Category Archives: paper whites

loglines.

the last two weeks i have been editing the ever-loving-crap out of my YA fantasy, GINGERBREAD. So much editing that my eyes have gone buggy. The other day I met with my writers group and opened Ginger, and couldn’t even read my own typing. My eyeballs revolted.

I revised around 20K, if revising means re-writing whole chunks because you (and your awesome CP) came up with a plot bunny that strengthens the story and makes it more original, and so I am pretty thrilled with where it’s at, except for the fact that looking at it is giving me a twitch.

So, I took yesterday off, and will go back into the revision later today. For now, though, I’m playing ME: Andromeda and working on a logline for my Adult Fantasy, HAPPILY NEVER AFTER. Anyway, it’s interesting to think about plot bits and what would sound cool in a logline, but what is really hard to get in a logline. Here’s the logline I have so far:

In the Land of Foehn, alliances are forged through the bespelling of Princesses and the promise of Happily Ever After. When the Princess of Gael goes missing from her forest shrine, and is later found wandering the bank of the Black Pond, Diego Abello, servant to the Queens, is questioned. When his lover, the blood witch Markus Crowe, is framed for the crime, Diego must risk not only his life, but the honour of his family line in order to protect Markus from a power more dangerous than the Queens.

Here’s the stuff I can’t figure how to get into the logline (yet):

Markus is a somnambulist, and works with his partner to put the Princesses to sleep to wait for their Princes.

Markus is kind of in love with Diego, Diego is mostly ignoring his feelings, and lover is kind of a strong word although also not.

They’re both in love with Annabel.

Markus is also a faerie, and it’s his mother that harmed the Princess, and his mother that Markus needs to be afraid of/is afraid of.

Annabel is the ass-kicker of the group.

Words are hard.

Okay. Take care. Bye bye.

-me.

this was not on the agenda.

and because it is precisely not what i should be working on, i wrote 1000 words on the novel-version of Happily (n)Ever After.

Here’s a bit:

Markús curled a hand around the back of a chair, pulling one of the blooded cloths free. “You have worked both sides for too long, Diego. Either you are of us, or you are a pawn of the Edicts.” He took a deep breath. “Do they know of Niall?”

Niall. Not the Earl. “You know they must not.” Because Niall was young, and a son of a tailor, and there were rules around those that worked for the Edicts, and by being with Niall he was breaking one rule, but with Markús, he broke at least three more.

“Is honesty not the best policy?”

“Don’t threaten me, Markús, it would not go well.” For Markús had his own secrets, but Diego had known them for too long, and was now complicit in all of the lies they told, and so the strings that held them together could not be so easily unraveled, not without them all coming apart.

Markús placed the towel back over the chair’s edge. “I would never, my darling Diego.”

But both of them knew he just had.

all about that bass.

it’s like a new music-a-palooza around here. Last post I mentioned The Blood of Others, and my William, and then alla sudden all the music in music land was released – new Dead When I found Her (OMG) and which does not ignore Michael’s love of Skinny Puppy, but then just when you think you’re onto this album, it changes into something different.

Randomly, Rotersand released a new album and the Gothiscles showed up again in my inbox (and I need to go download them), and it’s like a dance music wonderland around here.

I went to see Dr. Strange, and yes the orientalism is a bit much, and there’s no good reason (despite how good she is) that Tilda couldn’t have been played by someone else, but I am honestly not sure how they would have gotten away from the mystical asian stereotypes in that film. Cumberbatch was great, and my Mads (hubba hubba) was pretty hilarious doing martial arts, when in my heart he is always eating half-raw meat in a very expensive suit. (FANNIBAL).

I sent my wee short story off to the market, and so shall soon hear on that. I’m editing a book for a friend, working on Gingerbread, and The Mourning Wolves and generally not understanding why it is so dark out.

 

TMW: preplan

Although I’ve written the first two chapters, at least in some draft, I spent a bit of today thinking about The Mourning Wolves, because why wouldn’t you start writing a new book while you wait for the next few days to find out the fate of the last book you finished? So I did the thing tiny potatoes do: the thing.

i promise everything is true
i even made a title page. I come from a family of artists, you just can't tell.
i even made a title page. I come from a family of artists, you just can’t tell.
Ash (model: Erika Linder)
Ash (model: Erika Linder)

And, I found someone who looks like Ash (mc) in my head. Model Erika Linder. She’s just gorgeous.  Ash is genderqueer, and I’m currently using female pronouns for them, but it feels weird every time I do. So we’ll see.

I did not have the same luck finding an image for Fig, whose name is not really Fig, but may be Kananginak, because he is at least part Inuk (Inuit). And I think it’s because he came out wrinkly when he was born and a fig is nicer than a prune. And google taught me, as it often does, that finding images of POC is like wading through syrup — it takes forever and nothing good happens along the way. My goal with TMW, because it’s set up in mid-north Alberta (note, for those of you not around these parts, everyone pretty much lives in mid-south Alberta, cuz it’s cold the higher you get), about a 13 hour drive from Yellowknife, is to make sure that the book reflected the region (or tried to), and not have it be full of white folks. I’m super nervous to write this book because I do want to learn more about the history of the region, if not for the book, then for myself. I find myself more interested in my country — outside of high school history — than I have been in a long time.

I’ve lived about 7 hours north of here, and didn’t want to set the book in a place I hadn’t seen, yet. Though, prairie is prairie, really. It’s only the winter that changes.

anyway, the landscape is a bit like this:

 

Swan Hills (photographer in image link)
Swan Hills

honestly, the Prairies are the best.

when you blow it up.

Today’s trip through writing class was (partially) to take a piece of a scene you had written and blow it up. Not literarily, mostly just expand. Add some air.

This is the original:

Quince was quiet, then he reached out and opened his hand. I dropped the keys in his palm and watched as he stepped forward, his left hand on another tree trunk for balance. He brought the keys up and started to scrape their edge into the cold wood.

I waited, and listened. I watched him write letters and I watched him carve a heart and when he was done he stepped in, stepped close to me and I kissed his cheek and smelled lime and linden flowers and it was like we’d won some battle, like we were victors, finally, and I lifted my hand and pressed the soft of my mitt into the bark, into the heart and thought I could feel it beating.

This is the blown up version of same-same:

Quince was quiet, then he reached out and opened his hand. I dropped the keys in his palm and he stepped forward, his left hand on another tree trunk for balance.

I waited. Listening to the rustle of dead leaves, the brittle back and forth of their fragile conversation. Quince turned the key over in his hand, a study in dull and sharp edges. He pinched it, his fingers shaking in the cold. He looked at me, and I nodded. He didn’t need permission, but it was there anyway, a reminder in the subtle movement of my chin that it was okay and I was here and that I loved him.

He pressed the tip of the key into the wood. A bit of bark lifted, then fluttered down. He scraped and scraped and scraped and the bark paled, and a drop of clear liquid seeped from the cut Quince made; a new wound that would never fully close over. He started with Q and ended with K and he rubbed at his nose and I wasn’t sure if it was because he was cold or because his nose always ran when he cried, but I didn’t ask. I pulled up the impossibly puffy collar of my second hand coat and watched him carve that heart, and I’d hoped this was a kindness, what I’d asked him to do,  but it was too late to start over.

He half-smiled at me when he was finished, the keys in his hand dead, lifeless things. He stepped in, stepped close to me and I smelled the familiar of him; lime and linden flowers. I kissed his cheek and it was like we’d won a battle out here in the middle of this nightmare forest. We were victors, finally, and I lifted my hand and pressed the soft of my mitt in the the bark, over the heart he’d drawn, and thought I could could feel it beating.

I realize we’re supposed to be all calm, cool & collected and the what not about our own work, but I am pretty proud of 10 minutes worth of work. This book is going to be good if it kills me :) or gives me the elevensies, which is much more likely than death.

witch which is which.

in which we have a snippet:

 

Fig’s foot is wet with blood. I pull his sock off, and grab at the hem of Yegor’s dress, I tug and tug until the fabric gives and then I’ve got a bandage. “Pressure will help but if you got broke bones then -“

He covers his mouth with his hand, wincing as I tug on the fabric, make a knot, tucking the ends under so it won’t come loose. “I’ll just slow you down.”

I shake my head. “It’s okay, Fig.” But it’s not and he knows it.

“I wasn’t lying when I said you kill me if you want.”

His hair’s a tangle and there’s still water in the corners of his eyes.  I don’t apologize for falling asleep. For saying one thing, then doing the other. “Not a thing I’m doing. Witch’ll help.” I’d seen Yegor heal up worse.

“Ain’t a worse thing than witch,” Fig says in a sigh and I almost backhand him for being stupider than I thought possible.

“Witch might mean I don’t need to change your name to Lefty McHobbleston.”

“Lefty McHobbleston?”

I throw up my hands. “You scare me half to death again and I will leave you strung upside down in a tree with a note on your chest that’s all recommendations about what you’re good for. Understood?”

Fig nods. “Help me up?”

It’s still dark, maybe there’s enough heat the in the fire to start it up again.

I guess when I promised him I wouldn’t kill him, I should have clarified on purpose.

The Mourning Wolves/snippet

I’m supposed to be working on the book that’s 30K, not the one that’s barely 2K, but let’s stop pretending I’m in charge around here:

I hold my knife in my left hand and throw it as hard as I can. A whistle, the vibration, the sound of wood, splitting. It’s all just practice, I’m not ambidextrous. I remember you and I, we went into the woods and shot at beer bottles and tin plates.

You were so beautiful before the Moon ripped out your throat, before you bled to death in my arms.

I guess Ash laments.  Death will do that.

imma ruminatin’

I hadn’t read any of Ellis for months. Gingerbread, or whatever title really is, took me just over a year and a bit to write, which isn’t fast and perhaps doesn’t bode well – but there were 3-ish drafts in there, and a couple of short stories and the general life things.

I write primarily for myself-  i think those of us that started early, when we were small things, write for ourselves first, and other folks second – it’s a way to make sense of the nonsensical, a way to put ourselves out into the great vast whatever in a quiet and deliberate way. I think it’s why, aside from short stories, I don’t have the same urgency for book-publication that some folks do, although it’s there, just in a smaller, more subtle way. Kind of. Mostly I think it’s a serious cause of OMG I WILL FAIL syndrome (I am not a risk taker at all. I’m not sure if it’s a personal failing or just means I’m SUPER DEPENDABLE (although I also get super excited when people read a thing I wrote and like it. Maybe I’m deluded). Man, is the all-caps a side-result of reading Felicia Day’s memoir over the last few days? MAYBE!) ed note: this doesn’t mean I don’t want my books published, it just means I gotta get past whatever interiorbrain hurdles are getting in my way. okay? OKAY.

I went through chapter one of Ellis this morning, building a mind map (I use mind node, now) of the chapters – i don’t use mind mapping for brainstorming because it feels too organized and too deliberate for a “storm” (as if nature isn’t deliberate, but work with me on this metaphor thingy here), but I use it as a visual way to gather my outline/thoughts/major plot points. I say this like I have a Process, but really I started using the mapping software when I realized that writing Gingerbread out of order was really, really screwing me up and I needed a way to put things in place and make fix with the jaggy puzzle pieces that upon first glance had nowhere to go.

And it helped.

So I’m using it again because it’ll help me identify the bits of Ellis – no surprise to anyone who has written a thing ever – I stalled out on it in (you guessed it!) the Middle. 29, 000 words and Bam! It’s like I’m a creative cliche or something.  But even reading the first chapter, I find I’m super happy to be back in Ellis’ world – from a writing-craft standpoint it feels way more me than Gingerbread – although Gingerbread is probably clearer and more accessible and still contains the themes I use all the time: makeshift families, atypical relationships, winter, blood, gargoyles, vampires etc. etc. etc. Oh, vampires. It’s like I never got the memo that they were old news (but I super love my head vampire guy. He’s so damn nice. Mostly). If I ever write a sequel, there’s werewolves too. Yup, that’s me, lacking originality since 1971 (not true: I rule).

There are no vampires in Ellis, ps. NARY A ONE. Oh, there’s angels though, at least in the first draft, also fortune tellers. If my writing came with a bingo card, i would win every time. There’s rain, though, and snow. And it’s winter in Gingerbread and i wonder if i should have made it more wintery, because people believe winter in Canada is made of horrid (it is, for like 2 weeks), but frostbite didn’t really work with the plan (I had no plan).

I had a point to this, I swear. I just lost it. Imagine that.

But starting on Ellis again made me think of all of the things I love about the world: the twisted Alice in Wonderland-ness, where the Alice is a city architect who built the version of the world Ellis falls into when she gets involved in the mysterious death of the feller-across-the-street. My unrequited love (he died before they met. OH TRAGIC. It’s practically Nicholas Sparks!), the Alice’s relationship with Basil & Alastar, teacups and clockwork rabbits. It has made up words and flowers are poison. It’s good times, yo. Like, it makes me want to curl up in a blanket that smells like cinnamon and burnt leaves.

(what I love about Gingerbread: that the bad guy isn’t a bad guy at all, not even kind of. My ace MC, Haven, and her hetero-romantic relationship with her one-true-love-bff, their cozy house, the vampire’s house, a blood cult hiding actual vampires, evil flowers (Oh, a theme, rose thou art sick and all that), and mysterious safehouse that might show up if I write another book in the same world. Altor!).

I’ve thought about what might come next, after these two. I had the idea of the kids who meet in high school (HEX) one of whom is related to Crowely, the other to LaVey, but after that it doesn’t go anywhere, and if you look close i hinted at Crowely in Gingerbread anyway – not the person, but the philosophy.

So what then? Another retold story? I love Little Red Riding Hood, and I’ve been thinking she’d made a nice addition to Hansel & Gretel and Alice in Wonderland, but no matter how much I dwell on it, ain’t nothin’ showin’ up. So.

I guess not.

Anyway.

I’m all rambly.

sometimes I amuse myself.

book i just sent to first readers (Gingerbread):

The House itself was a goth version of Baba Yaga’s hut, a nightmare on stilts and claws, perched on the side of this hill where I was sure nothing ever really grew, not to blooming, anyway, everything half dead and brittle. Even on Arwen’s death-day, in the middle of summer in this place that never stayed all that hot, the grass had been brown, almost burnt. In the movies vampires hated the sun unless they had magic rings or could hide in the shadows or under blankets. Finding shadows deep enough to disappear in was difficult here, unless you liked them thin and spindly. I wasn’t even sure the trees we’d walked through had ever sported more than a handful, more than a straggle of leaves. Around us the wind was like wolves, howling. I pushed my toque down over my forehead with my forearm. A step, something brittle cracked underfoot.

I looked up. The house’s winged protectors looked down at us, their stone beaks holding pools dank, rotten mulch. Dirty icicles, the grey of fire smoke, hung from their violent mouths.

book i decided to pick up again (Ellis)

Ellis didn’t always live in the Seventh Tip. Once she lived dead-middle, in Ferrule, a place of rats and cats and hammered tin. She lived in a house with a pointed roof where the floorboards creaked and water dripped from unseen spigots and gargoyles, long blinded by the wind, perched carefully on each of its four corners.

I am nothing if not dependable :D