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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Della Adamson, the Early Years

Sometimes, when suffering writer’s block, I like to put my mind on a different project to clear out my brain and let ideas percolate. One of the best ways for me to do that and still feel like I’m accomplishing something when I’m on a deadline is to write little bits of flash fiction about other characters in my current WIP. I wrote a ton of these for Sideshow. Some of them may find their way into larger works in the future, but for the time being, I’ve decided to share a few of my favorites with you.

Shay Number 5

Della Adamson. Act One. A New Beginning

Della kept her eyes closed as the train left the station. She had no desire to have a last look at Montgomery, West Virginia as it faded away behind the train. Years ago, when she had been a little girl, Montgomery had been everything to her. It had been the “big city” and the people who came from there had been interesting and sophisticated. Now, she understood just how small it was. Sure, it was larger than where she grew up, a town that had been named for a kind of coal that hadn’t been profitable for over 100 years, but still, Montgomery wasn’t an escape. Not even Morgantown, the city printed on her ticket, was a true escape. She felt strained and confined by the entirety of West Virginia, the United States, the planet earth. She needed to get away, though she couldn’t say why, and where to was nothing more than a dream.

She had been in school when it happened the first time. Miss Hawthorne, the fresh out of Glenville State, and not all that much older than Della herself, algebra teacher, had been explaining the quadratic equation, and Della suddenly felt unable to breath. Her heart pounded so hard that she could hear it in her ears and her mouth grew dry.

“Is something wrong, Miss Adamson?” Miss Hawthorne had asked sternly, and Della became instantly aware that she had slumped from her desk.

Getting to her feet and brushing off her skirt, Della shook her head. “No, Miss Hawthorne. Just a dizzy spell.” A red flush of embarrassment gathered in her cheeks.

“Do you need to see the nurse?”

For a moment, Della scanned the room trying to decide what to do. All of her classmates eyes were on her. Usually, she appreciated the attention, but this time the whole thing made her feel profoundly uncomfortable. She tried to take a deep breath, but her lungs felt too small. “I suppose,” she whispered, trying to sound poised, despite how she felt inside.

Elegance in all situations, her mother often repeated. Della tried her best to replicate this. Usually it was her temper that got the best of her, but this time, she felt sick. She needed desperately to lie down, and could have done so right there in the classroom, but she refused to allow something as small as illness make her appear anything less than the refined lady her mother had always taught her to be. She excused herself from the room and did not allow the dizziness to overtake her again until she had finally made her way into the hall. Instead of going to the nurse, she walked out of the school and went directly home.

The attacks came with regularity after that. There appeared to be no pattern to them. Della would find herself overcome at town social events, at the meat counter of the deli, in aisle of the general store, at night before she went to bed, and in the morning as she readied coffee for her father and older brothers before they left for work. She began to feel constantly suffocated and never seemed able to take a full breath. She decided then and there that the only way to solve the problem was to leave.

After she felt that a sufficient amount of time had passed, she pulled a small battered brown leather suitcase from under the chair in front of her and snapped it open on her lap. Inside she had packed everything in the house that had belonged to her: a few changes of clothes, a string of pearls, a pair of red kitten heels, two battered Agatha Christie novels with creased and folded covers, and, hidden underneath it all, an old photographBarnum & Bailey postcard of her mother in a tarnished silver frame. She took the photograph out now and examined it. It had been taken many years before Della had been born, before her mother had even met her father. She wore a tight fitting leotard and a long flowing skirt with a slit up to her mid thigh. Mrs. Belinda Adamson didn’t dress like that anymore. She would have been scandalized for Della to even consider wearing such an outfit. Still, there she was, looking proud as could be, and standing on a small, obviously swaying wire. The faces were too similar. She may have aged, but there was no denying that the woman in the picture and Della’s mother were one and the same. As a young girl the picture had perplexed Della, until she had eventually, piecemeal, worked its backstory out of the now austere woman.

The picture had been taken during her days as a circus aerialist. She had been born into a family of them and had been trained, along with her brothers and sisters, to perform acrobatic feats of daring high above the crowd, much to their awe and delight. At the time, Della had found the tale almost as impossible to believe as the thought that her mother would have ever worn such an outfit. It boggled the mind to think of her mother, whose long limp grey skirts practically always touched the floor, who always told Della to never draw attention to herself, performing in a circus. Everyone who knew Belinda Adamson knew her to be a taciturn woman with a melancholy streak a mile wide. She was the sort of woman who faded swiftly and easy out of a stranger’s memory. She didn’t seem like the sort at all. However, as time went on and Della watched, she became clued into small hints that the story was true after all. For one thing, her mother had amazing reflexes. If one of her brothers dropped a glass, she could catch it from halfway across the room.

“Do you know how expensive these are?” She would admonish in a stern voice.

For another, she had a strength that her small frame did not even begin to imply. She could lift the beds to vacuum under them and maneuver heavy buckets of milk all the way up from the store because the milkman did not come far enough up the mountain to deliver them. It did begin to give Della pause.

Her sister, she had told Della one day, when feeling charitable to her questions, had managed to stay in the business even after the Depression had shuttered a good three-quarters of the shows in the country. She had said it with such disdain that Della could easily see she did not approve of this choice, but it struck Della as an odd thing to look down one’s nose about. It wasn’t like her mother had chosen a particularly lucrative profession either, marrying a miner and having his five-boy-one-girl brood. In fact, she thought this mystery aunt probably had a far better measure of things than her mother did.

She tucked the picture away, thinking now of that aunt, trying to remember her name. Christina? Or was it Elina? Sophie? She wasn’t sure. All she knew was that she taken up working with an Irishman named McClure, who ran a traveling carnival. Her mother had talked about her siblings so rarely and under so much duress that it was possible, Della thought, that she had even this wrong. She shook her head and tucked the photograph away, snapped the suitcase shut, and tucked it back under the seat in front of her. She would have time to worry about the next step when she reached Morgantown, where a carnival called McClure’s Amusements was camped out for a weekend.

She would miss her mother, but more than anything she needed to breath.

Side shows at the Vermont state fair, Rutland (LOC)

Now Available: The Curse of Mnemosyne, Season of the Witch #7

MnemosyneCoverebookNew Year, New Season of the Witch volume!

In The Curse of Mnemosyne we follow Cerise Mooreland as she falls through a sea of memory from the day she learned to what Jack really was to the day of her fifth birthday where she met the mysterious Aine. When she finally wakes, she finds herself in a strange land that she assumes is the Underland, but is it?

The Curse of Mnemosyne is shorter and only focused on one character, much in the vein of Ides, but more importantly I think you’ll all enjoy it, so go on and check it out!

 

 

 

 

PS: If you’re interested being the first to listen to the audiobooks, you should hop on over to Patreon. Subscribers get sneak peeks and help keep the series going.

Now Available: The Chaos Gate, Season of the Witch #6

 

The Chaos Gate Book CoverI am so excited to share this one with you! We’re really getting into the meat of the Season the Witch story now. That’s not to say that there won’t be any more character introduction or flashback volumes, but things are about to start going down.

For thousands of years, The Chaos Gate has sat unopened and ignored by all but those who dream of it. The world behind them is one that Graziella would rather not discuss, but when Alice starts dreaming of them, she can avoid the topic no more.

Meanwhile, the Harvest witches are more than a little perturbed that one of their own has gone over to the dark side and demand action from their leaders. While they enlist an old face with a grudge to enact revenge, Cerise and Moira decide to take a trip to the Underland and get her back themselves. Unfortunately for Cerise, Moira has an agenda all her own.

So head on over and check it out!

 

 

 

PS: If you’re interested being the first to listen to the audiobooks, you should hop on over to Patreon. Subscribers get sneak peeks and help keep the series going.

Now Available: Falling Stone, Season of the Witch #5

CoverFallingStoneebook

I’ve had this one ready to go for awhile, but I’ve been nervous about publishing it. It’s the first book of the Patreon; there were some emotional glitches; etc, but Falling Stone  is an important part of the series because the overall story is starting to come together, even if the characters don’t realize it yet. I am excited to share it with all of you.

A few months ago, Henry Danvers, an accomplished food critic, published a scathing article dismissing Midwestern America as a “cultural wasteland”. Restaurant owner, Raymond Mooreland took umbrage to this and called Danvers’ bluff. Unfortunately for Henry this trip to Ohio has been set in the Book of Fates for some time. Or has it?

In this 5th installment of Season of the Witch, we meet a young man who is determined not to die and who has a few tricks up his sleeves that even he doesn’t realize. We also finally get to check in on Jaclyn’s new gig and see how things are going with some old friends we first met in Red.

The end of year one is upon us and exciting things are starting to happen in the Season of the Witch universe. Make sure to check out Falling Stone on Smashwords or where ever you get your ebooks. (I’m thinking of putting together a download section for the blog or something similar. Stay tuned for that)*

 

 

 

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

Now Available: Red, Season of the Witch #4

CoverRedebookExciting News!

The next installment in the Season of the Witch series is available now on Smashwords and pretty much wherever you buy your ebooks!

Red tells the story of Clarissa LaRoux, a young nurse living in Detroit. One minute she is drinking coffee in her apartment in 1965; the next, she’s waking up in a hospital. It’s 48 years later, but she hasn’t aged a day.

With the help of her old school friend, Opaline, now in her mid seventies, she sets out to discover what happened to her and whether or not it had anything to do with the strange goblin that appeared at her window that fateful night.

Red, in true Season of the Witch fashion blends the trouble myth of Detroit’s very own lutin with the Eastern European legend of the fern flower and of course the brewing trouble between the witches of the Harvest and the Underland. It’s a can’t miss.

So get your copy today!

 

 

 

Continue reading “Now Available: Red, Season of the Witch #4”

Beware the Ides of March

IdesCover

The next installment in the Season of the Witch Series is here! Ides presents some background information on Bethania’s original incarnation and the mysterious hunter with wolf’s eyes, also known as Death. He is far more than he appears to be.

Ides explores several founding myths of Ancient Rome in the twisted world of Season of the Witch way.

Check it out! (Also, for the rest of March 2014, it will be free, so get your copy now.)