What am I working on? So kind of you to ask.
Queen of Wands, YA, having concluded draft 3 on 9/13/18 at a weighty 90K. Goal, by mid-January of 2019, to have finished a number of exercises from the teachings of writer and literary agent extraordinaire, Donald Maass, deepening it and tightening it and dropping it to 80K. I attended a full-day class from Maass pulling from his book The Fire in Fiction, and then a half-day class from the book I was already using, Writing the Breakout Novel. Here’s my elevator pitch, leaving out one key ingredient because, right now, it’s what makes my character’s journey different from what’s out there in YA lit:
Angela. Teen thief. Cursed to serve the ancient Egyptian goddess of retribution.
Nikko. Former rich boy. Her crush. The only person in Columbus, Ohio, who believes his stepmom murdered his dad.
Apart, they’ll never free themselves from their fates. Together, they’re dead. #GameOn.
Solve for x: Sixteen-year-old Marissa gets visions of her friend‘s childhoods, snippets that help her understand them, help them, look out for them. But the one vision she wants, one that would solve the equation why she has no memories before she entered the foster system at age eight, she never gets them. When a news clipping shows up in an unmarked envelope, she could be looking at herself at age eight…if she were blonde. Now that she has the first variable, she won’t let anything stop her from finding her memories–not even the witch Baba Yaga. Then the secret government division MILC (Magic, Incantations, Legends, and Curses) milk blackmails her into joining them to finally bring down the witch.
Will (MILC tech) x (budding magic) x (her mathematics) = the mathemagics to destroy Baba Yaga, or her foster sibling instead?
I finished the rough draft on the most auspicious day–April Fool’s Day. The novel ran long at 86,000, but it’s the first draft. It’s on hold in favor of Queen of Wands
River Daughter: When you’re so angry that you cast away your old life without a plan, you better be sure that your old life is ready to let go of you. If you’re rebellious Isabella, you’ll have one other problem—walking on two legs isn’t the norm for a mermaid. This, my first novel, came from the sing-song poem I created back when I trained to race bicycles, and I needed distractions from the pain of hard riding:
I went down to the river, down to the sea
the song of the River Daughter calling to me.
She sang a song that would make your heart break
she sang of pain, anguish and ache.
Two lovers she’d had, both lost to the sea
and I, it seemed, would be number three.
This fantasy launches from Greek mythology. It ran long, but it was my first completed novel: 118K. It’s on hold as I devote attention to Queen of Wands
“The Family Way.” Have you ever heard of a suicidal troll? If it’s the last thing she does, Onyx will take down the bridge she and her sister are cursed to call home, feeding on the unwary hikers who stumble upon it. To succeed, she’ll need more than her monstrous strength.
At 3,000 words, this short story tends to a darker side than I usually write. I entered a much shorter version of it in the FlashMonster 2015 contest. Having forgotten the deadline, I found myself in the middle of visiting friends in DC. Thank you, Haptontahl family, for letting me slip into “writer” mode to tackle this story concept that’s been in my “idea” file forever.
I’ve reworked “Simple as a Sneeze,” a 5,000 word YA story about a sneezing curse. But a curse doesn’t have to be curse, if you’re smart enough to turn it around and use it. It’s up to Jo-Jo to figure out how. No one else is going to save her or her father’s and mother’s kingdom.
When I first wrote this some fifteen years ago, I fell into the pattern I learned growing up: female writers write male characters, so the boys will read. Maybe I want the boys to read. But I really want the girls to read.
I’ve written so many other pieces over the years, several of which I’m actively working, or have in solid drafts. Two in particular were strong enough to place second, or to win, heats in the 2016 NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge, where 2,100 writers were trimmed to 40. I was one of those 40.
Belonging to multiple writing communities, I have that enthusiasm to nudge my best babies into the world.
So many characters fill my mind, clamoring for their stories to be told. I insist they wait their turn while I work the novels. However, characters full of Sass and Heart, with Magic brimming from them, have a way of expressing themselves even if I’m not ready!