Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Red (Fractured Fairy Tale #1)

In the spirit of Halloween, I've put together a mini-series of Fractured Fairy Tales. This is the first, based on Red Riding Hood. 


     When I was little, winter meant packing on layer after layer of wool sweaters. It meant huddling beneath a rough-spun quilt with baby Buck and Pa and shivering out the coldest nights, watching our fire sputter and die. It meant Pa looking at me helplessly, question in his eyes, and me sprinting the distance between the door and the woodpile, my toes numb before I could take more than a few steps. The year I turned fifteen, winter meant watching Pa wither and die beneath that same quilt, and waiting for sunrise so Buck and I could haul him outside our cabin. We burned him, his body wrapped in the quilt, and it wasn't until dusk that Buck nudged my hand, jolting me to my senses and reminding me that the dark brought the worst of the cold.
But I grew up, and Buck grew up, and winters came to mean the two of us trudging through hip-high snow checking snares and sharing whatever vegetables I'd managed to preserve the autumn before. Usually it was enough to keep the worst of the hunger at bay.

     Except when it wasn't.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


This is a story about editing. A ballad, if you will.

Here's the thing. Editing is hard.

So very, very hard.

First, you wait for the first rounds of edits to come back from almighty editor-types.

Then the email gets here, and you notice it’s a million paragraphs long and you think “Oh crap they hated it they hated it they hated it I’m a crap-flinging monkey.”

Then after an hour of freaking out you finally bite the bullet and read the email.

And the suggestions are totally cool and riddled with praise, but they want you to change a big part of the story.

And your soul is crushed into a million pieces.

But then you think about the suggestions.

And you think a little more.

And you re-read the email a hundred times and realize how awesome the story will be with those edits.


And you finish the edits so fast that you DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW IT HAPPENED.

And you re-send the email like a BAWS.

But then you realize … You’ve only moved on to round two.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Art of Revision

Six weeks became four, and Sever's in-progress again.

I'm no stranger to edits or revisions. My day job means they happen several times a day.

This is the first time I've edited something longer than 10,000 words, though.

And it really is a different animal.

I tend to have a fairly short attention span. It's not a horrific problem, just something I try to stay conscious of. Especially when I'm trying to do something especially tedious.

Editing. Is. Tedious.

I'm a tactile person. For whatever reason (probably my aforementioned short attention span) it's incredibly hard for me to sit down and make edits to a story when it's on my laptop. It's easier when it's a short story - there's only so far I can scroll, after all - but when I'm working with a 200+ page document, I catch myself scrolling, scrolling, skimming, skimming. Not a good thing to do when you're trying to go through a novel line by line, sentence by sentence, and tighten it up.

So. I printed it out. All 265 pages of it, and put it in a three-ring notebook.

Fifteen days later, what I've been referring to as 'paper edits' are done, and I'm in the process of transferring them to the electronic version of the novel. I'll re-print it once that's finished and pass it on to Beta Reader Number One.

It's been a learning experience. Namely, that I overuse certain phrases, in some cases to the point where I roll my eyes now when I see the phrase "part of me felt (x) but a larger part of me felt (y)." Ugh. Enough of that, LM.

While I'm dealing with the blows to my tender writerly ego, editing also means I'm not being quite as creative. Yes, the editing exposed passages, even entire scenes, that needed rewriting, but it's not the same as putting a story together from scratch. Several times, I've been tempted to churn a short story out, but I'm trying to focus all my energy on getting Sever to round three.

That's not to say I'm not enjoying it. It's satisfying, like scratching an itch that's been bothering you all day. It's making Sever better. Tighter. More solid.

Which, I hope, will eventually get it to where it needs to be.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Starting Over

A few weeks ago, I finished my first novel.

At first, I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself, whether I should start working on the hazy idea I had for a sequel, or polish a few short stories I've written in the last six months, or just take a breather from writing for a few weeks. All I knew was, my novel would be unopened for at least six weeks, so I can separate myself from it enough to edit it the way it deserves.

So, on a whim, I opened up the folder of story ideas that I add to every so often. There, at the top, was the (failed) plot for my first novel, the one that I gave up on after fumbling my way about a third of the way through it in 2010. I got to thinking about that story, and how I missed my two main characters, and I missed the setting (Deep East Texas, where Cade and I lived for two years).

Alright, I thought. I'll give it a try.

Fast forward two days. After starting from scratch and taking the story in a completely different direction than before, I'm about 5,000 words in.

What's kind of strange is starting a new novel, after working with about 40,000 words for over a year. With Sever, I had a framework in place when I re-started working on it in late 2011. That framework changed a lot, but it still gave me something to go on. Looking over the framework for TWoB (a working title), though, it all has to go. Everything except for the most basic plot.

At the same time, it's liberating. With Sever, by the time I was finished, I felt like I'd just been on a rollercoaster. Starting over, with TWoB, I'm back on the rollercoaster, but I'm at the part where I'm strapping myself in and being told to keep my arms and legs inside at all times. There's a tension to it - I know the ride will start, and I'll cruise up for a bit, then plunge into absolute chaos - but there's excitement, too.

I guess we'll see where this one takes me.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Looking forward, looking back

I'm not the best at New Year's resolutions. A long time ago, I realized that a day only has as much significance as I put on it, and now that I'm a (supposedly) productive member of society, New Year's Day is a day off work, an excuse to sleep in, and an opportunity to get caught up on laundry.

But that's not to say I just ignore the idea of New Year's resolutions entirely.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Re-reading this, there are so many things this story COULD be a metaphor for. It was mildly self-revelatory and written when I was in a pretty stormy mood. You can take whatever you want out of it.

The moment we caught the monster, sunlight broke over pink-tinged waves and ignited the low-hanging clouds into plumes of suspended fire.
Thick rigging rope quickly tore my hands raw, turning red with each hand-over-hand pull and heave and synchronized breath. Above us, Captain Wethers clung to the railing that lined the deck, leaning over the edge and staring into the water with wide, wild eyes. Every so often he’d shout back to us, encouragement or a threat to fling us overboard, let us tangle with the beast in its element, if we didn’t wrench it out of the water faster. A spear dangled in one of his hands, scratching circles in the railing’s filigree. Once we made it back to shore, someone – most likely me, I thought irritably – would be hunched over it for hours, carefully waxing and sealing the scrapes until they were invisible.
If we made it back to shore, I corrected myself.
The odds still dangled somewhere beyond our favor.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Now and Then

Every so often, I skim through my old entries. It's an exercise in shame and embarrassment, but occasionally a nugget will shine through and I can call it a lesson learned.

So here's the thing. This time two years ago (shoot, this time ONE year ago) I was convinced I was doing everything right. Networking, blogging, carefully working on this or that manuscript and sure it would be THE ONE that would do it. That it would land me an agent, or a professional editor, or a publisher. Dream come true.

It never occurred to me that I was missing out on the most important element.