Progress Report: Novel + Stories

Good morning! It’s been a busy past couple of weeks, both in real life and the fictional ones I get to escape to through writing. Here are some quick updates on each project I’m working on, both for your information and to hold me accountable to finish them amidst the hubbub of everything else.

The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales: all of the stories I wish to include are back from my editor. I’ve gone through and made revisions on most of them. I plan to start piecing the collection together and prepare it for publishing once the novel is with my editor, as the novel takes up a great deal of head space right now. I’m keeping the short stories in mind, though, by submitting some to literary contests and journals as I find them. It’s good practice in terms of putting my stuff out there, getting used to feedback, getting used to receiving rejection, and conceptualizing them for other audiences. Plus, on the chance they win or get accepted, it would be a great experience.

Please Give: my master draft now has less words, but is more complete. I’ve found that the best way to write the pieces I have left is to remove or change the pieces that aren’t working as-is, putting me in an odd overlap of both writing and revision. It’s an odd feeling, but a satisfying one, especially since the changes and additions help me see the story from beginning to end as a cohesive whole – more than I have yet, and seemingly more each day. It’s exciting, and I look forward to replacing my [bracket] notes with actual pieces.

In between those two projects, I’m also writing down lines and ideas for my next pieces. I can’t help but write, and it’s an awesome feeling. It’s a feeling, though, that now needs to reverberate through the stories themselves. TTFN!

 

Upcoming Project: The Campus Coffee Shop

I’ve been out of school for several years, but I still enjoy visiting campus coffee shops. It’s always fun to walk into a substitute study hall filled with espresso machines and scones, the sound of typing interspersed with the hiss of steaming milk and laughing voices. Whenever I’m near my old campus, I try to visit one of the coffee shops for a quick drink.

I visited one of my favorite school haunts, Saxby’s, over Halloween last year. As usual, I was surrounded by students 8-12 years my junior, and while I’m not their mother, there’s still quite a generational divide, especially where pop culture is concerned. So, I was pleasantly surprised to hear pop songs on the stereo from 2008 — 2010, my specific tenure at Georgetown. Not just one or two songs, but several. While the station was likely a ’00s pop selection on Pandora, I chuckled to myself and wondered if I’d perhaps traveled back in time.

I finished my coffee, met my husband at the Exorcist Stairs, then met our friends at The Tombs for burgers and beer. We went home, where we shared one final pumpkin beer, and I started a load of laundry.

Through all of that, I couldn’t shake the idea of someone visiting their favorite campus coffee shop, and having it become the place it was in their past. Between loads of laundry, I typed a story of a woman making a visit like my own, and hearing music like I heard — yet couldn’t be explained away by Pandora. That story is now called The Campus Coffee Shop, and is the fifth story — and final one profiled on this blog — within The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales.

The story begins as I describe above, though her return to the past isn’t nearly as pleasant. The narrator did not find school to be a happy place, and the campus coffee shop was her escape from its stressors — even after graduation, when she should’ve left them all behind. Perhaps she didn’t because she couldn’t — and neither could the others.

I look forward to sharing all five stories with you once they are edited, collected, and published.

The Crow’s Gift: Table of Contents

Today is a busy day, both with writing and my day job. It’s been a busy several days, but with the writing at least, it’s the sort of busy that brings me joy.

The weekend was especially productive. I got All the Pieces Coming Together from my editor, and spent most of Sunday revising it based on her notes. On that note, if you are a newer writer like me, I must emphasize how important it is to have an editor — a professional one, not simply someone who proofreads or beta-reads. I’ve had two stories edited thus far, and both have been improved by that step — not just in grammar and style, but in bringing to the surface deeper meanings and themes that I couldn’t find on my own. Even though we write in solitude, at the end of the day, it’s a team effort between writer and reader.

Because of those busy hours, I have less to share today than on Tuesdays past. In lieu of a longer post, I’d like to share the current table of contents for The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales. Three of the stories will go to my editor this week, including I Never Knew Your Name, so it may look quite different once it appears in the collection. I’m excited to see where it goes, and the same goes for the other pieces waiting to make the journey from my own computer. I will keep all of you posted on the progress of the collection over the coming weeks — including its cover.

The Crow’s Gift, and Other Tales

  1. The Crow’s Gift
  2. I Love Your Work
  3. The Campus Coffee Shop
  4. All the Pieces Coming Together
  5. I Never Knew Your Name

Upcoming Project: All the Pieces Coming Together

Stories usually come to me in lines. I’ll think of a title, or a one-sentence plot point, and it will nest in my head while various creative birds build upon it with characters, plot points, and quotes. One short story began with a single line that popped in my head over two years ago:

“It’s the perfect place to hide the bodies. The trouble is, there aren’t any bodies to hide.”

I have a macabre sense of humor, and it made me laugh to think of the conundrum of a killer finding a perfect place to hide someone, a place so perfect that no one was around to hide. I pictured him in his cabin, all alone and not a soul to steal in sight, wasting his days hunting animals and wondering how the hell he was going to live his desired life of murderous splendor when there was no one around to kill.

In May of 2016, I decided to help him try to find the answer. I started writing his story, under a really bad working title: “Killing Time.” It came from an even worse line: “The only thing to kill out here is time.” I’ve nixed both from my most recent draft, a draft that is now with an editor and awaiting its latest incarnation.

The story follows a nameless, wannabe serial killer who has found the perfect place to hide a body, and his subsequent quest to add a body to that equation. It is dark and humorous, though as the story progresses, it becomes more of one than the other. This was a story that, like many I’ve written, came to me only as I wrote it. I wrote it in order, with only the basic beginning, middle, and end in mind; and it was exciting to be surprised with the turns it took in between. I hope that readers have the same experience. As I wrote, I also noticed a recurring theme of control, and how setting everything up perfectly doesn’t always yield the intended result. Around the middle of the story, this theme came together, as did my title: All the Pieces Coming Together.

I will be sharing the story in full as part of The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, which I first spoke of last week, and plan to publish over the next few months. As with The Crow’s Gift, I look forward to sharing this story with you down the road.