I Am the Highway

Hearing the news about Chris Cornell’s passing today took my breath away. I lived my teen years in the ’90s as thoroughly as possible. Chris Cornell’s raw, gripping and unique voice was part of the many great experiences I had throughout my high school years, along with other alt greats of the time, including Pearl Jam.

His voice was youth, passion, energy, love, and hate: all those things you feel so deeply in high school as you’re trying to navigate yourself around the idea of living in the moment and becoming an adult.

When I heard that Chris had passed, my heart ached and I immediately wanted to reach out and hug my high school best friends. Because his voice was all of us, with the promise of tomorrow with each other by our sides.

It made me sad to realize that many of the bands that took over the radio in Chicago while growing up have lost their lead singers due to death: Alice in Chains, Nirvana, STP, Sublime, and Blind Melon.

I leave you with one of my favorite songs from Chris from Audioslave. It feels fitting.

“I Am The Highway”
Audioslave

Pearls and swine bereft of me.
Long and weary my road has been.
I was lost in the cities, alone in the hills.
No sorrow or pity for leaving, I feel.

I am not your rolling wheels, I am the highway.
I am not your carpet ride, I am the sky.

Friends and liars don’t wait for me,
‘Cause I’ll get on all by myself.
I put millions of miles under my heels;
And still too close to you I feel.

I am not your rolling wheels, I am the highway.
I am not your carpet ride, I am the sky.
I am not your blowing wind, I am the lightning.
I am not your autumn moon, I am the night… night.

I am not your rolling wheels, I am the highway.
I am not your carpet ride, I am the sky.
I am not your blowing wind, I am the lightning.
I am not your autumn moon, I am night… night… night.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Lyrics per AZLyrics

 

highway-wallpapers

Advertisements

Just Make it Happen Already

There are so many things that we say throughout our lives, “Oh, I’d love to do that…” and eye someone with envy when they’ve given themselves the permission to do something out of the box.

I think women are particularly hard on themselves for these sort of things. When I think of something I want to do, it has to make it past my list of priorities: husband and kids, writing, work, friends, and more.

I’d love to do that…but I’ll just be bringing the kids back from gymnastics and the timing is really tight.

I’d love to do that…but work just started to pick up.

I’d love to do that…but that’s like two months straight that I’ll need to find some backup to watch the kids.

Recently, a friend passed away from cancer and everything around me has seemed like a missed opportunity. My heart has been broken since her passing. She used to say every day counts.

We don’t get a second chance at our lives.

So this is a note to ask you what you’ve been wanting to do lately. And I give you permission to do it for yourself!

On Monday, I start ukulele lessons…get ready world!

ukulele

 

New Book is Finished!

I want to scream from the mountain tops…it’s DONE, it’s DONE!!

I’ve just finished writing CURTAIN RISING and all 68,000 words of it. While I couldn’t be more excited, I’ve been simultaneously editing it with feedback from beta readers, and I know there’s quite a bit more editing to go.

But first, a little celebration!

I do need some thoughts on the ending so if there are any other WF beta readers out there that want to speed read for me? I’m looking to send out submissions by September.

I want to deeply thank all the lovely authors and beta readers that have helped me to finesse various parts of the book: Christi Suzanne, Erica Steele, Gayle Seely, Eric Butler, Sara Adams, Natalie Spada, Suzan Headley, Karisa Tell, and Katerina Baker.

Now, on to more editing!

happy dance

Pitch Wars Setting Workshop

Writing novels has its highs and its lows. For anyone that has queiried an agent, they now understand what “tough skin” really means. But it’s all part of the process.

I’m working on my second book, CURTAIN RISING, and was so lucky to be selected into the Pitch Wars Setting Workshop and have my first 500 words reviewed.

I’m so thankful to have some great critique partners; everyone adds value in a different way. For the Pitch Wars Setting Workshop, mentor and fabulous author Kelly Siskind provided some great feedback. Having someone who has gone through the process and has written some great books, is pretty great.

So here is a sneak peek into the amazingly tough, yet wonderful, yet painful, yet amazing process of writing. This is my exerpt of CURTAIN RISING, with Kelly’s feedback.

http://www.brenda-drake.com/2016/06/day-2-june-setting-workshop-pitch-wars-mentor/

For those who don’t know Kelly’s work, check her out!

Kelly is the author of CHASING CRAZY and MY PERFECT MISTAKE, the latter being the first of her Over the Top series, all published through Grand Central’s Forever Yours. A small-town girl at heart, she moved from the city to open a cheese shop with her husband in northern Ontario. When she’s not neck deep in cheese or out hiking, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head. She laughs at her own jokes and has been known to eat her feelings—gummy Bears heal all. She’s also an incurable romantic, devouring romance novels into the wee hours of the morning. http://www.kellysiskind.com

 

books

Stony Island Arts Bank in Chicago via http://bookshelfporn.com

Query Kombat Today

A few years ago I started connecting with other authors on Twitter and it changed my life. I’m so glad that I’ve met so many great people that are in the same shoes, writing, editing, and supporting each other.

My book, AMERICAN HONEY, got selected to compete in Query Kombat today! It is very exciting and yet, I’m so nervous. The winner will go on to compete in the next round, and so on. My competitor has got the goods too!

Thanks for , our team of authors selected to compete these next few weeks.

Please come visit, leave feedback, and cheer us on (we’ll leave the voting for the judges though)! Today, my book is on this site: http://www.michelle4laughs.com/2016/06/qk-round-1-ivy-league-sex-scandal-vs.html#comment-form

Very exciting!

giphy

What does honesty look like?

There are so many faces of honesty. I’ve always been so interested in this topic, especially researching the life of an unreliable narrator for my new book. And then I happened upon a New York Post article, and that kind of brutal honesty has to make you smile…(story below).

DEFINITION: An unreliable narrator is a narrator, whether in literature, film, or theatre, whose credibility has been seriously compromised. The reader/viewer often does not realize the unreliability until a contrast of the truth is shown by another character or event.

The dishonesty that seems to hurt the most is when you are not honest to yourself.

It’s amazing what we’ll do to protect ourselves sometimes, persevere, and move on. You see it all the time from fights between non-working women to working women, jobs, economy, even things like sleep. We try to convince ourselves that we don’t need it: we’re better off without it.

When people are so honest to the point that it puts them in a bad light, and their actions clearly were incorrect but they still choose to put it out there, whether to help others or just help themselves…I find that so refreshing.

Here is the New York Post article that made me smile. Obviously, I don’t condone his behavior, but it is hilarious.

http://nypost.com/2016/02/16/i-needed-weed-man-who-found-wallet-returns-license-not-cash/

NYPOst

 

Living in the Today

It feels like every other day there is an awful shooting or act of terrorism. But sadly, I heard a stat that there have been more mass shootings than actual calendar days of the year so far.

I think it makes all of us feel helpless as we sit watching the news, hugging our family, not knowing how to protect them. My daughters are five and three years old, so they haven’t had to hear about all of this. But soon they will, and I worry they will fear for the future, like I sometimes do. And more than anything, it makes me sad that they will lose that sense of innocence.

San Bernardino two days ago, Paris the other day, Beirut, etc. It feels sad to even write “ETC.” but it goes on and on. I can’t help but wonder what the solution is, how do we handle this sadness, scariness, and evil that is everywhere today?

Last night I realized I needed to stop watching and start living.

  • We need to live in the today.
  • We need to stand tall for our beliefs.
  • We need to love our family and friends more.
  • We need to believe and act as though every day counts. 

And when these tragedies happen, we need to urge everyone around us to support each other and find a solution. All of our neighbors, family members, state and national government should be held accountable for keeping each other safe. There’s a grave disconnect with mental illness and the constant threat of terrorism, and we need to figure out how to identify these issues and stop them before they happen. How can we live in such a progressive country, yet be afraid to send our kids to school?

I hope that you will find strength in something in your life, and hold onto that the next time tragedy hits.

In the meantime, live and love deeply.

Free_hugs

Why is it so hard to ask for help?

It was a particularly rainy afternoon and I was waiting for my 2 1/2 year old to get up from her nap.

It was after 4 PM when I was finally able to drag the two kids with me to the grocery store. I put one in the cart seat and one in the actual cart so that they wouldn’t run through the store, in hopes that we could get this done quickly.

Two bathroom trips (yes, that was TWO) and 90 minutes later, we’re finally trying to get out of the store. And I had already forgotten two things. Too bad.

I’m trying to unload and check out and my youngest starts crying because she can’t reach the food to “help me out” and put things on the check out. My older daughter is counting the chocolate bars by touching each one on the side of the aisle.

The cart is overflowing and I’m trying to get the kids jackets on, pay and get out the door, when my youngest falls sideways and of course, hits her head on the cart.

Now she’s really crying.

“Do you need help out?” the store clerk asks.

“No, no,” I say as I’m trying to push the kids forward and out of the way so the next customer could pay. I lean down, trying to console my youngest.

“Does she need an ice pack?” another clerk asks me.

“No, thank you, she’s okay. We’re just trying to get out of here. It’s been a long trip, so to speak,” I said and honestly, I could not get out of the store fast enough.

“Do you want me to help you out?” this store clerk asks.

“No, thank you. We’re just trying to go,” I say as I’m trying to get the girls to follow me, jackets on, etc.

“Here, let me push the cart. You can get the girls,” she said.

And she pushed the cart out for me, while I put my kids’ hoods up, held their hands as we crossed the street to our car. And then she unloaded the cart into my car.

I couldn’t thank her enough.

The lady that stood behind me at the check out line was parked near me and said, “I’ve been there before. I’m so glad that lady helped you out.”

I smiled at her. I was too.

She continued, “I don’t know why the clerk asked you if you needed help. She should know we ALWAYS say no, but we really mean yes.”

Today is Opposite Day

It’s funny how we decide to label ourselves. For the past decade, I’ve called myself a non runner.

But the truth is I HATE RUNNING. It just doesn’t agree with me, my knees, my body, etc.

So for years, I’ve taken up yoga, spinning and other ways to sweat and stay healthy, but I always thought how nice it would be to just go for a run and clear your head.

But that’s not who I am, I tell myself. I need a class for motivation. I need someone to tell me what to do, otherwise I won’t do it.

The thing is, when I start running, my legs itch, tingle and drive me crazy. Does that happen to anyone? It only happens when I run. I was suckered into a half marathon once and that seemed to go away but then my knee cap seemed to wither away with it so I figured that was a sign.

But today, I am a few months out from going on a vacation and it’s time to burn some calories. I double checked my 30 day free gym pass and thought…it’s time.

So I did it. I went to the gym. And that ugly treadmill just stared at me. There weren’t any classes going on, it was just me and the treadmill.

So I ran, without issue, for 25 minutes.

THAT’S HUGE (for me). I could almost hear the Rocky fight song in my head as I stepped off because today, I have defeated whatever barriers stood in the way.

It got me thinking, what else is holding me back?

Click here to hear your fight song: What does Rocky tell you?

Fearless_Crew_2_native_600 copy

Photo courtesy of NIKE, Inc.

Life is Sweet, Make it Sweeter

I wanted to say, life is short. Sometimes too short. We never know how long we have on earth and sometimes we’re so sucked into the day-to-day ramblings, that we forget to take a pause, or a time out (as my daughter would say, though her time outs are a little different…).

A neighbor that I met through a writing event last summer was literally blogging  less than a month ago about being thankful, and an hour later, she and her husband were hit by a car while crossing the street.

My daughters and I just so happened to be driving by, what had to be moments after the accident, and saw a fire truck and ambulances. Not much happens in our smaller town that sits adjacent to Portland, so traffic slowed. My girls were peppering me with questions, “what happened? was it a person? will they be okay?”

I could see EMT crouching over someone in the middle of the road/cross walk and all I could think was that hopefully someone just felt faint, nothing more. As we drove on, I told my girls to say a little prayer that they’re okay, and we went on about our evening.

Last weekend, I opened the newspaper and my neighbor is on the front page, telling her story about how an elderly man hit her and her husband with his car, and by the grace of God, they survived.

The feelings are overwhelming…and I couldn’t believe we drove right past her. It seems like we should’ve been able to do something to help. She and her husband have a long recovery ahead of them, but she gets to spend more time with her family and friends.

She will no doubt appreciate life differently. It shouldn’t take something horrific to make the rest of us stop, take a moment and hug those close. Maybe smell the flowers.

corn_field_flower_220138