Treasure in the Corn Field: Chapter 8

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Happy New Year! The newest installment of Treasure in the Corn Field is here. I hope you enjoy!

Need to catch up? Chapter 1 is here.


The last thing Ellie wanted to do was go to work, but she dragged herself from bed and made it to the store with one minute to spare. How she could be even more exhausted than before after a full night of sleep, she had no idea, but she didn’t like it. The day was bright and beautiful. It felt like a personal affront to Ellie’s tired eyes. The only sign a storm had passed through was crystal clear air, small rivulets of water, and the smell of wet earth.

A small queue of various folks crowded around the door to the store, and Ellie had to push her way through to unlock the door. It was unusual for her to get here right on time. She usually opened about half an hour early, and the early birds were annoyed that they didn’t have their usual access to the store.

Ellie didn’t much care. She was too worn out. But it was a different kind of worn out than before. The kind that comes with emerging from a too-long slumber, and having to expend energy to move around again.

She sold milk, gum, cigarettes, and beer to grumbling, grumpy customers, and then the store was empty again. She wished she’d remembered to bring the cipher book Rory had given her. It would have passed the time nicely, figuring out the codes, deciphering the hidden messages.

As it was, she passed the time by shoving more bags of chips onto already full shelves and sweeping the clean floor over and over.

Mid morning, the door chimed. A man with shaggy, black, shoulder-length hair wearing an expensive-looking black trench coat walked in. Under the coat was a neatly pressed suit, also black. Dark sunglasses hid his eyes, but Ellie was impressed with his overall aesthetic. She idly wondered what he’d look like without those sunglasses on. He must be passing through from one big city to another, because Ellie didn’t recognize him.

“Morning. Let me know if you need any help,” Ellie said before returning to her sweeping.

Good morning, Eleanor.

Ellie froze with her hands around the broomstick. She couldn’t look at him. No wonder he was wearing sunglasses inside. If he tipped them down his nose, Ellie was sure she’d see glowing red eyes.

Her mind raced. He was here. He was here.

Why was he here? How was he here?

Last she saw Bartholomew, he was a hulking creature. He must have shape-shifting abilities or something, for him to be here in broad daylight, looking positively human.

Ellie finally turned to look at him. Although his eyes were concealed, they pierced right through Ellie. Her heart skipped a beat. She found her courage.

“Ellie.”

I beg your pardon?

“My name isn’t Eleanor. It’s Ellie. It’s always just been Ellie.”

Who… names their child Ellie?

“Good parents, that’s who.”

He ducked his head, appearing chastened. He picked up a bag of chips. His long, thin fingers ended in sharp, pointed nails. Careful not to pierce the bag, he gently set it back on the shelf. His nose wrinkled.

I can’t believe you people eat this garbage.

“It’s delicious,” Ellie said, suppressing a wicked grin. Now that she was over her shock at seeing him here, Bartholomew didn’t seem so scary inside the store. This was her domain, and she felt unafraid amidst the familiarity. Perhaps it was false bravado, but she decided to have some fun with him, anyway.

She grabbed a bag off the shelf and opened it. The scent of cool ranch Doritos hung in the air between them. Bartholomew looked like he was going to retch. Ellie reached into the bag and drew out one of the chips. She held it out to Bartholomew, who took a step back. Ellie placed it on her tongue and chewed slowly, watching his sickened expression.

Disgusting.

“Try it. You might like it.”

Absolutely not.

“Suit yourself.” Ellie stepped around him, blowing some Dorito breath at him. He recoiled, but she didn’t stop moving. She wended her way through the aisles and behind the counter. Putting space between them helped her regain some focus.

Silence descended, but Ellie was no stranger to long pauses. Bartholomew watched her eat the chips, also at home in the silence. The attention made Ellie’s toes curl with discomfort, but she tried hard not to let it show. When she was done with the bag, she rang herself up and dropped exact change into the register.

“Why are you here?” Ellie finally asked.

I wanted to see where you worked. It’s…

Bartholomew looked around the store, searching for the right words. He shrugged instead.

“I know. Well, you came, you saw, you can leave.”

Do you wish me to go?

Ellie opened her mouth to spit out a “yes,” but the word wouldn’t form on her lips. She did want him to go, right?

This was ridiculous. He was a cryptid who lived in a corn field. He was going to stop her friends from helping her keep her promise to Harmon. She had no reason to want him here.

And yet, when it really came down to answering his question, she didn’t want him to go. He was an intriguing unknown in the mundanity of her life. And he’d known Harmon. She shook her head slowly, half to herself, half for Bartholomew’s sake.

The door dinged and Robbie walked in. He glanced at Bartholomew and nodded, before greeting Ellie.

“El Bell! I hope you’re okay with dancing with me,” Robbie said. “I didn’t mean to push you into anything.”

“No yeah, it’s fine,” Ellie said. She suspected Adrianna finally had that chat with Robbie about respecting people’s boundaries and asking for permission. Ellie didn’t think Robbie had a self-reflective bone in his body, and certainly wouldn’t be here otherwise. He’d always been a creature of the present, and unless he had changed a lot, he chose action over thought, every time.

“It’s good to be home,” Robbie said. “It’s been nice reconnecting with everyone.”

Ellie laughed. “You’ve been home for two days.”

“Yeah, but it’s been great.”

Ellie shrugged and smiled. She didn’t know how much catching up someone could do in two days when they’d missed six years of events, but she kept her mouth shut. She was painfully aware of Bartholomew lurking behind Robbie. Somehow, Robbie remained oblivious to the electricity in the air.

“You need anything?” Ellie asked.

“Yeah. Three lottery tickets, please,” Robbie said.

Ellie turned around to grab the tickets from the wall behind the counter. When she turned back, the bell over the door dinged, and Bartholomew was gone. She felt a pang of regret, but she supposed if she were him, she wouldn’t want to stick around for Robbie’s riveting conversation either.

Robbie held his hand out with a grin on his face. She tried to give him the tickets without touching him, but Robbie grabbed her hand as well as the tickets.

“I’ve missed you, El Bell.”

“You coulda called. My number’s still the same.”

Robbie let her hand go. Ellie shoved it into her pocket, her shoulders raised up toward her ears. She gently bounced the tip of her right foot on the counter in front of her.

“Victoria…” Robbie started.

“Ah yes, the famous girlfriend.” Ellie tried to keep the bitterness from her voice, but she must not have been successful because Robbie’s face fell.

“If there’s one thing I regret in my life, it was leaving you like I did.”

“Robbie…”

“No, I need to say this.” Robbie ran his hand through his hair, steeling himself. “I was half in love with you when I left.”

“Only half?” Ellie’s attempt at a joke fell flat in the tension. Robbie didn’t even crack a small smile.

“I was just so afraid of being stuck here forever and never getting to see the world. I didn’t think I wanted that, so I ran away. I was a coward. And now that I’m home, I see how wrong I was. I’ve missed Linewood more than I knew. I’m sorry, Ellie.”

“This is ancient history, Robbie,” Ellie said gently. “I forgave you a long time ago. We were just kids.”

“We’re not kids now,” Robbie said. “Give me another chance?”

Ellie stared at him. His face was the same face she’d always known, but older, different. His expression was open and honest, and yet Ellie still couldn’t bring herself to say yes.

She remembered their relationship with fondness, when she thought of it at all. But his complete confidence that she would remain available to him after all these years was off-putting. Adrianna was sure to have filled him in on her lack of dating prospects, but that didn’t mean she would take him back with no consideration. They needed time to get to know each other again. His pushiness bothered her.

“Just think about it,” Robbie said when Ellie’s answer wasn’t forthcoming. He tapped his lottery tickets on the counter, ducked his head, and was out the door before Ellie could grab even one thread of thought.

Her phone dinged with a text a few minutes later.

Robbie: Meet me by the creek after work? Our usual place.

She stared at the text for a few minutes, trying to work out what to say. They’d spent hours together down by the creek when they were dating. They’d eat picnics on the banks and splash around in the shallow water. She hadn’t spent any time down there since he’d left, but the place held good memories.

Her phone dinged again.

Robbie: I’m not going to railroad you into anything. Just want to go for a walk and catch up.

Ellie: Ok.


Chapter 7

Year in Review: 2019

We’re at the end of a decade, at the end of another year. It’s amazing how time marches on whether we want it to or not.

One of the only things that is guaranteed in life is change, and hooboy has there been an incredible amount of change in my life recently, and over the last 10 years.

I’m not going to go through a litany of my accomplishments, but I will just say that I’m not the person I was in 2010. I’ve learned from wonderful experiences and my fair share of mistakes. I’ve met amazing new people and left abusive and toxic relationships in the past.

I think that’s all any of us can really hope for. A constant striving towards something better.

2019 was the first year I ever chose a focus word for myself for the year. I chose “belonging” but I’d forgotten my word until a couple days ago. Even though I’d forgotten, my subconscious kept working on it, and I’ve spent the year deliberately building community and finding where I fit in.

2020’s word is “purpose.” I’ve spent years learning what I don’t like doing, and it’s finally time to figure out what I do like doing. I left my PhD program at the end of this past semester and was offered a job almost right away in the town I’m living in in the Mid-West. I know it’s not my dream job, but it’ll pay the bills while I explore other options and find my calling.

For the first time in my life, I’m excited for the future and what it will hold for me. I’ve been watching a lot of Star Wars recently, and one of the themes of those movies is “you create who you are,” and that has given me a lot of hope. I’ve spent so long wishing someone would just come tell me what to do, but that’s not how life works. It’s exhilarating to realize that I’m in the driver’s seat and can choose my own future.

My wish for you, in this coming year, is to strive for something more, to find joy in your life, and to never stop dreaming.

Treasure in the Corn Field: Chapter 7

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I hope you enjoy the next installment of Treasure in the Corn Field! Need to catch up? Chapter 1 is here.


Rory’s silver truck roared up the driveway, dust rising in its wake, the windshield gleaming like a beacon in the setting sun. Ellie watched the truck get closer from Harmon’s favorite rocking chair on the porch.

Ellie hadn’t set foot inside the house since Harmon died. Not that she hadn’t tried. She’d put her hand on the doorknob so many times she’d lost count, but she couldn’t make herself go inside and see all the physical reminders of him. Maybe tomorrow. Or the next day. Definitely sometime before Adam got there.

The truck stopped a couple feet from the porch. Ellie stood and shaded her eyes against the glare on the windshield.

Adrianna hopped down from the truck and pulled the seat forward. Robbie emerged from the backseat. Rory shot Ellie an apologetic grimace, but said nothing. Ellie’s stomach knotted up. She felt like she was going to throw up.

Not only did Bartholomew not want her best friends to find the treasure with her, the Weird-ass Corn Monster was sure to have issue with Robbie being there too.

Ellie wished she knew how to get them all to hop back into the truck and drive back to town, but she couldn’t say anything without seeming suspicious. Rory would think that she already found the treasure, and Adrianna would be hurt that her help was no longer needed. And Robbie… well, Ellie didn’t actually care about what he thought about this particular topic.

Robbie was wearing work boots and dark blue jeans, a ratty college sweatshirt, and a John Deere cap over his close-cropped hair. His father probably shaved it yesterday sometime after Ellie saw him. He was every bit the country boy who left home six years ago, and Ellie’s stomach still did little flips when she looked at him for too long.

“Hey, everyone.” Ellie descended the steps and stood next to Rory. Rory put her arm around her and squeezed.

“Hey, El Bell,” Robbie said. He winked and grinned, obviously pleased with the surprise that he’d tagged along. Of course he wouldn’t even have considered that maybe Ellie didn’t want him to horn in.

“Ma isn’t doing too well tonight,” Adrianna said. “Lots of pain.”

Ellie opened her mouth to sympathize and ask if there was anything she could do, but Robbie spoke before she could.

“Yeah,” he said, “so I figured I’d come out here with you guys and give Ma and Pop some space.”

Rory tensed beside Ellie. Ellie wasn’t sure what was going on, but she’d get to the bottom of it later. For now, it seemed that she had some interference to run between her friends and Robbie, and it would double as a reason to get them off the farm and away from Bartholomew.

“Ya know… I forgot to eat before I came out here,” Ellie said. Adrianna groaned and crossed her arms. “I know, I know. Hangry Ellie is Terrible Ellie. I was just… not thinking…”

It was true that she hadn’t eaten yet, and no one had to know she had a nice sandwich packed in the backpack strapped to her bike. On cue, her stomach rumbled loud enough for everyone to hear.

“Alright, let’s go back to town,” Rory said, her voice tight with annoyance. Ellie knew she wouldn’t stay irritated for long, though, especially once she had some food in front of her too. They all piled back into the truck, Adrianna and Robbie in the back, Rory and Ellie up front.

“Did you all eat?” Ellie asked.

“I had a sandwich before we came,” Robbie said, “but I could still eat.”

“Of course you can.” Adrianna laughed. “When will your metabolism finally slow down?”

“Never, I hope,” Robbie said.

“Well, I for one, am excited for the greasiest cheeseburger on the planet,” Rory said. Her eyes never left the road, but she tilted her head slightly in Ellie’s direction. “And we have to get Ellie fed before she turns into a gremlin.”

Ellie watched the fields roll past as they sped toward Carter’s. Pig-ham-pig neon lights greeted them as Rory pulled the truck into the lot. Dark storm clouds gathered in the distance, and the wind picked up, whipping Ellie’s hair around her face. If the rain came fast enough, it would be a good excuse to keep her friends out of the fields after dinner. For tonight, at least. And Ellie was looking forward to an early night for once, too. She was so tired.

She didn’t trust Bartholomew. Maybe it was his canid features, but he looked suspicious and dangerous. Ellie didn’t want to be afraid of him, but a big part of her was. Now that she’d had some time to cool off, the anger wasn’t enough to overcome that shadow of fear that still lingered. If he could get her turned around enough to not be able to follow simple directions, who knew what else he was capable of.

Ellie wrenched the door to the diner open against the wind, then hung on to prevent it from slamming open against its hinges. Robbie pulled it closed behind them, tugging hard. Life as usual in the windy, flat terrain of their hometown.

They headed to their usual booth, but it was occupied by a couple teenagers, clearly on a first date. Ellie recognized Billy Mason, who clutched his water like a life preserver. She didn’t know the girl, who fiddled with her necklace with one hand while the other rested on the table. Ellie wanted to whisper in Billy’s ear that the girl obviously wanted him to hold the hand she’d laid out on the table like an offering, but Ellie just shook her head and silently wished them well.

They chose a booth near the front windows. Ellie slid in first, with Robbie next to her. Adrianna and Rory faced them. Ellie cast her mind back through all the times she’d been to Carter’s before, and she couldn’t think of a single time she hadn’t sat in their usual booth. The strangeness of the new location mingled with the strangeness of the past couple days.

“So what’s all this about treasure?” Robbie asked.

Rory glanced around, her eyes narrow. “What treasure?” she hissed.

“Ah. Right.” Robbie tapped his nose in an exaggerated manner.

Adrianna lashed her foot out, connecting with Ellie’s shin. Ellie cried out, but Adrianna just kept flailing her foot until she found Robbie.

“Whatever. I’m sorry,” Robbie said, rubbing his leg. “No one’s even in here.”

“How do you like being home?” Ellie asked, desperate for a change in topic.

“Fine. I miss San Francisco, but…” Robbie got a faraway look in his eyes. “But yeah, it’s good to be home. I’ve missed everyone. And it’s good to see Ma.”

“Yeah,” Adrianna said. “She’s glad you’re home, too.”

“Other than the bad days, how’s she doing?” Ellie asked. In her grief, she’d pushed everyone away, and she was only now coming to terms with how much she had missed in their lives. She should have been there more for Adrianna.

“The doctors are confident the chemo worked, but Ma still did the double mastectomy last week. Once she’s recovered from that, they’re gonna do radiation just in case. But we’re hopeful.”

“Oh, shit. I didn’t know,” Ellie said. “I’m sorry.”

Adrianna reached her hand out and grabbed Ellie’s.

“You had your own shit going on. Don’t worry, I had Rory to lean on. You’re not the bad friend I know you’re thinking you are.”

Ellie blushed from embarrassment at Robbie listening in on what Ellie would have preferred being a private conversation. She managed a small smile, though the guilt still coiled in her gut. Not for the first time, Ellie wished life had stopped for a few months after Harmon’s death. It sucked that time continued marching on while she stood still. She had missed so much.

Robbie put his arm around her, and Ellie leaned into him. The motion was familiar and easy, the years between them falling away. She was seventeen again, innocent and wide-eyed, stepping into a new relationship with an open heart. Her blush deepened, and she cursed her fair skin.

He smelled clean, like soap and aftershave.

She missed the companionship of romance, and her relationship with Robbie still gave her heart the soft thrill of young love. But they were both older now, and Ellie had never even entertained the idea of them dating again. He’d seemed too set in his life in California with a woman she’d never met, and she loved her life here.

But now that the possibility existed, could Ellie go back to how things were? Did she really want to?

She shouldn’t be thinking about this right now, anyway. There was too much else at stake.

“Ellie, are you coming to the barn dance next week?” Rory asked.

“What barn dance?”

“That’s right. You haven’t been at church for a while. You know Edgardo Velasquez? Of course you do, you work with him. He’s been staying out at Tom Butler’s old family farm.”

“How do you know all this?” Ellie asked. She’d been switching off shifts with him for over a year, and she didn’t know any of this.

“Oh, he got up in church and told everyone at announcements,” Rory said. “I guess he wants to make some friends or something. But anyway, he’s throwing a barn dance up there Friday next.”

“But next week is Halloween,” Ellie said.

“Yeah,” Adrianna said. “He said he didn’t want it to interfere with the Halloween festivities at the Mason’s, but he needed time to prepare, so he made it for the night before. We can manage two nights out in a row. We’re young. I think we should all go.”

“Yeah, okay. That’ll be fun,” Ellie said.

“Awesome!” Robbie pumped his fist in the air. “I claim the first two dances.”

Adrianna rolled her eyes, and Ellie knew she was preparing a speech about patriarchy and women deciding on their own dance partners, but Adrianna kept her mouth shut to Ellie’s surprise. Their food arrived just then, too, allowing Ellie a graceful way not to respond to Robbie’s declaration. She was secretly looking forward to dancing with him, but she didn’t want to look too eager.

They didn’t talk about anything in particular for the rest of dinner. The storm rolled in while they ate, the rain lashing at the window in droves.

She’d won one night of respite from the hunt.

Ellie sighed in relief. She didn’t know how she would keep them all away from the fields, but she’d figure something out. She wasn’t great at thinking on her feet, but given enough time, she’d come up with a good plan.

Tonight, at least, she was looking forward to a bath and a good night’s sleep.


Chapter 6


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The birth of a PhD student

It’s been almost a year to the day since I uprooted my life and moved to the Midwest for grad school. It’s been a grueling, wonderful, painful, freeing year. I needed this change, even during the parts where I wished I had stayed back home. Especially then. If I’d stayed, I’d still be working a soul-crushing job with miserable coworkers, growing more and more bitter each passing day, as I marked the years until retirement.

Leaving that job was easy. Leaving home, on the other hand, was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But growth doesn’t happen in the comfortable places in our lives, and I wouldn’t become who I’m meant to be if I’d stayed.

I still don’t know who that person is, that I’m going to grow into. I just feel that my time here is going to shape and change me in ways I would not have even dreamed of. It already has.

This past year, I’ve realized that I’m terrible at making decisions for myself, almost always deferring to the opinions and advice of others. I have low self-esteem, I don’t trust myself, I’m not great at communicating, and I’m prone to bouts of depression and loneliness.

Going through this PhD program has opened my eyes to these things, and even after the first year, it’s challenging me to change them. One of these days, I’m going to have to take ownership of my research project, deciding on the direction it’s going to take and carrying out the experiments. I’m going to get up in front of crowds of people and tell them about my science. I’m going to have to be confident enough in my choices and knowledge to defend my science to other experts.

I’m not there yet, but I will be.

It won’t be easy. It won’t be painless. But it will probably be the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

I finished reading LAB GIRL by Hope Jahren today. It’s a brutally honest look into the world and career I’m getting myself into, but, like Jahren, I can’t imagine any other life. I might not have her stamina and reckless drive, but I’m willing to do what it takes to reach my goals, just the same as her. I’m glad this book found me at this particular moment. I’m glad I have Jahren’s voice, the voice of a woman who succeeded in carving out a place for herself in biology, to listen to when things get hard. She knows. She’s been through it all.

I love science. I love learning. I love passing on knowledge to others.

I need to hold onto those things, even when research gets hard and I think about quitting. My dream of teaching college will only have the change at being realized if I don’t give up. I need to learn how to push past my self-doubt, how to ignore the little voice in my head saying I can’t do it. It’s so easy to get bogged down when things aren’t going well. I need to learn how to pick myself back up over and over and over, even when it seems impossible.

This past year has flown by, but I’m grateful for every moment of it. Even the not-so-great ones. And I’m looking forward to another year of more growth, no matter how painful.

I can do this.

I will do this.

 

Recent Reads

It’s summertime, and that means plenty of time for me to read without feeling guilty! Homework is a thing of the past (until September), so I’m enjoying the time to read for fun.

I’ve been reading a blend of new things and old favorites, and it’s been wonderful revisiting loved places and discovering new ones.

What are you all reading this summer? I’m always looking for new recommendations!

Recent Favorites:
STRANGE GRACE by Tessa Gratton
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This book tugged at my heart in all the right ways. It’s beautifully gruesome in the way only Gratton can write, and I loved every agonizing second of it. The most surprising thing about this book was the polyamorous triad that was so well done, I couldn’t see any of the characters without the others. Highly recommend this gorgeous book.

 

 

 

TECHNICALLY YOU STARTED IT by Lana Wood Johnson
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Full disclosure: I helped beta this book when it was still under construction, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. But even that hadn’t been the case, this is a fun, light read for the summer and it comes out tomorrow! It’s another beautifully queer book with both main characters discovering themselves and each other, and I just love these nerds so much.

 

 

Books That Missed The Mark:
THESE WITCHES DON’T BURN by Isabel Sterling
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I wanted to like this. I really did. Queer witches is usually a fierce SIGN ME UP, but the first 1/3 of this gave me anxiety because the adults refused to listen to the teens and the middle 1/3 was pretty forgettable. It was only in the last 1/3 that the book picked up and left me wanting more. (Which is good because this is the first book in a series, and ends on a cliff-hanger!) The queer rep in this was awesome, and I enjoyed the casual diversity in this. (Ex/ non-plot-advancing description of a little girl on the street with two dads!) Overall, not a successful book for me, but mostly due to personal preferences.

DISAPPEARANCE AT DEVIL’S ROCK by Paul Tremblay
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I was expecting paranormal horror, and I got some weird “maybe it is, maybe it isn’t” horror instead. If I hadn’t been expecting something different, maybe I’d feel differently. But I was looking for some creepy devil action, and all I got was the horrors that humans inflict on one another instead. Which is much more frightening, but not what I wanted when I picked this book up.

 

 

Book In Progress:
THE LUMINOUS DEAD by Caitlyn Starling
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I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. I’m halfway through, and I’m enjoying every terrifying second of this book. It hits on a bunch of things I love: caves, horror, and character-driven sci-fi. Wonderfully written, engaging, and suspenseful. Highly, highly recommend you don’t miss out on this one.

 

Interview–Lana Wood Johnson

Hi everyone! I’m super excited to welcome author Lana Wood Johnson to my blog today! Her debut YA book, TECHNICALLY YOU STARTED IT, comes out June 25th from Scholastic.

9781338335460


When a guy named Martin Nathaniel Munroe II texts you, it should be obvious who you’re talking to. Except there’s two of them (it’s a long story), and Haley thinks she’s talking to the one she doesn’t hate.

A question about a class project rapidly evolves into an all-consuming conversation. Haley finds that Martin is actually willing to listen to her weird facts and unusual obsessions, and Martin feels like Haley is the first person to really see who he is. Haley and Martin might be too awkward to hang out in real life, but over text, they’re becoming addicted to each other.

There’s just one problem: Haley doesn’t know who Martin is. And Martin doesn’t know that Haley doesn’t know. But they better figure it out fast before their meet-cute becomes an epic meet-disaster


Hi Lana! Thanks for joining me on the blog today. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m Lana and I’m a giant nerd! People sometimes don’t entirely get how deep it goes when I say it, but I’ve got the cred: my first memory is Star Wars A New Hope in theaters, I met my best friend 24 years ago in an online roleplaying game, and I initially flirted with my husband by shouting a meme at him in the year 2000.

Wow, your nerd cred is impressive! Your debut novel, TECHNICALLY YOU STARTED IT, comes out this summer. Can you tell us a bit about the project?

Haley and Martin are also just as nerdy in their own way as I am, (although Martin’s a bit cooler than either of us.) Told entirely through their text messages, it’s Haley’s story of falling in love with someone whose physical body she doesn’t really recognize but who she knows better than anyone else around her.

What inspired you to write this story?

After a hefty round of full rejections on my second book, I found myself volunteering on a crisis line for a local youth shelter. That’s where I discovered my skill of connecting with people via text messages is actually kind of special. I realized that like the youth I was talking to, I used the internet to connect with people and I decided to channel that into a story.

Very cool! In addition to the nerdiness, this book is also really queer. I’m super excited to see it hit mainstream shelves. Can you tell us a little about those themes and what you’re hoping people will take away from them?

My biggest hope is that people will take away that even though it’s m/f it’s two queer characters connecting in their own ways. And while it’s not about their identity, and the coming out they do is incidental and contextual to the situations, the story wouldn’t be remotely the same if they were straight characters.

As I started revising, I realized how important it was to me that the story stay in their text messages. By keeping it there, it made Haley’s perspective on the relationship the center and I realized showed better what it was like to fall in love with the person inside the skin.

What media (books, movies, podcasts, etc) are you enjoying right now?

I’ve just started drafting again which means my tendency is to go back to old, familiar stories. That said, I just discovered My Favorite Murder and as the completionist I am, I’m working my way through their archives. There’s a LOT of archives tho!

Any favorite writing snacks or drinks?

I don’t need anything to write, but I love writing at a fancy bakery nearby my house. They have miel lattes which is made with honey and the FANCIEST pastries. I think one of their bakers also watches Great British Bake Off so I get to taste some of the weird things they make on the show. That’s where I first had a kougin amann which is an excellent writing food.

That sounds delicious, and I’m hungry now. That’s a good place to leave this conversation. In closing, where can people find you online?

I am on Twitter and Instagram, and on my website.


TECHNICALLY YOU STARTED IT will be released on June 25th. You can preorder it from Indiebound, Barnes and Noble, Target, or Book Depository!


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Lana Wood Johnson was born and raised in Iowa in the time before the internet but has spent the rest of her life making up for that. After years working in wireless communication for companies of all sizes, she now works doing the same for a local youth shelter. Lana lives in Minnesota with her husband and their English bulldog. TECHNICALLY, YOU STARTED IT is her debut novel.

 

World Poetry Day

Happy World Poetry Day!! I don’t usually share my poetry, but I thought that in honor of today, I’d share a poem I wrote a few years ago. I’m not the world’s best poet, though, so please be kind.

What are some of your favorite poems?


Moving On Is Not Forgetting (2013)

Your pictures are hidden deep under floorboards in the attic
buried under seasons of clutter and dust
lying unseen and half-remembered in the darkness.
I need no photos to remember your laughter like rolling waves
and yet I struggle to trace your lips in the sand.

How strange it is to have memories
of a different kind of warmth beside me as I sleep.
Not the gentle ember
of the man who lies there now,
but raging forest fires and the dying hearts of stars.

I smell you in the ocean air at daybreak,
I hear your voice on the breeze at twilight,
I feel your hand in mine as we walk the darkened dunes at midnight.
But these are only in my dreams
and in the morning I sigh, wistful, and avoid questioning eyes.

He knows of you,
the one who stepped into your place in my life
but not in my heart.
He does not mention you, though,
as if the mere utterance of your name would be enough to resurrect your soul.

But I know better than he does
that I do not need your physical presence
to feel you all around me,
but I love him deeply in my own way.
He’ll never replace you, and he keeps the darkness at bay.