Thursday, March 1, 2012

Miss Teen California

My little brother, Adam (who's 6’2, and apparently not so little anymore) said I needed to “juice up” my blog posts by adding pictures.  I disregarded the implication that my first post was dry, but leave it to brothers to tell it like it is.  However, since Adam was the first person to read Reflection, and the one person who continually motivated me to see the novel to its completion by constantly asking, “How’s Heather doing?” (Heather is the female love interest in Reflection), he gets a perpetual pass.

Furthermore, I’m taking his advice.  So, here’s my first pix:

This is the screensaver that has been on my computer for the past two years.  It’s Nick’s truck (Nick is the male love interest in Reflection).  Random how I got the pix:  We took the family to Wingers one night, and this blue, beater truck was in the parking lot.  It was the first time I’d seen a real-life replica of Nick’s truck.  I freaked out, snapped three pictures with my phone, and was convinced The Hat was eating wings 20 feet away from me!

Seriously though, characters can become that real-to-life!  I can’t tell you how many nights I had to tell them all to quit talking in my head so I could get some sleep!  No, I’m not crazy; I just have a very colorful and constant imagination.  

But let me back up and share how this book business began for me.

I’ve always loved to write.  In third grade I wrote the following poem:

The breezes and the wind
Go smoothly and sliding in
Sometimes the wind is very quiet
Sometimes it sounds like a herd of elephant’s riot
Oft’ the breeze is very moist
But that’s all Mother Nature’s choice
Even thought it isn’t showing
I still know the wind is blowing
(Courtesy of my 9 year old childhood scrapbook)

haha, I can't believe I used the word "moist"! 

I took a long leave from formal writing, and resumed my senior year of high school, when a unique opportunity fell into my lap. 

From my previous post, you may have gathered that my family wasn’t the most affluent.  Though funds were low, college was still a hopeful ambition; and scholarships were the most effective road to that end.

Which ultimately lead me to applying for the “Miss Teen California Scholarship Pageant”, then the title “Miss Teen California”, then a full ride scholarship to my college of choice (Brigham Young University), and finally, a 1990 jam-packed with pretty incredible experiences.  Here’s a throw back picture (for you Addy-ha):

This picture definitely dates me.  But if you went to high school in the 90’s, you’ll appreciate the puffy bangs.  And your thoughts, like mine, might roam to movies like Back to the Future and Pretty in Pink, or styles like acid wash jeans and parachute pants, while all the while humming the tune to “and it ain’t no lie, baby bye, bye, bye”.  Good times!!

But back to the Miss Teen thing.  With the title came a year of appearances, speaking engagements, and introductions to lots of neat people.  The year went fast, and when it was over I wanted to share it.

So began my first book: an autobiographical account of spotlight moments during my yearlong reign as Miss Teen California.  I completed the book a few years later and put it on the shelf, only to pull it off for my daughter and a few other readers.

My second book was a children’s picture book about a kind young princess whose beauty shined, not because her face was flawless, but because her heart was.  An artist friend drew the illustrations, and then we sent copies and queries to five different publishers.  The responses were all the same.  In a nutshell: authors must illustrate their own work, or send in words only and an illustrater is assigned by the publishing company.  Lame standard rule if you ask me, but whatever.  And that ended that.

Travel in time approx. ten years later.  I was in my bathroom one evening drying my hair in front of the mirror, and a scene popped into my head.  A spunky, unassuming girl locks herself out of her second floor apartment, and decides to scale the decks behind the building to get to her open back window.  Once there, she realizes she’s not strong enough to pull herself up and through the window, and finds herself dangling two stories high, utterly stuck.  The scene continues from there (excerpt taken from Reflection):

Right as I was about to consign myself to a bushy grave, a voice broke in, just loud enough to prick my ears, sending a pulse of shock waves underneath my skin. “So, what’s the plan from there?”
Automatically my leg flung toward the railing again, slipping right off, even more awkwardly than before. He’d witnessed the entire circus act, of this I was certain. My eyelids closed against the humiliation. Wishing with all my wish-power to disappear, I continued to dangle from the ledge, more irritated with the faint snicker from below than my slipping hands.
I wrinkled my nose. “I…I’m not sure.”
“That’s not like you. You have a solution for everything.”
Though as a general rule his words sent my lips upward, this time I grimaced with each one. I could picture him, that irresistible half smile, steadying the emotion on his face, entertained with his front row seat to my silliness. Without question he was massaging his chin and probably wondering why he bothered with such a senseless girl. But Miss Senseless continued to hang, kissing the stucco and grasping the windowsill for dear life.
“You are in big trouble!” I yelled so there would be no question he heard. By his response, he definitely heard.
He burst out, apparently unable to hold it in any longer. It wasn’t uncontrolled. To most it probably sounded like a small chuckle. I’d spent enough time with him to gather that he was, first, considerably amused with me, and second, too considerate to say what he was really thinking, Wouldn’t that be you in trouble?
“You have my keys!” I accused. “Thanks to you, I locked my door this morning.” I cleared my throat to indict him, but that only made me lose my grip even more, my arms burning and my hands now numb. And slipping rapidly. I resisted calling out for help as long as possible. Clearly, he would wait as long as it took.
Really, neither of my two options was more inviting—either fall to the ground and crash like an idiot or receive his help.
Very reluctantly, I elected for the latter.
“Okay,” I finally gave in. “I’m stuck.”
My comment thrust me into his eyes: watching a girl hanging two stories high, her head cocked back so the scrapes on her nose wouldn’t worsen, her legs flopping, lifeless. My laughter—though imperative at the moment to keep within certain bounds—came with more force than his. What was the use in trying to hold it in? I knew me well enough for that. So I let it flow.
“Come help me!” I squealed, leaning my head back in a fit of giggles. “I’m going to fall!”
He was already on his way. From the corner of my eye I watched the masculine grace of his movements as he climbed the balcony. He was on the deck in a blink—a natural athlete.
Too casually for the circumstance, I greeted, “Hi.”
He smiled slightly and then scratched his head in such a way that I knew the “Miss Senseless” thing was right on. “Hi,” he responded.
“Hi,” I repeated. And then we both laughed.
His lips settled in a smile, not the half-grin, bigger this time. But to see a genuine smile because of me—okay, at me, but still, it was worth it.

And there began Heather and Nick’s love story.  Although if you’ve read the book you know that that particular scene falls in the middle of the book, not in the beginning.

Thanks for letting me share how this world of Reflection was born, literally coming to life for me.  It lives and breathes and holds a significant part of my heart.  The characters are as vital and valid as any treasured possession of mine; often times more.  

I guess that’s why I was a bit disappointed when my quick but thorough glance through Wingers restaurant that night, left me wanting. 

Be that as it may, if you ever find yourself on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, and you come face to face with a tall, hot, rugged guy in a black and white baseball hat, don’t say I didn’t warn you! 

1 comment:

  1. Pretty sure I was the first one to read it. . . .