Win a copy of Throw Away Teen
& chat with author Shannon Kennedy
today at the Book Boost!
Every published author starts as an unpubbed writer struggling to learn their craft. Sometimes, the road we travel seems like the old joke that my grandfather used to tell. He always walked five miles to school, barefoot, uphill – in the snow. Then, he walked five miles home, barefoot, uphill - in the snow.
We write our books, slaving over each word. Then, we rewrite and polish each phrase until it can’t possibly be any better and one day, we get that magic CALL! Somebody wants to buy our book and then we get to write it again.
So, with a new book coming from BookStrand in January 2011, I had big plans that year, and I even made resolutions. I would write every day, hunt down and capture the perfect agent, polish my young adult book, finish my next mainstream Western and even paint my bedroom. It was an overwhelming list, but I was positively ready to rock and roll. I could do anything after selling two mainstream books in four months. Woo-hoo!
I was writing almost every day – and my new young adult novel was nearly finished – five chapters to go. I was halfway through my next Western. I’d queried an agent or two or three – who actually requested my book and my bedroom – well forget about that. I did.
On Saturday, January 22nd, 2011 my new computer – I’d bought it used in October 2010 – but it was still new to me – went dark. Nothing I did could make the monitor and the tower talk to each other and I tried everything over that weekend. Of course, I felt like an utter idiot because I hadn’t backed up my young adult or the Western and I was ready to throw myself on the ground and kick and scream. That didn’t make the computer work either.
I try to be a positive person – I really do, but I was positively going to have a temper tantrum, even if it was inappropriate for a woman more than 50 years old.
On Monday, I planned to take the computer tower to Office Depot and have it checked. It was #1 on my list – right after feeding 37 horses breakfast. Only when I got to the barn at 7:30 am, I discovered my old Quarter-horse mare had colic.
A life-threatening intestinal disorder, colic kills most horses. It lasts anywhere from 2 to 72 hours – the longer the horse suffers, the worse the impaction and the more likely the animal will not survive. Horses can’t throw up, so there’s only one way for a stomach upset to end and if you’re a horsy person, you’ll do almost anything to get your beloved companion to have a bowel movement. Yes, I do mean, “poop.”
Five hours later, Lady seemed to be on the mend and I slipped out to run the computer to repair. I arrived home and found her in major distress. I’ll spare you the specifics on all the disgusting things one has to do to save a 40 year old, 1,000 pound mare with a bad belly-ache – but the most difficult was keeping Lady on all four hooves, walking and trotting for the next two days.
Thirty-two hours later, nothing had worked. The impaction was worse.
My best horsy friend was dying, a horrible, painful death.
We’d been together for 23 years. I do try to be positive, and at this point, I was positively going to have to dig a really big hole. But, she wasn’t dead yet.
So I opted for one more home remedy. Miracle of miracles, it worked. At midnight on Wednesday morning, Lady was well on the road to recovery and I could finally check my phone messages.
My computer mainframe had died.
But, hey my horse was alive and the technician thought he might be able to rescue my books off the hard drive. He did and Lucky Lady and I had three more months together until the veterinarian told me that I had to step up and do “the right thing.”
Lady’s ongoing problems with colic during the last few months of her life were due to cancer and it was her time to cross that “rainbow bridge.”
Today, I cherish my blessings…..23 years of memories with Lucky Lady and I have her son who looks just like his momma. Lucky Charm is in the barn eating carrots.
The technician was right. He saved my books. And now I back up what I write.
Sometimes, it feels like you walk barefoot to school, five miles uphill in the snow – and you need to remember what’s important. For me, it is good friends – two and four-legged. It’s my job – I love going to school and being with tweens and teens. It’s my horse who whinnies when he sees me and follows me around the yard. And who goes for hugs the way his momma did.
And of course, it’s the writing. 2012 was a great year for me. That young adult novel sold to Black Opal Books along with its companion story. I’m delighted that the Stewart Falls Cheerleaders found a home with Black Opal Publishing. I have a terrific cover and my own real puppy is on it. I still don’t know how we got him to hold still for the picture – he’s a whirling, horse-chasing, sister-puppy–attacking, cat-romping fellow at the best of times. Throw Away Teen came out in December 2012 to rave reviews.
The Stewart Falls Cheerleader series is about a cheer squad at a private high school in western Washington, because “Sometimes, you have to be your own cheerleader.” In the series, selected girls overcome problems that life hurls at them.
2013 is starting off fantastically. Black Opal Books just contracted for the next two books in the series. So, I have a lot of writing to do.
A Note from the Book Boost: What an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing it with us today. Tell us more about your latest.
She’s disposable… and she knows it.
A survivor of too many foster homes, B.J. Larson is content living at the youth center where your status is determined by how long your arrest record is. And hers is lengthy. Then she’s placed in a home in the small town of Stewart Falls, Washington - with foster parents who will “love” her, not just the money the state pays for her care.
B.J.’s not stone stupid. She knows a scam when she sees one. Kids like her never get“real homes,” much less “real families.” She learned a long time ago that adults can’t be trusted. Besides, B.J.’s too smart to take chances. And isn’t love the biggest risk of all?
I knew Gabe was right, but the last thing I needed was for him and Ringo to fight...
“We’re disposable, babe. Americans throw away everything. Garbage, old people, and kids. You and I were thrown away a long time ago. We both know it’s for real.”
Nothing Gabe said was new. I’d heard it all a million times before. But this was the first time he’d had said it with an audience.
Ringo stood in the doorway to Ted’s den. I didn’t say anything, but Gabe must’ve realized we weren’t alone. He turned to face Ringo.
“Do you always sneak up on private conversations?”
“I wasn’t sneaking.” Ringo wasn’t mad or scared, just matter-offact.
“I wanted to hear the trash you were giving B.J. No wonder she has such an attitude.”
“I don’t have an attitude.” But I felt my knees turn to mush. He watched me the same way he had the night he kissed me. “Gabe’s right about the system. We’ve both been through it long enough to know the truth about how life really works. And it sucks.”
“Got that right,” Gabe said.
“More crap,” Ringo interrupted. “Liz and Ted won’t hurt you, B.J. You’re old enough to tell good people from bad ones. And you’re also smart enough not to buy somebody else’s program. Make your own decisions and don’t let some psychotic tell you what to do.”
“A psychotic?” Gabe’s voice dropped lower and meaner. He started toward Ringo. I knew a fight was in the works. It didn’t matter which one came out on top. Either way, I’d lose. Gabe was the brother I never had, the one person who always cared enough to look after me. Ringo was the guy I wanted to date, to paint, to fall in love with, provided he got his act together.
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