Monday, September 27, 2010

The Good News and the Bad News

The good news is The Sevenfold Spell is out today! Woo Hoo! Here are some buy links!

ePub and PDF Format
Kindle Format

Help a new author! Spread the word!

The bad news--I'm really having a hard time with Chinese spammers, so I'm going to have to add a captcha or something to my comment system. I hate captchas. But I'm going to have to do it because I hate spam on my comments. I'll see what options I have before I go the captcha route.

I did come this close >< to shutting down this blog altogether, bit I like keeping a more personal and cozy blog, so I'll see what I can do. Really, Google needs to get ON IT with the spam. Wordpress does a much better job!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Print-Out Phase

Yesterday, I reached the point in my Cinderella retelling where I print it out and go over it with a red pen. I am just a more effective editor on paper, and I print out all stories/novellas/novels at least twice during the editing process. You may think that this is a waste of paper, but there is NOTHING like seeing your work printed out. After all, the finished product will appear on paper (or e-ink, which is in many ways better than paper, for reading purposes). If you are not doing this, go ahead and try. I think you will be astonished at all the errors that sneak in. For this reason, I'd hate to ever see my blog printed.

The first time I print it is when I'm still trying to organize the story. This story is still a dreadful mess, and I just need to draw arrows all over it and generally have the freedom of a pen. I print it out a second time when I THINK I am done. Once again I use my red pen on it--hopefully making way fewer marks--and I read it aloud. Hearing the story also helps me hone the voice. Especially when trying to polish the rhythm of dialog.

I still have not finished the ending. My first stab will go in the garbage--I don't like it. I'm trying to refine a second ending, but I need to think of a devious plan for one of my antagonists, and I'm just having a hard time thinking of one. I'm hoping the exercise of reading it aloud will help spur a few ideas.

At this point, Before my sale, I would have set the whole story aside. But I've made an oral commitment to produce another fairy tale retelling, and I think they expect it within a year. And I'm finding that setting the entire story aside isn't really required. Instead, I can simply skip a scene and write the scene that I really want to write. And if I need something fresh, why what works better than a new plot twist? Both of these techniques spur on those scenes in the middle, which will hopefully result in a finished story.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Reasonably Productive Week

I got another 3000 words done this week, and I'm over three-quarters of the way through my Cinderella retelling. The layer I'm adding to the story now is the romance subplot. I'm no longer thinking that this story sucks quite so much. Things are coming together.

In order to give it a little soul, I decided to put a tragic event in Yvette's past--a shameful event that results in a secret that she must bury. And of course, that secret will come to light to the very person she most wants to keep it from. I'm also being coy about revealing the secret to the reader. The reader will find out exactly what it is only when the hero finds out from the worst possible source. And the reader won't hear the whole story until Yvette must tell it to him.

Abrupt subject change--I found it necessary to research the history of football for this story. Yes, the oddest things come out while storytelling--who would ever have guessed that football belongs in a fairy tale retelling? But Pierre--my love interest--was once at the same school as the prince, and they played on the same football team.

I researched football just enough to learn that I was indeed safe in calling it football. And then I stopped researching it. I call this little technique "just-enough researching". It's kind of like my "just-enough worldbuilding" technique. Don't get me wrong--I love to research. But I don't like bogging the story down in unnecessary detail. Who cares if the football back then was like modern-day soccer or modern-day rugby or modern day football? I certainly don't. All I really care about is that football is the appropriate term to use.

In other news, my short story, "Once Upon a Gas Tank" is now overdue from the last market I sent it to. I don't know if this is a positive thing or not. I used to think that if they had a story for a long time, then it means they are seriously considering it. But The Sevenfold Spell sold in three weeks, and another market had another story for over three months before rejecting it. So the only thing I really know for certain now is they haven't reject it yet.

Don'tya love this writing game?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Writing in Layers

After finishing an extremely rough draft for my Cinderella retelling, I realized that I write in layers.

The first layer is the biggest layer. It's the main plot. Each additional layer is a subplot. And I've discovered that I cannot really think too much about the subplots until I've nailed the plot.

And, I don't ever seem to come up with an ending the first time around. So this time, I did what I did in Starcaster on purpose, and in The Sevenfold Spell by accident. I left the ending unfinished. (With The Sevenfold Spell, I thought I had an ending, but I discovered I did not.)

But more on layers. As I was writing, I knew there would be an uneven romance between commoner Yvette and nobleman Pierre. But I didn't know exactly how it would work out. I also knew that Pierre's sister would be a problem for Yvette, and I knew how she would be in the overarching plot (she's after revenge), but I didn't know how I was going to make it personal for Yvette. I'm a bit closer now--and it will involve Pierre.

I also have this whole jealousy subplot with the stepsisters, and I realized that overcoming jealousy would be the whole theme behind the novella.

So there's four layers - the main plot, the romantic subplot, the revenge subplot, the stepsister subplot. Each plot/subplot equals one major character, so we have Yvette, Pierre, Esmerele and Agnes.

Since the main plot--the extremely sketchy main plot--worked out to 13,000 words, I think that will fill up a 20,000 word novella quite nicely.

In other news, my proposed series title for my fairy tale retellings is now official! The series will be called Accidental Enchantments. I'm thrilled!

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Literary Meme

Susanna Fraser, author of the intriguing upcoming Carina Press title, The Sergeant's Lady, inspired me to do a meme!

1) What author do you own the most books by?
John Steinbeck, I think. Either him or Charles Dickens or Mark Twain.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
The Bible. We seem to have been collecting them over the years, and we have multiple translations.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
Didn't notice.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
It's no secret--Fitzwilliam Darcy. Henry Crawford had a lot of potential too. And of course, Henry Tilney. Sigh!

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)? The Once and Future King

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old? Sadly, I didn't become a reader until the next year. It was all still too new to me for me to have a favorite. But I loved Nancy Drew's The Hidden Staircase by the time I was twelve.

7) What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?
I stop reading if I'm not enjoying it.

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
I'll skip this question.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature? Dunno.

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry.

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I have a dreadful time recalling my dreams beyond ten minutes after I wake up.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?
The X-Men. But, I do have comic-book versions of Pride and Prejudice and Der Ring Des Nibelungen. Seriously!

15) What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
Crime and Punishment.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?
Um. Next question.

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
The French. That being said, of the two nationalities, I've only read Dostoevsky, Hugo and Dumas.

18) Roth or Updike? Um . . .

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers? Um . . .

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer? Chaucer.

21) Austen or Eliot? Austen. But I loved George Eliot's Silas Marner!

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
I really have not read enough Shakespeare.

23) What is your favorite novel?
Not an answerable question.

24) Play?
Pygmalion. I can only name a favorite because I've seen so few.

25) Poem?
Um . . .

26) Essay?

27) Short story?
See question on novels.

28) Work of nonfiction?

29) Who is your favorite writer?
Mark Twain and Jane Austen.

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
No opinion.

31) What is your desert island book?
I'd probably try to finish reading the Bible. Yes, we have a lot of them, but I still have not read it from cover to cover. Bad, I know . . .

32) And … what are you reading right now?
Bewitched and Betrayed by Lisa Shearin, Scene Stealer by Elise Warner, Meeks by Julia Holmes, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

If you decide to take part, be sure to let me know!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Excerpt from Cinderella Retelling

Sorry about the blog silence! To make up for it, here is an excerpt from my Cinderella retelling, which is unnamed for now. This is my opening scene. I wrote this because I needed to get behind Pierre's eyeballs so I could fall in love with him a little:

(Interruption - Blogger dropped my post when I finished it this morning! I was so traumatized that I was not able to come back and rewrite this until now. Anyway, here it is:)

“A woman, monsieur?”

Pierre ignored his valet’s doubtful tone. “Not just any woman, Corbeau. The modiste’s daughter.”

“And she’s a valet?”

“Of course not. She’s a . . . a . . . well, I don’t think society has a name for what she does. But her mother has created my suit for the festivities, and her daughter . . . well, she’s going to do me.”

“Do you, monsieur?”

“No, do me. That’s how she puts it. She does people.”

“If you don’t mind my saying so, monsieur—but you can hardly bear to be done by me. Why the sudden interest in being done, as this . . . this mysterious valette insists upon putting it?”

Pierre grinned, knowing Corbeau wasn’t nearly as annoyed as he sounded. “For that, you could only understand if you knew the valette herself.”

“Aah. Well in that case, I have a word of advice, monsieur.”

“Yes, Corbeau?”

“Wear a codpiece.”

I trust everyone knows what a codpiece is? If not, you'll know by the next scene, if you read it. I coined a French word here, valette, and I trust I did it right, but I'll have to run it by an actual French speaker to be sure. The Sevenfold Spell had a British flavor, so I'm making this one French. I'm thinking the Snow White retelling might be German, and Beauty and the Beast will be Irish. If I write any retellings beyond those, I'll go for other cultures. India especially has some wonderful legends.

What are your favorite legends or fairy tales?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

One-Fourth Done!

I went past 5000 words today, which means I'm still behind, but I got caught up by quite a bit. My deadline is toward the end of July, so I might still be good.

With Fairy Godmothered--and I'm beginning to think a title change might be in order--I'm trying to keep on target even when I have some writer's block. Yesterday morning I woke up with some great ideas and banged out several thousand words before everyone else got up. I'm still getting to know my characters and until I get to that point, things can be a little rocky.

I'm often inspired by movies, and in this case, the inspiration is Dangerous Liaisons from 1988. Fairy Godmothered is not going to be anywhere near that risque--in fact, next to The Sevenfold Spell it's going to be squeaky-clean--but I'm giving the novella a French setting and I have some dressing scenes for which I needed to consult the opening scenes of Dangerous Liaisons. Every time I watch that movie, I think, no wonder there was a French revolution.

My favorite characters so far? The jealous stepsisters. I got one who is genuinely bad, but the other just has a character weakness with jealousy. Ought to be fun.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dear Mr. White, This is all your fault.

Word Count Status: Unchanged. My copyedits for The Sevenfold Spell came in and I had to work on those, and then of course I needed to reread the whole thing, because this is the version that is "final".

RedRoom had a blog post idea that I found interesting--they wanted you to write a letter to your favorite author. I took the idea and changed it a bit: write a letter to the author who inspired you to write fiction. Please feel free to do this as well. Here's mine:

Dear Mr. White,

This is all your fault. If I had not read The Once and Future King, I might have had a quiet life, free from any writing urges. Instead, you had to go and make the craft of writing a novel look so darned fun, which of course, is how it turned out for me.

Because of your Pellinore, I tried my hand at writing humor. Because of your Wart, I am not afraid of letting my characters look foolish to the other characters for a while—as long as they don’t look foolish to the reader. Because of your Lancelot, I’m not afraid of writing about plain and even outright ugly characters. Beauty gets boring, but ugly can be surprisingly interesting.

After I finished The Once and Future King for the umpteenth time, I tried to write a story about a knight who was heavily based on your Lancelot. His name was Gilbert Von Roth, and he was a knight in the First Crusade. He had carrot-red hair and was horribly clumsy--unless he was in battle. Then, he was a deadly whirlwind. He was the first character I ever fell in love with.

It took me years, Mr. White, to stop writing in a voice that imitated yours.

So this is all your fault. And for that, I thank you.

Yours truly,

Tia Nevitt

(If you write a letter, please let me know!)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cover Art Ideas

Word Count Status: 2074 out of 20,000 words. This was my half-week, so I'm happy with this, plus I'll be doing some more writing tonight.

On Thursday, I heard from the marketing department from Carina Press. They wanted me to fill out a Cover Art Fact Sheet. She said to go ahead and find some images on the internet and include them. So I went nuts on her. I figured it would be better to give too much information than not enough.Here are the images I found.

This is a medieval city in Brittany, France.

This is a re-enacter at the spinning wheel. She is almost exactly as I imagine Talia and the cheerless basement in which she works:

Here is a spinning wheel:

Here is a fairy working her magic from the Nutcracker sequence in Fantasia.

Check out the blooms of magic at the bottom of this image:

Love these understated magic effects:

Here’s another one with the fairies:

They wanted a lot of other stuff too, including my bio, my online hang-outs, my synopsis and my "visual hooks." It was fun to put together, and pretty exciting! I am very interested in seeing what they come up with.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Working to a Deadline

As I mentioned in previous posts, I seem to do well with deadlines. Therefore, I'm giving myself a deadline for my next novella, which I'm now calling Fairy Godmothered. I'm only shooting for 20,000 words, so deadline is six weeks from tonight, rounded up to the next Sunday. Therefore, my deadline is:

July 25th!

With this deadline, I'll have to write 5000 words a week, then I'll need to take a week away from it and spend the last week editing and revising. 5000 words a week would not be possible without my laptop, but since I now have it, I'm going to go for it. My husband is thoroughly behind me, so that will help.

In order to keep myself honest, I'm going to post my weekly progress here, on Sundays. I'm taking this week as my half-week, so I'll use this time to perfect my six-sentence outline and expand it into a decent synopsis. I also have some pilot scenes I want to write. I wrote about 2000 words initially, but most of that will be cut and I'm starting almost over. But that's ok; that's the way I write.

And ready ... set ... go!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Last Chance to Get It Right

Carina Press has been keeping me busy. I had a very tight deadline to finish up my revisions for The Sevenfold Spell, which I met. For some reason, I do well when given a deadline. I've met some tough ones, so they don't scare me anymore. Now I'm just hoping they'll like my revisions.

This was my last chance to get it right. And that does scare me. Once we're done with the tweaking, that's it! Other than copyediting, the next judges will be the readers. It's a pretty gulp-worthy feeling. I think it would have been easier to have my first pub be for a magazine, which would have had an automatic readership, and where the success or failure of the thing wouldn't all be on my back.

Anyway, Carina said they were interested in seeing more fairy tale retellings, so I'm working on another one and I'm almost 2000 words into it. The working title is Switched and it's based on Cinderella. My overall concept with these fairly tale retellings is that it is focused on innocent bystanders who are caught up in the magic. I have at least three stories in mind.

Finally, I've decided to start an email newsletter about my writing news. If you'd like to receive it, please go to and use the sign-up link at the top of the toolbar.

Thanks so much for following my ramblings on writing.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

On 23 Years of Rejection - A Retrospective

I asked my husband when he thought I started writing seriously and we agreed that it was some time in 1987. I did make an attempt in high school, working on my old toy (but perfectly functional) typewriter to write a time travel novel. I soon gave up, having come to the conclusion that writing was hard, and that I need to read more quality authors.

My first submission was a story called, "Lady Forest Maid", and I sent it to a then-new fantasy magazine. It was definitely an apprentice-level effort. The rejection was so brutal and cutting that I never sent anything there again. I always wondered why the author/editor saw fit to type out such an awful letter. It was my very first rejection.

But I did continue to send to other places, where the rejections were bland and inoffensive.I didn't write short stories very often -- I was working on my trunk novel -- but when I did, I dutifully sent them off. The only non-form letters I ever got (until very recently) were from Fantasy and Science Fiction. I have a nice stack of personal rejection letters from them. Some of them said, "nice writing, but . . ." But not very many.

During this time, I read a great many classics. I figured that they were the people to study if I wanted to become a successful writer. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the writing styles people used back then weren't in use today, and the books I really needed to be reading were current bestsellers. I also hit upon the idea of reading debut novels, because I figured the novel that got an author noticed must have been pretty good. So my reading time wasn't entirely wasted, and the foundations of storytelling can still be gleaned from the classics.

In the early 90s, I made my first nonfiction sale, to the first editor to whom I pitched an idea. I made a hundred and fifty dollars. And then I went back to school and writing went on hold for a while.

After I finished school, I finished my novel. It took me ten years to write (including some non-writing gaps), and ended up 230,000 words. I sent it to one agent, who rejected it with a brief note. I then trunked it. It was a mess. I had a terrible time writing the synopsis because the story wandered in all directions without reason, and the synopsis made that glaringly obvious.

Then, I had a baby. While she was little I did a bunch of nonfiction work for the Bathroom Reader. I wrote articles with titles like, "Port-a-Fortress", "The Cosmic Speed Limit", "Good Vibrations", "In One End and Out the Other", and a bunch others. It was all work-for-hire without a byline. But it paid good. They used the articles in subsequent editions for years.

I started querying again with my second novel, Forging a Legend, in late 2006. I started querying Starcaster in 2009. Rejection, rejection, rejection. I had a few short stories that I was circulating. Rejection, rejection, rejection.

That's right. Not a single sale. I only went for the top markets (which included quality semipros like Weird Tales), because the one time I strayed from that restriction, I had an almost-published story with a fledgling magazine that only operated for about six months. It was never rejected, but the editor at one point (and after much prompting) said that she had it on her table of contents for the next issue. Which never happened. That almost-published story was "Spin", an early version of The Sevenfold Spell.

And over the years, I've come to realize that writing a salable story is hard. Damned hard.

I set a deadline for myself:  if I had not sold any fiction by the time I was 45, I would shift my focus to nonfiction and freelance writing and pursue a much easier writing career there. I am now 44.

I would have written this retrospective no matter where I had sold my first story. I sent The Sevenfold Spell off without any real hope that they would want it. One gets so inured to rejection that one is utterly shocked when it fails to happen.

Thanks for taking this trip down memory lane with me. Have you sold a story? If so, how long did it take for you to make the sale?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My First Fiction Sale!

Exciting news! Carina Press called me the other day, and offered to publish The Sevenfold Spell. The call came totally out of the blue (they always do, I'm told), since my submission had not even been out a month. I had a LOT of questions, and I'm afraid I pestered the editor quite a bit. I wanted to understand everything and feel comfortable with the terms, and she was very patient.

This is my first fiction sale. I have learned that it is much easier to break into nonfiction than fiction. I published a nonfiction article with my very first try. I started submitting short stories in the 80s. The 80s! Marion Zimmer Bradley sent my first rejection letter!

The fabulous Lisa Nevin read the manuscript just after I submitted it, and she suggested the exact same revisions that Carina Press proposed! Lisa, thanks for being such a great beta partner. Superwench and Carole McDonnell also critiqued a very early copy, and J. G. Paine, who is the pseudonym for another critique partner, is the one who inspired me to expand it to e-book length and send it to an e-publisher. Thanks for your help, everyone!

The tentative publication timeframe is the fall of this year!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Back to Writing!

East of Yesterday won the inspiration contest and I'm writing like mad. I'm making heavy use of my Neo, which is great for distraction-free typing. I've got Brad the Jerk seamlessly woven into the novel, and I decided to throw Henry, Adele's (changed her name from Ashley) love interest from the past, into a scene where they run into gypsies on the time road. It worked out great because I'm able to use a lot of fun time-travel twists.

I'm thinking I need to seriously read The Time Traveler's Wife, just to make sure I'm not using some of the same concepts.

In other news, I'm waiting on some submissions, plus a request for a full, and a referral. Both of the latter have been out for a while, but I know to be patient by now.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Keeping Motivated

At times when it starts seeming too hard to break into publishing, I declare a break for myself. And that's what I'm doing this week. It's a writing break, something we all need from time to time to remind us that writing isn't everything and that everything isn't about writing. So this weekend:
  • I finished reading a very funny novel that didn't necessarily have an upcoming release date (something I consider for Debuts & Reviews).
  • Took a walk in the park. And not just any park, it was Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park. A big huge sinkhole festooned with greenery. Will post pictures later.
  • Had long and productive talks with my husband.
  • Went shopping with my daughter. Had hot chocolate in a Border's cafe and people-watched.
  • Danced with my daughter with the help of Just Dance for Wii. Not a pretty sight.
  • And now I need to call my brother.
 What fun, non-writing thing did you do this weekend?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Sevenfold Spell Submitted!

Got some stuff done this weekend. I submitted The Sevenfold Spell to my first epub market today. Here's hoping! I also wrote out a complete outline for A Hollywood Miracle, which I didn't really intend to do when I sat at the computer, but now that I have it, I'm going to use it. I bought some colored post-its so I can use different colors for each storyline. That way I can merge all the storylines on some sort of board, and easily be able to pick out each storyline.

Plans for this evening include sitting down with my Neo and writing another scene in East of Yesterday. Right now, my efforts are floating between AHM and EOY, but I think after tonight I'll know which one I'll want to focus on.

I also had another short story idea, but it's still on simmer.

Wish me luck for The Sevenfold Spell!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Back From Vacation, Back to Writing

I ended March with a vacation, and when I came back, the vacation from writing was over. I dove right into East of Yesterday, and blew past my 25,000 word hurdle. I'm now at 27,000 words, and I'm hopefully gathering momentum again.

I decided to drop an interracial romance storyline for two reasons: the romance wasn't working in my mind and the story screeched to a halt when I started it. I'm just going to continue to write my original concept and see where it takes me. This is a lot the way I wrote Starcaster/A Spy and a Lady -- I just came up with a concept and hung on while it took me on a wild ride.

I temporarily trunked my short story, "Under Observation" while I purchased some of the better online semipro zines in order to get an idea of what they like. And lo and behold, I found another potential market for "Under Observation". I also failed to mention that an online pro zine recently rejected it while saying they "enjoyed reading it but after careful consideration have decided that we cannot use it at this time." It looked like a form rejection, but would they say they enjoyed reading every story? So maybe someone will want it.

I'm sorry this blog has been so boring lately!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Long Overdue Post

Wow -- I have some new followers. Welcome!

I have finished my novella, The Sevenfold Spell, and I'm currently writing a synopsis for it. I hoped to have some time to devote to it this weekend, but we had out-of-down visitors, plus an unexpected trip to the emergency room (everyone's fine now), so I'm now zonked.

I have not done very well with my pledge to submit something every weekend because I only have two stories in circulation right now. I have, at least, kept them continuously submitted. I ought to be querying my novels to more agents -- I know-- but serious querying might have to wait until the second week in April.

I'm on high blood pressure medication. I've lost fifteen pounds and the doctor thinks my blood pressure will come down on its own when I lose another ten pounds. In the meantime, it was high enough for him to want to put me on meds. When I lose this weight, I really can't let it get that high again. It was nice to have a try-on session, getting into all those pants I haven't worn in two years. In another five pounds, most of them will fit quite nicely.

When I get The Sevenfold Spell sent to my first-choice market, I'll finish up my prehistoric fantasy (called "Riven") and then I'll be working on East of Yesterday again while I shop around those four stories. Hopefully at some point, someone will want to buy one! Unless inspiration slaps me in the face with another short story (that's the way it happens for me), I'm going to stick with E of Y for a while. I've been working out things in my head even thought I haven't been writing, and I think I have changed direction on several plotlines that weren't working.

What have you been working on (writing or otherwise)?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

An Invitation - Tear Up My Opening

Here's the opening to my novella, The Sevenfold Spell. Feel free to read and if you'd like, to critique. If you've read my stuff before, this is more in the style of Forging a Legend than A Spy and a Lady. It's a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story, through the eyes of a spinster who had her spinning wheel taken away and burned.

A pair of booted feet stopped before me. I refused to look up. One of them kicked forward, thumping against my thin shins. It smarted, but I knew it could have hurt a lot worse.

"Get up."

"Don't move," Mama said. So I didn't, except to look up at the harried constable. He frowned down at us -- a troubled frown, but not an angry one. He was portly and balding. He didn't look like an evil man, but like a good man who had been sent out to do an evil task.

A task that we resisted as we sat together in the doorway of our shop, defending our livelihood with our bodies.

The constable sighed. "Come now," he said. "I don't like this any more than you do."

"You'll have to move us," Mama said.

The constable looked over his shoulder. The fairy hovered there. She was tiny -- no larger than my hand -- with shimmery pale green leggings and tunic. Her beauty almost held one's gaze prisoner, so that was difficult to look away from her.

"Can you move them?" he asked her.

"I am not here to do your job, Constable," the fairy replied, "only to see that you do it honestly."

The constable's sigh was exasperated now. He gestured to his men. "Move them."

Mother and I were both slight. Moving us took no great effort. Suddenly, as I sprawled in the dirt of the street, our defiant gesture seemed pathetic.

Mother screamed and raised a holy fuss. She went charging back into our shop after the constable's men. I ran in after her. She flailed on their backs as they picked up the spinning wheel and carried it out.

"My daughter," she said at one point, grabbing me. "Look at her. Do you think her face will ever get her a husband? That spinning wheel is her future."

"You will be well-paid," the constable said, "as soon as it's destroyed."

They brought out the spinning wheel and flung it into the back of the wagon. Mama winced as it crashed amid the wreckage of the other spinning wheels. They had no regard for its fragile structure, its delicate beauty. They had no care that our lives depended upon that simple wooden structure.

The fairy darted out of our shop and hovered near us. She aimed her wand at our spinning wheel and a burst of colors flew out. The colors hit the spinning wheel and buzzed around it like angry bees. When the colors dissipated, the spinning wheel collapsed into all its various parts, no longer distinguishable from its neighbors.

My mother raised her arm as if to swat the fairy. I grabbed her arm.

"Remember Widow Harla!" I hissed. Widow Harla had attacked the fairy with her broom, and she had felt the fairy's retaliatory spell. She was still unable to speak.

I felt the tension in Mama's arm relax.

The constable offered my mother a chinking pouch. Mama ignored it as she held herself erect. I could tell she was determined to show no weakness. With a glance at the fairy, he tossed it at our feet. I shifted so I stood on the pouch strings. The guards climbed onto the back of the wagon while the constable and the official got in on either side of the driver, and they rumbled off down the street, the fairy flitting after them.

A few of our neighbors looked at us in pity, but also with a bit of dread. They knew that if we were to fall on hard times, they would be obliged to show us Christian charity.

It all made no sense to me. I knew there was a curse involved, but it seemed pointless to attempt to get around it by banning spinning wheels. Fairies were not so stupid as to make their spells so easily circumvented. Why bring misery to families such as ours by taking away our only means of income?

I bent down and picked up the pouch. "What will we do now?" I asked.

Mama took the pouch and hefted it. "We'll buy a loom. If we cannot spin, we will weave."

That night, the light and smoke from the bonfire of burning spinning wheels blotted out the stars.

Feedback? Comments here are welcome, or privately at tia dot nevitt at gmail dot com.

Guest Post at Guide to Literary Agents!

A while back, I wrote a column for the "7 Things I've Learned So Far" series over at Guide to Literary Agents, and they posted it yesterday. Go check it out!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Forging a Legend Domain Parked

My Forging a Legend website now goes to a domain parking service until I figure out what I want to do with it. I own it for another year and a few days.

It was freaky. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning with this one thought: I must transfer my domain before I lose it. I had just over a week left before it expired.

Here's the story. I first created the domain in 2006 or so with Microsoft's OfficeLive, an initiative of theirs that they have since started sundowning. As part of that process, I received an email about half a year ago saying that I'd have to pay for my domain after February something. The email assured me that I'd receive another email 45 days before the domain expired.

Guess what? I never received the email.

The whole transfer system was quite shoddy on the part of Microsoft. After much searching, I finally figured out that I had to go to MelbourneIT's website to transfer the domain. As in Melbourne, Australia. So I did, but the correct thing you had to click on the MelbourneIT site was completely obscure. Finally, I happened upon something and got in and entered the right codes to initiate the transfer. Then, the whole thing was delayed by five days unless I clicked something else. But there was nothing at the MelbourneIT site to indicate what that something was. Then, I had to go to work.

In the intervening 12 hours between then and a little while ago, an email finally made its way from MelbourneIT to my email account saying that I had a domain transfer pending. I quickly clicked Accept Transfer and within five minutes, Daydream Domains had the domain parked.

Daydream Domains, by the way, is wonderful. I learned about it through Lisa Shearin's website, where she had similar things to say.

Now, what do I do with it? Do I have it redirect to my domain, or do I rebuild it, using all the content that I saved in a Word document (and is still available on the Microsoft site)? Ever since I completed this latest rewrite, I've been quite excited about it, and I kinda want to redo the website now that I have absolute control over how it will look. However, judging how long it took me to set up, it might take until the summer for me to have it ready. So, I might just send it to


Friday, February 5, 2010

Quiet but Productive Month

I've been slacking on my posting lately. Sorry!

Regarding my short stories: I've only missed one weekend submission so far. I thought I'd miss last weekend, but a rejection came in on Sunday and I was able to send it out again immediately.

I need to finish up "Riven" and send it to my first choice magazine this weekend. I'm hoping I'll be able to do that. We are planning a lazy weekend, and the miserable weather outside should help.

(You know you are a writer when you welcome rotten weather!)

Regarding novels: East of Yesterday continues to churn around in my mind. Now that Brad the Terrible is accompanying Mike and Ashley, the conflict has really picked up. I have a scene where he holds up a convenience store (entirely to Mike and Ashley's surprise) and flings a bunch of 20s in the air once they are on the road again. And the 20s become worthless the instant they start traveling back in time again, so they have been sitting in the car, forgotten.

Until they meet the gypsies.

Since this is primarily a road trip novel, I figure that gypsies will fit in nicely here. Especially since they're time traveling gypsies, and they have a lot of things for sale . . . from every era. And they take currency from any era too! Too bad Mike and Ash don't run into them until they're almost at their destination.

I've also decided that there will only be one love story . . . Mike's. I just can't make Ashley's work. Maybe she hasn't met the right guy yet. We'll have to see if he turns up as I write.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

So Far, So Good

I had an inspiration and renamed my science fiction western from "Petroleum Sunset" to "Once Upon a Gas Tank". I think it is a much greater indication of the mood of the story! I just submitted it to another pro market, one I've never submitted to before.

I went through the whole thing and read it allowed while speaking with the kind of dialect that I was hoping to emulate in the story. I hope it helped. If I can't sell this one, I'm just going to post it on my website. It might be almost impossible to find someone to buy a story that is written in dialect. But I have a lot of markets to go before I give up.

A third story, "Riven", is being beta-read. I like this one very much and it's a fantasy, which is different for me. For some reason when I write short stories, I tend to write science fiction. And when I write novels, they're anything but.

My progress on everything is slow but sure. I can only expect to be able to write so fast because of demands on my time at home. But I'm happy with a little bit of progress. If I ever do manage to sell a novel, I'll have to re-prioritize a bunch of stuff, including Debuts & Reviews. In the meantime, once I get all these short stories polished as well as I'd like them, then I'll have nothing to do with them but submit them here and there. So far, two stories have graduated from my short story file on my iPod touch. Riven will be the third. Then I'll be playing with those stories that I never quite finished, but with concepts that I still think are promising.

Here's a question for you. When you are writing a scene that proves to be difficult, do you:
  • a) scratch the scene. Obviously my muse is telling me something.
  • b) work with it. Difficult scenes are worth the angst.
  • c) something else?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Dangers of Excessive Wordsmithing

When is a polished novel really polished? When you reach the point where you are wordsmithing your wordsmiths. Stuff you know you keep tweaking this way and then back to that way. I just got done doing this.

I was guilty of excessive wordsmithing.

This is a crime in so many ways. One, I have wasted valuable time. I could have been working on one of my other novels! Two, I run the risk of ruining some perfectly good sentences. Mark Twain once said, "Choose the right word, not it's second cousin" (paraphrasing here), but sometimes you argue with your muse as to what that right word is. And three, I could have gotten so much else done! Which brings us back to number one. But this was probably a lesson I had to learn.

I also realized that STARCASTER/A SPY AND A LADY was in much better shape than FORGING A LEGEND was during that recent rewrite. I guess that is the difference between novel number 2 (Forging) and novel number 3 (Spy).

Oh, and I DID send "Under Observation" to another market -- a pro magazine. Yay me!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Short Fiction Progress

I've made a lot of progress with my various short stories. They are all in one file that I keep synchronized between my Ipod Touch and my computer. The Ipod has turned out to be a good place to edit and revise, but it's not such a good way to draft. Not when you have to touch the shift key to get basic punctuation. So my Neo continues to be my preferred drafting tool.

I've polished up a story called "Riven" and I just asked one of my beta readers if she wants to read it. I've also worked a lot on The Sevenfold Spell, trying to get it polished up for epublishers. Plus, I've plucked out the old opening to Starcaster (the embassy mission scene, for those of you who have read it) and I'm going to try to make a short story out of it. One day. I don't have any ideas for it at this time. I'm a blank. So onward.

What I haven't made progress with is Forging a Legend

According to my goal, I'm supposed to submit to a market this weekend. So I'll try to find one of the semipro zines to send "Under Observation" to. My beta readers gave me very positive feedback for it, but I'm wondering if it ends too bleakly. I'll take another look at it and see if I can't shoot some hope in there at the end.

And I'm sorry I've been so BORING lately! I'd say I have the winter doldrums, but I've been in a great mood. Will try to find a way to liven things up around here.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Still Here! Still Writing!

So I write a post on maintaining momentum, then I vanish for three weeks. Sorry! I've been sick, but I'm all better now. I started out the new year with cleaning off my desk.

My writing new years resolution: to sell a story. Any story. A novel or a short story -- I'm good with either. I need to sell something to the more respectable semipros so I can build up a bit of a bio. Currently, I try with the top four or five magazines and then I tend to fizzle. Gotta stop that.

To get ready, I'm going to pick out my most viable short stories and put them all in one file. I'm going to slap a table of contents on it and zap it to my nifty new Ipod touch. This way, I'll always have them with me and I'll be able to work on them anytime.

I'm also going to get my novella, The Sevenfold Spell, in front of the eyes of the ebook publishers. Currently Sanheim has an anthology going for fairy tales, but unfortunately, they are only for super-hot fairy tales. Spell has sex in it, but I woudn't call it anything close to erotica. I'm just not going to go there. I'm not sure if they want to look at fairy tales stories that aren't hot, but I'll try anyway. Corina Press is a new e-publisher imprint of Harlequin, and they are my first choice. Spell is ripe for a final polish, and then off it goes.

Forging a Legend also will be ready to submit in the next week or so. I have a few agents to try, who have not seen it before, plus one agent whose asked for it twice (never hurts to ask if she wants to see it again, especially since it's been almost two years since she's seen the last version).

Once it is submitted, I'll be working on East of Yesterday and my short stories. My goal? To submit a short story to a market once a weekend until I run out of markets. That will be the absolute minimum.

What are your goals this year?