Glory Hills

Hey!

I feel like I should have been back sooner, but I really don’t have much to share. Not yet at least. I’m still in the early throes of my new WIP, which now has a working title of Glory Hills. I suppose I should give you all some information on it, though a lot of it is still a secret to me. Remember, I’m a panster. That means I don’t plot. I write as I go. Just a few days ago I’ve settled on my MC’s name. So here’s what I do know.

  1. It’s YA.
  2. It’s a romance.
  3. It takes place in the 30s.
  4. The country club at which it’s set is based on the real life historical Shady Rest Country Club.
  5. Langston Hughes showed up in the first chapter. Like in the flesh.

 

I’m still getting to know my MC, Doll, but I like her. She’s confident, but not in the same way that say Etta is. I like to think of her as a goldfish in a koi pond. Or a koi fish in a fish bowl? Hmmm… Anyway, Doll has a horse named Cricket and I’ve even managed to give Doll freckles!

As we speak I have still don’t have her love interest’s name finalized. I have a few I’m tossing around, but I don’t know… Usually naming comes pretty easy to me. Everything about writing Glory Hills is so different than anything else I’ve written. It’s not as organic, but I love it none the less. And I’m just still so thrilled, yet surprised that my agent trust me to tell this story.

Hopefully I’ll have more to share soon. In the meantime, please enjoy this aesthetic I’ve made!

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See you guys around,

Cherish

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How I Got My Agent!

Yes, you read that right. I have an agent!

But Cherish, you weren’t querying.

Correct.

But Cherish, weren’t you doing Author Mentor Match?

I was trying.

But Cherish, is Etta & Emmylou finished?

Nope.

speechlessI know, right?! Ready for a story?

Cool.

 

soundofmusic

Why can’t I find a gif of this exact moment? Someone techy make it happen. 

 

Friday the 13th.

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No, not this one.

Remember this post where I was being really secretive about something? Yeah, that was the start of me being introduced to my now agent, Elizabeth Bewley of Sterling Lord Literistic! I woke up one morning with a DM from one of my new favorite authors and seriously one of the kindest women I have ever come across, author Linda Williams Jackson. Linda is the super talented author of MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON, her debut MG novel about  thirteen year-old Rose Lee Carter as she comes to grips with the impending Civil Rights Movement when a boy (Emmett Till) was found murdered in a nearby Mississippi town. This novel, despite its heavy subject matter was such a bright spot in my last semester of college. Linda really knows how to transport you to places and times and allows you to get lost in the lives of her characters. As an aspiring writer of historical fiction I truly admire this skill and aim for that kind of greatness whenever I write.

So let me go back to the 13th.

I have this DM from Linda, who besides liking some posts of mine here and there and congratulating me on my short story is totally out of the norm. She asks me if I would be interested in developing a particular project for her agent.

I

After my initial confusion, me, being a true cock-eyed optimist is all, “Can’t hurt to try, right?” Then I send her my email.

Now, I was in the middle of doing this training for my new job, but when I checked my email and watched this link: https://www.njtvonline.org/news/video/remembering-americas-first-black-country-club/ I knew that this was something that I couldn’t pass up. I DM Linda back in the vain of

pickmepickme

Then I get an email from Elizabeth herself. She sends me the link from above and I start salivating all over again. Because by now I think we all know how much I love historical. Elizabeth asks to see some of my writing and then we could go from there. Since I don’t know what the procedure is when an agent (who you aren’t querying) asks to see your writing, I sent her three things. THREE. The first chapter of Etta & Emmylou, my excerpt from The Trees Won’t Tell, and You, Me, and These Trees.  This is still Friday the 13th btw, and I had all weekend to bite my nails and agonize on whether or not I turned her off just by the obnoxious amount of words I’ve sent her.

scared

Monday the 16th.

Fast forward to Monday and Elizabeth emails me. I was seriously expecting something to the tune of, “Your writing is cute, but not what I had in mind. Here are some resources. Happy writing!” Instead, she told me she enjoyed the pieces I sent and could we talk Thursday.

Shocked

After I collected my jaw from the floor, I responded that I would love to. Naturally. 

Thursday the 19th.

Thursday rolls around. I’ve had butterflies for days. I have huge phone anxiety and here I am going to talk with a literary agent about a project that I could potentially collaborate on and pen. A story that really makes me smile whenever I think about it. And she’s showed some interest in my babies Etta and Emmylou! But I really had nothing to worry about. Our chat went great! I felt good and at ease… that is until she asked me to send Etta & Emmylou.

panic

What had I done! Etta & Emmylou was not fit of human consumption yet. I’m trying to impress her, not scare her away with my plot holes, continuity issues. Never mind all the typos. If anything I thought she may want the first three or so chapters.

So I’m like, “Uh… but it’s not done.”

And she’s all, “I know. I want to get a feel for how you plot.”

 

teacup

Total panster, fyi

 

What’s a girl to do?  I formatted what I had, typed a disclaimer about what she was walking into, and sent it off.

shaking

Now, I sent about twenty-one? Twenty-two chapters to Elizabeth and was expecting to hear back from her in about a month. Maybe even longer than that considering I was not a client of hers and she’s probably super busy. Imagine my surprise (here’s where it gets crazy) when Elizabeth gets back into contact with me.

Friday the 27th.

We’re talking the last Friday of October. She was in the middle of reading Etta & Emmylou and wanted to represent me! ME! In addition to wanting to represent me for Etta & Emmylou, she also decided that I would be a good fit to collaborate with her on this new WIP set in the 30s at an African-American country club!!! It’s going to be so good you guys.

dying

I still haven’t recovered yet.

Wednesday the 1st.

This Wednesday Elizabeth and I met up. We talked about this new project, Etta and Emmylou, historical television shows, family, musicals… We packed a lot in! It’s official! We’re together as long as I’m able to write (fingers crossed). But seriously, Elizabeth is the best. I can’t thank Linda enough for putting us in contact. And I won’t for a moment forget how lucky I am to have (for lack of a better word) been given this opportunity. The pressure is on. Good pressure, but still. I’m ready to write.

business

Thanks for sitting through this crazy thread!

Be in touch soon,

Cherish

Dedicated to the One I Love

It’s booktrack time!

I’m back with a little ditty by who none other than The Shirelles?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give to you, “Dedicated to the One I Love.”

My album says it was released in 1959, but in the video it’s easily the late sixties or the seventies.

I now understand why Etta is in love with these ladies. I mean I guess I always knew, because in the words of Etta, “there ain’t no better song than ‘Mama Said’ and that’s hard to refute.

This song is romantic and feisty and angsty and ballsy all rolled into one. I can totally see Etta and Her Fine girls doing a cover of this song. In the story however, it’s Pearl that sings the lead to this song. It’s perfect, since the singer in the original has a fantastic uhmm, chest voice? Pearl’s the alto of the group. Those wonderful whoo hooo’s are naturally done by Emmylou who has the flighty upper ranges. And Etta, gasp, manages to blend in for once in her life.

So far I’ve managed to incorporate this song because Etta thinks it’ll help get Emmylou in the romantic mood for Jake. She’s counting on those butterflies too. I’ll have to let you know if it worked some other time.

Check ya later,

Cherish

Also, let me know if these booktracks are the slightest bit entertaining.

Author Mentor Match

Hello!

So, I know Friday the 13th gets a bad rep, but I’m having a rather pleasant one, for reasons I’d love to share, but can’t just yet.

 

leodicaprio

Yes, I’m like a little Leo DiCaprio. My lips? Fingers? Anyway, I’m being secretive for now.

 

Rest assured, when I can share, if there’s anything to share, it will be awesome!

But that isn’t why I’m writing this. I wanted to talk about author mentor match. Have you heard of it? Oh man it looks amazing. It pairs writers with mentors at various levels of publication. Some are debut authors, some are on submission, some have books pending to be released really soon. Like in the coming year.

Anyway, the mentors help the writers polish up their manuscripts, perfect their query and even put together the dreaded synopsis. How awesome is that?! Here, have a look around the site. I desperately want to apply! There’s no guarantee that I will be chosen, but if I am, the perks and benefits to working with someone who was not so long ago in my position cannot be passed up. My dilemma, because I always have one: I don’t think I’ll make the deadline to apply.

Submissions open on the 19th. That’s right. October 19th. That’s six days from now. The last possible day to apply would be the 24th and although that’s slightly comforting, there’s still a lot to be done with my manuscript. Terms of applying dictate that I must have a completed manuscript. No rough drafts. As of now, it’s still kind of rough. I’m adding a few chapters as we speak. Yikes! I suppose I could write my last chapter and do some fine tuning and submit, but that’s not good enough. I have to lead with my best work.

Needless to say I’m writing like a mad person…

 

kermit

How I look trying to get my manuscript up to snuff.

 

yet, I still don’t think I can swing it. I’m trying, but I’m not optimistic. I’m going to need whoever is reading this to be optimistic for me.

On a more positive note, it feels great to get back in the minds of Etta and Emmylou! I’ve written a new scene that has really added something to the story. Not sure what that something is, but I’m digging it. And I’m getting so close to the novel that I envisioned when I started writing that first chapter, too.

Off I go. I need to leave before I word vomit my secret news.

 

don'tmakemesing

One of my favorite SNL sketches.

 

Oh and with any luck I can slide in tires screeching to author mentor match on the 24th.

Until next time,

Cherish

Incorporating Historical Figures

Feels like it’s been forever since I’ve talked about the very project that inspired me to start this blog in the first place! I’m going to remedy that now that I’ve been working on Etta & Emmylou. By the way, the more that I think about it, the more that I want to change the title. I have a title in mind, but I’m going to ponder, see: agonize over it privately before I announce.

Anyway, I have a new chapter eight! This chapter eight is named after the children’s song, that was popularized by Ella Fitzgerald. “A Tisket A Tasket.”

This chapter is by no means perfect, but it’s the first thing in a long while that I have written for this story that I didn’t want to delete and forget I wrote. Here’s why:

  1. I was finally able to incorporate real-life historical figures (in my own way).
  2. Emmylou asks a question that is SO important.
  3. We get to know a tad more about the girl’s family.

You  may or may not know that a freak show is a rather important part of my story. So, in my research of freak shows, mainly their talent, I came across two women who blew my mind. They are Millie and Christine.

 

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I wish I knew who was who, but this is Millie and Christine McCoy.

 

A quick google search will tell you that Millie and Christine McCoy were conjoined twins who were born slaves in South Carolina in 1851. They were nicknamed, “The Eighth Wonder of the World,” “The Carolina Twins,” and my favorite, “The Two-Headed Nightingale.”

Can you guess why?

It is said that the two dazzled audiences with their harmonies. One had a soprano and one had an alto. They traveled the world singing. It is also said they got their start because of their physical joining (fused at the lower spine and stood about 90 degrees to one another), that they were a bit clumsy and often fell down. As young girls Millie and Christine had to develop a particular walk. This walk looked like a dance of sorts and the audiences gobbled it up.

The more I read about their life, the more my emotions ran all over the place. Part of me wanted to build a time machine and rescue them, but apparently they didn’t mind. It’s reported that their motto was, “As God decreed, we agreed.” They had a really optimistic view about it all and used their anatomy to make money. I’m a tad skeptical about this, however. I mean this life is literally all they knew, but you can’t tell me that it didn’t get old after a while. Wikipedia told me that they wrote a memoir and an autobiography. I should like to get my hands on a copy some day.

Here’s where I need a tissue. In 1912 Millie and Christine succumbed to tuberculosis. Christine passed twelve hours after Millie. For half a day she lay attached to her dead twin sister. You may or may not recall that I have a twin sister. I honestly can’t imagine the anguish she went through. I can only hope that Christine was so out of it, that she did not realize.

Needless to say, after I learned about these sisters and got over how similar they are to Etta and Emmylou (one is even taller than the other!), I vowed to find a way to honor them in my story. The ending is still not complete, but I am so close and I did not find a way to get it in there. I was panicking. Thankfully, I’m going back and editing and adding new chapters (this might need it’s own post too) and I found the perfect way!

Etta and Emmylou have three older sisters and a younger brother. Their eldest sister Annie is expecting her second child. Or so everyone thinks. Annie feels she’s having twins, but no one believes her. And ultrasounds weren’t really a thing, not that she’d go to a hospital… Anyway, turns out Annie’s intuition was right. She has twin girls. You guessed it, named Millie and Christine.

I don’t want to give away too much and I fear I may have, but the birth of Etta and Emmylou’s nieces kind of stirs up some trouble between the girls. It’s great though.

Until next time,

Cherish

P.S. I think I’m over due for a booktrack.

Rewrite the Rewrite?

Hey!

I’m a total theater nerd, so I can’t continue without explaining the title of this post. There’s a musical called Merrily We Roll Along, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, about this group of friends, artists. Think screen/playwrights, author/journalist, and composer/lyricist. There’s a song called “Opening Doors” where they all sing about their endeavors and for while things aren’t working out. Charley is writing a one-act play throughout the song and he sings, “I finished the one-act… I’m doing a rewrite… I rewrote the rewrite…”  Check it out:

And so like I said, I’m a nerd, but this song embodies the rest of this post.

I had planned to be better at updating this blog, but then life. I had also planned to be announcing another publication this month, you know, my The Trees Won’t Tell (TTWT) rewrite, but it looks like that won’t be happening for a little while either.

First, I did in fact finish the rewrite. I love it, though it took me awhile to come around to it. It’s so different from the original Gussie. This Gussie is less… naive? I mean, she still doesn’t have things figured out and has made some questionable decisions, but this Gussie is a little more glass half-full. In fact, the tone of the rewrite now titled, You, Me, and These Trees (YMATT) is a lot more adult. The powers at be have told me that it reads like adult fiction with a child/young protagonist.

Pause.

I feel like I should explain that this rewrite only exist because the folks at Kweli Journal saw something in TTWT, in my storytelling that they liked, but didn’t love so they asked me to look at the story differently. To start it in a different place. To really take a look at my setting and the year my story takes place (1939/depression era). In other words, to really make Gussie’s life a bit of a hell. So I did. At least I thought I did.

It turns out that while YMATT is different from the TTWT, it’s still not quite what the folks from Kweli have in mind and I have been given the opportunity to work with the editor until there’s a story that checks all the boxes. This was disappointing to hear but now that the words have settled I’m looking at it as an opportunity to strengthen my writing. I’m learning to richochet! That being said, this is going to take some time and since there is no tentative deadline in place, I don’t feel the need to abandon Etta & Emmylou until I get it right.

On the subject of my conjoined main characters, I have added a new chapter to their story! I’m so excited about it too. So excited, in fact, it deserves it’s own post. Therefore, I conclude this one.

I’m opening doors,

Cherish

P.S. Here is an aesthetic I made with my BeFunky app for The Trees Won’t Tell.

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I love creating aesthetics! Here’s hoping the rewrite of the rewrite will inspire me to make more.

Bye for real this time.

I Hear Bells (Wedding Bells)

Who’s getting married? No one. But Etta dreamed Emmylou was and she (Emmylou) still hasn’t recovered from it yet. Chapter eight is a special chapter. I don’t want to spill too many beans, but things are working out for Etta. And maybe all this good fortune has gone to her head, but in this dream of hers where Emmylou is a bride, Etta hums a “… slow tortured version of the Del Viking’s ‘I Hear Bells (Wedding Bells)Ding dong ding dong.” To make sure Emmylou never sleeps again, Pearl accompanies with a hummed version of “Amazing Grace.”

Here are the Del Vikings btw. There weren’t too many mixed race groups. I wonder what that must have been like at the time.

del vikings

The original song is so fun and catchy, I thought why not pull what the producers of the movie Annabelle did at around the 0:58 mark with “I Only Have Eyes For You” by the Flamingos i.e. make it almost unlistenable to unless all the lights are on and its broad daylight. *shivers*

In other music related book news, I got a record player a little while back. I guess I’ve had it for about a month. I have a tiny vinyl collection, and by tiny I mean only three. The Beach Boys, The Shirelles and JoJo’s Mad Love album. Let me tell you, The Shirelles album is magical. Now I totally get why Etta wants to be like them. Every song is a hit! To me at least. And I cannot express enough how awesome “Mama Said” sounds on vinyl. When the time comes that record will be nonstop spinning as I work on ‘Etta & Emmylou.”

A bientot,

Cherish

 

My WIP Aesthetic

Hey!

August is halfway through! How on earth is time moving so fast??? Any who, I’m excited to share with you all an aesthetic I put together for Etta & Emmylou. What’s an aesthetic? Well, in this case it’s a collage of images that I found, that I feel represent my WIP. I see a fair amount of these on Twitter and I always wanted to make one, it’s just I had no idea how. But Twitter came to my rescue and I learned that all I needed was an app. Duh! It’s like the majority of things these days, I suppose. So, I downloaded one called BeFunky.

Without further ado, here is my aesthetic for Etta & Emmylou!

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It’s pretty cool right? I’m not great at technology and the like, but it was pretty simple to create using the app. Actually, the challenging part was finding the images I thought would work best. There’s a freakshow flier, and electronics shop similar to the one I imagine the twins are on their way to at the start of the novel, some cornbread (a bit of a running gag), The Shirelles (of course), Wilk’s red and white Ford, my amateur drawing of Etta and Emmylou and last but not least, Chubby Checker. Jake wears his hair in a conk just like that.

You all have probably caught on to my struggle with writer’s block, well, I’m cured. Sort of. A good friend of mine(Hi, Susan!) who has helped me literally chapter by chapter with Etta & Emmylou has set me on the path back to literary success. She’ s cleared things up so well for me that I can’t wait to get back to writing for them. I was a little stumped on the fact that not a lot of things happen in my novel, but Susan assured me that there’s plenty that happens and my real strength lies in characters I’ve created with Etta and Emmylou.

Nonetheless, these two have to wait in the wings just a tad longer while I finish up my TTWT rewrite. This has been a doozy too, but I’ve ironed out the kinks and plan to finish up(first draft) this week. Oh boy! I’m blogging this, so I better stick to it.

I suppose it’s been quite sometime since I last shared a booktrack. I shan’t keep you waiting!

Cherish

I’m Published Again!

Hi Internets!

Yes, an excerpt of my YA short story “The Trees Won’t Tell” (TTWT) was published in the New Welsh Review! You may be wondering why I, an American am published by a Welsh magazine, but cop a squat and I’ll tell you.

Earlier this year I sent TTWT to two competitions. One was with Hunger Mountain and the other was at the New Welsh Reader. I heard back from the latter first and I unfortunately didn’t make the short list. No big deal. So with that out-of-the-way, I felt why not send to some other magazines and journals for regular submissions. At this point I’m thinking the Hunger Mountain competition is a long shot too, but if I was lucky, then I would withdraw anyway. Win-win.

I sent TTWT to a few magazines and forgot about it. That was until I was looking through my spam and lo and behold, sitting in there a couple of days was an offer from New Welsh Review acknowledging that although I didn’t make the short list, that they were interested in an excerpt of my submission (TTWT). WHAT?! So, while flattered, I was really digging Kweli Journal and hoped I heard back from them. I asked if I could take a few days to consider, they said of course and I agonized. Then I gave permission for them to have the rights to my story. Wouldn’t you know a day later Kweli Journal accepted my story for publication too! AND they wanted the full story.

As a POC, Kweli Journal felt like the right move, so I emailed New Welsh Review and explained my situation. Wouldn’t you know they still wanted an excerpt anyway. It’s like a writer’s dream-nightmare. LOL. After some back and forth and it looking like my Kweli publication wasn’t going to happen (TTWT is going under a major rewrite for Kweli’s publication)  New Welsh Reader gave me my second publishing opportunity and I couldn’t be happier! I honestly feel like a low-key celebrity across the pond between this and “Tabitha’s Babies” over at Quarterday. 

This rewrite to TTWT is kicking my butt, but I’ll be back with more booktrack for sure. Not to mention I’m taking a little hiatus from Etta & Emmylou while I get it done.

*squeals because I can’t believe I have a short story published*

*waves*

Later,

Cherish

P.S. Let me know what you think of Gussie (and Erroll). I love those crazy kids!

Mr. Lee

Booktrack! Booktrack!

I told you all I’d be back with a booktrack and I brought along Mr. Lee by the Bobbettes!

 

bobbettes

They’re so young!

 

Fun fact, Etta loathes the Bobbettes. Okay, loathe is a strong word, but if it ain’t the Shirelles then she isn’t interested. The Bobbettes are too modest I suppose for her, with their square neck dresses.

I find this song absolutely cute. It’s almost a time capsule of the late 50s, when people, even young people referred to their peers as Mr. or Miss(Though word on the street is they’re singing it about a teacher.) It’s adorable. And I love how bubbly the song is. It’s just perfect! I knew I had to incorporate somehow, since Pearl has a brother named Lee. They sing this song for him, actually. Plus, they actually sound like teenagers singing.

There was a show Off-Broadway called, “The Marvelous Wonderettes” about these friends/girl group that is performing at their school’s talent show.

 

marvelouswonderettes

This show is sooooo underrated!

 

They use old doo-wop songs to tell their stories. It’s really neat and pretty funny. It’s one of my favorite cast recordings to listen to. At any rate, they have a version of “Mr. Lee” that makes me tap my toes too. Give it a listen.

In other WIP news, I think I’m just about done with my first draft. That is after I pen the last chapter (or two. I haven’t decided if I can finish it next chapter or not). I finished chapter twenty-one tonight, and I hate it, but it’s done. The ending is near that’s for sure.

Stay tuned.

For what?

Well you’re just gonna have to wait to find out.

Later, taters,

Cherish