I’ve been absent here due to general hectic life stuff. I’ve been revising Wren in depressing little stretches, and it’s been making me a little blue. I’m looking forward to things evening out so that I spend less time in the car and more time being productive in concrete ways.
In the meantime, I’ve been trying to come up with a contest. I have a secret dislike of contests, mostly because I’m the least winning person in the history of the world. Give me a contest in which 99% of contestants win, and I’ll be the one getting the pat on the back as someone whispers “not sure how she could have lost that one.”
But I have a copy or two of Phoenix available, and I’d like to figure out how to offer them up. Perhaps the answer is this: the contest should be coming up with a suitable contest. Give me a contest designed to highlight skills that are under-appreciated or all but unknown, or that involves clowns and monkeys. Give me a contest that allows those who never win to win.
And give it to me at some point in the next week. I’ll leave this post open to comments about contests, either a design or your least/most winning moment, until next Thursday evening (May 31). After that, I’ll invite my kids to help pick a winning entry in some random way, one most likely involving blindfolds. The winner(s) will get a copy of Phoenix in their format of choice. (If the number of entrants is higher than I suspect, there will be two winners.)
Yesterday I came across this exhibit while driving to an appointment. It’s currently one of my favorite things. Those pictures don’t do it justice, both in terms of scale and setting. The design forces you to explore the words in a different way, and the houses drift across the lawns like giant sheep, and the whole thing just feels joyful to me. I think I’d like to live in one.
A quick note for those people buying “Phoenix.” If you buy from Musa you will be able to choose from any of the e-reader formats. You may also a choose a PDF. If you do not have an e-reader, buy the PDF file. If you’re anything like the low-tech crowd I run with, you’ll then print out your PDF and pretend it’s a paperback.
“Phoenix” is an odd story. Odd in the sense that it came from more than one place, unlike most of my short stories. It started several years ago, when I wrote a story about a teenage hustler named Gabriel. Gabriel came from the Aware novels, and that story was my way of understanding his history. Unlike “Sea Glass,” the story wasn’t one that worked well on its own, so I set it aside.
Then, last year, I spent a lot of time thinking about hope. There were all sorts of reasons for that, ranging from the state of the world to my own history of depression to the sorts of stories I kept writing. Somewhere along the way, one line got stuck in my head: The thing about stories is they’ve got to have hope.
So I had that line, and Gabriel, and that first story, and then Tucker came along. Convention with young adult fiction says it doesn’t include a middle-aged narrator, but that’s where things went with Tucker. For “Phoenix” to have hope, there needed to be the understanding that Tucker survived everything, and thrived.
Still, it wasn’t yet a story. Not until Kelsey happened by. I can’t tell you where she came from, because I don’t know. Some characters just drift into your head and take root there like dandelions. Kelsey’s one of them.
So “Phoenix” rose from the bones of an old story and the meeting of three characters.
“Phoenix” is out today! I’m going to do a separate post about the story, but I wanted to run through a few quick notes first.
The design team at Musa did a beautiful job. Editors Kayla Watson and Kathy Teel were wonderful to work with. I truly appreciate the work everyone at Musa and Euterpe put in to get “Phoenix” to this point.
You can buy it through Musa and Amazon. Keep in mind that this is a novelette–essentially a long short story–so it’s the sort of thing you can read in one sitting. The links to where to buy it will be permanent fixtures on the blog, once I do a little more widget work.
I have a few days of driving back and forth to a neighboring state this week. Lots of time in the car, spent traveling to a place I don’t know well.
I don’t particularly like driving. I don’t like being lost at all. Just imagine how much I love driving around and around, with no idea where I am.
I had printed directions. I had GPS directions from my cell phone. Those worked great, right up until the point where the coverage vanished, and the phone decided I really wanted to go to a very small residential drive in roughly the middle of nowhere. Keep in mind that I pass much of my time in the middle of nowhere. It’s a place I’m pretty okay with, except when I’m supposed to be somewhere entirely different.
The written directions? Those would have worked great had the phone directions not brought me to exactly nowhere near the roads I needed to take.
Give me a map and compass and I’m happy as can be. Give me a car and multiple sets of non-functional directions and…well, less happy is the description I’ll choose for now.
Eventually I managed to backtrack to a road I knew. Even better, I managed to find an entire donut stand of people who truly wanted to help me find my way. They were spectacular. The kindness of strangers can be a wonderful thing.
So, me and technology? A little at odds at the moment. We’ll try to patch it up before “Phoenix” arrives in all its ebook glory on Friday. (I read the galley this weekend. The design people at Musa made it look beautiful.)
To the women at the house o’ gas and donuts on Rt. 101 today: You’re all fabulous. If you’re ever lost around here, I’ll be the first one out with directions for you.
Hey! Look, “Phoenix” is almost here! Two weeks to go!
Okay, that’s it for exclamation points for today. Perhaps for this week. It makes me a little lightheaded to use three in a row.
In other news, revising, revising. Skinny-dipping stays, for now. Long convoluted conversation goes. Could feel like drudgery, but for today it’s fun.
If I were a more organized person, I would have included this with the pretty picture last night.
At sixteen, Tucker has nothing but the clothes on his back, the bruises on his ribs, and the truth about what happened between him and the band teacher. He left home looking to escape his memories, but all he’s found on the road are new bad ones to take their place.
Then he meets Gabriel, a beautiful hustler, and Kelsey, a fire-obsessed girl with a head full of fairy tales. After Gabriel rescues him from a pair of drunks looking for a fight, Tucker’s happy to join him in the abandoned factory he calls home. All he must do in return is help keep Kelsey safe.
But Kelsey’s not what Tucker thinks she is, and safety isn’t what she needs from him. To help her, he’ll have to face the secret he’s been running from, and the flames she’s running to find.
I started the year with three novelettes. One turned out to be a novel in disguise. Another,”Phoenix,” will be out next month as an ebook through Euterpe, the young adult branch of Musa Publishing.
And now the final one, “The King’s Huntsman,” also has a home! At Giganotosaurus, which thrills me! I don’t have a firm publication date yet, but it sounds like late summer/early fall. I’ll update when I know.
I have no recommendations today. I’ve spent the last few days in a whirlwind of birthday stuff (not mine) and trying to get life in order, and I haven’t been doing any reading online. Offline, I haven’t been good for much beyond crossword puzzles.
I saw the proofs for “Sea Glass” at Abyss and Apex, and they’ve made it gorgeous. Really. Sending out stories is such a long process, and rejection so much a part of it, and by the time someone buys a story, you feel grateful for the mere fact it sold. To then have the pleasure not only of seeing it in print, but seeing treated so carefully feels very good.
I’ll put up a link when I know it’s out. As I mentioned last week, free online fiction deserves financial support. If you read and enjoy stories at Abyss and Apex, please consider stopping by the donation page and subscribing.
In other news, I think I’m just about done with my promotional materials for “Phoenix.” That also feels very good. Though I’m off schedule with Wren, I’m still close to finishing, which will be celebration-worthy. And for the next few days, I’ll be considering how best to rework the ending of a story I love for a publication I love. Here’s hoping I’m able to rise to the challenge.