Friday, December 17, 2010

Chapter 23 - My little miracle

Before I forget, I'd like to invite you all to my first ever live Twitter Chat @liv2writ, Tuesday, December 21. I'll chat from 4:00-4:30 PM MST and 9:00-9:30 PM MST. Follow me on Twitter. And then come for the action. To join in the chat--and you must join in--type #liv2writ at the end of each tweet. Spread the word, okay? And bring lots of questions and holiday joy! I'm in the mood to celebrate!

I'm still pretty brain dead. Not as much as yesterday, though. When I got back to work today, I realized that of course Chapter 22 must, must, must end with Leesie closing the sliding glass door. Duh.

And then Chapter 23 is going to be just this poem by itself. I was busy, busy, busy all day. Partly because life happens--good things like my new piano is now tuned and my BYU kids are home for Christmas and partly because I didn't think I could write this poem. It had to be great. It had to be perfect. And I didn't have a clue how to do it. Telephone call scenes are horrible to write. You don't have any action. And I didn't want this scene to come off as maudlin or too sentimental. But it had to be powerful. I'd set myself up for major writer's block.

Normally, when I get to a scene like this that I don't think I can write, I print off the last page I typed, scribble a line or two about what needs to go next, and then put it on my bedside table, say my prayers, and go to sleep. In the morning, I pick up the sheet of paper and scribble what's in my head. If you want gifts from heaven--inspiration from the Ultimate Creator--this is a good recipe to follow. But I just couldn't disappoint you guys and not post.

I finally drug myself into my office, whispered a prayer, and told myself to just write. It could be horrible. Fine. Just get something down. Fix it up later. You can tell everyone that it will get better. This is also a tool I use often. When you're writing to a deadline, getting stuck for long isn't an option.

The first two lines came into my head while I was getting cosy in the corner of the twin bed in my office with my lap desk propped on my knees. I whispered my thanks to their Author and scribbled them down. The rest of the poem flowed like a dream. It's short, simple, and maybe tomorrow I'll want to change it, but tonight it's perfect.

This poem will be all there is in Chapter 23. The shorter the chapter the more powerful it is.


I’m crying so hard
I can’t speak.
Mom gets Dad on the phone
and then we’re all three

The call lasts

I hang up and don’t
know if I even told
them anything.

“I’m sorry.”
I got that out.
“I love you.”
We all said that.

“Whenever you want to come
home, Leesie-girl, is fine with us.”
That was Dad.
How does he know
I’m not finished here
when I don’t even know

“Give Michael our love”—
is all I remember from Mom.

And Dad’s, “Tell him
we’ll be proud
to call him son.”

The call ends.
I sop my face
with the last three
tissues on earth
and stare out at the stars
and moon shining hope
on the water.

My cell rings.
It’s Dad saying,
“By the way, Leese,”
he’s that sweet, sheepish
farm boy my mom fell
in love with,
“Where are you?
We forgot to ask.”

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another piece of Chapter 22--one more to go

Did any of you catch the Twitter Chat last night? It was fast and chaotic, but strangely addicting. I think a different moderator style could lesson the chaos. Afterwards, I thought, wow, I'd love to host one of those for my CAYMAN SUMMER-ites. Wouldn't that be fun? I know people are either crazy busy next week or done finals at last and having a break--mom readers versus student readers! I might do a chat Tuesday night from 9:30-10 PM MST. And I could schedule one earlier in the day, too,  say 4 PM - 4:30 PM for followers in different time zones or on other continents. To chat, you just have to all used the same hash tag, #LIV2WRIT, in your tweets. Then everyone following can see the comments. I'm going to get some advice from the author who runs #YALITCHAT, but I think that's all there is to it. If you're not a tweeter, but are on FaceBook, be sure to friend me and I'll use tweetdeck so at least all my posts will go up on my wall. If you open your browser to my wall and comment on my posts, I can comment back.

We can talk about CAYMAN SUMMER and jump up and down over SING ME TO SLEEP's nomination. Bring burning questions. If this goes well, I'll invite author friends to join us for more chats. You'll need to follow me @liv2writ to follow the chat. I'll make a finalized announcement post tomorrow--so you can link to it and spread the word.

I updated the contest post with "thank you" entries for votes, posts, tweets, and all manner of things I'm sure you'll dream up to further SING ME TO SLEEPS Goodread's Choice Award campaign. Thank you for all your help.

I couldn't sleep after that exhiliarating chat, so I stayed up until 3 AM sending out press releases. I wrote this short scene yesterday and was going to add more, but I'm brain dead. My fingers like lead as I typed it up.

This is just the middle of the chapter. Leesie's poem will be next.

Dive Buddy: Leesie           
Date:  06/17
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site:
Weather Condition:
Water Condition:
Water Temp: 
Bottom Time:  

            Leesie’s quiet, calm as we drive home. Before we left the church, Pres. X rattled off a list of what she needs to do. Assignments. In real life, he’s a teacher. Grade school principal. He does the church stuff as a volunteer. Their whole church runs like that.
            First on the list. Leesie’s supposed to “pray until her knees wear out.” And I’m supposed to pray with her.
            Second, read her scriptures. I saved them for her. She hasn’t unpacked them. Don’t know if she even saw them. They’re in a side pouch of her duffel bag with all the sheets of poetry I scavenged off the side of that mountain. Maybe she’s read for those now, too.
            Third, go to church this Sunday. He said she could take the bread and water thing they do. That shocked her. She figured she wasn’t “worthy.”
            Fourth, move out of the apartment. That’s the big one. He’s gong to try to find her a place tomorrow. We’re meeting him at the church with Leesie’s packed bags. I wanted to protest that one—but with everything going on at that apartment with Seth and Dani and Gabriel and Alex, I have to agree. She needs to get out of  there.
            The last assignment? Apologize to everyone she’s hurt.
            She starts with me. “I’m sorry.” That brings tears close to the surface again. “If I really loved you”—her lip trembles—I wouldn’t have made it so hard for you.”
            I tilt my head and so does she until they touch. “You don’t have to go there.”
            Her hands cling on my driving arm. “I do. I was awful. But I do love you—even if I didn’t act like it. I’m sorry.”
            “You are ten times forgiven.” My eye moves from the road to her eye and flicks back. “Am I doing it right?”
            She kisses my arm.
            She hangs on me like that all the rest of the way home.
            When we get back to the apartment, she takes her phone out on the balcony where the signal is best and keys in a phone number she knows by heart. “Hi, Mom. It’s Leesie.”
            She pulls the sliding door shut and turns away. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chapter 22 part 2 - Leesie's poem

Hey my sweet CAYMAN SUMMER travelers! Look I'm early. I'm doing a live chat tonight on Twitter, so I need to download tweetdeck and get set up. You're all invited. A group of authors from DEAR TEEN ME are going to be talking about the project at #yalitchat from 9-11 PM EST. Hope to see you all there. I'm supposed to tweet to my teen self. Maybe I'll snag a vote or two for SING ME TO SLEEP's Goodread's campaign. 

As always, I look forward to your reaction. I'm not sure if these two poems work together. Still some rough edges to blend to make it flow. This finishes Chapter 22. Next scene will be in the car with Michael driving home.  


            Crying on Michael’s chest
            the wall I built to keep out the light,
cracks, splinters
            and in cleansing white glory

She comes to me,
a pure and shining presence,
knocking on my soul.

            “Sis. Hunt?”
            My grandmother smiles on my heart.
            Pres. X’s voice filters throough
the rapture I’m encased in.
“Do you know your
            very worst sin?”

defogged, unfuddled
reveling in perfection

            I sit back from Michael,
            wrap my arms around my chest
            so I don’t fracture into millions
            of pieces at the exquisite force
            so intense, so unearned, so blessed.
Along with my grandmother
            blooming in my heart,
            there’s whisperings of something
            that can only be Phil.
            I’m sorry, Leesie. I love you.
            I bow my head and whisper,
            “Me, too.”

            Michael rubs my back.
            “Are you all right, babe?”

spilling joy that
embraces my sorrow
they smile
and wave

            Tears flow like water pounding
            from a spout, splashing, gurgling
            filling a baptismal font like the one
            I stood in at eight with my father’s
            hands full of power to cleanse me.
            Pres. X’s voice extends an iron rod
            to rescue me from endless wanderings
            in a faceless field of full of the lost.
            “Your worst sin, Sis. Hunt, was to believe
            your Savior has power to save everyone—
            but you.”
            I grasp Michael’s hand and meet the man’s gaze.
            “I testify to you,”—his words soft but strong,
            pierce my stubborn, stone heart,
            “He loves every vile murderer in every
            penitentiary and somehow, someday
            in the great Eternal realm, they will all
            find their own salvation through Him.”

            I rest my head against Michael’s cheek.
            He strokes my face and whispers, “Listen
             to him, Leesie. Listen. You need this.”

            I watch Pres. X’s mouth, studying every word
            it creates. “He waits with open arms,
            spread wide to welcome you home
            with love and forgiveness if you will

            Emotion overtakes me again.
            I sob with my head down on the desk—
            tears the only offering I have left to give.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chapter 22 - Michael's Dive Log

Thanks everyone for helping me celebrate SING ME TO SLEEP's Goodreads Choice nomination. It was like a party every time I checked my comments or opened my email. I appreciate your votes so much. The polls are open until December 30th, so if you have any brilliant ideas on how to spread the word, I'm all ears.

There is a voting widget you can put on your blogs or websites. I think anyone can get it, but it might be just available for authors. I'd be happy to send you or post the code if you need it.

Did you notice, my son made a "link to me" widget for CAYMAN SUMMER? Scroll down to the bottom of the page and grab the code. We keep trying to get it to move up to a better location, but it's obstinate and won't budge.

I heard from Penguin today and they aren't going to help with the campaign, so I'm on my own. Well, not really. I have all of you. You got me nominated. I have great faith in you to help me find votes.

I'm now a Twitterite, so if you are into Tweetness, find me at Angela Morrison @liv2writ. I probably should have kept trying to find a unique combination of my name, but everything I tried was taken. I gave up. And I like being known as liv2writ. If I say something really dumb, people won't know right away that it's me! And maybe I could post great writing tips!

Huge thanks for all your feedback on yesterday's post. A scene that features religious practices written for people who aren't familiar with them is so tricky. I want to give enough information to make it realistic, but I don't want to freak everyone. Or bore everyone with preachy stuff. Realism is important. But I don't want Pres. X to come off as creepy. I will use your comments as a guide when I revise.

I was in a panic about today's scene. It's so important. I was worried I wouldn't be able to focus. I had some material that spilled out in morning pages a couple weeks ago that helped me get there. And then when I closed my door and began to write, it flowed. What a blessing. As an artist, I get to experience miracles of creation every day. That is the best reward of all.


Dive Buddy: Leesie           
Date:  06/17
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site:
Weather Condition:
Water Condition:
Water Temp: 
Bottom Time:  

Leesie’s back in Pres. X’s office. I’m in there this time. Leesie glares at me like I’m the biggest snitch in history. The guy sits back in his chair and looks from her to me.  
A picture of Jesus wearing a red robe standing in front of a door, knocking, hangs on the wall just above Pres. X’s head. I don’t know anything about this Jesus stuff, but I do know I need help with Leesie. I hate when she’s deceptive like this. Freak. She flat-out liked to me out there. This isn’t the girl I fell in love with. Maybe this guy and his Jesus picture can help me find her again.
Who knows what she told the guy. Nothing good. For all I know she told him we’re doing it ten times a day. The look on his face got to me. It wasn’t disgust or loathing, though. It was pain. Sorrow. Like he’d just lost a child. His voice we full of love—calling her back. He says it again, “The Lord loves you, Sis. Hunt.”
She pulls her scarf off her head. The long scar shows through the inch of growth and creeps down her forehead. “I drove my brother off a cliff and killed him.”
I reach out and put my hand on her arm. “There was ice on the road. She was hurt really bad.”
“We were having a huge fight.” She closes her eyes. “I was mad enough to shoot him. And driving way too fast. I killed him. Manslaughter, at least.”
“He didn’t have a seatbelt on. It as an accident. Tell her.”
She shoves my hand off her arm. “Don’t tell me it was just an accident. Don’t tell me I’m not guilty.” She clasps her hands together and leans toward Pres. X. “He doesn’t understand. I’m lost. Murder.” Hysteria grows in her voice. “No forgiveness in this life. Read him that scripture!” She hides her face in her hands.
I lean over and grasp her shoulders, try to calm her. “At first she went on and on about stoning, you guys don’t do that do you?”
“No. That’s biblical.” Pres. X rises and comes around the desk, stands next to Leesie but doesn’t touch her. “Sis. Hunt?”
“She told me—”
She drops her hands. “That’s enough, Michael.”
I put my hand over hers. “She told me the rules don’t matter any more. That she was lost forever so it would be okay—”
 “And you—?”
“Didn’t believe her.”
“You protected her?”
“From me. I’m no hero.”
Leesie looks from me to Pres. X. Her eyes glitter. She blurts, “But I did everything I could to get him to sleep with me. And I’m not giving up.”
“Sis. Hunt! Why are you tormenting this young man who so obviously loves you? That is cruel.”
Leesie starts, shakes her head wildly. “I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s all I can think about. Every day. Every night.” Her eyes swim with tears. “I’ve made it so hard for him. I am cruel. It’s evil I know. That’s who I am now. It’s hopeless, President. I am lost.”  Tears stream down her face.
Pres. X sits down behind his desk, reaches the box of tissues and hands it to Leesie. He doesn’t say anything—just lets her cry.
I try to comfort her, but she pushes me away. She finally blows her nose and says, “It’s eating me up, president. What do I do? I can’t live like this. We need to just sin and get over with it.”
“The guilt you’re feeling is real. I’m not going to tell you, you did nothing wrong. We both know that isn’t true.”
My eyebrows jut upward. “But it was an accident.” What’s with this guy?
“Guilt is a warning flag that lead us to repent. It is a gift from God. It will wrack your soul until you turn back to Him. But if you don’t turn back to Him, it will eat you up from the inside out.” The expression on his face reminds me of Leesie’s dad.  “And then you’ll become hardened. Past feeling. All you’ll want is sin. What you’ve told me tonight, Sis. Hunt, concerns me greatly. You’ve given your guilt to the adversary.”
The adversary? “What’s that?”
“Satan. She’s under his influence now.”
I stare at Leesie wondering if she’ll go all Carrie on me. “What is she guilty of?”
“She can tell you.”
Leesie sits up, lets me take her hand. She whispers, “Anger. Blinding anger and hatred toward my brother. That cost him his life.”
Pres. X nods. “Go on.”
“Hurting my family. Wrecklessness.” She fights down a sob. “I am responsible for that accident.”
Pres. X studies her face. His voice is hushed, holy. “But you didn’t murder him, did you?” His words open Leesie’s heart. There’s a power under them that even I feel.
Leesie looks at me and dissolves in a pool of sobs. “No.” She falls into my arms. “No, I didn’t.”

Monday, December 13, 2010

SING ME TO SLEEP 2010 Goodreads Choice Nominee!! Plus Chapter 21 (part 2)

Friday, after I posted, I got an email from Goodreads telling me that SING ME TO SLEEP has been honored with a 2010 Goodreads Choice nomination for YA Fiction. I'm ecstatic to have SING recognized. And I'm grateful to all of you--my staunchest allies and supporters--who I know made this happen. It makes me cry just to think about it. The professional review mags were brutal to SING. This nomination is the miracle I've been praying for--and you are all part of it.

The Goodreads Choice awards are based solely on a book's ratings and popularity and other stats at Goodreads. Not sales or judges. You really did create this amazing opportunity for a novel that is truly sacred to me. If it was just me, it wouldn't matter, but SING ME TO SLEEP honors a beloved young man we lost to cystic fibrosis, and all those who suffer like him. But it can't raise awareness, if no one hears about it. So thank you.

The I'm nominated with huge industry greats. Really amazing. SING will get incredible exposure. BUT there's a huge downside to that. Winners are chosen by votes polled throughout December. I can't compete with NYT best-seller and industry insider fan bases. But, what the heck, I think I should try. Are you ready to move into campaign mode?

Please vote here, and let Goodreads post your vote to your blogs, FB and Twitter. I will shower you with gratitude and extra contest entries. Just let me know that you voted and where you posted. I'll get the contest post updated ASAP. Feel free to post on your blogs about this. I'm happy to answer interview questions. You can find more info on ChatSpot on my website. If you have any fantastic ideas for spreading the word, please let me know.

I finally signed up for Twitter--so you can follow me @liv2writ. If that's too weird to remember, just search my name.

I didn't think I'd ever get today's post written. It's been crazy. I spent the weekend emailing everyone I know in the universe and begging them for help. I've got more to do--I'm not good at asking people to vote for me. The last time I ran for anything was in high school and I lost big time! No one tells you this part of being an author. It's very humbling--that's probably good for me. I'm always amazed at how kind and supportive you all are. But I turned off the computer and hid away in my bedroom and got the next scene written. And now I can't wait for your comments. You guys give me sanity. And help me remember what's truly important.

Love and hugs and dancing on the ceiling!

CHAPTER 21 (cont.)


“Look at that! There it is.”
Michael turns his rental
in the tiny parking lot next to
the tiny Grand Cayman Branch
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
He parks, turns off the ignition.
“Weird we never saw this.”
I assess the building—not a big chapel
but way nicer than where we meet back home.
“I guess we weren’t looking.”
He squeezes my shoulder.
“We’ve found it now.”

We find our way in, find
Pres. X waiting in his office.
He stands—taller than Michael,
gray touching the close cut
fuzzy black hair at his temples.
“Sister Hunt?” His voice echoes
the Cayman richness of my doctor’s
I nod.

My hand disappears into the warmth
of his huge black hand. He releases
me and turns to Michael. “I didn’t
catch your name. Brother—?”
“Michael.” He shakes Pres. X’s hand.
“I spoke with your wife.”
“Well. Come in. Come in.” Pres. X
stands aside, holding open the door.
I hold Michael back. “He’s not a member.”
Pres. X’s shoulder rise and his hands motion welcome.
“I can talk to you both.”
“Not tonight.” I’m worried Michael will say too much
or I will. I’ve promised to talk, but if I start
will I ever stop? There is too much Michael
shouldn’t hear—can’t hear—ever. “Wait, okay?”
He smiles courage at me and backs off.

I close the door, turn to the office.
Pres. X sits and folds his large hands
that seem made for putting a top one’s head
to channel God’s power into the afflicted
on top of his desk.
I take the chair he offers.
“How long have you been on Cayman?”
I count back—takes a moment to assess
the time. “Almost eight weeks, I guess.”
His gray-touched eye-brows rise and fall.
“I’m sorry we haven’t see you on Sundays.”

I stare at my toes sticking out of white sandals
resting on the standard blue Mormon church carpet.
He continues. “When is the last time you took the sacrament.”
“The Sunday before I left BYU.”
His hands come off the desk, he sits straighter, his brow
creases. “You’re a BYU student?”
“Was,” I whisper as the twin marks on my neck
pulse redder and redder. “I was.”
“The Lord gave you that great privilege,”
he tries not to let his disgust linger in his voice,
but fails, “and this is how you show your gratitude?”

He thinks I’m a slut breaking the honor code.
Fine that’s just what I’ll be. I stand up.
“That’s why I’m not going back.”
He stands, too. “Do you know how many
righteous youth want to go to BYU and can’t?”
I nod, hand on the doorknob. “I get the message.”
“No you don’t. Sit down, Sister Hunt.”
No one could resist his tone. I obey.

He sits, too, and glances at the ring glittering
on my finger. “Are you living with that young man?”
I pick a tissues from a box on his desk. “Michael. Yes.”
“Sleeping with him?”
“Let me be clearer. Have you had sexual intercourse with him?”
“No.” But I want—I really, really want to.
I don’t say it aloud, but he hears anyway.

I concentrate on mangling the tissue.
“Are you humping?”
“He touched my breasts for half a second
this morning. Freaked out. That’s why I’m here.”
“You didn’t freak out?”
“You don’t sound very repent, sister.”
“I’m not.”

His eyes squint into concentration
on the shredded tissue I’m littering
his desk with. “But you said he’s not a member.”
I push the mess towards him and sit back.
“He knows the rules.”
“God’s commandments.”
“He doesn’t believe in God, so I just called them rules.”
His eyes move from one bright red Michael bite
on my neck to the other. “You’re living together
but not intimate at all?”

I look him square in the eye. “It’s an apartment.
Nine of us. Six guys. Three girls.
I share a room with a girl.”
“And your parents approve?”
I have to look away.
“My parents don’t know.”
He closes his eyes a moment,
and an old familiar feeling comes into the room.
His eyes open as he says, “You’ll have to move out.”
I push away the enticings of salvation that float in the air.
“I can’t. I won’t.”
Pres. X looks at me with infinite sadness.
“I can’t help you then.”

I rise, get the door open this time.
“Wait—Sis. Hunt.”
“I don’t have anything more
to say.”
Pres. X follows me to the hall.
“I want you to know, Sis. Hunt.
The Lord loves you.”

Michael sees, hears—
more than I want him to.
I rush to him. “I was right.”
He takes both my hands.
I squeeze them hard and whisper,
“You owe me now.”
Surprise, disappointment,
or surrender? I can’t read him.
“Are you done?”
The power  in Pres. X’s voice
forces Michael’s eyes away from me
to my judge in Israel.
“Did she tell you”—Michael’s arm
surrounds me and his voice drops
to holy levels—“about
the accident? Her brother?”