Hello, my name is Dionne Galace. In my life, I’ve only really loved 3 things: beautiful men, books, and movies featuring beautiful men; a grand soundtrack with a constantly surprising refrain; and happily-ever-afters (that don’t star Sandra Bullock or Drew Barrymore). Okay, the happily-ever-after is not always required. I also like splatter films, the gorier the better. Anyway, when I was a little kid, I used to spend all of my time reading comic books, my mom’s romance novels, anything I could get my hands on. I used to hide from my mother cause I would read so much, I’d neglect my chores (once she boxed up all of my Fear Street books and took them them to Goodwill. I haven’t quite forgiven her for it). When I was about nine, I made a decision: when I grow up, I’m going to be a romance author like Nora Roberts. And now… I am. Okay, not quite Nora Roberts. If she were the Meryl Streep of romance novels, I’m like… one of those kids from Laguna Beach. But I’ll get there. Hopefully.
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I collected pens, pencils, and notebooks and stockpiled them in a corner because I was always afraid I wouldn’t have anything to write on and to write with when the Big Idea came along. I was petrified of it. To this day, I can’t go to the store and walk by the stationery aisle without picking up a composition book and a packet of pens. It used to freak my mom out. She said my room was a fire hazard because I had boxes and boxes of blank composition books and old Sidney Sheldon novels. I was compelled to collect them (the composition books, not Sidney Sheldon — though those, too). Nay, I hoarded them. For me, there’s no smell quite like a new composition book that’s fresh, clean, and hasn’t been written on. It’s a beginning! It’s a world of possibilities! Anything can happen on those pages! But there’s nothing quite as scary, either. Luckily, I’m always writing. Remember that movie SE7EN? It’s a movie I watch when it’s raining outside and I’m feeling a little blue and gorging myself on a gallon of Rocky Road… but I digress. There was a scene in that movie where Detectives Mills (Brad Pitt) and Somerset (Morgan Freeman) bust into the killer’s apartment and find hundreds and hundreds of composition books with no dates or any semblance of organization to its contents. Every single page of every single book was filled of the crazy ramblings of the killer and neither Mills nor Somerset could make sense of any of them. It amuses me to no end to think that eighty years from now, a bunch of cops will burst into my rent-controlled apartment — the neighbors called them complaining of the smell — and find hundreds and hundreds of composition books filled with my crazy ramblings and me, right in the middle of it, dead and being devoured by my thirteen cats.
… Cats! Every writer I know has a cat. Why is that? Is it because they’re solitary animals by nature and incidentally, so are writers? The writers I know post pictures of their cats all over the place. One particular writer buddy has a cat that perches on her shoulder and watches while she types. I find this very odd. Hey, and you know who you are, what the hell kind of cat do you have and how heavy is it? Even if the little fucker is only five pounds, that could get heavy after about… five minutes. And what’s it using to hold on to your shoulder? Claws. Not cool. Some of my writer friends have blogs about their cats. Some of my writer friends have blogs written from the point of view of the cat. That’s just… that’s just crazy. Maybe writers are, like… the new sorcerers and cats are their familiars. Pfft. I had to stop and laugh for a little bit after I typed that. Like people don’t already think writers are complete wackjobs. Me, I don’t have a cat. I’m a little absent-minded sometimes and I’m afraid I might forget it to feed it… or completely forget I even have one. Once, Tim got me a beta fish as a “trial” pet and I completely forgot all about it and when I remembered it two weeks later, it was floating in the tank and it was all moldy and gross. Poor fish. I can’t keep a plant alive, either. Sometimes, I think I’m a little too self-absorbed to have a pet.
No, when I’m writing, I completely shut out the rest of the world. I call it “the zone”. I’m sure you guys call it that, too. The zone is a place you could go where nothing else matters except transcribing your thoughts to your computer and getting the words on the blank page. You’re not even really thinking. Your fingers are typing like crazy and you’re typing and you’re typing and before you know it, you have forty-five thousand words and your fish is dead and you haven’t showered in a couple of days and when you get up to get something to eat, you pass out because you have zero energy because you haven’t eaten in… like… forty-eight hours. Your hair is a mess, your face feels like a vat of cooking oil, you smell a little funky, your breath could knock out a ninja, and your teeth are a little furry, but damn it, there’s forty-five thousand words on the document in front of you. Hooray!
When I sold my first short story (that would be Skin to Skin, 15000 words to Samhain), I didn’t want to tell a soul. I couldn’t. It was something I wanted to keep to myself for a while. I wanted to savor it. I wanted to wrap it around myself and roll around in bed with it. I sat down in front of a mirror in my underwear and watched my mouth move as I repeatedly said to myself, “I just sold my first short story. I am officially an author.” I think I did this for an hour. No, that can’t be right. I got the email from Sasha Knight fifteen minutes before I had to leave for school and spent the first five minutes jumping up and down and shrieking. Then I IM’d my BFF Syd and we shrieked and giggled about it on Yahoo Messenger for about five minutes, then I called Tim on my way to school and blew out his eardrums. As soon as I got to school, I told everyone who would listen. And then I felt like an asshole. A braggart douchebag. I felt this way for about ten seconds, then thought, “Fuck you guys, I’m published! Woo-hoo!” I had a midterm that day and hadn’t studied as much as I should have and was pretty sure I flunked it (Yes, I did), but I couldn’t even care! I WAS A PUBLISHED AUTHOR! And then I called my mom and the first thing she said was “How much?” Oh, wacky Asian mothers! As soon as I got home, I sent a mass email to my buddies (namely: Jane, Sybil, Mick, Candy, Lili, Karen, and Mrs. Giggles). I couldn’t keep it to myself. I couldn’t be like The Fonz about it. I had to tell the world.
It was the first time in my entire life that I didn’t feel like a total slacker. I had never won anything before. I imagined some beleaguered editorial assistant going through the slush pile who was ready to slit her own throat, when she picked up my manuscript, thought it was the most brilliant thing she had ever read, and practically tripped all over her own feet trying to get it to the acquisitions editor. But that’s not how it happened, either. I sent the submission directly to an editor — it was an open call for a summer-themed anthology — who just happened to think that Skin to Skin was pretty kickass (thanks, Sasha!). Anyway, that was the beginning of my transformation from Dionne Galace: Aspring Author to Dionne Galace: Published Author — which, I have to tell you, is pretty damned cool. Months before that, I didn’t think I was ever going to write again. I didn’t want to.
The Tragedy of Close to You I thought it was a sure thing. I thought it was brilliant. It was my baby, the first thing I had ever finished. I submitted and it was… rejected. Killed. It was dead in the water. I thought it was going to be a sure-fire hit. There was plenty of sex in it, paranormal elements, some anal play — sure thing, right? No. I was so busy trying to write like everyone else, trying to make it sound like everybody else’s books, that it had no heart, no spirit. But I didn’t want to acknowledge this at first. I was pissed at the editor who turned it down, I was pissed at her publishing house, I was bitter and mean and cranky. Oh, man, it was a dark period. I never wanted to write anything ever again. Months later, when I was able to look at CTY again, I realized something: it was terrible. It was slap-dash and barely held together. It was a mish-mash of the worst paranormal cliches, the heroine was a total idiot, and the hero… was kind of gay and not in a sexy way (not that there’s anything wrong with that… but he was supposed to be in love with the heroine, not making eyes at his best friend). I couldn’t believe I wrote it. I was disgusted with myself. No, really, I’m not just being hard on myself. It was a piece of crap. You know what got me writing again? Bradbury. From Zen in the Art of Writing:
If you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer. It means you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being yourself. You don’t even know yourself. For the first thing a writer should be is — excited. He should be a thing of fevers and enthusiasms. Without such vigor, he might as well be out picking peaches or digging ditches; God knows it’d be better for his health.
I read Zen from cover to cover a few times. I read On Writing by Stephen King, too. I paid closer attention to what my workshop groups and professors had to say. And then I did something I never thought I would… I turned to a friend and asked her to be my crit partner (she knows who she is). I was reluctant to do this at first because I thought I would get pissed at her if she told me my writing was bad. No, I didn’t want her to blow smoke up my ass and tell me my work was brilliant when it wasn’t even good enough to wipe her conch with. I was ready to have someone else look at my work and tell me, “dude, this is a piece of crap. Seriously. What were you smoking?” She saved my butt, man. She took Skin to Skin, looked over it with those hawk-eyes of hers, and told me when something worked and when it didn’t. And that’s why I owe her my first child. Mad love for you, Shuzluva.
Damn, I am babbling again, aren’t I? I really gotta curb that. Anyway, check out my left sidebar. Pretty cool, huh? If you’re interested in reading more of my work, that’s where you’ll find it. Let me tell you about some of the stuff on there, though it’s probably pretty self-explanatory. Dead World is something I’m particularly proud of. I developed it in my sci-fi class and it got an A+ (and yo, my prof was a mean, crotchety, nitpicky dude). It’s a post-apocalyptic zombie survival fantasy AND a love triangle! Oooh… It’s a world I’m considering exploring in length one of these days, though it’s pretty damn bleak. One Night Stand is about a beautiful, up-and-coming attorney who develops a way to get rid of pesky… um… one-night-stands. And then there’s the longer stuff I’m working on. Oh, that reminds me, I’m working on an urban fantasy series right now — I know, I know, everyone and their sisters have one right now — but I think you guys are really going to like this one. It’s ’bout this girl and… ah, already, I’m telling you too much. All you guys should know is it’s frickin’ wonderful and it’s gonna blow you guys out of the water!
And that’s it! Peace out!
Love, peace, and snarkage,