TagThe Lost

An introduction

You are sixteen.

You’re different from the others in your neighborhood. Your family keeps to itself. You spend nine months of the year at a boarding school by the ocean, one not listed in any school directory. You don’t go there because you choose to, you go there because it’s what you do, what your parents did, what everyone like you does.

Because you are Aware.

Being Aware isn’t something you’ve chosen. It’s just part of you, like the color of your hair, the color of your eyes, the shape of your nose. The way you can see anger, or fear, or desire, as color, as texture, can watch them spread from one person to the next. To you.

The only place that’s safe, the only place that’s quiet, is the Estate. It’s school, it’s home, it’s the safe haven for the Aware. The only thing it asks for in return is your future, your mind, your body, all given to help preserve your endangered people.

The rules of the Estate keep you safe. They keep all the Aware safe, protecting those elegant fragile minds from the emotional debris of an overcrowded world. From the inside, in this safe place, you’ve no reason to question the rules.

But you’re not quite on the inside. You’ve been keeping a secret. Every mind around you gives off a pulse, a smell, a trail of pleasure and pain that you can follow. You shouldn’t know these things. Only Trackers do. And everyone knows what happens to girls with Tracker traits. At the end of a path through the woods waits a building with a chain link fence around it. Within its walls live the women born with and destroyed by skills only men should have.

The Estate keeps them safe too.

Sometimes life can change within a day, an hour, a minute. The way it does when you learn that other Aware exist, far from the reaches of the Estate. That your talent won’t destroy you, but not being allowed to use it will.

You are sixteen. You have a choice. Stay with The Estate. Fulfill your obligations. Hide who you are. Or betray everything you know, and be free.

You are Wren.

Sea Glass

A little more good news.

“Sea Glass” is a simple story. Two brothers, an ocean, a girl on the beach. Despair that runs like black ink through the water, joy that fills the air like kite streamers in the wind.

It’s also so much more to me. The conflicts of The Lost originate in the events of “Sea Glass”. Without those brothers, and that ocean, and that girl on the beach, there would be no novel series for me. I wrote it after I wrote The Lost, then sat on it for a long time, too chicken to send it out.

Now it has a home. The good people at Abyss and Apex will be including it in their April 2012 issue. I couldn’t be happier!

Updates

When I said I’d have good news soon, I forgot to qualify “soon” in terms of publishing time. The news is still there, and I’ll share it as soon as is reasonable. Promise.

In the meantime? Cracked 70K on Wren. It’s taken a little bit of time to get back into it, but that’s only to be expected after a year or so vacation from it. The good news is that the year off let me grow as a writer. The bad news is that this draft will require that much more editing to make the two halves fit together. That’s okay. I’m happy to look at it as part of my writerly education.

Once I finish a draft of Wren, I can plot out the necessary changes to the remaining books of the series. The second book was originally the first (in fact the second book was written as a standalone–I never saw it as part of a series until long after I’d written it), but somewhere along the way I realized that I’d started in the wrong place. “Somewhere” in this case meaning two and a half books into a (then) three book series, and “wrong place” meaning a whole book too late.

The really great news though is that it’s finally all in place. Character arcs, story arcs over individual novels, over the entire series, all major plot events, with the exception of one or two things that I’m waiting to the end to sort out–I’ve got them all. I started this project in 2009, and my goal is to reach the end by the close of 2012. I think it may actually happen.

And then? I’ll be free to work on a standalone novel that’s been waiting patiently for a long time. Woohoo!

Little Bird

I’ve been working on Wren’s Book this weekend. Wren came from The Lost, showing up first as a minor character, a spy whose most noteworthy characteristic was that I changed her name every time I revised the story. Somewhere along the way, I decided I needed to know more about her, about why she’d risked her life to save the people she saved. No problem. I did what I usually do, and started a short story. I have a handful of these, most of them little more than character sketches. They live in a file on my computer, and I read them from time to time when I’m bored.

The trouble with Wren, however, is that her story turned out to be something more than I expected. Characters sometimes do that, have a hidden life far more complex than expected. I decided to ignore her, and continued writing the second book in The Lost series. She showed up again, this time toting a bit more story. Now she’d grown beyond being a scared teenage spy with a mercurial name who existed as something of a plot prop. She’d become a woman commanding a great deal of respect from her peers, a woman who once again saves someone in an unexpected way.

Fine. I could accept that there was more to her than I thought. I finished the draft of that book and continued on to the final book of the series. Halfway through? There was Wren again, and this time she was front and center, the key to a rather complex emotional piece of the story.

Wren gets her own book now. I started and stopped it several times, struggling, until I realized the problem was not in the story, but in how I kept thinking it should be told. I had to put aside my assumptions in order to be able to move forward. It’s finally flowing now. At this point, with about 2/3 written, I’m starting to feel pretty good about where it’s going. I hope to have the draft finished within a month.

I’m having fun.

The sound of two hands typing

January, 2009.

One morning I woke up with the thought that maybe I should try writing again. After all, it’d only been fifteen years since I last wrote anything, and I had this new feeling that maybe I had something to say. It couldn’t possibly hurt to try.

It didn’t hurt. It was spectacular. Now, sometimes, I experience that same feeling while writing, but only for brief stretches of time. Nothing can top the sheer intoxication of the months it took to get the first version of The Lost down on paper.

Why? Because during that time I wrote for myself alone. I had no expectation that anyone else would ever read my story. I was amazed, continuously, by things as simple as the fact that every day I got up and still wrote. After years of silence, I had things to say. After years of being defined through my relationships to others, here was a place where I defined myself, as writer.

Writing requires work, but work can mean so many things. Sometimes it means puzzling over a sentence for hours, and sometimes it means cutting scenes you love, but sometimes it also means allowing yourself freedom from the infernal editor who lurks within and says no, not like that, no one will ever want that, and challenging yourself to feel joy instead.

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