Monthly Archives: September 2012

Freaky Friday, week 2: Sweet Insanity



Release day for Unforeseen! My vamps are flashing their fangs in paperback glory today, while I’m celebrating another Freaky Friday.

With the full moon upon us and lunatics popping up in every corner (or email, in my case), Jamie B. Musings is here make our heads spin even more. Jamie is writing about a blast from our pasts, the craziest moments in a book series many of us grew up reading. Enjoy!

Insanity at Sweet Valley High

Anyone who has followed my blog and read my social networks
knows that I am really into Sweet Valley High. It was one of my favorite book
series as a kid/teen. I’ll stop here a sec to let anyone who doesn’t know much
about it to pop on over to Wiki if they’d like to get a rundown. Ready? Great! 

I think the craziest plot ever to come out of a series
filled with crazy ones came around book #95: The jungle prom and evil twin
saga. What isn’t to love about it? Here are my five most insane (even for Sweet
Valley) moments:

1) Jessica spiking Elizabeth’s punch and then letting her
take the fall when things go horribly wrong. Okay, anyone who read the series
knows Jessica has some sociopathic tendencies, but still! How much lower can
you get than letting your own sister go down for something so horrible when you
were the one who did it?

2) Mr. and Mrs. Fowler get back together. Why on earth would
someone want to remarry the same guy who basically sent you packing and kept
you from your child for most of her life because you didn’t want to stay
married? Are all the parents in Sweet Valley on drugs? Something has to cause
that bad judgment, right?

3) Margo wanting to be Liz. I mean, really? Why on earth
would you want to be the prim and proper twin when your personality is more
along Jessica’s lines? Like people aren’t going to notice the change in attitude?

4) Margo just happens to look exactly like the twins. Of
course, she does! This series was basically the kid’s version of a daytime
soap. It actually makes sense in a world where one set of twins constantly
manages to get themselves targeted by killers on a regular basis, your mother
almost married the parent of one of your classmates and some strange woman who
has never actually met you can fool your own parent into thinking they’re you.

5) Finally… Ned and Alice are totally insane to not have
seen through Margo’s trick “business trip” much, much sooner than they did.

Blogger Bio:

Jamie B. Musings is a music addict, book lover, pet servant
& NaNoWriMo survivor. When she’s not busy writing posts for CultureShock,
she’s taking pictures for her new obsession (That Photo Blog) and spending time
with her husband and pets. Her first book, The Life and Times of No One in Particular was released in May 2012. She’s also an avid tweeter, new pintrest
convert and live posts shows and other things on Facebook.


Thanks, Jamie! Anyone else have a Sweet
memory? I’m pretty sure I read some of the Sweet Valley Twins series
first, since the SVH books were ‘too mature’.

Well, while Jamie’s been
tempting us to return to the books from our past, I’ve been over on her site
previewing the fantasy shows and movies returning to the screen this fall, in
hopes of recruiting a few more fans of cheesy, but fun fantasy. 

Happy Friday
and be sure to howl at the moon for me tomorrow night!



Filed under Uncategorized

First Friday: Loony Lists

As many of you know, Unforeseen, my debut novel (currently an e-book) is being released in paperback on September 28th. This happens to be the Friday before the full moon. As a fantasy writer, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use that to my advantage, so I’ve put together a blog tour for Fridays this fall.

theme: Freaky Fri
days. The posts: Well, basically anything goes, so long as it
relates a little to the idea of lunacy, full moons, characters/people acting
oddly, odd characters/people, etc.

Like last
time, I’ll post a blog on my site by a different writer each week, as well as a
link to a post I’ve written for my guest’s blog or website. So for my readers,
it’s double the freaky fun every Friday (for as long as I can twist people’s
arms into swapping!).

This week
I’m swapping with writer Kelly Johnson, the woman who earlier this summer had
me sharing my guilty pleasures with the world. Today she’s talking about a
topic near and dear to my odd heart: lunacy. Meanwhile, I’m griping about all
the things that drive me loony over on her blog, My Countless Lives. I think
you’ll enjoy the pairing!



Lunacy is the new

Though, technically, I
think it was the old normal, too. So, to revise (as we writers are wont to do):
Lunacy is normal.

All right, hold on. I’ve
gotten ahead of myself, so let’s rewind for a second and do this properly.

Hello everyone!

I’m very excited to be
hanging out over here with you today. Particularly since Lauren suggested
writing about lunacy – one of my very favorite topics. 

You see, I’m a little
crazy, but in a totally normal sort of way. Here are just a very few examples:

I talk to myself.
Frequently. All
the time, really. Occasionally, I manage to do so silently. But more often than
not my internal monologue isn’t all that internal. Taking this even further, I
don’t really trust people who say they don’t talk to themselves. If not even
you find yourself interesting enough to talk to, why should I?

I talk to fictional characters.

All. The. Time. Whether they be from books, movies, television or select songs,
I’m holding conversations. Now if I’m actually in a theater, I keep quiet. I
don’t want to be the person interrupting others’ conversation with themselves.
I’m not a jerk, you know. But in the comfort of my own home/car/friend’s house?
I’m gonna be chatty. Or yelling. Generally, if someone fictional has prompted
me to engage, it’s because they’re doing something I don’t think they should be
doing. It’s actually why I started writing. To get them to engage with me. And
guess what? They still do things I don’t think they should be doing.

I wave to the moon.
Full, waxing,
waning, or otherwise, if I can see the moon, I’m probably going to give it a
quick salute. This started when I was in college. When I’d get homesick, I’d
call my mother and she’d remind me that as long as we were looking at the same
moon, we couldn’t really be that far away from each other. So, now I wave to
the moon and that wave bounces off its luminescence and makes its way to my
parents. True story.

I dance in the office bathroom.
days, you just have to dance it out. There are just no other options. You all
know what I’m talking about. Particularly you, person shaking your head. So, I
wait until there’s no one else in the bathroom and give myself a one to two
minute dance break. Then I return to my desk and act like a grown-up. (Whatever
that means.)

I could go on for billions
and billions of words describing my personal lunacy (the Roomie would also like
to place the fact that I almost always read books in one sitting in contention
for the “reasons I’m loony” list).

And you know what? If you
met me, you’d probably think that I was pretty normal, if maybe a little geeky.
(Lauren, care to vouch for that?) You know why? Because you’re crazy too. Crazy
enough that I seem normal. Don’t worry. You can admit it here (and I ask that
you do so that I’m not all by my lonesome). You already know that I’m crazy
enough to make you seem normal. Because, to circle back, lunacy was, and
continues to be, normal.

We’re all nuts. It’s one
of the few absolutes I really believe in.

It was great being here
today! If my particular brand of crazy appeals to you, please come visit me
over at My Countless Lives. And
enjoy the rest of your Freaky Fridays!

A big
thanks to Kelly for being the first brave guest! And, yes, I will vouch for the fact that Kelly appears normal, more normal even than many other writers at these conferences. I might not have even gotten the geeky vibe, except that we met in the sci-fi/fantasy group, which tends to enshroud its members with an ‘unusual’ aura that keeps the other ‘kids’ from wanting to play with us. Definitely their loss!

Next week is full of musings:
I’ll be hosting Jamie B. Musing and will be visiting both her site and the book
blog Melissa’s Midnight Musings. In the meantime, I’m still looking for a few
more courageous (or freaky) souls to join the party; shoot me an email if
you’re interested.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Rest of Life, Writing

Being a Follower & a Leader


I’m joining a blogfest today, partly because it’s a great way to mingle with other bloggers and authors and partly because the required post was short! (Just keeping it real!) 

Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for hosting.

The directions:

One blogfest, four favorites!

List your favorite genre of:




And a guilty pleasure genre from any of the three categories!

Movie Genre: Lately, fantasy. Going by what I generally like to see in the theaters, I would have said action/suspense. But going by the films I’ve actually seen in theatres in the last year (Hunger Games, Breaking Dawn, Snow White and the Huntsman), I guess fantasy is more accurate.

Music genre: Alternative rock. In itself a varying genre, but I’m a lyric girl, and I find one thing that most alternative rock shares is great lyrics. To give a shout out to a friend’s band, I’m currently loving Ways to Fall.

Book genre: Here I can definitely say fantasy. Though I never would have read a book in this genre growing up, as an adult it has become by far my favorite. I love the escape, the world building, and the creativity of the many great authors out there. Thank you, J.K. Rowling for luring me in!

A guilty pleasure from one of these three categories: My Glee playlist. Though I haven’t watched much of the last season, I still love singing along loudly and poorly to those tunes from the first two seasons. If you are ever in central MA and drive by a crazy chick rocking out in her obnoxiously blue car to “Gold Digger,” say hello; it’s probably me.

Want to share your own favs? There’s still time to join in!


To have a little fall fun and to help promote the paperback release of my novel, Unforeseen on September 28th, the Friday before the full moon, I’m hosting a blog tour. If any of my fellow writers are interested, let me know and I’ll be sure to send you the information. For my readers, look forward to some freaky posts by some terrific writers or some terrific posts by some freaky writers–all the same, it’ll be good!


Filed under Writing

What Writers Do in Their Spare Time…

St. George vs. the Dobby

I’d like to launch yet another new blog feature entitled Find a Life Before Friday. In these posts I will offer advice to the people in my life and in the world at large on how they can prioritize the important things in life. 

For my first post I am
sharing my response to a letter I received from the
management group in charge of my condo complex. The letter, a
“warning” actually, informed me that my screen for my slider had come
off the runner and needed to be fixed. It also complained about my cat, which I
was supposed to inform them of, sitting on the balcony railing. It ended with a
stern warning: The violation(s) must be corrected immediately or you will be
fined and the item(s) removed by our staff.

The bold and underlining
is theirs. The laughter that followed was mine. Hopefully, my reply explains why:



Dear B. St. George,

I received your letter concerning my cat being on my balcony
and the request that I let you know about said cat. I have had the cat since I
moved in over eight years ago (prior to your management company taking over).
The management staff who actually work here on a daily basis have
known about the cat since I moved in. There is even a note with my keys at the
main office reminding staff who may need to enter the condo to be aware of her.
If they did not share this information with you, I’m terribly sorry and am glad
to inform you now.

As for the cat being on the balcony, I don’t see, according
to the rules and regulations document, how this violates the pet ordinance. As
required, she is indeed an indoor cat and has never been allowed in the common
areas. I am sure the balcony is considered part of my property, since 
I pay both property taxes and condo fees on the ridiculously small
square footage. Further, as it is a
fifteen foot drop from the railing to to the sharp gravel below, I assure you
the cat has never escaped. Despite what people say, cats do not actually have
nine lives. Mine, however, does have a nasty disposition and an aversion to
strangers, so, for the safety of everyone’s exposed flesh, I would advice
against having the staff attempt to remove her. Your namesake may have slain a
dragon, but you’ll never conquer the beast that is my cat.

The screen door, on the other hand, does look a little ghetto. I will gladly fix or remove it

Thanks so much,
Lauren Grimley

p.s. – You need to get a life. Please correct this violation
immediately before wasting another tree or brain cell on such piddling

**Sadly, I’m not the type of person to send this kind of email. Find a Life Before Friday was merely a writer’s means of venting and will therefore not likely appear as a regular blog feature…unless someone irritates me next Thursday, too. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed a little late week humor. As fun as this was, I think I’ll return to writing about my other favorite creatures with fangs.




Filed under The Rest of Life, Writing

Wise Word Wednesday: Quite the Contradictory Characters



Image from:

“Only by learning to live in harmony with your
contradictions can you keep it all afloat.” 
–Audre Lorde 

Yesterday morning I got dressed in what has become a very
typical outfit for me in the last couple years. My soft cream shirt had lace
trim and a bow at the back. My boots on the other hand were shit-kicking brown
Docs, and what hung from my earrings could only be described as metal spikes.
Now I’m not, nor ever have been, a fashion plate, but the outfit worked for me
for one reason: its contradictions created balance. The look was neither so
sickeningly sweet that I’d drown in my own cotton-candy flavored vomit, nor
edgy enough to leave me looking like a grunge fan who hadn’t realized the
nineties died shortly after Kurt Cobain. Whether the final product was
fashionable, I neither know nor care, but few could deny it was interesting. 

I was recently asked which characters I most enjoy writing.
My answer was those with the greatest contradictions, because, like my clothing
choices, I find them interesting. By contradictions, I don’t mean the flaws
that mar an otherwise good (i.e. boring) character, but the duplicities that
leave a reader shaking his head and nodding at the same time. When a writer can
take a character we think we know and have them act in a way that is both
surprising but also believable, that’s using contradiction to create interest.
That’s characterization perfected. 

One of my favorite characters to write is Sage, because he
is my main character’s sharpest critic but also her best and most honest ally.
(And no, I still don’t think she should have ended up with him romantically any
more than Harry should have ended up with Hermione. Move on, people.) But Sage
wasn’t always two-sided. When I first started writing, he was just another male
who thought he was superior to my heroine because of his size, strength, and
gift. In other words, he was to me, as he would have appeared to a character
like Alex who just met him. It wasn’t until later in the story (and later in my
writing process) that he revealed another side of himself. At that point he
changed from being fun to write, to being interesting to write (and, hopefully,
to read). 

I’m certainly not the first writer to discover that contradictions
make for the best characters. Nearly all truly memorable characters in
literature have at least one moment that turns the reader’s head. So how do we
do it as writers? Carefully. If done too soon, the reader may just be confused,
unsure of what is ‘normal’ for the character in question. If done too often,
you may create a character who appears unreliable or unrealistic. Your aim is
to turn heads, not to leave them spinning. 

My advice is to take the time to develop your characters. Be
sure of who they are and why they are that way. (Tread lightly on the why,
though, because it likely touches on backstory, which may or may not have a
place in your plot.) When you’re sure your reader is sure, then dig a little
deeper. Find what your characters have been hiding. Find the one person or
thing that can make them act outside of the norm. If it works within the story,
include it. The more subtly you can do this the better. I have a bad habit of
always having another character notice and often comment on the contradiction.
This is likely because I love writing characters who enjoy making others
squirm. For the reader’s sake, though, I know I’d often be better off not
pointing it out, so that the reader could come to their own conclusion and make
their own internal comment on it. I guess my willingness to give advice
contradicts my reluctance to take guidance from others or even myself. You
could say that makes me interesting. Then again, nearly everyone has
contradictions like these. 

Therein lies my point: real people are a bundle of
contradictions. Fictional characters are just authors’ images of ‘real people,’
sometimes exaggerated, sometimes understated, but, if done well, always
multi-faceted. If Monday through Friday I can be Mama Bear to my seventh graders,
calling them sweetie (this time of year, because I’ve yet to learn their names)
and smiling even when I want to scream, yet come Sunday turn into a screaming,
swearing football fan who loves the sound of crunching pads almost as much as
that of the fall leaves underfoot, than my characters certainly ought to have
their own contradictions. Contradictions in characters, as in ourselves, aren’t
two opposing forces pulling at one another; they are the differences within us that create the harmony between who we are and who we want to be.


Filed under Writing

Wise Word Wednesday: Twain on What I Ought to Tell Parents at Open House



First, an
explanation: For ten years and one week now I have taught in a school that
begins every morning with a quote of the day. These are sometimes
inspirational, sometimes educational, and sometimes downright corny. Yet, no
matter how many mornings I roll my eyes at the p.a. speaker, these quotes have
become part of my daily routine. I became so accustomed to them that last
summer I found myself missing them and actually downloaded an app for my phone
that would provide me a quote of the day even when I wasn’t teaching. (I have
never denied being a dork, so why start now?)

I began
starring the ones I really liked only to later wonder what the purpose was. I
never bothered to share those I liked with the secretaries at school who choose
the quotes, so what was I stashing them for? My little words of wisdom stayed
saved in my smart phone for my enjoyment only.

Tonight I’m
setting them free! I’m ending my selfish streak and sharing with the world (or
however many readers I still have after this post) my thoughts on the wise and
witty words of others. I won’t be overly ambitious and promise this will be a
weekly feature. We all know how well I do with weekly posts, but if nothing else
I may use them on weeks I skipped my regular blog and need a quick ready-made
topic to write about.

Feel free to
suggest a quote, throw in your two-cents on the chosen quote, or leave
suggestions for how I could otherwise get a life in the comments.


On the eve
of open house, I’m pondering Twain, who is attributed with saying,

“I never
let my schooling interfere with my education.”

Tomorrow night is my
curriculum night, a chance for teachers to explain to parents what they hope
students will learn in their classrooms that year. Like I’ve done for the last
decade, I will stand up in front of the parents of my students and pontificate
about the importance of the proper use of possessives, I will defend the
teaching of direct objects, and I will implore them to get their kids to read

I will only be telling
them half the truth. Because Twain had it right: the most important things I
can attempt to teach my students, the most important things they can learn on their own,
are not in any state standard or text book.

As an English teacher and
author, I suppose I owe some credit to Miss Kent and her cursed Warner’s
grammar text, but who I am and how I got here had more to do with the people
and events in my life than any fact or skill I ever learned. I think I first
really grasped this when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I spent the
entire fall of senior year sitting in classrooms grinding my teeth in contempt
for teachers who seemed to think that their subjects were the most important
things I’d learn that year, when what I was really learning about was the
importance of family, friends, faith, and strength. Of course, I was seeing
things then through the eyes of a scared, angry teenager.

Now, I’m that teacher who
often has to act like my subject is all-important, while knowing that many of my students have much heavier matters than plurals
to deal with in their lives. Last year this hit home again when my seventh
graders suddenly and unexpectedly lost a classmate to an illness. No one attempted
to teach those first couple days, but eventually we were asked to return to
normal routines, despite the fact that few were learning anything we were
teaching. I was more than okay with that, because, though it was the hardest
way they could possibly learn it, our students learned more lessons last spring
than any class before them. They learned that adults don’t always have the
answers. They learned that it is okay, at any age, to cry. They learned the
importance of supporting each other. And eventually they learned that it is acceptable, healthy even, to laugh again after such tragedy.

I never want any kid to
have to learn such lessons so tragically or so soon, but I also never want to
pretend that what I have to teach could ever compare with such lessons. So I
will champion the value of literacy tomorrow night, and I’ll mean what I say
about being passionate about writing and literature, but I also know I’ll only
be telling half the story. What I really wish for my students to learn, they’ll
need to discover on their own through their successes, failures, adventures,
and, unfortunately, their tragedies. My real job this and any year is to school them without getting too much in the way of their real education.


Filed under Teaching

Feet in the Future, Books in the Past




image from:

Yesterday I spent the better part of the afternoon
completing an interview for an online magazine to help promote me and my
writing. Since they have a technology focus, one of the questions asked how
technology and e-publishing has changed how I write. After checking the mirror
for crow’s feet, I explained that I’m young enough that beyond my elementary
school days of journaling in blue books, technology has always been a part of
my writing. I’m not denying that it has progressed tremendously since the days
of floppy disks, but since it’s always been there in some form or another, its
evolution never fazed me. In some ways the technology has grown up right along
side my generation; as we sophisticated, so did it. 

E-publishing is a different story, though. It’s new, even to
my generation. Reading books that aren’t physical books at all, but digital
files on an electronic device is a change. People don’t like change. When it
comes to politicians, bad habits, or anything else that grates their nerves,
they may say, “It’s time for a change.” What they mean, though, is that it’s
time to fix what we currently have. Younger readers may be more likely to
embrace ebooks, but many readers will tell you that their paper books will have
to be pried from their cold dead hands. This reluctance is understandable and
forgivable. We can choose what books we read. We should also be able to choose
how we read them. Besides, who doesn’t love the smell of a book?

The stigma of e-publishing goes beyond the disdain for
e-readers, though. There is a belief that works only published electronically
are of lesser quality and value. There is some legitimacy to this argument.
With self-publishing as easy as clicking a couple of buttons, there are some
truly horrid ebooks out there. When I see an ebook on Amazon that has spelling
and grammatical errors in the blurb, I cringe, not just out of embarrassment
for the writer, but because it makes all ebook authors look bad. I want to
email them and beg them to do the rest of us a favor by hiring an editor. 

However, just because many authors of ebooks went with an e-publisher or
self-published because they weren’t picked up by a ‘big six’ publisher, doesn’t
necessarily mean that their work is of lower quality or less entertaining. It
might be that the market they wrote for was over-saturated, for instance if
they wrote yet another vampire series. Silly writer. Or it could be that the
book was great, but that the author never managed to nail the query. Trust me,
it’s a very different type of writing. Or maybe they just became impatient and
wanted the control of publishing their own piece. There’s a lot to be said for
the freedom of choosing one’s own cover. The point is, ebooks are just that,
books. Some people will like some ebooks, others won’t, just the way some
people will like some print books, while others won’t. Check out the Amazon
reviews of your favorite book, if there are more than ten, chances are at least
one reviewer hated it. Does that mean it’s a bad book? Does that mean all print
books suck?

My defense of ebooks may sound a bit disingenuous
considering the joy with which I announced earlier this week that my own book, Unforeseen, is going to be released in paperback. In reality, it was that joy that made me
realize they needed defending. As an author of an ebook, I’ve spent the last
four months apologizing to people who didn’t have e-readers and don’t like
reading on the computer, as if it were my fault. Worse, whenever I or someone
else mentioned I had recently published a book, I almost always qualified it by
adding, “It’s only an ebook.” Granted, these were my issues of doubt and lack
of confidence, but they were rooted in the fact that there are still plenty of
people who don’t see writers of ebooks as legitimate authors.

Having my book in paperback will make it more accessible to
readers who’ve yet to embrace the new reading technology. It won’t change the
book. It won’t fix any of its flaws. It won’t alter the style or quality of
writing. It won’t make it any more or less entertaining. Why then will it make
me more of an author in many people’s eyes (my own included, apparently)?
Because of a few bad apples who didn’t bother to spell-check before hitting the
send button on their self-published pieces? Because of the snobbery of some
major publications that don’t include ebooks in their best seller lists (NY
Times didn’t start until last year)? Or is it just because technology has moved
too quickly for the collective mindset to keep up with?

I’m guessing it’s a little of each. The old-school part of
me can’t wait to hold a copy of my book in my hands. The snobby part of me
agrees with the dreamer in me who can’t wait to have a book I’ve written picked
up by one of the ‘big six.’ But the rest of me knows a book is a book, published
is published, and dreams come true in all shapes, sizes, and, these days,

Fun facts related to this topic:

  • One in
    ten Americans now own an e-reader.
  • Ebook
    sales outstripped hardcovers earlier this year, but have yet to earn more
    than paperbacks.
  • To clear up
    a reference, the ‘big six’ New York publishers
    are: Hatchette Book Group, Harper
    Collins, Macmillan, Penguin Group, Random House, and Simon & Schuster.
    Along with their imprints they account for over sixty percent of all books
    sold in the US. Five of them, along with Apple, were investigated for
    price-fixing in the ebook market.
  • Personally,
    I haven’t read a paper book (aside from those I teach, and those only
    because of needing page references) since I bought a Kindle over three
    years ago, yet…
  • I hand
    write my rough drafts, but only of my creative writing. I blog and write
    academic pieces straight to the screen. Can’t really explain why. Just do. 

  • My
    cousin read my book on her phone and informs me it was 6,652 tiny little
    pages. That is determination, dedication, and heart-warming family loyalty
    right there! I’m sure she was thrilled to learn that if she had just waited a while longer she could have saved herself the carpal tunnel in her thumbs.


Filed under Writing