Life as Amber knows it

"An adventure in the making…"

Monthly Archives: October 2012

Rediscovering Joy

Back in May, Dionne Lister and I recorded one of our podcasts. What listeners didn’t hear what how Dionne shot through the countdown, and how I was unable to do the intro because I was laughing too hard. In fact, I laughed so hard I snorted for the first time on-air. When I finally calmed down, what followed was three or four minutes of me begging Dionne to stop the recording and start it over. Which she finally did.

Why did I want to re-record? Because I thought my full-throttle laugh was idiotic.

Which is flat-out bullshit.

You see, year ago, some moron had told me that my real laugh was horrible, especially when I snorted. And I very stupidly listened to them. I allowed this hateful person to influence me in a hugely negative way, and by extension, rob me of the joy I have at living.

Dionne, proving once again she’s one of the dearest friends of my life sent both the podcast we recorded along with the small clip of me laughing hysterically on to our producer, Damien. Who then proceeded to ask me why in the world I didn’t want people to hear my laugh. Later on that day, Damien sent me a “mash-up” of our podcast, with several bits of various podcasts put together. The lead off bit? Me laughing and snorting. So I sent it to a friend of mine who’s known for their honesty. Their response? “I was having a really shit day. I listened to that? I’m in a much better mood. Thank you for sending that to me.”

Time to re-think perceptions, folks.

If you’ve read me or listened to my podcast for any length of time, then you know I have three kids. And while I’ve learned many things about myself as a parent, I’ve learned even more about life from my three kids. One afternoon last spring, I went to pick my daughter up from school. I watched as she and her friends tackled one another with full-body hugs, squeezing one another in their joy in finding someone they loved in this world. And the other moms and myself started discussing what life would be like if as adults, when we saw our friends? We dropped our bags and ran and tackled one another.

At which point do we let go of the joy of simply living in this world? How often do we actually just stop and enjoy singular moments for the beauty they hold? How often do we hold back in fear– fear of being laughed at, stared at, pointed at? And worse, fear of being judged. Why be fearful of people judging us for experiencing pure joy in life? Anyone who would judge you for that? They’ve obviously got a stick crammed very far up their ass.

So after that one podcast? I stopped holding back and let my laugh just go. And an amazing thing happened: I started getting comments on Facebook and Twitter about how infectious listeners thought my laugh was, how much they enjoyed hearing it. In one very hilarious comment, a listener told me that every time I snort? He does a shot of vodka.  Which has led to the TweepNation drinking game, something that makes me feel oddly proud.

It’s a sad fact of life that life is hard: there are bills to pay, children to potty train, flu and cold season to wade through and painful losses we all have to face. There’s enough bullshit in the world, why not take a lesson from our children in how to truly live with full-on joy.

And it’s been a learning curve for me. I’ve got damn good intentions, but I still tend to get tripped up on my own feet as I navigate rediscovering my own joy. A few months ago, a friend was in town visiting, and we toured Art Walk Dallas together. Reaching a garden, I fell back on my usual bad habit of blasting through everything, and was about to power through the garden to get to the next bit when my friend asked, “Don’t you ever stop and just take a few seconds to smell the roses?” So I stopped, sat down on one of the chairs, and just took a few moments with my good friend.

It’s my natural tendency to have things scheduled, because with three children to care for, I have to have a schedule in place. But in my down time, I need to remember that I wasn’t always a mom. Motherhood came twenty-seven years after I came into the world. Out to dinner with my dear friend David last week, before we left his apartment, he asked me what I wanted to do that evening. And I simply said, “I don’t care. I just want to spend time with my friend.” Which we did. And after a wonderful night spent laughing, eating what should be named the world’s most delicious pizza (seriously, it is obscene how yummy it is… I even fell off my no-cheese wagon), and having a few drinks, we went to leave the bar we frequent, only to find that Big Bird and Sponge Bob Square Pants were hanging out across the street. So we ran over, not caring how it looked to have two 30-somethings running across the street, holding hands like they were five, and caught up with the two characters and had our photos taken. We got some looks from pedestrians, but guess what? I don’t care. In twenty years, I’m going to look back on a night of laughter that ended in a way neither one of us could have ever guessed it would. Me smiling on a street corner with two children’s characters arms around me. Even now, I’m laughing in memory.

Here’s to rediscovering joy my friends. And what that rediscovery brings with it.

 

~Amber Jerome Norrgard

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An Interview with Justin Bog

This week, I am honored to be joined by one of my dearest friends, Justin Bog.  Justin is the author of “Sandcastle and Other Stories”, the Culture Correspondent for In Classic Style Magazine, and the awesome author of the excellent blog, A Writer’s Life.

Tell our readers about the inspiration for the short story Mothers of Twins.

Here I am up to no good!

One day I was visiting my parents back at the Granville, Ohio homestead and asked my mom all about giving birth to not one but two sets of twins, what it was like, how my older sister felt not being a twin. My parents had five kids and three pregnancies and my mom deserved every mother’s day present. The twin subject is touched on in three tales in my first collection of literary tales, Sandcastle and Other Stories. She brought up a club for mothers who gave birth to twins. This would be the 1960s in Pullman, Washington where my younger brother and sister were born in September. She went to one meeting even though she did not want to go. My mom was not a social group joiner and always wanted to be an artist and art teacher, both things she accomplished before her death in 2008. Her work, along with my father’s art, can be seen at www.bogdanovitch.com.

Where did the cover art from the title story Sandcastle come from?
My mother’s art, along with my father’s art, can be seen at www.bogdanovitch.com. The book cover art was taken from one of my father’s Boardwalk series paintings. These he set in the 1930s, the time and place of his youth in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, the place now made infamous by MTV’s Jersey Shore.

and now for the goods:

Who would your guest list include for your fantasy dinner?

I would love to host writers past and present, eight of us, and mostly in the suspense and horror genres: Joan Samson, Stephen King, Dan Simmons, Edgar Allan Poe, Rachel Ingalls, Patricia Highsmith, and Ray Bradbury. I’d serve a hearty six course meal, a stew with a hearty sauce, with lots of booze in the middle of the winter at an old estate property, a fire roaring in the fireplace, a storm brewing outside, candles everywhere. I know some of the writers don’t drink anymore, but some of them are dead, and newly revived, and may need the wake-up brandy.

What year would you visit in a time machine and why?

I’d skip ahead five years just for fun — see where I am, what I’ve been up to, what all the hard writing work has done for that side of my life, if anything. I wouldn’t want to go to the past.
Who would you love to have a few beers with and just bullshit?

Well, you Amber are one of those people, for sure. And we can bullshite with the best of them. Dionne and the rest of the Tweep Nation and the Newbie Writers podcast peeps — Damien and Catharine would also add to any writing conversation.

What is your go-to movie or tv show?

I’m in a horror film mood right now since it’s Halloween — always get a chuckle out of Deep Rising, a cheesy Treat Williams monster on a cruise ship flick. Classics like The Exorcist, Halloween, Alien and currently in the middle of the Kate Winslet version of Mildred Pierce, with one of the most horrible children captured for all time in novel and film — The Joan Crawford version is a rich classic too. I’m always up for non-horror films like Gosford Park, The Hours, All About Eve, The Lord of the Rings and the later Harry Potter films after the first two.

When did you start writing?

I first put fictional ideas down on paper as a young kid with a typewriter. I continue to write but on a computer now.

What book exceeded your expectations?

Escardy Gap by Peter Crowther and James Lovegrove — it was stunning because it told the story about a writer living the burnt-out life of a struggling author and then shifted to a town in the past, heartland USA, within a dome, not unlike Stephen King’s Under the Dome, cut-off from the rest of the world, and the monstrous entities that have a plan and set about it, devastating the population of the town. Escardy Gap is really great and little known but so worth finding. I searched out a hardcover copy somehow. Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons was another eye-opener. What a terrific mix of Robert Ludlum and Stephen King.

Toilet paper/ paper towels: what’s the correct way to put them on the dispenser?

There are 250,000 ways of doing anything is always my answer. If it’s right for someone, it will probably be wrong for the next guy.

If you’re going on a long road trip, what drinks and snacks are you going to pack?

The Amazing Justin Bog and Zippy

Treats for Zippy and Kipling, my two long coat German shepherds. Water. Energy bars. I’m boring that way. The dogs eat better than I do.

Do your characters ever show up in your dreams?

Not after I write a short story, but a situation in a dream may make its way into a future fictional tale.

What made you start writing?

I enjoy writing to make myself happy first, always have. I’ve been writing for so long and not sending out anything that I’ve amassed a lot of work. I hope I can make it quality work, perfect the stories enough to hit the publish button, but I’m also a perfectionist. This state of being holds me back more than anything else. The stories have to hit me well enough to publish.

What is your morning ritual?

Wake up, take thyroid pill with lots of water, let dogs out, free the cats to the outdoors, read online news, check email, have espresso half hour later, sometimes go to the swimming pool three times a week . . . if not those mornings, I’ll sit down to my computer much sooner. Most times I eat a little breakfast, eggbeater scrambled stuff with veggies, at my desk and review what I need to get done. I don’t accomplish much.

Do you have any writing quirks?

Things that others would find strange? I have to have music playing in the background while writing. And it could be any style. I’m listening to an old Bangles album right now. Suzanne Vega’s 99.9 degrees is a go-to album for me along with The Fragile by Nine Inch Nails.

If you were going to a deserted island, what three items would you take with you?

My kindle. Zippy and Kipling. A hammock.
Name 3 books on your to-be-read list.

The new Tom Wolfe book. Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining coming out next year in September. The Twelve by Justin Cronin.

Best thing about where you live?

It has four distinct seasons, and has a temperate climate ranging from 32 to around 70 degrees in summer. It may snow once a year, but it’s never a harsh winter. I love rain too. The small island life is calming. Maybe 16,000+ people live here and call Fidalgo Island home.

What book could you read over and over?

The Shining by Stephen King — his writing was an influence. The people on the fringe he writes about still strike a chord.

Who is your favorite band or musician?

The Clash — especially London Calling, and The Pretenders, always listen to their first two albums.

Justin, thank you so much for taking the time and giving me this interview!
Be sure and check Justin out at his website, http://www.JustinBog.com and follow him on Twitter @JustinBog
~Amber Jerome~Norrgard

Why I love my editors

Yes, you read the title of this blog correctly: “editors”. And while “OCD” and “obsessive” and even “crazy” are all words that have been used to correctly describe me, in regards to being an author? It’s just common sense. Because while both Dionne Lister and Scott Morgan are good friends of mine, they both work for a living, and they’re not sitting around, waiting for me to send them my latest pile o’ words. And while both Dionne and Scott are two of my favorite people in the world (Dionne so much so that I spend over an hour each week doing a podcast with her), and I genuinely like and respect them, I don’t have them edit my work because we’re friends, nor do I promote them and their work for that reason. I ask them for their BAMF editing skills because I like and respect them professionally. I trust their judgement, and I trust their suggestions. And their judgement and suggestions are what shapes my work into the final product, the books I publish for my readers.

Generally, when I finish a project, I send it to Dionne or Scott, depending on who has the time to take the project on. In some situations, I’ll ask both of them to look at what I’ve written. A prime example of this is the writer’s grant I completed last week. Being awarded this grant I so desperately want will provide me not only with the monetary backing to complete two or three other projects I have on the table, but will also give me the opportunity to be mentored and promoted when I complete the books I have planned. Winning this grant that I’ve worked on for over two months is the single biggest goal I’ve set for myself since publishing my first book in early January 2012. And other times, I’ll send my work to both of them because I want their honest opinion as both a reader and as an editor. Two sets of eyes are better than one, and in most situations? Three sets of eyes can get rid of any wrinkles and aid in my cranking out a near-flawless piece of work.

I advice everyone (and their brother) to take the time to find a good editor. Because while I might know what I’m saying with what I’m writing, the world doesn’t exactly know what I’m saying, and since my readers aren’t living within the jumbled contents of my brain? They’re only going to get what words I put down on the page, not the idea that was behind those words, especially if those words are written in the wrong manner. My all-time favorite example of this is the time I wrote, “At twenty-one, James was fourteen years my senior.” When Dionne pointed that line out in the track-notes of the edit she had done for me, my jaw hit the ground and I started laughing. “James” being the first erotica short story I had ever written and published, the way I had written that line made it appear as if James was twenty-one, and at fourteen years the main character’s senior? That places her at the young age of seven. And considering the genre? I’d just written something I’d find disgusting in real-life.

So a good editor points out mistakes that you yourself will miss. A great editor, on the other hand, not only points out your mistakes, they show you ways to correct them. They help you develop your project into something that is polished, enjoyable, and note-worthy. And they do it politely, without making you feel like a jackass. Bad editors give editors a blanket crap reputation with having their head up their asses.

And while Dionne and Scott are both people I consider dear friends, when they edit my work? They’re not my friends, they are my editors. For six months, both Scott and Dionne have had the task of kicking my ass. And they’ve done it correctly, every single time. And I have said “Thank you” every single time and meant it. If I get angry or aggravated when going over the suggestions they make? I’m not angry at them, I’m angry at me.

I was asked last night if I was nervous about submitting my grant applications. My honest answer? No. Because I know I submitted the very best work I could have written. If I’m not awarded this grant? It’s because someone else was better suited for it. And today, when I mailed off my grant proposals, I placed the stamps on the envelops, and tossed them in the outgoing box without a second look.

So Dionne and Scott? Thank you. Those are two words I cannot say enough to you two for all you do in helping me publish my best work. Thank you for the repeat mistakes (yes, I’m referring to punctuation inside quotation marks), the whining, the non-stop questions during the lead up to me hitting the publish button. You both rock, and I wouldn’t be where I am without your help.

 

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

Pre-Publishing Fears

My latest book will be available on Friday, which means going by how KDP is, I’ll be hitting publish on Thursday night.  Yesterday, Rob Zimmermann did me the honor of reading an advanced copy of “The Allegory of Dusk” and reviewing it. And, as an author? You want someone like Rob reviewing your work, preferably in the lead up to your book being released. Why? Because Rob is honest, and Rob is fair. And Rob has a damn good eye when it comes to what is and isn’t honest work.

But I’ll admit, I’ve been a bit anxious this past week or so, my mind weighed down with worries about publishing Allegory. And the worries weren’t really about the work itself, because I’ve had friends and colleagues read over my work and give me their opinion, and their opinion was favorable.

But the pre-publishing anxiety just wouldn’t let up. And I hate being anxious. Late last night, in the middle of final-round edits and a bag of M & M’s, I was chatting with a friend through email who’s been reading me since I first started blogging back in 2005, and who I asked to read the sharpest of the seven short stories, just to get another opinion. “Your readers are going to love it. It’s honest, it’s true, and it’s very raw.”

Which was the eye opener I needed.

You see, I’m not afraid of publishing. I occasionally write short stories and put those out on their own, with little said about them other than to let people know I have a new piece of work out. When I publish Allegory later this week, it will be the sixth book (not counting the singles) that I’ve released this year. I’ve ridden this rodeo ride before.

What I am afraid of, what terrifies me, is that my work will not be good enough for my readers. I write, not for myself or the money (you should see my non-existent paychecks if you don’t believe me), but for my readers. Nothing thrills me more, and the true paycheck I receive is the one I get when someone tells me my work affected them, that my work touched them. I need to put my very best work out there, because that is what my readers deserve. As a reader myself, nothing pisses me off more than when I spend my money on a book, and then my time reading it, only to find out that the author has short changed me and screwed me over by bullshitting their way to an easy ending (for them). I can name, quite easily, five authors who lost my attention for this very reason.

So, that is my pre-publishing fear. That I will not have done my readers justice. That I will not have done my very best work. That I have become hypocritical and done nothing more than just cranked out a load of bullshit.

I hope that no matter how many books I write and publish, that I never lose this pre-publishing fear… that I never stop wanting to impress the hell out of my readers, and hope that my work is good enough for them.

 

~Amber Jerome~Norrgard

“The Allegory of Dusk”

A week ago, I previewed on my blog a snippet from one of the short stories in a fiction collection I was planning on releasing in early December. When I wrote the blog post, I had no idea what the collection would be named. I also had no idea when exactly I’d finish the collection. But fortunately, my imagination ran away with my ideas, and both title and stories came to me quite quickly. So quickly in fact that “The Allegory of Dusk” will be released this Friday, October 19.

love it when my work takes over my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Description:

“Life most definitely is not fair, and at times, it is harsh.

What happens when the worst occurs in our life— when there’s no guarantee of redemption or of hope? When there is no ending in sight to what we go through when the bottom has dropped out? When everything we’ve hoped for, everything we have planned for has been ripped away painfully?

“The Allegory of Dusk” is an examination of the reality of life at its most painful and damaged.”

And I’ll admit, since I hate bullshit and I’m one of the most honest people you’ll probably ever meet, I’m a bit nervous about releasing this collection. In my previous work, there has always been a touch of hope, a safe haven where the reader can imagine things will turn out just fine. But Allegory is a departure from my comfort zone, both in genre, and in topic. Rather than end each story on a happy note, I instead went for reality. And I’ll admit, there were times when I was writing the short stories in this collection I had to take a step back and a deep breath and face the emotions the work brought out in me.

A few days ago, I posted about the illusion of happiness and happy endings. Allegory is true to the theme of that blog: the reality being that we’re not given any guarantees in finding happiness. Sometime, we have to face head on hurts and sufferings with no clue as to when life is going to ease up and give us a break.

In my own life, I’ve faced down heartbreaks and struggles, one right after the other, wondering when exactly I was going to catch a break. And at times? I did not. As a dear friend of mine recently said to me, “Life likes to bitch-slap you, and she likes to do it hard, at the worst possible time…”

“Write what you know.” I’ve heard those words thousands of times since I first began writing. As authors, we are the rulers over our characters. We determine their fates, how things are going to end, who’s going to live and who’s going to die, who’s going to fall in love, and who’s going to have their heart broken. And I could have found a path to the happy ending in each of the stories in Allegory. But I did not. Because what I know from my own experiences in life is not a happy ending. I know fighting against odds, heartbreaks, loss, despair, anger, and disappointment. But from those things, I’ve learned what true strength is. And like I say in the introduction to Allegory: “I didn’t write this collection with happy endings in mind, because I myself? I don’t buy into the idea of a happy ending. I believe, however, in the idea of peace, and of honesty.”

~Amber Jerome~Norrgard

No more happy endings…

If you know me or if you’ve read me for any length of time, you’re probably aware of the fact that I’m a huge fan of Maroon 5’s frontman, Adam Levine.

mmmmmmphphphphphp!!!!

Five o’clock shadow, dark hair and tattoos aside, what makes me a fan of Adam’s work is the raw honesty with which he writes his lyrics. So it should be no surprise that a few lines from “Payphone” grabbed my attention:

“If happy ever after did exist/I would still be holding you like this/All these fairytales are full of shit/One more fuckin’ love song I’ll be sick….”

Well said Adam. If you were here, I’d give you a smack on the ass for nailing that sentiment head on.

The fact is, I’m not a “girly-girl”. In fact, one of my favorite people in the world paid me what I consider to be one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received about my personality: “I keep forgetting you’re not a normal woman. You’re a really good dude.”  Dudeness aside, the fact is, I’m about as non-girly as you can get. I’ll put on makeup before I go out, but really, who wouldn’t put on makeup when they spend 90% of their down time hanging out in the local gay neighborhood? Think about it: Every man down there is much prettier than I. I’ll wear skirts or heels, but generally, that’s after someone has dared me to do it to see if I actually own either of those items. And while I can be very anal-retentive in regards to my work as an author, on the rare occasions I actually take selfish down time for myself? I’ll all whatever about what I’m doing. If the friend I’m hanging out with wants to go bar hopping? Works for me. If a suggestion is made to go grab dinner and then walk around downtown Dallas? Sounds like a good idea. Want to sit in your backyard on a lawn chair with a cooler of orange juice, ice, and vodka? Need me to grab ice on my way over? Want to just park our asses on a couch and bullshit, or even just sit there quietly? On my way. My point in all that? I’m easily amused, and I’m easily pleased. It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy.

But therein lies the theme of this blog: happiness. Personally, I believe everyone goes through times of happiness and times of not-so-much-happiness. And if you say that you’re happy all the time, I’m going to say what I say to people who claim they never masturbate: Bullshit. You either do it, or you lie about it. On a recent TweepNation podcast, my co-host, Dionne Lister, brought up the point that we’ve almost been paid a disservice by our parents with their touting out all we needed to be happy was to meet someone, fall in love, pop out a few kids, and live life by a certain blueprint. “Do A, B, then C, and make sure to do D, and you’re guaranteed happiness.” Again, I’m calling bullshit.

You see, what our parents forgot to mention in the whole fairytale-based idea that you’ll simply meet someone and fall in love and the world will be forever happy and birds will be singing while flowers are blooming is that the true reality is that life can bitch-slap you, and when she does it? She does it hard. Hollywood propagates this illusion by cranking out nothing but cookie-cutter styled movies where guy meets girl, they fall in love, they get married, and everyone is happy and smiling. They don’t show twenty-years down the road. They don’t show ten-years down the road. Hell, they don’t even give you a quicky with five-years down the road. They don’t show the girl nagging the guy to take out the trash while the guy ignores the repeated request while playing video games. They don’t show the actuality of the newborn phase where no one has slept for three days and everyone is snapping one another’s heads off. They don’t show the twenty pounds that refuse to drop, and the sexual disinterest that comes with those additional twenty pounds. They don’t show the reality of waxing and waning passions, of financial difficulties, or the struggle one partner in a marriage can go through by constantly having to be the caretaker of the marriage. They don’t show the the devastation of life after finding out your significant other has been less than faithful on several occasions.

They don’t show any of the reality of life, because no one wants to see the reality of life. No one wants to tell the truth, and let’s face it, how many people really want to hear the truth. I live in the south, and a common occurrence down here is someone saying, “Hi, how are ya’?” The acceptable response is, “I’m fine.” or “I’m okay.” If you answer the question honestly? You’re getting a look from the question asker.

We are so mired in the ideas that were given to us as children to what equals happiness that we never stopped to think and ask ourselves “Hey, what is really going to make me happy?” Rather than examine the truthful answer to that question and figure out what it is we want in our own lives, the lives we are stuck in until our final moment on this earth, we simply took it on faith that if we did A, B, and C, followed by D, we’d find happiness. By accepting on faith that it was an automatic we’d be happy, we’ve not only been lied to, but we’ve lied to ourselves by living someone else’s ideal. We’ve belittled ourselves into not asking the hard questions and doing the hard work in discovering who we are, just as ourselves. And the disappointment of finding out it was all bullshit? That just furthers the sadness of finding out we’ve been duped.

The cold, hard truth is this: fairytales only exist in movies and in books. Does happiness exist? Absolutely. But how true is that happiness if its the happiness we’ve been told to see as happiness, as opposed to the happiness we find for ourselves?

Guest Post by Sophia Hobbs

I recently became acquainted with Sophia Hobbs through Twitter when she asked me to look at one of her poems. Since asking that same question is what started me out in the Indie Author Arena, and I believe fully in paying it forward, I was thrilled to do so. And you can imagine my excitement that Sophia not only is very gifted at writing poetry, but is a DFW resident as well.  I’m very thrilled to showcase one of her poems on my blog today.

Walking, grazing, meandering…

The crowd, hot and sweaty, living

Pulsing. They part, two tides of wild eyes and shuffling.

A cart, myriad of taste, color.

Blue, red, yellow, green

Stops.

Unexpected hunger, hands raise, green flashes

Plastic bags, used,

Dusty.

Blue, red, yellow, green

Husk breaking, juice flowing.

Staining. Smiles made,

Teeth showing,

Blue, red, yellow, green

Sophia Hobbs works with Dalworth Rug Cleaning, a Dallas based textile cleaning company. You can find her on Twitter @DalworthRest and on Google +, often times digging into her hobby as a poet.

~Amber Jerome~Norrgard

Preview from my upcoming collection of short story fiction…

Back in June, I began working on In the Gloaming. Originally, In the Gloaming was to be a collection of poetry and short story fiction. But while writing it, the poetry took over, and when I made the decision to pull the short stories from the collection to be used in a yet-to-be-named collection, I felt one-hundred percent that I had made the best decision. And I still do. In the Gloaming is, as of right now, one of my favorite works that I’ve released, due to the extreme honesty each poem written for it embodies. I’m thrilled every time a reader tells me I touched them with one poem or another.

But, those short story fictions? They’ve been sitting there, murmuring at me, and in the past few days? Well, you’ve heard a three-year-old when they want a popscicle, right? They’ve been shrieking, banshee-like at me, wanting to be read. I’ve quieted them down, at least temporarily, with the promise that once I finish the second-round of edits I’ve received from one of my editors and submitted the writer’s grant I’ve been slugging away at for ages, I’ll look them over, finish two or three others, send them off to editors one and two (yes, I am that OCD about getting it right!), and then release them. I’m hoping that between now and then, I’ll develop a title that fits the collection, but honestly, I have no real worries, because titles tend to do what fiction does: take off running to its own destination and waits for the author to catch up and claim it.

I can tell you, however, that this collection touches on the darker side of humanity, and shows the harder and harshest parts of life, giving glimpses into heartache, loss, and the possiblity, but no guarantee, of healing.

But those damn short stories are shrieking at me, yet again, so in an effort to shut them up before editor two jumps  my ass for not getting my grant edits done, here’s a small preview of one. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

You and I, and I.

“You and I? We’re just fucked, mentally.”

I don’t disagree with Adam’s statement. Certainly, he wouldn’t start lying to me or bullshitting me after twenty plus years of friendship.

“But I’m pretty sure we choose that, that we intentionally choose the path less taken, because it’s much harder to walk upon.”

I stare into the face of my oldest friend, and I see his eyes, the lids at half-mast from all the alcohol he has ingested over the past few hours.

 “But you? Yeah, I think you purposely look for that harder path, and then you bomb the fuck out of it with your bullshit, intending it to be harder. Because you’re addicted to the hurt. It’s all you’ve ever known, and you can’t let go of it, so you look for it. And if you can’t find it? Well, baby girl, you cause it.”

My stomach has clenched, and my heart is pounding, and as the bartender brings us another round, he glances at me, reading me. His eyes focus on my neck, and I realize it’s because most likely? He’s seeing the pulse, slamming away against the chain of the necklace I’m wearing.

 “How long are you going to continue doing this? How long are you going to live a life half lived, held hostage by this need of yours to hurt as much as possible? How long are you going to hide behind the fears you throw out there?”

I don’t answer. I can’t answer. Because if I open my mouth, I’m going to scream, and then I will break down sobbing, because he is finally doing what everyone else has done, walking away. And he is hurting me, shattering my heart, because he was the one who would never go, not even when I pushed him to do so. So I don’t say anything, my lips pressed together, two hard lines meeting one another against my teeth. I don’t say anything, I don’t blink, because he’s killing me right now, and I’ll be damned if I’ll give him the satisfaction of knowing he’s destroyed a part of my heart that was still whole and beating properly.

~Amber Jerome~Norrgard

If you show me your’s, I’ll show you mine….

Okay, I really should be a.) working on my writer’s grant, b.) writing a blog about my recent trip back to the east coast, and c.) working on Searching for Ellen. But the answer to a.) is that I’ve actually finished all the edits the awesome Dionne Lister has sent back to me and am waiting on more and as for b.) and c.)? I just don’t want to. Momma Amber needs a break.

Thankfully, my publisher Charity Parkerson is not only brilliant, she’s hilarious, hence this interview she posted on her website and asked other people to answer. So in an effort to blow off steam and quit banging my head against the desk in frustration, I’m so doin’ it!

Tell 3 fun facts about yourself:

1.) I modeled briefly in my early 20’s

2.) I’m right handed, but can only snap with my left hand.

3) I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.
If you could bring one of your book characters to life for only one night, which one would it be, and what would you do?
“Beeta” from the (unreleased) short story The Blue Train. And I’d take her out for a few drinks and a long bullshitting session.
Is there anyone you’ve always secretly thought of as sexy that other people might find strange? If so, who?
Gary Oldman. He’s unbelievably talented and intelligent and has a great sense of humor, which is just yummmmmmmm.
What’s the worst/oddest present that you’ve ever received?
“Cheese of the Month” membership, after I told the giver I gave up cheese in my diet.
Confession time: What’s on your ipod right now?
The Good: One More Night by Maroon 5 (yes, I stole your answer Charity, because its AWESOME!)
The Bad: Cotton-Eyed Joe by the Rednex
The Ugly: This is who I am by 
Do you have any tattoos?
Yes, six.
What’s your favorite snack?
pretzel sticks.
What’s your ultimate fantasy?
No housework for a week.  Oh wait! That was last week!  WOOT!
Your turn! Post your answers either here or on your own blog…
Amber Jerome~Norrgard
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