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.


Well, this will need some work…

I really got into Unexpected last night, and I’m now about a third of the way into the manuscript.  There are three things that have really struck me as I’ve been reading.

1. I like the story.

2. I love Kiwi, the swearing fairy, and I don’t know if I can censor her.

3. This manuscript is rough, and it’s going to need some major work.

The fact that I like the story is good, and it follows with my experience with my other novels.  The advice to “write the book you want to read” is clearly something that I’ve managed to do again.  It also means that I’ll be more invested in working on revisions, since I like the story.  If it wasn’t fun, I probably wouldn’t do much with it.

I’m still torn on censoring Kiwi, but the decision doesn’t have to be made today.  The reality is that part of what makes her such an entertaining character is her ridiculous, relentless attitude.  Without her frequent use of foul language, her caustic, disdainful persona would be weakened.  Shock value is part of her nature; substituting milder words waters it down, and creating “fairy curse words” blunts the reader’s initial response.  But offending readers on page one is not really my intention, either.  Good thing I can wait to make the choice.

As for the third observation, well, it is a NaNo novel.  It was written rapidly, with no revisions, and as I’m reading it I can tell.  There are silly word substitutions, like mission for missing, and while the grammar is acceptable, there are some odd sentence structures I’d like to address.  But the biggest thing is the skeletal form.  Right now there is a lot of dialog and action, but not a lot of description, which is very typical for my first drafts.  I’m noticing many places where scenes can be beefed up, interactions can be more detailed, and the story can just be layered a bit more.  These are all things that are easy enough to do once I settle down to revise.

I will continue to read Unexpected, simply for the sake of reading it.  I might cringe every now and then at the places that need work, but at least I have Kiwi to amuse and distract me. 🙂

Did I Write That?

I recently talked to Unexpected’s First Reader about the novel.  I also sent it to Jack, my best friend, because he insisted on reading the novel he is “starring in,” as he put it.  Due to these conversations, I’ve decided to re-read Unexpected, which I haven’t looked at since I finished it in November.

My first reaction to reading the first two paragraphs was, well, unexpected.  Because I haven’t read them since I wrote them 4 months ago (they were written on Nov.1) the words were unfamiliar.  I remember the story, I remember the characters, but I don’t remember the book word for word.  I really did pause at the end of the first paragraph and utter the title of this post – “Did I write that?”

Reading it, I found many phrases that I find entertaining.  I especially like this line: There were no good ways to land, only bad and not as bad, and currently she was falling in a way that would hurt a lot when the ground interrupted gravity.

This reality is why I like to leave a book to sit for a while after I write it, so that I have fresh-ish eyes when I read it.  I just didn’t expect for it to be this fresh!

Time for some reading

My friend who is acting as First Reader for Unexpected called tonight to tell me that he’d finished it, and that it was very entertaining.

He also suggested that I not censor Kiwi, that her language is part of her character.

Our brief conversation (which also discussed the story and the twist I was so proud of) makes me want to read it.  Of course, I’m in the middle of a book right now, plus working on Mara’s story, so it might be a little bit.  It’s been a few months, though, so I should be far enough removed to be able to find flaws.

I think I’ll print it out in the next few days and add it to my pile!

An Excerpt from Unexpected

Much like yesterday’s Kiwi Quotes post, my delightfully harsh fairy has been somewhat edited in this excerpt to make it safe for work.  Enjoy!

Doug walked out to the tree in his backyard.  He wasn’t sure how to find Kiwi when she didn’t want to be found, but he figured he’d just hang out and wait for her.  Since Guava’s surprise visit a week ago, Kiwi hadn’t said anything else about her sister, and Doug knew the unwelcome visitor hadn’t made his friend leave this tree.  So he figured she’d come back eventually.

He sat against the tree with his book for a while, enjoying the weather, but after a bit his back started to hurt.  Eyeing his lawn, he settled on a patch of somewhat soft grass and lay on his back, pillowing his head on his hands.  The warm sunshine felt good on his skin after his day inside an overly cold, air conditioned building.  Letting his mind drift, he dozed off.

“What are you doing?”  Kiwi’s voice from above him startled Doug awake.   She was hovering about three feet above him.

“Waiting for you,” he replied.

She snorted.  A moment later she flew down and unexpectedly landed on the end of his nose.  He crossed his eyes playfully, pretending to try to look up her skirt.

When she realized what he was doing, she shouted, “Hey!” and kicked him in the nose.

“Ow,” he said as he rubbed his nose.  He hadn’t expected her to have that much power.   “I was just teasing!”

“You still deserved it,” she said, crossing her arms and hovering mid-air.

He sat up, crossing his legs.  “Fair enough,” he said.

Distracted, Doug forgot that he’d come out here for a reason.  Kiwi, however, did not, and she flew over to land on his knee.  “So why are you waiting for me?”

Doug looked down at her, puzzled by her question for a split second before he remembered his initial goal.  “I need your advice, and maybe some help.”

“We’ll see,” she said, a touch suspiciously.  “What’s going on?”

“My friend Stanley is acting really strangely,” he said.  “I think it might be something to do with the woman he’s started dating.  Veronica.”

Kiwi thought for a moment.  “Stanley’s the super nerd, right?  The skinny, pasty one who clearly spends way too much time playing video games?”

Doug was a touch offended by her description of his friend, but she wasn’t wrong.  “Yeah, that’s him.”

“So how is he acting strangely?  I mean, is he just acting like a nerdy guy who’s finally getting laid, or is it something more than that?” she asked.

He’d thought a lot about how to answer this question, because he’d known the fairy would need a good description of Stanley’s behavior.  He still struggled a bit, even with his preparation.  “He seems really tired, you know, like he’s not getting enough sleep or maybe not eating enough.  He’s very, I don’t know.  Maybe the best word is listless; he doesn’t participate in conversation unless directly asked a question, and he’s been dragging his feet a lot and is always looking down.  He gets his work done, but a lot more slowly than he used to.”  He paused, thinking about what else she might need to know.  “This all began after he started dating this new girl; one day he comes in all excited, floating on air and bragging on her, and the next he was acting a little off.  It’s gotten progressively worse since then.”

Kiwi had been listening intently while Doug worked through his description.  For a moment she stood still on his knee, thinking.  Finally she looked up at him.  “Sounds like a succubus,” she said, shrugging.  “I’d say goodbye; there’s nothing you can do once a succubus gets her hooks into a guy.”

Doug was horrified.  “Are you serious?  There’s nothing we can do?  He’s just going to die?”

“Pretty much,” Kiwi replied matter-of-factly.

“How long does he have?”  Doug asked, a touch of panic in his voice.

She answered, “Once a succubus gets a guy, he’s got a week, maybe ten days tops.”

That startled Doug out of his fright.  “That’s not right.  He’s been dating her for about three weeks already.”

Kiwi looked surprised.  “Really?  And the weird behavior has been going on that long?”

“Just about,” Doug said.  “It was only a couple of days since they first met that it started.”

“Hmm.  Not a succubus, then.” Kiwi seemed intrigued.  It disturbed Doug a bit that she was approaching this as an intellectual puzzle rather than a human being he cared about, but he wasn’t going to alienate her by pointing it out.  He might still need her help to save Stanley.

He interrupted her thinking by asking, “What else could it be?”

The fairy launched into her now-familiar professorial mode.  “There’s a whole list of female-impersonating monsters who lure men with sex and then give them some horrible torture or death, but most of them are tied to a specific location.  I mean, unless he’s been hanging out by Russian lakes recently, she’s probably not a Rusalka.  The Yuki-Onna doesn’t confine herself to Japan, but it is way too warm for her right now.  And he’d hopefully notice the tail on a Huldra.  Plus they’re all pretty much trapped in one forest or another.”

Doug’s face had whitened a bit.  “All of those are real?” he asked.

Kiwi moved her head in a non-committal way.  “More or less.  I’ve met a Rusalka; let me tell you, the waterlogged spirit of a drowned girl is not a great conversationalist. I’ve only heard of the other two.  My sister claims to have seen Yuki-Onna once, but she’s got a really strong imagination and her eyesight is questionable.”

He’d thought wrapping his head around the existence of fairies was tough.  Doug shook his head to bring himself back to the conversation.  “So if none of those are possibilities, what else could she be?”

“That’s tough,” Kiwi replied.  “I mean, from what you described, it definitely sounds like Stanley’s new girlfriend is draining his energy in a more nefarious way than a typical human female.  But honestly, I’d need to either see her in person, or see how he’s behaving, to really be able to tell you.”

Kiwi’s Crazy Comments

As my snarky, cursing fairy said comments that made me chuckle in the process of writing Unexpected, I shared them with folks on my Facebook page.  Now (with a little language clean-up), I thought I’d share a few with you as well.  I’ve put in ellipses (…) where there should be curse words, replaced with a tamer word (in parentheses) or I simply left them out.  As these are quotations of a character’s dialog, I have taken out the descriptive comments or pauses to make it easier to read in tiny bites.


“Am I what?  What were you going to guess? An elf?  A sprite?  A vampire?  I’m a fairy.  A fairy.  Tiny size, wings, these are the dead giveaways.”

“Did you have a question for me, or are you about to launch into a monologue?  Cause this ice cream’s not good enough for me to pretend to care.”

“Even a moronic Yeti knows how to avoid getting a good picture taken, and fairies are way smarter than those idiotic (beings).”

“You always have a book, little boy, don’t act like you brought it just so you could wait for me and pretend to be all chivalrous.”  (Kiwi, a six-inch fairy, frequently refers to Doug, a 6-foot 4-inch human, as “little boy.”)

“It ain’t like Fern Gully, if that’s what you’re wondering. Fairies don’t get physically attached to their trees, although some of them … are a touch too emotionally attached if you know what I mean.”

NaNo Update, Day 29 (What’s Next?)

Everyone I know has congratulated me on completing my novel for NaNo.  A lot of them follow it up with this question: So what do you do with it now?

I’ll tell you one thing I won’t do with it right now.  I won’t be trying to send it anywhere.  It’s incredibly rough, hasn’t had any revisions, and as every piece of advice you’ll ever see will tell you, it is not a good idea to send a first draft to an agent or publisher.  Yikes!

Here’s what I will likely do with Unexpected, now that’s it complete.  I’ve already sent it to a trusted friend who is going to act as a First Reader and give me feedback on plot, characters, grammar and spelling.  (Sorry, Mom, I know that’s normally your job.  I figured we’d both enjoy that experience better if I find a way to tame my swearing fairy a bit first.)

I’m also planning to ride the Unexpected train into December, at least as far as blog posts are concerned.  This weekend I’ll get some Kiwi’s Crazy Comments up for you; some will be from the running series on my Facebook page, some will be new. I’m also planning to find a tame(r) section and post an excerpt.

After that, well, I’ll let it sit for a while.  I like to wait a couple of months between finishing a novel and reading it for revisions.  That way I can go at it with fresh(er) eyes and be a touch more critical.

If it turns out to be not too bad, I might put together a query for it (after a few revisions and a bit more effort on Dragon, of course).

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