Weekly writing check-in: story within the story

Morning walk before the rain

I’m continuing with the exercises in The Emotional Craft of Fiction (and still loving it). Another thing I’m doing with this story is weaving in (or trying to) a story within the story.

I love books that have stories within the main story. I sort of did this with The Fine Art of Holding Your Breath, with the journal that the main character’s mother writes.

This time, I’m looking at a journal, some letters, and possibly some other documents, and the mystery of that will unfold into the overall mystery of the first couple of books (at least) in the series.

Well, in theory. Mind you, I’m still at the let’s see if I can do this phase.

So in addition to the work I’m doing with the exercises, I’ve been doing some research into World War I (or rather, more research, since I’ve read a fair amount already) and looking at how I’ll structure that story.

This also means I’ll have three points of view to handle (at least): the journal writer, the letter writer, and, of course, Poppy, the main character.

If nothing else, this gives me plenty to think about on long morning walks.

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Free Fiction Friday: A Measure of Sorrow

A Measure of Sorrow

Previously published in Luna Station Quarterly #16 and Evil Girlfriend Media

A wolf seduced her sister, and a witch wrapped her bony fingers around her brother’s heart, so when a giant came for her, she told him she wouldn’t go.

He plucked a rose petal from the bushes that grew around his castle, and that was her bed. When the day grew hot, he offered dewy raspberries to quench her thirst. When she refused, a single tear fell from his eye and splashed at her feet. The salt on her lips tasted like sorrow. She was drenched, but unmoved.

Only when he left his almanac out—quite by accident—did she creep from the threshold of her cottage. It took all her strength to turn the pages, but turn them she did. The letters were as tall as she was, but read them, she did.

He caught her reading. If he wanted, he could have slammed the book shut, trapped her—

or squashed her. He didn’t.

He looked to the book and then to her. “Will you come with me now?”

“I am not a pet.”

“Of course not.”

“Or a meal.”

He blew air through his lips, the force of it ruffling her hair. “You are much too small for that.”

“Then what am I?”

“I need someone to tend to the mice. They are ailing. And the butterflies. My fingers are too clumsy, and I cannot mend the rips in their wings.”

“So you have work for me?”

“Good work, with good pay. You can keep your family well.”

“They would feed me to the wolves.”

“Then how am I any worse?”

How indeed? Did she trust this giant and his promises of mice and butterflies?

“Will you?” He extended a hand.

She stepped onto his palm and he her lifted higher and higher—even with his mouth, his nose, his eyes. Then he placed her gently on his shoulder.

“What made you change your mind?” he asked.

“The almanac. Will you read to me sometimes?”

“Would you like that?”

“Very much.”

“I shall read to you every night.”

Mice and butterflies filled her days. On the back of the Mouse King she rode, clutching the soft fur about his neck, racing through the castle to tend to mothers with large broods, crumbs and bits of cheese tucked in a canvas sack. With thread from a silkworm, she repaired butterfly wings, her stitches tiny and neat.

The giant peered at her handiwork through a glass that made his eye all that much larger. When he laughed his approval, the sound rolled through the countryside. And every night, when he reached for his almanac, she settled on his shoulder and marveled at how someone so colossal could speak words with so much tenderness.

Even when his bones grew old, and all he could do was move from bed to chair, he read to her. When his eyesight grew dim, he recited the words from memory, so strong was his desire to keep his promise. Until, at last, the day came when the stories stopped.

A thousand butterflies fluttered into his room. Mice came from fields and forest alike, led by the Mouse King. They bore the giant outside, where they laid him to rest beneath the rose bushes.

It was there she learned that all her tears combined could not rival the sorrow contained in a single giant teardrop.

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Weekly writing check-in: Diving in

Hamilton, the (possibly magical) cat

This week, I jumped feet first into the revision. First up, I created a book map, which is essentially a list of all the chapters and scenes in the draft.

Or, in my case, just a list of scenes, since I figure out the chapters at a later point.

From there, I made another list, this one of all the big events. I looked at what might happen if I moved some of those big events around, and had a couple of Oh! That might happen! moments. Those are always nice.

As I’m looking at the big pieces, I’m also working through the exercises in Donald Maass’ The Emotional Craft of Fiction (and so far I’m really, really liking it).

Finally, I drafted a description of the story, which might not be a final description. Mind you, it might not be the description at all. Also, the story doesn’t have a title yet or the series a name. I’m kind of hoping one will magically drop from the sky as I work my way through the revision.

Five years ago, Poppy Jones left the necromancer community and all its ghosts. Now she’s back, degree in hand, homeless, jobless, and nursing an aching heart. She’s seeking the solace only a big brother can give.

When her brother vanishes—suspiciously and without a trace—only Poppy is concerned. As she pieces together clues to this current mystery, one from the past seduces her.

Jasper Riley, the sinfully sexy warlock, might hold the key to both mysteries. His professional opinion, as a private investigator, is that she doesn’t have a case, never mind a missing person’s one.

That’s before someone breaks into her home, before Poppy stops a supernatural onslaught with her bare hands, before either one of them realizes she’s a witch.

Even with the help of Jasper, his ex-girlfriend, and a (possibly magical) cat, Poppy may be too late. Because her brother has crossed a line, crossed the wrong necromancer, and may have crossed over to a place Poppy can’t reach.

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Free Fiction Friday: Summer Magic Giveaway

Head on over to Instafreebie for the Summer Magic Giveaway. More than one hundred fantasy books up for grabs (and for free)!

Happy reading!

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Weekly writing check-in: Switching Gears

Oscar in his natural habitat

So, here I am, working on the fairytale series. About 5,000 words in, I realize that I haven’t completed all the world building. Mind you, I thought I had. But I’m running into things that I’m not quite sure about. Is it in a pseudo-Middle Ages, Grimm brothers Germany? Or is it more like Charles Perrault’s France?

See? This is something I should know. Beyond this, as I was writing, I also realized that there are other forces in this particular fantasy world that I hadn’t accounted for either.

Decision? Let it compost a bit more.

So I’m switching gears and diving back into the Coffee and Ghosts spin-off series.

I looked structure of that this week, I reread the manuscript, and used dictation this time around to take notes.

So instead of a half a page of strange cryptic notations that I don’t understand later on, I ended up with about 2000 words of excellent story notes.

Whenever I do a read-through, I always tell myself oh I’ll remember this. Thing is? I never do. With this new way, I have lots of notes to begin with. Granted, I do have to deal with things like:

Necromancer sunsets fuel the story.

But I keep the audio files until I have a chance to review the transcription. That way, if I can’t figure something out, I can listen to it.

I made a list of things that needed expansion and additional research. I swear, three books and two documentaries landed in my lap. Just like that.

I think this is the universe’s way of telling me I’m on the right track.

 

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Free Fiction Friday: In a Manner of Speaking

What if time doesn’t run out?

Soshi Patel believes herself the last inhabitant on earth, trapped in an abandoned prepper’s shelter, living by candlelight and on canned peaches. Out of desperation, she uses the last of her good candles to build a ham radio from a kit. When she connects with a voice on the other side, it’s more than she could’ve hoped for.

But this voice, this Jatar, knows things he shouldn’t. As he comforts Soshi through the last days on a dying earth, it becomes clear that he carries his own burden, the weight of which can only be measured in time.

Download for free over on Instafreebie or listen over at Escape Pod.

Note: this is probably the saddest story I’ve ever written; you’ve been warned.

 

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Weekly writing check-in: the one with the BookBub

So my BookBub for the first season of Coffee and Ghosts went out on Monday.

Yeah. Deep breath. I get it now. I totally get it. So worth it. I was in the black by Wednesday from sell-through from the rest of the series. It can be hard and uncomfortable casting a wider net for readership. But it has been an amazing week. I’m so excited I’ve found readers who seem equally excited about Coffee and Ghosts.

The book peaked at #5 in the Amazon free store, made the top free list on Apple (when I thought to check, it was at #14, and that was the following day), as well as on Kobo. It’s the little series that could.

If I have one regret, it’s that Darcy isn’t here to see this. She loved this series so, so much. She would’ve been thrilled that it landed a BookBub.

In other news, I’ve been finishing up a Coffee and Ghosts short story as an exclusive bonus for everyone on my mailing list. I’ll be sending it out soon. It is … very silly. After all, the tagline is:

There’s no business like ghost business.

Want a copy? Just sign up for my mail list, and it will land in your inbox in the next week or so.

 

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