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Showing posts from August, 2015

Wherein I Still Have My Nose and Ears

I decided to take the plunge.  I was going to chop a plot thread out of AAM so the story would fit in the contest word length restrictions.  I saved my old version and set up a copy for me to modify.

     Stories are like woven cloth.  Each plot thread is woven into the entire story.  So if I decide to cut a character or a side-theme, I have to go through the whole book, chopping out the references to it.  This leaves gaping holes and sometimes it looks like the whole story is going to unravel.  Everywhere I chop, I have to readjust the whole scene to keep the flow.  It's a rather ticklish procedure.

     Over the dinner table, I mentioned that I was chopping a sub-plot.  My younger sister protested loudly (she hasn't read it, but I previously told her the general idea).  Then my mom (who also hasn't read it) offered to read it and tell me what she thought could and couldn't be chopped.  I thought this was a silly idea -- I had already read it myself and chosen wh…

The Mental Ward - Emery Cries (4)

The child was dressed in a white tunic.  From her arms hung chains that were broken.  Emery could see chains dangling from the wall, where the child used to be restrained.       The people rushing into the room wore gas masks.  Emery coughed as the gas drifted out into the hallway.  The child on the floor fluttered her eyelids and murmured, rocking her head slightly, like a child talking in her sleep.  Hands reached down, lifting the semi-conscious girl up.  This was the creature they called Beastly?        Emery lifted her hand to her mouth and her eyes watered -- from more causes than gas alone.  She hated it, hated this place, hated whatever had put that child here.       "This is your fault," Pansy said again.       Emery turned and ran.
      Away from Beastly and past the office room, the hall turned to the right.  And near the end of that was a lobby of sorts.  Two red overstuffed chairs, a green couch, and a big clock on the wall.  Emery flung herself into one …

Snippet: Hunting

"We’ll be hunting the princess today.”  Matthias smacked Detlef’s shoulder and turned away.  “Funny thing…my heart’s not in it anymore.”

Show and Tell for 5MS

Hi, if you are writing a retelling for this year's Rooglewood contest, head over to Anne Elisabeth Stengl's blog and read the details about her upcoming Show and Tell event.  It's going to be so cool to see the stories represented!!!

The Mental Ward - Children (3)

The children were the saddest of all.  Emery's heart ached for them.  Rows and rows of sad, empty little faces sat in the cots every night.  Some rocked constantly, talking to themselves.  Some beat their heads against the walls.  Some made strange noises.
      But they were children.
      And nothing that Pansy said could change that.
      One night, after Emery walked down the middle aisle of one room, making sure each child was in the right bed -- the bed with their chart on the end of it -- she couldn't help but stop and look back at them.
      And then she began to sing.
      "Jesus love you, this I know.  For the Bible tells me so.  Little ones to Him belong.  They are weak, but He is strong.  Yes, Jesus loves you.  Yes, Jesus loves you.  Yes, Jesus loves you.  For the Bible..."
       From the end of the hall came the sound of ferocious banging.  It beat against the walls and echoed in Emery's ears.  Then feet scuffled outside her door.  People …

We'll Just Trim A Little -- Maybe Your Ears and Nose and a Couple Fingers

Some stories are too short.  Shortness has its own struggles, of which I am well aware.  But we'll save that for another post, because, right now, I am going through the agonies of a story that is too long.

      How do we fit a big story into a smaller package?

     First we read through to see if there are any big scenes that can be cut.  But we're rather attached to everything so we move on.

     Then we go through, trimming unnecessary words.  For example, I changed "found out" to "discovered."  Yay, that's one word less!  This is like cutting your fingernails...and maybe all your hair.

     This can trim your word count as well as make your narrative more streamlined.  Unfortunately, for the sake of our example, it doesn't take off enough words this time.

     Now comes the hard part.  Which fingers do you suppose you need the least?  And if we cut off your ears...and maybe the tip of your nose...everything is still mostly functional, righ…

The Mental Ward - Beastly Sounds (2)

Pansy was not the figure that Emery had imagined from the name.  The woman was short and heavyset with a sour expression.
      "Kinda small, ain't ye?"  Her words were so accusatory that Emery almost felt as if it were her fault for not growing better.
       "Quiet, too, I see."  Pansy ha-rumphed and waddled past Emery.
       Emery caught her breath.  Was she going to be fired before she could even start?  She hurried after the short woman.  "If you please, ma'am, I am a good worker.  I have 5 younger siblings so I'm used to children."  Her voice wavered.  "My father's away and my mother is ill and -- oh, please!  You have to give me a chance!"
      "Quit yer sniveling.  I've no time for it.  There are 400 inmates in this asylum, and the work is never done."  She stopped short and squinted her eyes at Emery, as if increasing their laser-like properties.  "And, regardless of their age, they AIN'…

Rooglewood Updates

Most of you who are entered in the Rooglewood contest this year are already following Anne Elisabeth Stengl's blog.  Did you see her post earlier this week?

     First of all, she said that submission forms are trickling in.  I haven't sent mine in yet, because I am not certain of my title.  But I'll probably send my form in the next 4 weeks.
     Which means I'll have to decide how many stories I am sending in.  I'm still tempted to send all three.
     Secondly, since she said things are quiet and she only mentioned submission forms, I take it that no one has sent her their actual stories yet.  Which makes sense since it is only August.  I always try to strike a balance.  If you send it too early, you waste the time that you could have spent editing and polishing.  If you send it too late, you are being discourteous to all the judges who have to read so many stories before their deadline.  Which means mine will probably try to fly the coop around…

Snippet: Cocky

Emil lifted one eyebrow cockily.  “You want to be invited to my wedding?”                                                                                                     ~AAM

The Mental Ward - Emery Gets a Job (1)

Emery's heart beat fast as she tied the white apron over her frock and tucked her hair into the little white cap.  It would seem that in a matter of minutes she had gone from penniless and unemployed to the proud owner of a paying job -- if only she could stay in the favor of her new employer.
     "Fresh linens daily.  The floors must be mopped every afternoon...and more often if needed."  The ward matron paused, looking down the rows of white cots with disgust.  The expression brought up pictures of vile excrement spewed across the gray linoleum, though they shone spotlessly at the moment.  Emery felt her heart quaver, but she did not let it show.  She had younger siblings at home -- this wouldn't be her first time cleaning messes.  And this job came with a salary.  Oh, how she needed it.
     The matron snapped back to attention, turning on her heel military style, and led on to the next room.  "You will take your orders from Pansy.  She will see that …

New Schedule

I am trying to organize my next few months to be more predictable.  So here are my plans:

On Thursdays, I will share snippets from one of my Sleeping Beauty retellings.  I've picked out enough quotes to carry us into November, so we should be good there!
On Wednesday and Saturday, I'm going to share a story, which I am writing as I go -- completely pantsing, which is a little scary to do in public.  We'll see where it goes and how long I can keep sharing installments.  But, unlike snippets, there isn't anything left out.  You are reading it like a series in a magazine.
And I'll leave Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays for other things, if I have them.  (Things like my comments on writing or on the upcoming Rooglewood contest, Beautiful People and other link-ups, and so forth.)
How does that sound?  We'll try it for a bit and see how it works.  :D

Rooglewood Writing: Part Two

Think about a story you would like to read.  A story that grabs you up and makes you not want to put it down.  A story that you end feeling glad that you read it.  
Now write it.

Snippet: Prince-worthy Behavior

Ilona pulled her arm away from Emil’s grasp.  “He’s a prince in HER eyes.” Her tone was sober and reflective, replaying the scene in her head.      “It’s only your eyes that I care about.” Emil ducked to see her face.  


The Four in a Line

They have four of us.  We stand in a line under their scrutinizing eyes like four ordinary citizens...except we aren't.  All four of us are secretly members of the French Resistance.
     You see the oldest on the right.  His name is Reymundo.  A more pious man you will not meet, and as stubborn as a French mule.  Once he believes himself to be right, there is no shaking him.  It makes him a difficult man in an argument at the dinner table, and sometimes he gets on my nerves.  But I owe him more than a little respect for the strength in which he stands against the German Nazis.
      The man to his left is Barrie.  He's been with us for 6 months...sort of.  His wife and two little girls do not know that he has joined our ranks.  At first, I thought he was not as committed to our cause as the rest of us.  He is quiet.  He comes, prints our newspaper, and goes home.  There's no fire in his eyes, no anger, no vengence.  It's not until recently that I've come to …

7-7-7 Challenge from Emily

Hello, lovely people!

     Emily at Taking Dictation nominated me for the 7-7-7 Challenge.  It involves me turning to page 7 in one of my stories, sharing the first seven lines in a blog post, and then tagging 7 other people to do the same.

     I accept the challenge.

     I will be sharing the first seven lines from page 7 in AAM.  Here it goes:

    “Rather a disturbing story for the heroine, isn’t it?” Detlef’s voice broke into her imagination, and Ilona blinked her eyes open to see the stone in-laid path and the overhanging branches once more.
      “Not really.  Cordula always ends with my papa’s decree that no one with a spindle be allowed near the castle, and the fact that I lived happily ever after.  I was never overly frightened.  My papa has always been big and strong in my eyes.”  She smiled childishly.  “He could protect me.”
       “I would have equal confidence in your Derwald people.”

        Ilona laughed merrily.

     There you have it.  I hereby tag: Kiri Liz, Katherine…

Wherein I Get a Tiny Thrill

I realize that my tiny thrill will seem tame to non-writer people.

You are expecting that I jumped on a zip line or petted a shark or something.

But, for me, it was reading (on Anne Elisabeth Stengl's blog) the line, "After all, one of YOU might be a featured author this time next year."

Believe it or not, I don't think about this much.  My focus is on my stories.  I write.  I edit.  I edit again.  Then I submit, and I wait to find out whether I earn the right to do even more editing.  I don't think about thrill you feel when you check the announcements page and find out you won.

Maybe it's because I'm not sure I will win.  Or maybe it's because I'm trying to pace myself for the long haul -- a lifetime of writing and editing and submiting.  Who knows.

But then I read the "After all...YOU."  And, zing! Adrenaline rush!

The thought that Emily
                        or Skye
                           or Jack

Snippet: In Gold and White

She felt the blood drain from her face.  It couldn’t be.  She read the summons again.  But there it was -- in gold and white.

Beautiful People: August

FRIENDSHIP EDITION Azelle, Mikaya, and Pritna from SPINDLE
1. How long have they known each other, and how close are they?
      They have been inseparable for almost as long as they can remember.
2. What's their earliest memory of being best friends?
     I'll let each girl answer this.
     Azelle: Pritna was following me around on the first day of school -- so that was a given.  Then I saw this regal red-head sitting by herself.  I marched over and told her her shirt was hideous.  She said 'okay' and we've been friends ever since.
     Mikaya: I was having a bad day so, in the cafeteria, I found a seat by myself.  Azelle and Pritna -- two girls from my class -- came and sat with me.  It was then I knew that we were best friends.
     Pritna: I just remember being really happy around them.  I don't know when it started.  They have always been my best friends.
3. Do they fight?  How long do they typically fight for?
      Hmmm...Mikaya?  Do you want to answer this …

Rooglewood Writing: part 1

It has now been 9 weeks since this year's Rooglewood contest was announced.  And, for anyone who is interested, we have a little over 21 weeks before our stories must be in Rooglewood's inbox.  Can you tell I am excited?  It's hard to believe that we are over a quarter of the way into this.

     For those of you who have not started, do not despair.  I know multiple people who didn't start their stories until late.  I think one of the winners, the first year, started quite late.  And I myself was still brainstorming when August rolled around last year.

     This year, however, I have some very rough first drafts to my name.  And I'm tinkering away on them, trying to pull an acceptable story out of the collections of words.

     Sometimes when you start writing, you uncover more elements to brainstorm.  For example, in AAM, I realized I need to finalize the setting in my mind.  What does her castle look like?  What is the fashion for nobility?  It's a littl…

New Idea

I got a new idea for a story tonight.

Some of you will be excited, and others will say, "oh, no! It's a plot bunny! Run, Esther, run!!!"

I understand.

But you have to see that it's important to me. Like SPINDLE, this one springs from something hard in my own life, something that even I don't fully know the answers to. But, like Ellie Sweet, I want to pour some of my own real life pain into it, and then figure it out in my imaginary world. Especially since I'm not the only one who faces stuff like this.

And that's part of what writing books is about.

Snippet: Why Don't You Take A Walk?

Ilona wrinkled her face reluctantly and glanced out the window.  But as she caught sight of a tall dark-haired young man strolling into the shrubbery, she found herself saying, “Thank you, Cordula.  I think I shall.”