“And the girl, Bonnie Lint? From my perspective the Crimson are really good at making people believe they’re going to live forever but they’re shit at keeping them alive.”
(I’ll miss you when I’m gone.)
The Blood King traced the back of his right hand with the tip of his finger. There were tattoos there, too, his flesh marked by a dial, like a mandala or a wheel. Ink the rust of henna. The skin looked stained, as if the ink were rubbed in instead of tattooed. There were uneven shapes in the centre of the mark; they looked like pieces of torn paper, shaded the blue of faded denim, circled by tiny letters, words too small to read, symbols I didn’t recognize. A language I didn’t know. It looked like the page of a book, or pieces of it. A pinwheel of stars fanned out. Deliberate scatter.
A second trail of stars marked his wrist, marching a path along his forearm. It was as if the whole of the sky, of heaven and earth, had marked him.
I jerked my head, squinting at him. “I am?”
“Yes. Emeric was mine to keep to safe and I did not keep him safe and now he is gone down to bone and feathers.”
Lark. Anomaly. “I thought -“
“That I would give you the satisfaction of argument?” The Blood King sighed and pushed his fingers through the dark of his hair. “It’s too late for that. Your brother is Awakening. When eyes of the Bene Elohim open, the Knock use their claws to blind them.”
House of Feather. House of Claw. “The Knock told me who they are, and they told about the Lark and she,” I pointed at Caoimhe, “told me that your pathetic fucking lunchbag is Lark. Everything Terror is, is your fault. You did this to him.”
The Blood King got quiet then, his voice barely a whisper. “There are things you do not understand Haven. His name is Min and he was Mine long before you were born and will be Mine long after you are bone and dust. You will respect that, and you will respect him or I will make your body a book of blood and etch the truth of your brother’s story on your skin and leave you lifeless.” A vein in his neck throbbed, and blood pooled in his eyes like tears. “Do I make myself clear?”
Do not trust him.
But I wasn’t crystal and I didn’t break easy. I leaned in, close and closer. “Fuck. You.”
The Blood King opened his mouth and it was all teeth.
“Haven!” Caoimhe screamed my name as the Blood King’s body flew and impacted with my own. I staggered back, the force of the blow sent me flying, airborne, I felt a rush of blood and salt and tears as my lungs seized and my cheek smashed into the floor. I couldn’t breathe. All of the air was gone.
I gasped for breath, my hand on my chest as if I could pound the air back into my lungs. Saliva filled my mouth and I spat it out, a spot of glittering wet on the dark of the floor.
I tasted blood and my neck throbbed where he’d tried to bite me.
Caoimhe stood over my body, blocking me. I felt the Blood King’s anger, hotter than the coals that burned in the fireplace. “You touch her again and you answer to me.” Her voice was cold. Flat.
The Blood King took two steps back, turned and smashed his hand against the wall. “She’s a fool, and she doesn’t understand.”
“She loves her brother.”
“And I loved our son.”
“So you did, my beautiful Teloch. You and I both and still we failed him.” Caoimhe bent down, brushing my hair from my face. “I apologize for my Teloch, his heart is broken.”
“So is mine,” I mumbled, pushing her away. “I want my monocle back.”
“Teloch,” Caoimhe said as she turned, still kneeling beside me she held out her hand. “Give it to me.”
The Blood King took the glass from his pocket, handing it to her. “The Knock will kill them both.”
Caoimhe nodded as she palmed the glass, then opened my hand and placed it on my palm. “And you are no better.” She swallowed. “He’s right, Haven. The Knock will try to kill you, but here,” she looked again the Blood King and her words faded away.
I held the monocle to my chest. “Teloch?” I wondered.
“Death,” she replied and I looked up at the Blood King and his eyes were red with tears.
The Place Where We Belong:
- Psyche: Goodbye Horses
- Ghost & Writer: Never take Fire (Re-Work)
- The Lightning Strike: Snow Patrol
- Dorian: Agnes Obel
- I walk slow: DSTR (which as no link, because it’s that obscure. Except, not. It’s Daniel from HAUJOBB. Listen to the cover of “Lucretia, My Reflection“, it will heal your dark, dark heart.
- The Crow: Hurts
- Psyche: Teeth and Claws (sadly, no link either. But the whole of this album “Strange Romance” is amazing.
I also tend to listen to my William’s “Speak to me of Abduction” on repeat. The other day it was “Hurricane” by 30STM. It’s the only 30STM song I ever listen to, ever. Both are available to google, but not entirely SFW so for now I will leave you to your own googles.
remove 9K, add 1K. That’s how it goes. I worked on the rewrite of my diner-chapter last night, when the Blood King comes and Haven (MC) meets him for the first time. I want him to be scary, unreliable, borderline dangerous. But he’s nice. He’s half fallen angel and all vampire. He’s ruthless and serious and highly, highly capable. But he’s not evil. He’s just old, and seen the world in a way my 17yr old protag hasn’t. He wants to take care of her, she who has lost almost everything.
I need more bad guy, or in my case, it’s bad womens. There are three witches, and when they come nothing good happens, and I know this. And I know the Blood King saves the day and it doesn’t look like saving at all. I know who dies, or almost dies, and I know that Haven’s world changes, again, and I know that her best friend falls in love after the book ends and I know she and the Blood King build a relationship that’s unexpected and full of love and caring because she needs a parent and he makes a good one.
But I feel I’m lacking the epic-ness that folks attach to when they read specfic YA. I write small stories and I always have. I suppose, though, the bigger-ness will come out in the rewrite, and I like having a vampire, who, at his core, is deeply in love with the fallen angel that takes care of him, is tired of knowing the secrets of the universe and desperately misses his son. I think his story would be a great one and maybe one day I’ll write the whole of it, but right now he just wants to make helpings. But he needs to make helpings and also be at least a tiny bit scary. He did threaten Haven, which was nice. But it wasn’t quite enough.
in this rewrite of “The Place Where We Belong” (whose title is going to change, this one felt right at the beginning, and is now wrong somehow), I realized there was a whole 40-page chapter that probably no longer fit. My MC goes into work, and just as she’s about to close up, one of the possible/maybe antags (this one is the Blood King) shows up. There’s another character, who works for the Blood King who has become more important to the story, and my wee subconscious was telling me that with his previous introduction in the text (when he was being all undead blood drinky), we had the connection we needed to the BK and his nefarious ways, so perhaps he wasn’t needed – perhaps he was better lingering in the sidelines like a dangerous shadow.
So I deleted the chapter (saved for posterity, of course because I liked it a lot)and started writing it anew. This time I was going to have a friend of the MC (who she feels betrayed by) show up so they could have a Chit Chat of epic proportions.
No sooner did I open the door, and bam! the Blood King is like IAMHEREBITCHES, because he is nothing if not ego and did not want to lose his scene (he has a really important scene near the end, but apparently that wasn’t quite enough for him). So there you go. I deleted the chapter, only to be told that I have to write it again. It’s different, slightly, as the MC has more information than she did before, and although I’m glad I can re-purpose a bunch of the previous version, I’m also amused by the BKs pushy-ass ways.
The complexity, here, is that he’s a good guy, but my MC doesn’t know that. For the reader, I don’t want it to be obvious – because even “good guys” have an agenda.
“And you and Quince?”
I tugged on my t-shirt, stretching out the ace of hearts print. There were no words to describe what Quince and I were, nothing that didn’t require notes and a diagram and all of my fingers and toes. “He’s my alibi,” I said, instead of the complex answer. The Blood King laughed.
“Emerick loved him, too,” he said, and watery pink-stained tears formed in the corners of his eyes. He smiled, a half-true, searching smile, both sad and wistful.
“You ruined that,” I whispered and he shook his head.
“Some things are bigger than all of us,” he murmured and the tattoo on the back of his hand shifted, grew another leaf, birthed another star.
It was a particularly cloudblue July Tuesday when Eve Hallow came barreling down the lane on her rusted red bicycle, a trio of grass pinks in her wire basket and sidebags full of groceries, only to notice a young man she didn’t recognize laying on her porch, his feet on a great blue backpack, staring at the sky with his eyes closed.
She turned the bike onto her flagstone path, pedaled past the side of the house, right into the backyard and into her tiny shed; a little clapboard room barely big enough for the gardener’s tools. She dismounted, leaned the bike against a barewood wall, crept out and around the corner, and back towards her porch, forgetting, just for a moment, her grass pinks and stuffed brown bags.
Tapping the sleeping boy with the tip her shoe, Eve waited and watched for signs of life. Watched for more than just the rise and fall of his chest, the quick twitch of his nose.
And because all stories at the edge of the world tend to start with the weather, it was just then that all of the blue clouds went grey, and a great boom shook the land as rain began to tumble from the sky in great fat dragontear drops, soaking the strange sleeping boy, and almost drowning Eve Hallow who stood puzzled and dumfounded by the stranger on her porch who seemed uninterested in waking at all.
I was organizing my writing folder(s) and came across this, from the beginning of a novel called The Trap Road, about a mysterious house in the middle of nowhere that two storm chasers stumble upon when the map they are using sends them in the completely wrong direction.
I like it. I might go back to it someday, after this one, and the other one.
- I saw Mad Max: Fury Road. Twice. First time regular-D, second time fancy-D because there were no theatres showing it in regular-D at a reasonable time. As in, any time that wasn’t 4pm. THE HELL. I am no fan of fancy-D, and am SO glad I saw the film the first time in regular-D. I loved it. I loved Charlize and her band of strong, capable women. I loved Max and his understanding that survival means putting your ego aside sometimes. I loved the human-sand-dune scene and the sound editing and I’m super excited to talk about it on the podcast Kristine and I do!
- A person vital (in a good way) to my complex, messy, painful, childhood (you’d think you’d get to grow out of that, but adulthood is just as weird + rough sometimes and I would occasionally like to trade myself in for a slightly different model, one who is better at navigating the topsy-turvy of the inside of her brain), is the poet laureate for Victoria, BC (I am just so proud of her!) and she wrote a poem that references childhood, and us, and you should go read it. I will wait here. Remember: there are always bits of sunlight peeking through the clouds.
- Ian Curtis died 35 years ago. I didn’t know him, of him, when I was 8, but 5, 6 years later I came to New Order, and the rest is, as the kids say, history. (True Fax: the kids never say the things I claim they did. I’m just tricky like that)
- I caved and bought a e-reader, the Kobo Aura H20 because I am buying books like a magpie, and running out of bookshelves, and I don’t really want to have to move all the books when the day comes that I decide to move (I also can’t stand reading on my ipad). That doesn’t mean I won’t buy paper books – I have 3 in my Chapters/Indigo cart right now – but that’s because 2 aren’t in ebook, and the third was there b/c free shipping! But, oh, math tells me I can get free shipping on the other two alone *deletes*
- I am still working on The Light’s Gone Out, Say Goodnight, which has been rejected 3 times, twice for the EXACT same reason. Once is an opinion, twice starts to look a bit like fact. So. I sent it off to another intrepid reader (Jamie) for yet another opinion (my first reader, my T (Karin) had already helped improve it, as she always does, but needed fresh-eyes), and so I got good advice back and then, a third person (Bear) posted this to her blog:
My earliest decent short stories were all around 1500-3000 words. It wasn’t until I learned to unpack those, to get the interesting bits out of my head and trust that I wasn’t going to make them boring by explaining them, to write them at 5000-7000 words for the same sorts of ideas, that they started selling well and attracting positive comment.
It seems I’ve read 3 things similar to that this week, and finally, I think, after all of this time it might, might be settling in. I’m not good at unpacking stories. I read my first cozy mystery (Kate Carlisle’s “A High-End Finish) and figured out who the killer was about midway. That NEVER happens. Usually I’m like, oh, hi, because I’m more caught up in mood and character than plot. But mood + character are a niche market if one wants to go anywhere with one’s literary aspirations. I know this and stuff, but knowing and doing are so not the same. Sometimes I read stories, acclaimed stories, and I’m all OMG ENOUGH WITH THE SPOON FEEDING ALREADY, but I feel so alone in this, like a little sproutling waving back and forth in a swift breeze.
I am many things, but I feel my ability to string words together in an unusual, pretty, slightly creepy way i what will ensure my work is never boring. I think. Hope. Or something.
- Went to the new hip wafflrey, Buttermilk. It was delicious, if not judicious with the toppings. At the Waffle Window, which if you know me, you have heard me talk about more than about fifty times, everything is piled high and glorious. Buttermilk’s waffles are regular buttermilk waffles, delicious and billowy and crispy, and certainly worth standing in line for (the line, oh, she was long. Always go places the third day they open. Ha), and I know I will be back.
- Because it’s may long, the official time in our part of canadaland you can even think about putting flowers out, I repotted my mini roses and the white fluffy flowers whose name I do not know into my planter. I swept the steps and gathered some leaves out, and the old mayor came by (he was handing out leaflets, I don’t really know the old mayor) and when he introduced himself i said OH! HI! Like we were long lost pals and he looked so confused for a second, but no worries, he recovered. It made me giggle.
- Watched the whole of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt DAMNIT) because was tired of watching TV in which everyone died all of the time. It made me laugh. Then proceeded to start to watch Wayward Pines, the show in which we learn Matt Dillon has not aged. Also, how nice it is to see Matt Dillon again. Yes, there are dead people, but at least it’s creepy. We’ll see how it lasts over the next 9 episodes. Also! The internet is damn mad at GoT today. I was almost, almost bored of it last season (like 92% bored of it), but now I might just be done, Tyrion Lannister or no. I can just go watch the Station Agent instead. Also, iZombie is freaking adorable.
I think that’s it, this week is busy with all sorts of stuff, but today is a day of Holiday-ing and I should not waste it. Aurevoir, mes amises!
This painting is amazing. I am a Baba Yaga fangirl. In my half-written (because aren’t they all, really) novel, “Three-Tenths, Nine-Tenths”, (an expanded version of “Sleeping, Waking, Nightfall”, my werewolf-caravan story), Baba Yaga is the antag (but she’s also a protag – it’s all in the interpretation, dontchaknow), and although she mostly shows up as an old-woman in that book, this expression is perfectly her. Of the 3 novels that are half-written (The Place Where We Belong, Ellis Underground & Three-Tenths, Nine-Tenths), it’s probably my most literary, the most dreamy. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but all three are based on a traditional story: the Baba Yaga myth, Alice in Wonderland and Hansel & Gretel. In Baba Yaga stories, she is always sending people to go “I don’t know where, and bring back I don’t know what”. She doesn’t help, and she doesn’t harm. Her hut is on chicken-legs. She exists in world, influencing the world, but not deciding for the world. The world does what it does, she does what she does and it’s up to those who find her to recognize their own influence. That phrase has always stuck with me, the stories I write are all about people finding their way, trudging through. Building structures of bone and flesh and concrete, castles to keep themselves safe in the shapes of people, of places. Moats and gates of protection.
I was thinking about that earlier this week, how my work is inferred by my experiences. Not exactly a revelation – as creators we always draw from who we are/what is important to ourselves, but I realized that I use my work as a way to understand/come to terms with the bumps along the way, the dangerous landscapes I had to traverse; the dark parts, the cob-web corners that I’ve been sneaking through. I wonder if recognition, or realization, impacts intention. We should write deliberately, but for me, so much is what is under the surface. I guess that’s the amusing part, since the biggest critique of my work is that it’s not ‘clear’ enough.
But neither is the world, you know?
*Baba Yaga, from FABLES.
Everyone has an enemy and sometimes they’re not who you expect. Enemy. Fren. Eh. Me. Some days. Some days it’s just enough to keep on walking. My sneakers are riddled with holes and my socks don’t match. Ask me if I’m happy and I don’t know the answer. Some days it’s the guilt, and some days I forget until your photograph falls out of my torn-up bag and lands face-side up on the pavement I remember, I remember blood and claws and it didn’t matter that your heart didn’t beat, didn’t move anything like blood through your system. When you died, I still felt it stop.
I did, and I’m sorry and I found this house for us, and just as soon as I can get the electrical to work, and get that sign off the lawn, it’ll be beautiful.
But for now, it’s just this alley I’m walking down. It’s just silent of my footsteps; I smell like a wet dog.
Buildings hang over me, their weight in rebar and concrete and I look up.
you know, you get an idea for a thing, and then you write the first couple of paragraphs and you realize it’s not a thing you overly want to write, but it makes you think of an older project with a similar-ish tone, and you know that wip, even with it’s suepr-sized flaws, is still way better?
My name is Aloysius Adler. Archie. Neither’s better than the other, at least not in high school. I’m sixteen. I skip an average of one class every three weeks. Enough to make me feel like a badass, but not quite enough to warrant a phone call to my parents. If there’s a bet, I’m going to hedge it. I have a part-time job running blood between the local donation centre and the hospital. On my bike.
I’m also the great grandson of Aleister Crowley.
That probably makes me weird. Or popular. Or something. My best friend, Grey, is seven minutes younger than I am, way better looking and the great granddaughter of Anton LaVey. If we drew a pentagram on the sidewalk, a Hellmouth would probably open and Kansas us to the sixth or seventh or whatever level of Hell had the brimstone. Except mine wouldn’t be a pentagram, it’d be a universal hexagram.
I am also bad at math.
It’s like that.
“I’m not watching that,” I said, as we stood outside of the Plaza theatre, my hands on my hips and one helluva firm expression on my face.
“But!” Box exclaimed. “It’s Adam Sandler!”
He said it like it was Gandhi, or Malcom X. “Repeat, not watching any Adam Sandler film, ever. I don’t care that everyone liked Happy Gilmore, I just won’t. He will annoy me and I will be cranky.” I looked up at the marquee. “What about the shark one?” I stretched out my hands, curled up my fingers and gnashed them together like big sharp teeth.
Box made a face.
I raised my arms and dropped my hands on to his shoulders, shaking him lightly. Pleading. “Please. For the love of all things holy, anything but Adam Sandler.”
He grinned and hummed the theme to Jaws.
I decided to make him pay for the popcorn. Movies were pretty standard for Box and I. Good for when I had days off and he was taking days off due some religious observance or another. Today it was Bastille day and he was suddenly, unexplainably French.
Popcorn and chocolate bought, we headed into the theater, settling into the rough-worn seats. Within ten seconds Box had his feet up on the chair in front of us, and within another thirty the theatre’s usher had given him the “Feet off of the seats, please” lecture as he grumbled and made another face and managed to curl himself up in the chair without the world ending. It was always a good day when major catastrophes could be averted.
Or ignored in the darkness of a movie theatre.
Stretching out my legs, I leaned over and rested my head on Box’s shoulder.
“He’s fine, girl.”
I shifted to face him, “I’m a worry wart. I know. But still. He’s not good with hospitals.” That was an understatement. I frowned and made a funny noise. “Gah.”
“Wouldn’t it suck if you couldn’t pick your family?” Box said with a smile as he kissed my forehead.
Not to say the 2nd excerpt doesn’t need a shitpile of work, cuz ‘lo, does it ever. But still. I have a fondness.
..I just never found a home inside of you.
And. So. Here’s the thing: if you don’t submit stories you can’t be rejected. Being rejected twice in the same week for a story you think is pretty amazeballs is hard on ye olde ego. I realize that rejection is part of the process and yadda yadda and you have to be tenacious and stubborn, and that’s all true, but it still kinda blows goats. Which, I know, makes for happy goats, but less than thrilled Ambers. So, that’s where it is.
This week I’m working on two projects, the neverending novel of doom, which had me stuck for days and days and days until some talking out loud with the feller made me realize the chapters were out of order, so now that we’ve cleared that bit of the road we can go forward. Slowly, but baby steps are better than no steps.
I also hauled a really, really old story out of my personal slushpile, “Red”, which I wrote after hearing Combichrist’s song of the same name way back in the day (like 2007). It’s a future-dystopic-vampire-western, where the vampires are half metal/half machine people, even if that’s not really clear in the narrative, maybe because it’s not overly important? There’s also a sassy lady named Marie Antoinette who isn’t onscreen most of the time, but she shows up at the end. I kind of love it, if only because it’s super fun and writing it is a no-pressure game. I added almost 800 words yesterday, and edited some others, and my word-count for the year tipped over the 20K mark, which is also kind of awesome given that I didn’t record word-count for a month as I was editing and all that math gave me a rash.
So, that’s where I’m at down here in the word mines.
Here’s a picture of Scott Fox. His face is My Day in Rockstars. His face is how rejections make me feel. Upside?
He’s the feller behind iVardensphere, and he once saved my sister and I from a particularly violent mosh pit. iVardensphere’s new album, FABLE, is unrelenting and overwhelming, especially when I listen to it on my super fancy new headphones. It’s like there’s a crack in the world and you fall right through. iVardensphere are also Canadian (Alberta), which makes them double-awesome.