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Category Archives: writingImage
The Lisas never say die. They never quit. They keep the dream.
We’ve dipped our pinky toe into the swirling currents of indie publishing and are now prepared to fully immerse ourselves into the ocean that is online publishing. Our current life raft on these swirling waters, Worth Lying For, is one cover revision and one final edit away from launch.
Today we’re putting a sneak peek of chapter one on our blog–may you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it. At least, as much as we enjoyed writing it the first time. We hope you don’t feel the pain of the 48 edits which followed the first giddy draft.
Excerpt: WORTH LYING FOR
by Lisa Cheney & Lisa Craig
I was too old to be scrabbling for loose change on the floor of my car. But the twenty-two pennies mined from the bottom of my purse wouldn’t buy me a coffee at George’s Market. An archaeological dig under layers of receipts, magazines, and old shopping lists was bound to unearth fifty-three cents more. I found a quarter by my feet, then, leaning over, hit the mother lode under the passenger seat: four dimes and a nickel.
I was about to haul myself upright, spare change and pride in hand, when some idiot zoomed up and parked right next to me, even though mine was the lone car in the lot. Craning my neck, I saw a mint condition, 1968 Shelby Mustang GT500. I may only be a receptionist/bookkeeper, but I’m a receptionist/bookkeeper for a classic car restoration garage. I know my muscle cars. And for my money, the 1968 Shelby is the best looking automobile ever made.
The early October morning sun glinted off its shiny black paint and bright chrome trim. I was filled with the covetousness I usually reserve for designer shoes and the occasional signature handbag. If I could own a car like that, and the right pair of stilettos to match, everything in my life would be perfect.
As I sighed over my vision, Jimmy Adler, the biggest jackass I had ever known, stepped out of my dream car. The driver—it was painful to think of him as the owner of this classic vehicle—had spent our high school days in a haze of pot smoke, emerging occasionally to sell to others or publicly berate his girlfriend, Tina. I hadn’t seen him much in the past twenty-some years, which was surprising considering we live in such a small town. Then again, in a small town you hear about people whether you want to or not. It was common knowledge that he had continued on his sordid path, and Tina, now his ex-wife, would never bring charges even after all the domestic violence calls. He was an absolute pig and he was driving my car.
In contrast to my own tee shirt and ancient wrinkled slacks, he was decked out. He had on a gorgeous black leather jacket that, even from a distance, I could tell was a soft, supple lambskin that called out to be petted. He hadn’t gotten fat, or lost his still-brown hair. Truly, there is no justice in the universe.
I watched him swagger toward the store. No, make that stagger. He weaved two steps sideways for every one he took forward. He was completely hammered and it was not yet nine in the morning. Stumbling over the front step to the market, he smashed his forehead against the glass door. He obviously felt no pain as he bounced off in surprise and fumbled for the pull handle. He pushed on it for a minute or so while shouting out some garbled swearing, before he realized he had to pull the door open. He hadn’t changed a bit.
The Shelby was parked way too close, but as long as I eased my door open there was enough room to get out. As satisfying as it would have been to bang my car door into his, I had to rise above such pettiness for the sake of the Shelby. A work of art is a work of art, no matter how big of an idiot the owner is. I lightly ran my fingertips over its smooth paint. Torturing myself further, I peeked inside the open passenger window at the red leather interior. Perfect. Damn it.
On the pristine leather of the passenger seat, next to an empty fifth of Jack Daniels and a couple baggies filled with suspicious-looking herbs, I saw a black duffle bag. Inside the unzipped bag I could see money: stacks and stacks of money. Not Monopoly money. Real, U.S. legal tender. Stupid drug dealing bottom-feeder, how do you end up with a Ford Shelby and a bag of cash while I’m looking for change under the floor mats of a Ford Escort?
On its own reconnaissance my hand shot out and grabbed the bag, then dragged it through the open window. Adrenaline tightened my throat as I stared at my offending hand. This was wrong, so very wrong. I was an upstanding citizen who paid her taxes, mortgage and insurance on time. I believed in my heart that world peace was possible. I had never so much as stolen somebody’s thunder.
Put. The money. Back. Slide the bag through the window, drop it back on the seat and this never happened. I dropped the bag through the open window of my car instead. Inexplicably, I found myself behind the wheel, speeding away as fast as my little junker would go.
I drove two tenths of a mile straight downhill then came to a screeching halt at the end of a treacherously narrow driveway to a daycare establishment called Smartypants, where I turned around. I came back up the hill in time to see the Shelby racing away in the other direction. Jimmy ignored a stop sign, hung a left with tires squealing, then disappeared from sight.
I went around the block slowly. I had no idea where Jimmy was headed. Chasing after him—for any reason—seemed like a bad plan.
As I cruised past the storefront it was impossible to see in or out through the layers of beer and liquor advertisements obscuring the windows. The convenience store had no obvious security cameras pointed at the parking lot. I was fairly sure Mr. George had no security measures in place at all, aside from a baseball bat he kept next to him at the checkout. I thought back. I hadn’t heard any cars driving by earlier and there hadn’t been a soul anywhere in the vicinity.
I had pulled off the perfect crime without even trying. ☆
Thelisas have a split personality. We used to be able to talk about it, but recently decided to keep things under wraps. Since we launched our indie young people’s book under a pseudonym, with its corresponding website, we’ve determined it’s best to keep these two worlds as independent states. Kind of like the state of well-being and the state of Texarkana.
To this end we discovered it’s nearly impossible not to talk about what we are doing with our other project. The one with the other blog. Where we write about furry little critters to entertain immature human beings. And kids. It’s irresistible. It’s like being told there’s cake on the table but it’s not for you. Or margaritas in the blender. We can’t stop not talking, thinking, obsessing.
But since this blog is exclusively for sexy elderly types, we recently mined some old rough drafts to see if we could salvage anything interesting. Most of it was woefully out of date. There was the Kate Middleton/Prince William/Lisas comparison chart. And something that may have involved an 8-track tape giveaway. Way too much involved incomplete thoughts, even sentences, such as
In the end we will assure you we are not spending all of our time on the project for grade schoolers. Unless it takes off and we start raking in the dough, in which case it’s been real people, we’ll miss you. Hey, we girls gotta dream. To dream generally involves sleep…or at least resting like a feline, right?
Thelisas: Tell us the process of writing and publishing your recent short suspense, The Morning After.
Melanie: The Morning After took years to write. When I started, I hadn’t developed a method of how to get through a story–it was more a haphazard “let’s see where this goes,” and ended up going nowhere. After deserting the story for a long time, I got it back out as something to do while an acquaintance was studying. She gave me a spark of an idea that pulled the whole story together, and I finished it at about 20,000 words (not an easy sell). After unsuccessfully trying to market a novella, I shaved it down to a short story, attracted the attention of Untreed Reads, and became their #3 bestseller for December.
Thelisas: Congratulations! Is this your first published piece? Do you have anything else in the works?
Melanie: I had 2 other (very) short stories published in little online ‘zines, but this is the first one I’ll be paid for. My next big project is a mystery series about a woman battling past demons, a new love, and lots of danger and excitement. Since it’s also a bit shorter than a traditional novel, I will probably pursue self-publishing.
Thelisas: We know your creativity isn’t limited to writing, as you have a background in art and are currently pursuing a cosmetology career in New York City. What other hidden talents do you have?
Melanie: The cosmetology career is well underway! Graduated with honors at Arrojo Cosmetology, and was hired by the owner to work in his professional salon in the same building. Other hidden talents might include getting strange animals to approach me, sneaking up on people and/or disappearing (like a ninja), and imitating accents.
Thelisas: Then perhaps you know of the squirrel and moose, comrade? Do tell about your adventures in globe-trotting. Having lived in a variety of locales gives you a unique perspective that is certainly reflected in your stories. There’s even a rumor you’ve become a German citizen – what’s up with that?
Melanie: I guess I get bored easily, so for the past decade, I’ve put myself in some interesting situations. I went to Germany for a month with college (language course), and fell in love with the country. A year later, I went to Canada and fell in love with a boy. Since then, I’ve lived in Toronto, Memphis, Philadelphia, and New York with plans of visiting Europe and Turkey soon. Part of “traveling” when I’m unable to go anywhere involves trying new cuisine and rocking out to European/Indian/etc music on my iPod.
And the rumors are true! I just received my German passport — through some lucky sequences of events in my family history, I’ve been German my whole life without realizing it. If I had known, I wouldn’t have left the country when I went with my class, and then wouldn’t have met my husband … so it’s better this way.
Thelisas: Indeed. In the spirit of thinking big (film right acquisitions to our perspective novels): Favorite movie of all time and why?
Melanie: I love a lot of movies, but I always go back to Metropolis from 1926. It was never an ordinary movie for me. The first copy I saw was a poorly presented public domain DVD I bought for about $5. The plot didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but the visuals were a real treat. After some research, I found out that after its release, the film was truncated, and the plot veered into some strange territory because it did so poorly at the box office. So, I tracked down the novel it was based off of, and it was a whole new experience. The characters made sense, missing scenes put others into perspective, and most of all, it was how the movie was supposed to have been seen (the director’s wife wrote the novel at the same time the movie was being made).
Throughout the years, pieces of “missing” scenes have been found in various film museums around the world and plugged back where they belong. Now that the film has been restored to almost its full length (and with the correct plot), I feel like it hasn’t just been a nice movie, but something lovely I witnessed being rebuilt.
On the complete other side of the spectrum, I also liked Office Space because for about a decade of my life, I felt exactly like the main character: banging my head against the wall because I hated my job (but every time the copy machine said “PC LOAD LETTER” I had to chuckle).
Thelisas: We’ve had a sneak preview of your novel in progress and it incorporates some aspects of both of those themes. (Readers should know that Melanie was “silent when silent wasn’t cool.” That is to say before the movie “The Artist” made a splash on the academy award nomination list.)
Thanks, Melanie, for introducing yourself and your work. We wish you much success in all your many ventures. Happy travels – don’t forget to write!
Thelisas are working on several projects and one of them has us a little stymied. So we’d like to pick the brains of our brilliant readers. Our work-in-progress, title acronym HSOTI, features a loving husband and wife who, after being married for over twenty years, are starting a new chapter in their lives. But they hit a snag.
The question is what kind of dilemma to put in their path. We know tension is crucial to a story. What we are trying to decide is the right level. It’s tricky to give y’all enough information without creating major plot spoilers. In a nutshell:
Scenario #2 Disproved allegations of infidelity: satisfying or simplistic?
P.S. Main thing we’re looking for is whether you, as a reader, prefer characters who are thrown into more dramatic situations that may be difficult to overcome in real life, or characters who meander a bit into more light hearted circumstances? Honestly, we’re not trying to make you choose between ‘frustrating or boring,’ (we try to avoid both in any case).
We’re pretty sure there’s no right or wrong answer, so it will be interesting to see how this survey goes. Feel free to expound on your thoughts. Who knows? Maybe we’ll come up with an entirely different option #3: nobody cheats anybody but Death and the tax man. Yup, we need help.
As mentioned in our last post, Florida Lisa attended a children’s writing workshop in June. She regaled TOL (The Other Lisa) with the high and low lights. (Actually, the only highlight was that at lunch nobody wanted their Red Delicious apples and she collected several to eat later, alone in her hotel room.)
“I only made a fool out of myself once or twice, that I am aware of,” I hedged. “Really though, you know your memory is shot when you wonder if you remembered to check yourself out in the mirror the moment you step out of the ladies room. So the additional possible passive faux pas factor was quite high. The way people were avoiding me I suspect the back of my dress may have been tucked into my underwear.”
“I notice you are not telling me your actual indiscretions,” TOL said.
“So much shame.”
“How bad can it be?” she countered.
“I did get a compliment on the dress I wore.”
“That’s not bad, is it?”
“You would think it would be a good thing. I was dressed to impress. I told you I shopped for two days looking for the perfect outfit, right?”
“Well I did. And still I found nothing. I whined to my neighbor who told me she had just the thing. It was indeed the perfect dress, so long as I wore my most uncomfortable retaining undergarments. But I digress. I decided that since I was having no luck stalking and attacking the specific editors on my list – I made dossiers, I told you that part, right?”
“No,” TOL said warily.
“I studied their profiles like a serial killer.”
“That may have been your first mistake. You’re a lunatic.”
“That’s a given. I couldn’t seem to take down my target audience, but I had two other speakers cornered – quite literally, they were behind a table in a corner. Having no idea what to say I think I said, “Hi, nice to meet you.” The female agent (who shall remain nameless) said, very sweetly, “I like your dress.” To which I replied, in a conspiritorial whisper, “Thank you. I borrowed it from my neighbor.”
“You could have stopped at ‘Thank you’ or tried ‘This is my first conference, so I didn’t know what to wear’–that might have started a conversation.”
“I could have said a lot of things, but I did not. I shuffled away like a homeless person with mental issues. No, I believe that is an insult to to the housing-challenged community. I grinned and wrung my hands for awhile and then eventually shuffled away. It’s bound to have made a lasting impression, don’t you think? Next conference I’m going to dye my hair and wear capris. Better yet, you take the next one.”
“I’m so looking forward to it. Do you mind if I don’t mention you’re my co-author?”
“I think it would be better if you didn’t.”
So remember, boys and girls, the best way to approach a writing workshop is to come prepared to show and tell, but not about your borrowed wardrobe or secret stalking tendencies. Also be willing to learn. Florida Lisa learned it’s a good thing we already have an agent. And that it would be very easy to sneak in instead of paying; nobody checks IDs.
Book Blogger Directory | The Big Blog of Book Blogs. Thank you to N. R. Williams, Fantasy Writer and her guest blogger, Edie Ramer, for this most excellent resource. Linking writers with readers is what it’s all about. For writers. And readers. Not so much for herpetologists and cat herders. But more about that later.