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Memoirs Christmas Excerpt- Father of the Bride

Here’s another holiday excerpt from Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: Fresh-meat Year.

Family of the Bride

Not since National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (still my family’s favorite holiday film) had my family attempted to go see a movie together, and that had been two years ago.  This Christmas, however, we were not all going to be together, so my parents wanted to make sure we got in some quality time before we flew Angela off to California to spend the holiday with her soon to be in-laws.  So what feel-good, yet funny family film could we see?  The Father of the Bride.  Of course.  After all, Angela was getting married and it was all she had on her mind. There were no Griswold moments, but Steve Martin was a funny guy, too.

Of course, just preparing to go to a movie as a family was an event.  We had to stop at a grocery store on the way to purchase affordable candy bars and cans of soda.  Winter was the best time of year for a movie because all of these snack items could easily be stashed away in our winter coats.  My parents (and Han Solo) taught me the value of smuggling.

The only theater we had around at that time was in Remington, at the mall.  My dad’s patience was thin when it came to dealing with the mall, and we were there the last Saturday before Christmas, so we drove up and down every row in search of a parking spot.  My dad was pulling into one when we all realized it was already occupied by a motor scooter.  I heard some indecipherable mumbling coming from the driver’s seat, and we remained paused halfway in that parking spot for at least thirty seconds or so while I’m pretty sure my dad contemplated running over the scooter. Fortunately for said scooter, someone a few spots down was leaving, so my dad threw it into reverse, almost giving us all whiplash and snagged the spot, much to the chagrin of another circling family in a minivan.  A grin of satisfaction spread across my dad’s face.

The content of the movie was too much for an emotional bride, and when we walked out of the theater people were confused as to what we had just seen because Angela was crying uncontrollably, and quite vocally.  I cried a little to myself, only because we had been surrounded by people with popcorn, but we had none.  Even if we’d popped it at home and found a way to stuff it in our coats, it wouldn’t have been fresh by the time we got there.

The next day was a day of snow flurries and we had to drive through it in order to get Angela to the airport.  Nothing was sticking, but people panicked anyway.  Passengers were still allowed to have their loved ones escort them all the way to the gate to see them off back then, and Angela cried the entire way through the airport- while walking, riding the moving walkways, checking her suitcase- the whole time.  She calmed down a bit when we sat and waited with her.

“I left presents for each of you under the tree.  I won’t be there to see you open them, so take pictures, Mom, please,” Angela said.

“Hope you don’t want to see those pictures until next Christmas,” I joked.  My mom was notorious for not getting around to dropping off the film for development.  Thank goodness for the more recent advent of the digital camera.

“Drew, that isn’t funny,” my mom defended herself in a playful way, knowing I was, in fact, correct.

Angela was laughing a full belly laugh when her boarding announcement was made, and she immediately snapped back into a sobbing mess.  “I can’t believe I’m missing Christmas with you.  I’ve never missed Christmas with you.”

“Honey, sometimes you have to compromise when you get married,” Mom said.

“I don’t even like Ryan’s family!” and she sobbed harder.  “What if this whole thing is a mistake?  I don’t really want to be related to them for the rest of my life.”

“Now is not the time for this, Angela.  Your plane is boarding,” my dad said, and she sobbed even harder, then she threw herself onto my dad and wept into his chest.  My dad was a loving man, but he never really knew how to handle emotional, girlie moments, so he just stood, eyes large, deer in headlight look on his face, and patted her back for a few seconds, his arm bent stiffly.  My mom saw his need for help and gently stepped in, slipping her arm around Angela and scooping her away toward the gate.

“I love you guys, even you, Drew,” Angela called back as she moped down the gate hallway to the plane, glancing over her shoulder several times before she went around a curve and we lost view. Soon after, the doors closed.

“Can we stay to watch her plane take off?” I asked.  I always loved watching the planes when we went to the airport.

“I think we’d probably better, just to make sure she doesn’t come back,” my dad said, and we watched until the plane taxied away and then rose into the sky a distance away.  It was going to be strange having Christmas with just Mom and Dad.  We all sighed simultaneously, and then Dad said, “Well, we better get going.  It looks like the snow might start sticking and we don’t want to be stuck driving in that mess.”

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved

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Memoirs Christmas Excerpt- Wonderland

Here’s another little sampling of Drew’s life at Christmastime from her awkward freshman year. If you enjoy this, check out the link here.

I couldn't stop laughing. Drew could have had this poster.

I couldn’t stop laughing. Drew could have had this poster.

Another Trip to Wonderland

During the week of school right before a big holiday break little happens educationally, except tests.  Teachers figure kids will forget everything over the break, so they pack in the tests while it’s all still jammed in their flighty teenage brains.  Or they have parties.  The last few days before Christmas break were a confusing mix of both.  The worst thing was crashing from a party in one class when there was a test looming in the next, such as I did in pre-algebra.  It must have shown on my face because Chip even offered to share his test answers with me, but I knew I would have a better score even if I just made something up about a, or b, or x, or whatever stupid letter I was supposed to find a number for.

Chip was still hobbling around, but it didn’t stop him from giving me a bear hug as we parted ways that day.  “I’ll see ya nixt year, little buddy, cuz we’ll be havin’ New Years and all.  Git it?”

“Oh, Chip, you are clever.  Have a good and safe break,” I said as we parted ways.  Apparently, we had become quite good friends since he broke it off with me, or whatever it was. Chip even gave me a Christmas card with Rudolph’s head mounted over a fireplace. Classy. But at least he wasn’t flirting with me anymore.

Chorus put me back into party mode, but then again, that was usually all we did.  Of course, we had done some Christmas songs and caroled around one of the elementary schools earlier in the week.  Mona and Violet had made dozens of cookies and put them into little goodie bags to give out to everyone in class.  I overheard Mona laughing to Violet and Julia, something about plumping up all the other girls so they’d be fat in comparison.  I should have known there was a sneaky evil agenda behind the cookies.  The three of them made a pact against all holiday temptations.  If they wanted to sweeten up their celery sticks, they were allowed a small dab of peanut butter only. Interestingly enough, I felt no guilt over my plans to eat all the sweets I could acquire.

When class ended, I bid goodbye to Anne, whom I was fairly certain I would see over the break at some point, and Ally, whom I probably would not see.  Her parents were planning to send her away to a boarding school because her grades were so bad, and because, according to Ally, her stepmom was evil. We hugged and exchanged Christmas cards, in which we had each included our addresses, hers being at the new school. “Bathroom breaks from photography just won’t be the same without you.”

“I know.  Take care of yourself, and make sure you kiss Dustin today.  Seriously, he needs something to think about over the break…you.”

“Yeah, sure thing,” I lied with a smile as we parted.

Adrienne met me in the hallway before photography.  “We need to miss the bus today.  My mom already said she could pick us up at Dustin’s at five.”

“Uh, ok, but we don’t even know if we can go to Dustin’s.”

“Yes, we do.  We talked earlier when I caught him staring at Alyssa in the hallway.  You need to make an impression on him before the break.”

“Weird.”

“What?” Adrienne asked.

“You’ve never met Ally, right?  But she pretty much said the same thing.”

“She’s obviously very smart.”

Dustin approached with a smile.  “Hey.  So you ladies are coming over to hang and play some Nintendo today?”

“Sure.  You really know how to kick off a holiday break,” I teased.

“I know.  But I might also have some mistletoe around if you get bored,” he replied with a smirk as he passed us and walked into the classroom for another holiday class party.

When the bell of freedom rang, Dustin said he had one thing to take care of before we left and that he’d meet us at the corner down from the school.  Dustin had a real eye for photography and he had made some great prints earlier that week.  One was of Alyssa.  I had seen him pull it out of an envelope for a few seconds earlier, when he thought nobody was looking, and he wrote her name on the front of the envelope.  As Adrienne and I walked down the hill, I found Dustin in the crowd, slipping the envelope into Alyssa’s book bag right as she boarded her bus.

A small, thin woman in red was heading out the front door of Dustin’s house when we arrived.  I could see him tense up as we all approached each other.  “Dustin, Sweetie, I’m off to run a few errands and then to my work Christmas party, after I pick up your father.”

“It’s not an open bar is it?”

“Dustin, now is not the time,” she said, almost under her breath. “Who are your friends?” she said more loudly and cheerfully as she smiled at Adrienne and me.

“Adrienne and Drew,” Dustin replied as he gestured towards each of us.

“It’s very nice to meet you girls,” she said as she limply shook each of our hands. “Don’t mind the mess.  I haven’t had much time for tidying up lately.”  She reached up a hand and touched Dustin’s cheek.  “Be good.”

“Yeah, you too, Mom.”  We watched her climb into a large old blue station wagon, start the sputtering engine and drive away.

“She seems nice,” Adrienne offered as we entered the house.

“Yeah, but she’s not the problem.”

In the corner of the living room was a sad looking Christmas tree.  It wasn’t one of those charming Charlie Brown trees or anything either.  This had been a nice tree, but a large chunk had been chopped off one side of the tree, ornaments scattered on the floor beneath, where not a single present sat.  I tried to act like I hadn’t seen it, but Dustin caught me looking.  “My father used part of the tree for kindling to start a fire last night.  We had kindling wood, but it was out back, and the ax was closer.  I hid the ax this morning.  Good thing he wasn’t drunk.”

“So your dad is a drunken douchebag?  My dad sucks too.  Drew’s just about the only person I know with two good parents,” Adrienne said.  It was true too.  I tried not to take it for granted and sometimes I even felt guilty because most of my friends had weird parental situations of some sort.

We managed to escape the world where parents mattered while attempting to rescue Princess Toadstool, later known as Princess Peach, in Dustin’s attic bedroom.  Guns N’ Roses blared from the stereo.  We stopped between levels as “Don’t Cry” came on.  “I love this song.  I know it’s a released song and everyone knows it and all, but it’s still one of my favorites on this album,” Dustin admitted, and we listened without speaking, all the way until Axl Rose held out the final note, his voice wavering up and down, and then we resumed the game until Adrienne’s mom showed up.

As Dustin walked us toward the door, he caught me gently by the hand, letting Adrienne walk out ahead.  “I couldn’t find the mistletoe, and I couldn’t afford to get you a gift, so I hope this is ok,” he said as he leaned in and gave me a quick, soft kiss on my lips. His hand let mine go, he smiled, his beautiful dark left eye showing more of the green flecks than usual, and wished me a Merry Christmas.  I turned and walked into the wall.

“Yeah, Merry Christmas,” I said as I corrected my position and practically ran out the door.  How clumsy!

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved

 

 

Memoirs Christmas Excerpt- Deck the Halls

I have decided to post a few Christmastime excerpts from my second book (Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: Fresh-meat Year) this week. Please follow the title link  if you are interested in more.

My favorite Christmas movie...

My favorite Christmas movie…

Deck the Halls…and Everything Else Too

My favorite time of year had arrived and I was prepared.  Mom had a habit of getting tired of old home decorations from Christmas to Christmas and would decide to restock with a new theme every few years.  I was surprised so much of our old stuff had made the cut to travel when we moved, but she’d had a year off since we didn’t really have Christmas that year. However, she’d seen it all again last year and it was now time for a change.  I scavenged most of the stuff she set aside to donate or toss out and used it to decorate as much of my bedroom as possible.  Most of it no longer matched, but I didn’t care.  It was festive.  It was one of the only times of year when the creepy red carpet in my room actually wasn’t so creepy.

As I Scotch taped a string of colored lights around one of my bedroom windows, I could see the Phillips’ car driving down the cul-de-sac with an enormous tree strapped to the roof, which I thought was strange since I remembered seeing them bring a tree home sometime earlier in the week.  In a few minutes, while I was wrapping blue tinsel garland around the ends of my curtain rods, they left again, treeless.  Then, about an hour later, when I walked out to get the mail, they drove back home with another huge tree.

It was the Saturday a week and a half before Christmas.  Mom always wanted to wait as long as possible to get the tree so the needles didn’t all fall off too soon and we could leave it up through New Year’s, but we were pushing it this year.  I was afraid all the good trees would be gone, so I’d begged to go that day and it was time.  My mom knocked on my door.

“Come in,” I called.

“Ready?  Angela just got home from work and your dad says it’s now or never.”  She took a look around my room and shook her head.  I knew the haphazard array of colors was not quite to her liking, but it was my room, so she didn’t say much, just, “The red carpet seems appropriate now.”  There were a few ways I could take that.

We sifted through the selection at the make-shift tree lot for at least an hour before we found the right tree.  My mom had brought along a couple of her more heavy ornaments to really test out the tree’s branches, and she had re-measured the spot where we would place the tree so we knew how tall and wide we could go.  A man dressed as an elf prepared our tree for travel.

As my dad was paying for our tree, I spied the Phillips talking with another elf at the tree lot.  “Ok, so you will hold those three trees for us?  I can take the big one now, and I’ll be back for the rest tomorrow.”

“Yeah, sure.  Phillips, right?”

“Yes.”

“Writing it down now.  I’ll put reserved tickets on them for you.  You need help getting the other one loaded up now?”

I walked back to my family.  What the heck did the Phillips need so many trees for?  How many did they have and where were they putting them all?  So weird.  Then I noticed that the Christmas sweater and dog lady was with them.  Of course.  That made perfect sense.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved

 


 

Ain’t too Proud to Beg Book Blog Tour STOP THREE

Thank you to Kaycee at Wonder Struck for hosting today’s blog stop and for the wonderful book review.

Please follow the link to Kaycee’s blog: http://wonderstruck-kcks.blogspot.com/2014/06/terri-klaes-harper-blog-tour-book.html

Also, you can enter to win a copy of my ebook from here or Kaycee’s post
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Ain’t too Proud to Beg Book Blog Tour STOP ONE

Here’s a link to the first of my book blog tour stops. Much thanks to Elle Klass for having me.

Enjoy and spread the word.

http://thetroubledoyster.blogspot.com/2014/05/memoirs-of-ordinary-girl-fresh-meat.html

Launching My “Ain’t too Proud to Beg” Book Blog Tour and Book Release Party

That’s really a pathetic title, isn’t it? Seriously though, in the wise words of TLC, “I ain’t too proud to beg” for some book sales, and I also thought this fit the style of my books bringing back the nostalgia of the ’80s and ’90s through music and other now dated pieces of pop culture.

Releasing my second book in the Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl series is a pretty big deal to me…you know… because I wrote the book and all. Today is that big day and I want to share it with as many people as possible. And I want you to share it with as many people as possible. So I’m going on tour, virtually.  I begged (and possibly blackmailed) a few people to post about me and my book on their blogs through next week. Each day, I’ll link their posts to my blog. I’m also going to host a sort of Facebook release party a few evenings next week.  Join if you can. Trick someone else into joining if you can’t. I’ll have some trivia of the times, a few guest authors, and some Q&A moments. It’s a public event on Facebook I’ll be sharing on my author page.

freshmeatbook2edit22

I like to mix the truth with imagination, so this is about one part truth, one part nostalgia, and three parts imagination.

Book Blurb: “It’s just another extraordinarily ordinary year in Drew Hotchner’s world, and one she faces again with wit and sarcasm.  Freshman year is the only thing that just might be more horrific and awkward than middle school, and Drew cannot avoid it.  Thankfully, she is not alone and still has her support crew of friends, because some things never change, no matter the setting.  Old enemies return and new distractions abound, such as a new crush, even while she holds onto the old, the advent of the grunge music movement, helping to plan a wedding, and the creepy neighbor boy down the equally creepy rural road.  Drew must again learn to hold her own in the unknown and to stay true to her identity while also learning that doing the right thing is not always the easy thing and may take a degree of maturity a fourteen year old often doesn’t realize she has.”

And here’s an excerpt to whet your Drew Hotchner appetite:

And so It Begins

As the casket slowly lowered down into the grave, tears were dabbed from damp faces with pristine, white tissues, stark against the corresponding black dresses. From my vantage point in class, I could watch entire funerals take place in the cemetery next to, and down the hill from, Florntayor High School. I wondered who these people had been and whom they had left behind. I found myself making up dramatic stories in my head about their lives and tragic deaths. This was the second funeral during this class period within the first two weeks of school. How fitting that it was during my math class, the most dreaded of all subjects for me.

Jolting me from my daydream, a hand reached back and grabbed my left ankle, which I had apparently been jiggling as I had crossed that leg over the other. This proved to be too much temptation for Chip, the huge redneck who sat directly in front of me and asked me out daily. The overgrown senior turned and smirked, not letting go of my ankle. I mouthed silently to him that he better let go, but he just held on tighter and shook his head, his frizzy mullet rustling over his plaid flannel collar and bare, yet Chewbacca-fuzzy shoulders (the flannel sleeves had obviously been ripped off to allow for a more functional summer shirt), so I used my other foot to kick him in the butt, just missing his can of chew. “Ouch!” he howled, drawing attention from Mr. Bunson, my worst nightmare.

“Mr. Dicksen, what seems to be the problem?” Mr. Bunson inquired, peeking over the oblong glasses that had slid down his nose.

“She kick’d me!” Chip whined as he pointed his thumb back my way.

“Is this true, Ms. Hotchner?”

“Only because he grabbed my ankle and wouldn’t let go,” I stated as matter-of-factly as I could.

“There is no reason to resort to violence, young lady,” Bunson reprimanded as he tried to get his lab coat unhooked from something sticking out of the table in the front of the room. This was pre-algebra. Why did he wear that thing anyway? It’s not like we were mad scientists mixing chemicals. We were just trying to solve for x and y, or in my case, trying not to fall asleep. In the very moment he unhooked himself the bell mercifully rang. “You keep your feet to yourself, Ms. Hotchner. Ladies do not kick, and I will not hesitate to write you up if it happens again.”

“But he grabbed my ankle. It was self-preservation. Why doesn’t Mr. Dicksen get in trouble?” I asked, almost a bit too mockingly. Realizing I probably should have kept my mouth shut, I quickly added, “I promise I won’t do it again, if you could just move him away from me. He bothers me every day and I’m afraid he’s hindering my ability to learn.” Maybe I could change my sass to a plea for help. A sort of “Help me, Mr. Bunson; you’re my only hope” type tactic.

“Is that so? I’ll consider that. Do not be as late for your next class now as you were for mine.” Ouch. I had already been late for Mr. Bunson’s class two times in as many weeks, quite possibly coinciding with the days of the funerals, though I could not remember for sure. I had to race all the way across campus after changing from gym class, and I had to stop at my locker because there was nowhere to keep my math book in the locker room, so even though I’d been halfway in the classroom at least one of those times, Mr. Bunson had written me up for being tardy both times. One more tardy would equal after school detention for me. The worst trouble I’d ever been in before was two days kicked off the bus and two weeks of bus probation when I was in middle school, which incidentally, was also an unjust punishment when I had stood up for someone. I could already tell Mr. Bunson did not care for me any more than Mrs. Nelson, my bus driver, cared for me.

I wished I could start this school year over again, maybe with a different schedule, or in an entirely new location. High school was supposed to be better than middle school, but being a freshman sure didn’t feel like a step up. I was content to not stand out in any way for the rest of high school, as I was certain it would be easier to survive that way. For this reason, I was glad my friends and I had chickened out of our original plan to make an impression on our new teachers and fellow students…

Copyright 2014

To read this book, please stop by Amazon to purchase either the ebook, the print book, or both. The good news is that even though it’s the second book in the series, you don’t need to have read the first to make sense of this one, but you may find you want to anyway, just because it’s awesome.

And if you do, please review

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Interested in winning a copy of my ebook?  Click the link below.

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My Book Series is Going through Puberty

The May/June issue of Writer’s Digest is dedicated to those who write for children and teens, so I did my ill-coordinated happy dance when it arrived and jumped right in.  According to what I read, I’m right on the mark where I need to be, and since Writer’s Digest says I’m doing well, I’m certain others will soon figure this out about me too, and I’ll become a rich indie author.

Ok, but I am where I need to be, I think.

I felt like my book was homeless when I finished it, which is part of why I decided to forgo all the jumping through hoops in search of an agent who would then search for a publisher.  I figured my story didn’t really fit anywhere well, so it would have to do as I have always done, and non-conform, see who might pick up on it anyway.  But as it turns out, my book does fit as a piece of Middle-Grade literature.  Between that and Young Adult fiction, my story Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages falls into the middle, Middle-Grade that is. Yet somehow most of the readers I know of have been adults, and not necessarily all even female.  I guess I’ve told a timeless, possibly genderless, story. We’ve all gone through the tortures of middle school, right?  Also, I don’t often get feedback from that age group because they don’t really do that. I need to enlist the gatekeepers, their parents, teachers, aunts… My book fills the criteria properly, but I still need to reach them.

But even after checking on my word count and the appropriateness of my characters and content, I felt pleased.  But what of my soon-to-be-released sequel?  My middle schooler protagonist is moving up to high school, my word count is increasing, and some more serious issues will arise, though Drew always tries to keep it light.  So, now my series is moving into the Young Adult world. Will that make it hard to categorize my series? It’s moving from one age group to another.  I guess I hoped my readers could grow along with Drew, but is it an awkward change? Is my book series going through puberty?  Is that even allowed?  J.K. Rowling got away with it as everyone read about Harry and his buddies as they grew up.  This worked well for her, so here’s hoping (I would cross my fingers, but I already type slowly)

I plan to launch my sequel at the end of May.  I’m both excited and want to throw up.  I had no idea what I was doing the first time I self published my book, but now I’ve done a little more research and publicity, though all the free kind. Last time, I put the book on Kindle and then started telling people about it here and there.  This time I’m planning to shout it from as many rooftops (social media) as possible ahead of time, and to enlist my friends and fans to help.

I’m proud of my sequel.  My writing and content have matured and it’s more polished. I also think Drew, my semi-autobiographical protagonist, is a fun, interesting character.  In the same Writer’s Digest issue, I also read an article by Jacquelyn Mitchard on “Standout Series Characters” and I think Drew fits this concept:

“One of the most important characteristics of a character who’ll become part of a teen or a kid’s life for several years has a simple, relatable likability.”

Of course, I also read this gem about the fine balance of writing a sequel, a tedious task:

“One of the most difficult things in the word world is to write the second book in a series.  The challenge for a good writer is finding the balance– appealing to the reader who’s meeting these characters for the first time and making sure the reader who knows the character already isn’t utterly bored.”

I think I got it right, and soon readers will be able to confirm this for me.