Tag Archives: ellis

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.


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


i do have them:

Short Stories:

Mourning Wolves – (the werewolves are coming!): draft

And the Woods are Silent – (the fox is coming, except I think I need to change it to a wolf!):  almost final edit


Ellis, Underground – (the memories are going, and why is that guy dead?): draft

A Single Murder (Ballad)- (what if, after they left the Witch’s house, Gretel did something and Hansel died?): only an idea

ASMB, because that’s easier than typing it out in full, is going to be a mixed around version of Hansel and Gretel, without stealing too much from Bill Willingham’s Fables (it’s good to know where our influences come from), in that Hansel won’t kill Gretel, but will, perhaps choose her own life over his, and somehow I think this is going to be YA, but maybe it won’t be?

Who knows!


what else have I done? Movies:

“12 Years a Slave”, “Dallas Buyers Club”, “Pacific Rim”, “Enders Game”. Right now I’m watching “To the Wonder”, a film in which I’m quite sure Ben Affleck (I know!) does not speak.

and we’re never going to see them again.

I go through these long periods where there aren’t words. I am occupied, distracted by other things. I am tired, and I am awake and summer comes and it’s a season I don’t understand, and there is fall and it feels familiar.

Vafi lifts his head, a rag in his hand to wipe the grime away, and a word heavy on his tongue. Like hello; held safe for the girl who always stands with her hands to the tenement glass, staring out into the night.

The girl whose lips move as if she might be speaking but the weather is always there, between them, and he can never hear just what it is she has to say.


I have gone through the beginning a dozen times and each time it feels right, or it feels wrong. I go into bookstores and my heart grows three sizes. I am Cindy Lou, it is my WhoVille. Or it is WhoVille, and I see it on a postcard. Turn it over and run a thumb over the address.


Vafi lifts his head, a rag in his hand to wipe the grime away, and a word heavy on his tongue. Like hello; held safe for the girl who always stands with her hands to the tenement glass, staring out into the night.

The girl whose lips move as if she might be speaking but the weather is always there, between them, and he can never hear just what it is she has to say.

Sometimes the words are wrong and the right ones just don’t show themselves. We beat our hands against wooden doors who have no handles and wonder:

who is it I do this for?

I lose track of the answer to that question. I feel whole and halved. I am tired and long for soft, warm blankets.


I know the words are wrong. I can’t seem to fix them.



on semi-colons and full. stop.

canopies. I hadn’t thought of them before. I think they were a piece, missing. The word I haven’t used that I can remember and i think instead of lattice-work ceilings. Instead of awnings. But they should do something else, too. I just don’t know what.

The ribs I had, and in my head they were the waterways, but each would separate a part of Ferrulle and if there were 7, and the pieces, if each were large enough to hold a place part of the whole that could have a different weather pattern (oh, there’s no science in this one, kids), then perhaps the ribs being the arteries and veins aren’t quite right. They are, visually, but each artery/vein would be far far from each other. Main waterways, perhaps, with tributaries and streams elsewhere. That elsewhere, connecting to each other in simpler ways, wide enough only for narrow boats and crossed by bridges.

It’s possible I need this drawn out. It’s possible it’s still bigger than I am.

This is the best part of being critiqued. It makes you think things you didn’t, before.


There was a story, told, in a sick-green room. A girl with skin so white it was blue, whose lips were ruby-shaded and cracked and often took to bleeding. Ellis sat on a vinyl chair, the backs of her knees were sweating and the sandwich she held in two hands was two days old. But fresh enough.

The girl had a gap in her two front teeth and would rap her knuckles against the pointed bone of her knee cap.

And she would tell stories.

And one of them was of the Tellers and the Watchers.

And of them was of the Vendor Chronos.

And one of them was a story of a woman who only wanted to remember and a man who in turn had to forget.

That, the girl had said, was the worst sort of lonely.


-Ellis Underground or, the book in need of a better title.

Written by Me.


you have to watch the first hour of a movie in which people reunite and awful things happen, set to the right sort of soundtrack, just before you re-read some previously written fiction that has kept you out like a line of New York deadbolts, in order to open a door that has spent so long being closed you wondered if the hinges would remember to work.

In the dark a rework hare sits on his haunches.

He is patient.

He was waiting.

flora and fauna and trees.

Beyond the door is another hallway. Three doors sit open, half-open, tinted violet and charcoal, black. Brick, red to rust, creeps halfway up the walls. The rest is paint, is peeling old wallpaper, patterned in old mirrors or picture frames. Tattered bits of fabric, stained and tinted, the colour of weak tea hang from the ceiling, a chair, folded, metal and rusted too, leans against the wall, beneath a window ledge.

Window, but this room is beside another, beside the faeryDoor.

Ellis turns and looks at Hansel, walks backward, staring at him.

“I told you this was the right door.”

She looks at him and then at Henka. Twists on her heel and turns again.

“It’s the last one.”

The last of the violet doors.

“Basil likes Violet,” she says.

“I know,” Hansel answers. 

And Ellis goes where Hansel tells her. There, through the third door.