The Bones of Who We Are: Aesthetic

I love Gabe. He’s the moody, brooding hero, and his story explores the why of his emotional journey. But his story needs a trigger warning. He’s dealing with some dark stuff (with support), so in the forward, I’ve provided an escape hatch for readers in case they aren’t in the head space to read it.

As I’ve been writing In The Wait: A Companion to Swimming Sideways and The Ugly Truth, (published to Wattpad or look for a new installment each Wednesday here) I’ve had more clarity about Gabe’s journey which I hope readers will be able to see as well.

I created this aesthetic to provide a visual reflection of Gabe’s story.

The Bones of Who We Are Mood Board

The Bones of Who We Are Mood Board

Writing Inspiration: Music

When I was little, family gatherings were defined by music. From my grandfather and his brothers who sang Barbershop quartet, to my mother and her sisters who’s harmonies drew us all together, and my father - a gorgeous lower register tenor - would croon to us. Then the rest of us cousins (vocalists, guitarists, pianists, drummers) would offer our musical sacrifices. Music was our definition.

So, as a writer, music isn’t just a step in my process; It is the origin of my process. Music transports me, swirls like a sound cosmos, effervesces inside my brain and inspires my creativity. And then I tell the story.

When I was little and a classical piece was playing, my mom would say: What’s the story?  We would close our eyes and listen to the undulation of the melody, the kinship of the instruments, the rise and fall of the music from beginning to climax to conclusion, and when it was over, we’d tell the story.

Try it. Find a piece you like, close your eyes, and watch the story in your mind. Then write it down.



YA Author Series - Author Spotlight: Alison Aldridge

Alison Aldridge

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Tell us three things about who you are and why you write . . .

I am a natural redhead.  I drink a lot of tea and feel it can solve most problems.  I am a mum to a son, daughter and two pussy cats.

I write because when I don’t write I feel stressed. It is a release for me.  My imagination never switches off so if I don’t let it go somewhere it gets crowded in my head.  Sometimes, to sleep, I have to jot down ideas otherwise they keep me up all night.

Tell us about the story…

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Mariah has a magic-meddling mum, and about to discover she’s a storm summoning mermaid that needs to gain control of her emotion-connected powers ready for the impending battle with the powerful, unstoppable death crows!

What are three things you want us to know as we read?

You most likely think you are an ordinary human being but what if one day your ordinary life was turned upside down.  Everything is changing, you feel vulnerable and start crushing on your best friend. Do you peruse that romance knowing it could destroy your friendship or watch in agony as they get closer to someone else.  To make matters worse, imagine your emotions give life to your dormant supernatural abilities and you have no idea how to control them. This is what is starting to happen to Mariah.

Where can we find this story? Where can we find you?

Link Tree:  https://linktr.ee/redfae

Website:  https://allyaldridge.wordpress.com/

Wattpad: @redfae  https://www.wattpad.com/user/redfae

IG:  @redfae https://www.instagram.com/redfae/

Twitter:  @Fae7 https://twitter.com/Fae7

Goodreads:  Alison Aldridge https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8108229.Alison_Aldridge



From… Jewel of the Sea…

Splinters threatened my skin as my hands grasped the wood and pulled at the panel of cheap fencing to open a triangle at the foot. Once wide enough to fit through, I flattened myself to the ground. Using my elbows and hips I pushed my way past the rich scent of soil that warmed my heart and made me think of my best friend Jace.

Once through on the other side, I dusted the dirt off my knees. Jace's garden looked empty. My shoulder stung.  As I glanced to my left I saw where I'd caught myself on the fence. The scratch left a bright red line and blood smudged across onto my blue vest top. Mum would be mad. I licked my thumb and tried to rub it off.

"Aghhh!" I screamed as my body was shocked in an icy cold shower. I turned around to find Jace standing there with the garden hose in his hand, laughing his head off.

"Jace!" I yelled. We'd spent all summer hanging out, like always.

With a naughty glint in his eye, he lifted the hose and soaked me again.

"Cut that out!" I ran at him to pull the hose out of his hand. He dodged out of my way and ran past me. As I chased after him, round his garden, he kept spraying me over his shoulder. In the beautiful heat of the summer sun, I welcomed the refreshing relief.

Finally, trapping him by the shed, I grabbed the hose. He still wouldn't let go and as we wrestled over it, he kept managing to squirt my face. Using my fingers, I changed the direction of the water and got him back. He made a funny gurgling noise and laughed, shaking the water from his blonde mop of hair.

"That doesn't sound like my plants are getting watered!" Denny yelled from the kitchen window. His mum was younger than mine. She had delicate features and high cheekbones framed by her dark pixie cut.

"Sorry, mum," Jace yelled back. His lip curled on one side as he tried in earnest to appear sincere, "You need to let go so I can continue with my chores."

"No way," I giggled, knowing as soon as I let go, he'd spray me, "We'll just have to do it together."

We then started watering the plants together, both refusing to let go of the hose.

"This is stupid Mariah," His blue eyes twinkled. "It would be much quicker if you just let me do it."

"I know you too well, Jace." I grinned as I argued back. "Why don't you just let me do it?"

"I couldn't shirk my responsibilities like that." Jace countered.

"I really don't mind."  I felt him try to tip the hose up towards me. The water ran up the fence but I managed to stop him. "Cut it out, Jace?"

"Oops!" He said with humour, his eyes alive with merriment.

The afternoon continued with the same upbeat light-heartedness. We sat out in the sun, enjoying ice creams and chilled drinks. Little did I know that it would be one of the last days of carefree fun and games next-door.  It started with Denny arriving at our house without Jace. We always found excuses to hang out together, so it made me feel unsettled that he hadn't come over with her.

She'd come to see mum, but I hovered around the kitchen. Her eyes stared down into a mug of tea, slowly stirring her sugar spoon, her gaze lost in a deep spin of thought.

"Are you going to drink that or spit out what's on your mind?" Mum asked.

Denny sighed, "I was hoping you already knew."

Mum isn't like ordinary mums. She is that woman with dark flowing hair who tells fortunes at spiritual fairs.

I stood up on my tiptoes to reach the cake tin and helped myself to one of the buttercream cupcakes; a product of mum and Denny's Sparkle Cake home bakery business.

"Don't make me dig out my crystal ball..." Mum threatened Denny. Her tone made me think I'd been caught with my sugary delight. For a moment I paused, wincing as I waited for 'don't spoil your dinner' or 'stop eating our profits' but she was too focussed on Denny to notice me.

Denny took a deep breath like she was conjuring up the courage to speak. With an awkward smile on her face, she said, "Dave and I have found somewhere to live together, a home of our own." But her blue eyes shone, brimming with tears.

"That's great news." Mum cheered.

"But..."

"What is it, Denny?"

"We’ll no longer be neighbors and it's all the way over on the other side of town. I feel so conflicted. It's perfect but I'm gonna miss you guys."

Her words were like the icy shower from the hose but without the warm relief of the sun or uplifting sound of Jace's laughter.

"You can't!" I snapped. Jace was my life! I needed him close! I needed him next door! I no longer wanted the bun, it was too sweet and I cast it aside on the counter.

"The cakes?" Denny gasped realizing what I'd done.

Mum threw me a disapproving look, "Mariah, go get the washing off the line!"

I stormed out the kitchen through the back door of our small terrace house, slamming it shut behind me. Without bothering to unpeg the clothes from the line, I began pulling them free and dumping them into the laundry basket. This haphazard manner completed the task too fast and I wasn't ready to go back inside.

I snuck over to the fence looking for the loose panel and pulled... but it wouldn't move. Then, I saw the evil glint of a new nail, hammered in to keep the plank in place; Keeping me out. I kicked at it, hurting my foot.

I sank onto the grass, my back pressed against the fence.  As I gazed up towards Jace's bedroom window my heart felt like a rock, unpleasant and heavy in my chest. I was consumed by a sinking feeling as I realised he really was going and there was nothing I could do about it.  

Then, to make matters worse, the sky beautiful blue sky darkened.  Heavy rapid rain soaked through my t-shirt as I raced inside. I didn't stop in the kitchen with mum and Gwyn, I carried on up to my room.  I dropped onto my bed, laying on my back, staring out the window at the raging storm that felt as if it spoke to my soul, mirroring my anger.



YA Author Series Launch: CL Walters

Over the next seven weeks, this blog will feature seven different authors who write Young Adult Stories.

Each Monday in April (and into May), a new author (published and unpublished) will be featured along with a 500-1000 words selection of her work (sorry, guys - no men submitted! What the heck!?!? Your assignment is to go read any or all of these authors: Marcus Zusak, Jeff Zentner and John Green).

Today, I will launch the format using my own work so you’ll get a sense of what to look for in the coming weeks. I hope this series is beneficial for you as readers (maybe you’ll find your next favorite author in the coming weeks), as well as for the author as a growth opportunity to share their voices.

FEEDBACK WANTED!

Be sure to provide the guest authors some CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK! Either in the comments section or in some capacity on their social media platforms. As writers - constructive feedback fuels us.

Drum roll please . . .

CL Walters

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Tell us three things about who you are and why you write . . . I write because I can’t not write (please forgive the double negative). When I don’t, I turn into a bitch and that isn’t healthy for my family or my marriage. Writing is like breathing, so without it, I’m not living. Second, I adore stories - reading them, studying them, writing them - it all blends together. Finally, I write stories which I categorize as “young adult” but I hope they are just human stories that anyone at any age can enjoy.

Tell us about the story we’re going to read (your elevator pitch). . . Gabe is faced with a choice between life and death; the question is, what will he discover about himself to help him make the decision.

What are three things you want us to know as we read? This story is the third act of a trilogy. The first two books explore Abby’s and Seth’s stories in Swimming Sideways and The Ugly Truth. Gabe’s story The Bones of Who We Are has been challenging to write but not only because of the writing, but because of the content which swirls around bullying, victimization and depression.

Where can we find this story? Where can we find you (IG, Twitter, FB, website). The Bones of Who We Are is slated to be published this coming October (2019). In the meantime, you can catch up with Swimming Sideways and The Ugly Truth which are on Amazon (Kindle and Print). I can be found on IG (@cl.walters) and Twitter (@peeledandcored), my website (www.clwalters.net) and FB (CLWalters).

From… The Bones of Who We Are:

(YA Contemporary - Language Warning…)

I hate walking through the Quad. It’s a necessity twice a day unless I want to take the long way around the outside of the school. The deciding factor is always which one has the potential for more problems. Outside, I run the risk of an actual fight. In the Quad, I run the risk of mocking, maybe shit thrown at me, or something else to make me feel less than human. The first one means physical harm. The second one emotional and mental, but I can usually block it out with my headphones.

When I turn the corner from the stairwell into the opening of the Quad, it’s full. This time of the school day - lunch - it usually is. People are either in the cafeteria or there, especially as the weather turns rainy and cold. They sit on or around a myriad of red and black tables, congregate by the vending machines in red and black metal cages, and flirt with someone they crush on moving like honey bees from table to table. Some industrious students use the space to study, but not very often at lunch. It’s a space with very little adult supervision. This is for several reasons. First, the school office is across the way which adults must assume is a deterrent for teen bullshit (it isn’t) and, second, it’s lunch time. Teachers are either in the cafeteria, eating lunch with their work friends, or in their classrooms making space for those industrious students needing a place to escape the teen bullshit in the Quad.

I hesitate for a moment, consider walking around the outside or cutting through the offices, but then am annoyed for even thinking about it. I have every right to walk through the Quad. I shouldn’t have to feel worried to do it. But then that’s the problem of positivity, of allowing in layers of hope. It crumbles without a proper foundation, and just like I’d told Doc it would happen, the mouth of the escape route collapses burying me inside. It was, after all, only a matter of time.

I’m halfway across the space when I’m yanked backward. I keep my feet, but my hoodie cuts into my throat choking me. I rock backward and then forward.

Laughter.

“What the fuck!” I turn.

Tommy Pilner, his hands raised in mock surrender and smiling like he’s just caught a mouse, says, “Yo. Daniels. You don’t have to go all HAM, dude.”

I’ve known Tommy since coming to Cantos and he’s always been the same; he loves the Freak Challenge. He’s taken full advantage of the fact I don’t throw hands. Seth used to say his dad described Tommy as a younger version of his old man. I think: aren’t we all, which doesn’t bode well for any of us. “Fuck off,” I tell him, and turn away.

He grabs my hood again, but this time pulls with so much force I’m yanked off my feet. I slam against the floor on my back.

Laughter.

“Jesus, Daniels. What the fuck? You really should be more careful. You could get hurt.” Tommy laughs looking at his friends. “You all see him slip?”

They are laughing.

I’m on my feet.

Here’s another thing about hope - besides the risk of losing it - it begins to warm the cold and melt away the perceptions of what you’ve come to think you deserve into something more golden. You look outside the clear window, feel that sunshine, and think: Yeah. I could go out there and play. When the storm comes in, you remember what that sun felt like, and you want the fucking sun.

So, maybe I wouldn’t have a few weeks ago, but I take a step toward Tommy.

His smile falters.

The Bones of Who We Are… Coming October 2019

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#momlife, #writerslife

Humor me with a flashback: When I was thirteen I was positive I was going to be the next Emily Dickinson with the romantic idealism of wasting away in our farmhouse attic and writing poetry that would one day be famous.  The purpose of this flashback is to offer an anecdote to show I’ve been writing and have wanted to be a writer for a long time. I wrote my first story when I was eight, so writing is a formative experience on my timeline from then to the present. But this reflection isn’t so much about the past as it is about how it informs the present.

I was twenty-seven when I had my first child. A girl. Looking back, I’d only just slipped on my adult shoes: I’d been out of college for three years and just started my professional life as an educator. When she was born, remembering life before her was difficult because it felt like life had just begun.

My Baby Girl: she had attitude from the moment she was born.

My Baby Girl: she had attitude from the moment she was born.

I took a year off to be a stay-at-home mom. During that year, I got to know my daughter, and in between being exhausted and enamored, I wrote my first novel. It was a historical romance novel with an amnesia twist. (I know. I know. We all have to begin somewhere. It is in a drawer where it belongs). This milestone provided me the experience that I COULD be a mom, and I COULD write a book.

At twenty-seven, I was pretty sure I had it all together. I don’t remember thinking: I’m changed, but looking back, I see now I began to redefine myself. Maybe some mothers would say the redefinition begins during pregnancy, but in my experience, my shift toward motherhood was relegated to healthy choices and weight gain. I still felt like myself - only, slightly better. It was after Baby Girl was born motherhood began to reshape my identity. It shaved down my edges into a smoother more pliable version of myself. It challenged my perceptions and pushed me to learn and seek new understandings about previously held opinions. I began to understand what it means to be selfless.

As a writer, I am a self-centered person. Let me clarify: I don’t mean SELFISH. That’s different. I mean my focus is centered around whatever is happening in my head. I think most creatives and artists can relate. Becoming a parent insisted I reorient. My time was no longer my time alone.

My daughter took this of me - I was sitting at the computer attempting to write. This was about the fifth time she’d interrupted me.

My daughter took this of me - I was sitting at the computer attempting to write. This was about the fifth time she’d interrupted me.

I continued to write, but it was between things like breastfeeding, working, commuting to and from work, feeding the family, playtime, bath time, book time, and bedtime. And Baby Girl was a strong willed child, so nothing ever went as planned. Thank goodness there were two of us. There wasn’t much time left.

Baby number two arrived four years later. I had my Baby Boy. And I returned to being a Stay-at-Home mom with him. I got to know my little guy, who is so different than his big sister, the epitome of happy and content. I began to write again. This time I completed two romantic suspense novels set in Hawaii. Queried and was rejected.

He was only a week old when I took this picture. He hasn’t stopped smiling.

He was only a week old when I took this picture. He hasn’t stopped smiling.

Then I went back to work, but this time, I worked at the school where my now school-aged children began. My identity hovered around my children, my family, and my work. Writing took a back seat - as usual - but not because I couldn’t. It was because that was my choice. I still wrote, but sustaining any writing was difficult. So, in between new ideas that I’d list in a notebook, I spent ten years writing and rewriting a YA novel, a paranormal romance. Queried and rejected multiple times over and over. I put it away, sure I was never meant to be a writer.

Life twists and turns. I changed jobs and focused on my career as a teacher. It hosted my identity and made me feel validated because it is something at which I excel while my writing faced rejection after rejection. Writing - my writing - was given only the time I provided to my journaling students but somewhere in the mix, I rewrote that YA again, removing all of the paranormal elements. I don’t know why. An exercise perhaps.


Where does the time go? We blink and the distance between events expands.


Suddenly, I have a daughter moving away to college and a son starting high school. Time devoted to them and our family stretches out before me. I’ve heard many mother’s lament the loss of their babies. I feel it. I see pictures of my babies, my children as toddlers, each stage a beautiful dance all the way through. I feel joy and poignant loss. And then I see pictures of myself and think: I don’t recognize you. But I don’t feel lost. In a way, I feel reborn.

I took a leave of absence from teaching this year. As my I transition from a mom of independent children, I’ve had the opportunity to look more closely at myself. The mom duties have changed now, have reoriented from all my time to some of it. I’ve had the opportunity to help my son transition to high school, be available for college freshman woes, but the need for mom has waned significantly other than to be a nag about homework, a taxi and a hug.


And there it was - time. Stretched out like a ribbon wrapped around a gift. I could write again.


So I have. I’ve dug in. I rewrote that YA. It’s independently published. I wrote the second book in the series. It’s Independently published too. I’m revising the third book in the series, and it will be independently published later this year. I completed Nanowrimo this year with 70,000 on a new book and a host of ideas in that notebook. I still have time for my family, they just don’t need as much of it.


What I would tell myself as a young mother now that I’ve lived her reality: Don’t worry about your time. You will get it back. Enjoy every moment of these children - even the difficult parts. It goes so very quickly.

Now, I look in the mirror and think: I know you. I knew you when you were thirteen and thought you’d be Emily Dickinson. I laugh at my reflection and think: There’s time. There’s time.

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