I need to consult with my webmage about the cross poster here. Garbage code showing up with every apostrophe or em dash makes a blogger crazy. Not helpful.
Anyway. Twisted fairy tales and the writing there of.
I got AWAKEN up to just under 6,000 words over the weekend. This is a really real book in my head now, swelling to fill every nook and tiny crawl space. I had my doubts about there being enough story here when I started, but those doubts have vanished. In the time honored tradition of all my novels, the characters have stepped up to whisper in my ear.
I dreamed about this book last night. That’s the best sign of all the book isn’t going to flame out on me.
I figured out my owls yesterday. They aren’t owls like you and I know owls.
::looks around and whispers:: They sing.
And when one owl blinks, or swivels its head, they all do. In unison.
Yes, the owls are going to be fun–and slightly creepy. As long as I keep remembering we aren’t in Kansas (or San Francisco) anymore, this book is going to kick ass.
For a long, long time I resisted writing anything YA. I worried about being able to write “kids” or keeping the stories light enough to fit the genre and age group.
And it took me far too long to realize I didn’t need to worry about any of that. I needed to write the characters as people, no matter what their age, and tell the story that needed to be told.
As one does with any book.
Miranda, Oliver, and Wilhem are people, and Mad Elspeth isn’t mad no matter how history remembers her.
I promised some darlings, so darlings you shall have. Then I have to get ready for the dayjob.
Also! Don’t forget the trade paper of DELIA’S SHADOW comes out May 20th, and that A BARRICADE IN HELL hits the stores June 3rd. Pre-orders are good. They show publishers that people want these books and enable authors to write more.
End of shameless self-promotion. On to rough, raw, new book darlings, which are subject to editing at anytime. This is the opening scene, which sets the tone and Miranda’s voice. Not the whole scene, just part of it.
True stories all start in different ways, in different times or places, and one never knows if the ending will be happy until you get there. This tale commenced long before I was born, but the part of the story I can tell begins at midnight of my fifth birthday.
And I suppose I should start with my name. I’m Miranda Caitlin Annalise, Crown Princess of Shavano, Heir to the Roan Mountains and Guardian of the Shadowed Sea. Ambassadors and visitors to my father’s court are the only ones to ever use all those names and titles. Everyone else calls me Mira.
Five years of age was awfully young to be summoned from my bed for midnight conversations, to pad barefoot through the sleeping palace and cross the courtyard unseen. Doorways opened in walls where I’d never noticed a door, and stone stairs glimmered as I climbed, lighting the way so I knew where to place my feet. I never thought to be afraid of going to the top of a dark, silent tower, but I hadn’t yet learned what it meant to be afraid.
The room at the top of the staircase was warm and bright. A cheery fire filled the hearth, and dried herbs dangled from beams overhead, adding a peppery smell to the air that made my nose itch. Half-melted, blocky candles sat on either end of a soot-blackened mantel, their flames swaying in the breeze that followed me into the chamber.
An hourglass brimful of white sand sat in the middle of an old pine table. I stared at a spiral of shimmering grains, frozen in the act of falling. No one needed to tell me the hourglass was enchanted. The stories my nursemaids told were full of such things.
A woman I didn’t know sat at a spinning wheel near the fireplace, her slim hand making the great wheel twirl faster than my eye could follow. Her hair was dark like mine, falling in the same tight coils over her shoulders, and held off her face with jeweled pins. She didn’t dress like the weavers below stairs or the kitchen girls who fed me sweets when my nursemaids weren’t watching. The servants I’d seen spinning didn’t wear clothes nearly as rich and fine, nor sing somber airs as they spun.
The stranger saw me in the doorway and stopped her work, smiling encouragement when I didn’t come closer. “Come over here, granddaughter. It’s warmer by the fire and I have something to show you.”
Her eyes were like my father’s deep brown eyes, full of mirth and secrets, and I couldn’t help but be curious about her. I pulled back into the corridor, peering at her around the doorframe. Shadows at my back pressed closer, colder, driving me back into the room and toward her outstretched arms. I ran the last few steps. “Are you really my grandmother? I don’t remember you.”
“You wouldn’t remember me, nor would your father. My son was your grandfather’s grandfather.” She pulled me into her lap and wrapped me in a corner of her thick, crimson shawl. “I was gone long before either you or Stefan were born. Since then our family has done its best to forget the name Elspeth, but I’d like it very much if you remembered. Now give me your hand. This won’t hurt.”
I hardly felt the spindle prick my finger. My newfound grandmother gently squeezed out three bright drops to coat the iron shaft with blood. Elspeth pierced a fingertip as well, mingling her blood with mine.
“There, it’s done. You were very brave, Mira.” She brushed back the curls that had fallen into my face and kissed my forehead. “The pledge is renewed, blood sealed to blood. Go back to sleep now and I’ll send you home. Your nurse will sense woman’s magic on you, but that can’t be helped. You’re safer with the bond, as safe as I can make any daughter of our house.”