“Crash Into Me” by Malena Lott (Flash Fiction Freebie)

Happy Valentine’s Day, loves! I wrote this flash fiction in 2013 (originally titled “One Foggy Morning” and wanted to share it this weekend because you just never know when – or how – that special someone will enter your life. Here’s to loving ourselves, not settling for mediocre love, and above all to loving kindness. xoxo – Malena

BONUS:  My short story collection on love and loss, Hope Floats, is FREE on Amazon this weekend. Link below. Come back Monday for a very special Mermaid Mojo feature!

***

The dense fog hung so low Maddie Swinson saw only knees and feet coming toward her on

photo-1421885568509-8d5319e54d89
Photo courtesy Jesse Bowser

the city sidewalk. Just past the morning rush hour, the swell of pedestrians had thinned and slowed, save for one who knocked Maddie backwards, causing her body to slice through the fog that only appeared pillow soft.

The next thing she remembered she heard angels singing, in what she assumed was her entry to the afterlife. Giddiness overcame her, a tingling feeling crawling all the way up her arm. She couldn’t help but laugh aloud – her husband had been wrong! All those times he’d told her to go to hell hadn’t worked. Not that she believed he had any sway with the Big Man Upstairs, but he was a deacon in their church and that fact had gone to his head long before the choir director did, too.

Only wasn’t heaven supposed to be light? No tunnel, no awaiting family members, only a blackness that reminded her of that night the week before when she’d left her husband for good as he lay sleeping on the couch where he pretended to do penance. She knew better. He was still seeing the choir director, whose angelic voice sounded not so different than the one she heard now.

The tingling increased, followed by a muffled voice she hoped was her Grandma Fae who made the best brownies she’d ever eaten. No one could duplicate the recipe, which could mean only one thing: Grandma Fae had taken her secret ingredient with her to the grave.

Her mouth watering, Maddie tried again to see, the blackness clearing to brown soup. The tingling turned to pain, the muffled voice distinctly male, and the angelic voice belonged to Jennifer Hudson, courtesy a stray ear bud dangling in front of Maddie’s face. There was the chest that had shoved her, not to another life, but to the sidewalk, where her skull had bashed into the cement causing the black-out and current gushing of blood covering her eyes.

The headless man, whose neck up was inside the fog, fiddled with his smart phone, likely calling 9-1-1. At least she hoped that’s what he was doing since he hadn’t snatched her bag still clutched in her hand. With his free hand, the man wiped her eyes with a tissue, enabling her to see him better, or at least his bottom half.

He wore grey designer slacks, almost matching the color of the fog. It’s no wonder she hadn’t seen him before they collided. She couldn’t fault him for his wardrobe choice since she, too, had worn gray that day. A grey skirt and grey tights and grey Uggs. The grey overkill had nearly killed her.

Ringing ears aside, she began to make sense of his words, “Stay down, don’t move, help is on the way.” He kept repeating it like lyrics in a bad pop song. Why would she move when she had him to bring her back to conciousness, to the very light of day? His thighs were strong, his pants tight enough to show off his athletic build. They left nothing to the imagination.

Oh, God. He hadn’t wiped her eyes with a tissue at all, but with his white dress shirt. Her blood was covering the poor guy from wrist to elbow!

Squeamish at the sight of blood, especially her own, she nearly passed out again, still strangely longing for Grandma Fae’s brownies.

“Stay down, don’t move, help is on the way.”

Headless Man did something that kept her from switching off the lights. He squeezed her hand. Softly at first, then firmer. Softer again. His thumb caressed the top of her hand, in small circles. God, his hand was warm. Her husband had always said hers were so cold that he hadn’t wanted to be touched at all. At least that was his excuse. And yet when Maddie had gone to visit Choir Director the day after Revelation, she lied and said she wanted to make peace and offered her hand to shake. To her surprise, Choir Director’s hands were cold, too. She would tick off the other possible reasons for his betrayal another day, but “cold hands” wasn’t it.

She tugged at the stranger’s hand, causing him to plead with her not to get up until help arrived, but that wasn’t what she’d meant at all. This time she used both hands and pulled Headless man from the fog, nearly causing him to fall on top of her, but he’d caught himself with his hands.

Catching her breath, Maddie swallowed hard, staring into his blue eyes as he smiled down at her, nose to nose.

“Are you going to hit me? You have every right,” he said.

“Right? What are you, a lawyer?”

“I am.”

“I am who?”

“I am the clumsy jerk lawyer who runs over a pretty girl on the foggiest day of the year.”

She laughed. “I meant, what’s your name, clumsy lawyer?”

“Tony Hoffman.”

“Ordinarily I’d say, ‘pleased to meet you,’ but in this case…”

“I don’t blame you. Do you hear that? Sirens.”

“Wait. Don’t tell me: stay down, don’t move, help is on the way.”

“So you could hear me.”

“Like a broken record. But I think I’m going to live.”

“Thank God for that. But we’re going to get you checked out all the same.” His voice was thick with sincerity, causing her heart to sting in a good way.

“Don’t worry. I won’t sue,” she said with a grin. “What kind of lawyer are you?”

He frowned. “Divorce. Hate me even more?”

She laughed too hard to answer as the legs of the paramedics approached with a gurney seemingly wheeled on its own.

“What’s so funny?” Tony asked.

“I was on my way to meet my friend for coffee so she could give me the name of her divorce attorney. I just never expected I’d run into one on the way.”

He smiled. “This takes ambulance chasing to a whole new level. I don’t typically bloody my clients. But if you’ll have me, I’ll offer my services for free. I feel it’s only fair.”

“A clumsy, fair, very handsome lawyer. Maybe I have gone to heaven. If you’re as tough on my husband as you were on me, you’re hired.”

“Pro-bono.”

“Fine. I accept.” The paramedics knelt down and put her in a neck brace and carefully lifted her onto the gurney, back into the gray abyss.

For a moment she thought she’d lost him for good until his warm hand pressed into hers again, this time with a business card. He squeezed her hand and whispered into her ear. “I am truly sorry I hurt you.”

Words her husband had never said.

She overheard Tony asking the paramedics which hospital they were taking her to, that he’d be close behind.

A short ride later, as they wheeled her into the ER, the fog began to lift.

***

For full works by Malena Lott, visit my Amazon page. My short story collection Hope Floats is FREE this Valentine weekend.

Get Real: Owning our Energy and the Art of Shifting

What energy do you bring to your interactions with others? What about your energy when you’re NOT around IMG_3259other people?

Everything has energy and the more you research how energy affects us (from the planets to the phases of the moon to human interactions) the more I’ve become aware of the energy I’m bringing to the table and the energy of others. One way to stay in tune with your energy (and feel others) is to practice staying in the present moment and practicing stillness. Being MINDFUL is key.

Martha Beck discusses “entrainment” and how it effects beings around you  – even turkeys – when you practice stillness.

She says, You are the master of the energy you radiate. You always have a choice. Don’t fall into resonance with some random person who’s feeling lost and scared (as most humans do, most of the time). Be the peace you wish to see in the world, and watch the turkeys in your life—both literal and metaphoric—join the stillness.”

Read the full article here. 

One area I’ve been working on is to stay calm and talk less (and listen and be more) – something that’s hard for a high energy person – especially on caffeine! Like Martha’s example of the turkeys staying totally still, I’ve found my dogs like to come lay down next to me when I’m meditating or doing Pilates or yoga.

The other thing is not to let the energy of others suck you in if it’s negative. My daughter (whose schedule is the craziest this week) has some freak outs and I have to stay very aware so that I don’t “match it”. If I’m calm, it should calm her.

One of Deepak’s guided meditations, which I re-listened to yesterday, focuses on the topic of feeling and emitting energy. From the overview of his meditation:

“Energy cannot be created or destroyed,
it can only be changed from one form to another.”
—Albert Einstein

Today in our meditation we will explore our essential energetic nature. At the deepest level, we are all powerful energetic beings. We inherently possess the ability to shift the world around us with our presence and how we project ourselves. When we walk into a room, our energetic state of being is communicated before we say a word. If we’re coming from love, everyone feels it. And if we’re feeling resentful, edgy, sad or preoccupied, everyone can feel that, too. Silently, our energy speaks and our thoughts, feelings and intentions ripple out into the world.  Our capacity to affect others with our energy is both a gift and a responsibility. Ultimately, we have the power to choose how we show up and interact in this world. When we choose to come from compassion, peace, and unity, we become a powerful force for good and open the door to deep and rich relationships.

Learn more about his meditation series here. 

His advice if we’re feeling any type of negative energy is to take a deep breath and consciously shift. I’ve found that even saying “let it go” to myself or visualizing letting the “thing” go helps tremendously. Our days are so full of stressors and at this time of year – end of school – our schedules are so packed that we can become irritable and edgy. I’m not only working on not snapping in my words, but even in my thoughts. I’ve started to catch myself making judgments – even in my head – and trying to stop it and just “let it be”. See it without judging it. THAT also is about bringing energy because your thoughts and feelings can be felt by others. Even if you believe like Martha did that it’s the animals around you feeling it. For me, it would be the birds and squirrel on my deck as I work out there or the people around me at Starbucks when I’m writing and every interaction I’m having AS I’m going about our hectic schedule to get to summer.

I’m excited about starting a new Get Out summer series on adventure, courage and trying new things starting next week. I’ll post the adventures and photos and hope that it might inspire you to seek out new experiences, too. Life is about growth and taking full advantage of the gifts we’re given and seeking out (and paying attention) to those new doors being opened for us. If it’s in alignment with our purpose, we don’t HAVE to tug on the door and try to beat it down. You just turn the knob and walk through.

Transformation is all about shifting. Our thoughts, our actions. Small, big and everything in between, now and forever.

Namaste and rock the day.

xo,

Malena

*** writing update***

18K on my WIP and feeling like Jake is now fully immersed in my head so when I start writing he’s already there and I’m thinking his thoughts and feeling his feelings, which is what you have to have to keep the momentum up and let the story flow through you. I love this talk by Amy Tan on creativity so if you’re a writer, give it a view.

***wellness update***

After trying lots of new (to me) fitness classes, I’ve settled on a fitness routine I’m comfortable with. It’s still

PIE! Shared it and loved it.
PIE! Shared it and loved it.

working out every day but the “hard days” are every other day so the “light” days let my muscles relax a bit. I’ve now lost 17 pounds (since summer 2013) and while my goal is NOT to lose any more weight (I wanted to lose 10) it’s my body adjusting to the new lifestyle of eating well and working out every day. I do believe I’ll gain a couple of pounds back in muscle which is great. I’ve added more protein to my diet – especially after the workouts so that I make sure I’m not losing muscle. I don’t think I’m “there” yet in terms of reshaping my body so will continue to adjust as I learn more and see how I feel. Sending big love out to Brooke at the YMCA for being a great instructor (Pilates, Kickboxing, RIPPED) and Lauren Fitzgerald who teaches hip hop at Co-Motion. xoxo

Schedule:

Cardio – every day.

Hip hop at least 1x per week.

Kickboxing once a week.

RIPPED or HIIT once a week.

Those are high fat burning classes (up to 600 calories an hour) so then the LIGHT days I do what I call a Triple 8. 8 minutes on the stair climber, 8 on the treadmill at an incline and 8 on the bike. Then I finish up with some push ups and Pilates just to work my abs and arms. OR I’ll do OUTSIDE activities like hiking or biking. My first Get Out adventure is hiking the Wichita Mountains with my fit girlfriend, Kelley.

Eating wise, I’m letting myself have a few more “cheats” but mostly sticking to my clean/green/lean and no processed sugar or carbs. I DID share a peanut butter chocolate pie with my husband so it’s not about NEVER. He’s lost more than 20 pounds and feeling great, too. I recently added a WHEY PROTEIN powder to my smoothie after I work out so I get 25 grams of protein. At the beginning I think I wasted a lot of muscle by not refueling with protein. My meats are still chicken and tuna and turkey. I pretty much cut out all dairy but may try to add it back in a day or two a week.

Any questions or comments? Let me know. I’m here for ya.

Get REAL: Relationships, Foster or Forget?

Pretend for a moment that you’re a judge on a new reality television show called Relationship Idol. One by one, all the people you have a relationship with come up the mic, but instead of singing, they stand there and look at you. REALLY look at you. And you REALLY look at them. Then the video montage of your lives together start playing up on the big screen behind them. Maybe there is much laughter or lots of tears. At the end of your video, it’s your turn. What about it? Is it good enough? Is your relationship healthy or harmful? Does it make your stomach sour just looking at that person? Then you must rule on it. Foster it or forget it. At the very least GET REAL that it may not be the way you want it to be. Our plan is not to CHANGE them, but to look at changing ourselves (if need be) and being honest about what’s working and what’s not.

Certainly the boundaries are different based on the type of relationship we’re discussing, but that doesn’t mean every relationship that impacts our life shouldn’t go under this scrutiny – and that means closely examining what WE are bringing to the relationship. It takes two. We may teach each other how to treat us, but how are we treating others? Like a punching bag? Emotional life support? Do we just unload on them and never ask them how THEY are doing? Are we fair? Are we kind?

This week, let’s illuminate the relationships in our lives and see what happens.

SPOUSE/SIGNIFICANT OTHER
FATHER
MOTHER
SIBLING
CHILDREN
GRANDPARENT
EXTENDED FAMILY
IN-LAWS
CO-WORKERS
BOSS
EMPLOYEES (IF YOU’RE THE BOSS)
FRIENDS
NEIGHBORS

What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Do you need to foster them? What would need to happen for the relationship to improve? Are they positive or negative? Are you extendings acts of kindness OUTSIDE OF THESE relationships, but not WITH them? Do you judge them more harshly? Are you being a good listener? (Technology down!) How is your eye to eye contact? Body language? What key words come from your conversations? Is it one sided? Angry? Abusive?

What can YOU do – talk more, talk less, be honest? Do you need to put SPACE for YOU? Are they emotional vampires, always sucking the lifeblood our of your day and never giving you any support? Or are you doing that to someone?

This week, I had a great (but sad) reminder that some relationships are not meant to be. Perhaps the other person needs counseling or you just aren’t a “fit” but whatever the reason, honor yourself and the other person by getting real about it. If you’re going back to the same well, don’t expect different water to come out of it. We all grow at different rates and sometimes that means they may leave us behind or we need to leave them behind.

Once we’ve noted our feelings, we can engage in conversations with them about it. If it’s that you love them and want to spend more time with them, schedule that! I know this is tough and I have no expertise on this other than to say, look at it and make a plan. Seek help if you need to and let’s make 2014 the year we get real about all the relationships in our lives.

I adore all things Martha Beck, so check out her site and blog on relationships and family here.

I CAN Live With or Without You… Insight from Martha

Book rec:

The Secret to Happy Families

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2013 Year in Review / Lessons

I always get sentimental this time of year – not only because we’re packing up the suitcase on a calendar year, but because it’s a reminder how truly fast time flies. They weren’t joking about that. I thought it might slow down the older I get. Nope. If anything, it seems someone has their foot on the accelerator. Is it me? God, I hope it’s not me, though I don’t mind taking some credit for the fun and good stuff.

Thing about this year in review stuff (as much as I love to read them by others) is that I’ve worked hard not to judge my life. I can’t recall which guru said it, but once I heard you shouldn’t label a day as good or bad, so I tried to stop asking my husband, “did you have a good day?” nor answering it. Every day is a gift. Period. Some days suck big fat tush, sure, but back in the early ’00s I adopted another mantra, “never let circumstances dictate your joy.” That’s a tough one. So this isn’t about judging if it was good, bad or otherwise. Stuff does happen – delirious, delicious successes and soul-crushing blows. EACH are just momentary- notches on our tree of life. With that out of the way…

I’m more at ease with sharing what I learned, so here goes.

I do this but wish I felt more like this more often.
I do this but wish I felt more like this more often.

1. You cannot be in two places at once as a parent and must let go of the guilt of that fact. When I was at a dance conference with my daughter in January, my youngest son had a head on collision with another Cub Scout at an event. Head split open. Lots of blood. ER. Many stitches. I paced the mall like a zombie 2 hours away but was assured by my husband that son was happy, smiling, getting royal treatment (no concussion) and they got ice cream after. I hadn’t driven for one thing, but it was a good lesson that moms (nor dads) can always be there no matter if you have one kid or many. So I went on about my weekend relishing in being with my daughter, watching her dance, and spending time with my dance mom bff. Peace, mamas. Don’t let heartache ruin what’s right in front of you.

2. Sometimes success or failure is out of your control. WHAT?! I can’t to-do list the shit out of my life and make all my dreams come true? That’s tough for a type A strategist *AND* dreamer to boot to swallow, but remember – sometimes your hard work, passion and WILL to make the end game go in your favor simply does not. For whatever reason – the market, the fancies of the people, timing, and so on. Yes, I still think it’s good to analyze it, but don’t let it get you down. I worked so hard trying to control things that were uncontrollable that I got burned out and upset with myself, which – let’s face it – never turns things back around in your favor. So, here’s me releasing the big balloon of control over the uncontrollable to the Universe. Ahhhh.

3. Travel does a soul good. Yes, too much could backfire, but if you take the time to get away, it’s going to help you refocus and prioritize, miss those you aren’t around, relish in the company of those you are around and feel energizedfor those routines you were sick of previously. I got to go to Nashville with my MIL and daughter, dance nationals with my daughter, Colorado for a family vacation and then put myself on a five-city book tour to celebrate Twin Falls and Family Charms. I got to see friends I hadn’t seen in eons. I’m so glad I did it. All of it. Where to in ’14?

4. If things break down, consider something new. I had a solid year with clients on retainer, which is a tremendous relief for a self-employed business owner. So when my clients’ projects were through and the retainers dried up, I had a decision to make: replace them with similar projects or create something new to fill that void. After a lot of thought, I went for it and created Sooner Spaces, a media site devoted to compelling stories about spaces in my state of Oklahoma. (Called the Sooner State) It was hard, grueling, took many yes’ and dozens of hours of unpaid work to pull off and – I love it. Every bit. I love pitching it. I love the interviews. I love writing the stories and shooting and editing. I love working on DIY projects and sharing them. And I love, love, love working with my friends Ali and Jill. I don’t feel lonely and I’m getting out of the house and off the computer. If you’re in a similar situation, ask yourself if it’s an opportunity to do something you love (that can also make money if it’s work related.)

5. Be present IN THE WORLD. One of my favorite movies this year was HER starring Joaquin Phoenix as a guy who falls inlove with his iOS. I get it. A lot of my world is right here with you – in this screen (or the various versions of you on my big Mac, iPad, iPhone). But it’s TOO MUCH. Because one of my retainers involved social media, I was on it a LOT. And because I run a small press, I have to blog and do production online and more social media. And once you’re ON IT, it’s hard to get off of it. I’m too addicted to the white stuff – this white screen – and all the pixels here. I need on a device to write, yes. Hell, I can’t even read my own handwriting, but as for the rest and the rabbit hole it takes me on…No, I have to show more control and restraint which means I have to literally leave all devices downstairs and resist any urge to check in so I can concentrate on the real world – my family, my laundry, and all the projects I’ve committed to finishing out here that will eventually wind up in here as posts or videos or whatever. Point is, I lacked balance in 2013 and I’m going to fix it because it makes me feel crazy and I want to BE HERE NOW.

Loads of other lessons and great things happened in 2013 like I do feel more ME than ever before, I eat cleaner, I added yoga and meditation, I saw generous support by authors who helped me buy classroom items for the teachers in Moore, OK who lost everything in the May tornado. I  also published new books and several books by others. 

A few photos on my look back at 2013:

What’s next?

I like to create a theme for each year – for blogging and for a life practice. This year it was True Do and it helped me align to my purpose. In 2014, it’s GET REAL  theme you’ll see here and on my Facebook author page. I invite you to blog along with me and put the REAL into your life this coming year. We’ll be getting real about food, bonds, success and more. NO, I’m not selling any supplement (nor taking them) but I hope my journey to cooking better for my family and making healthier choices might inspire someone else reading here and my goal to sustain REAL bonds with those I love AND showing loving kindness to strangers and those I disagree with and examining what real success looks like in our daily lives as workers and people on a journey to something more, deeper, richer, might prop us each up and keep us going to LIVE WITH INTENTION and see that EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED as we concentrate and grow what needs fertile ground and watering in our lives.

More soon. Happy new year, friends.

xoxo and namaste and pass the champagne (sugar detox starts Jan. 2nd.)

-Malena

5 Fun Facts About My Holiday Romance

sterlingsloankindlecoverOf course I mean my fictional Manhattan holiday romance in my new ebook novella, STERLING & SLOANE, available starting today at Amazon and Barnes & Noble for just .99. As a novella, it’s a short read – just long enough to drink a couple glasses of wine by a roaring fire. Hot cocoa with whipped cream also acceptable.

Sharing 5 fun facts about the story and where the inspiration came from.

1. The Origin – Likely I was inspired by two of my favorite holiday flicks: The Holiday and Love Actually. I wrote about twenty pages and abandoned it for another project. The characters had different names but they had their current occupations – a marriage counselor and a divorce attorney for the “opposites attract” storyline. Several months ago the hook and solution hit so I rewrote it, only keeping their occupations and the NYC setting.

2. On naming the characters – Sterling was named after Roger Sterling on Mad Men, one of my favorite shows, and Sterling Shepard, a football player at my alma mater, University of Oklahoma. Every time I watched a game, I’d think, “I must name a character after that someday.” On Twitter, I began following a woman named Sloane. I loved the alliteration. Sloane’s last name, Cruisie, comes from the romance author Jennifer Cruisie and Tom Cruise because the story is about Sloane getting through the final days before her divorce to action star Ben Cruisie. Ben is a lot younger than Tom, but he does share his size stature and charm and box office appeal. The little person elf Quentin provides a bit of comic relief and magic in the story and leads to a big a-ha moment for both the hero and heroine. The name Quentin popped into my head and seems un-elf-like which is probably why I chose it.

3. The Neo-gothic locale is real. Christmas in New York is something I have on my bucket list so I got to live vicariously through my characters. When researching posh apartments that had fireplaces, I discovered The Studio, which is across the street from the Museum of Modern Art. So check out Ben and Sloane’s apartment here.  Most of the story takes place in the apartment, but Sterling’s apartment is one floor below.  My friend Tina McGarry visited NYC for her birthday a year ago and one of her must sees was a stop into Serendipity. (Actually Serendipity 3 in real life.) The definition: the art of making happy discoveries so it’s fitting for the book that it’s their first sort-of date in the restaurant.

Me with the Antiques Diva.
Me with the Antiques Diva.

4. Antiques and symbolism. I use a lot of symbolism in my stories so I didn’t feel I should treat a romance any differently. The story is about Sloane letting go of her past and I needed something that anchored her in the past physically while something secretive anchors Sterling to his past. I decided her love for antiques and that neo gothic apartment would help accomplish that. The fact her apartment is across from the modern art museum also played with the past/future theme. She finds her precious antiques in a moving truck as Ben has hired movers to move out the antiques he never liked to replace them with contemporary furniture just as he’s replacing Sloane for a new lover. When she sees Sterling’s apartment, she finds it full of antiques – a passion they could share. Note, The Antiques Diva in the book is real. Toma Clark Haines married a high school friend, BJ Haines, and I keep up with them on Facebook. Toma really does European antiques tours and I had Sterling find out about Toma through Sloane mentioning she’d toured with her in the press years before. I got permission from Toma to use her name and business in the book and BONUS! she gave me advice on what furniture to include in the book. She had read and loved my novel Dating da Vinci, so that inspired her to include a da Vinci bed in her recommendations, which OF COURSE I used. In the book I call it the Vitruvian Man bed and fun things happen there. Go read for yourself!

5. Pillow Talk and my Rock Hudson and Doris Day. My husband and I watched Rock Hudson and Doris Day’s movie Pillow Talk which heavily inspired the book. I wanted a vintage romantic comedy feel to it, which is where some of Sterling’s old-fashioned charm comes in. I wanted the exchanges between Sterling and Sloane to be snippy and flirty and for Sterling to be seen as smooth even though he’s secretly petrified of Sloane because he’s had a crush on her for so long. I did my own twist on the bathtub scene (two!) for some frothy fun. Here’s the scene in the movie. The part where their feet touch? Lordy. Sterling is a modern-day Rock Hudson, 6’4″ of tall, dark and sexy.

If you read it and enjoy it, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Goodreads. Thanks so much for your support and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. xo

Author Guest Diana Rodriguez Wallach on Creativity

Readers, I’m delighted to introduce you to an amazing talent today – Diana Rodriguez Wallach –  who I was so fortunate to meet MirrorMirror_LowReswhen she submitted a fantastic trilogy of short stories for the Mythology High series at Buzz Books USA. The very definition of creativity is coming up with new twists and she has definitely done that with her Mirror/Mirror stories about modern takes on classic myths of Narcissus and more. She had already published young adult novels and totally gets the “voice.” I asked her to share her inspiration with us today. Welcome, Diana!

It’s the number one question that writers get: where do you find your inspiration? At this point in my career, I’ve drawn inspiration from my family background, Greek Mythology, and a former BU professor who previously worked as a communist spy. So I guess the answer is, anywhere.

But my current short-story collection, Mirror, Mirror, is rooted in the myths of Narcissus, Nemesis, Echo, and Nyx. It’s part of Buzz Books’ Mythology High collection. A lot of people have asked how or why I zeroed in on Narcissus, but to be honest, the idea just came to me. I don’t know if I consciously made the decision, which is weird for me to admit because I’m not one of those authors who believes she’s a vessel for some mystical muse. I think good writing is derived from hard work, not divine inspiration. You need to put your butt in the chair, write everyday, and be willing to make massive, painful revisions.

That said, when I learned about Mythology High, my mind instantly flicked to Narcissus. A few seconds after that, I came up with the idea of paranormal secret agent who infiltrates high schools to rid the world of Narcissistic people using a silver compact mirror. I wrote the entire first story, Reflecting Emmy, in two hours while sitting in a coffee shop in Philly. So I can’t deny that there was definitely some serious inspiration flowing through me that day. I only wish all writing could be that easy.

The rest of the series—Nara Gazing, Shattering Gigi, and Emmy’s First Glimpse—include the myths of Echo, Nyx, and Dionysus. All of this came from research. It was fun to twist these classic tales, especially those that many readers know well, into something entirely new. My goal was for readers to clearly recognize major elements—like changing Narcissus’ pool of water into a mystical silver mirror—so they’d feel an immediate connection to the stories and the myths. I didn’t aim for re-imaginings that were too obscure, or that would require readers to have a deep understanding of the minutia in these myths. Instead, I strove to create fun, modern stories that hint at Mythology without requiring a Ph.D. I hope it worked.  -DRW

Get to know Diana better with the links below and check out the Mythology High series here. 

Diana Rodriguez Wallach
Young Adult Author
Mirror, Mirror: Short Story Collection (Fall 2013!)
Amor and Summer Secrets Series (On Sale Now)
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Book News: My holiday novella STERLING & SLOANE releases Tuesday for just .99. I hope it gives readers a smile during the holidays. I’ll do a post Tuesday for the launch with more details.
Athena News: My branding and communications firm, Athena Institute, has added a new media property, Sooner Spaces, which officially launched on Friday! I’m beyond thrilled with the results and adding this new venture provides an avenue for me to get to see beautiful spaces and meet extremely creative people in real life versus all the amazing creative people I work with across the country on Buzz Books USA. 

We Meet Again, Ken…

Most writers will tell you they started telling stories when they were kids. While I’ve talked about writing two stories in 6th grade and passing them around to classmates, my best stories were played out in miniature form.

In the early ’80s, my puppets, my mouthpieces were Ken and Barbie and gang. I played with the dolls for hours and thanks to regular viewings of Days of Our Lives and Dallas, I knew drama, baby. I also happened to witness my fair share of conflicts involving relatives, including at holiday dinners. Drama I could do.

I’ve often thought about all those stories I made up in my tween years and how they shaped – and for sure jumpstarted – my storytelling.

So when I stumbled upon a vintage Tumblr full of old Ken and Barbie doll pics, I wondered if it would be possible  to find my exact Ken. I knew he had real hair (well, not the plastic head hair) so I started Googling and could not believe it when I found a NEW Sport n Shave Ken from 1979 still in the box on ebay.

Honestly, you’d think I’d won the lottery – which in a way I did.  How often do you get a piece of your childhood back after it’s long gone? My memory had physically manifested.

IMG_1138So I messaged the seller, negotiated a lower rate and within hours heard back that Ken would be mine…again.

Here he is…the guy I gave all my best (well, first) storylines to about love, heartache, dating, jealousy, fatherhood and family conflict. He’s probably also a reason I preferred to date tall, dark and handsome guys with a head full of hair but hey, psychology aside, I’m just happy to have him back.

A muse? A reminder to play? A physical totem of my creative journey? Sure. Most of all, simply special.

(Yes, the marker to draw on his beard still works and my daughter wanted to shave him, even though she never played Barbies – horrors!- and all of my kids think he’s creepy. They know nothing.)

Funny enough, my latest hero, Sterling Reynolds (Sterling & Sloane out in December), is more like Ken than most of my heroes. Sterling is complete alpha male, and you’ll certainly see a softer side, especially since I go into his point of view. I wonder how much influence my Ken had in all of my heroes? In the end, they do always get the girl.

Excerpt from Sterling & Sloane:

Sloane laughed and sat upright, tucking her legs in. “Yes, it’s all of it. And it’s you, too. You turned my day around. Not that I like being saved, but today you were my hero. Not action hero bullshit, but a real man. Just one human being helping another who wants nothing in return. Thank you.”

She set the glass down on the coffee table and pulled herself up on her knees and sidled up beside him. “Come on. I saw that you have a huge vintage movie collection. Ben hates old movies except for Clint Eastwood. I was planning on watching horror movies as an eff-you to Christmas, but I’d settle for some old romantic comedies. You know like Carey Grant and Audrey Hepburn and Rock Hudson and Doris Day.”

He could smell the champagne on her lips, the faint scent of perfume behind her ear. Sterling stood up before she got any closer.  “Great idea. I haven’t watched those in ages. We’ll start with Pillow Talk. It sounds like what you have is a bedroom problem.”

Sloane shook her head. “Of course I do! I don’t have one!”

No, that’s what Rock Hudson says to Doris in the movie. But of course he means…”

I get it. Her sex life. But maybe she was taking matters into her own hands, too.”

Sterling sighed. “You really do have loose lips when you drink, don’t you?”

Actually, I always speak my mind – just not in the papers. And I don’t like for a man to think that’s what I need him for anyway.”

He took her hand and helped her to her feet. They paused for a moment like that – their bodies emanating almost as much heat as the fire behind them. Her eyes had the familiar twinkle back. But she was wrong about one thing – he very much wanted something from her.