My pencils outlast their erasers. [Deleted Scenes!]

“I have rewritten—often several times—every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.” —Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do?
Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.
Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?
Hemingway: Getting the words right. —Ernest Hemingway, The Paris Review Interview, 1956

I strongly believe in the rewrite. I think I may have driven more than one editor insane by how strongly I believe in it. Sometimes, to me at least, the first half of the writing process is about scribbling things down as you find and sort the story, then the second half is making sure that the words are exactly right to convey that story. For some stories the first half is a much longer journey than the second one. That was the case for Sideshow.

If I gave you the following one sentence summary: “Detroit 1955: A young pregnant waitress on the run joins a traveling carnival to hide from both her father and her boyfriend’s killer.” Would you even think for a moment that this was from the snowflake outline (the method I use for diagramming my initial novel ideas) of Sideshow?

Sideshow went through many, many , many changes before it made it’s way to the publisher and even more before it actually went to print. This didn’t shock me at all. It happens all the time with my work and I’m sure a lot of writers will agree.

And all of this is a long, roundabout way of saying that today we have deleted scenes! I’ve selected a few of my favorite scenes that were cut from Sideshow during the process of writing and rewriting. Enjoy! (and maybe if you ask really nicely I’ll share the “alternate ending” or rather the ending I never finished because it went off the rails.)

Italian Cookies

1st we have the original end to Abby and Suprema’s first date in which they run into Abby’s Aunt Teresa. Ultimately, I didn’t feel that it was necessary to actually introduce this character (yet) and that she was more impactful off the page.

Abby stood up from the table and offered her arm to Suprema. They started for the door, but were stopped in their tracks as a well dressed woman in a circle skirt bustled in, arms full of packages. Something familiar in her face caught Abby’s eye and she continued to watch as the woman made her way to the counter and set her packages down. “I’ve got another 4 dozen of the seed cookies here,” she said in a light airy way that seemed calibrated to hide an accent. Even that sounded familiar to Abby.

“Right, Signora Holland,” said the woman behind the counter. “And I’ve got your money here for them, just a minute.”

“Therese, please,” she asked, trying to sound friendlier while still effecting the right vowels. “I’m Therese here, Maria.”

Maria frowned, but she nodded and hurried away from the counter.

“Do you know her?” Suprema asked, her voice gently, but prodding. Only then did Abby realize that not only she was holding onto her arm much too tightly, but she was also blocking the aisle.

“I-I think so,” she whispered. “I think she might be my aunt.”

When Maria had handed Abby’s Aunt Teresa the money, she turned to go. Abby wanted to duck behind a booth, but there was no time. Teresa turned directly toward Abby and Suprema and put her hand to her heart with a small gasp. “Ninfa?” Her accent was back in its rightful place.

“Abby,” Abby corrected, still holding tightly to Suprema’s arm. She needed something, anything, to ground her.

“What are you- When did you- How did-?” She trailed off, glancing around the restaurant. The rest of the patrons were all looking pointedly at their lunches, pretending not to hear. She looked Abby over, examining every inch of her. “You look so much like your mother. I thought I was seeing a ghost.”

“I’ve been told that,” Abby said, trying to keep a frown from flitting onto her face.

“It’s been a long time.” Teresa fidgeted as she looked around the restaurant, not daring to look at Abby for too long.

“It has.” Abby looked right at her taking her in. She barely remember her from her youth. It had been ages since she had last laid eyes on her and even those memories were quite hazy.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to the- Well, you know. The timing was bad for traveling. Things are different for me now. I’d just remarried. He’s English, and he wasn’t ready, well, to meet my family.” She pointedly met Abby’s eye as if suddenly trying to send her a secret signal.

Abby looked away so that she couldn’t see it, as if that could keep her from understanding it. She didn’t want to admit that she knew exactly what her aunt was trying to say, but she did. “Oh,” was all she could say in response.

“If you need anything though, anything at all.” Teresa began to reach out and take her niece by the hand, but was unable to complete the action. Abruptly she retracted and sped out the door without another word.

Abby remained frozen to the spot until Suprema lightly touched the back of her hand and startled her from the trance. “So that was your aunt?” she asked in a tentative voice.

“I don’t really know,” Abby said. Her eyes were stinging and she knew that she had to fight the tears back as hard as she could. “I guess not.”

Suprema frowned, a knowing expression on her face. It was a look that Abby could read with ease. She had seen it on the faces of so many of the other carnival workers: a defiant understanding of loneliness. “Come on then,” she whispered, sounding suddenly firm and resolute. “We don’t need her.”

lets spend the afternoon in a cold hot air balloon

2nd is another favorite of mine: the hot air balloon. This was one of the first scenes I wrote and I still love it. Originally, hot air balloons played a large roll in the plot, however, when I started researching I quickly learned that hot air ballooning was not really a recreational activity until well into the 1960s (Seriously, I didn’t believe it either, but it’s true!). Oops. So all of that had to go, but I still think this little scene had some lovely magic.

Abby’s eyes lit up as she watched the world below drift away. She had always imagined that something like this would terrify her, but instead she felt exhilarated. The carnival, the city, everything became small and suddenly manageable, as if by changing her perspective, she could now take on the world. Finally Della’s comment about being born on the ground made sense.

“Suprema, this is…This is incredible. How often do you come up here?”

“Not often. Only when I really need to think about something.”

Below, the roofs of houses, the highways, the river, looked like a child’s drawing. Abby squeezed her eyes shut, trying to fix the image in her mind.

“You aren’t scared are you?” Suprema asked, genuine concern in her voice.

Abby shook her head. “I’m trying to remember this moment.”

“Don’t. You’ll miss it.” She slipped her arm around Abby’s waist and Abby automatically leaned into her. The pair stayed that way, silently watching the scenes of the city play out beneath them, until, eventually, Suprema broken the silence. “I don’t want you to leave.”

Abby looked up, suddenly taken aback. “You’d be the only one.”

“That’s not true. We all care about you, Abby. You’re one of us.”

The scoff escaped before Abby could corral it. “Far from it. Della made that painfully clear.”

“Della,” Suprema scoffed as well. “What does Della know?”

Before Abby could intercede on Della’s behalf, Suprema had continued. “I know I’m not…my opinion doesn’t count for much, but…I want you to stay. I need you to stay.”

Abby watched her eyes. The usual sadness was there, but there was something more behind them, something hopeful and warm. Abby had seen it a few times before, but this time it was different, it shone. “Why?” she said, pulling out of Suprema’s embrace.

“You’re nice,” Suprema began. “Phebe adores you. Vinnie practically wants to adopt you.”

“They’ve all gotten along fine before now. They’ll get along fine after I go home.”

“There’s also…” Suprema hesitated and looked around as if she might see a stowaway on the balloon eavesdropping on their conversation. “Well, there’s also the fact that I love you.”

This, Abby had not been expecting. She stared hard at Suprema’s face, the warm look in her eyes growing to almost a beacon. “You-”

“Was it not obvious?”

Without stopping to breath, Abby threw her arms around Suprema. The basket of the balloon tossed just a little, but neither of them seemed to mind. “No,” Abby whispered. “No, it wasn’t obvious.”

Suprema brushed a strand of Abby’s hair from her face and gazed at her. “I’m not very good at-”

Abby shook her head. “You don’t need to explain.” Then she kissed her. The thrill of being miles above the earth could not even begin to compare to the thrill of that one kiss.

To read how it really goes, pick up a copy of Sideshow from Interlude Press.

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Meet Abby Amaro: The Bally Girl

We’ve talked a bit about the setting of Sideshow. Let’s take a look at the characters.

Abby AmaroSideshow‘s protagonist, Abby Giovanna Amaro starts off the novel as a reserved diner waitress with operatic ambitions. Her grandmother introduced her to famous Cleveland harpist and opera singer, Caramela Cafarelli when she was 5 years old and hooked her for life. Anxiety and stage fright, however, don’t exactly help a girl achieve the title of primadonna.

Still, Abby is determined. She gets admitted to the Cleveland Institute of Music and works hard to put herself through school. She spends so much time working that all of her best friends in Cleveland work at the Cedar Lee Diner with her: Sal, Roman, and Marjorie.

The Toasted Pecan: 950's style American Diner in Valencia, Spain
Image credit: The American Palate

Abby loves all three of them dearly and they look upon her as a sister, someone to take care of. Abby doesn’t mind this because…

Being the oldest girl in a family of six children, Abby has often chafed against the caretaker role expected of her, especially because she knows her brother, Natale, is more suited to it. Since her mother’s death five years ago, she has especially longed to be out on her own, though she isn’t truly aware of this yet.

Abby doesn’t mean to run away with McClure’s Amusements, but she did know she had to get away (from the roles that were chafing her, and especially from her frustratingly annoying ex-boyfriend, Frank Butler), and fate intervened.

Photo Credit: Mark J. Sebastian
Photo Credit: Mark J. Sebastian

Working on the bally and making new friends is tough for reserved and anxious Abby, who doesn’t have the highest of self esteem, but at least she has her music (and an unexpected crush ❤ ).

 

Sideshow is available now for pre-order from Interlude Press. Be sure to reserve your copy today.

2015 Classics Challenge! A Look Back at a Year of Classic Reading

In January, I happened to come across a post from the illustrious Stacy of Pretty Books. She had decided (3 years ago, I was late to the party) to challenge herself to read 1 work of “Classic” Literature a month for an entire year and had dubbed it the Classics Challenge. Inspired, I decided to do the same.  It was not easy and it definitely kept me from reaching my “read 45 books this year goal” as I have become an increasingly slow reader the older I get, but I enjoyed myself and may try again next yet. I thought, since I just finished my December Classic, that I would give a little run-down and sum up the past year of classic reading.

Classics read: 12 (see full list below)
Classics I’d read before but figured it was okay because I barely remembered reading them: 3 (The Awakening, Prince Caspian, A Little Princess)
Classics I’d started 5 or 6 times in years past but never actually finished: 1 (Great Expectations)
Classics I thought I’d read before but actually had probably just seen the musical:
1 (The Scarlet Pimpernel)
Classics not strictly part of the “cannon” but probably should be: Well….

When I decided to do this challenge, I initially set out with a broad definition of “Classic.” I didn’t want to end the year with a list populated solely by dead, white, British guys, which, let’s face it, comprise a really significant portion of what is considered “Classic Literature” by today’s literature teachers. I did not make this attempt to discount the great literary achievements of England, and you’ll notice a number of English Classics on my list, but I did want to choose books with a diverse range of authors, genres, and literary periods. Because, I only really could work with works that were accessible via my local library (or borrowed from friends, or already in my collection), I don’t know that I fully succeeded, and if I do this challenge again next year, I can guarantee I will be making better use of Inter-library loan and will definitely be seeking out suggestions from others.

The Full List:

January: The Awakening by Kate Chopin: 1899, widely considered a landmark work of early feminism. I first read this novel in my sophomore year of college, but I definitely think it deserved the reread so that I could look at it through different eyes. My Goodreads Review

February: Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson: 1919; One of the earliest works of modernist literature. I read this one because apparently I wanted to cry a lot, which is exactly what I did while reading it. And, when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. I specifically selected it because I wanted to talk to grandfather and no longer could. My Goodreads Review

March: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson: 1962; A novel by the uncrowned, but absolutely deserving of the title, Queen of Horror, Shirley Jackson. I adore horror stories like this one, full of creeping suspense and unease but little all out gore, and let me tell you this book was everything I ever dreamed it would be. Ladies do not get enough credit in the horror genre. My Goodreads Review

April: Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskill: 1851; It would be doing Gaskill a disservice to call her “a female Charles Dickens” but their works both fit into similar niches. Also her usage of “middle class dialects”  for her characters (and her defense of this use as it being a language used to express concepts just as much as upper class “proper English”) was remarkable for the time period. Initially I was resistant to this book, but I found it to be quite clever and witty in the end. My Goodreads Review

May: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: 1861; I can’t count the number of times I had tried to finish this book and bowed out about a 1/4 of the way through, if that far. No idea why. I just never connect with this book. This time I powered though, and can fully admit I had been missing out on a quality piece of literature, even if there were some parts that made me remember why I never want to live in Victorian England (among other reasons). My Goodreads Review

June: Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden: 1982; I wanted to read something with LGBT themes for June and what better than the groundbreaking work in which the lesbian protagonists actually got to have a happy ending? My Goodreads Review

July: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh; 1945; I’m sure I’m not the first to say this, but I’m going to say it: What Great Gatsby is to the 1920s, Brideshead Revisited is the 1940s. I went into this one expecting something completely and utterly different than what I ended up with, which, as far as I’m concerned, suits the book quite well. Needs more Aloysius. My Goodreads Review

August: Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis: 1951; Oh C.S. Lewis. How I love you and how I loathe you, all the same. Someday, I plan to do a post on Narnia much like I did with Anne of Green Gables (in fact I want to do a lot of these, hence the “Rereading My Childhood” shelf on Goodreads), so I doubled up the Classics Challenge with my efforts to get that reread done, and hoooo-boooy did I forget how stressed this book made me. Seriously, C.S. Lewis, telling kids they can get too old for Heaven is just mean. My Goodreads Review

September: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy: 1905; Who doesn’t like a good superhero story? And, thanks to Baroness Orczy, we all get to enjoy them. My Goodreads Review

October: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, 1859; I wanted to read a ghost story for October. A friend suggested Wilkie Collins. I thought, “Oh yeah, the songs from that musical sounded super creepy!” There were no ghosts. Just a lot of fainting and evil plotting. My Goodreads Review.

November: Paper Fish by Tina De Rosa, 1980. November, like February was a hard month for me this year. November is often a hard month for me. I miss the huge Thanksgivings that we used to have at mi bisnonna’s house. I miss my cousins. I miss everything about my family. It often comes into this harsh, desperate focus in which I despair about being so shy when I was young that I didn’t really cultivate lasting relationships with anyone. So, I chose a novel about the Italian immigrant experience. It turned out to be immensely more beautiful than I even thought to anticipate. My Goodreads Review

December: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1905; Another childhood reread, but this one charmed me just as much as it did when I was small. Well, almost. My Goodreads Review

A Little Dose of Summer Love (+ A Giveaway)

I don’t know about where you are, but around here, it’s suddenly gotten quite cold. Yesterday, we had almost 10 inches of snow! If you’re anything like me, you’re definitely looking for something to warm you up. Coffee. Tea. Hot cocoa. Or…a short romance story perhaps?

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That’s right! Each of the remarkable romances included in The Summer Love Anthology is now available as a standalone story, in the perfect size for getting a little summer in your veins during the dark winter nights ahead. As someone in love with exploring all the unique methods of literature delivery that our digital realms provide us. I am beyond excited for this venture, and I really think you should check the stories out. They are only $1.99 each, and available on a multitude of different platforms: the IP Web Store, Amazon, All Romance e-Books, Smashwords, and the Apple iBooks Store.

For those of you who remain unfamiliar with the collection, the stories are as follows:

Beautiful Monsters (Rachel Davidson Leigh): A campaign volunteer is assigned to assist his high school’s Gay Straight Alliance for the Pride Parade, forcing him to face the students he had previously avoided, and the truth about himself. M/M; Gay, Queer

The Willow Weeps for Us (Suzey Ingold): At the dawn of World War II, Jack, the young son of a grocer, falls for a charming piano teacher. M/M; Gay, Bisexual

The Fire Eater’s Daughter (Amy Stilgenbauer): When a traveling carnival comes back to town, Ruth must choose between caring for her mother and a life with the beautiful and mysterious Constance, the fire eater’s daughter. F/F; Lesbian

Surface Tension (Ella J. Ash): Logan just wants a summer where he can be anonymous and fit in without labels, but that all changes when he meets out-and-proud Dave at summer camp. M/M; Gay

My Best Friend (H.J. Coulter): In a letter to his best friend, a young gay man reminisces about their relationship. M/M; Gay, Straight

What the Heart Wants (Naomi Tajedler): A young student discovers attraction and desire through her experience drawing figures in a summer art class. F/F; Lesbian, Pansexual

The Most Handsome (S.J. Martin): Carter, a Cape Cod boy who recently came out as transgender, meets and falls in love with a college student visiting for the summer. M/M; Transgender, Gay

Something Like Freedom (Caroline Hanlin): After he is kicked out of his family home, Gabe experiences freedom for the first time in his life, thanks in part to a new friend. M/M; Gay, Bisexual

On the Shore (Rachel Blackburn): Poppy retreats to her parents’ beach house to nurse a broken heart, but instead meets the vivacious Eva, who helps her find joy again. F/F; Lesbian

And! A special treat! I will be giving away  a copy of “The Fire-Eater’s Daughter” to some lucky soul! All you have to do is comment here and tell me what you miss most about summer. * (Closes at midnight on 12/1/2015 – Winner chosen at random <3)

 

*if you’re in the southern hemisphere, tell me what you’re most looking forward to with summer just around the corner!

I really don’t mean to fall off the grid; I’m just clumsy

It’s October! When did that happen?

I suppose you lot might be wondering where I ran off to.  Wouldn’t you like to know? I’m still not sure. I certainly wasn’t in the Alps trying to find the mystical Tatzelwurm. Though what a boon for Season of the Witch if I had been. You’d all forgive me the then, right?

What I do know is: I’m still alive, still kicking words around. It’s just been one crazy summer on this end, let me tell you. And, things are not about to calm down any time soon. In fact, this month is probably going to be the craziest. I’m down to the final draft wire on -secret project- and also in the midst of a big move because timing has never been my strong suit.

That being said, let’s get to the updates, shall we?

So, about that, uh, early August release for Season of the Witch #9. In case you haven’t noticed, that didn’t happen. I wanted it to, but I also want the work that I deliver to all of you to be of the highest possible quality and, to be blunt, it wasn’t there. That’s left me with a lot of important decisions mainly because of the experimental nature of Season of the Witch.

I don’t know if anyone other than me really noticed this, but each issue of Season of the Witch so far has been set exactly a year prior to its release date. It’s part of this whole grand vision of an experiment in distribution as well as form (blah, blah, blah). Yeah, I’m willing to admit that sometimes my ideas not only outstrip my time and abilities, but also what really is necessary. While I’ve always found the dating system “clever,” it’s not important to the story and it’s incredibly limiting to let so much time pass between events. Plotlines that I want to develop end up by the wayside. I find it difficult to introduce new characters because their introduction would have taken place in the intervening time, etc. I suppose that if I were releasing an installment weekly or even monthly, that wouldn’t be as much of an issue, but, see the above mention of wanting to make certain I release a quality product that I feel good about and can stand behind.

I suppose this is a long, roundabout way of saying that the action of Season of the Witch #9 will take place only a few days after Season of the Witch #8, but it probably will not be released until January. I will have more details soon. I hope this doesn’t disappoint you all too terribly. I am considering beginning work on the graphic novel editions (whether we reach the Patreon goal or not) over the winter *crosses fingers* and for these editions to fill in story gaps, so don’t worry, the wait is going to be worth it. I hope.

(This is why I ultimately choose Patreon rather than kickstarter, fyi. I -knew- that the posting schedule might end up getting a little, flux, if you will.)

The rest of the updates are way more amorphous, but they include good projects and loads of edits and rewrites of older projects that all may come to life/light some day in the future. I will do better about keeping you updated. In fact (though, oh how many times have I said this), I hope that I will be updating this blog a lot more in the future (as soon as I figure out what to do here other than keeping up updated on my writing  – or a way to translate that into a more regular posting schedule).

Oh! and, Patreon subscribers!, if you haven’t received the email yet, I recommend reading this blog post.

 

 

Summer Love! Launch Day and a virtual book tour

It’s here! I can barely wrap my head around the fact that the launch day for Summer Love has finally arrived. Part (read All) of me wants to dance through town. This book is the culmination of so much love and hard work on behalf of all nine lovely authors as well as all the amazing people at Interlude Press and Duet Books. I know I’ve said this before, but the care everyone involved took to create this splendid collection bears praising again. I thank my lucky stars that I got to be involved and that I got to share this experience with so many wonderful and talented individuals.

Now enough gushing. For now anyway. You should order a copy and see what I’m yammering on about.

Or! If you want to know more (and maybe win a copy!) check out the books tour stops below:

Sumer Love Book Tour

June 23
Hearts on Fire
Because Two Men Are Better Than One
Cathy Brockman Romances

June 24
Boys on the Brink Reviews
Scattered Thoughts and Rouge Words

June 25
Up All Night, Read All Day
Happily Ever Chapter
Velvet Panic

June 26
Bending The Bookshelf
Mikky’s World of Books
Prism Book Alliance

June 29
Bike Book Reviews
Rainbow Gold Reviews
Amanda C. Stone

June 30
Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves
BFD Book Blog

July 1
TTC Books and More
Foxylutely Book Reviews
Hat Party
Bayou Book Junkie

July 2
MM Good Book Reviews
Inked Rainbow Reads

July 3
Emotion in Motion
Love Bytes

July 6
Molly Lolly
Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
My Fiction Nook

Now Available: Daughter of Detroit, Season of the Witch #8

DetroitCoverebook

It’s back to Detroit for the installment, to check in on how Clarissa’s adjustment to life as a millennial is progressing. A hint? not particularly well. She’s just gotten back from a bad date, but what’s worse? Calu wants a favor from the girl he believes to be a revenge spirit, but Clarissa doesn’t know if she wants to help him.

Also, a long kept secret of Graziella’s is going to change her world. She just doesn’t know it yet.

I think you should head on over to smashwords and check it out!

*And don’t forget about the Season of the Witch Patreon! Help me keep this series going!