It’s Called a Crush for a Reason

I’m doing a little research for a character in Secret Book.  Did you ever have feelings for someone you couldn’t have, or thought you couldn’t have?

I don’t mean a fangirl / fanboy admiration for someone, where you love their body of work and celebrate all their milestones and spend actual money for the chance to stand next to them for three seconds and take a selfie.

Only once.  But look who it is!

Only once. But look who it is!


Photo:  Elizabeth West / VisionCon 2014

I mean an honest-to-God, full on, madly in love crush, where you desperately want someone whether they know you’re alive or not.  It could be Gary in Accounting or Jared Leto, Zoe in your history class or Emma Stone.  Doesn’t matter.

I’ve been exploring this, as it’s come up in the book and it’s something we’ve all been through.  It’s happened to me, and I want to get some insight into what other people have experienced, if possible.

First off, what I know.  If you’re dealing with a crush, your feelings are what they are, and you may have some permutations of these:

  • Excitement at seeing the person every day (or whenever)
  • Hope, if there is even an infinitesimal chance you could ever be together
  • Desperation when you think about how you can’t, so you try not to think about that
  • Happiness, when you daydream about the chance
  • Fear, that the person will meet someone else before you have a shot
  • Euphoria, when / if the person talks to you / becomes aware of your existence (though not if you just spilled a hot latte on them)

Now, let’s add this unpleasantness.  Have you ever had to watch that person walk away with someone else?

That brings a whole new set of feelings:

  • The “oh God no” shock you feel when something terrible happens

Startled cat


  • Anguish at losing your chance, even if it was only in your mind
  • Despair, because you will never have what you wanted
  • Depression, especially if you have no other prospects and the fantasy was keeping you going until you do

If you’ve ever had a crush and lived through it, what was it like for you?  Did friends or family know about it?  If so, did they tease you or patronize you?

Note:  If you’re ever tempted to dismiss the feelings of someone who just got hammered by this, try to remember that feelings are what they are.  They are real, and the heartbreak caused by losing a crush can be as bad as that experienced when a real-life relationship ends.

Not that I would know about that, or anything. 

Not that I would know about that, or anything.

Image:  Tina Phillips /

Now the flip side:  have you ever been the object of a crush?  If so, how did you handle the situation?  This has literally never happened to me (that I know of), so I’m really curious about it.

Note:  If you’re the object of the crush and you’ve just destroyed someone’s dream with your shiny new relationship, please refrain from being flippant about it—i.e. saying the equivalent of, “Oh, don’t be silly.  You’ll be fine!”  It’s easy to forget how shitty this whole experience is when you’re over the moon, so mind your words.

It could all come crashing down, because karma is a stone cold bitch.

It could all come crashing down, because karma is a stone cold bitch.

Image:  think4photop /

A better statement might be, “I’m really sorry that you’re feeling bad over this; I hope you can be happy for me.”  It acknowledges the person’s feelings and is much less patronizing.  And he / she may not be happy for you, so be prepared for that.

Was the person crushing on you someone you knew, or not?  What did you think when you found out?

If you have a story you want to share that you think would be relevant, please feel free to comment.  You can do so without registering.  If you want to share a story but don’t want to post it, you can email me at aelizabethwest at

I will not use any quotes or scenarios without your permission, so make sure you enter a legitimate email address when you post a comment so I can contact you.

UPDATED TO ADD:  It doesn’t matter what orientation you are or if the crush took place in high school.  Anything before that, however, is probably not relevant because I’m writing about adults, and while a crush can be crushing for a child, it typically doesn’t involve sexual jealousy.  Puberty or post-puberty is fine.

Vintage Stuff in Secret Book and NaNoWriMo2014 – The End but not the Finish

Many think of period literature as nineteenth-century or earlier, but writing something set within living memory is even more fraught with danger.  If I get it wrong, there will be no shortage of people eager to point it out.  Below, in no particular order, are some of the things I have to consider in writing a book set in the 1960s and 1970s (with excursions into the 1950s).

Gadgets.  It was harder for people to do things back then without the technology we have today.  Watch some old television shows and notice plot points that would never work now that everyone has a smartphone.


Someone gets hopelessly lost (usually in the desert because the show was shot near Los Angeles), and they either die or there is a frantic search to find them before it’s too late.


GPS, baby.  Not only can you use it to find your way home, you can track people with it too.  I had to remember this for Rose’s Hostage and had the bank robber ditch Libby’s phone so the cops couldn’t track her.

You can run, but you can’t hide. 

You can run, but you can’t hide.



A character has to find a pay phone to call someone and warn them of danger.  They can’t find one, so all hell breaks loose.


Everyone has a cell, and this would only work if they were in the damn woods or locked in a stone basement with no signal.

The world was introduced to a lot of new technologies in the mid to late twentieth century.   What they used at the time was considered current to them.  Their reactions to a new gadget, one we might laugh at, would be pretty much the same as ours.

It’s the latest thing!  We should get one for the office!

It’s the latest thing!  We should get one for the office!


Slang.  British and American slang at the time is devilishly hard to replicate.  Though the most obvious catchphrases are easy to suss out, I keep running into things that I know aren’t right but I haven’t figured out yet.

Since the only thing I can remember from the 1960s is the moon landing and the 1970s were all kid stuff for me, I shall have to pick the brains of older relatives and friends who weren’t so square (see, there’s one) back in the day.   In a first draft, I get round this by typing NNNNN in place of something or CHECK so I can go back and find it again.

Details of daily life.  I didn’t grow up in Britain, so checking this part will require a lot of googling and perhaps some interviewing.  I did get some post-war reminiscences from some of the very nice English people who were staying at my B&B in Cardiff, and yes, those are going in the book.

Even though I was a kid, I do remember quite a bit from the 1970s in America.  I grew up in a middle-class home, and our experience was pretty typical.  I remember certain food products, full-service gas stations, the energy crisis, etc.

Clothing.  I already did some research for this in London when I visited the Fabric and Textile Museum on Bermondsey Road.  I remember people wore a lot of knitwear in the 1970s.  I’ve still had to do some googling.   It slipped my mind how butt-ugly some of the clothes were back then.

Did we actually WEAR this? 

Did we actually WEAR this?


Décor.  Dear sweet Jesus on a hotdog bun.

Enough said.

Enough said.


Politics and world events.  While most of Secret Book isn’t concerned with these things, it lends more authenticity to have people mention them.  The Vietnam War was a hot-button topic, for example.  And American Character in particular would remember the Kennedy assassination in 1963; my real-life friends who are old enough to recall it still talk about it on November 22.

You  might wonder why I chose the 1970s as the present-day setting for the book, but all I can tell you right now is that I have two main reasons:

  • I’m trying to avoid the internet.
  • The decade was very avant-garde, and it was all about being yourself and what you are, the Me Decade, etc.  This will make sense when I can talk more about it.

People still wrote letters in the 1960s and 1970s, and you could smoke on airplanes.  So, writing in a different period takes a lot of thinking and reconsidering.  It’s like time travel, only without the TARDIS.


NaNoWriMo News

I have 45,059 words written on Secret Book.  It will definitely hit the 50K mark before NaNoWriMo ends, but I am nowhere near finished.  That’s okay; the goal was to get my ass in gear on this first draft, and it’s working, for the most part.

This is a thing today.

This is a thing today.

I decided to go whole hog and put Brit Character’s POV scenes in UK English, spellings and all, so I changed the Word language settings for those bits.  It’s fun to deliberately type in US English and watch the program (programme!) change it.  So far I’ve got very few errors, though I keep forgetting the u in flavour, colour, parlour, honour, and the like.  Also, the word woollies is in the UK English spellchecker and that amused me to no end.  (Yes, the book does have that word in it.)

 I find it highly annoying that the pronunciation link says the word in an American accent. 

I find it highly annoying that the pronunciation link says the word in an American accent.

 Screen capture:  Google

I still have a lot to do on American Character (okay, most of her stuff, actually).  So I’ll be writing on this for a while.  Then I have more research to do, so I can authenticate everything and fill it out a little more.  My word count will be huge, but that’s what editing is for.

Like this. 

Like this.


So, back to work.

Save the London Book Barge! and NaNoWriMo whatever; I’ve lost track now

Remember this?

The book barge, Word on the Water.  Step inside (watch your head) and discover a nice selection of used books. 

The London book barge, Word on the Water.  Step inside (watch your head) and discover a nice selection of used books.

Word on the Water needs our help!  They put in for a permanent tender at Paddington Station, and the Canal and River Trust of London awarded the place instead to a large corporation who wanted to put a coffee boat there.  Seriously.  Like there aren’t any coffee shops anywhere near Paddington (there are a zillion coffee shops in London).

Matt Zitron has written an impassioned plea in a HuffPo article about it.  Read it; I’ll wait.

Done?  Please consider signing the petition, even if you’re not a Londoner.  If you are, don’t let big business kill the little places that give London its charm. Bookshops are in the business of selling dreams, and we all need a little of that.  Plus, a floating bookstore is the height of cool and these people are very nice.  Thank you.


Okay, now that I’m off my soapbox, I have completely lost track of NaNoWriMo.  I’m hanging on by a thread here!

Secret Book is coming along; however, there is NO way I’m going to be finished by the end of the month.  I expect to reach the NaNo 50,000-word goal, but it is not going to be done until I’m done.  Probably not until Christmas, actually.

And I still have a metric ton of research to do.  It’s not a problem.  I have time.  Right now, all I want to do is finish the damn thing.

In Tunerville news, I sent off a submission copy.  Since that will take approximately three months for them to review it (if they do), and I forgot to enclose the SASE for my rejection (sigh), I’ll probably never know if they even looked at it.  So back to the queries.

In Rose’s Hostage news, there is no news.  Sorry to disappoint you (and me!).  Brian did say he was putting a manuscript in the mail; let’s hope it was mine.

Now I must leave you, as I need to finish one scene and begin another that I didn’t have time to do at lunch today.  Go read a book (and sign that petition!).

Some Thoughts about God and Tunerville

No NaNoWriMo tonight.  I’m about to make an unsolicited submission of Tunerville in its entirety, and something a friend on Google+ said got me thinking.

On the cusp of this activity, and given that Tunerville relies quite heavily on the concept of God (no, it’s not Christian fiction), I wanted to clear up a few things.

My friend said that you can see, hear, and touch happy gay couples and their families, which proves they’re real, and that the religious people might want to remember that there isn’t any conclusive proof of God.

Since quite a few of my friends on that forum (and some IRL) are atheists and I am not, I just wanted to put in


Image:  Arvind Balaraman/

Here’s what I think people don’t understand about God and this whole thing.  Faith, by its definition, is a belief in things not seen.  It doesn’t demand proof.  It doesn’t have to.  It’s not science.

When people see something that contradicts their faith, like happy gay families with well-adjusted children, they can’t reconcile it in their heads with what they’ve been taught.  It sets up cognitive dissonance.  That is a state in which the mind can’t reconcile two things with each other.  In short, the happy gay couple and their well-adjusted kids hurts their brains.  And they get defensive.

The captcha for this photo was Wicked Guitar Solo.  If that wasn’t God trying to say something ironic, I don’t know what is. 

The captcha for downloading this photo was “Wicked Guitar Solo.”  If that wasn’t God trying to be ironic, I don’t know what is.

Image:  stockimages/

To deal with this, the people either have to change the way they think about their faith and their beliefs, or they can condemn and dismiss what they’re seeing.  It’s WAAAAAAY easier to dismiss something than it is to change your entire outlook, so that’s what people do.  And to prove to themselves that they are right in their faith, they castigate those they have condemned and dismissed.  They punish and persecute, because they think they are right.  They’re not, but you can’t convince them of that because they have decided they don’t want to be convinced.

The best you can do is practice tolerance and acceptance.  You’re modeling it to them not just by accepting that gay people exist, this is a thing, it’s fine and natural and that is life and whatever.  You also model it by tolerating them.

Yes, you heard me.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying you should tolerate discrimination, hate crimes, rudeness, or behavior like that.  But you have to remember, these people are operating in a haze of stuff they’ve most likely been spoon-fed since babyhood.   If they’ve come to it later in life, it’s probably due to a huge shift in their paradigm because of something unpleasant or life-changing, and they’re clinging to it with all their might because fuck that shitty thing that happened; if I follow Jesus, maybe it won’t happen to me again.

I was raised Roman Catholic, and I grew up in a town full of Baptists and Methodists.  The Methodists and some of the other offshoot churches didn’t care much what we were up to down at old St. Mary’s, but the Baptists were convinced we didn’t have our ducks in a row, and it was their God-given duty to get us to follow the right path.

I grew up hearing the following:

  • Bead squeezer
  • Fish eater (it was my fault we didn’t have pizza on Fridays in the school cafeteria)
  • You’re not going to Heaven because you’re not saved
  • You weren’t baptized right (you gotta be dunked; that trickle on your tiny baby head wasn’t good enough)
  • You worship statues (what the–?? It’s art, people)
  • You shouldn’t be praying to Mary; you should be praying to God
Well, all righty then.  I’ll just be over here, giving birth to Saviors.

Well, all righty then.  I’ll just be over here, giving birth to saviors.

Image:  Sassoferrato –Jungfrun i bön (1640-1650). National Gallery, London/Wikipedia

Not one time can I ever remember giving a crap what these people were doing at their churches.  I did go to other services with some of my friends–a Lutheran one, a Methodist wedding, and assorted other denominational variations.

For a short while in middle school, I had a friend named Val who was Pentecostal (what people called “holy rollers”).  We went to their church one evening during a sleepover at her house.  Having grown up in the Catholic Church, where you sit the hell down and shut up and don’t speak unless you’re giving responses and by God you better not poke your brother with the liturgy book during the homily and DON’T DROP THE HOST, that was weird.

People waving their hands, standing up, letting the Spirit move them, or maybe they had ants in their pants, I didn’t know.  Yelling “Amen!” and “Praise Jesus, YAASS!”  I just sat there with my eyes the size of bus tires waiting for it to be over.

None of this, thankfully.

None of this, thankfully.

Image:  Shelley Mays/Gannett/

I had to admit; I thought it was kind of cool that they felt that strongly about their religion.  My friend and her mother were absolutely convinced they had the line on Jesus.  But the best part was they never tried to make me believe what they did. 

Val never came to church with me because they moved away, but I bet Mass would have been just as weird to her.  But see, I could tolerate them and even be friends with them because they tolerated me, even though I was different to them.  And that’s what getting along is all about.

Some of my atheist friends think God is a delusion.  I don’t care if they believe in him or not.  However, I don’t like hearing that I’m delusional or whatever because I do.  They’d squawk like hell if I said they were going to burn because they didn’t.  I deserve the same courtesy, thank you.  Most of my friends are pretty good about it.  If they weren’t, I wouldn’t be friends with them, not because they didn’t believe in God, but because that shit is annoying.

As for the religious right, in my opinion, God doesn’t give a flying rat’s ass if people are gay, straight, black, white, purple, green, or tattooed.  If he did, no one would be gay, there wouldn’t be gay animals, and if you put one drop of ink on your body, you would burst into flames.  Not happening–he doesn’t care.


Images: / Wikipedia

If God exists, and I think he does (and not just because I grew up with that concept), I think Buddy Christ is much more accurate than a judge-y, Zeus-like figure shooting fire and brimstone at all the sinners.  But whether your concept is one or the other, or none, I’m not going to judge you.  I think you’re wrong to hurt people over it, and I’ll fight like hell to keep you from doing that, because it’s stupid. So is some of the old-fashioned junk the Catholic Church teaches, which is why I don’t go to church anymore, and why I think Pope Francis is a total badass for trying to make changes.

Now my friend who said there is no proof of God is quite right about the hypocrisy of the situation.  If you can’t see, hear, or touch God, how do you know he wants you to persecute gay people?  Because it’s written in a book?  Prove that God wrote the book.

You can’t.

It’s a matter of faith.

Just because you don’t believe in God doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.  It doesn’t mean I’m delusional for thinking he does.  Atheists and Christians alike need to remember that before you can change someone’s mind, you have to understand why they think the way they do.  While you’re doing this, you might just learn something–if you’re paying attention.

If you can’t convince them, then let it go and find some common ground, because all the fighting is getting really fucking old.

So if you get to read Tunerville (and I hope you do), remember that.  I’m not telling you what to think; I’m only telling you a story based on what I think.  I hope you are entertained by it.  That’s all it’s there for.

NaNoWriMo 2014 – Baby it’s cold outside

Brr, it’s cold in here.  The weather has turned.  Autumn is segueing into winter.  Though I’m enjoying the Wearing of the Scarves (all six of the ones I bought in the UK, though not at once), I’m not liking the frigid wind much.  Poor little Psycho Kitty is going to need her space blanket insulation much sooner than I thought.

This happened during the polar vortex last year.

This happened during the polar vortex last year.

Photo:  Elizabeth West

I’d do it tonight, but she’s ensconced in her doghouse and I don’t want to haul her out to wrap it.  She didn’t emerge when I checked on her earlier, a sign that she’s not comfortable outside it.  It’s somewhat warmer in there, and she has a fluffy bed and a wrap round it, so she’ll be fine for now.

NaNoWriMo news:  word count is 1,821 today, and I am counting the 289 I wrote previously and plugged into this scene where they belong.

As for the Universe, I’m still mad at it.  I completely understand what it’s like to be this person right now.

Kinda wishing I had her powers, too. 

Kinda wishing I had her powers, too.


So the book is coming along despite the ridiculousness that is my life.  I finished correcting Tunerville, I have a very nice cover letter written for its submission to Imprint-of-Big-Publisher, and I actually slept all the way through last night without waking up.

Keep your fingers crossed for my submission. I have a feeling the books will be just the spell I need.  Let’s hope for a good outcome.  Magic always has a price, as you know.


NaNoWriMo 2014 – Remember remember, the Fifth of November.

Gunpowder, treason, and plot.



It’s Guy Fawkes Night in England, otherwise known as Bonfire Night.  Read about it here because I’m too tired to explain it to you.

Speaking of plot, the Universe took the big shit on me today, and I channeled my pain into three scenes for Secret Book that I was going to save, but they demanded my attention tonight.  I have not eaten and I have cried my eyes out and I can barely see, but there they are.

5,218 words.

Good night.

NaNoWriMo Day 1 – I was supposed to be doing what?!

Goddamn it, I’m tired.  Good thing I already wrote 46% of my NaNoWriMo obligation.

Tonight, my Doctor Who meetup group went to a Harry Potter pub quiz at our favorite mobile eatery.  Outside.  It is about 40 degrees. That’s Fahrenheit; Celsius would be about 4.

Which felt accurate. 

Which felt accurate.

Image:  Gualberto107/

I’m still not warmed up entirely, despite two helpings of hot butterbeer (don’t ask me what was in it, but it was delicious) and climbing under two blankets.

So I’m rereading my outline.  My life is about to get very antisocial, and I needed to spend some time with my friends before I actually step through the dark and scary wardrobe and come out in the landscape of Main Character 1’s mind.  Writing stories with hugely emotional characters makes me wish even more that I had someone to ground me when I leave their heads.

Well, there we go then.

Well, there we go then.


I think it best to write most of that person’s scenes first, as much as I can, and then get into Main Character 2’s head, where things are a little lighter.

In the meantime, I found a place I might be able to submit Tunerville unsolicited, so I’ve been doing another hard copy edit.  It’s so much fun lugging around a giant binder full of paper.  I’d love for someone to say, “I want to read your book!” and then I can watch his/her face when I thump down that huge pile of wood pulp and say, “Here!”  Muwahaha.

“I don’t understand--I pictured it like this.”

“I don’t understand–I pictured it like this.”

Image:  vertda/

It’s an ugly process, but that’s the way it goes.