When I first read the description for A BREATH TOO LATE by Rocky Callen, I knew it was one of those books that I would feel in my soul.
I wasn't wrong.
The book is about a seventeen year old girl named Ellie who, after dying by suicide, finds herself stuck. Stuck in memories, stuck in depression, and stuck in the aftermath of a world where she no longer lives and is forced to watch the people around her process their grief. I've lost people to this disease. It's a subject that always hits home, but this one felt special.
The cover of this book is so haunting and lovely. The beautiful pinks and purples, the starry details, and the face that disappears to make place for stars. The book itself, written in an epistolary format features letters written from Ellie to everyone in her life from her mother, to her lifelong friend August, Depression, and even Death. It follows not only Ellie watching her loved ones grieve, but also dives into her memories as she pieces together the every moment that brought her there.
The subject of the story might be heart breaking, but Callen's prose truly stand out. This is a book full of highlight-worthy lines. I found myself stopping to reread entire letters because of the way they hit me. I cried and cried for Ellie's mother. For Ellie. For what could have been.
I used two colors in the frosting to represent the melding of life and death in this book. The juxtaposition of memory and aftermath. This technique was fairly simple. I placed two separate colors into a single piping bag so they came out in equal measure. Note, I added an edible shimmer to the cupcakes for one single reason. You'd think a book like this would end on a note that felt hopeless. A girl lost her life. There is no coming back from that and you learn this on page one. But this book didn't feel hopeless in the end. It felt like a lifeline hug. A promise.
A BREATH TOO LATE comes out April 28th, 2020 - you can add it to your Goodreads here.
As a querying writer, we all dream of the day we get "the" email or call from an agent telling us how much they loved your book, how they can't wait to work with you, and most importantly those beautiful words "offer of representation." I've seen so many of these "how I got my agent" blog posts, but my story a little different...
First off, I'd been in Seattle the week before at PNWA. The picture below is of me with my critique partners Lindsay and Vanessa I'd done the pitching thing, and I had a number of queries out already, but I'd been waiting and waiting (as these things take time). A couple weeks before I'd gotten an email from Louise Fury after I'd emailed one of her colleagues, asking if she could take a look at my full manuscript. Of course, I'd said yes, sent it along, and did my best to forget about it.
The following weekend was our local conference. For those of you who don't know, I live in Alaska, and we do a conference every year combining three organizations (Alaska Writers Guild, Alaska Romance Writers of America, and SCBWI Alaska)- it's a great conference, but this year I was presenting about pitching and helping moderate. Part of that meant, as staff, I got to chat up the agents/editors/writers we brought up. Namely *cough cough* Jessica Faust and Clelia Gore *cough cough*.
On the last night, after a lovely dinner and drinks with a scenic view, I was the person taking them both back to their hotel for the night. I know what you're thinking- I spent the whole time pitching them my novel, and they fell so in love with it that they actually battled right then and there to be the one to represent me.
You'd be wrong.
First off, that's not cool. They're people, and I didn't talk about my book until WAY later, but I'll get to that.
After dropping them off, I glanced down at my phone. I noticed that I had three missed emails, which is weird, because it was late at night and usually I don't get emails after 6:00pm. My friends are all grandmas. Before driving off, I checked, and noticed one from Louise. Now most querying writers can relate to knowing, just knowing, it's another rejection. So as I opened my email, on the heels of back to back conferences, I prepared myself for the words we always see in these emails.
Only this one was different. This one was Louise gushing about the manuscript, saying that she and her assistant compared the love interest in MY book to PETER KAVINSKY! I honestly didn't know what to do, but I looked up, and Clelia was just walking into the hotel after Jessica. And me, being me and NEEDING to tell someone that very second, I jumped out of my car and screamed for Clelia.
That's when things got a little embarrassing. I may have had trouble breathing, or talking, and there may have been tears, but that's neither here nor there. They were both too great, congratulating me, and while I was trying to figure out how I was going to drive home with that much adrenaline, Jessica said "Oh no! We're going out for champagne!"
So go out we did. First we got champagne at Spenard Roadhouse. I sat at the bar, sipping champagne out of a can, and telling them all about my book. They were into it, listening intently as I discussed my journey and what led me to this particular book, and this subject and format. They cheered me on, they supported me, and we talked about all the things that happen in this world of agenting, and editing, and writing
After Spenard Roadhouse kicked us out (they were closing), and the Alaska Writers Guild president suggested I take them to Chilkoot Charlie's, I did.
Now those of you who don't live in Alaska aren't familiar with Koots. Koots is like five dive bars in one. Including one room, The Bird House, which is covered wall to wall (and ceiling) with underwear and bras. I'm not kidding. You can't make this up, but I'll tell you, it's an experience. And it was there, beneath a bunch of poor choices, that we bonded further, talking about my book, my plans for the future, and gushing countless times over the contents of Louise's email to me. They gushed with me as if they hadn't been on Louise's side a ton of times.
Beyond getting an agent at an amazing agency of who champions my book, I feel like I made two lifelong friends. I couldn't have written this differently if I tried. At the end of the day, the two people who were with me when I got the news, were the same two people who checked in with me constantly during the following weeks. The same two people who cried at a bar WITH me when I told them how the story ends. The same two people who braved Koots to celebrate with me, and the same people I'll call friends forever.
Okay. It's been a year. It's easy to say I'm in the same place, publishing-wise as I was last year, but as I thought about all the things I've been doing in the writing community, and decided to write them all down (as well as life-accomplishments) I'm realizing that I'm not in the same place I was last year. I'm so much better than I was last year.
IN THE LAST YEAR:
Then I managed to make plans for this year!
SCHEDULED EVENTS THIS YEAR
MORAL OF THE STORY
When you're down, and you're thinking back on the last year and feel like you're in the same spot you were in twelve months ago: trying writing everything out. Try looking at things a little more objectively.
Am I still working on the same book? Am I still agent-less? Yep. But the in-between is filled with so many little and big accomplishments and plans, that I can't help but be proud of where I'm at right now!
Sometime last year I stumbled upon The Skimm: An informative email delivered to my inbox every morning that covered everything from politics to sports and everything in between. I loved it.
First off, as a mom, my article-reading time has diminished greatly. Mornings that used to be spent perusing my local newspaper are now spent chasing three beautiful girls. Breakfasts, lunch boxes, pig-tails, teeth checks. I drink my coffee cold, brewed an hour early. I don't have time for news.
Then there's my writing. A couple years ago, I started to take my hobby seriously. I wrote a book, edited a book, and started querying agents. It's why I have this blog. To chronicle the process and highlight twitter pitch contests. Needless to say, it's tireless. Between the three kids, the two dogs, and a husband with a schedule all his own; keeping up to date on current events is a challenge.
If it didn't involve Daniel Tiger, organic kid-friendly snacks, and researching the effects of dual-language charter programs I probably wouldn't have time to read it.
So I got the Skimm. I loved being informed again. Having something to say when my friends brought up current events. I even had sources and links to bipartisan news sources in my email so I could contribute to REAL adult conversation!
It was life changing.
So, I shared it with everyone I knew. Then I got this weird little email telling me that I was now considered a "Skimmbassador." It meant I got a Skimm tote and access to a group of like minded women (and a few men).
Those women and men (there are almost 9,000 now) have changed my life. With the dynamic of our country changing, so has the group in certain ways, but the best parts have stayed the same. The desire to stay informed and support one another in group endeavors. I have watched families grown, women start organizations and non-profits, I've even helped with a few wedding hashtags.
Then a few months back, I saw an article posted about the need for tampons in homeless shelters. One girl started a drive in her area. I was inspired! Why didn't people think about tampons and women's sanitary needs as priorities?
For those of you who don't know I live in Anchorage, AK. The winters here are rough, and unfortunately we have a large homeless community. I couldn't imagine going without this basic necessity. I started a drive called "28 Days" to raise awareness, money, and women's sanitary items to support two local women's shelters. AWAIC and New Hope.
The Skimmbassador program helped me realize a cause that needed support, and my Skimmbassador sisters and brothers helped me pave a path to do it. Thank you so much!
If you are in the Anchorage area and would like to help/donate a box of tampons, please consider joining my Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1862971947276084/
If you would like to donate financially, please consider visiting my Gofundme page:
Lastly and most importantly, if you are interested in getting the Skimm sent to your inbox every day, follow this magical little link and sign up:
I'm going to start this blog off the right way by saying I am not a published author.
I'm not even an agented writer.
That being said, I write. I write a lot. It keeps me sane. Just last week my friend asked me how I write at night after my kids go to sleep. The answer is easy: I have to. Writing is one of those things you make time for at first, but soon you're itching to get to your computer to touch a self-imposed goal.
I'm on my third book, and after one big bust and one fully edited slight-miss, I feel like I've learned a thing or two. Things I want to share with people who are starting out. Things I wish I knew and/or resources I wish I had at the beginning. Shall we?
THE BEAT SHEET
So the very first thing I ask people when they talk about plot and movement issues are Beat Sheets. I'm almost always met with a "Uh, Dante, what is that?"
It's your best friend, that's what it is, you crazy pantser!
If you haven't heard the term "pantser," it applies to writers that don't pre-plot their stores. I'm what we call a "plotter" and I'm proud of it! Beat Sheets are my first step in writing, because it allows me to know what stuff has to happen.
My favorite Beat Sheet is the Master Beat Sheet from Jami Gold's website. It's free, and you can download it here: http://jamigold.com/for-writers/worksheets-for-writers/
If you're looking for any plotting worksheets- this is your spot. It's got everything from Character Sheets, to Beat Sheets, Settings, and more!
THE DETAILED OUTLINE
This one may just be a personal preference, but after I plot it out on the Beat Sheet, then transfer to my writing program of choice, I write a detailed (and I mean detailed) outline. Basically, I bullet point each incident from the beat sheet with particular details so I don't forget what needs to happen where. This is where I weave layers of character development, highlight plot holes, and make sure all the lines connect.
Again, this one is a personal thing, and there are a ton of great pantsers out there. I'm just not one of them. I look at it this way, the more I know along the way, the less I have to think later. Then I'm just filling in the blanks with prose.
Every writer needs a "home base" and Scrivener is probably one of the more popular ones. With good reason, too, because Scrivener is like magic for writers. It's a place where you can write, organize your writing, file things away, research, and it saves everything too so it's less stress for you!
You can buy it here, but if you're a Nanowrimo winner, I believe there is a discount code: https://www.writersstore.com/scrivener/
THE THESAURUS YOU NEVER KNEW EXISTED
Okay, this is morel like a SET of them.
The Emotion Thesaurus and all of it's counterparts and companions are worth their weight in gold. When writing a scene you aren't super familiar with (maybe you live in the city, and it takes place in NYC) these books help you pinpoint all those little details that make writing beautiful. I'll tell you, my little details got so much better after purchasing this book, as well as the ones on setting.
I keep them on my Kindle, which I think is awesome because I can skip to the emotion or setting I'm looking for with minimal effort.
You can find these books here: https://www.amazon.com/Emotion-Thesaurus-Writers-Character-Expression/dp/1475004958
A FANTASTIC BOOK ON EDITS
So you did the outline, you filled it in with detailed prose! Now what?
Now you edit.
Then you edit some more.
Then you have someone read it.
Editing is 90% of writing. It's taking a pile of thoughts and making it conveyable information. I've read a few books on editing but none have helped me the way that Editor-Proof Your Writing: 21 Steps to the Clear Prose Publishers and Agents Crave has.
You want clear, concise prose? You need this book. It'll help you learn what to avoid, what you need, and even goes into some detail on publishing.
I seriously suggest this book to every writer I know because it was probably the book I got that surprised me the most. I expected it to be common knowledge content, but the way it was presented was both light-hearted and funny, but incredibly informative.
Here's the amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Editor-Proof-Your-Writing-Publishers-Writers/dp/1610351789/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485999138&sr=8-1&keywords=editor+proof
Everyone has a method to their madness, but this is just a peek into mine. What are your favorite writing resources? Please share in the comments below!
Romy and Michelle invented Post-Its.
Or maybe it was Arthur Fry.
What I actually did was utilize something I've seen before, but I wanted to share it with anyone who may be stuck in a storyline with multiple points of view or a non-linear aspect.
For me, it involves a complicated backstory and a non-linear storyline with MANY points of view represented in small ways.
HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED:
HERE'S HOW TO GET STARTED:
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
You might be done. If you want to get a look at the storyline and how those stories overlap, you can call it a day. If you're like me, and you want to timeline the entire thing, it's time to whip out that calendar we talked about.
I created a spreadsheet with the events lined up in one column, then used a calendar to assign dates to those events so that they all make sense. Seeing them lined up like that helped me see how many days were between events and what I needed to change/separate/add together for the story to make sense in a timely fashion.
Even if you don't need this for a complicated storyline, it's worth doing just for the organization aspect. Seeing how multiple people in one story have their own story, and it might help you find motivation for character action, at the very least gaining a visual.
Hope it helps!
I feel like it is important to state from the get-go that I'm writing this while my twelve-month-old shrieks at me. She's in that lovely stage where screaming is her only form of communication. All week long I've been planning to write a blog post on how to up your word count during Nanowrimo, but as I sped down the freeway after dropping a violin off for one kid, then hitting the Girl Scout store for another in need of a uniform, I thought to myself:
"Dante, you have one hour at home in which time you should TOTALLY be able to fold a load of laundry, feed two kids, and get a blog post in. After all, it's Tuesday and your husband is going to want to watch that last episode of Stranger Things- so there's no way you're going to be able to write tonight."
This is my every day existence, and I'm one of the fortunate stay-at-home mom writers.
So in true last-minute fashion, I'm penning this between activities, changed up with NO research whatsoever. My research this week went to upping your word count, which is what I WAS going to write on. Thanks to my highway inspiration though- this week you are getting a post on WROMMING.
BUT DANTE, WHAT IS WROMMING?
I'm so glad you asked. Wromming is the art of Momming and Writing at the same time. Because as a mom, your work is never done. You can't shut off the momming or clock out. The work hours never end, and even if you put your last baby down to bed for the night, there's always a chance they will call you in for overtime.
But when you're trying to write 50,000 words in a month to participate in Nanowrimo, you can see how hard that is. So I've comprised a few tips/hints for those moms out there eager to participate in Nanowrimo, but perhaps aren't sure how they can accomplish this when they have a kid (or three).
FIRST, NEGLECT THOSE KIDS
Okay, I'm mostly kidding here. Yes, your children need to eat, and diapers need to be changed, but there are certain ways that you can coast for an hour or two a day. My kids don't watch much tv, if any, TV, but they love playing outside. Distractions can be found with self-imposed "Quiet time" for those that aren't yet in school. My favorite is setting up an "art project" of stickers and paper and letting those little monsters go nuts. Friday nights, we do a movie night. The girls settle into bed for a movie and I hit the word-doc in order to get my goal for the day. Bedtimes, Snack-times, SCHOOL.
Seriously, there's no shame in getting a sitter for an hour so you can go to the coffee shop and edit or write. It takes me about an hour to get a thousand awful written words. So if I have an hour and a half (often times broken up over the day) I can make my daily goal to get 50,000 by the end of the month.
This cycle though, I'm participating in Scrivathon (More info below), so there will be a whole day where I've scheduled a babysitter so that I can have the freedom to write my little heart out for the whole dang day. Yes, that's right. You read that correctly. I got a babysitter to participate in a virtual write-in because I'll be able to bump that word count up AND help with Syrian Relief.
Feel free to call in favors, beg, promise first-readership or your first born (especially if you have extras).
SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK
Then there's the option to stay up in the night hours, but if you're like me this always ends up being at the sacrifice at your time with your husband. Mine likes to hang out and relax with me at the end of the day, so I wait until he's at work or out doing other things instead. Then those late night tv-binging hours turn to type-fests where I hit the keyboard and don't stop until I'm drooling on the space key.
EARLY MORNING HOURS
Admittedly, my jam. I love those hours before anyone wakes up, and it used to be the time got my writing out for the day, just before I hit the gym. Then, because my kids hate me, they started getting up around 6:00am, I'd have to wake up at 4:00am to get my word count in. Not happening.
IN CONCLUSION, COMMIT.
It's one month. ONE single month where you may get a little less sleep, your kids may be a little more restless, and your husband may feel like you've neglected his ability to binge-watch Narcos without cheating. Load up on the coffee, the chocolate, the noise-cancelling headphones, and then force those words out of you like you force your kiddos to do their chores. You have a book in you and it's due in November!
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT SCRIVATHON
Scrivathon is a 24 hour word-sprint in accordance with Syrian Relief. Our goal, write until we can't write anymore while raising money to help those that need it. If you are interested in donating or participating, please visit A.Y. Cho's website for more information.
ALSO: Check out these other participants in the Scrivathon:
A.Y. Chao || Gurpreet Sihat || Hoda Agharazi || Deborah Crossland Maroulis || Morgan Hazelwood || Dante Medema || Miranda Burski || Maria Guglielmo || K.J. Harrowick || Rochelle Karina || Adele Buck
So I’ve got a rep (according to my friend Lindsey) as being the “pitch whisperer.”
I don’t know about all that, but I do know that I actually enjoy writing them, and I had a decent amount of success soliciting agent “likes” during PitMad. So in an effort to both write down what I did so I remember, and share my strategy with those who have asked I decided to put it here in blog form.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
So my first not-exactly-pro tip is to read the instructions on whatever pitch contest you are entering. Research how to write a pitch. I sampled a few different blog posts (from agents and writers) to discern what exactly agents are looking for when they read through these.
Some of the blogs I checked out:
If nothing else, this gives you some tips about the rules. I saw so many people missing out on valuable hashtags and shooting out tweets that weren’t ready. When you’re trying to attract an agent in about 35 characters, it’s not easy.
MY PROCESS DURING THE LAST PITMAD
Think about the three most important elements of your story. If you were going to say what the three coolest aspects of your story are, write them down.
Now there are about 3 million other things I want to convey in these pitches, but I only have so many characters to use. Especially when you factor in that I need #PITMAD, #YA, and #CON.
So then you try to factor in as many “cool” things as you can. They keep saying that agents look at later blog posts to piece together a story out of three pitches, but I’m not too sure. I’d rather take three elements and let them stand alone (at least a little bit).
Basically, make your story sound awesome, while creating some stakes.
Here are my tweets:
Dante Medema @DanteMedema Sep 8
Girl learns to forgive her father’s mistakes while solving a haunting family mystery. Why won't anyone talk about "Ace"? #PitMad #YA #CON
This received my least amount of “likes”, and I wasn’t terribly surprised. There weren’t any stakes involved, it doesn’t place an awesome setting, and there is no understanding of who Ace is. This one garnered one agent like.
Dante Medema @DanteMedema Sep 8
Girl stuck in Alaska spends summer with boy-next-door fulfilling Gran’s last wish: Will she find Gran's first love in time? #PitMad #YA #CON
So you can see here, there are stakes. It’s her Gran’s last wish- will she make it in time? Plus, it adds in the element that there might be a romance on the horizon for my main character. Another tip- don’t waste time with names. General quick description in YA is fine. Boy/Girl are often fewer characters than their name and it’s not going to matter in the long run. This one received three agent “likes.”
Dante Medema @DanteMedema Sep 8
Girl uses romance novels, an obituary, and short stories to find her dying gran’s first love during a summer in Alaska. #PitMad #YA #CON
By far, my favorite pitch that I created during PitMad for this book. You can see it has something unique about the book, an awesome setting, and stakes. It tells you something about the story in just a few words, and it seemed to do the job because (to my great surprise), it attracted eight agent and two editor “likes.”
Practice. As you can see, I put three out and got varying responses, but after the fact I can look back and really see what worked best for my novel. Do you research, listen to what the agent and writer blogs have for instruction, and then get some help! Workshop your pitches within the writing community and look for those awesome people that are out there championing each other’s journey to greatness.
Hope this helps!
So if you’re like me, and you’ve got your novel out into the universe all spliced and editing and polished, then you’re ready to query! Which means you get to do awesome pitch contests like PitMad!
For those of you that don’t know, PitMad is an amazing Twitter based chance to pitch to MANY agents and editors at the same time. Of course, there are restrictions. It has to be under 140 characters, and there is a 12 hour window. Brenda Drake runs this contest (sometimes with a little help) and you can find more information about this and PitchWars (another awesome contest) at: www.brenda-drake.com
SO YOU ENTERED PITMAD- NOW WHAT?!
First: Stop pitching with the PitMad hashtag. I know, I know, and I get the temptation to do it, but it’s just not in good taste. It does go noticed, and while this community is so great and warm and loving, it’s just better not to get off on the wrong foot. Is that really how you want people to remember you?
Think of it like every episode of the Bachelor or Bachelorette. Heck, or even Bachelor in Paradise. We want to know that you’re here for the right reasons.
Second: Give yourself a big pat on the back! It’s hard to put yourself out there! Seriously. It’s pumpkin-spice latte season. Go get one of those bad boys!
Lastly: Go query those agents and editors! They’re excited to see your stuff! I’ve seen more than one post on Twitter about being stoked to see their inboxes filling up with things that they’re excited for.
BUT WHAT IF...
Wait what? You still have questions???
I know, I know. A lot of you have been behind the scenes in subgroups and on Twitter going: “But what if…” So I got in touch with Brenda, and asked her a few of those burning questions we all seem to have.
Q: What should you do if an agent likes your pitch, but you have received a rejection letter from them? In some cases, these writers have revised their manuscripts since the rejection. They are just curious if they should send a nudge to the agent, or not?
A: Send the request and state in the query that they have seen the ms/pages/query before and that it was rejected but they have since revised.
Q: What happens if you receive a like from an agent at an agency that has already sent a pass and their policy indicates that you should not try resubmitting to another agent there?
A: Send the request. This is a different situation than submitting coldly.
Q: What happens if you receive likes from multiple agents at the same agency?
A: Send the request to all agents that requested at the agency and mention in the query the other agents that had requested it.
Note about this one: I am loving the Entagled-Twitter-MS-Battle of 2016.
Q: Oh, and what to do if you can't find information on an Agent or Editor's Twitter for their Pitmad Submission Guidelines?
A: If they can't find a tweet - follow the guidelines on the agent's website.
Q: What do you do if you have an agent like, but you already have a query with them in their slush? Or if you have a query in with an associate at that agent?
A: Same protocol as the two agent thing and just let the agent know that he/she already has a query.
Thanks again Brenda for answering all my quesitons!
THAT’S ALL FOLKS!
But seriously, if you have any more questions, just ask! This community is great! Kit Grant just did this awesome blog entry about how this isn’t a writing contest. “This is NOT the Hunger Games of Writing.” We’re all here to support one another and help build better writers and just enjoy this community! Check it out, it’s a good read! You can find it here: http://kgtellsstories.tumblr.com
Also, if you’re looking for more pitch or writing contests, check out L.M. Pierce’s WRITING AND PITCH CONTESTS: THE EPIC AND COMPLETE DIRECTORY. You can find that bad boy here: http://www.piercebooks.com/single-post/2016/09/09/ULTIMATE-WritersAuthors-Tweeter-Pitch-Contests
Thats all for today! Make sure you follow me on Twitter @Dantemedema. Tune in next week when I discuss PitMad trends with Heather Cashman and how to craft a successful Twitter Pitch.
It's time for a pitch contest entry.
This one is Son of a Pitch, and can be found here:
Title: A BRIEF ILLNESS
Age and Genre: Contemporary YA
Word Count: 65,000
Seventeen-year-old Rory Brooks meticulously planned out her entire summer: days at the lake and endless nights at bonfires with her best friend. Her perfectly arranged plans are derailed when her mother ships her off to Alaska for three months with her emotionally distant father and his new start-up family. Her summer is then obliterated when her grandmother Harriet, the only person on her dad’s side of the family she actually knows, has a massive stroke.
Rory is thrown into the role of part time caregiver for her grandmother. Then, in one of her more lucid moments, Gran asks Rory to find someone named "Ace." The only problem is, nobody seems to have heard of him, or they aren't admitting to it. With little more to go on than a box of old romance novels, an obituary citing “a brief illness,” as cause of death, and a folder full of short stories— Rory realizes that she knows hardly anything about her declining grandmother. With summer coming to an end, and Gran’s health rapidly declining, Rory enlists the help of Dylan—the romantic boy next door—to find out just who “Ace” is and why his secrets are worth keeping.
A Brief Illness is contemporary YA, with crossover potential. It is my first novel and complete at 65,000 words. I wrote this after finding a similar obituary for a family member, but I knew that the truth involved a death that was anything but brief. I was inspired to write a story about generations affected by war—about a man who suffered from war, but not at war. A Brief Illness deals with love, forgiveness, family, and finding oneself.
First 250 Words:
Yes, it's sooo beautiful, and sooo scenic. The air is clean, and the vast expanse of green trees and blue skies are the exact things you see in magazines. Alaska has never been that to me though. For me, it's always been the place I have to go every summer.
I checked my phone. Just twenty more minutes in the flight.
“Oh, I love Alaska. The landscape is just so beautiful—unbeatable if you ask me. Did I mention I was coming here to see my sister?”
Poor sister. That meant she was going to have to deal with—what was her name again? Trudy? Cindy? Nancy! It was Nancy, wasn’t it? She’d been invading my space for the entire flight, and I barely knew her. I could only imagine the treatment her poor sister was going to get.
“You did,” I said, pulling my headphones free of the tray-table in front of me.
I’ve been successfully avoiding Alaska since my dad remarried a couple of years ago. If his third marriage was anything like his second (tumultuous, out of control), then I didn’t want to be anywhere near him when that bomb went off.
Where my dad is concerned, the bomb always goes off.
Nancy was thumbing through her phone, invading my seat while she pushed an iPhone screen toward me. On it, a picture of a grey tabby cat.