Wednesday, December 25, 2013

I Found A Way Into Your Heart

OK so I’m just a little obsessed with Steam Powered Giraffe right now. I may or may not be working on the outline stuff for a book inspired by their music. But that’s stuff for later. Right now I wanted to kind of just tell you all how much you mean to me.
It’s always been my ambition to be a professional, dare I even say bestselling author. I’ve always wanted to write books and have a lot of people read them. Yet it still kind of stuns me when people say they’re fans of my work. See, when I’m writing (especially when I’m writing blog posts) I always feel like I’m probably coming across like I’m five years old or something because I write really personally (seriously, I write the same way I talk. Always have, always will). That seems to put a lot of people off but then it also seems to gain me a few fans. It’s so weird and it’s also so awesome.
I really want to thank you all for reading my books, if you’ve read any of them. Or at least for reading my blogs. And for putting up with me on facebook. Basically, thank you for being a witness to me chasing my lifelong dream.
Here’s to the new year, may it bring an abundance of good things.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Current Projects!

Yup! I’m caving and letting you guys back in. I can’t stand trying to not talk about things I’m working on so now you’ll have a constant way of seeing what I’m working on and what I may or may not have temporarily (or permanently) abandoned.
You’ll find my current projects in the tab above. I’m working on two novels and some serials.

Friday, November 29, 2013

*Insert Amazing Blog Post Title Here*

I’ve come to a point in my life where I think I’ve finally hit my writing stride. What I mean by that is that I sit at the computer and put some kind of background noise (I have a couple of great iTunes playlists or I’ll listen to King of the Hill or Bob’s Burgers or 19 Kids and Counting) and I write for at least 1,000 words or I edit at least four pages in a sitting.
During November, since it’s National Novel Writing Month and I was determined to ‘win’ (if you write 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo you’ve ‘won’ and you get a whole bunch of goodies for having won), there were days that I wrote upwards of 6,000 words during the day.
Now when I say that I wrote that many words in a day I don’t mean that I sat down and set six or eight hours aside and just wrote straight through. I don’t have anywhere near the necessary attention span for such an endeavor, but I would write for about 30 minutes and then get up and go do something else for a while or I’d flip over to chrome and check facebook and twitter and tumblr or instagram my progress or something.
I did a lot more writing in one month than I’ve done throughout the entirety of 2013 so far, and since I won NaNoWriMo I’ve been slowing down just a bit but I’m still pushing myself to write at least 1,000 words or edit at least four pages every day. I don’t want to fall out of that habit, mostly because working as slowly as I used to prior to this month has not been working toward my goals.
I’m a bit silly with my goals. I want to have at least thirty actual books out by the time I’m 30. I’ve got about 25 novellas and short stories out right now, but only five things that can actually be considered standalone BOOKS. By mid-January I should have five, but by the end of 2014 my goal is to be up to nine or ten. Eventually I’d like to have as many books out as Stephen King and James Patterson combined. If I ever get to that point I might add Dean Koontz to that list. I really want to be prolific, and I’ve got plenty of story ideas so I think I should be able to do that with relative ease once I finally get to a point where I am actually consistently writing huge amounts of words every single day.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Last NaNo update!

At about 2:00-3:00 PM central time on November 23, 2013 I hit 50k words on my NaNoWriMo novel, Albuquerque.
And now the long and tedious process of editing.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I’m Kicking NaNoWriMo’s Ass! (And I hope you are, too!)

Greetings, readers!
Anyone else above 40,000 words on their NaNoWriMo projects? I’ve fallen back in love with Albuquerque, my project for this NaNoWriMo. It’ll also hopefully be either my next release or one of my next couple releases. I’ve had a couple of really good ideas for short stories the past week or so and I might write one or two of those up while I work on editing Albuquerque and writing Mortality. Once I’m less focused on speed-writing I’ll be able to do more stuff and post more things out there.
As much as I hate trying to focus on one project, I’ve actually really fallen in love with Albuquerque. The characters and the story keep evolving and I mean it’s evolved from a mediocre Twilight-esque pile of poo (minus sparkling vampires) to something almost Stephen King-ish.
I’m really getting excited to finish writing it though. I wanna focus on other things. I want to be able to work on Stella’s Saga again. I also want to work on the first sequel to Albuquerque (beware, I smell a long ass series). And some short stories. Because that’s my medium of choice.

Friday, November 08, 2013

NaNoWriMo is glorious, delicious hell

I’ve written more words in the first full week of NaNoWriMo than I wrote on either of the first two books in the Sketchbooks series.
Let’s just let that sink in.
I’m writing constantly.
I’m writing more than I ever thought I’d write.
I’m writing faster than I ever thought I’d write.
I’m writing and not editing as I write and YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH THIS HURTS, KNOWING THAT I’M GONNA HAVE TO EDIT AFTER THE FACT. I FUCKING HATE EDITING OH MY GOD SERIOUSLY. That’s why instead of doing drafts I usually just write a paragraph, edit that paragraph, write another paragraph, edit that paragraph… That way I don’t have to fucking write an entire hundred thousand words, realize that all but 5000 words of that sucks, and have to rewrite that many fucking words.
I’m saying fuck a lot.
I’m way over caffeinated.
I’m emotional to a serious fault.
I found myself not even wanting to listen to Weird Al the other night. I wanted to change my background, too.
Neither are happening.
Though I’m thinking of fooling around with the layout on this blog.

Monday, October 21, 2013

NaNoWriMo and Beyond

Not going to lie. The next three months are going to suck. I've packed my schedule so full that I'm pretty sure there are days I'm going to have to sleep while typing in order to make everything happen. Not having a real full-time job is going to greatly help.
There is going to be a two-week period in the middle of NaNoWriMo that I will be working on seven novels at once. Yes. Seven. 7 FUCKING BOOKS will be worked on at once in the middle of November. All while advancing the one novel that I 'm using as my NaNovel.
I'm going to have a tab for the "Weird" series as soon as I can come up with a decent series title for it. But for now it's just the "Weird" series because I'm unable to creative.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

You're Probably Right, I'm A Little Bit Crazy

But it just might be a lunatic you're lookin for! (Shush I know I got the lyrics wrong I DON'T CARE WAH) anyway hey guys WOW I'm really kind of shocked to see that two days ago, inexplicably, I got like 40 views on here! WOW that's amazing! I've not updated in a while and I come back to see that. That's some amazing stuff right there, man.
So I just wanted to kind of give y'all an update on what's going on with the Emma and you know what I've been doing and whatever without giving you any reason to really have your hopes up or anything. I've started working on a couple of new projects, one that I'm hoping to be able to talk about very, very soon. The others, well, not so much. I'm working about as fast as I can work, which is about the speed of a turtle in January in Antarctica. But you know, that's okay! As long as I keep going, I will eventually finish all these projects I've started.
I'm actually really excited to share one of the things I'm working on with you because it's very personal and actually something I've been wanting to write for a long while, yet haven't had the proper inspiration for it. Until now none of it has come out right, but now it's really starting to seem that I will be able to share it with the world REALLY soon!

And I suppose I can probably tell you all about the wonders that happened last Saturday night. So some of you might know that this past weekend was my birthday weekend (Monday I turned 25. Yes, I'm 25 now) and I was out of town all weekend. We drove out into the darkness Thursday evening and drove straight through to Chicago. We got into Chicago at just about 9AM and we went to the Field Museum and saw Sue (that really big T-Rex skeleton) and a bunch of other things (including a wall of ducks which prompted a video of me showing the world "how many ducks I give. Look at all the ducks I give!")
And then we found a hotel and crashed for like 15 hours. Saturday we woke up and got ready and drove into downtown and picked up a friend and we all went to the Weird Al concert in Joliet. That was hectic, trying to get the logistics of all that down (and trying to convince the valet parking dude that no, we didn't need to be parked, we were simply waiting for our friend!) and then driving those terrible freeways in Chicago. That was awful. I really don't want to drive in Chicago again for a looooooong time.
Well the concert was amazing, I started crying as we got to our seats and we were in the second row! It was CRAZY! The concert was SO good and I didn't think the night could get any better- and then it did.
The following is a picture that more aptly describes what happened than I could ever describe:
Yes, that's me. 
Yes, that's Weird Al.
Yes, that actually happened.
OMG

Sunday, October 06, 2013

If you've ever wondered

If you've ever wondered quite why I never get anything released when I say I'm going to, it's mostly due to the fact that I'm constantly working on at least four projects at once. Sometimes it's as many as 100. Last year it was 100. Hell, at one point before I ever even really considered publishing anything (except as a far-off dream) I would work on 20-30 projects a week AND FINISH ALL OF THEM.
But now there's that desperation for quality, but there's also the call of the fans for a finished product. So I'm very often left at an impasse. Hell, a lot of the time I get to about the halfway point and I get too bored of it to continue, or I start stressing that I've lost the original message I wanted to get across with the work. Or that the project has lost its soul.
So I abandon it. I start fresh. That's what's happened with both planned sequels for Viscera and the last book of the Sketchbooks Series.
That's what's happened with the Cedarcrest Series. TWICE.
Hell it happened sixteen times with Paper Dolls long before I ever planned on publishing it. I never planned on showing it to anybody but my mom and yet I had to restart it that many times.
And then the entirety of Paper Dolls was written in about two weeks.
So please, please bear with me when I say that I'm going to release something in a certain month (or year) and then I fall through. It's not intentional. I just want to give you the best product I can.
I will no longer be announcing anything I'm working on except in passing. You'll know what I'm doing when it's already out.
So if I get quiet or don't update my blog for a reeeeeeally long time, it's not me trying to keep you in the dark. It's me trying to not get your hopes up.
Because I love you, dear readers. And I want you to get the best possible things that can come from my brain.
And that's also why I'm holding that writing contest. Because I really want to give you the best possible things. And sometimes that means having some help.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Ever wanted to co-write a novel? WRITING CONTEST TIME!


I'm looking to hire a co-conspirator to help me write novels. The work load will not be very heavy, but will consist of the necessity of writing about one chapter (approx 3300 words) every two weeks. I will, of course, be writing about the same, and we will double-team the novel. I will write chapter one, you will write chapter two, me three, you four, me five, and so on. There will be chapters we co-write and there will be weeks where I will have nothing for you to work on.
For each chapter you write on your own, you will be paid $30-$40 depending on length and quality. For each chapter we co-write, you will be paid $15-$20 depending on how much you contribute and, again, quality. 
You will also receive a percentage of the royalties from each book sold (payable usually about 5 days after Amazon transfers my royalty funds into my bank account).
If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, read on and consider entering the contest!

Winner gets $20 and the opportunity to help me write a book. With that opportunity, of course, comes acknowledgement as one of the authors of the book, payment for each chapter written or co-written, and a percentage of the royalties for books sold. Will also include a paperback copy of the book you help to write and the opportunity to help out with other future projects as well if we work together.
Rules:
  1. Must be willing to deal with me on at least a weekly basis via email.
  2. One entry per person. 
  3. Have to be able to work with set deadlines once contest is over.
  4. Have to be flexible and willing to take critique.
  5. MUST HAVE PAYPAL. I cannot stress this enough. If you don’t have paypal I can’t pay you.
  6. Have fun!
How to Enter:
  1. Email your entry of no less than 500, no more than 1500 words to eewestlund@me.com
  2. Entries must be received by no later than 11:59PM Central Time December 1st, 2013
What to write for your entry:
  1. The scene you need to write is the main character and the love interest meeting for the first time in the hallway at school.
  2. Try to make it read like a rom-com, preferably late 80s, early 90s. 
  3. Please make it no longer than 1500 words and no shorter than 500 words. 
Details about main character:
  1. A bit ditzy
  2. Junior in high school
  3. Overweight
  4. high-pitched voice
  5. at least 6 inches shorter than love interest
  6. Human
  7. Female
Details about love interest
  1. Tall
  2. vampire
  3. gorgeous
  4. kind of a dick
  5. male
  6. reclusive
  7. intelligent
  8. muscular
I am leaving the rest up to you. 
Remember, the contest ends at 11:59PM Central Time on December 1st, 2013. Your entries can be emailed to eewestlund@me.com
The winner will be emailed sometime in mid-December and work on the project will begin in early January, 2014. 
ANY QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, CONCERNS, OR LOVE FOR THE CONTEST CAN BE ADDRESSED TO THE EMAIL LISTED ABOVE. PLEASE INCLUDE QUESTION OR COMMENT IN THE SUBJECT LINE. 

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Running On Empty

That is the name of my favorite song by "The Engagement" (a now-defunct local band that was based out of St. Paul. I went to college with their lead singer) and also what I'm doing in multiple ways currently. My van is on E, and I've only had 20 minutes of "sleep" in the past 21 hours. I don't get to sleep until at least 2 or 3 because I've got to mail out a package after I get off work, and at that point I might just stay awake because I'm interested in that Miley Cyrus thing on MTV tonight.
I'm hoping that my tiredness will lead to some serious bursts of creative energy and maybe, just maybe, I'll manage to get a good chunk of Fearless written today. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Stella's Saga: Book One — NOW IN PAPERBACK!

https://www.createspace.com/4464642 Now you can own a paperback copy of Stella's Saga, the complete first book! (Note: It does not contain Interlude.)
It's available through createspace.com currently, and soon it will also be available on amazon.com. And if you purchase a paperback copy, you can get the ebook (same book, only in kindle e-book form) for only $0.99 instead of the $2.99 that the e-book is going to cost.
I've released this paperback in order to help bring the hype for Stella's Saga: Book Two, which will be released (hopefully) sometime around Christmas/New Years. I will, of course, let everyone know if there's a delay or if I finish Stella's Saga: Book Two earlier than that. My biggest thing is making sure that I've got something out there for you to read and enjoy. I'm working my ass off on Fearless and SS:B2 and I'm hoping it'll really show once the two are done.
Thank you for reading, don't forget to follow/watch/whatever it is you do with google blog things and go check out Stella's Saga: Book One!
https://www.createspace.com/4464642

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Two Weeks Until More Weird Al and other news

So yeah in just under two weeks at this point there's a Weird Al concert in Joliet, IL, and me and my best friend are going, thanks to my other friend Sara, who I absolutely adore. I've been seriously flipping my shit about this concert since… July? Well, you know, long enough at least for people to seriously question my sanity. (Spoiler Alert: I have no sanity)

The real reason I'm updating this is because I want to talk about Fearless. You know, that novel I'm writing. Well, was writing. I took a break from it and now I'm writing it again because I had a huge spurt of inspiration this morning and I sat and typed 100 whole words before breakfast, which was a Twinkie-Weiner Sandwich. I don't even care if you're not supposed to capitalize TWS.
Sidenote: those things are tasty as fuck.
But I've kind of figured out the direction that the rest of the book is gonna take, which means I can toss out my outline because yeah, no. Most of what I had plotted isn't going to happen. But the ending will remain the same (Alfie helped me come up with it and it's pretty freakin sweet). I'm hoping to get more done on it before the concert and I'll post a revised edition of the first chapter up here at some point near my birthday (which is October 14th for anyone wondering, I'll be 25).

Friday, September 20, 2013

My dad got married

That's really about all I have to report. I'm working on a bunch of stuff right now, no release dates yet, nothing to report quite yet, I'm just kind of… eh.
Oh!
http://www.youtube.com/user/thebookbitch << I'm doing a series of daily vlogs about books, reading, and writing. Also movies based off books. You should check it out.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Writer's Block- Destroyed

I figured out the secret to getting myself to be creative all the time. Driving. I kid you not, I go for a 2 hour drive and suddenly I've got ideas just bursting out. Here's hoping it leads to completed projects.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Stella's Saga, Fearless, and being a book bitch

Good news for those waiting for the next installment of Stella's Saga. Book Two of Stella's Saga should be out by the end of September. I finally had the proper stroke of inspiration for how to begin Book Two. It's gonna be intense. It's probably going to be more jarring than book one, especially because now we're following Stella as a mother having to face the cold and the zombies. It will be the last Stella release for a long while.  But that will not be the least of Stella's Saga.

Fearless is moving along splendidly. I've almost hit 10k words on it and I'm gaining momentum. I'm aiming to have it out shortly after Halloween? I'd love to give it a Halloween release and everything but I'm not sure I'd be able to pull that off. I'm trying to take my time with this one.

And now we come to the last announcement I have to give in this blog entry: Starting with the next project after Fearless and Stella's Saga Book Two, I will no longer be naming projects or talking about projects until they're being uploaded to kdp or smashwords. Mostly because I don't want to scrap something that people are excited about, or start talking about something, get a lot written, then move it to the back burner and have a lot of people go Hey, what the hell? Wasn't Emma writing blankity blank? Where'd it go? Isn't she writing that anymore? Emma sucks! We hate Emma!
I mean it probably won't go that far but come on. This is the internet.
That isn't to say that I won't talk about any of my books ever anymore. It just means that when I do it will be about books that are already available or about to be available. Okay? Okay.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

THE COUNTDOWN IS ON

So just two days before my 25th birthday I'm gonna get to see Weird Al for the third time this year in real life. I've been counting down to this concert since there were 80 days between me and it, and now there's less than 50 days before the concert. If you've seen anything I've ever written on the subject of what Al means to me, you know that this is a huge thing for me. I've never seen him this many times in one year. Never. Ever. Ever.
So I get to drive down to Joliet, IL in October. This will be the longest road trip I'll have ever driven, and it's not going to be the longest I'll ever do, because next tour I'm going to try and go to every single concert. Which will probably take me to all the parts of the states. And I can't wait. And you should be excited for this, too, guys, because this means that I'm gonna be pumping out the stories from now until the next tour is announced because I want to completely fund the tour-chase with my books.
And what I really, really, REALLY wanna do is be able to buy 2 tickets (nice close tickets for most of the concerts) for most (if not all) of the concerts and just randomly pick friends and/or random awesomers from the internet to come to the concerts with me. Because Al is best enjoyed with a friend.
So yeah. 48 days from now I'll be in the audience at a Weird Al concert. Hell to the yes.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Waiting Game

Hey! I just realized that it's been like a month since I last updated this beast. I figure it's probably about time to try to do that quarterly "let me explain you a thing" post about why I'm being inactive or whatever.
Short story: I've been feeling uncreative and having some issues trying to even get words to come out.
Long story: I'm attempting to write a novel.

I just printed out all of my current projects' current files from my computer. I'm moving those files into another folder and not opening them again. Ever. I'm rewriting all of the projects and then will release them ASAP. Some will be long, some will be short, one might even hit 80k words.
I've also got a few surprise projects that I'll be working on and throwing out there at random.

Stella's Saga is on a slightly longer hiatus, sorry guys. Trying to work out some story continuity issues for book two. It'll be awhile, but I promise I'll finish it.

Sketchbooks, on the other hand, is getting the ax. I cannot do anything with that series anymore. Eventually I'm going to pull the first three books down and I'll give a shot at rewriting them or something, but for now they stand as a monument as to why I should finish writing a whole series before even talking about it or whatever.

Yeah so this has been a blog post.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Stella' Saga — Updated!

I've updated the tab for Stella's saga with book covers and links to the first four stories in the series, as well as a description for "Life Sentence," the fifth and final part of book one of Stella's Saga. Book two will start in late August/early September, and I guarantee that it will be just as thrilling as the first book with at least one reunion of characters from the first book.
And that's all I have to say about that ;)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A question I get asked a lot...

Novels. Why don't you write them, Emma? Emma, why do you stick with short stories? EMMA WRITE A NOVEL!

Emma doesn't write novels. Emma really doesn't have the attention span, okay?
I get burnt out on writing too quickly to actually write books. I have a really hard time trying to write anything more than 20k words. I can do series, I can do shorts, I can do long-winded blog post rant things-
I have the hardest time trying to actually focus on one story and a single cast of characters past about 50000 total words. That's why most things are series and most series are short.
That being said, I am working on a novel that I will be pushing out sometime next month. I am warning you right now that it's not my best work, nor am I proud of it. I am publishing it purely because I want the world to know why I do not write novels and maybe back off a bit?
I don't mean to sound rude about it, but seriously. I don't want to build up your hopes with false promises of a brilliant opus that will invariably shock the literary world. It's not. Let me tell you what Ice is. Ice is Twilight with slightly better vampires and a rape scene. THAT IS ALL IT IS. So far it is 30k words of PURE SCHLOCK.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

This is a blog post


Did I actually just talk on Twitter about my writing process? Did I seriously answer questions? Oh my god. I think I did. Holy shit. o:
Hello, hello and welcome back to my blog. Didja miss me? I bet ya didn’t! I’m writing this blogpost while internetless at my dad’s for the holiday weekend (watching kitties, it’s fun! And productive! And filled with fictional zombies and freaking out.) And I simply must say that I’m starting to wonder if all this recent attention means I’m about to hit it moderately big. Well maybe not big.
Maybe big like my massive cat? (Fun fact about that cat: his original name was gonna be Alfie. No, I’m not a Weird Al fan or anything. Not at all…) Or big like a day where I don’t roll my ankle and almost fall into oncoming traffic while trying to walk? Let’s call it that.
I know it’s not a lot to freak out about, but last month I sold 22 e-books on amazon. This month so far (as of 7/3) I’ve sold 8. I’ve also written three things (and released all three) in the past week, and I will probably have more to release in the next week or two.
I’ve also been trying to come to terms with the realization that people actually read my stuff now. I mean, it might not be in the same ballpark as the readership Amanda Hocking has, or even anywhere near any given blogger’s base readership, but I have come to realize I have a fan base, albeit quite small.
This both terrifies and pleases the shit out of me. Terrifies because I know that a fan base means that I’m going to start getting bad reviews with greater frequency as my stuff faces more exposure. Pleases because I know that it’s the start of something bigger and better, and I can’t wait to push it on to the next level.
It also makes me kinda sad because my mom isn’t still around to see this. I don’t think she thought I’d ever amount to anything in the writing world. Yet here I am, in the second month of what I usually considered to be the slowest months of the year for book sales (June, July, and September have been the WORST in both 2011 and 2012 for me, yielding exactly 0 book sales, while January and May have generally been the best).
I don’t want to be one of those unapproachable people with a fan base. I want to be that one who actively talks to and interacts with their fans. Like, even if it keeps me from doing the things I love for a while. I think I’d rather answer fanmail than write a sequel to a book, to be honest. Not that a sequel for (insert book here) wouldn’t eventually happen anyway…
It’s probably the worst timing ever to realize you actually met your idol, it actually happened and it wasn’t a dream, when you’re driving. At reasonably high speeds. In traffic. I sobbed. In an ice cream truck. Beat that for weirdness, eh.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Going Internetless!

Just a quick post to let everyone know that I'm going to be gone this weekend, starting Wednesday. I will not be around a proper internet connection so I will only be posting updates and whatever on twitter.

Also I just want to point out that I'm still riding that giddy high from getting to meet Weird Al. SO MUCH CREATING RIGHT NOW. Should have lots to publish Sunday night.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Weird Al Yankovic

So, Al Yankovic's got a new book coming out on the 25th, and he's just started a book tour for it and, well, long story short: IT STARTED IN MINNEAPOLIS AND IT WAS ONLY A FEW MILES AWAY AND I WENT AND I FINALLY, FINALLY GOT TO MEET HIM.
I shook his hand and actually made myself say hi (also other words) and then got a picture and t was legitimately the most amazing thing ever. I've got a signed copy of "My New Teacher And Me" by Al Yankovic and I've got an amazing picture (in which you can barely see my smile BUT I'm totally smiling [I was like literally fighting back tears this was the most amazing thing ever you have no idea] and oh my god) so yeah. Today, June 23rd 2013, best day of my life.
I could become a bestselling author tomorrow and it wouldn't be as good of a day as today.
Click the picture for bigger size!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday, June 09, 2013

"Gas Station" Gets a 4-Star Review!

From Amazon user "Navy vet…vt town"

"Welcome to Minnesota….

Stella has been a clerk on the night shift for 6 years. Her boyfriend, Johnny, comes to visit once in a while....

On this snowy and cold night, the Z's come out to play! Not having much for protection in the store, they end up with an axe for Stella and a baseball bat improvised with some nails for Johnny.

This is one scary short story that will make you want to outrun the Zombies!! Will the car start or not?

I named her Stella the Severer!! What a job she does with the axe.

Will they be able to outrun and outwit these creatures?

Who will survive this attack? Any other survivors around?"


Thanks you, Amazon user "Navy vet…vt town!" Your review made my night.

Wanna download The Gas Station at The Edge Of Eternity?
http://www.amazon.com/Station-Edge-Eternity-Stellas-ebook/dp/B00D7VIC0E

Friday, June 07, 2013

The Gas Station At The Edge Of Eternity

The first in Stella's Saga, a series of short stories about post-apocalypctic dystopia involving zombies and nuclear weaponry.
Buy on Amazon for 99 cents

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

4k Hits and Moving Forward

I just wanted to pause my writing for one moment to write a quick and sincere thank you to everyone who's visited my blog since its inception. Yesterday evening my blog hit 4000 page views. It's been kind of a lumpy bumpy ride these past two-ish years that I've actually been active here. I've had times where I couldn't get three words typed, and I've had times where I've written an entire novella in less than three weeks. With me, there's not much in-between.
And with me, there's not much room for writing blog posts no matter what kind of time I'm having writing my stories. For that, I apologize. I'm not the best at social networking. I find it really difficult to post comments on others things. I'm actually really kind of afraid of not conveying myself properly and accidentally offending someone with my words when I'm typing.
When I'm speaking, on the other hand, I don't have to cherry pick my words as much. I stutter and stammer and might still have some difficulty expressing myself, but I don't have to sit and second guess what I'm saying because when I'm speaking you can tell my mood. You can plainly hear or see my expression and tone so what's meant as a compliment shouldn't come off as an insult (and vice versa).
I'm trying to push forward and force myself to speak on the internet. In fact, I've made an acquaintance in one of my lovely readers. She followed me on Twitter and it was linked to her tumblr so I followed her back on both and we ended up skyping that entire night away. It was just about the best time I'd ever had with someone on the internet.
So here's the thing: Please, do not be afraid to approach me. I want your readership, but more importantly I want your friendship. Who knows? Maybe you'll make it into one of my stories! I take a lot of my friends and put them in my stories, in one way or another.
Anyway, if you catch me on the internet, go ahead and talk to me. Bother me. Tell me I should be writing and then start enthusing about Star Trek or Doctor Who.

This month, I'm hosting an event over on fridley.patch.com. Every day, I'm posting a 50-150 word excerpt (shooting for 100 words each time, but sometimes it's a bit over and sometimes a bit under, because paragraphs) from something I'm working on. And: All through June, July and August I'll be releasing one short story every Friday or Saturday.
This week it's a zombie action gorefest.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Writing Gore

Whenever I have the chance, I like to write gratuitous violence with massive amounts of gore. It's just sort of how I am. The task of novelizing the "Hostel" series of movies would probably be about the most amazing thing I could ever do, to be honest. I'd have a blast doing it.
Some of the people who've read my more gore-filled stories (And Jessie, Too; Viscera) have asked me, point blank, how I manage to write such weirdly beautiful, vivid descriptions of a person's internal organs becoming external.
Well it's really simple: I put on Weird Al's "Pancreas" song and just kinda let it flow.
I kid you not. The happier the tune, the more vibrant and gorey the violent scene in my story will be. "Pancreas," for those who've never heard the tune, is a VERY upbeat song about the pancreas. It's bright. It's happy. It's the perfect backdrop for zombie guts to be splattering against the walls and floors.
Need to chop someone's head off in a story? Try "A Complicated Song" by Weird Al. Defenestrate someone? "Melanie" by Weird Al (even features defenestration!).
Basically, what I'm trying to say is that Weird Al is the perfect music backdrop for writing. Also I like writing gore. A lot.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

AL YANKOVIC

EVERYTHING IS WEIRD AL AND NOTHING HURTS.
I'M GOING TO A BOOK SIGNING FOR AL YANKOVIC'S NEW BOOK NEXT MONTH AND YOU CAN'T STOP ME.

ETA: I WENT AND I GOT TO MEET WEIRD AL AND IT WAS GLORIOUS.

On Death and Why It's Sad

I think I finally figured it out. Why death is sad. It's not the losing of the physical presence, it's not even so much the loss of the person- it's the fact that in 20, 30, 40 years… they won't matter anymore.
Now before you grab your torches and pitchforks, let me explain. It's not that they won't matter to some people, because to those who loved that person, they'll always matter.
But try explaining that person to someone who never met them. Try to explain why you laugh at something they did all the time. Try to explain why you use certain phrases or words- it's like you're the Doctor having a laugh at a gas mask, but the only person who would understand the joke is trapped in an alternate universe.
This is why death is sad. Death is sad because when someone dies there are thousands upon thousands of connections that are severed in an instant. Suddenly inside jokes no longer have meaning. That phrase your mom taught you that was super special to her and your dad- no one but you and your dad understand it anymore.
You'll laugh at things that nobody else finds funny, cry at things that everyone finds hilarious. This is why death is sad.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Experience with PublishAmerica

So I figured that it's probably been long enough since I published with them to talk about it. I've passed a royalty period and made nothing. This doesn't surprise me. The only thing that I've really gotten from publishing with them has been that pretty book cover for Fatima. I've got to say I never did expect to make money off them, but I'm willing to bet that they thought they'd make money off me. And I can guarantee that no, no they haven't, unless they've been selling my book and not reporting the sales to me (as if they could make money selling a 50 page book for more than $15). I stopped checking the email that I gave them when I signed up months ago. For all I know they're still whining at me to purchase $59 options like "10 copies of YOUR book!" "SEND 'FATIMA' TO THE 'insert european city here' BOOK FAIR!"
Yeah no. If I really wanted to send it to those places, I'd just spend extra money at one of the cheaper self publishing sites, like lulu.com.
But at least I got that pretty book cover out of it!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ideas, Writing, and Me

I know I don't post very often, nor do I post lengthy posts. I know some people might expect that out of a blog. But I just can't do that. I'd rather spend my time typing on a novel or a story, rather then pounding the keys to put out a massive blog post.
But I've been wanting to write this post for a long while now. I just wanted to clear the air about a few things.
I like to talk about every little idea I have. I like to set deadlines for myself that I know I can't possibly keep. It makes me work harder. It also burns me out on certain ideas. So when you hear me talking about an awesome story idea that I'm totally behind, like Cedarcrest, Mr. Thomas, or Mommy Tales or even the Smitten trilogy… I always plan to finish them. I just don't.
They sit on my hard drive and eventually I revisit them. I do plan to finish them all, even if it takes me until I'm thirty, but I forget.
I start a lot of projects knowing full well that I'll never be able to finish them. I also start a lot of fanfics and intend them to go for chapters and chapters and chapters and then end them after the first or second chapter because I get bored.
That's my main problem. Everything ends up boring me in the end. Even if it's a really fun, exciting story with characters that are snarky and awesome, I end up pulling away from them. I think part of it is that I know that once I finish their book, once I finish the story, it's over. Those stories will never come back, except if I read my work.
And that's not the same. It's not the same as creating something that first time. It's such a thrill to have total control over a cast of characters. But so many of my characters are one story characters, almost all of them are single book or even single chapter characters. It's hard to say goodbye to them after their stories have been told.
So please always take my release dates with a grain of salt.
And never be afraid to give me a new idea. Even if you're excited for the release of something else, starting me on a new idea is a good way to get me to look at my old stuff with fresh eyes.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Subreddit!

http://www.reddit.com/r/EmmalineWestlundBooks/
There's now a super-duper awesome subreddit for my books and writing. I will post not-published stuff there for free for all to read. You should totally go subscribe!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Just a thought

If you're a writer and you've got a following- why do you give half a shit about someone posting a bad review of you on a website? What does it matter if one person doesn't like you and voices their opinion?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Figured I don't have anything to lose posting this here.
If you feel like helping out, my paypal is emmaline.westlund@gmail.com

Thursday, May 09, 2013

It's Bloh-og it's bloh-og*

This is just a quick blog entry, mostly because I haven't done a proper update in a little while and I think I owe it to you, dear reader of my blog, to actually attempt to update it once in a while.

So basically what I've been doing is writing Ice (book #1 of the Smitten trilogy), which is easily going to be novel-length before I'm done with it (which is good, as I've been itching to actually put out a novel). I've been fighting the urge to work on my other plot bunnies (and believe me, they multiply faster than regular bunnies), and so far it's been working out all right. I kind of miss the freedom of writing Cedarcrest, though. I can't wait to get back to working on Corporeal (which will be the next release after Ice).
I've also been looking for a job (had a decent interview today, hoping it leads to a job! It would be nice to not be a completely broke-ass writer) since I've been out of work since the end of February.
To combat boredom (and complete brain atrophy associated with it) I've been working to revamp the Book Bitch youtube channel (plus it will eventually generate money, so yeah) and trying to come up with better blog entries to do.
I read The Fault In Our Stars by John Green a couple weeks ago and cursed just about everything because that book is so good. It literally brings you from laughter straight to sobbing very quickly.
AND I've been working to get Destruction Productions (which, if you look at my e-books, is my publisher) ready to start taking queries, and took the plunge and opened up the email inbox for queries!
So as you can see I've been a very busy person. And I'm hoping to stay just as busy because otherwise the crippling depression that usually follows very close behind me will catch up to me and beat me senseless. And I don't think any of us really want that to happen, do we?



*Note: Blog entry is not big, heavy, or wood. However, it is better than bad, it's good!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ever Wonder What I Listen To When I Write?

Well I'm gonna start letting you share in my weird writing music (and comedy) playlists.
Starting with the one for Ice.


There's 23 songs and they all sort of represent one chapter of the book.
Enjoy!

First draft of Chapter One of Ice (Smitten Trilogy) — Critiques and comments wanted!


I woke to the sound of rain assaulting the two windows in my room. Groaning, I rolled over and blinked at the neon-green display of my alarm clock. 4:32AM. Brilliant. One of those magical hours of the early morning that left you just short of a perfect night’s sleep, but unable to fall asleep again. I knew right then that it would be a long day.
I rolled over and tried in vain to fall asleep again. After another half hour, I sighed and sat up, swinging my legs over the side of my bed. Yawning and stretching, I stood up and padded out of my bedroom and into the bathroom.
Through the thin walls of our new home I could hear my mom shifting restlessly in her sleep and my dad’s incessant snoring. It was as I’d figured it would be, the morning of my first day at a new school. Although a part of me had been hoping that my mom might actually get up and maybe make me some breakfast or wish me good luck, I knew that was pushing it.
Mom had been laid off shortly before we moved, following my dad’s layoff two months previous. That had been what sparked the move; $1500 per month was too much for my mom’s salary combined with the unemployment insurance. It was definitely too much once mom lost her job as well.
So now we lived on the wrong side of the tracks in Fridley, just 10 miles from Uptown Minneapolis, where I grew up. Ten miles from all of my friends. In some ways it was a good thing that we only moved that far, but in others it was terrible. I could still see my friends, sure, but I knew they wouldn’t come to Fridley.
And, of course, it meant I had to change schools. It was September 5th, the first day of my Senior Year of high school. It was the year that I was supposed to come out on top. My friends and I had been set to rule Benilde, in a way, where I’d gone from Seventh Grade on, but even my grandma’s generosity didn’t extend to transportation for that great a distance just for school, when I’d lived pretty far from school to begin with.
I sighed as I caught a glance of my face in the bathroom mirror. There was no way I’d fit in at Fridley High. At Benilde St. Margaret, I’d been Gwynnie, the girl with a ton of friends. The girl that everyone liked, or at the very least, the girl that nobody outright hated.
I showered quickly, the building’s ancient plumbing groaning and knocking in staunch protest. It was nice to find that, if nothing else, the building had a decent water heater.
Wrapped in my favorite fluffy bathrobe, I exited the bathroom, absently drying my hair with a hand towel. Dad wasn’t snoring anymore, but their light was still off, door still closed. I went into my room to finish getting ready for school, firmly closing the door behind me.
I opted for the simplest possible option in just about every aspect of my life. My parents thought it was because I was lazy, but really it was because I didn’t want to waste my money on what was trendy. So I stuck to tees, tanks, and jeans.
I finished toweling dry my hair, leaving it just slightly damp and a bit more cooperative. I pulled on a pair of new jeans and undid my robe. I shrugged it off my shoulders as I ran a brush through my hair, fluffing it out just a bit. As I began to rummage through my half-unpacked boxes in search of a shirt, there was a knock at my door.
“You’re up early,” I heard my dad say. The remark held no emotion, it was a simple statement of fact. “Nervous?”
“Nah,” I replied, finding one of my plain tank tops and slipping it on. My dad opened the door a crack.
“You sure?”
“Do I have a choice?” I asked, a little more harshly than I’d intended, as I sat down at my vanity to apply the small amount of makeup I wore and finish my hair.
“Gwyneth, I know it wasn’t your idea to change schools, but this could be really good for you. You’ve got a clean slate here.”
“Dad, can we not?” I asked, scowling at him. He sighed.
“I’ll have breakfast ready for you in about ten minutes. Eggs and bacon.” With that, he closed the door, leaving me a bit shocked. I shook my head, turning back to my mirror to apply my eyeliner. I wondered briefly if my dad had suddenly acquired mind-reading powers. I put on some tinted lip balm and loosely braided my hair, tying it off with a rainbow hair tie. It was nice to be able to wear what I wanted.
“Come get your food before it gets cold, Gwyn!” my dad hollered. I rolled my eyes, grabbed my backpack, and left my bedroom, closing the door behind me. No need to make it easier for them to snoop.
I found a heaping pile of scrambled eggs and a formidable amount of bacon waiting for me on the kitchen table. “Thanks, Dad,” I said. He grunted in response. He was at his desk, getting ready to look for a job all day. At least, that’s what he said he was doing. He erased all of the browser history whenever he left the computer.
I sat down and dug in, devouring the entire plateful. My friends had always been envious of my metabolism. I was naturally underweight. No matter what I ate or how much of it, I was stuck at 94 pounds. At almost 5’5, I hated it.
My parents hated it, too. In a desperate bid to gain weight, I would gorge myself on anything I could get my hands on. When they weren’t around, of course. I was limited to two snacks when my parents were around, three if I could be sneaky. There were never leftovers; I was never limited when it came to mealtime.
I walked into the main of the kitchen and grabbed my lunch box, which was one of my dad’s old briefcases. Mom packed it full of snacks and sandwiches, along with a quart of chocolate milk. I also had $500 in my lunch account, and would have more deposited by my grandma as I needed it. She knew how my need to constantly eat hurt my family’s budget.
I grabbed a banana from the counter, peeled it and ate it in three bites, trying to destroy the evidence before my dad could realize I was done with breakfast. Almost as if I’d called his name he appeared on the step into the kitchen area, an eyebrow raised. “Not enough eggs?” he asked. I sighed. Busted.
“I guess I am kinda nervous.”
“It’s a nice enough day out,” he commented, “maybe nice enough for you to bike to school?”
“Are you kidding me?” I scoffed, gesturing at the window, “It’s raining to beat the band out there and you’d have me bike?”
He held out his phone, a picture of a shiny blue bike pulled up. “Grams thought you should have that. For good luck.”
“Grams bought me a bike? Really?” I exclaimed, my eyes huge. “Oh my god, that’s so cool! I love Grams!”
“This rain’s supposed to clear up in another twenty minutes or so, just wear your poncho until it stops. And make sure you call her after school, okay? And don’t go riding in the middle of the road. That’s not how it works up here in the suburbs. Stick to the sides. And I want you home right after school, don’t go wandering off.”
“I’m almost 18! When are you guys gonna stop being so protective of me?” I demanded. How was I supposed to make friends if I had to come home right after school?
“Yes, almost 18. Not quite yet. And until you’re out of our home, you’ll listen to your mother and me.”
I sighed, vowing silently to find my own place as soon as I turned 18. Time to start looking for a job. I glanced at the clock that hung on the wall above the family computer. It was just past 6:00AM. I had about two hours before I really needed to be to school, but I knew it would be a good idea to get there early, even if it meant biking in the rain. I had a brand new bike! I could dance the entire way to school in the rain and it wouldn’t bother me now!
“I’ll be home right after school,” I said quietly, pushing past him. I stopped at the front door to slip on my shoes and shrug into my backpack. I slung the strap to the briefcase across my chest and wiggled into my rain poncho. Thank god my bags were waterproof. I’d hate to find a soggy sandwich in my lunch.
“Have a good day Gwynnie,” my dad called after me.
“Yeah, yeah,” I muttered as I slipped out, not bothering to lock the door behind me. My dad was in his underwear. Any person who just walked in without knocking would see far more than any reasonable human being would want to.
Once I was outside, I had to stop and think and try to remember what garage was ours. It wasn’t the same number as our apartment, which was 113. I decided to just walk along until something felt familiar. It was raining so hard that I wasn’t sure I would find it.
It turned out to be the very last garage on the second building I walked past. I eagerly opened the garage door, practically jumping up and down with excitement. My old bike had been decent, but the one my grandma had bought for me was even better. Top of the line, flawless… I couldn’t wait to test it out.
After I had the garage locked back up, I mounted my beauty and tested it out. It rode so smoothly I thought I was riding on a cloud. The parking lot of the complex I lived in was filled with small cracks and holes in the pavement. It was hell to maneuver walking, and even in Mom’s Lexus it felt like we were driving over those weird spots in the shoulder of a highway to alert drivers that they’re about to go off the road. Constantly.
I hopped the curb onto the bike path that ran the length of the complex and followed it as it continued alongside the neighboring complex and a park. I hopped off the trail as it began to wind past an elementary school and made for the playground on the other end of the parking lot. I brought my bike up into the sand with me and I leaned against a jungle gym, opening my lunch to find my first snack of the day.
It felt a bit strange, eating a cupcake at a playground at six in the morning. I didn’t much care for the spot. I’d have to find a different spot to stop the next morning.
Once my snack was finished, I looked at the sky. The rain was starting to let up, so I got back on my bike and rode up and across the street, following traffic. I turned right at Mississippi Street and pedaled hard until I hit University Avenue and had to stop. The intersection was insane. I pulled off my poncho and jammed it into the cupholder.
When the light finally changed and I could cross, I heard someone honking their horn rather desperately off to my right. I turned and saw someone I’d never expected to see again.
His name was Vincent. Vincent Montagna. He had been my best friend from second grade until the beginning of high school… But he’d just disappeared that summer. And I’d never heard from him again. Until now.
“Oh my god!” I squealed, abandoning my plan to cross and jogged over to where he’d pulled off with my bike in tow.
He drove a bright red late model Ford pickup. He threw on his hazard lights and climbed out through the passenger seat. “Gwyn! Is it really you?”
“Vincie!” I squealed happily, dropping my bike and throwing my arms around him. “When did you move to Fridley?” I demanded.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. Didn’t you hear? My mom… My mom passed away. I had to move in with my grandparents. I didn’t get to say goodbye to anybody and I lost my list of phone numbers in the move.”
“All these years…” I murmured. “You hardly look any different.”
“Hey, where you heading? I could drive you and we could catch up.”
“Oh, just the high school.”
“Totino Grace?” He asked, scrunching up his nose at the thought. I shook my head.
“No. FHS. My parents both lost their jobs. We’re kinda broke now.”
“Oh, hon, I’m sorry!” He looked me up and down, “Don’t worry. We’ll do something about that wardrobe. Just because you’re poor doesn’t mean you can’t dress fabulous. And with your figure! But at least there’s one good thing in all the bad.” I raised an eyebrow. “We’re classmates again!”
“Oh my god you’re stuck in public school too?”
“Yeah, unfortunately,” he said as he slid my bike into the bed of his truck, being careful not to scratch the paint. “It’s been kinda interesting though. Some of the girls in our grade have children. Multiple children.” He waggled his eyebrows at this and I shoved him playfully.
“You’re kidding. That’s disgusting.” He gave me a boost into the cab of his truck and then climbed over me. “Thanks for the ride,” I said once his butt was no longer in my face.
“How could I let you keep going in this rain?” He asked. I looked out the window.
“The sun’s coming out,” I pointed out.
“Can’t let you get sunburn,” he replied. “So, dish, what’s been new and big since we last saw each other? I mean aside from you being a total babe now.”
I blushed, rolling my eyes. “Oh, not much. Francie and Shelly came out last year, shock right?”
“Because it needed to be said,” he said, stifling a chuckle. “They’ve been cute together since fourth grade.”
“Wait, remember Clint? Yeah, he dumped me right before prom last year.”
“You two were together for six years. I’d think you both would’ve wanted to see other people after six months. I never did like him with you, Gwynnie.”
“Well what about you? You’ve sure gotten… big,” I said, eyeing his nicely toned arms. He flashed me a toothy grin.
“One class I like. Strength Training. I’ve taken it every year. I’ve still got more credits than I need.”
We sat a long moment in silence at a red light. “It’s gonna be nice to know at least one person going into this.”
“Think of me as your own personal guide into this hell called a high school.”
“You know, it would be a better idea on your part to tell me the good aspects of the school instead of focusing on the fact that it inevitably sucks?”
“Well you already know the good part. Me. No use sugarcoating the rest of it.” I laughed.
It was a pretty short drive. “So what’re you going into school so early for?” I asked.
“I’m supposed to help out the freshmen and other new students. Sweet gig. Get to add community service to my letter jacket and I get free breakfast all this week. Not the crap they serve the kids that come off the buses, oh no. I’m talkin’ breakfast burritos and pancakes and bacon.”
“But you’re only doing it for the warm feeling of giving back to your fellow students, right?” I teased, batting my eyelashes at him.
“Of course. And since I found one of you newbies before I even got here, I consider my giving back for the day to be complete, and I invite you to share my feast,” he said as we pulled into a parking space near the main door.
“Well then, I accept. But only if we can go get my schedule first.”
“Good, then I can laugh at you for getting stuck with teachers that suck!” I rolled my eyes at him.
We walked in and he led me to the cafeteria, which I could have found on my own, I’m sure. It was directly in the center of the school. We located my schedule with no trouble and hunted down my locker.
“Ugh, lucky, your locker’s right by the door. And your last class is Chem? You’ll be out the building before anyone else is even at their lockers!”
“Well lucky me,” I replied as I put my stuff away. I kept the briefcase secured across my chest.
“You know you can’t have something that big as a purse, right? They won’t let you bring that around the school.”
“Yeah they will. We came in a few days ago. Had to talk to the principal and a bunch of office types about it. It’s got my food in. I get cranky if I don’t have a snack just about constantly, so yeah. Plus if my weight drops too much lower I’ll be stuck in a hospital and monitored.”
“Are you anorexic?” he asked, concerned. I shook my head.
“Are you kidding me? I love food too much. My metabolism’s just crazy.” I stuffed a notebook into the back pocket of the briefcase and followed Vince back to the cafeteria. True to his word, there was a feast to be had. All the volunteers (and a few of us lucky newbies) got McDonalds breakfast burritos.
That was when I first saw him. Across the cafeteria from where Vince and I decided to sit stood a boy that was simply beautiful. His skin was flawless milky white, his hair a tangle of jet-black hair pulled back in a low, tight ponytail. Vince noticed that my attention was no longer on him or his conversation and quickly moved to become the center of my attention again.
“Wonder who he thinks he’s fooling with that wig,” he said, tugging on my arm. “Anyway, looks like we’ve got mostly the same classes. I’ll show you where my locker is and you can come wait for me after school, huh? I’ll drive you home. It’d be nice to see your parents again.”
I forced a smile and nodded. “Yeah, that’d be great.” When did Vince get so clingy? I glanced back over to where the other boy had been and sighed when I found that he was no longer there.
We finished our breakfast and I felt absolutely too full to do anything, but Vince pulled me along, dragging me to our first class, Studio Art.
There were only six other people in the class, at least that’s what Vince insisted. We were the only ones in the classroom at first, so we had our pick of what table to sit at. We decided on the one closest to the sink at the back of the room.
As the first warning bell rang, the teacher, Mrs. Scammahorn, finally entered the room, looking rather confused. “Oh! Didn’t see you there. Hello Vince,” she said as she noticed us. She set down the stack of paper she’d been carrying and made her way back to us.
“Hey Ms. S,” Vince replied with a grin, “This is Gwyneth Howell. She’s new this year.”
“Hi,” I said, waving my hand a little. She smiled at me.
“Do ya like gettin’ messy, Gwyneth?” she asked. I could hear a hint of a southern drawl to her voice and I wondered briefly why she’d moved so far north. I shrugged, nodding my head slightly. “Well that’s what I like to hear! Welcome to FHS, kid.” She scurried off into her office as other students finally began to shuffle into the room.

After class, Vince followed me like a puppy back to my locker. My next class, Keyboarding I, was one of the two classes we didn’t share. Of course, that wasn’t about to stop him from walking me to class and hovering awkwardly close until just before the bell rang for second period.
I sat near the back of the computer lab and scribbled in a notebook while the teacher, Mr. Terebayza, passed out worksheets and lists of additional supplies we’d need to bring for the class. About ten minutes into his first day lecturing, the door opened and that boy I’d seen earlier walked in. My heart skipped a beat as our eyes met.
“Sorry, Mr. Terebayza,” he began, “I’ve got a pass. I had to see the nurse. Burnt myself in Gym.”
The teacher took the boy’s pass and looked it over, then glared at him. “All right, Gerard. Let’s not make a habit of it like last year in English Lit. There’s one open computer, back next to Gwyneth. Raise your hand, Gwyneth.” I flushed bright red, my arm shaking as put up my hand.
The boy, Gerard, smirked when he saw me, and strode quickly to the computer to my right. He turned on his computer and immediately went on the internet. I tried to focus on the doodle I was working on in my notebook, but I couldn’t help but stare at him.
It was the closest I’d ever been to such a thing of beauty as that boy. Maybe if my parents had taken me to more museums when I was a child I’d have been better equipped to handle living statues carved by the gods themselves.
“Can I help you?” His voice was deep and vibrant, almost lyrical. I jumped, realizing I’d turned in my chair to face him. I quickly turned my attention to the front of the room, feeling my face flush red again. “Well?” He persisted.
“I- Uh- Well…” And the award for Most Articulate Teenage Girl goes to… I thought miserably.
“I’m Gerard,” he said after a moment. His introduction only served to fluster me further.
“Gwyn,” I squeaked. He grinned a nearly imperceptible grin and turned his attention back to his computer. After a few minutes had passed and I’d managed to not stare at him, I decided to glance over and see if I could tell what he was doing.
He had a browser window open and was on ChirpBox, one of the more popular social networking sites. I didn’t understand the hype. All you could do on CB was write 200-character-or-less status updates and follow other people’s status updates. There wasn’t even a proper way to share photos.
Terebayza wrote our first assignment on the whiteboard at the front of the room and there was a collective groan from the rest of the class. He would probably be the only teacher to assign actual homework on the first day of school. At least it was easy. All we had to do was write a letter introducing ourselves. With more than a half hour left of class, most of us probably wouldn’t even need to worry about it as homework.
I opened Word and started banging away at the keyboard. Typing was one of my favorite things to do. I wanted nothing more than to be a professional writer and have nothing to do all day but read and write, so I took all the typing classes I could to hone my skills.
As I began typing the last paragraph of my letter, I realized that Gerard was staring at me. “You type fast,” he said when I stopped. I glanced over at his screen. He was still on CB. I sighed.
“Not as fast as you, obviously,” I replied, “Already done?” He chuckled.
“Actually, not even started. Don’t tell anybody, but this is my throwaway class for the year. I’ve taken it before, at my old school. I’ll probably just recycle last year’s introduction paragraph. Still got it on my computer.”
“Isn’t that cheating?” I asked.
“Probably.” I smirked. A bad boy. This just kept getting better and better.

Second period ended too quickly and Vince came in to collect me for our next class, Strength Training. Gerard looked disappointed that Vince was there. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed, too. As much as I liked Vince, and as much as I’d missed him, this was getting to be too much. I would have to remember to remind him that I needed space sometimes, too.
Still, he hovered probably two inches from me right up until the bell rang. We were split into six squads, which was what Mr. Fowler called our little desk-less rows. That was when I realized that Gerard was there, too. He was to my right, three people behind Vince. He was the last person in his row.
He seemed to realize that I was there at about the same time because once more our eyes met. Before I looked away, I could’ve sworn I saw him smile.
“This class is not an easy ‘a,’ guys. The only way to get an ‘a’ in my class is to give it your all every day. Slackers will not make good grades. Horseplay will earn you detention. There is nothing inherently safe about this class. We work with heavy weights and machines. Vigilance, constant vigilance, will be what keeps you from losing a limb here.”
He shoved a large bucket forward with his foot. “When I call your name, come up here and pick out a lock. Then go and find the locker number that I give you and put your lock on that locker. Memorize your combination. Do not leave the sticker on the back with the combination. That’s just dumb.” I rolled my eyes, scoffing audibly. Public school kids actually had to be reminded of this?
He began calling people up. I turned to face away from Gerard and Vince- it was just easier to avoid the temptation of staring and making Vince even clingier- and stretched my legs out in front of me.
“Hi!” an overly chipper female voice said from somewhere to my left. I looked over and found a girl with wild orange curls and pale skin that was speckled with freckles smiling at me.
“Hi,” I said, returning the smile.
“I’m Tamara Bates,” She said, looking at me expectantly.
“Uh, nice to meet you,” I said, “I’m Gwyn.”
“Oh Gwyn so good to meet you. See, I saw you in Keyboarding and you looked like you were getting kinda friendly with the other new kid.”
“Gerard’s new too?” I asked. The way he’d spoken…
“Well, not really so new, but new enough. He transferred here near the end of last year. You’re the first girl he’s actually spoken to here.” So that’s what it was. Jealousy. I sighed.
“Well we weren’t really talking,” I said, rolling my eyes.
“Still, he talked to you. What was it like?” I could feel both Vince’s and Gerard’s eyes boring into the back of my skull.
“It was… like… talking?” Total lie. “Why don’t you try talking to him yourself?”
“Are you kidding? Have you seen this boy?” She giggled.
“I guess he is kinda pretty,” I admitted. I heard muffled laughter behind me as Mr. Fowler called my name.
“Gwyneth Howell, you’re locker 256.” I got up and crossed the gym, grabbing a lock as I sauntered into the girls locker room. “Tamara Bates, you’re locker 259.”
“Same locker I’ve had every year,” she said as she stood up. As if any of us actually cared. She hurried across the gym to catch up with me. “Hey, wait up!” She caught me at the door.
“What’s his voice like?” she asked. I stared at her in confusion. “You know, Gerard. What’s it like when he talks?”
“Haven’t you heard him talk in class?” I asked pointedly. She shook her head.
“He doesn’t participate. Like, ever. Ew, I sound like a total teacher when I say that, but it’s so true. I was in a group with him last May and he didn’t say a word the entire time. I was almost convinced he couldn’t talk or something, y’know? So what’s his voice like?”
I stopped to think as I glanced casually at the numbers on the lockers we passed. “Well… You know Josh Groban’s singing voice?”
“Mmm, of course I do. So dreamy.”
“It’s like that, only not quite singing. There is a musical tone to his voice though. It’s like…” I didn’t have any proper words to describe it.
“Like…?” She pressed.
“It’s smooth and deep. There’s the faintest accent I can’t quite identify.”
“You should ask him to sit with us at lunch,” she said as we finally located our lockers.
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware I had plans to sit with you at lunch. See I’ve already-”
“Look, I know, you’ve probably already heard all sorts of things about me. But really, I’m not as mean as everyone thinks I am. You seem like a cool girl and I wanna introduce you to some of my friends. Maybe you and Gerard could both become regulars in my group.”
“But you see, I’ve already got a friend to sit with. Vince.”
“Vince?” She spat the name, “You’re kidding, right? Vince Montagna?”
“Yeah, I’ve known him since we were kids. He used to be my best friend.”
“Well that must’ve been a long time ago. He’s bad news now.”
I glared at her as I locked my locker and peeled the tape from the back, testing the combination as quickly as my stumbling fingers could manage. “You know, I think you can talk to Gerard on your own. I won’t be joining you at lunch.”
I stormed out of the locker room then, shaking my head and fuming. The nerve of that girl, thinking she could decide what I would do, where I would go, who I would hang out with! Neither Vince nor Gerard were in the gym when I crossed back to where everyone was congregated, so I sat back down in my squad with the boy who sat in front of me.
Tamara didn’t come back out for the rest of class, and once it was over she stormed up the stairs and down the hall toward the cafeteria in a huff, glaring at me as I recounted what she’d said to Vince. He wasn’t pleased.
“I’m sorry about that,” he said as we headed for the cafeteria, “Tam and I dated last year, and it didn’t end well. Things were said- and thrown- that neither of us meant. In the end I was the bad guy. I broke up with her.”
“So now she wants to convince all other girls in school that you’re not worth their time?” He shrugged.
“Something like that. She’s always trying to pin stuff on me. I’m not surprised that she’d tell you I was bad news.”
“So you didn’t do anything sinister?” I asked. He shook his head. “Good. Cuz I like you. And I wouldn’t want something nasty tainting all my good memories of us.”
“Hopefully we’ll be able to make plenty more good memories,” He replied with a smile that was just a little too friendly. It made me very uncomfortable.
We found a table under a tree in the senior courtyard and Vince ventured off to the a la carte line to get us each something to drink. I opened my lunch and arranged it on the table neatly, deciding what I’d eat first.
I didn’t hear Gerard approach, didn’t notice him sitting across from me. “Hello again, Gwyneth Howell,” he said, his voice quiet. I jumped about a half mile out of my seat and jerked my head up to look at him. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.” He looked even paler out in the natural light. His eyes were obscured by the oversized sunglasses he wore, and despite the warmth of the day, he wore an unzipped hooded sweatshirt.
“Hi,” I said finally, my voice shaking. He was laughing quietly and I realized too late that I probably looked like a deer in headlights and I quickly looked down, snapping my briefcase shut.
“Hi,” he said, flashing a perfect smile. His teeth were so white it was almost like they were glowing. I had to force myself to concentrate on speaking.
“So, what’s up?” I asked.
“Well, I thought I might sit with you today. You looked lonely out here, all alone.”
“Oh. Cool,” I said, “But, um… I’m not really sitting alone. My friend Vince went to get us drinks.” I glanced up at him apologetically. “He’s a bit clingy.”
“I know. I’ve been watching him monopolize your time. I’ve been hoping to get you alone for a few minutes.”
As though Gerard’s words had summoned him, Vince approached the table holding two bottles of iced tea and a cookie the size of my head. “Hey, sorry I took so long,” He said, glaring at Gerard. I scooted over to give him room to sit, since Gerard had taken his spot. He sat as close to me as he could without being in my lap, putting one possessive arm around my waist. Gerard’s eyes narrowed at this.
“So, you’re new too, then, Gerard?” I asked, trying to break the tense silence that had fallen. He nodded once.
“Yes. I moved here from Seattle last April.”
“What prompted the move?” Vince was the one who asked the question and I looked over at him, surprised. Gerard shrugged.
“Nothing too complicated. My mom was transferred to Minneapolis and we moved.”
I shifted uncomfortably against Vince’s arm, trying to clue him in to my discomfort, but he didn’t loosen his grip. The two boys stared at each other as I scarfed down my sandwich and chips, lingering over my dessert. I drank the rest of my chocolate milk from breakfast, replacing it in my lunchbox with the tea Vince had gotten me.
“We’re all alike, sort of,” I said. Neither of them looked at me, their odd little staring contest growing even more intense. “I mean, none of us have been at Fridley for all that long. Vince and I used to attend a private school together,” I continued, poking Vince in the side. Still no response. Inside, the bell rang, and Vince finally let go of me. I stood up quickly, stretching and looking expectantly at them.
After another long minute, Gerard stood up and left the courtyard without saying a word, and Vince turned to face me. “So, ready for Political Science?” he asked with a slight grin.
“I guess. What was all that about?”
He led me back into the school and down the social studies hall. “What was all what about?” he asked, very obviously playing dumb. I rolled my eyes.
“That little staring contest you two had. And that business of grabbing my waist. I think I’m gonna have a bruise.”
“I don’t like him,” he said after thinking for a moment. We walked into the classroom and groaned to find that there was already a seating chart. We were on opposite sides of the room from each other. Still, that didn’t stop Vince from taking up residence in the desk next to mine until the bell rang and Mrs. Rmayti caught him out of his own seat. Whoever was supposed to sit next to me never showed.
Mrs. Rmayti was very young and intensely beautiful. She wore a plain black abaya and an intricately wrapped purple and blue hijab. “Hello class,” she said as we settled into our seats, “Welcome to your senior year. I want to be the first to tell you congratulations! You’ve almost done it! But I also must warn you that you’re not done yet. I’ve done my best to make this a fun class in the two years I’ve taught it now, but I still expect a lot of effort out of every single one of you.”
About half of the class groaned and she got this stern look on her face. “I don’t have to make this fun for you. That is a choice and it is only mine to make.” I could tell it would be a long trimester if she got this defensive over something as trivial as everyone groaning about something. Across the room, I could see Tamara glaring at me. I knew she’d seen Gerard come sit by me at lunch and I could tell she was going to be a problem.
Just what I needed, an enemy on the first day of school.
Mrs. Rmayti droned on about what we’d be covering this term and made us each stand up and tell a random fact about ourselves to the rest of the class. How embarrassing. Tamara’s fact was that she’d met some kid from a band I didn’t like. Vince’s was that used to be kind of a geek, which made most of the boys in class laugh. He’d obviously asserted himself as a jock, as evidenced by the heavily muscled arm he’d held onto me with at lunch.
When it was my turn to speak, I stood up and said, “I’m Gwyneth Howell...” Everyone stared at me, expecting me to say something about myself but I couldn’t think of anything interesting. “I, uh, I like to read.”
I sat down quickly, hiding my face in my arms. A few of the same boys who’d laughed at Vince roared with laughter. “She likes to read!” One of them spat, “What a nerd!”
“James,” Mrs. Rmayti scolded, “go to the office. Now.” The boy stood up, still laughing, and strutted out of the classroom as Vince stared him down.
“Not funny, bro,” he hissed as James passed him.

When the bell rang I was out of my seat like a shot, and Vince had to jog to catch up with me in the hall. “Hey,” he called, “Gwyn, wait up.” I slowed my pace but didn’t stop for him as I weaved through the crowd of students clamoring for their lockers. “Gwyn, James is a dumbass. Don’t listen to his shit. You’re awesome and he can’t handle that.”
“It isn’t the cool thing to do,” I said, “I understand. You jocks don’t like building your brains, just your muscles.”
“Hey, why are you attacking me? You know I love reading.”
“I’m not,” I said, an exasperated sigh escaping my lips, “I- Vince, I’m sorry. I just need some space, okay? It’s awesome that we’re at the same school again but you’re kinda smothering me.”
But he was already walking down the hall, away from me. I shook my head and headed back to my locker before my last class of the day. I wasn’t looking forward to Chemistry but I knew that I wouldn’t have to deal with Vince, at least. He never did tell me what his last hour class was, but he’d always hated science. Since Chem was an elective, I knew he wouldn’t be caught dead there.
I stood at my locker, organizing my notebooks and textbooks so I wouldn’t have to linger after class. I hoped Vince wouldn’t forget that my bike was in the back of his truck, but I had to be prepared to walk, just in case. I slammed my locker shut and walked into the chemistry classroom. I was pleasantly surprised to see Gerard sitting near the back of the room, and he waved at me as I walked back to the seat next to him.
“Hey,” I said, “Are you as excited about this class as I am?” I asked, trying to feign some enthusiasm. I hadn’t really been all that interested in Chemistry, but it looked good on my transcripts, and I still hadn’t applied to college. I was pushing to have a year off after graduation, but my Dad and Gran didn’t want me to waste my potential. I still had a couple of months to apply anyway.
“Hey,” he replied, “So. Your friend Vince, he always that possessive?”
“He used to be clingy but never like today at lunch. I’m sorry.”
“What’ve you got to be sorry about? He’s the one with the issues, not you.”
“Hi Gwyn!” A familiar- and unwelcome- voice called, and I turned to find Tamara approaching with dangerous speed, “I didn’t know you liked science.”
“Of course you didn’t?” I gave her a confused look. Gerard turned his attention to his notebook.
“So, what’re you doing after school?” she asked, “Some of us are gonna go back in the dunes and hang out.”
“The dunes?”
“You know that disgusting patch of land across the street? That’s the dunes,” Gerard informed me quietly. Tamara was so awestruck at his voice that she couldn’t even defend her hangout.
“So she was telling the truth. Your voice is as beautiful as you are,” she said far more loudly than I would have liked her to. I flushed beet red and Gerard gave me an amused look. Tamara chose the seat right in front of him. As the bell rang, she leaned across the aisle and said, “You’re welcome to come, you know.” She turned to glance at Gerard, “You’re welcome, too.”
“Thanks, not interested,” he muttered.
I shook my head. “Gotta be home right after school, sorry.”

After school, I dawdled in the parking lot for a long time, watching Vince’s van to make sure he didn’t leave before I could remind him of my bike. I was about to start walking home when strong arms scooped me up from behind and I found myself being slung over Vince’s shoulder. “Vince find pretty girl, take back to cave,” he grunted in a caveman voice. I squealed, laughing and playfully pounding on his back.
“You’re not mad at me?” I asked as he set me down by his truck. He cocked his head.
“Why would I be mad at you?”
“Well I snapped at you earlier and-”
“Don’t worry about it.” There was a certain coolness to his tone, so I decided not to press the matter. He unlocked the doors and I climbed into the truck, buckling my seatbelt as he started the engine. “You got time for a milkshake?” he asked. I shook my head.
“Sorry, my parents are expecting me home right away. Maybe some other time?” I asked. He smiled and nodded.
“Of course,” he said, “Some other time.”