Bad Fairy: Thoughts on redevelopment as a trilogy

So I’m rewriting Bad Fairy as a trilogy. The book does not naturally divide into three parts, unfortunately. Its original version was in five parts of unequal length. The new version, Book 1, is protagonist Delia’s childhood and education.

Bad Fairy is a Sleeping Beauty retelling from the bad fairy’s point of view, but the princess isn’t even born yet in the first book.  Book 1 is entirely about her fairy school years.  Is Delia’s magickal education interesting enough to carry a story? I don’t think it was originally, though I did receive the following ego boost from my friend Jeremy while he was reading the bit about her elemental studies:

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New Novel: Bad Fairy Trilogy, Book 1

Bad Fairy is gonna get revamped as a trilogy now.  It’s about time.

The original version, telling the full life story of Delia Morningstar (Sleeping Beauty’s “bad fairy”), was 255,000 words and nobody would want to take that on.  But there were a lot of problems with the idea of revamping the book into three parts, and the most important problem is that there’s nowhere that it divided naturally.  I’m actually going to have to rewrite it completely so each volume is a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end, and a conflict and resolution.

I already know the shape of the first book; it’d basically be the main character’s life up until she graduates from circle (which is the fairy version of school in my book, for those who haven’t read it). I plan to invent more conflict within the circle setting, more competition among the girls I guess, and of course my little Delia will really enjoy that. (I can’t say the same for her circlemates. Haha.) If I can invent enough of a conflict and resolution in the first book—ending with my main character having come out on top only to have it mean nothing in the scheme of things—I think it could be a satisfying book one of a trilogy.

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“Stupid Questions”: Story Fallout

Yep, I’m gonna turn this one into a book.

Last week I finished my last short story and overall I think the biggest complaint from my readers who have finished it is that there is a certain flatness to the characters. Obviously because I know the “whole” characters they don’t seem flat to me, but it absolutely indisputable that they are WRITTEN in a flat way. I know exactly why this is, too.

In novels, I am used to having a whole book’s worth of space to do my usual navel-gazing. I was under the impression that people were getting sick of my navel-gazing and characters doing their internal sulking, pondering, and fantasizing. It goes double that you can’t do this too much in a short story. As a result, I just kinda didn’t give any undercurrent to these characters’ mental lives, leaving them represented largely by their actions in the name of having a low word count.

Having “flat” characters is a bit of a surprise, ’cause after all, I’m supposed to be Ms. Kickass Characters. But maybe if I were to take this and let my story spread out and relax, I’ll get more well-rounded characters.

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Completed New Short Story: “Stupid Questions”

Finished a new short story called “Stupid Questions.”  It’s actually not very short (surprise!)—more of a novella, I guess.  It weighed in at about 35,000 words.  Adult science fiction/romance.  Way too long to place anywhere, but too short to be a novel.

It’s about Nick, a cameraman and romantic at heart who gets a crush on an enigmatic girl named Summer who has superpowers.

The characters suffer from lack of well-roundedness, so maybe if I make it a novel instead it’ll be better.

I’ll do that one day.

New Short Story: Nicknamed “Summertime”

I couldn’t “hold it” anymore, so to speak, so yesterday when I got home I took a nap, got up, and started typing my new short story.  (I nicknamed it “Summertime” because the protagonist’s love interest is named Summer, but that’s not going to be its title.)

So far, approximately 5,700 words. As expected, it’s going to be a bit long. Probably comparable to “Wind” in length. Actually, it reminds me of “Wind” quite a lot. Maybe like “Wind” meets the Ivy stories.

And I don’t know WHAT it is about male main characters lately, but the last FOUR times I’ve written a short story, my protagonist was a guy.

I envision either two or three more parts, depending on whether the middle two parts are brief enough to squeeze into one. A lot depends on the characters. Not all writers write like this, but for me, I don’t really know quite what directions things will go in when I start writing, especially when all I do is throw two characters together and let them start talking.

Yesterday I had all these swirling ideas about the story that were bludgeoning my brain trying to get out. Most of them were just conversations and reactions between Nick—my protagonist—and his opposite, a girl named Summer. Nick is very easy to write. Summer is harder. I’m not sure about her yet. Her way of talking is so measured. I don’t know all the reasons why yet, but her diction is usually almost forced-sounding. Almost like it’s not really her talking. It makes me curious. Good thing I have Nick there to ask the right questions. (Or the wrong ones, maybe.)

Even though the first scene was the one I had thought about the LEAST, with most of my ideas belonging to scenes further into the story, it seems to have really calmed down now. It’s like the story was a live thing that wanted to make sure it irritated me enough to get itself written, and now that I’ve committed to doing so it’s decided to relax.

I don’t really have time to write this thing so I do want to get it over with as soon as possible.

Never shut up, do you?

I feel like sending a cease and desist order to my brain.

It wants me to write another short story. It’s a great idea. It keeps coming back even when I’m trying to think about other things. I don’t have time to write anything right now.

But I know that feeling too well—the importance of an idea that WILL be used, and what the world looks like when it has dawned on me that I will NOT escape writing it.

Things sort of get fuzzy, with weird soft corners, as the screen full of images and the soundtrack full of dialogue grows thick with piling creative detritus.

I’ll write it all right.

I just don’t know when, or how long I’m going to let it have its temper tantrum until I give in.

Old journals from fifth grade

I’ve been going through some old journals from when I was a child.  I found this hilarious “About Me” packet I had to fill out in fifth grade—full of prompts asking me to provide answers to unimaginative questions that everyone asks kids.

In asking what I wanted to be when I grew up, it said “When I grow up, I want to be a . . . ”

I wanted to be an author.

So I wrote “author” and then I corrected the prompt above by changing “a” to “an.”

That’ll show those jerks who can’t imagine that any kid would want to grow up to be something that starts with a vowel.

I also found this prompted journal entry for “What Makes Me Happy,” in which I announced that I liked writing and wanted to be a writer . . . and that “not having a boyfriend” made me happy.  Guess I was destined to be an aromantic asexual from a young age?

Ready to Query: Finding Mulligan

Okay, enough editing.  Thank you to the following people who helped me in the test audience:

These people read the whole thing and gave comments: Mommy, Fred, Ronni, Mike Lee, Reeny, Jessie, Laura, Victor, Cara, Meggie, Alicorn, Amanda, Rob, Patricia, Jeaux, Daddy, Stacy, Kim, Jeremy, Kalinda, Corinne, and Jay.  These people read part of it and gave comments: Jack, Deborah, Mikey, and Jessika.

My basic query letter (with personalized agent stuff at the beginning, and modified if needed):

Nobody understands the meaning of “a double life” better than Cassandra Howard.  A smart, sarcastic student by day, she becomes a different person at night; Dia, her charismatic second self, is the darling of a fantastical dreamland where she can do anything.  And while Cassie and Dia share their memories, they prefer to keep their lives separate.  That changes when they fall in love.

Mulligan, dreamland’s delicious drummer boy, sets his eyes on Dia.  But Cassie is pretty sick of her other self getting everything good about their life, and she talks Dia into helping her find the waking-world version of her boyfriend.  A mysterious portrait of Mulligan leads Cassie to two candidates: is it Terrell, the model who posed for the painting?  Or is it Jamie, the artist who painted it?  Maddening maybes play tug-of-war in her mind until she finds herself attracted to both guys, and she fears betraying her dream love if she picks the wrong one.

To test her contenders, Cassie begins to impersonate Dia in the waking world, but gets the shock of her life when her counterpart’s magical charisma and talent actually work in her favor.  When lines of identity start blurring beyond their comfort, they’ll have to uncover the nature of dreamland and deal with the repercussions of this love triangle.  (Or . . . love pentagon.  Whatever.)  And one thing’s for sure: dreams of happily ever after do sometimes turn out to be nightmares.

Negative One: Open Window

Last week’s issue of my webcomic Negative One involved a storyline that smashed my audience over the head with a mostly unexpected sudden tragedy.  You don’t get much more horrible than missing children without involving death.

I was pretty depressed about it, even though I knew it was coming.  This is me after I finished drawing it.

So it’s been nearly a week since I posted the update and people are still e-mailing me with tales of woe. Most notably, I’m receiving e-mails from parents who have had close calls with their children similar to what I’ve depicted in #0159, and they’re all talking about how much they hope Amanda’s parents find her.

Gulp. . . .

Looks like we are all in for a really hard couple of months here, ’cause the comic is going to continue to be about this. What choice do I have? I have to deal with what I spawned now.

One parent posted a comment about the issue leaving them “sobbing at the keyboard.”

Another shared a similar experience of losing (but finding) their kid.

And one person’s just mailed to plead for Amanda’s safe return as well as to ask how this couple ended up with an “Elfquest Glider baby.” (I don’t get this reference. Er?)

Well, I cried over this, but I knew I would. I’m the author. I go through whatever the characters go through, sorta-kinda. (Sometimes it can seem pretty real.) It was touching and rewarding and . . . a little disturbing . . . to get so much mail about people crying over my work. I didn’t WANT to upset people, but I guess it’s also a sign that there are tons of people I don’t even know whose lives I am touching once a week by posting this.

I could tell from the hundreds of hits per week, but it’s more real to me when I get the letters.

I hope I have a chance to do this with my novels sometime in the near future.