In Which She Takes a Break (Also Known As: Yah, Right)

My first novel, the one that has taken me nearly two and a half years to write, is finally being read by actual people for the first time! And by actual people, I mean someone who is not me. Of course, directly after I sent it out to my wonderful beta readers I started re-reading it again and found it lacking in SOO many areas. Apparently I have learned a lot since starting my third edit and finishing it. And I’ve started getting feedback which is awesome and amazing and a bit soul crushing to think of how much work that novel still has left. Continue reading

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Trashing My Soft Pillows (or the Joy of Editing)

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My cat literally eating my work.

It is a sad day for me. I’ve been working extensively on reworking Chapter 10. There are so many things that happen in this chapter and as soon as I reread it I was aware that changes – drastic changes – were going to have to be made. One of those changes is letting go of a scene that I really loved.

It makes sense that it needs to go though. The build up to through out the book is lacking. I feel if I take a step back, as the reader it wouldn’t make sense.  It’s hard though when YOU are so into your characters YOU can see it. It has to go though. In the scope of the story it doesn’t make sense to keep, it’s extraneous. This is the first time I’ve encountered deleting an entire scene that I was really attached to.

So, I’ve decided to post the “deleted scene” as it were here. Lucky readers! 🙂

Deleted Scene – Chapter 10 – Fireflies at Dusk (WIP)

Ruby had hardly managed to cross the street when Agatha flew out of the small, but crowded bar next to the park. Agatha’s cheeks were flushed with high color as she barreled towards her excitedly.

“Did you hear? Did you hear?” she said laughing and gasping as she caught up to Ruby.

Agatha’s smile had always been infectious, and despite the trepidation Ruby was feeling she felt herself smiling back. “Yes, I heard! I hope this means they will surrender and then Edgar will come back to me sooner.”

Agatha’s smile faded and she mumbled under her breath in a sing song fashion, “Edgar, Edgar, Edgar…” They had reached the bench now. It was partially shaded by the thick green leaves on old oak tree, a nice reprieve from the August heat. Ruby sank gratefully down onto the bench. The heat was making her feel a little queasy. Or so she kept telling herself. It’s not true until you actually say it out loud, she thought.

“I feel like all I hear from you is Edgar this- Edgar that.” Agatha continued petulantly. Ruby looked at Agatha astonished. She had never spoken to her like that. Agatha sat down and put her face close to Ruby’s, “Do you ever talk about me?”

“What?” Ruby asked confused. “Have you been drinking?” She knew the answer to that without having a reply. The fumes from Agatha’s breath had wafted over her as she had grown closer.

“So what if I have,” Agatha said playfully, a twinkle in her eye. She innocently twirled a strand of red hair around one of her fingers.

“Agatha! It’s the middle of the day for god sakes.”
“Lighten up Rubes. We just finished this war- basically it’s all but over. I deserve a little celebration. A little time to relax,” she waved her arms around indicating the space around her, “No. We deserve this. Come with me.” Agatha grabbed Ruby’s arm to pull her towards the bar, but Ruby pulled back resisting.

“No Agatha!” Ruby struggled to have her arm released. “Let go!”

Agatha let her arm go and turned back to Ruby, her expression surprisingly hurt. “Ruby…” she began, then stopped. Abruptly she threw her arms around Ruby’s neck and laid her head down on her shoulder. Automatically, as if comforting a small child, Ruby brought her hand up to caress her head. “I’m tired of secrets between us Ruby.”

A jolt ran through Ruby. It was impossible for Agatha to know certainly, wasn’t it? “Secrets…” she managed to squeak out through tight vocal cords.

“There’s so much I’ve wanted to tell you, for so long… but…there’s some things that are just too hard-” Ruby relaxed a little as she realized Agatha was talking about herself. Agatha took a big breath and then released it. “Ruby you know I love you right?”

Ruby smiled softly, patting her friends arm and trying to gently disentangle herself. The close public contact, almost intimate in nature, was starting to make her slightly uncomfortable. “Yes, Agatha I know. I love you too.”

Agatha raised her head from Ruby’s shoulder and shook her head back and forth vigorously. “No, I really love you.”

“Yes, that’s what you just said.”

Agatha look frustrated, as if her point wasn’t being made or understood. Then she nodded curtly as decision was made and grabbed Ruby’s face gently in her hands and carefully placed a tender kiss on her lips. Her lips were like soft pillows on Ruby’s and it took her a moment to register what was happening.

Ruby shot back appalled, “What are you doing? Agatha!” Ruby hand floundered to her lips which were pleasantly warmed from the contact. “What,” she repeated, a warning note deepening her tone, “was that?”

Agatha’s face went through a variety of expressions in the short moment before she spoke, from scared, to hurt, and then finally defiant. “Oh what? Did I shock you ‘little miss proper’? Did I offend your sensibilities?”

“Agatha…” Ruby’s voice trembled from shock “Are you feeling okay? I think you… I think you may be really drunk.” Ruby stood up and took Agatha by the forearm. “Come on, I’ll get you home.”

Agatha sneered contemptuously and roughly pulled her arm back. “Yes, that’s what I am. Tossed, three sheets to the wind and all that. Sorry ‘bout all that mess with loving you and kissing you,” she spat out. “No, actually I’m not,” she said changing tactics. “I’ve wanted to do that for a long while, since we were girls, only I didn’t know what it was I was really feeling. I know now.” Agatha grabbed Ruby’s free hand and said softer. “Ruby, please… Think about it. I love you, you love me – and maybe not the way that I love you… yet. But that’s probably because you never gave yourself a chance. I am here. I’ve always been here for you. I know it- it may seem odd, but I’ve been… I love you Ruby, and not in the way that a sister loves a sister.”

Ruby shook her head trying to release Agatha’s grip on her hand. “Get away from me! How could you? Not only… not only the fact that you are a woman, but you know I am in love with Edgar!”

A curtain fell down in Agatha’s eyes, the luminous light extinguished for once. She said nothing for a moment, and Ruby turned to go when she spoke. “You’re right. You always are. I’m always the screw up. Forget I ever said anything…” Agatha grabbed her hand bag that had been tossed carelessly on the bench and quickly walked away, back into the bar. A small cheer rose from inside as Agatha made her entrance back in through the dark door.

Shell-shocked, Ruby looked around her. Miraculously, the streets which had teemed with people only a few minutes before looked practically deserted. If anyone had noticed the disturbance at the bench, they thankfully had kept walking and minded their own business. She touched her own lips again trying to put the pieces of her shattered view together.

Urban Camping (or the joy of eavesdropping)

It’s 4:30am. This is the point where I am unable to pretend that I’m not sleeping on thinly veiled brick. My daughter is sleeping peacefully beside me, cocooned in blankets – my husband gave up long ago (he hurt his neck yesterday so he has an excuse). I was awoken this time by both the soreness of my right side and the close sound of a short-legged animal munching in the bushes next to us and then brushing against the side of the tent as it passed. I was too scared to look, but did let out a protective hiss. (All things are scared of snakes, right?)

 

Urban camping at its finest
 
This wasn’t the first time I was awoken tonight – for the record it’s probably been a collection of twilight sleep broken by sounds of helicopters, cars passing by way too fast, and the conversations of drunk people as they return back to their cars from the scattering of cool bars cropping up in my ‘hood.

The most interesting (and yet horrifying) snippet of conversation overheard tonight went something like this… 

Her: She doesn’t know. She doesn’t know I tell you everything. She assumes, but she doesn’t know. She doesn’t know I told you about the R.A.P.E

(Silence, followed by a low grunt — i imagine HE was looking at his phone but that is just my mind trying to fill in details.)

He: I’m listening.  … But you did tell me.

Her: Yea, but she doesn’t know… 

At this point they trail off past hearing distance. Although the topic was somewhat disturbing it does bring me back to one of the reasons I enjoy writing- capturing moments of life and expanding on them. I have a whole short story out of that small window of conversation, at least.

I love observing and listening to the world around me and trying to recapture a bit of life back into the page. Although my back is aching and I’m fairly sure a nap is in my near future perhaps I will let my daughter convince me to go “camping” again — but first I need to get a better barrier between me and the brick. I’ve read a lot of historical/fantasy fiction in my day and have determined that modern day humans (okay, me) have gone soft.

Telling ghost stories

Arrggg!!! (Or Chapter 10 is a Mess)

  Editing. A necessary step in completing a book. I shudder to think how awful my story would have come out if, after first writing “The End”, I had decided it was well and good to send off. And, I actually have decided that I like editing. I’ve come to visualize the editing process like a painting. A painter begins by first using broad undefined strokes for shading and under painting, adding more details with the next layer, and with the next layer comes even more detail and refinement, until a finished product emerges – one that is hard to imagine started out as blobs of color.

But then I encountered Chapter 10. Feel free to blink absently into space here because that is exactly what I did after reading the chapter to refresh myself and to generally note areas that needed work. What the hell was that? I thought to myself.

Now, to be fair (to myself), Chapter 10 covers two different times, and two different POVs. During my second pass through I decided to edit each story separately without the breaks to help with continuity. So, it wasn’t until now that I read it all together. One of the major issues is that so much stuff happens in this chapter – like three or four major events – but not enough to stand alone on their own. I wanted to keep them together to keep the tension and show how rapidly Ruby’s life is changing at this point, but I don’t think it works. 

Other issues I have are just some poorly written-getting close to the end- rushed words. I think I cut scenes that need more exploration, but then I come to the conclusion the book is getting too long. I’m trying to keep around 75k although it keeps creeping up, I think right now there are 78k written. 

Anyway, Chapter Ten is a mess and a bear at close to fifty pages long. And nothing is getting done by just sitting here complaining about it. Although wouldn’t that be a dream? “This [insert house/book/what have you] is a mess!l POOF! No mess. “Well, that’s better.” 

Ah dreams…

An Open Book

New short story available on Describli.com   These are a bit addictive as I can write one off in such a short time — sigh. I am so easily distracted! Anyway teaser below.  Perhaps I should collect these here too for easier reading. Thoughts?

An Open Book (prompt – Much Needed Advice)

I shifted slightly on the couch, aware of every movement I made. I could feel my joints occupying too much space and I knew space was what she needed right now. She needed to come to me, although it took everything I had not to make the first move.

“Mom?”

“Yes?” I said, too quickly, too eager.

She shot me a quizzical look. “Can we change the channel? They’ve already played these stories.”

“Oh,” I replied, trying to not let the disappointment show. She was right though, the news was now repeating the same segment on a local street fair this weekend. I had not been paying attention really. “Sure. Here, why don’t you take the remote?” I tossed it over and she caught it with one hand, a practiced move. “Do you want a snack or anything?” I was getting antsy waiting for her to ask. I needed to get up, to move.

“No, thanks.”

“Ok.”

I was not really hungry. I got up anyway and wandered down the hallway, pausing to look at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. The bright light from the window accentuated the grooves on the side of my mouth. I stretched my skin back towards my ears, simultaneously wondering if I should get Botox and how I had gotten so old. I let my face fall back. Somehow the skin seemed looser than it had a moment ago. I hope I hadn’t done permanent damage. I looked past my reflection to the mirrored image of Rebecca’s room behind me. Her door was open wide to her room. Sunlight, filtered through gauzy curtains, highlighted the tossed remnants of childhood buried like sediment under the cheap makeup and the garish accoutrements of a young teen. It was open like that yesterday too. Only it was different.