Introducing: The Tiny Giant

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Okay, fortune cookie.  I did.

Here’s an elevator pitch for The Tiny Giant, the novel I’ve been working on for nearly three years.

The Tiny Giant follows the adventures of a very small giant and a suburban boy with a big imagination, brought together to explore a hidden landscape of magical beasts and threats in a struggle to right a centuries old injustice.

Boiling the 70,000 word novel down into 40 words is an exercise in beating one sentence to death, but I’m getting close.  The Tiny Giant is a suburban fantasy, a novel set in familiar surroundings for many of us.  The lush green Pacific Northwest provides a beautiful, albeit damp, backdrop.  Imagine waking up one morning to find that you’ve been brought into a world you never knew existed, just because you planted a seed on a whim?

Dan, one of our two protagonists, is a 12-year-old boy with a fairly normal life until he meets Zeeble, the 18″ tall giant in his garden.  Everything goes a bit sideways from there.  The woods behind Dan’s house are not what they seem, and a world Dan never suspected brings him new wonders and dangerous enemies.  Exploring themes of loyalty, justice, and making up for the mistakes of the past, Zeeble must overcome centuries of inaction to do the only right thing.

As for me, I’m preparing the cover letter and other materials to submit to agents and publishers.  I’m working out what the second novel for these characters looks like, and I’m excited to start writing it.  The working title is The Unnatural Giant, and after writing about 150,000 words in total to get the first book ready for its close-up, I suspect I’ll be a little better at it this time.

I’ve had that fortune from a long-forgotten restaurant for about 10 years.  I’ve spent three years working and reworking The Tiny Giant.  I have never been more nervous about being a novelist than I am right this minute, on the verge of rejection or acceptance.  And we step off the high dive and …. see what happens.

How could anyone not write a novel set in these woods?

How could anyone not write a novel set in these woods?

On School Days, We Write

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I finished rewriting The Tiny Giant at the beginning of August. I let it sit for three weeks to redistribute the juices before I read it.  Honestly, I was scared to tears of it.  Here’s why:  I worked really hard for six months rewriting it, and maybe it wasn’t any better.

That rewrite was the most painful writing I’ve ever done.  The new book is about 10,000 words shorter, but more than that, it’s almost unrecognizable.  A different, better writer did this version.  I learned so much writing 150,000 words over the last two and a half years.  A lot of those words didn’t survive, and some of them are different stories, but they were all critical to getting here.

Two weeks ago, I finally read the new manuscript.  You know what?  It’s good.  I have a handful of things I’d like to change, but it’s nothing like that half-in, half-out thing I did right before it, the in-between the First Reader draft and here.  I’m all in, and it shows.

What did I actually DO differently?  I gave myself permission to write whatever needed to be written, even though it’s aimed at a YA audience.  I will probably go and scrub the one time I wrote “FFS” in the dialogue–that was just a placeholder–but moving the intensity up gave it higher stakes.  I practiced writing in different formats, short stories and etc…  This cut my rambling descriptions down naturally, gave me better economy and impact.  I made myself uncomfortable.  I took chances, and I wrote from a highwire instead of a comfy nursery glider.

The kids are in school now, and I have longer blocks of time to edit and fix the little things.  I need a coherent synopsis and a cover letter to send out.  End of September?  You betcha.  I’m excited to get there.  That doesn’t mean I’m not procrastinating… like writing a blog post about it…but I’ll get there.

Sink

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               Officially notified, she sat down at her desk, staring without seeing.  There was something she had to do, but she couldn’t figure out what it was.  This was all wrong, and they were expecting some sort of response.  Her eyes roved across the items on her desk, on her shelf next to it, pens, notebooks, should she write in a notebook?  Stab into an artery with one of the pens? 

               She stopped at the little bottle of Higgins ink.  Unopened, purchased for some creative urge that was never satisfied.  She carefully tore the top of the box and pulled the bottle out by the rubber dropper.  The others shifted, uncomfortable at her silence but unwilling to break it.

               She grasped the bottle with her left hand and turned the dropper lid with her right.  Not that old, then.  It opened easily.  She squeezed hard, forcefully, then closed her eyes and released.  The full dropper was pitch black, the liquid form of a vaporous emotion.  She cupped her left hand and let the drops of darkness fall into it, splashing, filling her palm, small spraying dots marking her white desk.

               The dropper went back into the bottle.  She put her hands together, floating the ink evenly across her palms, like she did with her moisturizer every morning while Adam was in the shower.  Adam would not be in the shower tomorrow.  She pressed her hands to her face and pulled the color of hollowness across both cheeks, her forehead, her eyelids, scrubbing it in.  The outside would reflect the inside.  This was right.  This was what she was supposed to do.

Eternal Restroom

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I know you’ve been tempted to follow Death,
But don’t open that door, you’ll be mortified.
Yes, of course I want to keep you here…
It’s just…the afterlife is occupied.

Note: And with that, we’re done here. 31 poems in 31 days, from a campsite, from my office, from my heart and from my juvenile sense of humor. I saved this for last, because the picture is very … final. I would love to know if anyone has a favorite; I suspect it would be different from mine! Now we go back to the usual sporadic Bad Poem-Every-Once-In-A-While schedule, which might be weekly (ish). Thanks so much for being here. Any comments about the experiment welcome.

Now, with school starting, I will edit The Tiny Giant (oh, yeah, I finished the manuscript rewrite in early August…more later about that) and write some more of these dark twisty short stories that have been rattling around waiting their turns. I’ll see you all early next week with a grim little piece of microfiction called “Sink.” Since we’re into experimenting and all…

No, Mrs. Johnson, I Never Did Improve At This

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I bought one of those books–
Coloring for adults.
They evangelize them so much,
It’s like they’re forming cults.

“It’ll relax you!” they said,
So I got out my shiny pencils.
I sat and scribbled and scratched.
In five minutes, I was mental.

The stress involved in choosing
Colors for each insanely tiny space
Was “relaxing” an agonized grimace
Onto my tightly scrunched up face.

If you’re into this crazy fad,
Please don’t let me yuck your yum.
Deep inside, I must still be five,
Yelling, “Coloring is dumb!”

Note:   Mrs. Johnson was my first grade teacher.  She despaired at my terrible pencil grip for as long as I knew her.  Also, I bet you’re dying to know what I’ve saved for last. Me too. Tune in tomorrow to find out what’s running the last leg of this relay.

Horizontal

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Very often when I’m cleaning,
Excavation is the goal.
Resurfacing the counters
That disappeared so long ago.
In what seems like seconds,
Crap sprouts like frickin’ weeds.
All our junk in giant piles,
Like chronic skin disease.

Note:  This is not what I consider a “giant pile.”  This is almost cleared off, thank you very much.

Murder Me, Please

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When my time comes to go,
I’d like it best to be
A murder most heinous
Like on mystery TV.

I’ll leave Cabot Cove
On a sheet-covered stretcher
Under the penetrating gaze
Of Miss Jessica Fletcher.

A Franklin Terrace gang hit
‘Cause I got crossed in The Wire.
Trampled by horses and branded,
A puzzle for Longmire.

Miss Marple would do for poison
Some ex-lover slipped in tea,
But call DI John River
If the investigation needs ESP.

My little gray cells are splat?
Then get the fine cells of Poirot.
If the murderer’s overconfident–
Take him off guard, Columbo.

DCI John Luther
Will kick ass whenever required.
Remington Steele will give his bond
To see the murderer retired.

No? You’d rather a gentle end
At Midsomer-by-the-Sea?
I’ll still get my grisly death
And you’ll have to call Barnaby.

Note: Obviously, I love me a good TV murder mystery, old or new. I just started watching “The Killing” on Netflix, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. All time biggest favorite? Probably “River,” also on Netflix. That’s a masterpiece, and believe me, I have a LOT to compare it to–gorgeous story and fantastic performances. I read a lot of mystery novels, too. I find it relaxing to follow the detective and see where he/she goes. Being a type-A, it’s a relief when somebody else is responsible for something, even fictitiously.

Also, for those of you following along at home: I worked on the deck rail today. Here’s a shot of some of it actually done. I’m going to make sure I get all the spots I can see out my windows first.

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