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boots or hearts/the tragically hip

Hey! I wrote this on MonkeyStamp. But now it's here.

See when it starts to fall apart
Man, it really falls apart
Like boots or hearts, oh when they start
They really fall apart

Gord Downie/The Tragically Hip

 

About a million years ago I had a job filing land titles. By lat/long. I sang the Hip’s “At the Hundredth Meridian” every day for months .All day.

It’s where the great plains begin, after all. The more I work on The Mourning Wolves, the more Canadian it becomes. I plan on mentioning the giant egg. And the giant perogy.

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TMW: preplan

Hey! I wrote this on MonkeyStamp. But now it's here.

Although I’ve written the first two chapters, at least in some draft, I spent a bit of today thinking about The Mourning Wolves, because why wouldn’t you start writing a new book while you wait for the next few days to find out the fate of the last book you finished? So I did the thing tiny potatoes do: the thing.

i promise everything is true

i even made a title page. I come from a family of artists, you just can"t tell.

i even made a title page. I come from a family of artists, you just can’t tell.

Ash (model: Erika Linder)

Ash (model: Erika Linder)

And, I found someone who looks like Ash (mc) in my head. Model Erika Linder. She’s just gorgeous.  Ash is genderqueer, and I’m currently using female pronouns for them, but it feels weird every time I do. So we’ll see.

I did not have the same luck finding an image for Fig, whose name is not really Fig, but may be Kananginak, because he is at least part Inuk (Inuit). And I think it’s because he came out wrinkly when he was born and a fig is nicer than a prune. And google taught me, as it often does, that finding images of POC is like wading through syrup — it takes forever and nothing good happens along the way. My goal with TMW, because it’s set up in mid-north Alberta (note, for those of you not around these parts, everyone pretty much lives in mid-south Alberta, cuz it’s cold the higher you get), about a 13 hour drive from Yellowknife, is to make sure that the book reflected the region (or tried to), and not have it be full of white folks. I’m super nervous to write this book because I do want to learn more about the history of the region, if not for the book, then for myself. I find myself more interested in my country — outside of high school history — than I have been in a long time.

I’ve lived about 7 hours north of here, and didn’t want to set the book in a place I hadn’t seen, yet. Though, prairie is prairie, really. It’s only the winter that changes.

anyway, the landscape is a bit like this:

 

Swan Hills (photographer in image link)

Swan Hills

honestly, the Prairies are the best.

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I WON PITCHWARS! *true fact

Hey! I wrote this on MonkeyStamp. But now it's here.

*Because I worked my ever-loving bananas off and I am talking hours/day – I took a week off of work and didn’t see the outdoors, but I made the book the best I can, and I subbed it off and whatever happens now happens, but i can say for sure that this was all achievement: unlocked, and what not. Because. Yeah. It’s a good feeling to work your ass off and have something to show for it. I’m not sure I’ve ever been this focussed on anything in my whole life. And for those of you that know me, you know I’m an old lady – so. Go team me and what not. If there’s extra Pitchwars news, I’ll share. But for now, I’m kind of feeling amazeballs (it doesn’t hurt that I met a new CP, and she’s great).

So, this, is kind of how I am feeling right now (also known as: my day in rockstars)

 

I did take some breaks, though, and played through Last of Us again, which is like, one of my happy places (not necc. all of the Joel Killing Bloodshed stuff, but because it’s the video game version of The Road, and it’s complex and has great storytelling and has a great father/daughter relationship at its core and you should go play it right now), not the least of which is because (and i have no shame) Joel is so damn hot.

JOEL

JOEL

And, so, in an homage to my Joel, and because of my love for The Road, I’m going forth with The Mourning Wolves, my not-a-werewolf monster/transformation novel about Ash and her sidekick Fig, and the adventures they have in Northern Alberta. My hands hurt from typing 10 hours/day, but I’m kind of excited, too.

 

Worldburners Unite, indeed.

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pitchwars bio: scary part one. (not even the scary part)

Hey! I wrote this on MonkeyStamp. But now it's here.

Hi!

for starters, here’s the link back to all of the fabulous pitchwar participant’s bios. And when is say Fabulous, I mean this kind of Fabulous:

Fabulous-Thor-Meme-Gif

A bit about me: 

I have been writing since the dawn of time (since I’m kind of old, this is almost a true statement). I have always written specfic of some kind or another and didn’t realize until I was well into my thirties (true story),  that I mostly read specfic… I always assumed I just read (wait for it!) Books!

Seriously, it didn’t even dawn on me. Amusingly, my favourite book of all time (meaning childhood-me) isn’t specfic, it’s The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton).  I actually think there should be a club for writers who point to that book as their first source of writing inspiration. We’d easily fill up a sports stadium (go sports!). As an adult, my favourite is The Road (Cormac McCarthy), which can be argued as non-specfic, but it’s mostly dystopic, so I say it fits. It’s ok if you don’t agree. I support.  But even if you are all like “dude, so not specfic”, you can’t argue that this, below, is an outstanding bit of writing:

No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes. So, he whispered to the sleeping boy. I have you.

I mean, come on already! gah. Confession time: I like words. My biggest challenge is information delivery: I tend to under-explain and am working on finding the right balance so readers are interested and intrigued, but also not lost in the narrative. I craft a mean sentence.

Me in a nutshell:

  • Luke Skywalker. The Empire Strikes Back
  • X-Files
  • Penny Dreadful (OH VANESSA)
  • In love with the Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • EBM/Industrial. A smattering of witchhouse, doom/drone and apparently the score to The Last of Us
  • Coffee
  • I have an occasional vampire problem

sexy

  • All of the quizes point to Hufflepuff. I am 100% on board with this

I currently write YA novels and adult short stories. Usually fantasy (urban/real world kind of stuff) or horror.  My most recent short story was published in The Dark.  I’ve had a few others published, mostly back in 1804 (because I’m kind of old, remember?), some of which received honourable mentions in the Years’ Best Fantasy & Horror.  I’ve had the honour of being a CP/Beta reader helper-person for some pretty amazing books. I’m bad with commas. Good with characters.

The novel I’m subbing for pitchwars (Gingerbread) is a loose (as a goose) YA re-imagining of Hansel & Gretel. It’s about Blood cults and nephilim and inspired by the Voynich Manuscript (kind of?). It’s about birthright and protection and loss and sacrifice and flowers and mostly it’s about a brother & sister who went into the woods and into a spooky house and badness ensued. Warning: it kind of has a vampire in it. Fo’shizzle.  But I promise it’s a good thing.

I tend to write books around makeshift families.  In Gingerbread, my main character is in a pretty heavy relationship with her dude bestie, but it’s not romantic. Technically it’s queer-platonic, but as I re-write this draft my MC’s sexual identity is shifting (she’s somewhere in the grey-ace spectrum), so I can’t say for sure what it’ll be at the end. But I can tell you that as of RIGHT NOW:

she won’t get the boy. If she gets anyone it’s a girl. Also there’s no real getting. More like unexpected crush-time. Her name is Douglas.

It’s still not a romance. It’s not even a love story. Do not get your hopes up. :) Unless you count the queerplatonic relationship she’s in with her bi-male-bestie as romantic, WHICH I DO!

In case you’re curious about my writing, I present this gem from when I was in Grade 2:

FullSizeRender

 

Owl friend, way to help your elephant buddy. :)

In summary: I want to write (and read!)  books that remind me of Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap, combined with Leah Bobet’s An Inheritance of Ashes, if you add in three dashes of Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, a heavy helping of Erin Morgentstern’s The Night Circus and pretty much anything found in  Caitlin R. Kiernan’s work.

I don’t always remember what books were about, but I always remember how they made me feel.

lovelyday

Thanks for reading!

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sometimes, when it’s late and i’m left to my own devices

Hey! I wrote this on MonkeyStamp. But now it's here.

I let my voice sneak in extra into my prose:

“Poet!” I screamed his name, a betrayal because he was the last person I wanted. The gloom lifted. A silvery haze wove through the trees. I was alone. Panic. I dug the vial out from the pile of snow, turning it over and over in my hand. Cold had thickened the liquid, it was sluggish and heavy. I unfurled the piece of paper. Read it out loud, or tried, my voice an inaudible tremble of sound and fear. I pressed the paper into a rough bit of fallen wood, holding it open with my thumb and forefinger.

SEVEN FOR A SECRET.

An address nowhere near the Blood House. The address was vaguely familiar, calligraphy done in a steady, specific hand. Curl and knife-sharp, lines so thin they didn’t end, but disappeared into the white of the paper, fading away.

No time. No deadline. An impossible invitation with no expiry date. Now or later. Now or never. I opened my mouth and stretched my jaw. Something cracked and something peeled away. A half-formed scab, a bit of dried blood. I pushed my tongue into my cheek and winced.

No time. No deadline.

But how soon is Now? Do I go. Stay. Fight, when I’m so tired from crying?

Terror.

Sometimes his name was prophecy.

Hrm, I also realize in this piece I need to fix some continuity. Yay for blog posts. Also, tense. ugh!

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last*dance

Hey! I wrote this on MonkeyStamp. But now it's here.

in case you were wondering, and it’s really ok that you weren’t, I discovered a major source of my word-Smithing* influences last week:

I’m so glad you came
I’m so glad you remembered
To see how we’re ending our last dance together
Reluctantly cautiously but
Prettier than ever I really believed
That this time it’s forever

But Christmas falls late now, flatter and colder
And never as bright as when we used to fall

(Last Dance: the Cure)

Seriously.

And also:

She walked out of her house and looked around
At all the gardens that looked back at her house
Like all the faces that quiz when you smile

And he was standing at the corner
Where the road turned dark a part of shiny wet
Like blood the rain fell black down on the street

And kissed his feet she fell
Her head an inch away from heaven
And her face pressed tight
And all around the night sang out like cockatoos

“There are a thousand things”, he said
“I’ll never say those things to you again”
And turning on his heel he left a trace of bubbles
Bleeding in his stead

(Like Cockatoos: the Cure)

*see what I did there? :D

I don’t listen to the Cure in regular rotation anymore, mostly because I listen to music on my phone and am too lazy to update it much, if ever, so it’s mostly the same three hundred William Control songs and a smattering of other things like Cygents and iVardensphere and yanno, whatever else shows up on shuffle. Like Matt Good, sometimes.

I hadn’t been to a big, full-on stadium show in years. Maybe the last was Nine Inch Nails? Maybe? But sitting there, with the lights and the dancing drunkos, and the crowd that was easily almost the same age as me, listening to Robert Smith sing exactly how he should, it hit me.

Influence. In the way words form. In images. In my obsession with using winter imagery and strange combinations of words and structure. The sadness, or longing. Hopeful loneliness.  And the cold.

I’m still on vacation, but now it’s a staycation. My feet are sore and swollen and angry for walking 70KM in as many days. I bought art and ate delicious food and snuck down dark alleys and walked with Fantomes, and I bought art. Invested in art, actually.  And today I had hipster coffee and hipster toast and am looking out over the city and the sky is all bluebirds.

I’m still working on Gingerbread, it’s not the first draft anymore but technically it changed direction when I wasn’t looking so the bits I’m writing are first draft. I’m trying to prep for pitchwars, because any goal is a good goal and the experience of it will be super good for me, I think.  I’m also better at deadlines: left to my own devices I’d probably play nothing but Last of Us because OMG that game broke my little tiny heart (I am, however, listening to the soundtrack/score RIGHT NOW. If you like moody/sad instrumental I strongly recommend).

Anyway, here’s a snippet of what i wrote today. I don’t think it’s right,

A ball of pain so sharp it may as well have been made of thorn or razor wire, spread through my gut. “I am not missing anything. I’m just trying to duck the bullshit coming out of your mouth before it sticks because as of right now, I don’t think any amount of soap would wash your crap off. Seriously. You ramble on about nothing, lie to me about the Crimson, about yourself. If I asked you what colour the sky was, you’d probably tell me cotton candy because you think I’m idiot enough to fall for whatever sweet comes out of your mouth.”

too many “mouths” mostly, and the end doesn’t stick (ha) the way i want it to, but it’s a start.

Okay. Onward!

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happily never after

Hey! I wrote this on MonkeyStamp. But now it's here.

for the first time in, oh, a year, I’m writing a short story. I should be writing the novel, but my bestest writing Twin sent me the open call for this anthology: Over the Rainbow.

And lo’, now I’ve written about 2K on this weird, slightly mean short story about these two henchpeople who work for the evil Queens, and whose job is to ensure Princesses don’t get their happily-ever-after, but my theory is the promise of happy-ever-after is harmful, and sets people up for disappointment. Not sure it’s overly original in scope but the narrative is, and the characters are assholes, and I haven’t actually written protags who are jerks before, and I’m really, really enjoying it.

I want to write pages and pages and pages of these jackasses, but for that, we need a plot that can support more than four thousand words.

We will see.

 

 

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when you blow it up.

Hey! I wrote this on MonkeyStamp. But now it's here.

Today’s trip through writing class was (partially) to take a piece of a scene you had written and blow it up. Not literarily, mostly just expand. Add some air.

This is the original:

Quince was quiet, then he reached out and opened his hand. I dropped the keys in his palm and watched as he stepped forward, his left hand on another tree trunk for balance. He brought the keys up and started to scrape their edge into the cold wood.

I waited, and listened. I watched him write letters and I watched him carve a heart and when he was done he stepped in, stepped close to me and I kissed his cheek and smelled lime and linden flowers and it was like we’d won some battle, like we were victors, finally, and I lifted my hand and pressed the soft of my mitt into the bark, into the heart and thought I could feel it beating.

This is the blown up version of same-same:

Quince was quiet, then he reached out and opened his hand. I dropped the keys in his palm and he stepped forward, his left hand on another tree trunk for balance.

I waited. Listening to the rustle of dead leaves, the brittle back and forth of their fragile conversation. Quince turned the key over in his hand, a study in dull and sharp edges. He pinched it, his fingers shaking in the cold. He looked at me, and I nodded. He didn’t need permission, but it was there anyway, a reminder in the subtle movement of my chin that it was okay and I was here and that I loved him.

He pressed the tip of the key into the wood. A bit of bark lifted, then fluttered down. He scraped and scraped and scraped and the bark paled, and a drop of clear liquid seeped from the cut Quince made; a new wound that would never fully close over. He started with Q and ended with K and he rubbed at his nose and I wasn’t sure if it was because he was cold or because his nose always ran when he cried, but I didn’t ask. I pulled up the impossibly puffy collar of my second hand coat and watched him carve that heart, and I’d hoped this was a kindness, what I’d asked him to do,  but it was too late to start over.

He half-smiled at me when he was finished, the keys in his hand dead, lifeless things. He stepped in, stepped close to me and I smelled the familiar of him; lime and linden flowers. I kissed his cheek and it was like we’d won a battle out here in the middle of this nightmare forest. We were victors, finally, and I lifted my hand and pressed the soft of my mitt in the the bark, over the heart he’d drawn, and thought I could could feel it beating.

I realize we’re supposed to be all calm, cool & collected and the what not about our own work, but I am pretty proud of 10 minutes worth of work. This book is going to be good if it kills me :) or gives me the elevensies, which is much more likely than death.

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and, poet.

Hey! I wrote this on MonkeyStamp. But now it's here.

I’m about 50% done the almost-last (OMG) edit on this book and finally, FINALLY I can admit to being slightly proud about some/most/parts of what I’ve written and that makes me super happy. Like this.  When you name a character something ridiculous and he’s never supposed to show up and then he does? And then he says something that makes you laugh?

It’s like that:

 

“If you’ve brought a flask and you are not sharing…”

I turned. Poet. His hand out like he was demanding my entrance fee to this party. “No, not -“

“She’s not drunk, Poet.”

“Well, that’s disappointing.”

I cleared my throat. Poet, of the Rupprecht-Brodsky Poets, or something because all ten-dollar names had lineage, looked at me like he was bored out of his tree and tapped Quince on the nose. “Master Woodcock.”

Quince grimaced.

“Still an unfortunate last name,” Poet said in a sigh. “You could change it, you know, after the wedding?”

“Poet.” I widened my eyes and shook my head.

“I didn’t mean to you.”

“For fuck’s sake, Poet,” I hissed.

He fiddled with the button on his blazer. His boring, regular, funeral blazer. He was wearing a boring funeral tie and dull shoes. Someone else had dressed him. Silver cufflinks glinted when he talked, his hands always part of the conversation. “Oh come on, Haven, if we all act dead they won’t know which one of us they’re supposed to bury.”

Quince gasped. All I could manage was a blink.

Poet leaned in, his hand on my shoulder. “Arwen told me about the birth star.” His breath was soft and warm. “Be careful,” as his other hand touched the mark on my wrist. “Leave as soon as you can and do not come back here. And hide this mark.” He kissed my hair. “From everyone.” He stepped back and bowed lightly at the waist.

The scent of rot and roses bloomed around me.

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the hardest part is starting

Hey! I wrote this on MonkeyStamp. But now it's here.

And I think that’s because nothing makes me feel more inadequate than sitting down to write.

Which is frightening because, all things considered, it’s really the only thing I know how to do.