March #WIPjoy (Part 3)

Courtesy of Pinterest.

Courtesy of Pinterest.

March #WIPjoy (Part 3)

To see Part 1, click here.

To see Part 2, click here.

Moving on to the third part of the March #WIPjoy created by author Bethany Jennings. If you want to join in the next go around visit Bethany’s Twitter profile (@simmeringmind) to be updated on the next #WIPjoy!

In January, I used my WIP The Cost of Two Hands (Book1). This month I’m using The Sparrow and The Star (unfinished Book 2). I will try to refrain from huge spoilers.

 


 

Line Love Week

  1. Share a line about a cool setting.

They trooped out the door into an orange and pink sunset, a soft warm breeze, and a view Sparrow could hardly comprehend: Metropolis. A city that wasn’t bones but bright, polished metal stacked up in row upon row before her all copper, gold, gunmetal grays, and silver. Tall square buildings with round caps, thin curved buildings, large windowed globes standing on thin stalks, spiraled buildings like sharp curls, and unusual shapes she’d never heard of made a unique skyline as far to her left and right as she could see, dotted with bright hot-air balloons.

  1. Share a line (or several) that makes you smile.

“Well, well, well, by the beautiful Sundance’s golden hair, I must have struck a chord with that one.”

“Who’s Sundance?” Sparrow ran her sleeve across her face.

“Who is Sundance? Do you not know the stories of the Guardians of the Material World?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“No idea!” the snail huffed. “No idea!? Genesis? Quinn? Ronan? The Justicar? Crow and Olive? Please tell me you’ve heard of Crow and Olive?”

Sparrow shook her head wanting to get back to the Sons of the Dragons.

“Jack? Have you heard of Jack the Wolf and his Unlit Companion?”

“No…”

Ebenezer groaned. “I have suffered a mortal wound.”

 

  1. Share a line that makes you feel the pain.

A keening wail came from just ahead. Royce’s hair stood on end. He’d never in his life, even as his parents died and his siblings were taken, even as the leader of the Dragons, even when they found Tom-ears’ boy among the Clowns, heard a sound like the breaking, ripping of a soul. He rushed forward. In the gloom and smoke with the fire burning to their right stood Skip. His gun hung from the tips of his fingers and fell. Ash shifted into the air as it struck the ground and bounced. The horrible sound continued to rise from Skip. Pink’s face drained of all color. Malarkey, Shifty, and Babe hurried to his sides.

 

  1. Share an intense line.

Girls with faces wrapped in scarves, hair shorn, and round wide eyes, poured from the Mall and raced towards the battle.

 

  1. Share a line about love.

“Yes, you do.” Mrs. Cummbers broke in. “You surely do, child. But, you aren’t saved, Adele, by what you did or didn’t do, or by what you will and will not do.” Mrs. Cummbers took Adele’s hand. “You’re saved by my salvage. I already took your punishment for you. You made the choice to do what is wrong and you will have to bear the consequences of that, but I already took your punishment.” She pointed down to her legs which no longer worked. Very gently, she pulled Adele into her arms. “Now it’s time to do what’s right.”

“‘Not to earn my salvage, but because of my salvage’. That’s what Jonah said.” Adele’s eyes glistened in the lights gleaming in the night.

 

  1. Share a line that amuses you.

“Genesis save me,” Ebenezer swore. “I’m not ready yet, Sacrifice. She can’t communicate very clearly.”

“Okay, okay.” Sacrifice disappeared then returned. “I’ll be back. You know how Heart is.”

“Silly boys, give a snail a chance.”

  1. Share a line that wrings your heart. (SPOILER ALERT)

The body. Soul looked at the body. He saw gray skin, scarred. He saw disheveled brown hair and a pointed nose.

“Oh King!” He rushed towards Cry of the Storm. The disk Jonah meant for him to have at Christmas thumped against his thigh as he ran. Dead. Dead. Dead, it said with each strike. Soul pulled Jonah’s cold body off the back of the horse who danced to the side. Soul gathered Jonah’s body close, rocking his boy, trying to warm him. Haze bent down one hand on his shoulder.

“It’s my boy, Haze. They killed my boy. They killed him.”

All the Feels Week

  1. What kind of relationship is at the heart of your WIP?

Love in many different forms is at the heart of my WIP. I have a handful of romances, but I have many more elements of friendship, brotherhood, loyalty, parent/child, and love as a choice made, not so much a bubbly emotion.

  1. If you could enter your WIP for a day, what would you do there?

I would split my day between riding Cry of the Storm through the snow, and curled up somewhere in Greenhome with a hot apple cider and Lazarus at my feet with all my heroes around me.

  1. How do you feel about your WIP right now?

I vacillate between absolutely adoring it and feeling overwhelmed by how much work is still left to be done.

  1. Have you ever cried about this WIP? Why?

Funny enough, I was just working on a single sentence and started crying…so yes, I’ve cried over this story. You should know, I cry pretty easy. Commercials can make me tear up. This story takes place after the apocalypse for a handful of people. The worst thing that could happen, did happen to them. That’s how Book 1 ended. Book 2 starts with the aftermath of the loss of families, homes, and friends. Added to that is the upswing of the story into a little bit of hope. Sometimes hope is as painful as loss. Lots of tears. Some happy. Some sad.

  1. What makes you the proudest about this WIP?

I’m not really sure how to answer this question, so I’m going to reword it. The things I’m most thankful for about this WIP are how far it’s come even with all my health issues which sometimes keep me from writing at all, or limit me to only a few minutes here or there. (50,000+ words) I’m also thankful I get to work around so many Christian themes, Christmas, and that at some point I will get to introduce a group of characters that I love, who I thought would never see the light of day.


 

Thank you so much for reading about my WIP. I love sharing it with the world!

March #WIPjoy (Part 2)

Courtesy of Pinterest.

Courtesy of Pinterest.

March #WIPjoy (Part 2)

To see Part 1, click here.

Moving on to the second part of the March #WIPjoy created by author Bethany Jennings. If you want to join in the next go around visit Bethany’s Twitter profile (@simmeringmind) to be updated on the next #WIPjoy!

In January, I used my WIP The Cost of Two Hands (Book1). This month I’m using The Sparrow and The Star (unfinished Book 2). I will try to refrain from huge spoilers.


 

Fear Week:

  1. What fears do your characters overcome?

My characters overcome Fear himself:

“What have you done!?” Fear screamed at the children who should be huddled in servile slobbering masses at his feet.

Christopher raised his rifle. “We stopped being afraid.”

He fired.

Fear fell dead in the Streets.

 

  1. Share a cliffhanger!

(For some reason this was very hard for me.)

The world spun. The lights marring her vision from the slapping expanded into whole suns flashing, blinding her. Her head dropped to her chest. One more. She had one more thing to say to Purity. Forcing her tongue to work, Sparrow said, “You want to know what happened in Greenhome. Soul’s boy killed your Clowns. He armed kids with big guns and they destroyed your precious Clowns. You take them from their homes, but these kids fought back.”

“Soul?”

Purity spun around. Another brighter light flashed across Sparrow’s vision and everything went black.

 

  1. What scares you most about writing this story?

Mostly, I’m terrified I won’t be able to draw all the strings together into a satisfying tapestry. But, in reality what scares me the most is that I’ll fail my characters and that I will fail to communicate the idea of a just war. We live in a day and age when all war is thought of as evil, but there are things worth fighting for and things worth dying for, there are things worth standing up to.

  1. What scares you the most about sharing your story with the world?

There are two things that scare me. First, gracefully and confidently handling negative critiques. I have to remind myself that not everyone has to love it even if it is my soul exposed. Second, watching the meaning I intended it for be turned into different meanings for other people. One of the great beauties of art is how personally it applies to others, but that’s also one of the scary parts. Watching people read into your work something you didn’t intend will happen. I just hope I can refrain from letting that get to me, instead embracing it as something amazing.

  1. Share a line about fear.

Fear’s mark on Jonah’s face had been a child ripped from the arms of a woman. Born and unborn, had they all not been ripped from the arms of their mothers. A vile hatred of all that was killing, all that was war, all that was what Jonah was best at overwhelmed him.

(These questions about fear are a hard for me because in my story Fear is an actual person who feeds on the fear of the children around him. They deal with him in externally, not internally.)

18. Are your characters brave in any way you wish you were?

I hate conflict and would rather sacrifice what I want in order for everyone to be happy than stand for what I want. This can be a great asset because I think of others before myself and I can enjoy a wide range of people. But, there are times when I think it can be cowardly. There are times I wish I had spoken up for what I believe instead of keeping my mouth shut for the sake of peace in a relationship. My characters are not as adverse to conflict as I am and more willing to stand up for the truth.

  1. Has writing this book made you braver?

Writing this book has given me more confidence in my voice and it has given me more confidence in the concept of the Just War. I don’t know that that has made me any braver. I do hope that someday it will give boys and girls, young men and women, a chance to practice being brave.

 

This is an extra thought I had when thinking about my MC’s fears:

Jonah’s main fear is friends dying because of something he does. Two of his friends have already paid this ultimate cost for his decision and more may have to. He overcomes this fear reminding himself that if they don’t fight, even more children will die. He clings to the fact that the King (Christ) put him on the Streets and made him the one in charge. Jonah trusts the King didn’t make a mistake choosing him. It’s hard to say if he ever overcomes this fear. I don’t think he does. I think as long as he has to order his friends into battles, he will always struggle with the knowledge that he’s sending them to their deaths.

 

March #WIPjoy (Part 1)

Courtesy of Pinterest.

Courtesy of Pinterest.

Back in January, author Bethany Jennings created a fun hashtag challenge for writers, with a different prompt about your WIP (work-in-progress) every day. She’s done it again for the month of March. I’m so excited. This exercise not only allows me to share my story with you, but it prompts me to twist my brain around for different perspectives on the story.

If you want to join in visit Bethany’s Twitter profile (@simmeringmind) to see the pinned list of daily prompts!

In January I used my WIP The Cost of Two Hands (Book1). This month I’m using The Sparrow and The Star (unfinished Book 2). I will try to refrain from huge spoilers.



 

Intro Week: Tell us about your Work in Progress: The Sparrow and the Star:

1. What WIP are you sharing about this time? Name, genre, blurb?

This month I’m going to share about The Sparrow and the Star, the sequel to The Cost of Two Hands which I shared about in the #JanuaryWIPjoy. It’s a Literary YA fantasy. I don’t have an official blurb for it yet so here’s a start:

When everything went wrong, hope blossomed. The Artists have returned and Pain’s power slipped between his fingers. But, on the horizon Purity and her Clowns loom. What happens to the lost children when they turn 18?

2. How long have you been at this labor of love? What stage are you at?

I started working on TSATS in 2014, but had to set it aside as Book 1, The Cost of Two Hands, required a major rewrite. Then my health went south slowing the rewrite down. I was able to restart working on TSATS late last year, so I’ve really only been working on it about four months. I’m totally in the rough draft stage. This story is developing as I write it. It’s supposed to cover 3.5 days and I’m on the .5 day. I haven’t even started Day 1 yet. And I’m at 44,000 words. Lol.

3. Describe the book’s atmosphere or mood in 5 words.

Cold darkness laced with hope.

4. You might enjoy my book if you like ___________.

I’m really not sure how to answer this question. It’s like a literarily written Hunger Games minus the anti-hero of Katniss. It may be similar to The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. Any of my readers want to comment on this??? (Two comments on this: one suggested it was like The Horse and His Boy set in Dickens’ London, the other that it was like Quintessence by David Walton. These are much closer to the mark than the Wingfeather Saga.)

5. Name a song that reminds you of your WIP.

There are two songs that remind me the most of my WIP. The Call by Regina Spektor and I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crowns.


Protagonist vs. Antagonist Week: Jonah vs. Purity:

6. Show a line that showcases you protagonist’s personality.

This isn’t a line…cause hey, I’m a writer. So here’s a paragraph of Jonah’s dialogue. And um…SPOILER ALERT:

“You want to know what’s wrong with the Streets?” Jonah stepped towards him, towering over the boy who he once wanted to be just like. “No one values life. Life is cheap. Life doesn’t matter. Not yours. Not mine. Unborn come up with skills and no one cares. Kids starve and no one cares. You want to change that? Then you start respecting those who died with you, for you. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is without value. The little girls who you abuse. The smaller boys you beat up. The ones who sing and draw and dance that you terrorize and even kill. You’re just like him.” Jonah pointed to Fear’s body. “You’re just like Cagen and Pain. You don’t care about anything but what you can get out of it.”

7. When is your protagonist maddening to you?

When we both forget his body is a machine and he tries to sigh, or smile, or breath, or cry or even glare at anyone…and then we both remember he can’t.

8. What is most loveable to you lately about your protagonist?

I think it’s watching him spread hope in the dark place he once lived. I just finished reading an autobiography of Earnest Gordon who was a WW2 POW forced to help build the Bridge over the River Kwai. He was saved along with many other men in that camp and it spread a beauty and light over all their suffering. That has greatly influenced my protagonist and his actions in Book 2.

9. Share a line that shows off your antagonist, Purity.

Purity grabbed her face. “Does a mother explain herself to her sons?” She shook Sparrow’s head. “What did you do to them, you vile girl?”

10. Could you ever be friends with your antagonist?

Absolutely not. I do have villains that are less villainous, like sub-villains that I could be friends with, but the great antagonist of the story? Absolutely not. That’d be like being friends with Sauron. And yes, I know this puts me in the ever shrinking camp of those who like purely evil villains. In my defense, I have both the understandable villains and the unimaginable.

11. What makes your antagonist so formidable?

My antagonist is the ruler of one of the few remaining cities and she commands a group of boys called the Clowns who kidnap children to use as slave labor. But what makes her truly formidable is the ignorance she encourages in her people. She wants them to not know and not care. They are to enjoy life and not think about the children running around doing their bidding, or the fact that they no long have children of their own. Her true power comes from ignorance.

12. What’s put the two at odds?

My antagonist uses children as slave labor in her city. She sends out the Clowns to kidnap those children and this puts her in Jonah’s path. Jonah has no intention of letting her take more children and as the story unfolds, he works with the Dragons to get the ones she has taken back.

 

I hope you enjoyed this set of thoughts about my WIP. Maybe it even sparked your interest in my story! 🙂

I will continue to post sections of these as the month moves along.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

#JanuaryWIPjoy (Part 2)

novel inspiration from Bethany


Bethany Jennings  helped me put this “inspirational poster” together of art that inspires my writing. 🙂

I normally don’t post twice a week, but I wanted this close to January and not almost a whole month later. 🙂 This is Part 2 of the fun hashtag challenge Author Bethany Jennings created for  the month of January. Each day we had a different prompt about our WIP (work-in-progress).

I can’t do math, so Part 2 is a lot longer than my Part 1. Thanks for reading it despite it’s loquaciousness!

#JanuaryWIPjoy Part 2 :

  1. How do I want my target audience to be affected by my story?

First, I just want them to love my WIP as a fun adventure story. Then, I would like it to be encouraging to kids who are saved at a young age and still learning about their commitment and walk. Last, I’d like it to encourage boys to fight for the right things, and girls to see the joy of helping others. Nothing too major. [Symbol]

  1. Is there an animal you love in your book?

I always include animals in my books because I love them. In my WIP, I have a mouse named Gus who is calm and quiet. His best friend is a mushroom man. I also have a magical black stallion named Cry of the Storm. He is in just about every book I’ve ever written. When I was in high school my Mom asked me to write about something other than black stallions. Someday I hope to actually own a black horse.

  1. Some sights to see in your WIP:

From the bones of the old city where violent gangs rule the Streets, you can hike north into the Forest and there you will find an old oak tree far larger than the rest. If you travel east by car or motorcycle Greenhome will greet you. Forever blooming white roses form a hedge around the small town decorated for Christmas. If you’d rather head out west, the Stockyards are your first destination. This wild town is where oxen the size of houses are herded onto trains and sent further west to the clockwork city Metropolis. Only small, lonely homesteads break up the snowy landscape to the South. That and the Relay Stations of the Clowns where they send kidnapped boys and girls to Metropolis, who either can’t or won’t have its own children.

  1. Some sounds to be heard in your WIP:

You might hear the sound of engines as biker gangs roar across the frozen plains. You might hear the sound of gunshots as rival gangs in the bones of the old city push into one another’s territory. You might hear the ringing of the bell in the Tower at Greenhome warning of a coming ice fog.

  1. Some scents smelled in your WIP:

There aren’t a lot of pleasant scents in my WIP other than the scent of wet wood in the Forest and Christmas trees in Greenhome. Pretty much everything else is unwashed.

  1. Some tastes/flavors in your WIP:

In my WIP you will enjoy the taste of a thick tomato soup and a hot grilled-cheese sandwich washed down with apple cider . . . if you don’t get caught up in the food fight.

One of my characters eats chocolate for the first time: Chocolate filled Bree with a great sense of happiness. She quite believed that if all of Metaphysical World would just eat chocolate everyone would quit bickering and fighting.

  1. Some touches/textures experienced in your WIP:

Knurled tree bark, cold metal, frozen pipes, hot flashes of steam, soft rose petals, the velvet nose of a horse, silk gowns, leather gloves, and the sharp edges of rubble.

  1. You’d love your WIP to be made into a movie because . . .

Who wouldn’t? lol. Actually the more I thought about this the more I wondered if I would want my WIP made into a movie. The only real reason would be to “see” my characters for real, and to introduce more people to my world. But, there are so many interpretation issues, I think it would also be very strange to have it made into a movie.

On the other hand, there is a part of me that would find it very magical to have my WIP made into a movie.

  1. Most epic thing about your WIP:

To me, the most epic thing is watching Jonah cling to being Soul’s Man after Soul pays the cost for his crime. Jonah goes from grace to confidence and learns that his ability to fight is a good thing if he fights for the right thing.

  1. Advice given to you that made your WIP better:

I can’t begin to address all the excellent feedback, critiques, suggestion, and the fan-please-include-this list that have made my WIP better. Instead, I’ll just focus on a recent one. A new reader told me she didn’t think the book was done. I hemmed and hawed and argued, mentally with her for a few days, then realized she was right. The book wasn’t done. I was mentally avoiding the last two battle scenes by just brushing over them. Sigh. Back to work on the end. I know have a rough draft place holder and will go back and flesh them out more after Book 2 and possibly Book 3 are done. Thanks again everyone for all the great advice and help!

  1. Advice you ignored cause you know your WIP best!

I know this will ruffles some feathers, but I decided to keep my prologue at this point. I like prologues myself, and mine is very short. I also happen to love my prologue. I’ve taken a lot of the advice to modify it, but I really believe it sets the tone of the world.

  1. Shout-out to some people who have encouraged you in writing your WIP!

Well, I don’t know where to begin. First, to Deanna for telling me that I hadn’t lost my voice when I switched genres but had kept what was best. For Stephanie and Heather for cheering me on and listening to my worries and concerns and always being ready with a text or a message. For Emily S. who messaged me a blow by blow as she read through my book giving me a sense of what a reader experiences and also cheering me on. For Michelle V. who pushed through the darkness and gave me a critical point I hadn’t seen yet that I’m super pumped about. For Lelia Rose Foreman who has encouraged me when I felt discouraged by being a fan even though she doesn’t know me in ‘real life’. To H. L. Burke who pointed out paragraphs and Bethany Jennings who helped with blurbs. And to my writing group and everyone on Scribophile who has critiqued. Plus so many many more! My fans are the best!

  1. I love my WIP genre because . . .

I love a well written fantasy book for children and YAs because they tend to have more imagination in them, they retain a certain level of innocence, and often feature more courage and bravery than books for grown-ups. Plus they can deal with scary subjects without getting gratuitous. (I will add that there are plenty of YA books that I don’t fit this profile anymore. They’ve gotten more gratuitous and hopeless than many books for adults.)

  1. Share a favorite image that reminds you of your WIP:

I have two. The first is one Bethany Jennings helped me put together, and the second is about warriors which is one of the themes of my book. [Symbol]

  1. Describe a character relationship you love in your story.

Friendship is very important to me, more important in many ways than any romances in the story, so one of my favorite character relationships is Jonah and Cid. Cid sees Jonah as a threat to his friend Adele and warns Jonah off, but when Jonah proves he’s willing to do what it takes to befriend Adele and protect her, Cid loosens up. Though he’s a few years older, Cid naturally follows Jonah’s lead even into danger. By the end of book one, he’s fighting by Jonah’s side and risking his own life to save the boy he didn’t want around. Their brotherhood is one of my favorite parts of the book.

  1. Why are you passionate about sharing this story?

I love warrior stories. I love stories about the men who sacrifice their “normal” lives to stand between us and the monsters. I love stories about the women who stand beside them. I have a group of people called the Scarecrows in my WIP. That’s what they do. They are the ones who empty themselves to protect everyday life. So my story is one of brave, ruthless men and women facing dark monsters with bright lights and big guns. [Symbol] Obviously, I’m heavily influenced by war stories and seek to honor veterans, police officers, and fire fighters. But even more so, I see pastors as the real ‘scarecrows’ of the world. They are the watchman over our souls. They sacrifice lots of normal things for the sake of their flocks. They seek to arm us with truth and fight off wolves in sheep’s clothing. That’s why I’m passionate about my WIP.

  1. Why do the themes of my WIP come from my heart?

One of the strongest themes in any story I write is grace, the undeserved rescue. This comes from my heart because it is my own experience. I’m a sinner saved by grace. One time, one of our pastors described grace as the undeserved rescue. This isn’t the princess up in her castle who probably deserves to be saved. This is the villain, the scum, the dank, the dark, the evil pulled into the light. This is monsters receiving mercy. That struck a chord with me, and I’ve always tried to tell stories that show an undeserved rescue. This book is no different. It has big moments of grace and small moments of grace. Since I’m a monster saved by grace, the story and characters flow from my heart.

  1. What are somethings writing this story has taught you?

Well, I can’t think of something that it’s taught me, but it has served as a good reminder that I don’t live Christian life of holiness to earn my salvation. I live a Christian life of holiness, all be it imperfectly, because of my salvation. And because I’ve been given the grace of God, I know have confidence to approach him. Those are two of my favorite quotes from my WIP: The Cost of Two Hands:

“Not to earn my salvage, but because of my salvage.”

“From grace to confidence.”


Well, that’s all 31 of my #JanuaryWIPjoys! I’d love to know what you think? How does my story sound? Something you’d be interested in? Did you participate in the hashtag fun? Share your own WIPjoys in the comments below!

 

#JanuaryWIPjoy (Part 1)

novel inspiration from Bethany

 
Bethany Jennings  helped me put this “inspirational poster” together of art that inspires my writing. 🙂

Author Bethany Jennings created a fun hashtag challenge for writers, with a different prompt about your WIP (work-in-progress) every day for the month of January.

A Gathering Fire posted her responses on her blog, and I thought that was a great idea! So I stole it! 🙂 (With her permission of course!)

If you want to join in visit Bethany’s Twitter profile (@simmeringmind) to see the pinned list of daily prompts!

So, here are the first thirteen days of my #JanuaryWIPjoy.

  1. “Describe your story as ___ meets ___.”

My story is a warrior story meets fairy tale meets semi-dystopian steampunk.

  1. “Why you love your protagonist.”

I love my protagonist because he experienced an undeserved rescue and is seeking to live in light of that even while he’s suffering.

  1. “A side character you love and why.”

My favorite side character is Presto the Mushroom. He is best friends with Gus the mouse and talks in third person, like the Queen. He is sarcastic and loving.

  1. “Why you love your antagonist.”

            I don’t really love anything about my antagonist. I specifically design villains that are pretty evil. Now, I do love Adele who makes choices that hurt my MC, and I love Christopher who is violent. He may get shown mercy.

  1. “You hope someday your book gets a review that says…”

            . . .this was encouraging to my faith. And I love Jonah. And I cried. For some reason, I always feel more fulfilled as a writer if I made my readers cry. I’m a horrible person. 😉

  1. “A character you’d be best friends with and why.”

            I’d be best friends with Bree. She’s a mother who has lost her husband and sons, but found someone to help. We both enjoy serving others and building them up. Plus, I share her love of trees.

  1. “The first idea or inspiration you had for this WIP.”

            The very first idea I had for this world was wanting a place where kids lost through abortion had a chance at life.

  1. “A favorite line from your WIP about a character.”

I love when Presto calls Bree a floozy:

“No, but they needed it. Their own heart had been broken, so I gave them a new one. I gave them mine.”

“Can you tell us even one little thing about who has your heart?” Presto said through a clamped jaw getting irritated. Gus grunted a warning at him.

“You know, sir,” the mouse turned to Oak. “It might be a good idea to know a little bit about this person.” Gus paused and took a deep breath. “Your heart belongs to them now and that brings responsibilities and obligations.”

“I know that they’re kind,” Oak said. He leaned forward, listening not with the ears he no longer had, or seeing with eyes no longer his own, or thinking with a mind no longer there, but remembering what he had given away. “I know they needed hope. I know great sorrow and loss marked them. She lost everything she cared about, and that loss broke her free.”

“Did you say she?” Gus said, leaning forward.

“We’ve already established Oak gave his heart to a woman,” Presto said throwing up his hands.

“Just let him keep going,” Gus hissed at him.

“Yes. I gave my heart to a woman. She loved eight men and when the last one was safe or dead, or both, she left.”

“Sounds like a bit of a floozy if you ask me,” Presto muttered, getting another pointed glare from Gus.

“No. No. Not grown men. There was only one grown man. The rest were growing men, her growing men. Her boys.”

Gus gulped. “She had seven sons. You gave your heart to the mother of seven sons?”

“No. I gave my heart to a woman with a glint in her eye and a heart for trees. I gave it to Bree.”

  1. “A favorite piece of description from your WIP.”

White flakes fell thick and fast from the flat, steel-gray sky. Brittle branches tingled stiffly in the wind. Gray sky above the gray naked branches, and white below, white falling, all lined and encased in silver ice—the world gone monochromatic.

  1. “A favorite line of dialogue from your WIP.”

“I didn’t come to earn my salvage. I came because of my salvage.” Soul’s words from yesterday morning echoed in his mind. “It’s grace. And grace gives confidence.”

  1. “A favorite line about emotion from your WIP.”

Axe pounded the punching bag. He drove his fist faster and faster into the rough canvas. Sweat soaked through his shirt. It dripped off the end of his nose and turned his light-red beard rusty. It ran over the mark Fear had put on his face—a child dead in the streets, alone—years ago as an unborn freshly harvested, a new body to hold a gun once his time as salvager had been done. Axe punched the bag again, again, again. His muscles throbbed. Each time his fist flew past his face, his eye caught the scar. Again. Again. Again. He didn’t want to think about the scar. He didn’t want to think at all. Pound. Pound. Pound. If he stopped before he washed the emotions from his mind he might lash out at someone. Bree had brought it all back up: recent events and old dusty ones.

  1. “A scene you deleted but love anyway.”

The crowded street parted. A laugh tinkled in the night like a million happy chimes. Oak cocked his head. Something amazing sat just on the edge of his vision.

“Who is that?” Presto whistled.

“That,” said someone at Oak’s elbow, “is the Lady Olive who lives in the Material World and is Guardian of all four seasons. She is the most powerful Guardian in the history of Guardians.”

Presto leaned around Oak to look at their informant. It was a pale, cream colored fawn with soft orange spots. Three horns carved up out of his head and a little beard decorated his chin. He held a lantern in one hand and an umbrella in the other.

“She smells like spring,” Oak said. “And fall.”

“And winter and summer, I presumed,” Presto grunted.

“Yes,” Oak said.

“May be we should talk to her and see if she’ll help us?” Gus said.

The fawn grunted. “Cause Guardians are well known for mixing in other creatures issues.”

“What about fellow Guardians?” Presto said.

“Even less likely,” the fawn said.

Gus look to Oak for affirmation. Oak nodded.

“Besides,” the fawn said. “You see that grumpy looking man next to her, and that wolf next to the pale man?”

“Yes,” Presto said. “Are you sure that’s a wolf? It’s huge.”

“In this world it’s a wolf. I don’t know what he is in the Material World, though rumor has it that it’s Olive’s adopted son. Regardless,” he shook his head. “That is not her entourage. That’s her husband, her wolf-son, and her husband’s best friend. Getting close to her—”

  1. A piece of feedback that made you smile.

“You are giving us a diamond with many facets. A beautiful, beautiful chapter with a fascinating conversation and lyrical description.

Work of this lyrical and literary quality will be difficult for those of us used to reading in genres to judge. I am so interested in the work, I’m willing to wait as I piece together clues, but I wonder if the typical reader will be able to handle the complexity of your prose. I like work that does not beat me over the head with obvious meaning, and I hope I’m up to the challenge of deriving meaning from this. This is the kind of book that should earn a lot of prizes.”

“Ok, now I hate you.

I was pretty sure the book was going to end with (no spoilers) dying but still hoped I could wish it away.”

 


 

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2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.