Friday, January 13, 2012

Why I Loved John Grisham, Then Hated Him, And Now Love Him Again

Everybody knows who John Grisham is, right? If you said no, then please crawl out from under the rock where you've been hiding for the last fifteen years. For everyone else, please pay attention- this is very important.
The first book I ever read by John Grisham was A Time To Kill. Oh. My.God. I was simply blown away.
I could picture it all so clearly. I wept for little Tanya and her Daddy, and again for Roark's unrequited love for the Southern laww-yuuh. The story was brilliant, and original, and the action and drama kept me on the edge of my seat. I was 14 years old and I finished that book in two days of my family's summer vacation in Cape Cod. I was furious when my parents tried to drag me away from the book for sightseeing. I got incredibly excited when I was told it had been made into a Major Motion Picture and as soon as we returned from our vacation, I made my father run to the video store so we could watch it for family movie and pizza night. It was exactly like I had imagined it in my head (which is the first and last time that has ever happened with a book-to-movie translation).
I then made my mother take me to the library where I borrowed every John Grisham book they had and devoured them in a completely ravenous manner. I decided I was going to become an attorney and go to Tulane just like John Grisham. The Tulane dream held until Senior Year when I started narrowing down my college choices and I realized I really hate hot weather and Tulane was in Louisiana where it never drops below 150 degrees all year round. The lawyer dream lasted through my first week of college in Gettysburg, PA when I realized no way in heck was I going to make it through 7 years of THAT bullcrap!
Around the same time as my collegiate and career path disillusionment came about, I started getting really, really annoyed with John Grisham. How many legal thrillers can someone actually read, anyways? Same story, different characters. Even the covers of the books looked identical in one reprinting. I'd like to know who was responsible for that mishugina design choice! Anyways, I stopped reading his work, figuring the Curse of the Formula Writer had finally gotten him in its clutches for good. For many years, this was true, actually.
Then something wonderful happened. John Grisham woke up one morning and said, "Wow! Everything I've written for the past several years has been crap! What is wrong with me? I need to make a change, like, now!" That's how I like to imagine it happened, anyways. It may have been a more complicated financial decision based on falling book sales, or the death of his Editor, or some other horribly boring reason, but nonetheless, John Grisham wrote something truly unique and wonderful once more. A Painted House was published in 2001 and ended his 12 year legal thriller monopoly. One day in 2011, I experienced a series of unfortunate events, and was left facing an interminably long wait without something to read. I rushed into a nearby supermarket,  hoping for something to salvage the day, and John Grisham being the only author whose name I recognized amongst the bargain bin novels, I grabbed it with the full expectation that I was going to rue my choice. To my humble surprise, the book grabbed my attention, and I quickly realized that this was not another formula story. This, my friend, was the heart and soul of a phenomenal writer rediscovering what he loved about his job.
John Grisham has continued to writer legal thrillers, and I've read a few more of them since childhood, although none of his latest ones. These are the moneymakers, of course. The fact that he has broken away every now and then and written something surprising has completely redeemed him as an esteemed writer. This is my opinion, of course, many people never had a complaint to begin with, but I like knowing that John Grisham is a truly gifted artist, and the fact that he CAN still write an amazing, original story allows me to forgive him even when he doesn't!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dresta's Folly-Short Story for YA- Fantasy Fiction Category

Follow the link for the short story I wrote called "Dresta's Folly." It was a lot of fun to write and I hope you have just as much fun reading it!

And as always, feel free to leave thoughts, comments, or feedback :D

Update on March 15, 2012- I won the January 2012 Writing Challenge! Check out the Winner's Circle to read a copy of it :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Forgoing sleep for the intoxicating effects of writing

I was planning on going to bed about 2 hours ago. Then I opened my laptop. I checked facebook, email, other email, facebook again, then twitter, then a few blogs, then back to twitter, then a site advertising a fantasy/fiction short story contest. Of course I decided I was going to fool around with an idea for a story and see what I could come up with. A whirlwind ensued, and out came an 1,845 word short story about a Faerie who goes to a village to wreak havoc on the Humans, and instead encounters something much more frightening.
Of course, I am now so in love with my story, and so wound up that I just had to dance a crazy jig with my poor dog as an unwitting dance partner in the kitchen! I will post my story within the next week after I submit the final draft to the contest, and of course, post a link once it is opened for voting! Which is where you, the reader, comes in....
I hope you will love Destra as much as I have begun to, and can begin to imagine the hijinks she has gotten herself into now!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Excerpt 2 from The Sentinels, Work in Progress

Please feel free to leave comments, thoughts, feedback, etc.

The stimulus this time was the bark of one of the dogs. My eyes snapped open, and I crouched in the car shell, ready for action. The dogs had cornered a boy against the stack of cars I was on top of. They held him at bay while he looked around, desperate for a way out. A low whistle brought the dogs to a sit and wait position. I looked around and saw the source of the whistle. The owner, presumably, and two other men were coming at the boy, menace emanating off them, reeking of rancid oil, ammonia, and wet dog.

The boy started babbling. “Hey, it’s all a misunderstanding, see, if I could just explain…” He was terrified, but trying to act nonchalant. I didn’t have to smell him to know it. The lead thug advancing on him chuckled. He twirled the long metal pipe for emphasis and then pointed it at the boy. “You can? You hear that, boys? He can explain this little misunderstanding.” The two men with him chuckled too.

“I give you product, you move the product, you give me the money. Simple. Now you tell me the money is missing? Fine, give me back my product.”

The boy shook his head. “I can’t! Please, I told you. I was on my way to deliver it and some dude stole it!”

“Some dude stole it,” mocked one of the thugs in a baby voice. “Not our problem, maggot.”

“Yeah, we can just take it out of your hide.” Sneered the other one. “Since it got stolen.”

“I swear! C’mon guys, I wouldn’t do you like that! You gotta believe me!” The boy had dropped his cool as a cucumber act, and was flat out begging.

The thug holding the pipe began walking forward, twirling it faster. I figured I’d better make my move now. I slipped out the window area of the hollowed out car on the opposite side of where they were standing below and lightly dropped to the ground.

“Hey guys!” I trilled, walking around the stack of cars to stand by the boy. “What’s going on?”

They all looked at me in shock. The boy turned his head to stare, his eyes huge, and his dark skin still managing to look pale.

The owner stopped swinging the pipe. “Who the frig are you? How’d you get in here?” He looked at his dogs, who were wagging their tails at me; one whined a bit in his throat. He swore at them, and turned his attention back to me. “Listen, girlie, I’m not sure what you think you’re doing but this here is private property, and we got private business, so get moving.”

I nodded my head in agreement with him. “Sure, no problem. He’s coming with me though.” I nodded at the boy.

“Like hell he is!” one of the other thugs blustered.

“OK. Which one of you is going to stop me then?” I smiled sweetly. They looked at each other, confused, then smirking. Each of them had over a foot and a hundred pounds on me, not to mention their crude weapons. They were men; I was a slight teenage girl.

The boy looked at me like I was insane.  I smiled at him.  Turning my attention back to the men, I gave them the standard warning. “Leave now, and I’ll let you go unharmed. Stay, and fight me, and you will regret it.”

They stared at me, then looked at each other. I smelled indecision and confusion, anger and adrenaline. On some primal level, they recognized the truth in my words, but their conscious, ego-driven minds simply refused to acknowledge what their eyes saw before them as a threat. They hesitated, then laughed, and lunged forward.