Oh, Is That What That Was

I jumped up from the table
And ran into the woods.
You watched me go and sighed,
Then turned back to your food.

You know I get like this
When I’m chasing after faeries.
I’ll explain when I get back
Why—no—which spirit grabbed me.


I think we can all agree that bolting from the picnic table to capture this shot before I lost that light (it lasted another four minutes) was the right thing to do. My husband, after many years of my nonsense, just assumes I have my reasons and waits to see the photo/words/interpretive dance I’ve come up with. Sometimes it doesn’t pan out, and I just sit back down and we pretend nothing has happened.

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We Regret

rejection

rejection notice
just put it with the others
death by paper cuts


This is a fact of life if you’re submitting your work, especially at the beginning of the process. Knowing that intellectually and dealing with it emotionally are two different things. I have one rejection letter in my purse I keep forgetting about–clearly that one isn’t bothering me. The one I received this week, I had higher hopes for.

Here’s the thing–the story has to get to the right person, at a time when they have an opening for it, on a day when they’re receptive to it. That’s a lot of variables. There are two ways to increase your odds–improve your work, and submit it often. Tonight I’ll have a bourbon or two over the notice from this week, grieve just a tiny bit for something I wanted and didn’t get. Next week, I’ll get back to work.

I’d Like to Thank My Editor, Without Whom This Would Be Amateurish Crap

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“Have you thought about this?”
Well, no. If I had,
I’d have written it that way
Instead of writing it bad.

In fact, if I’d had a thought,
I’d have done that first,
Instead of the total rewrite
With which I am cursed.

“And what about this ending?”
I guess I’m not attached.
Though it’s in the title,
That too can be scratched.

I’ll write a new ending,
And it will be better.
But I’ll mourn for the old—
Every beloved rejected letter.

“It just doesn’t work.”
I know…I mean, I knew,
But knowing is different
Than hearing it from you.

I’ll start it all over,
Or better, it’s shelved.
Thank god for my editor
Who saves me from myself.


I have two editors, one for my YA fantasy books and one for my horror stories. Both provide me with something I can’t provide myself—objectivity. They also do something that your friends and relatives are reluctant to do. They’ll tell you when something is bad. I have been told (twice, at least) that my endings need to be redone on short stories. I am sometimes heavy-handed and clumsy with The Point. I very rarely make a technical or continuity error, but I WANT TO KNOW when I have. Knowing where the errors are allows me to fix them.

I’m poking a little fun at the language they use, but I enjoy conversations with my editors, even when their suggestions feel enormous and make me grumpy. Occasionally, I decide not to apply a specific criticism for artistic reasons, but the vast majority of the time—the editor is right. Now, if you’ll excuse me while I redo the ending that ruined my latest short story.

Ps. I know that the fourth line is grammatically incorrect. No letters please. You know who you are.

Pps. That’s a version of the first chapter of my fantasy novel, The Tiny Giant. If you want to read the final version, you can get it in paperback or on Kindle here. If you want a signed copy, you can get it from my online store here.

Go Suspend Yourself

fairy

Some like their entertainment
Containing only verified facts.
They quibble and they parse
When they should just relax.

I don’t like mistakes,
But bend truth with intention?
Your factual faux-pas
Is not even worth a mention.

So when the cat starts barking
And the dog climbs a tree,
It’s up to us to acknowledge
Your artistic liberty.


We watched “The Greatest Showman” last night, and man, does that not follow P.T. Barnum’s actual life. You know what? I DO NOT CARE. It’s a fabulous musical and I think captures a spirit he would have liked. A+, will wear the soundtrack out.

I like to be swept away. I like to believe in dragons and castaways and space full of life. I don’t like mistakes that take me out of the story (errors about finance and accounting do that every time), but if you need the main character to have purple skin and meet Robert Frost–you get down with your bad self. If someone does not have the imagination to follow you, well, they weren’t your audience, were they?

PS. The more perceptive among you may have spotted the subtle Photoshopping I did on that picture of my daughter. If you were fooled, well, I salute your receptiveness to the magic in the world.

Made With Concentrate

editnig bears

Sneak up behind me
While I’m unawares,
You might catch me
Eating editing bears.

Oh! So contemplative
And satisfyingly gummy,
I eat whole bags
When my first draft’s crummy.


It’s a bad habit, I know, but I’ve always had a weakness for gummy bears when revising or editing. Something about a pure sugar high makes it easier to connect, cut, and fix mistakes. If I ever need to go into battle, give me a pouch of Haribo beforehand, and I’ll be your bearserker.

What’s with all the bear puns this year? I dunno. It’s late.

Published: The Tiny Giant

full cover final

Look at that, I wrote a book. The Tiny Giant is published, available on Amazon and from my online store, and it’s really, really better than I could have hoped. I’ve been so busy with the last iteration, then the nuts and bolts of publishing, everything else got shoved to the side. A few things to know, for the writers interested in these things…

I wrote this book five times.

The first draft was about 83,000 words. The published edition is around 45,000 words.

The final draft has a completely different ending, four new characters, and holds the third “aging” of the main character—from 8 to 12 to 11.

The first draft had 18 long chapters. The final has 35 short ones.

A whole plot line moved to the next book, and a bunch of fancy fantasy world-building crap just disappeared.

The entire process took me four years.

I used an editor and a professional artist/designer at the end. (DO THIS if you possibly can.)

Also, I cried, I was on fire, I was depressed, and I laughed out loud. This is not a process for the faint of heart or those lacking perseverance. There are two things that I think got me through it.

  1. Be Too Dumb to Quit: A lot of what I’ve accomplished in life, well, I got to it this way. My first professional job had a glitch in the hiring process, and I had to temp for a while until a position opened up. I called the partner every week until he finally said he had something. I ran a half-marathon. I wrote a novel. I could have quit at any point, but I didn’t want to tell people I quit. I did all sort of drastic rewriting and revising and improving—because I’m too dumb to quit. It may not be an easy way to live your life, but I’ve been pretty happy with the results to date.
  2. They Can’t All Be Winners: Sometimes, stuff just doesn’t work. Characters, ideas, story lines, words. If you had a dozen children, odds are at least one wouldn’t work out like you’d imagined. I had to make painful, heart-wrenching decisions to get to the end with this. I had to cut things I really liked, true, but I also had to admit that some of it WASN’T GOOD. As much as I wanted the construct of magic I’d made to work, it wasn’t a winner. It was dragging everything down into the Pit of Incomprehensibility. When I took it out, everything was better. (I realize I may be opening the kimono a little much here, but I’m nothing if not OPEN.) On the good side of this, it shows that you’re taking risks when you have things that don’t work. I have a couple of short stories in my drawer that won’t ever get developed because THEY ARE NOT WINNERS. S’alright. I learned.

There will be a sequel, and I’ll be shopping it to traditional publishers as a series when I’m a few chapters in. I didn’t do much of that with The Tiny Giant. I felt like I wanted to learn what I was doing without the distraction–maybe that was dumb, but I still have a book and the publishers are still there. In the meantime, I’ve been doing school visits and that is terrific fun. Kids have the best questions–I might do a whole post about that experience.

If you want a fun, easy summer read, The Tiny Giant is for you. If you have kids in the 9/10+ age group around, this is great summer reading for them. There’s adventure, a dragon, and the unexpected. There are hard decisions. There are some very funny bits. Get it signed at my online store at Little Voices Publishing, or head over the Amazon and use that Prime shipping.

Now I’m working on Bitches and Dead People–all the stories are written and I’m working with a different editor on those, one with specific expertise in short fiction and some familiarity with the horror genre. It’s some fantastic writing, and I can’t wait to share it later this year.  Until then, I’ll be around a little more. Thanks for being here.


PS. Isn’t that cover the most gorgeous thing ever? Steve Ogden at Steve Ogden Art did the cover, book design, and little illustrations for each chapter head. Check him out on your fave media platform for his comics and the behind the scenes on The Tiny Giant. Here’s one of my favorite chapter illustrations. Bahahaha….IMG_7279

Receipt of Ideas

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Just write it down
No matter where
Card, receipts
Bleed it there

Capture that chaos
Before it’s gone
Scrawl investments
You may later draw on

When it bursts
Don’t edit, censor
The whirlwind creates
Sense comes after


I have little bits of words scrawled in the margins of everything in our house.  Some of it is probably disturbing for my husband, given the horror stories I write.  I’ve learned that I have to write down ideas.  If I think of a particularly poignant sentence construction, a clever rhyme, a novel that will surely both disturb and entertain–I write all that down.  If I don’t, I won’t remember it.

It’s a bit of young writer’s conceit that if an idea is worth pursuing, you’ll remember it.  Sorting your ideas this way is like having your toddler sort the mail.  You will absolutely get some mail.  The odds that it will be the boring looking electric bill are pretty slim, though, and you might need that.

I write it all down.  Some of it is nonsense.  Some of it I can hardly read.  Some of it turns into amazing stories or phrases or entire poems.  I fill notebooks.  It’s my hoard of possible treasure.

Note:  By “weekly,” I meant pretty much every week, not EVERY week, and by “Sunday” I meant around Sunday.  Last week I was finishing the last rewrite of The Tiny Giant and my head was wrapped up in that, as it should have been.  Have a great week.