Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Even More Snippets!

I've been getting a bucketload of reading done lately, partially because our home wifi has been ought and my cellular data doesn't support overmuch lazy Facebook/Pinterest/Instagram scanning, leaving me way more time for actually productive pursuits. Also, since my sister and I carpool to work most days and she gets off half an hour later than I do, I have spare shreds of time that I've been filling with reading rather than browsing. Maybe by the time we get this sorted out, I'll have reformed to a creature who doesn't fulfill all Millennial stereotypes? Anyway, I've rediscovered the depth of my love for reading which had been forced dormant for a while. I've also been getting a lot of words into The Spindle and The Queen via "word-wars" with friends such as Meghan Gorecki. I had never given much credence to the helpfulness of friendly competition until I tried it and realized I really didn't like losing. Sunday afternoon found me having written three-thousand words, give or take. I like this trend. I also finally dragged Cottleston Pie out of my trunk, discovered my trunk has a leak and the file had become a hotbed of disease and black mold, tied a scarf around my face and extracted blurred words from the page and copied them into a file on my computer, and generally felt like I would fall prey to the Bubonic Plague any minute. Update: I'm fine. I've finished Schindler's List, read Go Set A Watchman in record time, am a chapter away from rounding off Wodehouse's Cocktail Hour, and am the same distance from finishing Wordsmithy by Douglas Wilson. I have so much to say on the subject of all these things...about reading in general, reading as regards writers, about my story, and about the value of other art forms serving as inspiration. In short, I've got a lot to say and about ten minutes in which to say it. So I'm not going to waste my breath. I'll write it out when I have time (tomorrow?) and leave you with a few snippets from The Spindle And The Queen instead.

The producer’s phone rang once, twice, three times. Heath glanced at the minimalistic wall-clock and calculated that if it was seven o’clock here, it would be noon in New York and nine in L.A. Brendan Fischer was likely finishing his second mimosa, wiping his mouth on a monogrammed napkin, calling for Natalie to reschedule his nine-fifteen appointment an hour later so he could cram some yoga into his routine and swing by the juice bar before hitting the office. Heath winced as a deafening crackle birthed a dubious connection between two continents.

“What’s up, man?” Brendan’s voice sounded suntanned.

Silence. Silence so firm and cold you could skate across it.

After confessing the non-plausible plausible solution to Flavian, the man had quietened, suggested he might have someone who could help the case, and invited Heath into the street with him. Every cell in Heath’s composed, civilized brain told him this was what travel guidebooks called “a compromising situation” and suggested the American traveler at all costs avoid. 

They passed skinny boys and gangly men, shapely women with braids swinging to their hips, fat women with hair combed into thick knots at their necks. No one seemed in a particular hurry to close themselves into their homes for the evening. All doors were open to the street. Half the children ran naked, chasing a ball down the center of the street. Dogs skulked between legs and cats hid in potted petunias, their eyes catching odd shards of light leftover from the setting sun. Everywhere the streets reeked until Flavian led Heath and the boy into a clean, white lane set with the most opulent mansions Heath yet seen. The contrast between the sector through which they’d just trekked and this celestial glory hurt Heath’s eyes almost physically. He blinked a few times and caught his breath while Flavian spoke to a slender gypsy man smoking against a gold-painted fence. Daniel climbed the fence and swung by his hands on the top spikes, making faces at the grand house in its beautiful cage.

“I am supposing the spirits brought me to you.” 

Heath looked at him curiously. “You believe that?” 

“Of course. What do you believe? Are you Orthodox?” 

“I’m not saying it’s a popular belief and I’m not saying I don’t sometimes forget I believe it, but I’m a Christian.” He laughed. “The only Spirit I have dealings with is the Holy Spirit.” 

“Oh.” Flavian eyed him slyly. “Ah...Pentecostal.” 

Heath grinned. “Baptist.” 


At the balancing point in all awkward interactions when some decision or another must be made, the farther door opened the queen who had once been beautiful entered.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Behind-the-Scenes: a writing tag, answered

Hi, Kids! Still obnoxiously in the land of NO WIFI (can I scream like the first-world woman that I am?) so posts are still scarce as pre-boiled hens eggs, but I'm here at Starbucks again and I'm going to post by crikey. The Spindle & The Queen runs apace. I still haven't thought of a better title and I'm still angsting over getting all the details correct but I am happy with how it goeth.
There is much happy news in my land. My friend and editor, Rachelle Rea, has had published her second novel, The Sound of Silver! My friend, the ever-inspiring Mirriam Neal, has landed a contract for her wonderfully unique Paper Crowns and I'm pacing like a caged tiger to learn more details about it. I want to know by WHOM and WHEN we'll get to read it and all of that jazz. Patience. Bah.
I was also tagged by Elisabeth Foley to do the Behind-the-Scenes writing tag. I don't usually participate in tags but I figured that it could not possible hurt to help you peer into the foggy mist that is my writing process. It will help you cheer me on and that's something. Questions, then!

a blessing on your head, mazel tov, mazel tov.

Is there a certain snack you like to eat while writing? Hazelnut in dark chocolate. It began as my editing chocolate and is basically Nutella, deconstructed. I solemnly swear there is something in the molecular structure of this particular chocolate that is conducive to word-count and general productivity. It seldom, if ever, fails.

When do you normally write? Night, afternoon, or morning? Night. I would naturally prefer writing in the morning, but having a "real job" negates the possibility of morning or afternoon writing, except on Wednesdays which I have off, on principle.

Where do you write? Wherever is nearest to an outlet, as my mother's laptop (which I'm using till I buy a new on on Cyber Monday) cannot operate off-charger.

How often do you write a new novel? Ha. Hahahahahahaha.

Do you listen to music while you write? So rarely as to be a firm "no." If I do, it is instrumental, as I can't listen to someone else making words while I'm trying to.

What do you write on? Laptop or paper? Laptop, generally. I have fewer excuses if I write on Google Docs, which I can access anywhere. If I write on paper, there is far too much leeway for leaving it someplace like a car trunk for weeks on end (ahem).

Is there a special ritual you have before or after you write? Nope.

What do you do to get into the mood to write? Read someone else's work. Wish I could write like that. Decide I never will if I don't keep writing. Then I write.

What is always near the place you write? My inspiration journal, in which I keep all my research notes.

Do you have a reward system for word counts? Getting to stop without shame?

Is there anything about your process that others might not know about? I have a hard time tacking down plot. Characters, setting, dialog, writing itself are so much more natural to me than plot. I basically have to chase my story down a dark alley and buffet its head before it will respond with plot.

I tag Meghan Gorecki, since this tag has already been pretty well around my blogging circles. Cheers & stuff.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Spindle And The Queen

Though my story for Rooglewood Press's Five Magic Spindles contest is yet untitled, for now I am calling it The Spindle And The Queen. I have begun a Pinterest board for the story for those of you who are curious for the photographic inspiration behind it. I am thrilled to have set The Spindle in Romania at the beautiful Peles Castle. I'm privileged to have been twice to this location and to have hands-on research to help me in my writing...paired with the historical research required (Princess Maria of Romania was a legitimate person and died at the age of three), I'm quite excited and stocked-up-on-ideas for this story. Let me practice pitching The Spindle And The Queen to you:

Hunted by a rabidly envious gypsy-witch, Maria, princess of Romania, must decide in which era she truly belongs. Carlotta the Maleficent meant to keep a century between herself and her arch-rival, but when American Maria Weid stumbles into the past through a shattered bookcase in Peles Castle, the gypsy's carefully-sculpted plans are destroyed. If Maria, heir to the Romanian throne, discovers her true identity, she will alter the course of a history selected for the world by the maleficent lady. With Maria's intern hunting the truth this side of the century and the young princess, in possession of The Spindle, struggling to make sense at the other, Carlotta must wage her war. 

One princess buried , one gypsy queen vanished, one hundred-year gap. One book, which achieved it all, suspended between.

And now for the snippets, because I know all of you are absolutely dying (har, har) to read about the Sleeping Beauty!

The glass casing hummed beneath her hand, its beauty physically drawing her near: hundreds of unfamiliar stories in unfamiliar languages, made friends by their livery of leather and cloth and gold-leaf. If only there was no barrier between her and the books. If only she could touch them—just touch their spines and run her fingers across a page or two…the glass…how strong could it be? Would they even have an alarm system?

Don’t panic, Itty. Don’t you dare panic. She forced several calm breaths. See, that’s air. That’s oxygen. You’re fine. It loomed behind her memories, though, older than nightmare: a great blackness—layers of it—blotting out light, just as if she’d been put in a heavy, narrow box.

“Karl!” Elisabeth’s tone stung more than she intended and her husband’s blue eyes darted, troubled, to her face. The look melted her. Cold he certainly was, but he was not cruel. “Karl,” she tried again, “do you ever wonder how different our lives might have been if…”

A high, cadenced ceiling rose up, up, up above her; a ceiling just like music.

She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and smiled. “P-pace.” There was no hand offered to shake so she went for the traditional cheek-kiss. The man backed away.

Monks. Right. Monks.

Heath was too clever to fall for the favorite “Americans are stupid so I will try to lie to them” trick. “Ma’am, all I know is that your bookcase swallowed up my boss and there is an entire film company in America who will be beating down the doors of this castle unless you tell me where she went.”

The tour-guide’s honey-hued eyes riveted Heath as if she’d taken her hand and tipped his chin to force the connection. He found an alluring, unsettling conviction in their touch. “Peles,” she said melodically, “is a palace, not castle.”

Could a more pleasant Alpine afternoon be asked for? Heath forced himself to notice the wide, forest-lined avenue and the sound of a river purling a short distance away. He passed a sign warning the pedestrian of possible bear sightings, and grimaced. If a bear would show up now and take care of everything for him, he’d probably not mind as much as he would have this morning. Before Maria had been so asinine. Before she’d vanished in a wall four inches thick.

“So unlikely,” Carlotta muttered. How many times had she searched through the tour groups, knowing that Maria, daughter of Elisabeth of Wien, would, by Fate’s hand, try to come home? How many times had her suspicion landed upon a woman fair in form and face, light and laughing as the child had been last she saw her? How many times had she watched such women, guided them away from the bookcase, sing-songed them to the safety of the outer court? And this one—this very American, brown-haired, green-eyed person, slightly plump and not graceful in movement—had slipped past her notice. Why? Because she had not considered a Romanian princess could have been so wonderfully…commonplace.

A young Romani boy—a gypsy, as were the rest of her household—scuttled off the front porch and came to her. She ruffled his hair and put away her golden magic for a time.

She took his hand in her own and swung her arms. “What has Tamara made for dinner?”


“Mmm. Did you go to school?”

Daniel scuffed his toes in the clean white gravel of the courtyard and looked off to the rose-beds. Carlotta sighed and chucked under his chin.

“Daniel, you know you must attend school.”


“Because.” She pulled him along.

“Because why?”

“You are a gypsy. You know what they think of us.”

Daniel’s dark eyes searched her face mischievously. “What? That we cannot learn?”

“That we are too shiftless to want to learn. I know that is not true. And so do you.”

“Maybe I do not want to learn.”

Carlotta’s voice dipped to the coaxing tone to which she seldom stooped. “You want to learn to make magic, don’t you? Like your ancestors?”

His black eyes riveted on hers. “I want that.”“Mmmmm. Good,” she hummed, and pushed open the heavy, gilded door.

Out of desperation, she had traded her Toms for an ensemble resembling more a feed-sack tied with a woolen scarf than anything recognizable as fashion, and a pair of ugly leather clogs. The trade had hurt her worse than she’d thought it would. Those glorious Toms…formed exactly to the shape of her foot….gone to an old, sewage-scented woman who appeared to be growing a beard of all things!

She knew the way to the palace. She felt odd, knowing, for it was clear to her that Peles was not entirely built. Workmen and carts crammed the road which led to the castle. Here a long-eared, sad-eyed donkey looking as if doomsday drew nigh, there a random knot of sheep and a lanky shepherd. She knew more of the palace than the palace knew of itself. It dizzied and enchanted Maria, and for one fleeting moment, she forgot her terror.