Category Archives: everything is all right by me now

things are 5×5

I WON PITCHWARS! *true fact

*Because I worked my ever-loving bananas off and I am talking hours/day – I took a week off of work and didn’t see the outdoors, but I made the book the best I can, and I subbed it off and whatever happens now happens, but i can say for sure that this was all achievement: unlocked, and what not. Because. Yeah. It’s a good feeling to work your ass off and have something to show for it. I’m not sure I’ve ever been this focussed on anything in my whole life. And for those of you that know me, you know I’m an old lady – so. Go team me and what not. If there’s extra Pitchwars news, I’ll share. But for now, I’m kind of feeling amazeballs (it doesn’t hurt that I met a new CP, and she’s great).

So, this, is kind of how I am feeling right now (also known as: my day in rockstars)

 

I did take some breaks, though, and played through Last of Us again, which is like, one of my happy places (not necc. all of the Joel Killing Bloodshed stuff, but because it’s the video game version of The Road, and it’s complex and has great storytelling and has a great father/daughter relationship at its core and you should go play it right now), not the least of which is because (and i have no shame) Joel is so damn hot.

JOEL
JOEL

And, so, in an homage to my Joel, and because of my love for The Road, I’m going forth with The Mourning Wolves, my not-a-werewolf monster/transformation novel about Ash and her sidekick Fig, and the adventures they have in Northern Alberta. My hands hurt from typing 10 hours/day, but I’m kind of excited, too.

 

Worldburners Unite, indeed.

pitchwars bio: scary part one. (not even the scary part)

Hi!

for starters, here’s the link back to all of the fabulous pitchwar participant’s bios. And when is say Fabulous, I mean this kind of Fabulous:

Fabulous-Thor-Meme-Gif

A bit about me: 

I have been writing since the dawn of time (since I’m kind of old, this is almost a true statement). I have always written specfic of some kind or another and didn’t realize until I was well into my thirties (true story),  that I mostly read specfic… I always assumed I just read (wait for it!) Books!

Seriously, it didn’t even dawn on me. Amusingly, my favourite book of all time (meaning childhood-me) isn’t specfic, it’s The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton).  I actually think there should be a club for writers who point to that book as their first source of writing inspiration. We’d easily fill up a sports stadium (go sports!). As an adult, my favourite is The Road (Cormac McCarthy), which can be argued as non-specfic, but it’s mostly dystopic, so I say it fits. It’s ok if you don’t agree. I support.  But even if you are all like “dude, so not specfic”, you can’t argue that this, below, is an outstanding bit of writing:

No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes. So, he whispered to the sleeping boy. I have you.

I mean, come on already! gah. Confession time: I like words. My biggest challenge is information delivery: I tend to under-explain and am working on finding the right balance so readers are interested and intrigued, but also not lost in the narrative. I craft a mean sentence.

Me in a nutshell:

  • Luke Skywalker. The Empire Strikes Back
  • X-Files
  • Penny Dreadful (OH VANESSA)
  • In love with the Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • EBM/Industrial. A smattering of witchhouse, doom/drone and apparently the score to The Last of Us
  • Coffee
  • I have an occasional vampire problem

sexy

  • All of the quizes point to Hufflepuff. I am 100% on board with this

I currently write YA novels and adult short stories. Usually fantasy (urban/real world kind of stuff) or horror.  My most recent short story was published in The Dark.  I’ve had a few others published, mostly back in 1804 (because I’m kind of old, remember?), some of which received honourable mentions in the Years’ Best Fantasy & Horror.  I’ve had the honour of being a CP/Beta reader helper-person for some pretty amazing books. I’m bad with commas. Good with characters.

The novel I’m subbing for pitchwars (Gingerbread) is a loose (as a goose) YA re-imagining of Hansel & Gretel. It’s about Blood cults and nephilim and inspired by the Voynich Manuscript (kind of?). It’s about birthright and protection and loss and sacrifice and flowers and mostly it’s about a brother & sister who went into the woods and into a spooky house and badness ensued. Warning: it kind of has a vampire in it. Fo’shizzle.  But I promise it’s a good thing.

I tend to write books around makeshift families.  In Gingerbread, my main character is in a pretty heavy relationship with her dude bestie, but it’s not romantic. Technically it’s queer-platonic, but as I re-write this draft my MC’s sexual identity is shifting (she’s somewhere in the grey-ace spectrum), so I can’t say for sure what it’ll be at the end. But I can tell you that as of RIGHT NOW:

she won’t get the boy. If she gets anyone it’s a girl. Also there’s no real getting. More like unexpected crush-time. Her name is Douglas.

It’s still not a romance. It’s not even a love story. Do not get your hopes up. :) Unless you count the queerplatonic relationship she’s in with her bi-male-bestie as romantic, WHICH I DO!

In case you’re curious about my writing, I present this gem from when I was in Grade 2:

FullSizeRender

 

Owl friend, way to help your elephant buddy. :)

In summary: I want to write (and read!)  books that remind me of Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap, combined with Leah Bobet’s An Inheritance of Ashes, if you add in three dashes of Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, a heavy helping of Erin Morgentstern’s The Night Circus and pretty much anything found in  Caitlin R. Kiernan’s work.

I don’t always remember what books were about, but I always remember how they made me feel.

lovelyday

Thanks for reading!

sometimes, when it’s late and i’m left to my own devices

I let my voice sneak in extra into my prose:

“Poet!” I screamed his name, a betrayal because he was the last person I wanted. The gloom lifted. A silvery haze wove through the trees. I was alone. Panic. I dug the vial out from the pile of snow, turning it over and over in my hand. Cold had thickened the liquid, it was sluggish and heavy. I unfurled the piece of paper. Read it out loud, or tried, my voice an inaudible tremble of sound and fear. I pressed the paper into a rough bit of fallen wood, holding it open with my thumb and forefinger.

SEVEN FOR A SECRET.

An address nowhere near the Blood House. The address was vaguely familiar, calligraphy done in a steady, specific hand. Curl and knife-sharp, lines so thin they didn’t end, but disappeared into the white of the paper, fading away.

No time. No deadline. An impossible invitation with no expiry date. Now or later. Now or never. I opened my mouth and stretched my jaw. Something cracked and something peeled away. A half-formed scab, a bit of dried blood. I pushed my tongue into my cheek and winced.

No time. No deadline.

But how soon is Now? Do I go. Stay. Fight, when I’m so tired from crying?

Terror.

Sometimes his name was prophecy.

Hrm, I also realize in this piece I need to fix some continuity. Yay for blog posts. Also, tense. ugh!

last*dance

in case you were wondering, and it’s really ok that you weren’t, I discovered a major source of my word-Smithing* influences last week:

I’m so glad you came
I’m so glad you remembered
To see how we’re ending our last dance together
Reluctantly cautiously but
Prettier than ever I really believed
That this time it’s forever

But Christmas falls late now, flatter and colder
And never as bright as when we used to fall

(Last Dance: the Cure)

Seriously.

And also:

She walked out of her house and looked around
At all the gardens that looked back at her house
Like all the faces that quiz when you smile

And he was standing at the corner
Where the road turned dark a part of shiny wet
Like blood the rain fell black down on the street

And kissed his feet she fell
Her head an inch away from heaven
And her face pressed tight
And all around the night sang out like cockatoos

“There are a thousand things”, he said
“I’ll never say those things to you again”
And turning on his heel he left a trace of bubbles
Bleeding in his stead

(Like Cockatoos: the Cure)

*see what I did there? :D

I don’t listen to the Cure in regular rotation anymore, mostly because I listen to music on my phone and am too lazy to update it much, if ever, so it’s mostly the same three hundred William Control songs and a smattering of other things like Cygents and iVardensphere and yanno, whatever else shows up on shuffle. Like Matt Good, sometimes.

I hadn’t been to a big, full-on stadium show in years. Maybe the last was Nine Inch Nails? Maybe? But sitting there, with the lights and the dancing drunkos, and the crowd that was easily almost the same age as me, listening to Robert Smith sing exactly how he should, it hit me.

Influence. In the way words form. In images. In my obsession with using winter imagery and strange combinations of words and structure. The sadness, or longing. Hopeful loneliness.  And the cold.

I’m still on vacation, but now it’s a staycation. My feet are sore and swollen and angry for walking 70KM in as many days. I bought art and ate delicious food and snuck down dark alleys and walked with Fantomes, and I bought art. Invested in art, actually.  And today I had hipster coffee and hipster toast and am looking out over the city and the sky is all bluebirds.

I’m still working on Gingerbread, it’s not the first draft anymore but technically it changed direction when I wasn’t looking so the bits I’m writing are first draft. I’m trying to prep for pitchwars, because any goal is a good goal and the experience of it will be super good for me, I think.  I’m also better at deadlines: left to my own devices I’d probably play nothing but Last of Us because OMG that game broke my little tiny heart (I am, however, listening to the soundtrack/score RIGHT NOW. If you like moody/sad instrumental I strongly recommend).

Anyway, here’s a snippet of what i wrote today. I don’t think it’s right,

A ball of pain so sharp it may as well have been made of thorn or razor wire, spread through my gut. “I am not missing anything. I’m just trying to duck the bullshit coming out of your mouth before it sticks because as of right now, I don’t think any amount of soap would wash your crap off. Seriously. You ramble on about nothing, lie to me about the Crimson, about yourself. If I asked you what colour the sky was, you’d probably tell me cotton candy because you think I’m idiot enough to fall for whatever sweet comes out of your mouth.”

too many “mouths” mostly, and the end doesn’t stick (ha) the way i want it to, but it’s a start.

Okay. Onward!

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.

maybe it’s the tea.

Two weeks and a day ago i bought gerbera daisies at the IGA. Thought it was a Sobey’s because I want the free breadknife that comes when you collect the stamps, but apparently just because you are owned by a thing doesn’t mean you get the benefits of the thing.  The daisies, purple and yellow, smaller than the width of my palm and stored in a canning jar, don’t seem to want to wilt. It’s winter, anyway, and they’re up and sturdy and taking up the same amount of space as they did on the day i brought them home, when i was walking around the grocery store, mostly numb and crying.

I miss Dexter. I miss his little chirpy face. I miss his obnoxious chirps and his little fuzzy bum and his wet-bird smell. I miss the way he would grow 3 sizes when he was happy to see me, and I and his tilty-sleepiness when he would sit on my laptop because it was warm and try not to topple over while doing the snoozy head bob. I miss how he would fall asleep in my hand because all he did was sleep because he was old and didn’t want to tell me he wasn’t feeling well, so he did his best to look strong and happy. He pooped and he ate and sometimes he chirped and he never looked scared and tried, always to climb to the highest part of me because that’s what birds are supposed to do. Be High.

He was a really good bird. I know we’re supposed to love our pets. I know we’re supposed to tell the world that they’re the best pets, that no other pet in the history of pets was as good as This Pet.

But, seriously. Dexter was a fucking great bird.  I can’t tell you how much I miss him.  I went to pick up his tiny little cremated bits and it was all fine and dandy until I walked out of the veterinarian’s office and exploded with grief.  5, 480 days, minus vacation and a couple of sleepovers is a long time to be with someone.  Double that if I include every good morning and good night, if you count covering and uncovering his house with his bunny blanket. Triple, quadruple that to conversations, to snuggles, to him dancing on the back of the sofa when he was a little guy, trying to woo me into being his lady-love (I’m not sure he ever understood the interspecies thing doesn’t usually turn out that great), or hanging upside down from my glasses,  or sitting on my knee in the bath because he really liked baths and he liked to sit on my head after, soaking wet and stinking like a wet bird does, all oil and musty weird. It’s strange, he smelled exactly the same after he was gone, warm and stuffy,  wrapped in a dishcloth I’d been sent from asia, so that was all good memories, too.

it’s strange, the way we are. I was reading, last night, about a restaurant I was in yesterday morning (we did a drive-by) was suddenly closing after only been open 11 months. Normally I don’t get nostalgic over such things, but in version 1.0 of this place, I had so many great conversations and experiences (like joining an imaginary rock band, and having our own section with the server (I hope school is going well, Steph!) we liked the most and the charming host/maitre’d who was always happy to see us), and although it’s a brick and mortar thing, it’s people too. People who try to do a thing that is of their heart, and for a while it’s there and strong and vibrant and then the wind changes, and blows it off, into the ether, and then it’s memory and a feeling that everything has a time. That we’re here for a bit, and then we’re gone. We waste so much time trying to be a thing that other people like or want or respect. And, yeah, I know it’s a bit bananas to compare people to a bakery that also served dinner, but at the same time, it’s all the same need: make a mark, set your stake or wave your flag.

Remember me.

You know?

I’m drinking earl grey tea out of my heart cup.  I was supposed to be  editing Gingerbread, because I finished it about 3 months ago and it’s time to go back, but I found myself here, instead. Full of sniffles and missing my little dude and thinking about the transitory nature of all of it.

anyway. I should go do a thing.  I hope you’re having a great day :)

 

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.

in which i complicate matters

here’s the thing, I like writing first drafts. I like stories, I like being told them, and I like telling them. Second drafts, third drafts, they’re all about fixing the story, and I don’t like them as much. I find it laborious and frustrating. Perhaps (probably) because the fixes are more craft than inspiration. Mostly, they are perspiration.  Editing tells me what I’m missing, reminds me what I need to add in, it challenges me on the characters I’ve built: do I know enough of who they are?

In truth, I don’t. I never do. I think of characters like people. I will never know the whole of who you are. In first drafts, characters surprise me. They come out of the wood work and stand there, on their awkward legs and introduce themselves and tell me a thing, or don’t, about who they are and what they want.

I know people that can mold characters into who they need to serve a purpose. I suppose my subconscious does that, but it’s definitely not happening in my forebrain. That is one of the reasons why I’m such a crappy outliner.

I wrote a framing statement for The Mourning Wolves, that was something like “in the County of Witchare, Sunday Mourning must join forces with a local wolf hunter to save the city” (it’s better than that, but I don’t have it here with me, so please just play along!).

Now that I’m writing it, however, I don’t even know if Sunday Mourning will show up. (I think Sunday Mourning is a great/hilarious name for an Urban Fantasy Heroinne, ps.) Right now, my main character is Ash, whose lover was killed by Salamander, a rogue werewolf hell-bent on destroying the county of Witchare, so he can then own the city of Saint Ailby.  Ash is on the hunt for a witch to help her both interpret the marks she found in the abandoned house she crashed in, and help her with her anti-wolf weapons arsenal.

(there’s also a second story line about Jessie and Oleander, these kids that are just trying to get by, and Paja who is half healed from a werewolf attack and, of course, Salamander. Also, who names a murderous werewolf Salamander? OH WAIT, I DO!)

so, there’s Ash, all independent and grr and lone-wolfish, who sets out from her crash house to search for this witch dude she heard was around somewhere and not but five minutes out she runs into this kid, Fig, who is wandering about looking for food and water.

He also might be a werewolf.

What the hell happened to Sunday Mourning?

I HAVE NO IDEA.

Maybe Sunday is the witch dude? Maybe it’s just a delicious post dinner snack in the summer time? I got nothing.

All I know is that there is no point in me planning because whatever pre-work I put down on paper will be a giant fat lie within twenty minutes.

anyway, I guess I’m writing a novel about a 18ish year old (I’m always super bad at deciding specific ages for my characters, too. I’d rather know how they think and feel*) who decides, against her better judgement to protect a thirteen year old maybe-werewolf.

at least i’m keeping with my theme of makeshift, chosen families. That shit never gets old.

*yes, I know, thinking and feeling is inspired by our age, too.  Anyway. *hand waves*

 

more snippets: the mourning wolves

I hold the door open, Fig slips under the crook of my arm. The marks on the porch don’t trigger, wherever the witch went, she took their magic. Fig steps in and looks up, way up at the high ceilings. He turns his bag around front, but doesn’t let it go, hugs it like that, like safety.

“Bathroom’s upstairs.” I point, waving my finger.

“It’s okay?”

I nod. “It’s okay.” Except I can’t guarantee that. I reach back, scratch at my spine. Things are crawling, like a warning. Sun’s down but the moon is quiet. “Your brother, he turn?”

Fig bites at his lip, dragging a tooth along the dried, cracked skin. There’s blood, a single drop he cleans up with his tongue. “Not full.”

Not full. Halfling, half-Moon, the worst and the kindest, both. “What about you?” Because I can’t ignore the warning in my bones.

“Don’t know yet,” Fig says, so honest my chest seizes up. “You kill me, you want.” His eyes, his ridiculous blue eyes are all water.

“Go upstairs,” I say, waving him off. “Get washed up. I’ll start a fire.”

He pauses, two seconds like he’s making sure what I’m saying isn’t lying, isn’t trying to catch him up, get him off guard.

“Go,” I say and the back of my neck is warm and I should open his heart, and he knows it and I know it.

But he’s just a kid.

And I can’t.

enter title here.

the title of the book is The Mourning Wolves – there’s a reason for this, my MC/protag, gender TBD however leaning female, at least in theory, was supposed to be named Sunday Mourning, now, at around 5K, her name is Ash and she’s met a kid named Fig, and suddenly my solo-artist has turned into a duo or group. It’s fun to write, and makes me happy and is, on some level my Little Red Riding Hood book, which means I’m covering all kinds of tales, here.

Still not sure who Sunday Mourning is, but maybe she’s the wolf-hunter that Ash meets up with later, I’m sure my subconscious will tell me (or not), because she’s good at that (hardly).

I woke up this morning at 5am, for no particular reason, if you don’t count the 2 hour sleep I had between 5 and 7pm, and maybe the magnesium that I’ve started taking before bed for sleep and the spin class that turned me into a jelly fish. Not the scary kind either, the cute cartoon kind that just sort of flop around and look ridiculous.

I got ready before my alarm was set to go off, I wrote almost 600 words and ate a scone with devon cream and drank coffee from a local roaster. I did a couple of dishes and packed my lunch and had a chat with Dexter.

now I’m at work, and in 15 minutes, I will have, essentially, been working or commuting or doing a Thing for 4.5 hours. Six hours from now I’ll go to spin class and make dinner and maybe watch a Mr Robot with the feller, and then at 10pm I’ll probably fall over from snoozings.

Tomorrow I probably won’t randomly wake up at 5am, but for today it was good that I did.