Friday, November 14, 2014

Conversation with Cows

I had an epiphany while on a walk today, quite the inner dialogue going on.  Sometimes it wasn’t so inner.  I wasn’t talking to myself, exactly, I did have the dog along, and there were some cows here and there, and I passed a few chickens.  Not that the cows knew what I was talking about when I suddenly burst out with, “But it doesn’t WORK.  There is no story, no structure.”  Or, “I’m just going to drop it.  Drop it!”  Honey looked at me then, like maybe I wanted her to drop the stick or something.  “Oh my God,” I said at one point, “I’m turning into my mom."  

Even though I know better, I keep thinking that I have to come up with the story all by myself, but right when I said I thought the book was crap and that I was going to give up, they came. (Well, okay, they didn't, like, walk up and fist bump me. This metaphorical - stay with me here.)  Angel and Jesse, Claire and Chad, Tuesday Morrison, Bitsy Bean, Stick Brown.  Tuesday's purple hair flowed around her.  Glaring at me she hissed, “Don’t even think about trashing me.”  Angel and Jesse, entwined like a couple on the cover of a romance novel begged, "Please don't kill us," even though Jesse’s already dead.  Bitsy Bean would never dare to say anything,  but her wispy hair covered her tear-filled eyes as she shook her head mournfully.  Stick Brown was all, “I went through all THAT and now it doesn’t matter?  I drugged all those people?  Jesse died in MY room, on MY bed, and now it’s all a big ptfffff?” Claire is pissed too.  “Hey, I need to be there for my friend.  Ya know?”  Chad is all, “Hey, I need to look like a ridicules jerk, ya know?  I have to play my part.”  And play it well you shall, my friend, because I will give you life.

It’s hard enough with three teens in the house.  Now I have seven more to deal with.  Yes, I will let you play it out.  Go ahead and die, Jesse.  Now the question is – of the rest of the six . . . who done it?   Hmmmm.  I wonder.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Nailed It!

Awesome reading at the Brattleboro Lit Fest yesterday!  I kept the audience on the seat of their pants!  Wait . . . that's not what I mean.  Try again: I kept the audience on the edge of their seats!  That's it.  And that's what I did.  I read, they listened, and magic happened.  You know that feeling when you're telling a story, and it's a really, really good story, and the people are really listening?  It was so cool!  But I can't take total credit - David Tennant was my muse!

Seriously.  I just finished listening to him read the fantastic YA audiobook My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece  by Annabel Pitcher.  I love Dr. Who, and to listen to the tenth doctor read this powerful book was so inspiring!  Although he wasn't the tenth doctor when he was reading because he didn't have a British accent - he read it in his native Scottish brogue and it was dreamy.  He reads the book through the voice of a ten year-old-boy who is bravely struggling with huge challenges and obstacles.  No spoilers here but you absolutely have to listen to this book.  David Tennant pulls you this way and that way and upside down and at one point I was sobbing in my car, driving really slow so I could keep listening and crying and not have to stop, and when I got to my destination - my bestie's house - she looked at me and was all, "Why are you crying," and I'm all, "I'm not really crying, I mean, not about me," and she's all, "What's wrong," and I'm all, "Nothing is wrong, my life is great," and she's all, "If your life was so great you wouldn't be crying," and I'm all, "Shut up, I'm really upset, okay!"  And she left me alone because that's what besties do.  (I just asked my 15 year old son how to spell bestie and he said, "Don't put that word in your blog.")  (Maybe don't tell him that I did.)

The Lit Fest reading was awesome.  I read the train bridge scene, you know, when Berrie and . . . wait . . . what do you mean not everyone has read Don't Tell?  Okay, no spoilers.  I won't tell.  Ha!  Get it!  (This is what happens when I write my blog posts late at night.)  But really, it was so sweet to read it like Tennant and get that magic thing going on.  It was a good reading.  Really good.  I totally nailed it.  I loved it and I want to do it more!  And I will.  Stay tuned for a reading near you!



Thursday, September 4, 2014

Summer Love at Summer Camp

Well, not that kind of summer love, though I do have stories from summers past at YMCA Camp Takodah, but we’ll save those for another time.  Maybe.  This love is for the camp itself.  I started working as a counselor at Camp Takodah many years ago when I was fresh out of high school.  It became my solid summer refuge during my wild college years, and it's been extremely awesome to get to go back – since my teens were babies – to Takodah’s fabulous Family Camp.  This summer was especially fantastic:

One night, after dinner, I stood up in the dining hall and waved around a copy of Don’t Tell. I announced its recent publication and that I would be selling and signing books.  Which I did.   They sold out quickly and I gave the money to the staff so they could all go out for ice-cream, my treat.  They were quite grateful, but I assure you I was more grateful for all that they did for my kids, for me, for everyone at camp.  Ropes course, overnight canoe trips, candle making, swimming, boating, laughing our butts off day after day; the young, enthusiastic, clever, beautiful staff is why I know that this world is a good place and that we don’t need to worry that our teens and young adults are rotting their brains out with their cell phones and video games.  But that’s another topic, my strong faith in young people.  Camp was a blast.

But here’s where the real blast happened:  for the rest of the week everyone was walking around with Don’t Tell in their hands.  They’d stop me on the path down to the lake, “OMG, Lava, I can’t put it down!  You’re killing me!”  They would find me in the Arts and Crafts shop, “I’m freaking out about Brad.  I hate him!”  “I hate him too,” I’d say. They'd peek their head into my cabin, “Lava, wow, I didn’t realize you could . . . you know . . . write like that.”  I’d wink, knowing what they were referring to.  I think my favorite moment was late one night in the dining hall.  I was playing Settlers of Catan with my family.  We shared the long table with a group who was working on a jigsaw puzzle.  Sarah, who was nearly finished with the book (and the puzzle) held a puzzle piece tight while she read a certain chapter.  Suddenly she dropped the puzzle piece on the floor, clutched my arm (hard!), and shouted, “WHAT???”  She pointed to a certain line in the book, and I smiled.  She was shocked.  She never saw it coming. 

No spoilers here, but can you imagine how it felt to witness a reader discovering a really juicy tidbit, right in front of my own eyes! 

Felt good.

Still feels good.

Camp is love.

Young people rock the world!

Check out my new Don't Tell facebook page give it a like and read the news about my upcoming reading at the Brattleboro Literary Festival

Save the date!  Don't Tell reading and book signing: Sunday, Oct. 5th.  1:30, Brattleboro, VT at the River Garden on Main St. in downtown Brattleboro.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Amazing Beginning and Ending! (Or Not?)

I had a great comment on my last post written by one of my Creative Writing students (of whom I am a great fan btw).  Her comment:

"I can't wait to read your first book! Now...I can't wait to read your second one, when it comes out...and would love to hear more about the story and characters as the manuscript progresses. What is your process like for creating a beginning and ending? I know it's different for all writers...some already know the ending and write the whole body of the story knowing...and some let the ending evolve naturally...and others do something in between the two. Is it always the same process for you?"

No matter what kind of award-winning, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiriing beginning and ending I create, I will inevitably cut, rewrite, be equally impressed for a while, and then cut it again.  My first novel: Don't Tell, had about a million beginnings and two billion endings before I settled. (Only slight exaggeration.) I can't say too much because Don't Tell is so new, and many of you have not finished reading it yet, and I don't want to give anything away, but let's just say that the beginning AND ending  is not how it used to be.  At all.  

I really, really, really hope the ending of my newest book will be what I envision.  But I have to give it over to Angel and Jesse, because it is their story to tell, not mine.  I just hope they like my idea.  It's really, really good.  And since I'm so sure of this, it probably means it will be slashed. Sigh.  Writing, really writing, is about giving over.  Kind of like in the12-steps when we turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God, I turn my characters and their story over to the care of the characters themselves to tell their own story.  Total surrender.  

Thanks for asking, Emma!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Ghost, A Love Story, A Murder!

I’ve been working on my second novel for a couple of years, but I always get stuck on the motive of the murderer.  Why did (she? he? Wouldn't you like to know?) do it?  Everything else is flowing smoothly, like butter on the pancakes I ate this morning.  Boy was that some kind of good.  Vermont maple syrup, but now I’m distracted, which is what happens to me all the time when I write.  I realize that when working on my novel, I don’t need an hour here, an hour there, I need a day here, a day there – yes, whole days.  I need to let my mind completely sink into that strange and inviting land of creativity.  It is only there that my little helpers (okay, that sounds weird, but I don't have a good name for them yet, so hang in there with me) feel safe enough to come out and do the work.  They whisper plots, dialogue, action, settings; they tell the story, but I have to be quite enough to listen.  They took me into the woods recently – a walk with the dog, or so I thought.  The dog took off while my creative helpers gave me the answers I’ve been trying to force through my own brain for months.  Ask and you shall receive.  Listen and you will hear.  Sometimes things take time.  I can’t force creativity.  Instead I have to make its bed, serve its meals, bow at its invisible feet . . . and wait. 

Give me this day, this glorious day, and I will write you a story you will not believe.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Good Fortune!

SO many amazing blessings in my life!  The book launch for Don't Tell at the Three Bean Cafe' in Randolph was fantastic!  The reading was so fun, and I sold out all of my books.  Good thing it's easy to order on Amazon! 

I'm surprised, delighted, a bit freaked out, a lot overwhelmed, a ton grateful, and extremely relieved that the book is doing SO WELL!!!  The 5 star reviews are pouring in.  Below are my two favorites.  The first is by my buddy Roger, who plays Mandolin in my band, The After Super String Band (I play bass).  Roger is one of the most decent men I've ever met.  He's deeply Christian too, AND he's in his 70's.  So for him to  READ this book (a Young Adult girl book with a GOOD amount of sex), and for him to LOVE this book (!!!) was surprising and fantastic.  I love you, Roger!

My second most favorite review (below Roger's) is by my amazing editor  Suzanne Kingsbury.  Suzanne has a way with words (to say the least!).  She is a huge reason why the book is selling so well.  I love you, Suzanne!

Other blessings?  I got accepted into the CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) program at Fletcher Allen hospital in Burlington, VT - a four year adventure which will change my life as it polishes me up to become a hospital chaplain.  What?  A chaplain writes about teen girls having awesome sex???



This Is A Must Read Book!May 30, 2014
Roger Ennis (RANDOLPH, VT, US) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Dont Tell (Kindle Edition)
Don't Tell is the story of 4 teenage girls, each with secrets, as they approach the end of their high school years. The story is told through their voices, their experiences and perceptions, and it is gripping, in much the same as Jodi Piccault's tales make you want to keep turning pages until the book is done. At least this was so for me; I couldn't put the book down until I finished it and learned the outcome of the secrets that were so artfully woven into the story. The author, Lava Mueller, is extremely gifted at removing herself as author and letting the characters tell their own story in their own unique voices, and with incredible fine detail. This book was probably written for young adults, but most of the people I know who have read and loved it are full-time grown-ups who have found it as compelling as I have. It will appeal to anyone with a sense of adventure and curiosity.

One of the best YA books I've ever read...May 18, 2014
Suzanne D. Kingsbury (Brattleboro, Vermont) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Don't Tell (Paperback)
This book is a stay-up-all-night, can't-wait-to-turn-the-next-page read. You will not be able to put it down. I totally fell in love with these characters. Senior year, during a blooming New England spring, four friends explore first love, salacious moments (finally a book that doesn't shy away from sweet, teenage sex!!) and the depth of their friendship. Running beneath it all are the dangerous secrets each girl has to face. By the end we find out how far they will really go to save each other. This is a MUST READ. I couldn't put it down. Thank you Lava Mueller. Hurry up and write another one!!!!!

Monday, May 12, 2014


Banned?  Well, not officially banned, but here's the story:  I asked a newspaper editor for a review of my YA novel, Don't Tell.  Before giving the book to a young reporter, he read it himself.  Here's what he had to say:

"You are an excellent writer, sometimes brilliant." (I like that part.)  " . . . the sexual content in your book is so vivid and so omnipresent that  I am extremely uncomfortable with it . . .  I certainly wouldn't give it to an 18-year-old . . .  to review.   " . . . I'm really uncomfortable with this book."

He refused a review because of the sex.  I know and like this editor, and I don't want make this about him, because really he's just a victim of our screwed (excuse the pun) up culture.  Don't Tell has been out for about five minutes and already it is causing an uproar.  Here are some comments from my devoted fans on this hot topic:

*"I don't get it.  How old does he think you need to be to have sex and to experiment?"  

*"We all do it, we all enjoy it, we all find meaning in it--yet we're afraid to discuss it, describe it, or detail it publicly. Those Puritan and Old Testament bonds are strong, man."

*"This adolescent female virginity thing is still so suffocating and unhealthy."  

*"Yes, I'm concerned about teenage pregnancy and children being raised in broken families and all, but those issues are negatively affected by our national blue-lipped embarrassment about how much people enjoy sex. Jeezum crowbies."

* "Hunger Games, about killing kids, is okay? but having fun sex isn't?" 

*"So much for the first amendment, eh?" 

* ". . . if you publish a YA novel that has lots of sex, especially I guess 'non-traditional' sex, you're going to get push-back from adults who have either forgotten what they got up to when they were teenagers or more sadly never did get up to much."

I have a feeling this is just the beginning of older readers thinking that Don't Tell is about sex.  It's not.  It's about secrets.  And how they harm us. It's about strength and empowerment and friendship, and telling the truth.

Is there sex in the book?  You bet there is.  Is it inappropriate?  I don't think so.  You be the judge.  You can order it here: Don't Tell for paperback or here: Don't Tell - Kindle