Tag Archives: Weeds and Flowers

Creation’s Child: The Killer in Me

I’ll take a quick break from promoting Movie Magic (see the beautiful cover to the right) to talk a little bit about one of the most powerful and potentially addictive parts of writing: Creation. Because along with creation comes the ability to kill with impunity within the realm of your creation, that is.

There’s a saying that’s popular among writers. It’s on bumper stickers, coffee cups and t-shirts. “I’m a writer. Don’t piss me off or I’ll put you in a book and kill you.” While I’ve never actually done that, I have killed people off in books to move the story along. In fact, in my very first published book Secrets of the Lotus, I killed off the heroine’s imprisoned brother in order to bring her and the hero closer. Heartless? Cold? Maybe. But here’s the result:

Dan bolted up the stairs rather than wait for the elevator. The door of her apartment was ajar. He went in to find her standing in the kitchen drinking a glass of wine, her eyes red.

“Jo?” He closed the door. “What’s up?”

“He’s dead. James.” Josie lifted her glass as if in a toast. Dan could see tears running down her cheeks. “There was some kind of riot, something stupid. But somebody had one of those weapons, the ones they make out of spoons—what do they call them?”

“A shiv?” Dan pulled the term from some movie or other, then felt like an idiot since he was fairly certain she didn’t really care. He crossed the room and took the wineglass from her, leading her into the living room, tossing some cushions on the floor and sitting with her in his arms. “I’m sorry, baby.”

She felt good enough against him to make him feel guilty, but he also knew her well enough to realize what she needed from him at that moment, and if he let her go, he wasn’t sure what would happen to her. He touched his lips to her hair, allowed himself to breathe her scent and offered her the only real comfort he could.

Since then, in twelve books, I have only (sort of) killed off five characters. I say “sort of” because, well, two of those were characters you didn’t really know but that affected the heroines’ backstories, and one of them had a twist that’s not revealed yet. As in he died, but… (Read the Synchronicity series if you want to know what I’m talking about!)

But of all the deaths of all my characters, the only one that really surprised me was the death in Weeds and Flowers. I say it surprised me because I knew this character had more to accomplish in the story. Hell, he’s talking in the last chapter of the book! It was only after I wrote his death scene that I realized he was a ghost.

The phone rang at six thirty the next morning. I groaned and rolled over. No fair being woken up so early on a Saturday. I heard David’s voice on the phone, muffled. He talked for several minutes, his voice low and somehow ominous, like the first growls of thunder. I rolled over onto my back. Silence fell, a humid shadow over the house. Then I heard Mom’s voice, a flicker of lightning. With my eyes closed so I couldn’t see the bright sunlight that snuck past my shades, I felt a thunderstorm approaching. Them Mom cried “No!”, the lightning struck and I sat up, wide awake. Something awful had happened.

J.K. Rowling cried when she killed off Snape. Agatha Christie supposedly killed Poirot because she was falling in love with him. Arthur Conan Doyle killed Sherlock Holmes because he was tired of him…and later regretted it. I guess my point—other than trying to entice you to read two of my earliest books—is that with creation comes the ability to destroy. Even if it’s just imaginary people in an imaginary world. It’s thrilling and addicting and devastating at the same time.

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I am a Writer

It’s always interesting to me when people I’ve known for years say, “Oh, you’re a writer?” It’s such an essential part of who I am. But I’m very, very bad at telling people about it, because it’s also a very personal part of who I am. I always sort of hoped that I’d one day have a best-seller and the New York Times would out me, but that doesn’t really seem to be happening, so…

I write romantic fiction of several different genres. I’ve written a coming-of-age romantic mystery (i.e. Weeds and Flowers), contemporary romances (i.e. my Sleight of Hand series) and romantic fantasy (i.e. my Synchronicity series—see below). Three of my books were traditionally published (Secrets of the Lotus and Winter Solstice by Lyrical Press and Where the Heart Lies by Carina Press). I am also the proud author of a book that’s been called “unsettling” and “thought-provoking” (Ducks in a Row).

And there you have it. That’s me. I’ve outed myself. There’s a little bit of me in every book I write. I am a writer.The Synchronicity Series by Michelle Garren Flye-page0001

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Life as a Self Published Writer and the Road Not Taken

Tomorrow morning, Island Magic goes on sale. My tenth book (nine novels and a novella). It seems like a good point in my career to sit down and look at the road I didn’t take for a minute.

I see the roads of Self Publishing and Traditional Publishing like this. Self Publishing is a rural route. Part of it isn’t paved, and part of it is freshly hacked out of the forest undergrowth. It’s windy and long and sometimes difficult to get through, and there are a lot of little side paths you might find yourself on if you’re not careful. Traditional Publishing, however, is a highway. Well-paved, but sometimes jammed up. Littered with rejection letters from editors, publishers and agents. It’s only once in a great while that a writer can make their way through the pack and over the bridge and into the big, golden city named Published. And once you do, you have to go back to the beginning and start all over.

I reached the fork in my road a while back. Traditional publishing had paid off only mildly for me (two ebooks with Lyrical Press and one with Carina Press). I tried self publishing with my book, Weeds and FlowersMH900058885, because I had literally no idea how to sell it. It isn’t literary or genre fiction. It’s fairly intense for young adults, but the main characters are teenagers. I tried to rewrite it as a young adult romance, but that didn’t work. So I self published it, telling myself it wouldn’t hurt anything.

And it didn’t hurt anything. But it opened up a whole new world to me. Suddenly I realized, as a writer, I don’t have to sit in a traffic jam on the Traditional Publishing Highway. I don’t have to spend my precious writing hours anguishing over cover letters and synopses. If I took this exit onto Self Publishing Route, I could spend them writing what I want to write. Books.

I can still see Highway Traditional Publishing. It crosses Route Self Publishing from time to time. I check out the market, consider submitting, wish for a moment that life could be easier, that my books would sell themselves. And then I continue writing. Because that’s what I want to do, and if I have to pull out my machete and hack my own way through the wilderness, so be it.

Island Magic goes on sale tomorrow. Don’t forget to buy your copy of my seventh self-published book.

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Five Days of Free Kindle Books: Weeds and Flowers

I’m giving away one of my books each day of this work week and using the opportunity to spotlight them and give you a little background into why I wrote them on this blog. And to sweeten the deal, I’m offering a $50 gift card for anyone who writes a review of one of my books on Amazon and posts it by August 15. Winner will be chosen by random drawing that evening. All you have to do is drop me an email at michellegflye at gmail dot com to let me know you posted the review. I want your honest take on ANY of my books (including the three published by actual publishers), not just the five I’m offering for free, but if you want a free book, here’s your chance!

Weeds and Flowers coverWeeds and Flowers is the one book I’ve written that I would not classify as a romance. It’s about growing up in a small town and losing faith and finding your first love and lots of other things, but it’s not a romance. It’s a mystery, a coming-of-age story, a story about family and friends. When someone asks me which one of my books they should start with, I usually say this one. Because at its heart, it’s what I’m really about.

Weeds and Flowers is set in a small town and it’s very loosely based on a murder that happened there when I was a girl. That murder changed things in my trusting little town. It happened just a few blocks away to a girl who lived a very similar life to my own with a family and friends who loved her. Although I’ve changed names and circumstances, it was that time period that changed so much in my town that I wrote about.

Here’s a few paragraphs from what might be my favorite of all my novels:

On Friday, I spent the night at Marleen’s. Mom didn’t really like for me to spend the night away from home, so this was a rare treat. “Have her over here,” Mom would always say, never seeming to realize how difficult that was. Mom liked Marleen because Marleen always behaved well in front of parents. “She’s quiet and ladylike,” Mom said. “Maybe some of it will rub off on you.” To which I’d reply that if Mom didn’t want a tomboy for a daughter, she shouldn’t have let my real dad give me a boy’s name.

But even Mom had to admit that if I kept turning Marleen’s invitations around and insisting she sleep over at my house, somebody would get offended. Marleen didn’t mind, but her mother was sort of touchy. Mom said Mrs. Galloway came from the wrong side of the tracks and often thought other people didn’t think she was good enough for them. Besides, I wanted an opportunity to see Kyle up close without seeming too obvious. And Friday should be perfect since Marleen’s parents were going out and leaving Kyle in charge.

“I hope Jeff doesn’t bug us too much,” Marleen said. Her brother Jeff had become a little creepy, in a greasemonkey kind of way. “God, I wish I just had one adorable brother like you do. You know Kyle’s planning to bring his new girlfriend over?”

I shrugged, as if I didn’t care. She knew, of course, but I hated to admit my hopeless crush, even to my best friend.

But Marleen just sighed. “Neither of them has an artistic soul, you know? I mean, all Jeff cares about is cars and all Kyle cares about is girls. There’s so much more to life than that. No one understands me. Well, no one but…”

She broke off, but I suspected I knew who she was talking about. She’d been over to Mrs. Whitford’s garden again, talking to Brian. I didn’t go with her when Brian was in the garden anymore. I wasn’t sure why, but it seemed weird to me that he was so interested in talking to Marleen when he was a good twenty years old than her.

Brian wasn’t in the garden when we got to Marleen’s house, and Kyle wasn’t home yet, so I let Marleen convince me to go to the garden. Most of the roses had withered, and there weren’t so many bugs as during the summer, but the garden still had a creepy feel to it. Marleen and I discussed the school Halloween dance for a while. Who was taking who. Who wasn’t going. Who would probably kiss who. Who would ask us to dance if we decided it was worth our while to go.

The back screen door at the house banged shut and we peered through the thinning bushes to see Brian pulling spades and hoes and shovels out of the storage area in the basement of the old house. He didn’t appear to have seen us, and with difficulty I managed to hold Marleen down. I didn’t want to have to talk to him. She giggled but acquiesced.

We watched as Brian pulled what seemed like every gardening tool he owned out of the storage closet, then seemed to find what he was looking for. He stood, stretched, and turned slowly, his eyes scanning the garden, a trowel in one hand, a bag of bulbs in the other. As we crouched in the garden, the scent of damp earth and rotting plants filling our nostrils, Brian drove the trowel into the ground again and again. I could hear the thud of its blade, the ripping sounds of roots and sometimes a tiny clink as it hit a rock or pebble.

Finally, tired of watching Brian thrusting into the earth, I tugged on Marleen’s shirttail. She shook her head and stayed where she was. I shrugged and headed for the fence, crawling with my head down. I wasn’t able to see Brian or tell for sure if he saw me, but the stabbing noises continued. Only later, when Marleen joined me in her yard did I realize that Brian couldn’t have escaped seeing us from his back porch as he came outside. Somehow realizing he’d known we were there and acted like he hadn’t creeped me out even more.

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Announcing: Five days of free books! Plus, enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

I have now self-published enough full-length novels to fill a work week. To celebrate that accomplishment, I’ve decided to launch a five-day promotion starting on Monday of next week. Five days of free Kindle books! And to sweeten the deal, if you read one of my books and post an honest review of it by August 15, you’ll be entered to win a $50 gift card to Amazon! Here’s the schedule of free books:

Monday: Ducks in a Row
Tuesday: Saturday Love
Wednesday: Close Up Magic
Thursday: Weeds and Flowers
Friday: Tracks in the Sand

Remember, the review should be totally honest. Whether it’s positive or negative—as long as it’s obviously about one of MY books—you’ll still be entered to win the gift card. And each review equals one entry! So if you want to read and review more than one by August 15, please do! I can only offer my self-published ones for free, but if you’d like to purchase and review Where the Heart Lies, Secrets of the Lotus, or Winter Solstice, those count, too!

Here’s how to enter:
1. Download one of my books. See the schedule for free books or purchase and review one of my pro published books.
2. Post an honest review on Amazon about the book.
3. Email me at michellegflye@gmail.com to let me know you posted a review.
4. Winner (selected by random draw) will be announced August 15 6 p.m. Eastern!

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It all began two years ago on a winter afternoon…

Saturday Love Final CoverThis year I will self-publish another book on January 1. I’ve done it for the past two years, and I now think of it as my way of renewing my pledge to keep on keeping on at the writing and publishing thing. But it does have a story…

It was after Christmas, everyone was content, and for once I wasn’t running anywhere or doing anything. That’s when I decided to take the leap into self publishing. I already had two ebooks out (Secrets of the Lotus and Winter Solstice) through Lyrical Press. And I had this third manuscript just kind of hanging out on my computer desktop. (Stephen King calls them “trunk novels”, and the description is pretty apt. Because you don’t know what to do with them, you tuck them away somewhere, but every now and then you open the trunk and have a peek.)

Weeds and Flowers coverThat was how Weeds and Flowers came to be published. Half young adult romance, half coming of age novel, a sprinkling of mystery and a pinch of autobiography, Weeds and Flowers doesn’t fit in any particular genre, but I always knew it was a good story. Even if it is a tough sell. I first published it on New Year’s Day 2012 through Kindle Direct Publishing, although it’s gone through revisions and is now on its third edition (and available in paperback as well as ebook).

Ducks_CoverLast year I found myself in a similar situation. Kids happy, husband happy, everyone content to stay in for an afternoon…and lo and behold, I had another trunk novel just begging to be published. That’s how Ducks in a Row found its way into the published world through the magic of CreateSpace and KDP on New Year’s Day 2013.

This year, I’m doing it again, but I’m doing it on purpose. Saturday Love is the sequel to Ducks in a Row, the story of Will and what happens to him after the events of Ducks. In Saturday Love, you’ll become better acquainted with Will’s loving and lovable family, including his handsome brother Patrick (the one who coins the phrase “Saturday love” to describe the way he feels about his new girlfriend), his younger sister Lisa (who may yet have her own story…) and his beautiful, strong mother Anne, the matriarch of the Hubbard clan. And yes, it’s a romance, so there’s a new lady in Will’s life. You’ll be able to find Saturday Love on Amazon and many other online retailers in paperback and on Amazon for Kindle on January 1, 2014.

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Broadening My Horizons: Preparing for #RWA13

Tomorrow I will step outside my comfort zone and attend #RWA13 (Romance Writers of America 2013 for the uninitiated). It’s a little scary and a lot exhilarating thinking of being surrounded by the amount of talent I know I’ll experience at this meeting. I went to my first one two years ago and loved it, although I had no idea what I was doing. After stumbling through two or three meetings with editors and agents, idiotically blabbing that I don’t like erotica (it’s not my first choice of reading material, but I have since learned to appreciate the art form), and wandering the halls aimlessly in search of the wrong workshops after reading the schedule incorrectly, I think I can safely say I’ve learned a thing or two about RWA meetings.

Five things I’m packing for #RWA13:
1. My ambition. I’ll dust it off first. It gets a lot of use, but in between these meetings, it can be sort of stationary.
2. My guts. I know I’ll need them. Hell, I’m an introvert. This kind of thing is really tough for me.
3. My talent. I do have it. Sometimes I lose it, but I always find it again.
4. My ability to roll with the punches. A no is just a no. It’s not a decree that I should never try again.
5. My determination. I know I haven’t written the Great American Novel and likely never will, but I ain’t gonna quit until I run out of words. And my dictionary is REALLY long.

In addition, I’m taking 52 copies of Close Up Magic, 10 copies of Ducks in a Row, 7 copies of Weeds and Flowers, bookmarks, postcards and stickers. Also, if you see me at #RWA13, ask me about my magic wands. I might just have one to give you!

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