05 September 2014

Cat Anthology Blog Hop!

It's an exciting day, everyone! Today is the day for the Cat Anthology Blog Hop, organized by the awesome Kyra Lennon. I wasn't always a cat person, as you'll find out below. I decided to share a nonfiction piece about how my cat Gizmo came into my life. It certainly wasn't planned but a view it as a sort of intervention of fate. Enjoy!



The Cat Who Chose Us

            I had always been a dog person. My whole family, in fact. Growing up, our black Labrador, Angel, had been a constant presence in my life and the best friend you could have. She was always up for being my pillow when I wanted to read a book out in the front yard, and we’d spend our nights laughing as she howled a song or barked at my dad as they pretended to fight. When she passed away, it was heartbreaking. It was strange to have to live without her.
            When a few years had passed, we felt it was time for another pet. Especially after my parents divorced and my mom moved out, my sister and I felt that we needed something to liven things up, to fill the void that Angel had left and now seemed even larger. We started doing some research, trying to figure out what breed of dog we wanted and where we could get it. My dad was also on board, so the plan was in motion.
            I never expected anything to interrupt that plan. We were dog people, and we were going to get a dog.
            My sophomore year was coming to an end and I was just about the moodiest sixteen-year-old girl you’d ever meet. If I wasn’t on the computer writing elaborate fantasy novels, I was locked up in my room blasting music. In fact, my favorite band’s new CD had come out just a week before so I couldn’t really be bothered with anything else. You can imagine how annoyed I was when I heard an obnoxious banging.
            Since my dad didn’t feel like actually coming upstairs when he needed me, his usual method of getting my attention was to stand at the bottom of the stairs and bang on the wall. I flung open the door, letting the music continue to blare, while I glared down at my father wondering what the hell could possibly be important.
            “What?!” I asked.
            “Come see this!” was all he said, disappearing from the bottom of the stairs as he went back into the kitchen.
            I rolled my eyes, shut off the music, and went downstairs to see what all the fuss was about. Our kitchen had a glass sliding door that led out to the deck on the side of the house. Since it was mid-June, the glass door was open, letting the fresh air come in through the screen door. And sitting on the other side of the door, meowing his head off, was a cat.
This was after we fed him but before he officially moved in
            I’d never liked cats, but my first thought was that this one was pretty. It was black and white, with perfectly symmetrical markings on its face and a pink nose. It was small and skinny—not a kitten but not quite full grown, either. And it was meowing at us like it lived here and wanted in.
            In my mind, cats had always been horrible creatures. Sure, they look cute, but get too close and they’re bound to scratch or bite you. I just never understood people who liked cats. I was too afraid to actually go outside and try to interact with this cat, so I just watched him for a while before losing interest and running back up to my room to blast my music again. My dad and I both figured the cat would go back to where it came from. We didn’t know what to do about it, so we did nothing.
            The cat came back the next night. Where it went during the day, I had no idea, but our deck seemed to be its nighttime hangout spot. My sister was home so I showed her our strange new neighbor. We decided to be adventurous and went outside to meet this furry little creature, although we were both a little afraid to actually touch it. We didn’t want any wounds.
            It seemed harmless enough. The cat was friendly enough to let us pet it a few times, and we sat on the deck watching it chase moths. When it caught one between its paws, it would chomp down on the moth like it was a tasty snack. We laughed as the cat entertained us. I even dug into my hardly used art kit for some string so I could pull it around and watch the cat pounce on it. But eventually it got late, and once again we retreated inside, leaving the cat to do whatever it was it did when we left it.
One of his favorite spots--he used to be so little!
            The next day I figured out where the cat was living. It crawled out from under the grill like it had been living there its whole life. Now that I was finally seeing the cat in the daylight, it was very obvious that it was a boy. I had no idea how long he had been living under our grill. I just went outside to play with him again.
            More days passed and this cat was not leaving. We didn’t know what compelled him to stay. The warm glow of the kitchen, the shelter of the grill, the endless supply of moths to eat. Even though he had a flea collar around his neck, it didn’t seem like he had a home. Either he was lost, or as my dad suggested, his family probably dumped him on the side of the road and he just came to the closest house he could find.
            My sister and I eventually came to realize the cat was catching moths because he had nothing else to eat. We felt terrible for this cute little guy. My dad warned us, “If you feed him, he’ll never leave.” Well, he wasn’t leaving anyway, and he was hungry. We didn’t have any cat food, but we had tuna. We opened up a can and set it out for the cat, along with a dish of water. He dove right in, eager to be eating something that didn’t have wings.
            Doing something so simple was bigger than we even realized. By feeding this cat, we were claiming him. My family—the dog people, feeding a stray cat. Eventually letting that cat inside and naming him Gizmo. Letting him back outside so he could hunt mice and leave their organs as presents on our doorstep. And ultimately, letting him into our hearts.
            Our search for a dog ended when we let Gizmo in. We didn’t get to choose our pet because he chose us. To this day I have no idea where he came from, but I’m so glad he showed up when he did. I have a very different attitude toward cats now, and I couldn’t imagine life without my little man. Even though he’ll occasionally take a swipe at me, he’s always good for a snuggle. It’s been ten years, two moves, and several pounds (for both of us) later, but he’s just as cute, quirky, and lovable as the first time he meowed outside my door. 

About two weeks after we got Gizmo--we were already snuggle buddies
Ten years later--now we take selfies :)

03 September 2014

'Twas the Night Before PitchWars

It's that time again! The first Wednesday of the month is the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Check out Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog to learn more!

First Wed of Every Month

Before I get into it, let me spoil it by saying I did not get picked by a mentor for PitchWars. I didn't really expect to, but I'm not necessarily sorry I entered. I always get that feeling that my work isn't good enough, so why the hell did I let four people read it? That could be an entire IWSG post in itself, but I decided to have a little bit more fun with this one.

Knowing the PitchWars picks were being announced at midnight, I of course decided to stay up and find out. But as the night slowly (I mean, very slowly) crept toward that time, it got harder and harder to deal with the wait. So here was how I spent my night, trying to kill time and ignore all the anxiety and insecurity that was waiting to take over. Enjoy!

8:00: Watch the making of Frozen special on ABC. Why? What do you mean WHY? Haven’t you been here before?? Learn a lot of fascinating stuff and laugh hysterically at least once. Killed an entire hour! Only looked at PitchWars Twitter feed during commercial breaks, I swear.

9:00: Do my daily routine of exercises—crunches, lunges, squats, lifting weights, etc.  

Go back on laptop to find 33 new tweets on the PW feed. Eat some watermelon. Stalk the feed relentlessly.

9:30: Wash ALL the dishes! Except one. It needs to soak.

Look at the feed again. One mentor I submitted to is tweeting but I’m already certain she hasn’t picked me because she’s been tweeting hints for the past few days. It’s definitely not me.

Claw my way to the very back of the fridge & find a Yoplait chocolate whips yogurt. EPIC SUCCESS. See that it’s expired. EPIC FAILURE. Google if it’s safe to eat expired yogurt. Upon research and smell/taste test, decide to eat anyway. Still good.

Missed 13 new tweets during yogurt expedition. See fellow potential mentees are tweeting about how their MC met the love interest with #lovestory. Decide not to touch that one with a ten foot pole.

Step over very fat cat sprawled on the floor to use the bathroom. Forget where I left my glasses. Oh they're in front of the TV. Riiiiiiiiight. Cat is now sprawled across my notebook.

Remember I put a Gatorade in the freezer and should probably get it out so I can have a drink and not a popsicle.

10:00: Still two hours to go. Try not to have a panic attack, especially because I KNOW I'm not going to be picked. Still singing “Let it Go” to myself.

Try to ignore extreme thoughts of self-doubt. Well, no one I sent my book to actually read it, so NO ONE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD IS GOING TO READ IT. Who the hell is going to buy gay fiction written by a straight girl anyway? What the hell was I thinking?!

Self-doubt: 1. Sarah: 0.

Reread blog post from Monday for a good laugh and because I’m pretty sure Jordan doesn’t even know what anxiety is. No, wait! Yes he does, but he thinks it’s a good thing. He feeds on it—gets a rush from it. Try to channel his attitude—it doesn’t work.

Thinking there’s no way my manuscript is good enough to get picked and what the hell was I thinking by entering in the first place?!

You know, I really should have just started watching Frozen at 9:00. This would have killed so much time.

Open up new flat iron I bought earlier in the day since my old one died a horrible death. Wonder when the hell did flat irons get so skinny? New one is 1 ½ inches wide, the biggest one I could find and about ½ the size of my old one. I have a LOT of hair, people. Aint nobody got time for that. It’s quite spiffy, though. And pink! And comes with a stand!

10:20: Floss and brush teeth. Brush teeth while checking Twitter feed.

This happens: I see fiancé putting on socks. “You’re putting on socks?” “Yup.” “Aren’t you going to bed soon?” “……….Oh yeah.” He takes socks off.

Do ridiculous nighttime face washing routine. Come back. It’s only 10:34. Heavy sigh.

10:48: Fiancé goes to bed. I isolate myself with my laptop on our tiny corner table that is more junk pile than table at this point.

11:00 Tune in to Whiskey, Wine, & Writing, very thankful that they’re doing this show since it will kill a whole hour and be lots of fun.

12:00 Brenda Drake’s website crashes because of all of the views. Is anyone surprised? Blog finally goes up! I go through the list. Did I get picked? Nope. Did my beta reader get picked?? Nope. Ehhhh….oh wait, someone I talk to on Twitter got picked as an alternate! Yay? It’s the only joy I can hold onto, so let me have it, dammit!!!

12:26 Ok, seriously, time for bed. 

02 September 2014

LOVE UNDERCOVER Cover Reveal


Title: Love Undercover
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction (Sweet, Multicultural)
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Release Date: September 13, 2014
  


The last thing she expects is to fall in love with a prison guard…

Hotshot Secret Service Agent, Sarita Cerez is thrown into a medium security prison—for work. Her job is to protect the daughter of the president of South Korea. She never envisioned making friends with illegal immigrants or falling head over heels for one of the guards. Now the clandestine activity, which is integral to protecting her charge, may destroy her only chance at love.

He's never fraternized with the inmates—until he met her…

Matthew Carter always plays by the rules, which includes maintaining a strictly professional relationship with the inmates in his charge. But when Sarita saunters onto the unit, all bets are off. Her status as a deportee with a permanent ticket to Columbia means they can never be together, but try as he might, this doesn’t stop him from risking his career for her.

He's a man who values honesty above all else, and she lies for a living. Can two people from such different worlds find any common ground?






As inappropriate as the situation had turned out to be, Sarita was his. At least until she returned to Columbia in what? A few days? A week? No matter when, she would go. “No wife or girlfriend to hang out with.”
Her chest deflated with her released breath. He wished he could have taken her air into himself. I’m screwed. “What about you? Are you married or have a boyfriend waiting to break you out of here at the first opportunity?”
Her eyes blazed into his. “Single as single can be.”
The admission sparked something deep within him. He had to touch her. Nothing else mattered except having his fingers glide over her flawless mocha skin. The all-encompassing urge pushed him to stand.
With a controlled effort he strode to the area across from the television and leaned against the wall.
On every unit, one spot existed where neither the cameras nor inmates could see.
Management knew about it, but the cost of adding a third camera would be too expensive for the facility to contemplate so they left it. At least that’s the story Matt had been told.
He’d never used the spot, but as he waited for her to join him, he couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
He motioned her to him with a crook of his index finger. “Come here.”



Nana Prah is a multi-published author of contemporary, multicultural romance. Her books are sweet with a touch of spice. When she’s not writing she’s reading, indulging in chocolate, and enjoying life with friends and family.

Twitter: @NanaPrah
Goodreads: Nana Prah
Google + :  Nana Prah   




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01 September 2014

Jordan Takes Over, with Special Guest: ME!

Ok, ok, I take full blame for this one. When Heather M. Gardner asked for volunteers to pass on the Meet My Character Blog Tour to, I sort of jumped on board without even thinking. I soon realized the day I needed to post was also the first Monday of the month, which is of course the day I always let Jordan write a guest post. Uh oh. He wasn’t too happy. But in my defense, it is only my love and obsession for him that made me want to answer these character questions in the first place.

So I got to thinking—wouldn’t it be fun to have the blog tour AND Jordan’s post on the same day?! He didn’t share my enthusiasm, of course, but he’s going along with it. So we’re both going to be answering the questions! To minimize confusion, I’ll be typing in black and Jordan will be in blue.

Whoa, wait, what? Why do I have to be blue? I don’t want to be blue!
Ok, fine! I’ll be blue. There, happy?
Why can’t I be gray? Gray is my color. You know this.
Because my blog background is gray. You know this.
You think I pay attention to that shit? I just write my posts. I don’t worry about the details.
Can we start now?
I COULD BE RED.
No no no! You type in black, I’ll type in blue. There! Let’s get started now, ok?
So cranky…

First, business! I was nominated for the Meet My Character Blog tour by the awesome—
You call everyone awesome…
Shut up! Anyway…the AWESOME (deal with it) Heather M. Gardner!

~
Heather M. Gardner's love of books began on the hand-woven rugs of her small town library where her mother worked. There she had a never-ending supply of stories to read at her fingertips.

As a teen, her favorite genres to curl up with were romance and mysteries. When she started to create her own stories, they were the perfect fit.

Heather resides in New York with her best friend, who is also her husband, plus her talented and handsome son. She is currently owned by four stray cats.

Heather's a full-time mom, works part-time from home, a chocolate enthusiast, coffee junkie, cat addict, book hoarder and fluent in sarcasm.

Facebook Author Page: Heather Writes Romance
Twitter: @hmgardner
Goodreads: Heather M. Gardner
~

And now, for the questions! I apologize for any bickering or rambling that is about to happen. If you read the whole thing, you get a cupcake!
She's lying. There are no cupcakes. And if there were, I would have eaten them all. So there are no cupcakes.

1) What is the name of your character?  Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
  Full name?
If you must…
Ok! My main character is named…drumroll please…
From who? Me? I don’t think so.
*sigh* Jordan Mason Palmer! Although his middle name doesn’t come up in the book…
That’s because it’s STUPID.
Anyhoo, he’s a fictional character. 
That’s what she thinks.

2) When and where is the story set?
It takes place in modern day New York City. 
In the bedroom, mostly…
That’s not true!
Ok, on couches. And the kitchen.
I was trying to create juxtaposition between the busy city that the characters live in and their need to be isolated. So yes, it mostly takes place within the characters’ apartments. 

3) What should we know about him/her?
Where do I begin…?
Maybe I should handle this. Jordan is fifteen, pretty much lives alone because his mom is always working or…err…
She fucks her boss! 
Right, so for various reasons, she’s never home. But he’s ok with this. What’s unique about Jordan is that he’s always looking for something interesting—some way he can manipulate a person or play some kind of game where he is in complete control. He’s always looking for the next thrill. So for example, when the book starts, he’s trying to fail his math class just to see how long it takes the teacher to confront him. He’s kind of a borderline sociopath, honestly. 
     You left out the most important part!
     What?
     I like boys! 
Oh, I thought everyone knew that already. He’s a great singer, too! He likes walks in Central Park and people watching. And any kind of dessert, especially chocolate. 
     Are you telling people about me or trying to find me a date? 
      I'm not--
     Only cute boys need apply, thank you. 

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
My life doesn’t get messed up. I mess up other people’s lives.
What about when one of your friends punched you in the face? 
  That only messed up my complexion. 
Right, so, conflict! So when his teacher figures out his little game he calls Jordan’s mom, who, in her cluelessness (or maybe not…) hires a private tutor to keep him in line. What Jordan doesn’t expect is to get a huge crush on his new tutor, Tom. When he figures out that Tom is gay, he just has to find a way to get something to happen between them. But Tom is 28, so even when he admits to being attracted to Jordan, he refuses to do anything about it. 
Yeah, see, that’s where he fucked up. I don’t take refusal well. 
Since Jordan’s mind is constantly plotting, he comes up with a whole scheme that allows them to be physical but with specific boundaries. They start by just kissing and very gradually take it further. And it becomes a trade, really, where a kiss is worth something. Like, since Tom cooks—he makes Jordan dinner and then they make out for a while. 
You make it sound ridiculous when it was really GENIUS… 
The point is that the structure is always in place. Jordan gets whatever he wants and they get to be physical, but it’s still safe. 
You forgot to tell them that Tom is a pervert.
He’s an ephebophile. 
No one knows what that is! 
He’s exclusively attracted to a certain age group—like around 14-16. For obvious legal reasons, he’s repressed those desires but his guilt over feeling them has led him to become a recluse (besides doing his job). He agrees to Jordan’s game because it allows him to give in to those desires but with the strict boundaries in place, so it feels safe. Jordan controls every second of their relationship, which is what they both want, because Tom is afraid of losing control. AGH. Ok, I’m done. No wonder I had such a hard time summarizing this in a query…
Huh, what? Sorry, I fell asleep. 

5) What is the personal goal of the character?
Food and handjobs, mostly. 
     *glares* I’d say if you boil it down, his main goal is to be in constant control of the situation. Being able to manipulate someone who is nearly twice his age is a huge rush. But his more immediate goals are constantly changing as what he wants changes. The more he learns about Tom, the more he feels he can manipulate him and get what he wants. 
I wasn’t lying about the food…
I know you weren’t. 
He makes me pasta from scratch! And desserts! So many desserts…
The food is supposed to represent a hunger. First, a literal one for food because his mother has never been present in his life so he’s never had a home cooked meal or a cookie fresh out of the oven. Second, a sexual hunger, because he’s pretty much known that he’s gay since he was 8 years old but hasn’t been able to do anything with another guy until he meets Tom. And third is a hunger for life—something to be passionate about. He sees other people with their passions and he can’t fathom being able to care about something on that level, but that changes when he and his friend Eric start to explore their love of music. 
Whoa. That was deep. 
Thank you.
You didn’t tell them about the cupcakes! 
……..

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
     Phew, ok, this is an easy one. The title for this novel is Uneven Lines, and the only place to read about it at this point is here on my blog. 
     Because it’s ALL she ever talks about. 

7) When can we expect the book to be published?
     Probably never, at this rate…
     Oh, come on, I can be very persuasive. Just point me at the agents!
     Writing the query from the character's point of view is a big no-no.
     Who said I was going to write it? I was thinking something like bribery. Or seduction...

Well, there you have it! I'm sure I lost everyone somewhere along the way...Now to pass the tour along to three more people! And wooooooooo I finally have all three! Is anyone still looking at this post? Crickets? 


Crystal R. Martin

Crystal R. Martin is an as yet unpublished author. She enjoys living a creative life and hopes you will give her stories a read.

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Crystal Collier

Unleashing the dream world, one book at a time 

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S.E. Dee

Born in 1987, Hackney, London, Shay suffered a major mishap at the age of two when she came across a pencil and sheet of paper. Twenty odd years later, you could say the result from that encounter was having her right hand replaced with a Bic Pen - blue if she can help it. (Hence her Blue Bic Blog and matching @bluebicblog)

As a stay at home mum raising a crazier reincarnation of herself, Shay often delves into the world of Young Adult/Adult Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but when escapism is compulsory, she’s not afraid to pen the wEiRd either…

27 August 2014

Who Wants In?

Can't talk for long, I'm deep in the editing trenches, getting attacked on all sides by passive voice and a weak subplot!

So the high of entering Pitch Wars has mostly died down, since I'm about 99.99999999999999% sure that I'm not going to get picked by a mentor. We won't know for sure until the 3rd, but since I haven't gotten a request for a synopsis or more pages, I'm doubtful. But apparently there's a chance you can still get picked if one of the mentors feels strongly enough just reading the first chapter. *sigh* So I have no idea. I mean, I think my first chapter is good, but will anyone else?

Anyway, I'm still trying to edit as much as I can with this outlook in mind: if I did somehow get picked, what parts of my manuscript would I not want the mentor to see? *cough* sex scene *cough* So that's how I'm approaching it, as well as going through trying to fine tune the language--which mostly consists of trying to cut down on all of my uses of the word "was." This is the kind of thing I'm dealing with here:

Someone hand me my machete. It's a jungle of WAS!
Anyhoo, what I really need right now are some victims volunteers for the Meet My Character blog tour! It's super awesome. All you have to do is answer seven questions about your WIP's main character. Sounds fun, right? I'm obsessed with my characters so I was all over it. Check out Heather M. Gardner's post to see an example. And these are the seven questions you'd have to answer:

1) What is the name of your character?  Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
2) When and where is the story set?
3) What should we know about him/her?
4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
5) What is the personal goal of the character?
6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
7) When can we expect the book to be published?

Easy and fun, right? All I need are three volunteers to pass this along to, so let me know in the comments if you'd like to do it and I'll send you an email with the details. My post is this upcoming Monday, so you would do yours a week later (not that I'm strict about it--hell, do it whenever you want!). 

Oh, and since this post falls on the day that Jordan usually takes over, I'm going to be doing a joint post with him. I figured he wouldn't mind since I'd be answering all the questions about him, anyway. This could be a complete disaster, so make sure to come back and check it out! :)

And volunteer! I'll make you cupcakes! Ok, maybe not, since I can't email a cupcake, but you know...

25 August 2014

Hope Series Cover Reveal

**Before I get to the cover reveal...I'm going to attempt to poke a few people with a stick. Who wants to take place in an awesome blog hop that will ask you questions about your WIP's main character? Huh? Come on, you know you want to. I know you're just as obsessed with your characters as I am...I need three people to pass this along to, so if you'd like to join in, let me know in the comments and I'll contact you. I'll be here all week to bother you people so you might as well get it over with :)...All right, enough of this nonsense!**

Hope Series by Sydney Aaliyah Michelle
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Cover Designer: © Arijana Karčić, Cover It! Designs

Book #1
Title: Hope For Her
Author: Sydney Aaliyah Michelle
Series: Hope Series, Book #1
Publication Date: October 1st
Hope for Her (Hope Series Book #1)
What do you hope for?

No one ever expected much from him.

Joshua Elijah Griffin, IV is on his last chance. A stint in rehab and a transfer to a new school has scared him into putting his life on track. He’s determined to live up to his family’s expectations, but on the first day of class, Josh meets a girl. He knows his father won’t approve, but in Carrington, he sees a kindred spirit. He's willing to give up everything to be with her.

No one ever thought much of her.

Carrington Olivia Butler is ready to shine. Always in the background, she goes away to college to break out of her shell. Carrington wants to feel special. Josh's attention is exactly what she craves, but their intense and sometimes volatile relationship is more than she bargained for.
As their relationship progresses, Josh’s demons return, and Carrington’s feelings fade, but they aren’t ready to give up hope. They give their love one last shot to survive, but hope, may not be enough.

**This book contains adult subject matter. Not intended for young readers.**

Pre-Order Hope For Her:

Hope For Him ( Hope Series, Book #2 ): What do you hope for, now?
- Available December 2014
Hope For Us ( Hope Series #3 ): What do you hope for, still?
- Available February 2015
 
About The Author
Sydney Aaliyah Michelle is a New Adult Contemporary Romance writer, a voracious reader and movie fanatic. Sydney has been blogging at sydneyaaliyah.com for three years, where she interviews people about their tattoos, discusses her favorite movie quotes, reviews books (New Adult & only the ones she loves) and journals about her writing and editing process. Hails from Texas. After surviving 5 1/2 years living in China, she had the courage to finally pursue her passion and become a writer. Sydney’s self-published debut New Adult Novel Another New Life released June 2014. An active tweeter, she is also a JuNoWriMo (2x) and NaNoWriMo (2x) winner who notes the sci-fi action flick “The Matrix” as the best representation of her life in the past. She is blessed to be awake now and doing what she loves.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Hope For Her by Sydney Aaliyah Michelle

Hope For Her

by Sydney Aaliyah Michelle

Giveaway ends October 01, 2014. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

22 August 2014

Day 3 of the Freaky Name Coincidences

Last one, I swear...until something like this happens again...My brain doesn't seem to want to work today, so I'll try to make this short, and then go make a second cup of coffee.

What's in a Middle Name?

I've always given my characters middle names. It's one of those fun little facts that probably won't even show up in any book, but makes the character feel like a real person. So when I started writing Uneven Lines, I wanted to come up with middle names for my characters.

I actually came up with the middle name for the second most important character, Tom, first. Apart from also liking sexually ambiguous names, I also like names that can be shortened in different ways (I had a character named Drew in the fantasy book I used to work on, his first name actually being Andrew). I like to have the character's whole name--first, middle, and last--flow nicely together. I pulled "James" out of thin air for this character and I liked it. Not with Tom, obviously--too short--but with Thomas. Thomas James Callahan. I liked it. So I moved on.

It took me forever to come up with Jordan's middle name (you'd think he would just tell me, but nooooooo). I didn't want to settle for anything that didn't feel perfect. At some point I knew I wanted it to start with an M (it just felt right). I went through lists of boys' M names over and over and over again, trying to find the right one. Eventually I stumbled upon "Mason." I liked it--it seemed different, unique. I came up with an entire back story for why that would be his middle name--it was actually his grandfather's first name and would have been his first name if his mom didn't throw a fit (she was only 15 when he was born). She hates her family, so she hates her son's middle name. Will any of this be in the book? Of course not, but it's fun to come up with these little details. So now my main character had a full name: Jordan Mason Palmer.

You'd think that would be the end of it, but no, of course not. For a brief moment, I thought about their middle names at the same time. Wait a second, I thought...why does that sound so familiar?

I pulled up the IMDb app on my phone, and then literally facepalmed. Of course! James Mason. The actor! And what role do I know him best in...? Humbert Humbert in the film adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, one of my favorite novels of all time. And one giant source of inspiration for this particular novel I'm working on. My heart skipped a beat when I work-shopped the original short story and one of my classmates described it as a "gay, backwards Lolita." Plot-wise, of course--not meaning it was anywhere near as good as Lolita. At all. But anyway...

It happened again! Something weird about my character's names. As with the other freaky occurrences, I left the names the way they were. No one was ever going to know my character's middle names, anyway, and if they did, maybe they would notice and think I did it on purpose.

Yeah, right! I find the universe is usually more in control of things than I am.