An Inauspicious Start

One of my goals for 2014 is to blog at least weekly.  While this is a weak goal compared to previous years (every day, anyone?), take a look at the calendar.  It’s already the third week of the year, and only my first post.  Ah, well, I’m not going to give up because of an inauspicious start.

Another goal I have for 2014 sounds a lot like last year: I want 12 reject letters for Dragon.  That means I’ll at least have a few Query Count updates I can use for posts! 🙂

Believe it or not, even though the gap is gone and story has taken a backseat to life, a few new ideas are perking in my head.  There are still some scenes I want to write for Mara’s tale.  A young dragon has raised his head and suggested that perhaps another novel in the same world as Dragon is in order.  I would also like to go back and revise Unexpected – there are some good bones there, they just need a little more meat.

So perhaps 2014 won’t be a banner writing year, but at least I can make some progress on a few fronts.

Goal Complete!

I just wanted to give you a quick update on Query Count 2013: I have received the tenth rejection letter for Dragon for the year!

There may be some of you thinking that I’m strange for being happy about a negative response.  At the beginning of the year I decided to remove the teeth from rejection.  Yes, the bite of a “no thanks” still stings, but it no longer has the power to leave me bleeding and anxious.

How did I do this magic, you may ask?  Some of you already know that I set a goal of ten rejection letters this year.  That way each letter, while still a negative, also had a positive side.  I got to make a little tick on the goal sheet, making the “no” something at least a little bit more desirable,

If you remember my last query update, I do still have one pending letter because I sent one more than I needed to reach the goal.  Regardless of the results of that letter, I at least met my goal for 2013.

Now I need to figure out what my publishing-related goal will be for 2014.

Query Count 2013: Rejections: 10, Pending: 1, Still to Send: 0

1000!

This is officially my 1000th post on this blog. 🙂

Thank you to those who’ve been following since July 2010.  Thank you to those who have joined us since!  If this is your first time, welcome and thanks for visiting.

I feel like I should do something cool for post #1000.  I don’t have anything new or exciting, but I do have an excerpt from Dragon Pendant for you.  Enjoy!

***

“Hey, Mom sent you something,” Carrie said, mildly surprised, as she tossed a padded envelope across the table.

Ann made a face.  “What on earth would she send me?”

“I don’t know.  Open it and find out.”  Carrie slit the top of an envelope with her manicured nail and pulled out a bill.  Ann watched for a moment before brushing an errant strand of hair off her face and turning over the padded mailer labeled prominently ‘Fragile’.  Pondering it as she passed it between her hands, Ann finally shrugged and stuck her bitten-off thumbnail under the flap of the envelope.

Once she tore it open, she pulled out a folded note.  As she skimmed through the contents, Carrie asked lightly, “What does it say?”

Instead of answering, Ann pushed on the folds of the envelope and carefully poured the contents onto the table.  A pewter pendant on a long chain gleamed dully back at them.  The two sisters looked at the dragon, wings outstretched, a perfectly smooth golden-colored gemstone grasped in its claws.

“It’s Grandma’s necklace,” Carrie said, her eyes wide.

Ann nodded and passed her the letter.  “She wanted me to have it.”

Carrie cleared her throat and read aloud using her ‘court voice’.

“Dear Ann, Hope you are well, blah, blah – okay, here’s the good part.  When your grandmother was ill, she made me promise to give you this necklace once you were old enough.  It was an heirloom from your grandfather’s family in the Old Country, and he had asked when you were born for it to eventually pass to you.  I had set it aside with her other belongings when she passed and just rediscovered it in the box of her jewelry while clearing out the closet.  As it is yours, I am sending it to you.  Please remember that it is irreplaceable and take special care of it.”

Ann snorted at the last line.  “She really doesn’t trust me with jewelry, does she?”

“Because you never wear any,” Carrie replied with a hint of scolding.  She set down the note, leaving the remaining words unread.  “Are you going to try it on?”

As Ann lifted the pendant off the table, she felt a slight pulse run through her hand and arm.  She glanced down at the dragon resting in the palm of her left hand.  The translucent stone seemed lit from within.  Delicately she touched the jewel with the very tip of her right middle finger, concerned about the glow but suddenly drawn to the necklace as if it was a missing part of her.  The stone seemed to pull her in; she couldn’t take her eyes off the pendant.

Without warning, Carrie snagged the chain and pulled the dragon out of Ann’s hand.   Ann instinctively growled low in her throat and tried to snatch it back.

“Calm down,” her sister said, oblivious to the depth of Ann’s violent reaction.  “I’m just going to fasten it for you.”

Ann felt a sudden point of warmth against her chest, keeping her from replying.  Carrie settled the dragon and fastened the chain. A weight Ann had never known was there suddenly lifted from her shoulders.  She breathed a deep sigh of unexpected relief, feeling for the first time as though her world was aligned, as if some key piece to her puzzle had fallen into place.  There was more to this family heirloom than she knew, but Ann was certain she would never take it off again.

Music and Fiction

Everyone has music that they like, that moves them, that sparks a memory.  Currently there is a song that brings a story scene into my head any time I hear it.  That song is “Heartbreak Warfare” by John Mayer.

I’ve mentioned in an earlier post that this song inspired an important part in the ending of Dragon Pendant.  One day when it came on the radio I started thinking about the scene in question and something in the song helped my brain resolve the problem.  I’ve since worked out more details of the scene, to the point that I now have a fairly clear picture of it in my head.  I’ve also written a lot of it down.  Every time the song plays on the radio, the scene plays in my mind.  It makes me think about Dragon Pendant and other parts of the story.  This is a problem, for one reason.  I’m supposed to be working on With Honor and the sequel to Butterflies, not Dragon Pendant! 

Oh, well, I guess it’s one of those inspiration things, right?  I should write what I have in my head.  This might mean switching to Dragon if the problem continues.  🙂

Jewelry

There are three significant necklaces in my stories.  One will appear at the end of With Honor and also plays a role in Butterflies.  It’s not an expensive piece of jewelry; instead it has sentimental value.  This is a simple necklace: the pendant is a stone cut into the shape of a horse, hung on a leather string.  Matthew gives the necklace as a gift twice, once in each story.  I’ll let you stay curious for now, since I don’t want to give you a premature With Honor spoiler.

Another necklace appears later in Butterflies; this is actually a talisman that offers the wearer invisibility.  It is some of the only magic in the story, and it plays an important role in the resolution of the plot.

The third necklace is a key piece of my non-Butterflies story.  In fact, it is so important that I’m considering calling the novel “The Dragon Pendant” after the necklace.  This piece of jewelry is based on one that I actually own.  My necklace is a pewter dragon, wings spread, holding a blue stone.  The necklace in the story has a citrine stone instead, and the position of the dragon is a little different.  The main character receives it as an heirloom piece from her grandmother, although she later discovers that there is much more to the pendant than she is told.

I’m not sure why all three pieces are necklaces.  Perhaps it is because I personally prefer necklaces over other jewelry?  Or maybe the form of a pendant lends itself more easily to my needs?  Whatever the reason, it’s interesting to look back at my stories and think about the role jewelry can play.