brian so this works well.

And last but not least Uncle Rick. I love this character so much, mainly because he was modeled after my own uncle (also named Rick). He is such a gentle soul, with a large heart. I wanted a seasoned actor who has those kind eyes that sparkle just a little, and who could play off a father figure as well. It is a toss up for me between two amazingly talented actors.

Kurt Russell

Or Jeff Bridges

I feel that either would be the perfect choice.

I hope you like all of my selections! I would be curious to see what the readers suggest for these parts as well. As we know, often what the author envisions is completely different than what the reader does.

Excerpt from The Three Month Plan
The boardwalk wasn’t as crowded today, but it was still early, and the fog hadn’t yet cleared even though it was afternoon. San Diego fell victim to June gloom every year, and it always seemed to wait until summer had officially started. The patio on the Breakwater Café was the perfect place to sit and people watch and crush on the surplus of college students. It was an eclectic mix of teenagers and twenty-somethings flecked with small families here and there, not to mention this was the only restaurant in the area that had a man-made wave machine. When the sand was empty and the weather still cold, this was a popular hangout. It had only been two weeks since I graduated from high school and I was convinced now that it was summer I’d have more options for a boyfriend.

“I just don’t get it,” I complained. “Sara Jennings has a great guy and she is awful.”

“You just have to be patient, Kel. It’s not like you haven’t had your share of dates,” my friend Michelle assured me, “Besides, you’re only eighteen.”

Michelle was right. It wasn’t for the lack of trying; it just seemed all the wrong guys clung to me like lint on velvet. I went through all of the stereotypes: the jock focused only on his next score; the quiet boy that couldn’t open up; I even dated a nerd that spoke in sexual innuendos.  I was ready for a real boyfriend, somebody I could be serious with.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Michelle said, pointing in the direction I was staring. “Him?”

“What?” I smiled, taking another sip from my soda.

“No offense, but you do know he’s totally out of your league,” Michelle replied. I just ignored her and kept staring in his direction, admiring his short, dark hair. His eyes had a piercing blue quality that reminded me of the blue in the ocean. His casual demeanor showed in his flip flops, grey t-shirt and black and grey board shorts that hung low on his hips as he prepared to start the wave machine.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” I said, meeting Michelle’s gaze. “But, I bet he’d be interested if he knew my awesomely charming personality.” I grinned.

“Is that a challenge?” Michelle snickered. “You wanna make a bet?”

I just laughed and shook my head. “Um, no,” I said flatly. “I wouldn’t even know where to begin.”

“It’s not like you have anything to lose,” Michelle teased. “You don’t start your yoga training for another three months anyways.”

I replied wistfully, “But he doesn’t even know I exist.” I looked toward him as he continued to ready the machine and talk to the crowd that had gathered. He yelled for the people to form a line – his voice deep, sexy and made me flush at the sound of it.

“That is what it looks like, isn’t it?” Michelle said dryly, looking in the same direction as me.

“Besides,” I explained, “he probably has a ton of girls throwing themselves at him.” I sighed and looked down to my lap disappointed at my own lack of confidence.

“You can always ask Brian to introduce you.” Michelle grinned at me.

I felt the heat really fan my cheeks. “Nooo, I'd be way too embarrassed.”

Michelle looked at the guy again and said, “C’mon Kel, do you see how hot he is?” She lifted one of her perfectly shaped eyebrows. “Three months,” Michelle said, looking back towards me, smiling softly.

“Three months for what?” I asked, meeting her gaze.

“The bet. You have that much time to get him to date you,” Michelle replied smugly. “You can call it the three month plan.”

“You’re serious about that?” I laughed, but was cut short when I realized Michelle was serious.  My expression quickly faded to a dull stare.

“I wish you could see your expression right now.” Michelle chuckled.

I paused at the silence, contemplating the challenge as I gazed in his direction. He was smiling to his latest customer who had entered the restaurant and climbed in line for the machine. Michelle had a point. I planned on making this a summer to remember. I wasn’t enrolled in college this fall since I had decided to take a year off before starting. And the yoga teacher training program didn’t begin until four months from now.  “You know,” I replied with a newfound confidence, “I think that’s perfect.”

Michelle’s mouth fell open in surprise that all her prodding worked. “So in three months you will have landed him is what you are saying?” Michelle asked in disbelief.

“Yeah. One way or another,” I laughed. “I’m gonna’ do, wear, and say everything that I would imagine a guy like that would want me to do.”

Michelle grinned. “You’re crazy. A guy like that is gonna’ want you wearing nothing.”

“Very funny, Michelle.” I playfully slapped her hands from across the table. “But since you were so instrumental in creating this bet, I am going to need your help.”

“I was just kidding,” Michelle laughed. “Why am I getting dragged into this? You should ask Brian to help you.”

“Well, you certainly encouraged it,” I responded and looked at the guy again. “But you’re right, how else am I going to get into his head, without some guy’s input?”

“I’m sure his head isn’t the only place you want to get in to,” Michelle smiled. “Virginity is overrated anyways.”

My face flushed, “You’re a bad influence, and you know that, right? I’m not going to sleep with him.” I must admit my mind did have a tendency to drift to such things. I’d never allowed the guys I’ve dated get very far with me, but watching him had me fantasizing of pressing against his lean body.

“Of course. But you still love me anyways.” She grinned.

“Yes, yes I do. But that may change after this whole three month plan is over.” I cocked my head to the side sarcastically.

“Well, you had better get started then,” Michelle said. “And your first step might be getting rid of what looks like competition.” She lifted her head and looked behind me.

I turned my head slowly to see him casually talking with what looked to be a supermodel. She twirled her naturally curly long blonde hair around her perfectly manicured pink nails, while batting her lashes up at him. Her low cut, cleavage revealing top left little to the imagination as she pressed her chest against his. She was thin, leggy, and annoying already even though I had never met her. “Uhm,” Brian cleared his throat, startling me. “Do you want any more drinks?” He arched his eyebrow at me, and I realized I had been scowling. I swear he was meant to be a spy the way he seemed to sneak up on us. Brian was my oldest friend, and before we were friends I had a huge crush on him. He never knew, and I was too afraid to tell him and ruin our friendship. Now he was more like a brother to me, although a much cuter brother than I imagined I’d have. Brian worked here part time as a server. It was yet another reason we came here. He always gave us a great discount.

“Brian, thank God you’re here,” Michelle hurriedly said, “Do you know who that guy is over there talking to that girl?”

“Who, the new guy?” Brian replied, motioning the direction of the hot guy as Michelle nodded. “Oh, that’s Jake; he just started two weeks ago.”

Michelle looked at me and smiled.

“Jake,” I mouthed, a slight smile turning up my lip on one side.

Brian just laughed, “Sorry, girls. You might wanna’ get in line for that one. You see that blonde girl he’s talking to? That’s his girlfriend.” He nodded toward the Amazon girl. “And you see all those other girls in line. Well, let’s just say they aren’t in line for the machine.”

Crap. This isn’t going to work.  I mumbled under my breath.
About the Author
Horses were one of my first loves, and writing soon followed. As a child, I spent hours writing poems, and short stories (about horses). My parents realized that I was horse-obsessed and decided to buy me one after taking riding lessons for two years. I think they hoped that all of the hard work, and hours spent mucking stalls would help me give up this expensive hobby. They were wrong. Writing is still a passion of mine, although now I primarily write fiction. My first novel, Red Rock, was published in 2010, and big surprise, there are horses in it. My second novel, The Three Month Plan, was released August 2013.

Other Loves: My family, yoga, skincare and makeup, sushi, and raising money for pediatric cancer. I have two rescue dogs and would have more if there weren't zoning restrictions. I’m always trying something new, as I tend to get bored very easily. Thankfully, my love of driving around with the gas light on fuels some excitement. I love novels with happy endings, and am a hopeful romantic. My latest obsession is browsing Netflix, and I can name all 50 states in alphabetical order in under 30 seconds. Do I feel a wager coming on?

To read more about Kimberley or to purchase her books please visit:

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