hey, look, i made another collage!
A murder! Plague masks! Contingency officers! Memory guardians! A boy named Alice and a girl named Ellis!
hey, look, i made another collage!
A murder! Plague masks! Contingency officers! Memory guardians! A boy named Alice and a girl named Ellis!
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.
in the last month or so, my weird little WIP about fairytale princesses, complex relationships, love, murder, blood magic, blackmail and treachery (if all goes well!) grew from a tiny little thing, into 10 thousand words of magic.
Diego’s neck grew hot. His coat was still on, and the intyn leaf had long worn off, and so the memory of Niall twitched beneath his skin. “We delivered a body. A corpse. You can’t blow out a candle and expect the dead to walk. Resurrection is not so simple.” Diego had never believed in resurrectionist magic. He still, after all the years they’d known each other, eyed Markús with suspicion, and the tricks the man performed with only his hands. He had never believed the denizens of the Blood Red Wood gave life, just that they took it away.
I’m fortunate that my CP is a genius, and upon reading directed the story in a much more plot-logical way, so now it is about notes and planning and coming up with the middle to avoid the muddle, and then the ending. I guess I know what happens in the end, which is what makes fiction different from real life.
I was talking to my writing chums last night — once a week I meet up with 2 or 3 other writers just to write — about how characters, for me, come fully formed, and that I’m terrible with planning, and coming up with cause/effect. It’s just not how my brain works. My brain works in emotional reactions. But in order to have a reaction, I have to have already put my character in a situation. And not just on paper, I have to know how they felt when it was happening, and how they lived through it and I learn through writing them. I don’t suspect this is different from other writers, really, but for me it’s the germ. It’s the genesis.
Which is why it’s really important for me to have CPs and readers that are great at plot bunnies, and cause/effect. I can see it in other people’s work, but usually not in my own.
But this, this Happily (n)Ever After. Gah. I am so deep in love with it already. Markus, the blood magician and his boyfriend Rayif. His lover, Diego, and their lover Annabel and the place where they all intersect and how relationships aren’t ever equal, and jealousy and complexity and all of those things.
Also blood. Because why not.
I think I just wanted to write a book about a blood magician. Because one showed up in The Mourning Wolves, too, and his name was also Marcus (for reasons – I had an RP character years ago, who was also a blood magician, whose name was Marcus, because why not? And I just wanted to find the right place to put him), but now poor Marcus will be expelled from the wolves, and instead, live with the princesses in the place called Aetherny.
I think he’ll be happy there. I’m pretty much happy wherever he is, which I guess says something about me, and i am TOTALLY OKAY WITH THAT.
And, due to the Terminus announcements (because i am way lucky to live in a place that has an industrial/electronic/dark music festival), bought The Rain Within: Thunderheart, which is syrupy, slightly gloomy 80’s influenced synthpop, and it its beautiful.
It’s also Feb 24. 242. Which means it’s international EBM day. And although the world is full of wonderful ebm, I share with you this classic, by our friends Front 242. I’m guessing you just made the connection.
What else? We bought tickets to see Logan. And I am beside myself with excitement, and I realize it’s because Logan reminds me of my husband Joel, and his sidekick Ellie, but I have actual super high hopes for Logan as a superhero movie that doesn’t annoy me. Also, there’s something about woodsy Hugh Jackman that is just working for my ovaries.
I would also super really like a release date for The Last of Us 2. Okay? Okay.
But first I have to finish editing my YA. But not today, because I’m going to see Matthew Good, and then tomorrow my aforementioned William.
Because sometimes life is kind, and full of fun.
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.
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.
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.
Order of business, is that in an unexpected move, I’m heading to LA in mid-October for the Das Bunker 20th Anniversary party, because someone I love is ultra squee over the Covenant live show, but the overall lineup is bananas: VNV Nation, A23, Covenant, High Functioning Flesh, my beloved Author & Punisher, my friend iVardensphere (not sure he knows he’s my friend, but whatevs. Yay Scott!), end.user, the Legendary Pink Dots and about 5billion other bands you have also never heard of, including my Aesthetic Perfection, who are performing songs off of an early album as a joke, and it makes me laugh (you know that thing where your music project evolves but everyone is still stuck in 2006. Yeah, it’s like that. FUNNY).
I am a bit amused to see VNV Nation twice in a month, as they’re bringing their Compendium show here (3 hours of snappy Ronan action!), I don’t even listen to much VNV anymore, but am still excited about this as the first show I’d ever seen in what is now “My Thing”, was VNV/Icon of Coil back in 1806.
In additional, writingly-news:
A.Y. Chao (who is probably the single-best resource for writing workshop information) recommended the Discovery Story Magic series for character development, and I’m almost finished – started with graphing/gridding Gingerbread to identify sticky-open plot places within the character’s journey. When the rewrite of GB is done (which, at the rate I’m going is probably going to take forever, bc reasons!) I’ll go through it for both The Mourning Wolves and Ellis, Underground. In a way I’ve got the bones of it all, as I tend to understand my characters on an emotional, if not practical, level — I don’t know their favourite cereal, but I for sure know how they feel if they find themselves standing on the stoop in the middle of the night with a snowstorm blowing around them.
So far, I’ve gone through DSM, and then I did a chapter breakdown which showed me some seriously glaring holes in my structure, so yay! also: boo. But, I am nothing if not resilient. If anyone asks, the answer is Yes, writing is precisely like running into a wall 300X a day. I’ve cut my first two chapters up, changed up my inciting incident, moved what was the II to chapter 2 (or I will, as soon as I stop procrastinating through this here blog post. :D), to make it maybe the first plot point – although, maybe it’s still too early for the first plot point, but I needed to up the haps and suggestion from People Smarter Than Me was more character development in the first 2-3 chaps (I tend to be a slow writer, as in I am not a whiz-bang plot a minute go-go-go writer, so feedback is often “pretty, but nothing happened”. I have learned not to take that feedback personally, but still. Man, this business is hard).
what else? OH! I finished “I’ll Give You the Sun”, which was kind of amazeballs. I thought the characters were maybe a bit too awesome for their own good – the characters were well-developed and they sure had faults, they were just very fancy? like, in the way they’d built their outlook on the world, and the way they approached it was very Inside of a Novel, however! I cried. Pretty much. Not a full, on ugly Oprah Cry like I did for The Road, cuz that was a moment that is likely to never be repeated, however! IGYTS is lovely, and wonderful because even though the characters are pretty shiny and the framework is snappy, underneath the shiny they read like really complicated, honest, sad people and OMG I LOVED IT SO MUCH.
anyway, here’s a snippet of the new first-draft-messy that I’m adding to GB:
But then Emeric smiled, and tapped his fingers to his face and Quince grabbed a tea towel and wiped some of the green goo away and for a second it was like all that time hadn’t passed at all.
But then Quince blinked, and maybe stuff got clear because a sadness slipped over his face and my own heart sunk.
Emeric just looked a little bit sheepish, and whole lot beautiful.
Quince said he was art, like straight out of the Louvre art, where everything was carved from marble and stone and people stood around and gawked and pointed, but mostly they just blushed because hot was hot no matter the medium. I had to take his word for it.
You can easily see the troubles already – two sentences starting with ‘but’, for a start. Really, sentences should never start with But, however! sometimes a girl’s gotta make a stylistic choice. That someone will, later, mark out in red pen.
in an effort to be the hippest writer in hiplandia (actually, I can’t even say that’s true b/c I had no idea magically hipster pencils existed until I went to the stationery store), when I was looking for a plain, blank journal (no lines, people! lines restrict! I dunno, I’m on a blank-page kick), and found a midori journal, and of course leave it to our minimalist friends to make a super simple but beautiful journal –I mean, it’s the plainest notebook in plainlandia, but soooo pretty) — I also found Blackwing pencils (and bought one, but I think it is too soft and next time will try the pearl AND I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST TYPED THAT SENTENCE, BRB, I’m going to go drink my cold brew coffee in front of my edison bulb lamp while I google places to eat in Portland), because for some reason I’m into pencils, instead of pens. I suspect it’s because they come with erasers and I’m tired of crossing out the bad ideas i have. Erasers make them go away.
even though the lines are gone, you can still feel their ghosts.
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.
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:
honestly, the Prairies are the best.
*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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
Thanks for reading!
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?
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!