TagWren

Tell me something

There are only two rules about what you tell me: it has to be about writing, and it has to be happy. I’m in the mood for hearing other people’s good news. I know, I know, I never have the comments open so no one will know they can leave a comment, and chances are it will be silent as the grave around here.

But let’s not leave it silent. Let’s make it noisy with good things about writing, just for today. I’ll start.

1. Next week I have three uninterrupted days in which to finish all the projects I’ve been procrastinating on, and possibly get a few new pieces ready to go out.

2. I’ve been looking over my revisions of Wren and feeling kind of excited about getting it to a couple of readers.

3. New ideas! They have come to me!

4. M.E. Garber said nice things about Phoenix here. (I suppose I should point out that there are also reviews available at Amazon.)

Also, M.E. Garber is participating in the Clarion West Write-a-thon this year. Right now, as a matter of fact. Consider stopping by her blog and leaving her some encouragement. A-thons of all sorts are so much better when people cheer you along.

Smooch smooch

A confession. I like writing first kisses.

I’d make a horrible erotica writer. I’d make a horrible romance writer (in the commercial publishing sense of the word). I’m not very interested in the follow-through, just in those few moments of discovery. So much can be contained in a kiss. There are times when I think the entire story of The Lost can be boiled down to three very different kisses.

Phoenix also has just three–two magical, one, well, that one’s magic is of a different sort. At least it is for Tucker, experiencing his first kiss: The space between us vanished, his hand traveling along my cheek, my neck, before he pulled me into a kiss. A regular kiss, but I believed it could turn my hair white, leave moonlight on my lips. I think I made a little squeak of some sort, his shirt rough as I gripped it.

Wren makes me suffer a bit. Wren has the kiss that doesn’t happen. Thwarted energy is a good thing for a novel, but it can be hell on the writer. At least it is when you know you’re setting up something that plays out over four books. All those turns, all those possibilities lost with each simple action taken.

In another book, the unwritten one, the kiss happens, and another path is taken, and the series becomes a single book whose ending comes with a white picket fence and a garden with roses in front. It would make for a wonderful life, but perhaps a boring story.

No kiss.

Friday notes

Hey! Look, “Phoenix” is almost here! Two weeks to go!

Okay, that’s it for exclamation points for today. Perhaps for this week. It makes me a little lightheaded to use three in a row.

In other news, revising, revising. Skinny-dipping stays, for now. Long convoluted conversation goes. Could feel like drudgery, but for today it’s fun.

Sea Glass update

“Sea Glass” is here!

Again, thank you to the hardworking folks at Abyss and Apex. They put together a beautiful publication.

“Sea Glass” was the first short story I wrote after my dry years. It comes from a story mentioned in The Lost about a girl, a beach, and an experience that broke two brothers apart and set the stage for everything that happens in Wren and the Aware novels.

But first there are just Elgin and Jacob and Beth.

Story facts?

It was originally called “Beach Glass.” Then, in a fit of writer insecurity, I read up on beach glass and sea glass and decided the name should be changed.

I’ve hiked down to a cave full of anemones a handful of times. It’s beautiful, and only accessible at absolute low tide.

I feel like I should have more interesting things to say about this story, but at the moment it just feels good to see it published.

No reading today

I have no recommendations today. I’ve spent the last few days in a whirlwind of birthday stuff (not mine) and trying to get life in order, and I haven’t been doing any reading online. Offline, I haven’t been good for much beyond crossword puzzles.

I saw the proofs for “Sea Glass” at Abyss and Apex, and they’ve made it gorgeous. Really. Sending out stories is such a long process, and rejection so much a part of it, and by the time someone buys a story, you feel grateful for the mere fact it sold. To then have the pleasure not only of seeing it in print, but seeing treated so carefully feels very good.

I’ll put up a link when I know it’s out. As I mentioned last week, free online fiction deserves financial support. If you read and enjoy stories at Abyss and Apex, please consider stopping by the donation page and subscribing.

In other news, I think I’m just about done with my promotional materials for “Phoenix.” That also feels very good. Though I’m off schedule with Wren, I’m still close to finishing, which will be celebration-worthy. And for the next few days, I’ll be considering how best to rework the ending of a story I love for a publication I love. Here’s hoping I’m able to rise to the challenge.

Happy April!

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.

The waiting

The moon is beautiful tonight. It hangs just beyond the trees in the backyard, and I can watch it through the windows by my desk. Around the full moon everything changes here. The cats run back and forth through the house late at night, and the children sleep fitfully, and I…well, I dream of puppies.

But that’s another story entirely.

I’ve had two days now of no writing. It shows. I’m unable to relax when I don’t write. I pace, mentally, if not physically. My mind is with my characters, and I make them pace as well. We all languish, trapped in the equivalent of a break room in my head, a space with dingy walls, smelling of stale smoke and sweat, everyone sniping at one another.

There’s also this thing about writing novels, about the way they build and build until suddenly they have incredible forward momentum. To pause in the midst feels a bit like asking an avalanche to wait politely while you finish cooking dinner. Only in this case, you’re the only one disturbed by the avalanche. No one else understands why you’re jumpy and upset.

It will wait. It must wait. Tonight the moonlight will reflect off the snow and light the bedroom, and the cats will yowl and tussle, and the kids will talk in their sleep, and I will dream, not of puppies, but of a rocky coast and the cold ocean water and a girl swimming out into the dark.

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.

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