March 2015 Aspiring Author Spotlight- Mrs. Kate Dillon (AAS #15)

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If you want a lady who can do anything and have fun doing it, Kate Dillon is your muse! I first met Kate when I started long-term subbing at FMS a few years ago and she liked me helping out in the afternoons in her gifted classroom.  I have never seen a schedule or variety of subjects taught by one person! Kate is Iron Teacher, Super Mom, and Bat Girl all rolled into one with fiery red hair and a smile that would make the Grimm Reaper see rainbows.  She has such a creative outlook on life, an intellect unmatched, and yet, she does not rub it in others faces like many people would; she truly sees value in all.  This teacher is dedicated to her students and their needs, catering to those that sometimes are forgotten, her patience soaring, and she is always ready to try the next big thing, going to trainings for us.  She has such a fun, upbeat personality, and I wish I knew how she did it! I want to be just like her! She is our library hippie, who has helped our glorious library grow eight days a week, and has been a huge supporter of me, ready to promote my book to the world in as many creative ways as we are capable of.  I feel like I get in her way sometimes! Kate has a heart of gold and I was so thrilled her and Millie Tice (my last month’s aspiring author spotlight), started our NANO Writing Club at school.  Writing: just one more thing Kate excels and dreams of. I am honored beyond belief to introduce my book buddy, nerd companion, kind co-worker, and friend, Mrs. Kate Dillon.

Aspiring Author Spotlight Interview:

  1. When you wake up in the morning, how do you see life?

Through lowly drawn shades after being tackled by a kiddo, or in possible state of panic that I’ve overslept. I don’t set an alarm. I hate morning alarms and the annoying WAAAAAAAAAAAH or BEEP BEEP, so I train myself to just wake up when I need to. Each day is a new beginning that way, starting me out with a positive mood, a new chance to get something done and succeed.

  1. How did writing find its way into your life?

In the first grade I wrote a story about a turkey on a hill and pronounced to everyone in my family that I was going to be a writer when I grew up. I’ve always liked reading and writing best in school. Most recently a couple of teachers and I did a NaNoWriMo with the middle schoolers and it recently has sparked a re-interest in getting a novel finished.

  1. What does writing do for you?

Writing allows me a chance to step out of myself. As a school teacher we live a pretty conservative daily life. Writing allows me more freedom to explore the world beyond the constraints of that of a teacher. Actually, I’m a librarian now. Hmmm. I still forget that sometimes. Regardless, I still consider myself a teacher-librarian and the struggle to balance life and work is REAL. 😉

  1. What sort of genre or type of writing do you do?

It’s hard to define the genre of writing I do. The sample I’ve provided is like a combination of Neil Gaiman Neverwhere/American Gods type writing and Robert Jordan traditional Fantasy combined. It’s got a little bit of a “Greek gods rule modern world Rick Riordan” quality to it with something darker and more serpentine eeking it’s way in as well sometimes. Fantasy-Dystopian-Sci-Fi are my favorite genres and my creative ideas tend to lean towards those genres too.

  1. Do events in your life or people you know affect your writing?

Yes, definitely! My friends are geeks. I’m a geek. I tend to associate with those type people. I also have taught gifted education for a few years, and so the kids witty cynicism has worn off on me too. My relationship with my family and husband and friends don’t directly inspire me for characters for writing because it is so very different than the “real world” but their interests and fantasy ideas are always welcome and I like to bounce ideas off of my husband for plots since he’s also a geeky fantasy-loving type and has good creative ideas. It’s more like our board games and tabletop games and creative worlds influence me through things we discuss and do together than their direct personalities do… if that makes sense!?!

  1. What are you currently working on or what was the last thing you wrote?

I’m working on a book that’s probably going to turn into a series of three books. Book One introduces a team of characters. This series will  be from multiple perspectives, with Lydia being the main hero and focus. In the excerpt I provided, you will see “the ball drop” as Lydia begins her spiral into the fantastical world that exists beyond the curtain of the real world and you will also be introduced to a quirky young Tom Tildrum, who is another team member beginning on a journey that will open up the world and change his life as well. Book One tells the “start” of all the main characters and how they come together as well as an initial struggle that will align their philosophies and ally them together to fight against an evil character trying to upset the balance in the city.  Book Two will begin with higher stakes as the team is introduced to the larger worldly struggle in which Lydia will have to make some tough decisions about her allies, and Book Three will be “the big battle.” Pretty traditional trilogy plot arc., but with a cool spin on it that involves a whole ‘nother world within our world in which people weaving in and out of Time, and a battle waged with the Gods and Time itself as a force tries to commence the End of Days to occur and to have Time unravel.

  1. Can you tell us a little about it and its inspiration?

It’s inspired by my love for Greek mythology and time travel.  Although, it’s not a direct retelling of a Greek myth, it is inspired specifically by one, and I’m not even sure it’s obvious enough for people to know that’s what it’s based on until much much later in the series. I’m hesitant to reveal which one, because I want my readers to find out for themselves. But, like J.K. Rowling, I have lots of symbolism in my chosen character names, fictional locations, etc.

  1. What are your goals for the future?

Personally, I’d like to raise happy, creative, intelligent and healthy kids and live a joyful life with my husband. As a writer, getting my series written and completed before age 40 is a goal.

  1. What are your interests or hobbies?

Board Games. Tabletop games. Improv acting. Reading. Watching entire seasons of shows on Netflix or Hulu while I clean house. Doing stuff with kids to make them happy.

10 If you could be a superhero, what are your powers and how would you use them to help?

Teleportation/Time Travel without a doubt. Those would also give me the benefits of longevity of life and some sort of regenerative properties. Perhaps telekinesis involved there as well. I’d use them to learn everything I could learn and then join up with the other superheroes who battle in the world to promote peace.

11. What advice would you give people who want to write?

Just start something. Maybe try wattpad or NaNoWriMo or join another community of writers to bounce ideas off of and help you stay inspired.

12. If you could be remembered for one thing or thought, what would it be?

Promoting the love of reading and creating in others.

Sample of Work:

The Beginning

It was an unusual summer night. Tonight, when darkness came, the oppressive heat of the day did not lessen with the setting of the sun.  Tonight, soon as a trickle of a warmish breeze began to stir and make one think that a slight reprieve was coming, it would fizzle again into a thick slump.

It was late and they had the diner doors propped open hoping some air would circulate. A girl in cut-off jean shorts and a hot pink tanktop shifted in her stool and the skin of her legs peeled from the red vinyl seat cover. She readjusted her shorts, flipped her hair away from her neck, recrossed her legs and resumed tapping her toe against the top of her flip flop to make it clop against her heel in a rhythmic “twap” to match the beat of the pop song playing on the radio. She watched Him with a curious eye in between texts on her phone and swirls of gum she pulled off her finger and chewed in large smacks.

A wiry older man with tight dark skin and a bristly gray stubble on his face distractedly read the paper. The old man wore dusty black suit pants with his suspenders flipped down around his waist and the sleeves of a sweat stained, once-white, dress shirt rolled up. He dabbed the handkerchief that all men of his age and caliber carry, across his forehead and blew a defeated breath of air out between his lips. He shook his head and mumbled to himself, “Mm-mm-mmm. Don’t that beat all…” Then, he turned the page of his newspaper and as he did he, also, casually glanced over at Him before returning to his reading.

He was a misplaced businessman in full suit and tie. The suit was black with a thin pin stripe with a pale blue silk tie. The suit had a spotless sheen to that exuded luxury. He had a matching pin stripe vest underneath. His legs were crossed under the booth showing a pair of shiny black leather shoes. His attire didn’t fit in with this neighborhood at all.

Downtown St. Louis, in this kind of dive, there were never customers dressed like this. The place had a simple large plywood sign nailed across the top of the small brick building. The owners had painted white with large block letters letters in black that said EAT RITE across the top. The diner was going on fifty years old. It had never been remodeled. It was old enough now that it was actually wrapping around to be a “vintage” diner. It was a skinny place with not a lot of elbow room. The diner had simple white formica countertops with round stools and a few booths in front of the windows and a grill in the back.  It had survived this long because it was one of the only all night places around, and it was right off the main downtown road in a corner spot that everyone could locate.  They served coffee, eggs, bacon, and a few hamburgers. They had soup too, but who’d want soup in this weather?

Something about this guy just didn’t sit right with everyone in the place. The weather didn’t seem to be bothering Him at all despite the thick long sleeved clothing. He wasn’t even sweating. He put people on edge. He hadn’t done anything. Just sat there. He looked around once in a while and looked out the window like he was biding his time waiting for someone. He kept ordering coffee. This was his third cup. Lydia had been counting.

Lydia was actually only fourteen, but but has a fake ID that said she was eighteen. Close to six feet tall with broad shoulders, thick hips, legs and arms, there weren’t many who thought twice about her being eighteen. She had long, flowing curly black hair and a Mediterranean look to her with a strong prominent jaw and nose. Her face was feminine, but not overly girly or what she’d ever considered beautiful. She figured that’s why she could pass for eighteen.

From behind the counter Lydia wiped up errant crumbs with her dish rag.  She threw the rag back in a bucket under the sink and glanced over at at Him. He was motioning her with two fingers. As he did the sleeve of his suit slid down his arm and a large gold watch glinted on his wrist. She came over to Him. He was winding his watch like an old school pocket watch might be wound and studying the top. She peered down at it curiously. As she leaned in over it she could see that it was not a normal watch with hours, minutes and seconds. It was a watch that had gears all over the top and a digital display around the outside that ran like a teleprompter showing times various major cities. London… New York… Beijing… The number of mechanics and functions were entrancing. As she tore her eyes away from the mechanism she saw that he was looking up at her. She looked at his face and into eyes. They were a penetrating pale gray. His face was young with a slightly pixie look of pointed nose and chin. He had a honey brown skin. It was an odd harmony of tones together and made him look quite striking. In those light eyes, she looked a little deeper and in them it seemed as if there were stars rotating, perhaps whole galaxies inside his eyes. She was drawn into that pale gray sky with tiny white rotating pieces in the iris. She realized someone had been calling her name  Oh! I’ve been staring directly at him. And I haven’t said a word.

He grinned at her and said, “Hellooo.. um, miss?”

He glanced at her black name tag pinned to the Easter pink short-sleeve button up shirt all the waitresses wore. “Ahh- Miss Lydia?” He inquired a little louder and smiled kindly at her.

She looked down at her feet. Her arm must have gone slack somewhere in her reverie. She had been spilling coffee from the coffee pot and it had been leaking in a thin stream spraying onto the toe of his expensive leather shoes, then dripping into a puddle on the floor in front of her. He hadn’t moved his foot.

“Oh my! I- I’m sorry! I’ll be right back! Sorry sir!”

Lydia rushed off  with her half empty coffee pot to get towels to wipe up the mess. She was so embarrassed. What a klutz I must look like to everyone in the diner. What a- a- I don’t even know what! A loser.  I don’t know what’s came over me. I’m not like that.  I bet everyone is watching me.  

She glanced nervously to the other customers. To her relief, no one seemed to notice anything amiss at all. The old man hadn’t even looked up from his paper, and the girl was staring off out the window. Even the cook, Wally, who always was teasing her about things, was at the grill still flipping burgers. His was back turned to her. He was listening to his own music with headphones on, rhythmically cooking and flipping to his own beat.

Her ballet flats tip-tip-tipped across the floor as she tried to daintily hurry her now half empty coffee pot back to the counter, and return to His table unobtrusively as possible. But dainty wasn’t exactly her thing. She didn’t hide well being an athletically built, tall girl. She just wanted this moment to be over. She felt as His eyes burning into the back of her skull as she turned put the old pot on the brewing station and switch the to the fresh one from the warmer. She walked back swiftly mopped up the mess with a towel and poured Him a cup of coffee.  She felt awkward as she watched the steam swirled from the white ceramic mug of coffee she had just poured. He consulted his watch again and distractedly told her thank you. She hesitated for a moment and then remembered her role.

Lydia pulled a notebook and pen from her apron. “No problem sir, and sorry again. Honestly, I….” She trailed off as he continued to look down at his watch without really acknowledging her and decided best just to stop. She took a breath and said, “Is there anything else I can get for you?” She stared down at her notepad.

He consulted his watch once more watching the second hand hit the twelve then,nodded once in affirmation, looked up and replied with a warm smile, “No, I’m fine. It’s nothing, Lydia. Do not be concerned.”

Lydia looked up from her notepad and smiled back sheepishly. She tried to avoid eye contact again and just looked at his mouth to avoid distraction. Try as she might to avoid it, Lydia’s focus strayed and she noticed He had those little crows feet at the corner of his eyes that people who smile frequently get. He blinked. Something funny began to happen with his eyes. He was staring at her. His pupils began to get larger and the blackness extended from the pupil outwards until his entire eye was black. Lydia couldn’t look away. Her feet felt thick- as if she was sinking into the linoleum. Her throat caught. She sucked in air and couldn’t seem to remember how to stop and release her lungs to catch a breath.  All sound flattened into a staticy thrum. She felt like her very soul was being pulled into his eyes. Her vision blurred and all went black around her.

***************

Tom Tildrum

“Oh sheeee—”

WHAM!

Tom Tildrum’s cursing came to an abrupt halt as he rounded the corner and slid directly into the side of a dumpster in a greasy back alley in London. He heaved himself over the side of the dumpster and closed back the lid.

He hollered, “Oi! I went ahead and dumped myself in!”

Feeling a bit more brave from inside where they couldn’t get at him, he added,

“You buncha chavs!”

From inside the trash bin, he heard muffled laughter in the alley. He wriggled and brushed off his neck as he felt something crawling on him. He left toe was already seeping wet goo into his shoe. He scooted himself up a little higher on top of the stuff he’d sank down into. No reason to get too icky. If I can just perch here on top of this garbage bag for a while, then-

BAM BAM BAM! The boys wore track suits, gold chains around their necks, and bright white tennis shoes. They began repeatedly kicking a ball at the dumpster.

“Nice one Walter!”

“Go-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-1” whooped one of the boys.

Tom heard another loud TWANG from a bit aways away and a deep voice yell, “Hey you tossers! Get outta here! Go on, get!”

“It’s a free country you wank-” was all that one of the boys got out before, best Tom could guess, the boy was thrown against the side of the dumpster, because the next thing Tom heard was a loud “THUMP” right next to his shoulder and the dumpster was scooted a few inches back and dented in a bit.

What followed was a few choice curses, some shuffling, scuffling, “oofs” and “uffs” and the beating of feet on pavement getting quieter and quieter. Tom waited a good thirty-seven seconds after it got totally quiet (he counted, not wanting to rush things) before he opened the lid and scooted himself out. He had a bit of something brownish and icky on the toe of his left shoe that had seeped through his sneaker into his sock and felt wet. The knees of his pants were wet as well and he had coffee grains and cigarette ashes all over his black hooded sweatshirt and faded black jeans. Could have been worse, had been worse before. I’d call this a win, Tom mused.

He heard a soft movement behind him and spun around. Tom saw an intimidatingly large-sized man with a barrel chest, huge, round belly and black, fuzzy beard stood by a door with his legs part and his hands crossed over his chest. He raised his eyebrows as if to say, “And?”

“Oh Jesus!” Tom said.  “I mean, hello, sir! Yes, umm…”

Tom started to back away from him.  “Well best be—”

“Oh no you don’t! You stay right there,” the man said. Before Tom could cut and run, he pulled Tom back by the hood of his coat and had Tom held tight with great big mitts of hands enveloping the whole of his shoulders.

Tom craned his neck to look over his shoulders up to the man said, “Whoa man! That was fast! I’d have never thought a big ol’, well, I guess I should have thought, by the amount of whamming and cursing and banging coming from outside the bin… Yes, indeed, I should have thought—”

He blundered on; his mouth moving with nothing of substance coming out. He always did that when he was nervous. Couldn’t help but say something.

The man threw back his head and laughed with a boisterous, hearty deep laugh that moved his belly and the long tufts of beard near his jaw fluffed up and down as his mouth moved.  Tom stopped flubbering on and observed the man instead.

Awaiting his doom, Tom wondered which was worse, spending every afternoon playing chase with the bully boys in an agonizing pre-teen life of “pick on the little guy” or a quick death by the hands of Andre the Giant’s brother here. The man’s hands were heavy and warm on his shoulders. He looked possibly bi-racial, with light brown skin and long tightly curled black hair pulled back into a ponytail. He had on a gray t-shirt and apron tied at his waist.  His shirt said, “Bud’s Suds” on it and his black pants were covered in white fuzz balls of some kind of hair.

The man looked back down at Tom. Tom grinned up at him with his widest grin. Tom was missing a front tooth that he’d lost in a previous battle with those boys.  If only Tom could see what the man saw as he looked down on him.

Tom was a painfully small boy. Scrawny with stained, oversized old clothes with rips and holes.  He had a mass of loose red and blonde curls that hung just past his ears, with one curl that had currently fallen across his face. He had a scrape on his chin, and a smudge of something here and there on his forehead and his freckly nose. With that overly obnoxious grin, and his notoriously scrappy attitude the man had seen from afar from Tom in days past on the streets, the man couldn’t help but pity him.

The man put on his best fake gruff voice and said “Yah shouldn’t be scrappin’ with those hoodlums. C’mon boy. This a-way.”  He steered Tom by the shoulders toward the back door.

As Tom walked in he saw mounds of different furs on a bright yellow tiled floor and large stainless steel equipment including big sinks with metal arms and hoses hanging down from the

Blrpeoek ceiling. The reminded Tom of the car washes you’d see fancy cars go into to get washed automatically, except clearly they were for animals.

“Hey Bud! Brought in a stray I see!” snickered a tall thin boy with shaggy brown hair who was currently sudsing off a white miniature poodle.

Bud was, Tom assumed, the big man steering him by the shoulders toward a small room beyond the doggy shampooing station.

“Sommat,” Bud replied. “He nearly got turned into a dog’s dinner by them boys and was lucky I happened to step out for some air at the time I did, wasn’t ya boy?”

“Nah, I’d of had ‘em in the end. See my plan was that I’d-” Tom stopped as the man’s grip tightened painfully on his shoulders. He retracted his statement.

“I mean, yessum sir.”

“Atta boy.”

“Thank you sir.”

Bud flipped on the light as they entered a small office. It had a desk and rolly chair and an additional plastic seat in the corner to which he steered Tom. Tom sat down. The man sat down in the big office chair and the chair creaked in protest beneath him. He opened a desk drawer and pulled out a small dust pan and hand broom and began sweeping random stray fur from his shoulders, chest and legs.

“Annie, bring me the dust vac when you get a chance please,” he bellowed through the door.

“You know sir-”

“Hush, boy. Quiet’s not a bad thing.”

“Yessir.”

Tom fiddled with the duct tape circled around his shoe that kept the sole from flapping as he walked. It was getting dark outside, he was sure. Near time to be back. He felt a twinge of hunger escape in a small growl as he thought about his next meal possibilities.

“You know sir-” Tom began. The man cleared his throat as Tom spoke and gave Tom a look. While staring down Tom, he hollered, “Carl, order us a dozen pizzas from Gus will ya?”

“You bet Bud!” someone who must be Carl replied back.

Tom salivated and watched quietly biting on his lip as Bud continued to methodically “swiff-swiff-swiff” off his clothing.

Tom tucked his legs up into his chair and sat with his elbows on his knees looking around at the other things in the cramped but homey little office. The walls were decorated with a cream colored fabric wallpaper with thick vertical hunter green stripes. In between the stripes there were designs of pink and yellow cabbage flowers curling around vines on the cream backdrop. There was also a wallpaper border at the chair rail with a repeated design of kittens playing in potted plants next to a water can.  Bud also had a large intricate grandfather clock on one wall that appeared not to be working as it showed 9:00, and it certainly wasn’t that late yet. The clock made a ticking sound but it did not move minutes. He also had several pictures. One of a small group people together in a pub with their arms over each other’s shoulders. They appeared to be toasting to something. Bud looked quite a bit younger in that picture and a good one hundred pounds or so lighter too. Another shot was an old stained photo of a young woman with golden blonde hair, in a short blue dress, with a gray peacoat, standing in front Big Ben pointing up at it like a tour guide.

“ Here dear, I’ll just sweep up for ya,” replied a young woman with a thick accent, a round face tightly curled brown hair and glasses. She wore a pale yellow dress with lace on the ends of the short sleeves and at the collar.  It came down to her shins and reminded Tom of a little girl’s doll. It was fluffy at the bottom and swished when she walked. She was pudgy around the middle and wore a full apron over the front of it.

She pushed up her glasses and said, “Hry young lad.  And who might ya be?”

Tom began to reply and then closed his mouth and smirked. Annie glanced at Bud, who shrugged.  Tom and raised an eyebrow.

“Not speakin’ are we?” She stooped down and waited for a reply from Tom. “Aww, as you wish then. I can do enough talkin’ for the both of us. I’m Annie. Bud here’s the owner of this nice little groomin’ shoppe. He’s been my boss now for seven years here.”

She smiled fondly at Bud. Her comment about doing enough talking almost had Tom open up, as he was rarely out done when it came to sheer number of words expounded, but he remembered the honery behavior he was trying to show out and closed his mouth.

“Bud’s a gruff lookin’ guy, but he’s all mush ‘n sweetness,” she said.  “At least to me he is. He can get tough when he wants, but I have the sneakin’ feelin’ that he’d rather just be left alone with his critters if the world would let him.” She zipped around Bud turning on a small battery operated vacuum and sucked up little hairy fluffs that had been removed from Bud’s clothing on the floor. She hastened a few zips across his shoulder here and there too.

Bud winked at her and said, “Don’t spoil me, Annie. I can do it myself.”

“Aww nonsense,” she said and swept up the last of the fur. She hummed quietly as she walked back out of the room. Tom heard the bell on the front door jingle. He could hear bits of her exchange with the customer consisting of the scheduling of a future appointment mixed with fake high pitched questions like “Aintcha a cute little fluffikens?” that Tom assumed could only be meant for a pet.  He tuned out and returned his attention to Bud.

Bud was hanging his apron on a coat rack in the corner. He pulled an old pocketwatch out of his dress pants and glanced at it. He tutted and sighed blowing air out his lips making them flibber. He stared off at the picture of the group of people at the pub hanging on the wall and then absently reached over to straighten it slightly and wipe a little dust from the frame. Then he looked over at Tom and smiled kindly.

“Okay boy,” said Bud. “You want some pizza?”

“Oh, you bet!” Tom said grinning.

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Aspiring Author Spotlight Bio:

I’m 33. My favorite author is Raymond E. Feist, who wrote the Magician series. I’m married to a wonderful guy. I have 3 kids. A 13 year old girl, a 4 year old boy and a 2 year old girl. I teach at Farmington Middle School. I am the librarian there. This is my first year in the library, but I’ve been teaching for ten years previously. I have taught 3rd grade, and elementary and secondary gifted students, as well as Middle School ELA.

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