Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Current Listen:  "For The First Time" courtesy of The Script

Just came back from a fantastic writer's conference:  LTUE at BYU University in Provo, Utah. Three days of intensive panels covering everything from SciFi Fantasy to Young Adult. James Dasher (The Maze Runner) was the guest of honor. He even treated us to a reading from the next book in the series, not yet released. If you're a fan, you're in for a treat. I've decided I'm going to read the series, hopefully being caught up by the time the final one is released.

Tucked most of the time on the back row so my whispered mutterings and my fist squeezing inside the bag of M&M's didn't disturb anyone, I scribbled notes personally pertaining to me - things I need to improve on either as a writer or in my stories. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and deflated by the information dump and wanting to trash my manuscripts, I came away from the conference feeling "recharged." I went in for a tune-up and came out with a new set of spark plugs. Also, my "writer's manual" now has an updated set of instructions. In addition to writing EVERY day (yes my "dearly departed" that means the Sabbath) and loosely committing to 30 minutes on the treadmill each day (funny how I can "take a day of rest" in this regard), I shall do the following:

1.  Send out 5 queries the first week of every month until I find the agent I want to forge a long term relationship with. I shall also send out an extra one for each rejection *squirm* I receive.
2I am done editing the first book of Designer Genes. It's wonderful the way it exists, and until someone waving money in front of my nose tells me otherwise, my "darling babies" will remain part of the story. I don't want to to edit the poor thing to death so it ends up going from cute and slightly curvy, to something resembling a bad plastic surgeon's practice dummy, so tight that all the personality (and my voice) are "suctioned out."
3.  The only voices allowed in my head are those of the characters who are dictating their story to me. All the guilty little moral voices and "tsk-tsk" tongue clicks of those in present tense and poltergeist form are being locked in a box and labeled "I don't give a fat rat's ass."

I am a diverse writer. I love reading stories from erotica to Bible scripture, and in all genres. I like dark young adult stories. They're edgy and true to life. Yes, some can be disturbing, but isn't real life full of uncomfortable moments? My favorite reads are always anything with a romantic flavoring, and if a dose of comedy is laced within, all the better.

My rant here is that I have a tendency to worry about offending people (I know that comes as a shock to some of you so I'll give you a minute here to process). LTUE Conference taught me that just because my characters may do things I may not morally agree with, if their story is good, I'm writing it. I will not please everyone. There will be those (Grandma has already flipped in her grave) who may judge me by my stories, but I believe there will be more who will love them. Even if someone disagrees with my story content, they can't challenge my talent. My writing will make them squirm from scene descriptions, hate the villainous character, desire my heroes, as well as love and empathize with my heroines. My characters will remain with my readers long after the story is finished.

"Riley's Pond" is my gritty, raw young adult novel I've been dragging my fingers in finishing because it's slightly sideways from what I've been "taught to believe." How's that for deep? But I will not lie. I loved writing it! Every "f-bomb," body part (named or touched), and seductive play my characters clamoured to tell me brought a laugh, a tear, and unbridled anticipation to find out the next chapter I was to write. As in all stories, the conflict builds to a "dark moment," which is truly an awful dark thing, but very real in our society. It was difficult for me to write, pulling out a variety of emotions within me, but I held tightly to my character's hand through the event, knowing hope was on the horizon. I am now writing the "hope," which ties everything together into a plausible, sweet end.

LTUE gave me another reality to ponder, one that pinches my heart a bit. "Designer Genes" may not be the book that debuts me as a published author. It may be "Riley's Pond," "The Soul Guardian," "Little White Lies" ..... or a story still waiting to be penned. Scatter the eggs into several baskets, not just one.

4.  Last, but not least, POSITIVE THINKING BRINGS POSITIVE RESULTS. Patience has NEVER been one of my virtues and why "Life" is constantly trying to teach it to me. I do believe, however, we create our own kismet. My life is half over, sad but true (unless my genetic makeup is linked to Noah). I don't have the luxury of allowing wasteful negative energy to linger. If I need a pity party, I have it, then open the door and kick all the self destructive "guests" out and move on.

I believe I will get published. I'm not being cocky or over-inflated. This is a personal confirmation within my heart. "Designer Genes" did not happen by accident, and whether it is my first or hundredth novel to publish, writing the story has been the most beautiful life altering gift I've ever received. It is the whispered breath of life my soul was asking for, and it is the "pay it forward" I am destined to give away. All I need is the next door to open, revealing the vessel to help me carry through.

Speaking of "paying it forward," I also discovered a couple of other author treasures tucked within the fold of my own local Utah RWA chapter, at LTUE Conference.

Lesli Muir Lytle did a reading from her young adult novel (she writes about Amish angels... check out

Another fun author within Utah RWA, okay maybe even a little nutty, which is why I like her, being half-cracked myself, Lisa Deon, who has a short story eBook on Amazon titled "Splitting The Difference" a contemporary story with a romantic twist about carriage drivers. Lisa adds personal depth to the protagonist in that she's a carriage driver herself.  I invite you to check it out. Only $.99. If you buy and like, please leave a comment. Comments are invaluable to those eBook numbers.  Below is a picture of the cover, which she drew herself of her own horse. Not bad, eh? I should post my drawing of a horse, but even in stick-figure-form, it would be unrecognizable. Sticking to writing. I'll let my brothers do the drawing.

Splitting The Difference

Checkout my cyber friends webspaces listed to the left. Most have been published, in the throws of being published, and a couple like me, playing the "waiting game." L. Reveaux (Loretta Wheeler to us common folk) just released Siren's Call in a compilation of shorts with her other writing companions on eBook, titled "Erotic Dreamspell." (I may write young adult, but I read everything.

Product Details

Comments, hits, followers are what we need to continue weaving the thread through the tapestry of our writing world.

If you're new and stopped by, even if by accident, thank you for staying to read. If you can grab a tidbit from my ramblings to help you along the way, I've accomplished a good thing today.  Harley Brooks, hanging onto Joelene, possibly by using a noose around her neck.

Today's thought (if you can possibly believe there's more):  Never stop feeling, whether sad or happy. It's proof you're alive!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Current Listen:  Exit Wounds courtesy of The Script

VALENTINE'S DAY.  A day we celebrate "Love." Red roses, dark silk chocolates in glittery red heart boxes, and expensive cards filled with someone else's words...not ours. Oh we sign the card, but how many of us "writers" write our cards?

Remember elementary school and homemade "valentines" we created because we had no money to buy them? I'm guessing a lot of mother's have a shoebox in the closet or in the cedar chest, full of misshapen hearts with little one's terms of endearment. So what happened in between? We write hundreds of pages of romantic scenes and lip blossoming kisses, but rush right out and buy Hallmark's best, instead of writing our own. I must confess. My store bought greeting card is tucked inside the nightstand drawer awaiting Monday.

Below, in case I've guilted you into creating  your own romantic token but you suffer writers' block, are enlightening sayings written by my favorite (and non-liable) author:  "Anonymous."

"Once in awhile, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale."

"My love for you is a journey; Starting at forever and ending at never."

"I tell you I love you every day for fear that tomorrow isn't another."

"The most eloquent silence is that of two mouths meeting in a kiss."

"No three words have greater power than 'I Love You'. "

Now let's talk about the "Valentine Gift." Here's where I get to have fun, and if my "peeve" is your "preference," please don't be offended. My intention is lighten not darken.

Pet peeves
1.  Heart shaped jewelry. Seriously. Are you really going to wear it after Valentines Day? Maybe if it's crusted in several carats of diamonds, big enough to look tacky and heavy enough to strangle. Then yes. By all means, "surprise" me.

2.   Sexy lace "teddys." For you. Right. It's like I want to say "Oh honey! How did you know I was dying to wear sheer red lace over my pasty white body (it's winter for heaven's sake) so my cellulite thighs can be enhanced by that comfortable piece of satin dental floss tucked between my dimpled 'cheeks'?" Pass me the grenade, but keep the pin.

4.  Stuffed animals. Loved them when I was fifteen; the first token of love from my pimply faced boyfriend whose voice was higher than mine. Smiled affectionately at sixteen because my boyfriend had a part-time job or bigger allowance so the fluffy gift was at least larger. At seventeen, my teeth ground together, knowing my boyfriend had put enough thought into finding the last one tucked on the shelf, that he forgot to remove the tag on his way over to pick me up for our date. At eighteen, a stuffed animal meant "something more" and was usually holding another "teddy." It was also a "parting gift."

1.  Roses. Always a safe bet. While red roses are traditional, yellow roses call to my playful side and brighten any spot they're placed.

2.  Diamond rings. The larger the better. Need I say more? (Cupid will be greatly rewarded .)

3.  Dinner out and a romantic movie with a bucket of popcorn and a large bag of M&M's. (Cupid will get "lucky" later.)

4.  Shopping for clothing (other than lingerie) or furniture, without gasping for air or clutching a heart when the final tally is rang up. (Yep, a guaranteed "happy ending.")

5.  Hire me a weekly housekeeper. (Cupid will be horizontal for as long as that service is employed.)

But in the end, whatever my Cupid decides to do in my honor, I'll be thrilled with. Yes, even a lace teddy. A sense of humor is essential in a relationship, and me wearing one of Victoria's "secrets" will generate a gut busting laugh for sure! In the end all that matters is that he still considers me his "Valentine."

Love expressed in any manner, said in any language, and felt inside your heart, is wonderful. Hope your Valentines Day leaves a romantic memory that brings a private smile to your lips when it passes through your thoughts later.  Here's to a "hole in your heart" from Cupid's arrow. 

Thanks for spending a few moments. Harley Brooks, the lust crazed hopeless romantic stuck inside Joelene's head.

Thought for today:  You have to give "love" to receive "love." Pay it forward.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Current musical muse:  Last Train Home by Ryan Star*
(*a favorite listen and used as "muse" in my story)

I TAMED TWINS. They were part of the zoo I was in charge of feeding, housing, and returning to "the wild." The tag-team was also a total surprise. Even to the doctor. At 3:00 in the morning I was advised my son had brought reinforcements (undoubtedly heard his older sister on the outside and made the decision she was too scary to face alone). His brother arrived four minutes later. 

Twins come without a set of instructions and rule the universe they are visiting. They have a bond that can't be broken. They're weird. They're a blast. One is "the instigator" and the other, "the informer." When they took off in opposite directions, I just had to decide which one was in the most danger and let the other roam free. They never face life alone. There's always someone to share everything with from chicken pox to alibis. The last was used constantly throughout their life, and I'm sure, I'm still being duped.

When your seven-year-old calls to establish an alibi for his whereabouts "all day" (the time was specifically mentioned which was my first clue - he'd only been gone an hour) your system goes on alert. My twins were supposedly next door playing while I was on cupcake detail for a church party. I pondered the phone call a full minute before donning my detective hat and running shoes (twins require a lot of chasing. I had the best damn legs during their early years). I stepped out onto the back porch and smelled smoke. At that moment I realized I was about to be the proud parent of a young arsonist.

Quickly, I rounded the fence line and discovered the small group of trees (3 to be exact) behind our subdivision (affectionately referred to as the "magic forest" by our kids) were being devoured by flames licking up their branches. And off to the side of the small inferno was Twin A. "The instigator." Of course I ran to make sure he was okay before I killed him. It should be noted here that twins have "followers." A small gaggle of boys appeared. Apparently, the "club meeting" had taken a turn for the worse when they decided to see if the lighter they discovered on a treasure hunt, could start a stick on fire. When it did and they dropped it they witnessed how fast a fire can spread. Lucky for them, the sidewalk and street halted the fire, and the only casualty was one tree. The Fire Department responded within minutes and the other "proud parent" stepped from the driver's seat of the engine and faced Twin A. Meanwhile, Twin B arrives on the scene wearing the angelic face of innocence...smudged with dirt and soot, his blond locks smelling of smoke. His alibi lost credibility immediately. Because my little darlings' father was on the fire department, they were spared any legal repercussions, but spent the next four Saturdays washing the whitewalls on the engines and pulling weeds in the gardens in front of the fire station during their dad's shift. Community Service.

This is only one of many pictures my twins colored in my life. My reason for sharing? I'm asked where my ideas for stories come from, or what inspires my imagination. Jordan and Jesse, my twins in Designer Genes were created from the two muses who kept my life from becoming dull. That's why they were so fun to write. I'd already been inside their heads, knew how they competed constantly with each other, and how when push comes to shove and life deals one a particularly rough hand, the other is there to support and stand guard. Such is the relationship with my characters.

My stories generally appear in my daydreams, usually while on a motorcycle, taking in the view and alone with my thoughts. They play like mini movies in my head. I see my characters physical features, hear the timbre of their voices, and watch them pull other characters into their world. I play the movie over in my mind, watching different scenarios play out. If they "click" a plot is formed and I put the "movie" on paper.

Some story lines come from a life experience, the words of a song that's touched me, a picture, or even a conversation I happen to overhear or a scene I watch while enjoying a cup of coffee or sitting at the park eating lunch. Some muses are instant stories, while others never materialize beyond a few sentences. I call them my "bruises." I never throw away ideas. Another day, a "bruise" may become a best seller.

What's your favorite muse? What spice flavors your life?

Again, thanks for stopping by.  Joelene, Harley's "twin"

Today's thought:  The easy things in life pass without notice, but when something's difficult, it gets our full attention. We can't rise above the "mushy" stuff. We need something "hard" to help us stand. (special thanks to Clancy Metzger for inspiration)