Unused Prologue: THE GIRL MADE OF GOLD

After much consideration, and feedback from others, I have decided not to include the prologue in my work in progress, THE GIRL MADE OF GOLD. I love this prologue, despite it being unnecessary for the story, and I’ve been having a hard time letting it go. So, I am posting it here, where it will live forever in the internet:

 

I was fourteen the first time he appeared in my room.

For a long time, I thought I was insane. It was the only way to explain what was happening. I’d read stories about madness, about people seeing things that weren’t there—visions, apparitions, ghosts, even alternate realities. Take one of my favorites, Don Quixote, for example. Take Hamlet, take Wuthering Heights. Perhaps I was just as mad as the characters in my books.

I was dusting those books on the night he first materialized. I hummed to myself, taking my time as I reached on my tip-toes and dusted the top of my bookshelf. I often did that—took my time—with everything I did. I didn’t have anywhere else to be, since I was trapped here, so the longer it took me to accomplish my tasks, the less time I had to spend wistfully daydreaming of the outside world.

In an instant, the air changed around me, and I stopped. I was used to the feel of the air in my tower, used to the way it felt when I was alone versus when Mother was here. And in that moment I sensed it, sensed an extra body behind me, breathing in my oxygen. But it wasn’t Mother. I knew what her presence felt like. This was something foreign.

Slowly, I lowered myself so my feet were flat on the ground again. Even more slowly, I turned, my heart reverberating inside my chest, and I attempted a raw swallow. When I saw him, my heart felt to stop altogether, and I froze in place. A handsome ghost, with incredibly green, wide-set eyes stared back at me, his mouth hanging open. He appeared almost as frightened as I was. A strange breeze entered the room, from where I don’t know, and not only made the candlelight dance but played with the ghost’s brown hair. His defined jaw clenched when he closed his mouth, and his Adam’s apple bounced up his neck as he swallowed.

A pounding on the shutters startled my eyes away from the boy and they shot to the window. The breeze turned into a wind, blowing out some of the candles, and I had never been more grateful for Mother’s presence at the window. But when I looked back in the place the boy had stood, it was empty. He was gone. The ghost had vanished.

Mother opened the shutters after her boisterous thud, and after one more large, mysterious gust, the wind vanished as well. When Mother climbed in through the window and stood before me, opening her arms wide for me, I found myself shaking.

“Rosemary,” she said, her arms falling. Her black eyes studied me quizzically. “Darling, are you all right? You’re pale!”

I ran to her, frightened as ever, and told her of my handsome ghost. My handsome ghost wearing the strangest clothing I’d never seen. Mother was angry, and she paced my room for a lengthy time. Eventually, she told me that if he ever came back, I was to fight. He was after me, she decided, just like the rest of the world.

Only, he never came back.

Not until two years later, when I did just as Mother commanded: knocked him unconscious.

Colorado Gold Nuggets

Attending Rocky Mountain Fiction WritersColorado Gold conference this past weekend was the best thing my writer self could have done. It was my first writing conference ever, and in my opinion, the best one for breaking into the world of writing conferences. I met lots of great people, learned at the feet of many experts, and left there feeling more pumped than ever to get to work.

I took pages and pages of notes while in the workshops, lectures, and panels, and I wanted to share just some of the nuggets I gathered. Even if they were things I’d heard before, it’s always nice to be reminded. Aside from learning how my characters scored on the Myers-Briggs test (Ian is an ISFJ), I also took in the following:

  • There’s a difference to tension and suspense.
    • Tension is a conflict or obstacle. It belongs on every page and in every genre. It can be external or internal. Overt or subtle. In action or dialogue. It should be visceral, and drawn out like foreplay.
    • Suspense is uncertainty. It creates questions and doesn’t answer them immediately–questions like Why, What, Who, When, Where, and How?
  • “Don’t tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass.” -Anton Chekhov
  • Showing vs. telling: don’t tell the reader how to feel! Telling:
    • is intellectualized rather than visceral (here’s that word again).
    • is general or vague, rather than specific.
    • is broad rather than granular.
    • is abstract rather than visual.
    • makes conclusions, rather than leading the reader to them.
  • Every single scene and line should move your story forward.
  • Point of View is the vehicle on which the reader rides into the story.
  • Write beyond the trope of Strong Female Characters. Women don’t have to use weapons to be strong, and they can still kick ass while loving girly things or being girly themselves.
  • Torture the ones you love–that is, torture your characters! The greater pressure you put on your character, the greater the true character shows.
  • Good fiction can be defined with five Cs: convincing characters caught in compelling conflict.” -Brandilyn Collins
  • Great stories have both a compelling climax and a devastating black moment.
  • Plot is what happens, and story is why it matters.
  • There’s a difference between an antagonist and a villain.
  • An “identity” is the role your character plays, and the “essence” is who they really are. The purpose of the plot is to showcase events in a compelling way that carries a character from “identity” to “essence.”
  • External and internal stories can, and should, happen at the same time.
  • Convincing characters have fears!
  • Convincing characters want something they can’t easily have.
  • Make sure your characters extend beyond the page.
  • Keep your details relevant.
  • Poetic techniques, like kennings, alliterations, rhymes, and meters, can add to your story. Let the rhyme and meter of your sentences reflect on the mood.
  • Have a great sense of humor when writing!
  • Omit dialogue tags whenever possible.
  • Less is more with info dumping (duh!).
  • A scene should always develop the plot and/or character.
  • Your POV character should always have gained either knowledge, skills, or resources by the end of a scene.
  • Conflict and tension are rooted in the character’s struggle to either gain or cede the upper hand.
  • Filler and POV filters are the blubber and gristle in your story. Instead develop the muscle and sinew!
  • Don’t think of sentences as bricks–walls keep readers out!
  • Scenes are vital structures where all the components come together: character, plot, and theme.

And lastly, I’ll leave you with this: “Style is a very simple matter; it is all rhythm. Once you get that, you can’t use the wrong words. But on the other hand here am I sitting after half the morning, crammed with ideas, and visions, and so on, and can’t dislodge them, for lack of the right rhythm. Now this is very profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than any words. A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it.” —Virginia Woolf

Veil of the Rose Prologue

Hello, everyone! What have I done to keep myself busy while anxiously awaiting feedback from my beta readers (for THE GIRL MADE OF GOLD)? Well, I’ve been editing book two of HEMLOCK VEILS. It’s been so much fun jumping back into that world that I haven’t visited in far too long. I’ve missed Henry and Elizabeth dearly.

My point to this? I decided I want to share the prologue for book two (VEIL OF THE ROSE, which is a lose Sleeping Beauty retelling, but based in the same world as HEMLOCK VEILS and picking up a few months after HEMLOCK VEILS left off). So, if you’ve read HEMLOCK VEILS and want a hint of what’s next, check it out. If you haven’t read HEMLOCK VEILS, read this anyway (if you want, I mean). It doesn’t offer any spoilers, really. Just new insight we didn’t get with book one. Regardless, enjoy!

Celebrating the birth of a baby would prove a menial task for most immortals. Especially for other Wardens of the Magical Realm. But nothing had ever been more of an honor for this old man.

The new mother lay in her hospital bed, one shoulder of her gown untied. A blanket covered her recently bulging belly, and a barrette held back sweat-plastered hair. Her face flushed, her skin glowed. It defined the greatest kind of exertion, but her eyes defined a love of the highest capacity, one not even the immortal man had ever felt. Nor any man for that matter.

With occasional tears, the mother smiled and cooed soft noises at the infant in her arms—red, tiny, and wrapped in a pink blanket, and wearing a cap full of hair the color of her mother’s. The baby’s eyelids drooped with drowsiness only newborn babies could own: a drunkenness on mother’s milk. The father, just as teary-eyed, put an arm around his wife. They met each other’s eyes when their child’s would no longer open, and the old man, standing in the doorway, felt like an intruder on an intimate family moment. Out of respect, he looked down.

This baby wasn’t just any mortal though. She was special to the old man, which made her special to the other Wardens of this continent. One at a time, with the exception of the eldest, they entered the stark hospital room, joining father, mother, and newborn. Good health, a loving and loyal heart, courage: they placed their personal blessings upon the infant, her only acknowledgement of them the occasional twitch of a petite finger, embellished with a nail so teeny it was hardly visible at all.

At the Wardens’ blessings, the look on the new mother’s face was one of tolerance, at best. A Warden’s gift of fertility had given the couple what they’d prayed for, but the mother had dismissed the miracle of their pregnancy nine months before as a work of God.

The old man didn’t doubt that, but all prayers are answered through different means. It’s a mortal’s job to decide for themselves by which means those prayers are answered. To this woman, it simply couldn’t have been through her husband’s strange friends.

When the old man’s turn arrived—number eight of the nine Wardens—the mother’s smile turned from one of tolerance to one of warmth. She had grown fond of him during her pregnancy. He didn’t hold her disbelief against her. In fact, she was the way humans were supposed to be. They were supposed to be close-minded to this life. Even most the angelic souls are.

He bent and kissed the mother on the forehead, her skin warm and slightly sticky. After peeling the infant’s pink blanket slowly from her chin, in order to better view her, it hit him, what she was. He recoiled, staring at the chafed but beautiful miracle of life before him. The one he was partly responsible for. Roland, his eldest Warden brother, watched from the hallway. Technically his leader, and last of the nine, his eyes penetrated the old man’s back.

The old man turned to meet them, narrow but unreadable, while the other seven Wardens conversed happily to the side. Roland listened carefully, no doubt interested in what blessing the old man would place upon the baby. Roland too seemed aware of how special she would be one day. Only this knowledge seemed to have a different effect on him than it did on the old man.

He broke Roland’s gaze and turned back to the new family, meeting the father’s grass-colored eyes before his own fell upon the baby girl. In placing his hands on her head, he swallowed deeply, breathing through the rush that washed through his body. Discomfort radiated from the hallway, from Roland—lingering like a dark shadow over a heavenly landscape.

The old man spoke, blessing the baby with the same intuition and gifts her father had: the ability to see things and beings for what they truly were. And being moved by nothing more this his disheartening suspicion that Roland felt no reverence for this occasion, the old man whispered an added blessing on the baby: an immunity to curses.

However, he sensed that Roland, who would be the last of the Wardens to bless baby Elizabeth, would find a way to twist the old man’s blessing.