Character Chat — Emma

Guest blogger is Emma Morgan, a character from my novel, DEATH BY GRAMMY

 

Hello everyone,

I’m the third member of the character ensemble from DEATH BY GRAMMY. The story centers around Nan, with Loralee and me as her sidekicks. As Lor said last week, they’ve been friends since junior high. I met Nan when she and I were freshmen at the University of Tennessee and going through sorority rush. We pledged the same sorority, did some finagling so we could be roommates, and have been tight ever since. Loralee wasn’t at UT–at least not as a student. She was there plenty on the weekends.

Unlike my two friends who are both only children, I’m from a large Catholic family. I am the oldest girl of six siblings. One of my three brothers is older. My ancestors practically came over on the boat and settled in Nashville. I’m a ninth or tenth generation Nashvillian; the family can’t agree on which. My dad and his older brother still run the family business which was founded around 18oo.

They could’ve modeled Suzy Homemaker after my mom. She’s a fantastic cook, sews like a dream, and has more cleaning tips than Heloise. In addition she volunteers all over town in her spare time. I’ve yet to figure out how she does it. She had a really bad spell of depression when I was in college and sometimes I’m afraid I’ve inherited that. Thankfully she survived it and I’m sure I will too. She was a good mom but she’s a great grandmother. Counting my two girls she has eleven grandchildren and all but three are here in Nashville. I have one sister who just got married last year so she doesn’t have children yet, and my youngest brother is still single.

I met Josh when I was in graduate school at Vanderbilt and he was a first year law student. We’ve been married almost ten years and have two beautiful daughters.  Amelia Grace is seven and Abigail Rose is five. It’s difficult being a mom. You want your children to grow up and be independent but when they don’t think they need you anymore, it feels like they’ve plunged a dagger through your heart.

It’s also tough being a wife when your husband works the kind of hours Josh does as an Assistant District Attorney. I don’t think Nan and Loralee really understand my situation since neither of them has ever been married nor had children. They’re the godmothers to our girls, so that makes them a part of our family but I’d really like for both of them to find someone special, settle down and start their own families. I think it would deepen our relationships if we had this in common.

I’ll log off now that you know me a little better. Nan will be back next week.

Blessings,

Emma

 

RIP Sally Ride

 

Sally Ride died yesterday after a seventeen-month struggle with pancreatic cancer, the same cancer to which Steve Jobs and Patrick Swayze succumbed.

Ms. Ride was sixty-one years old. At thirty-two, in 1983, she became America’s first woman in space, and was launched on the Space Shuttle Challenger twice within a year. With these journeys, this young NASA astronaut inspired a whole generation of young women to dream big and not accept traditional roles if their souls cried for something more.

What an exciting life she led. According to multiple newspaper and web sources she was:

  • in the first NASA class to include women (Over 8,000 applicants)
  • the first American woman in space
  • the  youngest American in space (at 32)
  • in charge of NASA’s long-range and strategic planning
  • the first director of NASA’s Office of Exploration
  • on the team to investigate the 1986 Challenger explosion
  • a university professor (University of California – San Diego)
  • the Director of the California Space Institute
  • the founder a company — Sally Ride Science to develop and create science programs for schools with a focus on girls
  • the author of several books

 

In addition, she held four degrees from Stanford (bachelors in English and a bachelors, masters and Ph.D. in Physics.

And these were just some of her accomplishments. I can’t imagine how much determination, energy and courage it must have taken to reach these milestones. BUT…her relationship of twenty-seven years with another woman was not revealed until her obituary and according to Ms Ride’s sister, she preferred to keep that information private during her life.

Why? Where was her courage there? Could she not have been a role model in this arena as well? I can’t imagine anyone who could have moved gay rights forward more than Sally Ride.

On the one hand, she encouraged young girls to step outside the box and go after what they wanted even if it wasn’t a traditional woman’s job (astronaut). Yet, she kept her long-term partner a secret until she died. And why then? While I respect her right to privacy, what kind of message does that send to these same young girls? Courage is limited? I’m afraid her failure to reveal her sexual preference and use it as a platform will keep others from being true to their authentic selves.

I’m still digesting this and I’m purposefully posting before talking to my lesbian friends to see if they feel betrayed. It’s entirely possible I’m reacting more strongly than they have or will. Thoughts?

Sally Ride obviously dreamed big. Her example has encouraged countless others to do the same. So, whatever you do … DREAM BIG. Then look up at the night sky and see if you can see the stars (and Sally) smiling.

RIP Sally Ride.

~ Kay

Character Chat — Loralee

Guest blogger is Loralee Anderson, character from my novel, DEATH BY GRAMMY

 

Hey y’all,

It’s about time Kay let us blog again. Seriously. Who’d she think she was cutting us off like that?  With no warning. I know y’all were mighty disappointed when we quit posting. I bet you even left comments and she somehow deleted them. But, Nan said I can’t say anything negative or we might get censured again so that subject is taboo. The important thing is we’re back.

In case you’re new since Nan and Emma and I used to guest post a long time ago, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. I’m Nan’s best friend. (Remember Nan? She blogged last week.) Anyways, me and her have been joined at the hip since 7th grade when I transferred to Franklin Road Academy where she’d went since kindergarten. I’d lived in Texas ’til then, but my Momma and Daddy got a nasty divorce and Momma jerked me up and moved me to Tennessee to live closer to her kin folks. Emma went to a fancier private school and we didn’t know her ’til college. But she can tell you ’bout that next week.

That first day I was FRA, Nan came right up to me and introduced herself and said she’d be my friend. I loved her from that moment on ’cause she showed spunk. I was at least a foot taller than her; she hadn’t hit her growth spurt yet–never hit it too much. Emma never got hers at all, tiny little thing. Anyways, we bonded like paper and glue and I ended up spending more nights at her house than my own. Her and her parents made me feel like family. I even lived with them our senior year when my mama got a wild hair and followed another one of her soul mates she met online up to Kentucky. You can probably guess how that worked out.

I’m a country music singer and I’m damned good, if I do say so myself. Oops. Not supposed to curse on here. I’m darned good. I have a day job that pays the rent, but music is my passion. I ain’t had my big break–yet–but I play gigs around town and am getting exposure. In Nashville, that’s saying something. I’m on the verge of something big. I can just feel it.

Nan’s in a pickle ’cause somebody (not Nan, that’s for sure) has done clobbered that no-good ex-boyfriend of hers with one of his own doggone Grammy Awards and he went and died from it. A Grammy ain’t much bigger than a biscuit–hard to believe it was a murder weapon, but it was. His timing was piss-poor (as always) ’cause Nan’s the one who done found him. Of course, she called 911. Now, would she have gone and done that if she’d killed him? NO, duh! But the cops don’t seem to get that. They don’t act like the ones on Law and Order, that’s for sure. They even had the balls to take her downtown for questioning, but she’s got so many lawyer friends she was out of there so fast it’d make your head swim.

Well, I can’t give away too much of the story so I better go ahead and end this post. I don’t think I said too much that could get me in trouble. But if I did, I’m counting on you guys to save me with your comments. I like this blogging gig.

Emma will be here next week.

~Loralee

 

 

Blogvel * Bloom * Chapter 7

Today I’m adding Chapter 7 to BLOOM, a fantasy-type story. If you want to read the first six chapters (each written by a different author and posted on his or her blog) go here.

This round-robin writing project was started by Michelle Simkins over at Agent Query Connect. She wrote the first chapter and will write the last chapter. Her debut project was last summer, a blogvel called Skeleton Key. Without further ado, here’s my chapter:

 

BLOOM

Chapter Seven

Deafening silence woke me up. My eyes were closed, but I was wide-awake. Where was I? Not in my bed. It was too hard. The ground? No. I was on a bench of some sort.

Afraid to open my eyes until I had an idea of what was going on, I listened. Nothing. I remembered melodic swaying of the leaves. The leaves! How could I have forgotten? It took every ounce of will power I possessed to remain still, especially since I’d begun to itch like I had the measles or something.

Concentrate, Jessica. Think! The last thing I remembered Gran had passed out—or something—and I thought I saw Mom standing in the door. No doubt about it, I’d be on the next train to the loony farm. I just hope they don’t grow plants there.

If I’m gonna be crazy I might as well go all out. I dreamed I saw Jamie. He was watching me sleep and was really sorry he’d been so crappy to me and Gran. And he should be. We don’t care if he’s a genius, evil or otherwise, we’d just like for him to come home every once in a while.

All of this must have been a dream. But, where the heck was I?

I let my eyes creep open and I looked around. Couldn’t see much from this position. I slowly sat up and it seemed I was alone. The room resembled a church with pews, an altar and even a choir loft, but the ceiling was drooping, like the top of a tent with too much water on it. And the pews were getting all squishy. Ewww. Except for where I sat. It was still firm.

I ran my fingernail across the back of the seat and you won’t believe what I found. Well, by now you probably would. The pew was really a plant. In fact, it looked like the whole building was a giant tree or something. The limbs just made it seem like a structure. But that didn’t explain the pews…or the altar.

Whatever it was made from, it must have had some poison oak mixed in, ’cause I was itching like the dickens. I scratched my hand and my skin peeled away like I’d gotten a bad sunburn. I brushed the skin off my arms, my legs, my face and neck—every place I could reach. Underneath was a layer of gold. It wasn’t hard, like the Tin Man on the Wizard of Oz, but flesh-feeling gold, a metallic color. If it hadn’t had a sheen, I might could have passed it off as too much time in the tanning bed. Except anybody who knew me knew I was way too smart to get in one of those things.

I scratched my head and found my hair was matted, like it hadn’t been washed in a month. I reached back and pulled out the scrunchy, then ran my fingers through it, best I could. It was a tangled mess. I looked for my backpack—I had a comb in there—but it was nowhere to be found. I pulled the ends around. Instead of blond, sort of the color of honey, my hair was pink…and blue…and green…and silver, but not gold. I guess that was something. I probably wouldn’t look out of place in a big city like Seattle, but here—

“Jessica?”

My head snapped around. Standing under the sagging entrance of the chapel was the most gorgeous girl I’d ever seen—like one of those Bond girls in the James Bond movies. Even in green camo’s, I could tell she had a perfect figure. Red ringlets hung to her shoulders and her flawless skin made me that much more conscious of mine.

“You are Jessica, aren’t you?”

“Uh…yeah. Who are you?”

“I’m Wanda. Jamie’s girlfriend.”

That was when I knew I must be on drugs or something. Maybe the plants had LSD in them. I could accept my skin flaking off and turning gold and even my hair changing colors, but Jamie having a girlfriend who looked like this? No way.

“Really, who are you?”

“Really. I’m Jamie’s girlfriend. We work together at TS Labs.”

You’re a scientist?” It came out all sexist-like, but she sure didn’t look like any scientist I’d ever seen on PBS.

“Yep. I’m a card-carrying scientist.”

When she smiled all I could think about were toothpaste commercials.

“Why’re you here?”

“Jamie was concerned about the soil sample you sent, and I drove him up here to check on you and your grandmother. I was talking to him on the phone and the call dropped. Now everything goes straight to his voice mail. He wouldn’t turn off his phone. Not with me at the hotel. The GPS says he was here when we were disconnected. Have you seen him?”

Jessica shook her head.

Wanda walked into the room and the top of the door collapsed behind her. She didn’t seem to notice. That whole side of the room was turning brown and shriveling up, like it was dying.

“Are you okay?” she asked. “Jamie never told me you were so…so—”

“So gold?” I finished for her. “I’m not. And for the record, my hair’s usually only one color. It’s these plants.”

“Do you know what’s going on?”

“No, but I think we should get out of here.”

The brown was creeping toward us. Actually, it seemed to be chasing us. I didn’t know who this chick was, but I grabbed her wrist and ran. “Come on. We’ve got to go.”

We made it outside as the building tumbled to the ground. That got her attention.

All of the plants that had been been made of colorful tin the last time I’d seen them now drooped.  It looked like the color and the life had been sucked out of their roots.They seemed to point toward the path leading to the clearing by the river. What the heck?

“I think we should go this way,” I nodded toward the clearing. It was the way home.

“My jeep’s this way,” she countered. “I think we should get the hell out of here.”

*

It was a calculated risk, involving the sister. But all’s fair in love and war…or so they say.

When she was hired at Top Secret Lab, Wanda had her mission. She knew the stakes. And she was a professional—the best of the best.

Seducing Jamie had been easy. Falling for him, she hadn’t counted on. But, oh the benefits had been plentiful. She was back on track and the mission was on. Damn it.

If only she hadn’t met his parents in New Mexico.

 

Chapter Eight will be on Kacy Vanderkarr’s blog next Monday, July 23rd.

Character Chat – Nan

Guest blogger: Nan Macomb, a character from Death by Grammy

Hi there,

If you’re new to Kay’s blog you probably don’t know me, but I’m sure the old-timers will remember the good old days when Loralee, Emma and I took turns blogging on Fridays. Then Kay decided to do a rewrite or she got mad about something one of us said (not sure which, she can be passive aggressive) and pulled us from the blog. Just like that. No warning or anything.

Well, she finished the rewrite, spent forever editing it, ran it by her critique group, then started that archaic practice of querying. And what do you know! She found an agent. And said agent perused the website and strongly suggested she invite us to post again. We considered saying, “no,” but we’re not spiteful people and, after all, she did create us, so…we’re back!

I’m Nan and I’m the star main character in DEATH BY GRAMMY which, by the way, used to be called Murder on Music Row. She changed the title because this other dude, Stuart Dill, named his book Murder on Music Row-A Music Industry Thriller. Well, we can tell you we weren’t thrilled because it meant we’d need to change our title lest people confuse the two. We read the book and it is indeed a music industry thriller but–get this–the victim wasn’t even murdered ON Music Row. He was shot at the Grand Ole Opry and died later at Vanderbilt Hospital. Now that really got us up in arms, but we’ve decided we like our new title even better. Kay’s youngest godson calls her Grammy so there’s a little double entendre going on. And here’s a piece of irony. Kay went to college (in another state) with Mr. Dill’s brother. He was president of their freshman class; she was vice-president. Small world.

Well, back to our book. My ex-boyfriend, Randy, a big-wig music producer, was killed. I’ll tell you up front. I didn’t kill him, but unfortunately the police and his wife aren’t so sure. Yep, he was married—thus the ex—boyfriend part. Things weren’t looking so hot for me, so I asked my two BFF’s to help prove my innocence and maybe even find the real killer.

Randy and I had been seeing each other for about two years before all this mess. Now, I want to go on the record as saying I did not know he was married when we started dating. Really, I didn’t. And by the time I found out, he already had me under his spell. Fool that I am I believed he’d leave his wife and love me forever—just like he said. Then one of my clients (I’m a hair stylist) told me she’d heard that Amy (that’s his wife) was pregnant. Let me tell you, I went major league ballistic. I called him names that would to this day get my mouth washed out with soap, and I’m thirty-five years old! Lucky for me neither my mother nor my grandmother was within hearing distance.

Well, I’m not supposed to tell too much of the story, but I haven’t told you anything that you wouldn’t find out in the first couple of chapters. My two best friends, other characters from DEATH BY GRAMMY will alternate weeks with me for this guest blogging spot so you’ll see one of them next week. Until my next turn…

~ Nan

I have an agent

I’ve been sitting on this news for about three weeks, but… The contract has been negotiated. The paperwork was signed. The deal is done! Heck, my agent has even finished her edits and editorial notes and sent them back to me. She is one sharp cookie! Who is she? Sara D’Emic at Talcott Notch Literary Services and I am smitten.

I started sending queries in mid June and had gotten a few nibbles. Sara requested the full and I’d told no one, not even Hubby and I never seldom keep secrets from him.

Remember the post when I had the revolving door of out-of-town girlfriends visiting? As we were preparing to go to Miss Scarlett’s tearoom for lunch, I quickly checked my e-mail and there it was–an e-mail from Sara. My first thought was, Perfect timing. I’m surrounded by friends so the rejection won’t sting as much. Being with my friends will cheer me up.  What is it about authors that make us automatically think we’re going to be rejected? Experience? Statistics? Our sense of gloom and doom? All of the above.

Anyway, as you’ve no doubt figured, the e-mail wasn’t a rejection but a request to set up a call to talk about representation. THEN, as things often happen when all’s right in the Universe, later that afternoon, I got a second offer.

The good news was I had a choice. The bad news was I had to pick between two agents, either one of whom I’d have been delighted to work with. Did I flip a coin? No way! I meticulously made pros and cons lists then did what I counsel others to do when making a major decision. I went with my gut.

So, I let Sara know. We worked out a few contract details and made it official. Cool, huh? Now, while I work on the next book she’ll look for the right publisher for this one.

In the meantime, I’m going to let Nan, Loralee, and Emma, characters from DEATH BY GRAMMY (formerly Murder on Music Row) blog again. I’ll monitor their posts, especially Loralee’s, but you can look for them on Fridays.

Yep! I’m adjusting my blogging schedule again. I’ll post on Monday or Tuesday and one of the characters will post on Friday. Things are rocking and rolling in Elamland.

~Kay

What a week!

I’m sure the fourth of July week was special for many of you, but unless you won the lottery you couldn’t top my week. I’m not sure even that would beat it. Of course, it’s not a contest!

First, by the end of the week all three of my husband’s sons, our two daughters-in-law and our grandson were home. Need I say more?

On July 3, Hubby and I went to a minor league baseball game (Nashville Sounds) with his middle son (the Marine) and his family. Because we are in the middle of the hottest weather ever felt by Nashville (literally–I’m serious), we ditched our seats and spent the whole game in the air conditioned comfort of the restaurant right above the batter’s box. The baby flirted with everyone near our table and at times was more popular than the game. I had mentioned to an account executive for the Sounds that our son was home from Afghanistan and she insisted we take her personal seats (very good seats, I will add) to the game. She also put a welcome home message to him on the giant message board for everyone to see at the end of the sixth inning. It was totally unexpected and almost made me cry. Thank you, Amanda Zuzik.

You’d think I’d know by now when the Marine is home the waterworks are apt to come at any time. People talk to him for two minutes and see what a remarkable young man he is (no bias here) and are totally charmed by personality. Strangers approach and thank him for his service. On the morning of the 4th, he ran a 5k (yes, in this heat) with a thirty pound backpack. “Why?” I asked. Because he could.

When he got home from the run, we gathered in the front yard and he took down the yellow ribbon that had been hanging in a tree in our front yard. We thought it was just our family…until the neighbors came out their front doors clapping.

The kids grilled out for us and afterwards we we went to the closest fireworks show, which turned out to be an impressive thirty minutes long. The baby didn’t even flinch. When he’s asleep, he’s asleep. We didn’t head into Nashville for the massive fireworks extravaganza done on the banks of the Cumberland River in sync to music performed by the Nashville Orchestra, but we weren’t disappointed with our suburban substitute. We’re officially in a drought so fireworks outside a professional show were banned this year and firetrucks were on standby at the event we attended.

Thursday, Hubby’s brother and his wife flew in from Phoenix and my oldest step-son arrived from Baltimore. We went to my mother-in-law’s farm about an hour north of here. Hubby’s sister and her family joined us. It was too hot to do much more than eat and nap. But since that’s what the baby does anyway, we all adjusted to his schedule.

As a special treat on Friday we rented a small yacht, complete with a captain to drive and cruise director to keep us directed. Of course we had no idea we were going to be in this inferno when we made our plans, but we’d wisely chosen something with air conditioning where we could keep the baby out of the sun. This boat had three bedrooms (I’m talking king-size beds in two), three-and-a-half baths, a picnic deck and a sun deck. The Captain showed us which stars lived where as we tootled along Old Hickory Lake until a storm blew in. (Yes, a storm, but not a drop of rain at our house!) He found a cove and anchored until it blew over. Then, the “boys,” Hubby included, jumped and dove off the boat until the Captain rang the last call bell. Hubby and I found a nice place to sit right in front of where the Captain piloted the boat. There was a nice breeze and we could see where we were going.

The reason everyone came to town at this particular time was for a party we hosted Saturday night for Hubby’s youngest son and his wife who were married at a destination wedding in Mexico last December. Only parents and her brother attended so this was an opportunity for extended families and the couple’s friends to mix and mingle. About eighty folks showed up for delicious bar-be-que catered by Jim N Nicks who made my job much easier.

Back to the farm yesterday for leftovers, and the departures began. Youngest and his wife drove home yesterday. Oldest and Hubby’s brother and sister-in-law left early this morning. Middle son and family are here until Thursday to ease the withdrawal pain a little.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering where are the pictures? She always has pictures!

I can’t find my camera. Yep. This whole week I’ve been without it. But, my daughter-in-law, sister-in-law and even our ex-wife have all promised to share theirs so one day, hopefully soon, I’ll post a pictorial. Until then the words will have to do.

Speaking of words. Don’t forget the Blogvel. To read chapters one through six go to Bloom. I will write Chapter Seven and it will be my blog post next Monday.

So…how was your 4th of July holiday week?

~Kay

 

What happened to June?

If you look at my June blogging calendar it appears I took the month off. I know I said I was cutting back, but three blogs…geez. Maybe I can blame it on the heat. Nashville had a record breaking 109 Friday. I’ve spent the weekend holed up in air conditioning–reading, writing, and napping. This heat zaps my energy and makes me want to sleep. Hubby, on the other hand, washed and waxed the cars and cleaned out the garage. We did go to two movies where it was oh, so cool…until we stepped outside into what felt like an oven.

I’m amazed at how quickly I can get behind on my blog reading so it was nice to have a weekend to get caught up. I’m also reading some fifty-page entries for a writing contest, and I worked my way through a few more of those. That’s actually been an enlightening exercise that has shown me a sliver of what agents must experience. Some of the entries have been exceptional–some not–but regardless, it takes time to get through them and give each author the individual attention he or she deserves.

Some fun news: In a couple of weeks I’ll be writing a chapter for a blogvel. “What’ the heck’s a blogvel?” you ask. It’s a round-robin writing project started by Michelle Simkins aka Greenwoman over at Agent Query Connect. On her blog, she wrote the first chapter of a novel establishing characters, setting, etc. Following her lead, every Monday for the next fifteen weeks, a different blogger will write a new chapter and post it to his or her blog. Then Michelle will write the final chapter on her blog giving us a complete blogvel entitled Bloom. To catch up with the story thus far, hop over to Michelle’s website for an index of the chapters already written.

Her debut project was last summer with blogvel called Skeleton Key. It looked like the authors had so much fun writing it, I jumped at the opportunity to write for it this year.  I will be writing chapter seven (of seventeen). Of course I can’t start it until after chapter six is posted a week from today. You can read chapters 1-5 now, chapter six next week, my chapter the following week and I’ll post a link for each remaining chapter on Mondays so you can follow the rest of the story.

This will be a busy week in the Elam household as the Grandbaby is coming to visit for the first time. Of course, his parents are coming too. They arrived on the mainland from Hawaii a couple of weeks ago and have been visiting her folks in North Carolina until today. We are so excited. On Saturday, we’re hosting a reception for my youngest step-son who got married in December. All three sons will be home as well as hubby’s brother and his wife from Phoenix. Hubby’s sister and mom are Nashvillians, so we’ll have the whole crew. The heat is supposed to break by Wednesday. Of course, the Phoenix guests wouldn’t know the difference.

Whatever your plans for the fourth of July, be safe.

~Til next week.

Kay