The 777 Challenge: Show Us What You Got

The kind, talented, and all-around lovely Christina Dalcher tagged me to share seven lines from the seventh page of a work in progress. First, I want to thank Christina for thinking of me and giving me a fun opportunity to share a few lines from CHANDELIERS. This is an adult romance in which Violet, an American professor of French literature, experiences a time slip while doing a historical reenactment at Versailles. Shortly after Violet discovers she’s in the past, she meets Marie Antoinette, the Princess de Lamballe, and Luke, an American doctor who was also sucked into the past for reasons they haven’t yet discerned.

This scene is only seven pages into the book. Violet and her friend Claire are in an outside entry area in front of Versailles listening to another person tell the story about a famous time-travel incident at Versailles.

But the woman wasn’t ready to go just yet. She placed her swollen fingers on Claire’s shoulder and leaned closer. She spoke in a stage whisper: “Of course, you know about the famous Moberly-Jourdain incident, and their supposed time slip in the gardens surrounding the Petit Trainon.” She raised her eyebrows and hands, revealing tattoos of cartoon cats on the inside of both wrists. This woman had crazy written all over her.

Claire’s eyes grew, her face went slack. “No. What happened?”

The woman inhaled and spoke hurriedly, “This happened in 1902 or around that time. Two women from Britain were walking through the gardens and somehow, they traveled back in time!”

I now get to tag seven authors to do the 777 challenge: Hayley Stone, Ara Grigorian, Annika Sharma, Samantha Bryant, Laura Heffernan, Michelle Hauk, and Ann M. Noser. I look forward to getting a peek at what you’ve got in the works!

Top image via Flickr by Oh Paris

Happy Endings Come in All Shapes and Sizes When Infertility’s a Part of the Story

There’s no one-size-fits all happy ending with infertility

When Patrick and I dated in high school, we talked about how gorgeous our children would be if we ever got married; having biological children was a given for both of us. Fast forward a decade: our inability to get pregnant left us heartbroken and empty. But like two optimistic 20-somethings, we persevered, believing if we tried hard enough, we could make it happen. It wasn’t until after our first in vitro fertilization cycle resulted in pregnancy, followed by a miscarriage a few weeks later, that we had to rethink our happy ending. Was our desire to get pregnant or be parents? Those are not the same thing.

Slogging your way through infertility typically results in a willingness to do whatever it takes to get pregnant. With every injection and doctor’s office insemination, you dream about documenting your growing bump in the weeks and months following a positive pregnancy test. Browsing Pottery Barn Kids, you add items for a nursery to your cart, practicing for the day when you can hit “purchase.” While many infertile couples do end up giving birth, many more have an outcome that doesn’t look like what they originally set out to achieve. That doesn’t make their ending any less happy or less beautiful.

Here are six happy endings that prove there’s no one-size-fits-all resolution for people struggling with infertility.

    1. You achieve pregnancy, just not in your body.
      For different medical reasons, a woman may not be able to carry a baby in her uterus. Having another woman carry your baby in her womb may be the best solution. The surrogate may carry a baby created from the sperm and egg of the infertile couple. But it’s also possible she may carry a baby with no genetic connection to the mom and dad-to-be. Regardless of the baby’s genetic make-up or the fact that he or she enters the world by way of a different vagina, you better believe that’s a happy ending for the couple who’s struggled with infertility.
    2. You become parents through adoption, but never deal in diapers.
      When couples choose to adopt, they may not become parents to a newborn. Adopting a baby or child from overseas almost certainly means your child will be seven months old or older by the time he or she arrives in your arms. Adopting older children comes with its own set of rewards and challenges, and for some people, this is the way they choose to become parents.
    3. You opt to live child-free.
      Family and friends may not understand this choice, but some couples find resolution and peace by choosing to end their quest to become parents. This decision often comes at the end of a long, painful journey. Don’t diminish their struggle and devalue their excruciating decision by saying, “Now that you’ve stopped trying, you’ll get pregnant!” They haven’t chosen to stop trying to get pregnant in hopes of achieving some “happy accident.” Be supportive and be an active part in helping them forge their new version of happily ever after.
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    4. You have no genetic link to your child.
      This kind of happy ending may emerge through adoption, egg donation, or sperm donation. The lack of a shared genetic code doesn’t diminish the joy of a new child coming into a family, nor does it impact how much the parents love their child. Families don’t have to match on the outside in order for their hearts to match. People who become parents through these paths achieve an ending that’s satisfying and absolutely lovely. So, take that, genetics!
    5. You parent many different children but never have legal custody of them.
      Infertility teaches us how to let go and reshape our dreams. This learned resilience equips some people to become foster parents. Through this choice, you get to parent children when they’re incredibly vulnerable and need the love and guidance of an adult. This happy ending swings the front door of your home wide open for babies, children, and teens to whom you’ll be like a mother or father.
    6. You get pregnant without your husband being in the room.
      When we did in vitro fertilization, the doctor asked if I wanted my husband in the room when he transferred the embryos. My response? “At the very least, my husband should at least be in the same room with me when I get pregnant.” It’s true that IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies can suck the romance out of making babies, but when those procedures lead to a pregnancy and birth, it’s a happy ending. Jeers to anyone who tries to diminish the joy that comes from these births by labeling the IVF process as weird science. Suck it, Dolce and Gabbana.

Our happy ending came by way of adoption—three times! As anyone who has struggled with infertility will tell you, finding your happy ending is really the moment when you begin writing the first chapter of a whole new adventure. Be a part of that story by wrapping these parents-to-be in love, support, and acceptance.

Can’t Go Back Fantasy Cast with Author Marie Meyer

Marie Meyer‘s sequel to ACROSS THE DISTANCE is out today! CAN’T GO BACK is available from all your favorite retailers like Amazon, Amazon UK, B&N, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Play.

To celebrate the release of her new book, I asked her to put together her fantasy cast for CAN’T GO BACK. Warning: beautiful people, a man bun, and a Hemsworth brother ahead!


 

Griffin1Marie: Leading man, Griffin Daniels, would be played by British model, Jacey Elthalion. Griffin is the lead singer and bassist for the up and coming band, Mine Shaft. To see Griffin’s gorgeous ink displayed on Jacey’s body would be a dream come true! And I may need to be resuscitated afterward!

(Image via TheFashionisto.com)

 

Amanda1

Marie: The beautiful and talented Amanda Seyfried would play Griffin’s leading lady/best friend/lover, Jillian Lawson. It’s fun to image how gorgeous Amanda would look sporting Jillian’s rainbow colored hair.

Tegan: I’ve enjoyed Amanda’s acting ever since I first saw her on HBO’s Big Love!

(Image via ryuseunghyun.tistory.com)

ErinMarie: Erin is Griffin’s girlfriend at the beginning of the story. She’s a sweet, Southern volleyball player/college student. I’d like to see her played by Tasmin Egerton.

(Image via naturallycurly.com)

 

Liam

Marie: Thorin “Thor” Kline is Griffin’s best friend, roommate, band mate, and Mine Shaft’s guitarist. He would be played by the swoon worthy Liam Hemsworth. Keep the scruffy beard, give him a buzz cut, and he’d be the perfect, brooding Thor. (Ha! I just noticed that his brother actually played Thor! Funny!)

Tegan: There’s a photo of Liam Hemsworth I used on my secret Pinterest board as inspiration when I was writing the character of Prince John in INCONCEIVABLE. Clearly, Liam makes the rounds!

(Image via attitude.co.uk)

Adam

Marie: Adam Long is Griffin’s friend and band mate, and Mine Shaft’s drummer. Colton Haynes is my choice to play hotheaded Adam.

(Image via popsugar.com)

 

 

man bun

Marie: Meet Pauly, another of Griffin’s friends and band mates. Pauly is the keyboardist for Mine Shaft. I envision Pauly being brought to life by Brock O’Hurn. He’s the hottie that pops up on Pinterest, wearing the to-die-for man bun. Pauly is a big, burly, loveable dude who loves his man bun, too!

Tegan: My hubs has a beard… I’m now thinking that I need to request he work on acquiring a man bun to complement it!

(Image via imgur.com)

 

Nee

Marie: Stephanie “Nee” Hamilton is a tatted, pierced redheaded spitfire. She’s a badass rocker who joins Mine Shaft for a few months. She also has the super power of keeping the guys in line! She’d be played by singer/rapper Kreayshawn.

(Image via patriciamcmahon.com)

 

 

McAdams

Marie: Ren Daniels, Griffin’s sister, is a fun-loving girl who loves to give Griff a hard time—as all older sisters should to their little brothers! Rachel McAdams is one of my favorite actresses, and I think she’d make the perfect Ren.

Tegan: She’s so adorbs!

(Image via glamradar.com)

Tegan: Which characters were the most difficult to cast and why?

Marie: My hero, Griffin, was the hardest to cast. Taking on the painstaking task of looking at hundreds of smoldering hot guys, I could never find one person who embodied Griffin totally. One guy’s hair would be perfect, and another guy’s body, the eyes of another, and so on. You see the conundrum. To me, no real person can live up to the character I created. But, when I stumbled upon Jacey Ethalion, I could absolutely see him as Griffin.

Tegan: You’ve given us a peek at your amazing fantasy cast. Do you have any preferences for who you’d want working behind the scenes to bring your book to the big screen?

Marie: Cinematographer- John Mathieson. He was the cinematographer on some of my favorite movies (Phantom of the Opera and X-Men: First Class). He’s also credited with the new movie, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. that I’m dying to see!

Director- Elizabeth Banks. I love Elizabeth Banks as an actress, she is so versatile—able to play such a wide array of characters. But, I was enamored with her directorial debut, helming Pitch Perfect 2. I’m such a huge fan of the first Pitch Perfect that I had reservations about the second, but Ms. Banks did a fantastic job!  It would be an honor to have her direct my fantasy movie adaptation of CAN’T GO
BACK!

Score Composer- John Williams. The score to Jurassic Park is my absolute favorite movie score of all time. Sometimes, I even play it to stir my muse as I’m writing. It’s sweeping, moving, and gorgeous. I’m sure Mr. Williams would capture all the right emotions in the score for CAN’T GO BACK!

Tegan: Tell us what you’d wear to walk the red carpet at the premiere of CAN’T GO BACK.

sandra dressMarie: I’d wear a floor-length, off the shoulder, navy blue Alexander McQueen design. It’s fitting that Sandra Bullock wore this dress to the Oscar’s too, I have been told many times that I look like her.

(Image via thefashionsupernova.com)

Tegan: What would be the best part about seeing your book adapted for the big screen?

Marie: The best part of seeing CAN’T GO BACK adapted for the big screen would be seeing my characters come to life. Right now, they live in my head (and the heads of my readers), but to hear them speak, see them interact with one another; for the actors to breathe life into them, that would be so incredibly magical!

And it would be really cool to hear some of the lines and passages I wrote in the booming surround sound of a theater! Oh, and to hear Griffin sing… my heart would totally stop beating!

Thank you so much, Tegan! This was a lot of fun! Maybe one day, I’ll get to live this dream!

Marie MeyerMarie Meyer was a Language Arts teacher for fourteen years. She spends her days in the classroom and her nights writing heartfelt new adult romances that will leave readers clamoring for more. She is a member of RWA and the St. Louis Writers Guild. Marie’s short fiction won honorable mentions from the St. Louis Writers Guild in 2010 and 2011. She is a proud mommy and enjoys helping her oldest daughter train for the Special Olympics, making up silly stories with her youngest daughter, and binging on weeks of DVR’d television shows with her husband.

Menopause and Super Heroes: Going Through the Change

samantha_bryantSometimes, certain books come into your life at just the right moments, like when I read Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund during a trip to Europe. The timing was impeccable when I received an Advanced Review Copy of GOING THROUGH THE CHANGE by Samantha Bryant. I found out I was going through premature ovarian failure (early menopause) at the same time I was reading this hilarious take on “the change.” It made me laugh, which is exactly what I needed. The premise of the book is that a handful of women who are going through menopause experience extraordinary bodily changes (beyond the usual array of uncomfortable symptoms). The impact of these changes on their lives and their family’s lives makes for an engaging story.

Today and tomorrow, GOING THROUGH THE CHANGE, is being featured on Book Bub. If you’re not familiar with Book Bub, it’s a cool way to get amazing e-books on the cheap. Naturally, I love it.

To celebrate Samantha’s entertaining book being available for FREE on Book Bub, I’ve asked Samantha to share about her experiences writing this book and what she hopes readers take away from it.

Missy: Describe how you got the idea to tell this story?

Samantha: It started with a conversation with my husband. We were talking about superheroes one night while we walked our dog (as geeky folk like us are wont to do). The conversation had turned to the fact that so many superhero stories are about teenagers, as if hormones caused superpowers. I said that if that was true, menopausal women would be the most powerful people on the planet. He laughed and told me to write that down–and I did.

Missy: Do you identify with any of the characters in Going through the Change? If so, which one(s) and in what ways?

Samantha: At different moments, I identify with them all. Like Jessica, I’ve been married to someone I no longer loved and stayed there longer than I should have. Like Patricia, I’ve been impatient with the young and beautiful people of the world and can find it difficult to trust others. Like Cindy, I have a distrust of the medical profession thanks to several unpleasant past experiences. Like Helen, I’ve felt like life was passing me by. Like Linda/Leonel, my loyalty is fierce. The more I write, the more I find that all my characters have shades of myself in them, even if I don’t recognize them while I’m writing.

Missy: Tell us about your process for writing this book.

Samantha: I had the idea for this book while I was trying to finish another one (an as-yet unpublished women’s fiction novel called His Other Mother). I held Going Through the Change out to myself as a reward, the carrot I’d get if I kept going when the going was tough. When I finished the hard work of rewriting that first novel, I’d be allowed to write this one and it would be fun!

It was fun, too.  It took me about a year to finish the first draft. My first novel took me four years to write, so I’m getting faster! I am a middle school teacher by day, so the novel was written in the minutes and hours I could carve out of all my other responsibilities as a teacher and mother. I wrote mostly sequentially, though, at a certain point, I found it helpful to write the ending, then go back and write towards that ending.

It took another six months to rewrite it, get my beta readers’ comments, and rewrite it again. I used Scrivener, a writing program that I love for the way it helps me visualize long works and keep them organized, though I still wrote timelines and charts out on long sheets of white art paper just like I always have since I was a child.

Missy: What do you hope women take away from this book?

Samantha: One of the things I love about speculative fiction is that, in exploring unrealistic situations like human flight or wielding fire, you can get at the heart’s truth of the things that really matter.  More than I realized when I was writing it, this book is about the nature of friendship between women, and the roles we all play in the world. Women, too often, judge each other harshly for the different choices we make, as if there’s only one way to be a woman. I hope women come away from reading my book thinking about friendship and acceptance of themselves and others. I dedicated the book this way: “For any woman who has ever felt betrayed by her own body,” which is probably all of us at one time or another.

Missy: What do you hope men take away from this book?…And do you think men will enjoy reading this? Why or why not?

Samantha: While the book is undeniably woman-focused, it is not by any means an anti-man book. David is a loving husband to Linda/Leonel and even Nathan has his moments. Since women and men are both just people after all, I hope that male readers would also be drawn into the complexities of the relationships between the characters and the way that unusual circumstances, like suddenly being transformed into a lizard creature, can complicate your life. I’ve gotten positive feedback from the men who have read it so far. I’d like to think that male readers can enjoy a book with female protagonists, too.

Missy: Is this book part of a series?

Samantha: Yes! There will be at least two more books. The second book (working title: Change of Life) is with my beta readers now and I hope to be able to send it to Curiosity Quills (the publisher) by the end of April. The third book is not yet underway, but I’ve got a file of ideas for it.  I don’t want to give too much away, but changes continue to come for all my superwomen and some new characters are introduced, including The Director and Agent Sally Ann Rogers. And wait until you meet my villain!

Missy: What impact do you hope your book has on how people think of superheroes?

Samantha: I’ve always loved superhero stories, starting with Mighty Mouse and Underdog when I was a toddler on the living room rug. As I’ve grown up and gotten older, though, I’ve found some of them harder to connect with. I’m 43 now. I just don’t connect with angsty teenagers like I once did. So, I wanted to write a superhero story for fans like me: women, over thirty, with jobs and families.  I would love to see more superhero stories featuring women at the center and more with adult characters with several aspects of life to balance. If Linda/Leonel, Patricia, Jessica, and Helen can help make that happen, I’ll be one proud writer.

Missy: How did Curiosity Quills acquire your book?

Samantha: I cold-queried. Matthew Graybosch, another writer who has published with CQ, is an online friend. After reading some of his posts about working with CQ, I decided to check them out. I was really interested in the idea of a small, independent press and liked the transparency of terms on CQ’s website.  It was a really fast process! From submission to contract signing was only about two weeks! As we’ve moved through book cover planning and edits, I’ve continued to be favorably impressed with everyone in the CQ family.  They’re good folks.

Samantha Bryant‘s book GOING THROUGH THE CHANGE is available as an e-book and paperback. How do you feel about the idea of having women going through menopause as super heroes? (I love it!)

Samantha Bryant‘s book GOING THROUGH THE CHANGE is available as an e-book and paperback. How do you feel about the idea of having women going through menopause as super heroes? (I love it!)

Samantha BryantSamantha Bryant teaches Spanish to middle school students in North Carolina. As a writer, she primarily writes poems, essays, and novels. She has had stories featured on FreedomFiction, The New Accelerator, and Acidic Fiction. A member of the Insecure Writers Support Group, Samantha has contributed an essay to the group’s guide to publishing. When she’s not writing or teaching, Samantha enjoys spending time with her family, watching old movies, baking, reading, and going places.

Header image was created from the artwork of Charles C. Dowd.