Monday, November 24, 2014

COVER REVEAL: CHASING ECHOES

I’ve already said this too many times this morning, but I have to, here, one more time.

If you click on that above-link, it will lead you to Krystal Jane’s lovely cover reveal on my book. I had Krystal do the honors because a) I knew she would do a better job than me, and b) her blog rocks. But, just for posterity’s sake, I’ll go ahead and post my cover HERE, too. After all, Ocean in a Cup was the blog that had to endure all of my ranting and whining for the last five years or whatever; it probably deserves to have some good news smattered on it too.

So here it is, the full cover wrap for CHASING ECHOES:



And here is the eBook cover:



I have Najla Qamber to thank for such a job well done--love her!

In other news, I now have an official author’s website: www.jodiperkins.com. It has all of the information about my book, Goodreads link, etc. There is also a blog section of the site, and I’m going to use that as a place to record anything related to Chasing Echoes, future books in the series, etc. Unfortunately this means TWO BLOGS again. History has shown that I don’t keep up well with two blogs. But I did take out the comment section of Blog #2 in an effort to help keep up, so hopefully that will work.


Ocean in a Cup is my personal space, so I decided I would like to keep it as marketing-free as possible. I'll go ahead and post a few links on my side margin for my book (once the book is available), but I won’t be pushing sales through these blog posts. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

One Sheep, Two Sheep, Cow, Turtle...

I need to post something. Anything.

What to say, what to say...

So my new iPhone has a ton of emojis. I call them emoticons, but my students tell me that this term is so last year, and that they are now called emojis. I looked it up, and it turns out that emoticons are a representation of facial expressions using characters from your keyboard, such as this: ;-). Whereas emojis are a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion--in other words, a tiny graphic. So the two aren't actually synonyms after all. Maybe I'm the only person in the world who didn't know this? Anyway, I have a ton of these on my phone, and it turns out that me and emojis are NOT a good mix. Like, I have this compulsion to use them ALL. From the simple happy face to the Easter Island Head (because, you know, the Easter Island Head has a ton of practical uses within a texting conversation). It's just that there are so many, and they are right there, one keystroke away, begging for me to use them. 

Take these threads, for example (gray boxes = my sis; green/blue boxes = me):






This last one doesn't have anything to do with emojis. I just wanted to point out that my twin sister with a doctorate makes up words like "Humpton."

I haven't slept in the last two days. Well, I've slept, just not a lot. The first night was simply because a demon possessed Beans--our pomeranian--and he decided to sit in the middle of the living room at 2 a.m and bark at nothing for an hour straight. It was odd because the dog almost never barks. He doesn't know how to jump, either, which makes him this broken, ground-dwelling beast, rather than the lap dog he's supposed to be.  Anyway, by the time Beans settled down, I was wired, and it took me until 5:00 a.m. before I could go back to sleep.

Last night was quiet, but I just couldn't find the off-switch on my brain, which is always a fun ride.


I actually jumped out of bed around 3 in the morning (sometime after the Macarena) and scratched down a short scene with Grayden and Audrina:

     "You don't get it. I want to hurt you. I want to drag you down my road of twisted perversity and I want you to hate it. And relish it."
     Cold sweat trickled down her neck. She already knew this. But hearing him say it aloud forced her to imagine flesh on those phantoms--to see them as real.
     "Is that what you want? You want me in pain?"
     "Yes," he said, and then paused. "But then I feel these waves rippling from you, and they're awful. They seep into my skin. And I want to change my answer to 'no'"
     "Grayden." In two steps she had his face cupped in her hands. She saw the conflict in his eyes, like clouds crashing over an uncertain sea. "I'm sorry."
     She tucked her head against his chest, and he wrapped his arms around her, too tight at first, but loosening at her gasp. She could feel his heart--his perfectly normal heart--beat against her cheek, and she relinquished herself to the realization that it was here, listening to his body's rhythm, that she felt safe.
     But something logical pulsed inside her brain. This is a faux safety, it said. This is controlled chaos. This was the way a smooth sea shone like glass right before being broken by brutal winds and rain.
     A storm is lurking, this logical thing said.
     She told it to shut up. 

So that's just GREAT. Another scene for a story that doesn't exist. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Comfy Prison Cells

I was telling one of my wonderful (albeit newer) blogging friends, Mel, that I've been in a bit of a slump lately, avoiding my blog (and just about any social networking). She more or less told me to write something on my blog--ANY LITTLE THING. I don't know what purpose this serves, other than giving my writing slump the middle finger, but I've decided to follow her advice. So here's my feeble attempt to write...any little thing.

Last night I watched God's Not Dead for the first time. Clint recently installed a large roll-up projector screen into our backyard patio, so now we can watch movies outside at night. It's pretty amazing. We've used it twice now, and both times we sat in the spa for the entire two hours, turning into prunes as we enjoyed the show. The first movie was a few weeks ago--The Truman Show. I can't even describe how beautiful I find this movie. The fact that Truman's entire world...his very existence...is nothing but a faux-reality...it's like a heart-warming version of The Matrix. I loved watching the truth--the bigger Truth--slowly dawn on him, and I loved following him as he clumsily plowed his way through all of the giant boulders of grief--disbelief, sadness, anger, defeat, and, at last, freedom.

God's Not Dead was wonderful, too. I haven't looked into any reviews of the movie, and I'm sure the secular world has found many ways of tearing it apart, but I, not being a movie critic who looks for poetry and great acting and cinematic brilliance, found it to be poignant and heart-rending and just damn feel-good from start to finish. This particular scene, featuring a well-to-do business man (with questionable morality) visiting his dementia-inflicted mother, struck me the hardest:



This isn't the first time I've heard an analogy involving a prison cell so comfortable and pleasant that the one imprisoned within never considers leaving. The Truman Show illustrates this point, too, with Truman feeling at peace inside the world fabricated just for him--a most lovely cage--until he is given an urgent reason to search for more. 

Contentment is probably the biggest weapon in the devil's arsenal. Welcome to America--Land of the Free and Home of the Bound.

Today I have spent the entire day outside in the sun. I guess it's autumn in other parts of the country, but here in the desert, we're experiencing summer at its finest. Trinity had a friend over, and Carey (Clint's dad) stopped by for awhile, where we lounged at the patio table, chatting about family and life. I just love Carey, and not only because he scratches my itch for deeper conversation (though that helps). But that's a whole other post. Now everyone has left and I'm still outside, squinting to see the images on my smudged laptop screen, but the sun is sort of glaring at me as it creeps toward the western horizon like it has some sort of score to settle.

Yeah...I think I've lost this battle (my nose is practically touching my screen now, and going inside IS NOT AN OPTION 'cause I"m way too happy out here), so I'll end this post. But hey, I wrote any little thing.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

#WIPMarathon Report - September

No, no, no, no, noooooo! It can NOT be October already!

(Okay, now that THAT'S out of my system...)

Last report word count + chapter count/scene count: 109,033. 

Current report WC + CC/ SC: 109,044. 

Hey, look at that, I went up by 11 words. I am happy to report though that I finally, FINALLY finished rewriting the last chapter. It's still pretty rough, so I will need to go through and fine-tune it. But it is such a relief to have it DONE. Almost done. Yeah, maybe not that done. Um, well.

WIP Issues This Month: Just my own slackerosity and last-chapter-phobia.

What I learned this month in writing: 
  1. To take chances with your characters. Make them lovable in so many ways, but give them an almost shocking flaw. It's too late for me to do this with my current novel, but I really want to heighten my characters' quirks and intrigue in my follow-up novels.
  2. To read other people's WIPMarathon Reports to see what they've learned in writing since I can't think of anything else.
What distracted me this month while writing: Remember a long time ago when I wasted hours and hours of my life creating a website for a series I hadn't even written? Well, it turns out that it wasn't a complete waste of time. Because now I really do have a book coming out, and I really do need an author's page. So I modified the site I had already created and turned it into something closer to useable. I started to post a screenshot of my progress here, but I realized it gave away my cover. Sadly, the site no longer has acclaimed reviews from the Tardis Talk or Pixie Dust Press or whatever saying that my book is a fast-paced work of staggering genius and all that, but it is what it is.

So in addition to creating a website (which was really addicting), my weekends haven't really been conducive to getting any writing or editing done this month. Last weekend we hosted my four year-old niece's birthday party at my house--a "Harry Potter Pool Party." Clint's mom made the food, and his sister (Moo) did everything else--including making killer cupcakes and these chocolate frog things that tasted like they came straight from Sees Candy (seriously, just writing about them is making me ticked off that I don't have more).


 Harry Potter cupcakes, goodies, and party favors for the kids. 
And a garden hose.


 Food table (minus the food). Beverages included Pumpkin Juice and Butter Beer 
(the BB was TO DIE for)


"Let's ignore that lovely spacious body of water directly in front of us
and stuff ourselves into the spa instead!"


The weekend before, my family took Shannon and I deep sea fishing for our birthday. It was SO MUCH fun. We were catching fish every five minutes. It turned out that everything was too small to keep, but still--what a riot. The only thing I struggle with is the bait. You have to hook live bait (either mackerel or sardines), and I can't do it. Not because it's gross--I'm okay with that. But because it's ALIVE. I absolutely can not get myself to stick a hook through something living and breathing. No no no no. NO. So I'm ashamed to say that Clint, Jeremy, and my dad hooked my bait (which I find very cowardly of me, because I'm still hurting/killing a living thing by proxy, just forcing others to get their hands dirty on my behalf). Next time I go deep sea fishing, I plan to use lures. Even if it's less effective than live bait, it's still totally worth it to me.
 Shan and me at Dana Point Harbor



We had the entire front of the boat to ourselves for most of the trip.



 The view on our way back to shore.

Shan caught the cutest little fish called a sculpin, or "scorpion fish." It had whatever the fish-version of porcupine quills are called, and was poisonous to touch, but it was SO CUTE. He looked like an aquarium fish. 

What was this blog post about again?

Oh yeah, WIP report. Here we go.

Goal for next month: I want to have chapter 37 (my last chapter) polished off and all beautiful, and 80% of edits and revisions for my entire MS done. 80% is totally arbitrary--I'm just picking a number to sound more goal-oriented.

Last 200 words: Now that I've revised my last chapter, my last 200 words have finally changed. But sadly they give away the end. I mean, because they ARE the end. So I'm going to pick another 200 words. Another non-heavy scene. 


I watched Stryder hurry past the little bay window of the coffee shop. His cheeks were flushed, lips still tight with anger. Under his left arm was a large bag of rat food. In his right hand was the tattered pink tissue box.  
Taking a long sip of my Tazo tea, I smiled at the scene. Guess he had a new pet.
And that’s when everything went dark. A collective gasp sounded through the shop. The previously unnoticeable hum of a half dozen grinding machines puttered to a halt. It was graveyard silent. For about two seconds.
A cell phone went off, a jarring intruder in the gray silence—like a stereo blasting in the middle of church prayer. Then another cell phone joined the ring-tone choir. Then another. Then every cell phone in the shop joined in. Over a dozen ring tones twisted together in garbled harmony. Goose bumps pricked my arms, sending a small shiver up the nape of my neck. Several startled, murmuring customers lunged for their phones, their screens glowing bright in the dark gloom of the shop. I yanked my own chirping phone out of my purse, glancing down at the screen. It showed no incoming calls. No texts. 
         Nothing.

It's bedtime for me now but if any of my fellow WIP marathoners happen to read this, I promise I'll check out your reports soon!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

My Empathetic Sadist

Blogging friend and fellow writer Krystal Jane has mentioned more than once in her posts that she is a character-driven writer. I think this means that she creates her characters first (or they instantaneously leap into her mind and demand to be written), and then she proceeds to find or fabricate the story world that would best serve these larger than life personalities. 

I'm the complete opposite. I guess you could call me a story-driven writer. I come up with my story concept first (which usually starts with a what-if scenario--i.e. "What if there was a society in which everyone could, with a single touch, transfer their pain?") and then proceed to create the characters that would best fit my concept. In other words, unlike Krystal, I've never had a character "demand" to be written (kind of sad, actually). A story concept, yes. A character, no.

Until now.

For the first time ever, I am being stalked by a character. I am so in love with him, but sadly I have nowhere to put him. I am tentatively calling him Grayden, but that might change later. Grayden was partially inspired by Eric's E-mails to Young Damsels (I suspect Eric is also a character-driven author), and partially inspired by a flash fiction piece I wrote last year called The Apathetics. I'm going to give a quick profile about Grayden, but first I have to start by defining two key terms:

em·path noun \ˈempaTH\ (chiefly in science fiction) a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual.  
sa·dist noun \ˈsā-ˌdi-zəm, ˈsa-\: a person who derives enjoyment from being violent or cruel or from causing pain.

Okay, where am I going with this...? Well, Grayden is a sadist in love with my MC, Audrina. He is constantly visualizing the disturbing things he wants to do to her, and is very open and honest in communicating his fantasies with her in conversations similar to this:


Audrina: "Whatcha drawing?" 
Grayden: "Oh, just a little sketch of you tied to a tree and me whipping you with a switch." 
Audrina (leaning in): "Are those needles on the tip of the switch?" 
Grayden (coughing): "Uh, yes. Sorry." 
Audrina: "Oh. Okay." (pauses). "You want to go to the movies later?" 
Grayden: "Sure."

See, the catch is, Grayden is also an empath...which is why Audrina is so inordinately calm with him. He can never act on his sadistic fantasies, because his ability to apprehend the emotional state of others causes him to feel the anxiety/fear his pain is causing them. And sadly, he has no masochist tendencies. That is--while inflicting pain on others excites him, he hates enduring pain himself, so he is unable to act on his primal sadistic urges (kind of like someone who loves chocolate but can't indulge in it due to an agonizing cavity). Audrina is fully aware of Grayden's most-contrary psychosis and has remained his one true friend (though I'm not sure if her caring for him will ever translate to romantic feelings).

Okay, I wrote a whole bunch more about Grayden and Audrina (including some exposition discussing how the two met and how Audrina discovered Grayden was, well, crazy), but realized I was getting carried away ranting about two characters who I probably won't be able to accommodate into a story for another decade. So I'll just sum up by saying I love the impossible complexity of Grayden. I love the challenge of trying to translate his very disturbed character into a protagonist, along with the dynamic of the reader trying to figure out whether he's a good guy or a bad guy. Also, I'll have to decide how far to let Grayden's fantasies go or how often he "slips" (i.e. sometimes I'll push through that toothache to enjoy a piece of chocolate...will Grayden be tempted to do the same?). But his character is way too colorful to not write into a story...someday.

In other news, I'm still trudging through revisions of my MS, and I hereby take back every nice thing I have ever said about this process. I sort of hate revising with a white hot searing passion. I'm getting ready to start my fifth (or is it sixth?) rewrite of DoT's final chapter, and the good news is I think I came up with an approach for that chapter that will solve most of its problems. The bad news is I'll probably end up throwing my laptop off a balcony before I see it through.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Art of Unsexiness


This is a clip of Carrie Heffernan on King of Queens, attempting to pole dance for Doug. It is painful to watch. Poor Carrie has no idea how to be seductive. Sadly, she reminds me of me. Not because I've pole danced before (I haven't. Not on purpose). But because I am the unsexiest person. Okay, this is only amusing because, like Carrie, I have a relatively fit body that should lend me at least a little sex-appeal, but my clumsiness and general lack of seductive know-how (or whatever you call the female equivalent of 'game') totally detract from that.

Last night was a perfect example of this. I decided to try on three sets of lingerie Clint had ordered for me. While I tried on each piece inside the bathroom, he sat waiting, ready to enjoy my fashion show. The following is more or less what he heard through the bathroom door:

Okay, babe, I'm trying on the first one...
(banging noises, possible cupboard doors slamming) Almost there...
Wait--why is there an extra hole?
Damn it--
(more banging) Okay, I think I've got it...
Crap, where am I supposed to put THAT?
No, this isn't right...
You're still there, right?
(muttering) If I put this leg here, and that one here...Okay, GOT IT.

*Saunters out gracefully, like the whole process was a breeze*

At least I didn't hurt myself through this process by, I dunno, stabbing myself with a knife or something. Oh wait--YES I DID. Lingerie attempt #2 went something like this:

Alright babe, I'm putting on the second one...
Oh, this one is really cute!
Hold, on, I just have to figure out how to strap this thing-a-ma-jigger...
Oh, I think I got it...
Wait--why the hell would they put a tag there? No, no, no, that's a terrible spot for a tag. Do you have a knife...? I need to cut this sucker off...
(knife passed through door) (banging) Hon, you need to sharpen this knife. It's completely dull--
(giant bang)
FUCK.
(metal object clatters to floor)
(hubby cries out "Are you okay?")
(pause) (then singsong voice) Yeah, everything's going great!
(more slamming, clanking)
Um, do we have any band-aids?

*Saunters out gracefully again, looking hot as all get-out in skimpy lace garments accessorized with massively bloody thumb*

I never did get to lingerie attempt #3. By this point I was worried I'd burn the house down.

Maybe I should take lessons from Doug?


I swear the dude would get more tips than I would.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Horror-Phobic

You guys know I hate horror, right? Blood and gore...can't do it. Which makes no sense, because I wasn't raised as some thin-skinned sissy lala. Seriously, Shan and I could wrangle spiders and hold snakes and weren't afraid to get down and dirty. We were the ones out in the desert building forts--never playing with dolls--and refusing to cry if we skinned our knees (my sister broke her entire femur bone once and never so much as shed a tear). So I'm not sure where this very 'girl-like' aversion to horror comes from. When I was little, my mom loved horror movies. Not that she was really into meaningless slasher flicks or paranormal horror (like Nightmare on Elm Street...remember that one? I still remember some chick getting eaten by her mattress), but she loved anything having to do with serial killers preying on guileless young women (seriously, this was my dear, sweet mother--what is WRONG with her?). Anytime the butcher scenes would flicker across the screen, I would dive under the blankets, clamping my eyes shut and covering my ears. Or I would run out of the room completely. My mom would playfully laugh and holler out "Come on, it's all just fake!" And I knew she was right; I knew it was fake. But such scenes didn't simply gross me out. They actually made me feel sick and miserable. And I wasn't the only one who suffered from horror-phobia as a child; Shan was the same way.

You would think as adults we would have grown out of this. You know...gain enough life experience to be able to separate fantasy from reality. But no. I might actually be worse as an adult, maybe because after years of convincing myself that I can't cope with horror, I've deepened my own psychosis. But whatever its roots, things get bad for me very fast if I happen to catch a glimpse of a grisly, gory death on television. First I get that miserable, sickened feeling, and I feel like I can't stop myself from internalizing what's happening on the screen, even though I know it's not real. I anguish over the character being hurt/tormented, and if I can't turn the channel fast enough, I'll start breathing hard, sweating, and going into some sort of panicked state of paralysis (my damn 'deer in headlight' issue). If for some God-forsaken reason I still can't change the channel (remember, I'm paralyzed now, and the kids probably hid the remote in the fridge), then I would be forced to curl into the fetal position and scream out ridiculous chants or nursery rhymes (i.e. "Cinderella-dressed-in-yella-went-upstairs-to-kiss-a-fella...") until the scene is over (or until someone goes to to get a slice of cheese and finds the remote). By this time, I'm probably shaking and feeling like I'm about to throw up.

And this is coming from the person who didn't break a sweat through a 7.4 earthquake and didn't bat an eye when she had to clean maggots out of an injured chicken's butt.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

But, I am proud to say I wouldn't be writing this post if there wasn't some hope. I did discover recently that my steadfast Just-Say-No-to-Horror rule does have an exception or two.

Exception #1: I can handle reading *some* horror if I know (as in, have socially interacted with) the author behind the spine-chilling story. Even if the story is something that would normally thrust me straight into a horror-phobic panic, somehow knowing the face behind the words takes away the threat. It's like I can suddenly "hear" what my mom kept trying to tell me all those years--"This is NOT REAL." Yes, I know now this is not real, because I can see the person who created it, and I can gasp at this hair-raising scene and yell at the author for writing such atrocities and tell him what a douche he was for making me feel petrified and have a big laugh about it. Phobia? GONE. Just like that. You can't be paralyzed by a spider in the midst of holding and playing with one. You can still be scared, but your fear can't win.

Exception #2: I can handle reading *some* horror if the writing is exceptional. The horror genre (like any genre) is flooded with bad writing. Sadly, even mediocre writing is bad writing when it comes to horror, given how easy it is for gory scenes to translate as cliche or contrived (there's only so many big-boobed blondes you can massacre before your readers start getting bored). But I discovered recently that horror in the context of beautiful writing can be intriguing as all get-out. It still leaves me unsettled, unnerved, and a whole slew of other "un--" words, I'm sure, but I can cope. And the story, for better or worse, leaves a lasting impression on me, which is what good writing should do.

The Christian in me, however, along with the person who inherently hates human torment being flaunted and trivialized, will never be okay with horror, and will never choose it as a genre. I believe evil is real, and I would no sooner dive into horror than I would sit in the middle of my tumbleweed-infested yard playing with matches. Horror reveals a side of human nature that I have no desire to explore, and once its dark fingers start reaching inside of you, I don't know how easy it is to yank them out.

But I have to admit the dark little artist in me--the same one who painted THIS--


--sees the appeal (and then gets disturbed by that fact, and runs away screaming).

That being said, I have to admit that I am massively addicted to a series being written by horror/erotica writer--and twitter friend--Eric Keys. Though he is only two installments in, he calls these posts "Emails to Young Damsels." In the series, Eric draws from his collective experience from past attractions/infatuations/loves-gone-awry to create letters (or e-mails) to someone he addresses as "Young Damsel." Even though he talks to this young damsel as if she were a singular person, she is actually a symbol of all the women (aka: 'young damsels' ) in his life who have left an imprint on him. Though these letters are not exactly horror, they are deeply unsettling, disturbing, and do touch slightly on horror elements (i.e. the first one is titled "Your Screams are Like Music"). And damn are they beautifully written. I think part of it is the shock factor. They read so much like love letters, written from an eloquent, wistful soul, until you suddenly get a fork thrust into your chest via unexpected lines that give you a glimpse into the madman behind the words. For example, the first Young Damsel letter contains this excerpt:
Not sure why your absence seems more deep, today. But it does. This past week I longed for one more conversation. I felt like all the loose threads from so long ago still dangle. How long has it been? Years? Decades? And yet it seems like just a handful of days. 
And yet, there seems an odd beauty in it all. Like the threads blowing about in the wind creates a more vital art than any tidily knitted rug would ever be. 
But I still wish you were here. Sometimes beauty is painful.
That line "Like the threads blowing about in the wind creates a more vital art...," just...wow. Frankly I find this entire excerpt to be pure poetry. Oh, but wait. It gets better. He follows it with this:
Anyway, you are out of my reach for now. Consider yourself lucky as I have dreamt up some lovely, hideous things to do to you. Oh, your screams would be like music.
Um, WHAT? Enter: Madman. It's sheer brilliance. To make you fall in love with this woebegone soul, only to blindsight you with his insanity. Some readers might even find themselves feeling a little jealous of the young damsel that incited such depth of emotion and expression from him...until those last two sentences. At that point, they're thinking "Run, Damsel, RUN."

A part of me feels guilty for loving these letters. I mean, let's face it, the narrator is a bit of a sadist with morbid fantasies about the "hideous" things he wants to do to his young damsel, and he clearly gets off on making her feel scared. But on some twisted level he deeply cares about her (them), which makes it hard to outright despise him. * In other words, he is the best villain EVER. The villain that you're not allowed to root for, but you do, secretly, anyway, hoping no one will know that you empathize with his plight.

So in my whole "Am I a terrible person for liking this stuff?" debate (this debate was with myself, so it was pretty lame as far as debates go), I came to this conclusion: It's okay for me to enjoy this series. Because writing is art. And art explores all facets of human nature. It's supposed to make us curious and disturbed and intrigued. Just like any sculpture or painting, it's okay for me to let my eyes travel over it, take it in, pull whatever meaning from it that I perceive, and walk away when I choose.

Or I'm probably a terrible person making excuses. But the above sounded pretty good, right?  


*Disclaimer: (If you decide to read the first two installments of Eric's "Emails to Young Damsels," please note that while he does draw on some real-life experiences, this series is a work of fiction. In real life Eric is a very stable, non-stalkery, unthreatening, self-proclaimed "softie").**

**(Although, no offense Eric, I still wouldn't want to run into you in a dark alley at night)