Did you listen to them? Arro asked wildly. Did you . . . eat?

Soal hid her face on the pallet. Tears spilled onto the cloth, and she clutched herself, as if that would keep the memories from spilling out, too. A million memories rose at her throat like a word that wished to be spoken. A million memories of blue-lit voices, tender, flickering hands, and a vision of the home they–and she–had been severed from.

And in that instant, something cold came over her. She could not let Arro see these memories. She would not.

I paced the room, my phone pressed to my ear. My hands trembled, but I wasn’t crying–yet. I had just learned that I would have to revise my manuscript in four weeks–four–if I wanted to submit it to Pitch Wars.

Somehow, I had thought that I could take the extra month before mentees were announced to complete revisions. But no, my sheepish friend pointed out. If a mentor was interested, they would request a manuscript. If I was serious about the contest, I needed to have a cohesive manuscript. And I needed it now. Continue reading “Revising Soal: Lessons Learned”

Sparks coalesced along the Svetskyn’s fingertips, and the light spilled in a frenzied path from his hands.

Soal tried to dig through the minds, dig through the living Memory, grasping for some remnant of the light in her veins. But the Memory was strong. Leaping nyun. Flaring nyun. A deadly arc—

In a last, desperate jerk of muscles, Soal flung her hands up over her face—and opened her vae to the nyun. I am Soal! she cried to it.

It was only 9:00 p.m., but I was the only one awake. I sat in my oh-so-comfortable burgundy recliner, huddling into the last scene of my manuscript as one would huddle into a fire.

About an hour ago, my husband, feeling unwell, had stumbled downstairs for an early bedtime on the couch. And just thirty minutes later, my big-cheeked, bright-eyed baby had crawled up two steps, looked confused, and then dribbled half-digested dinner all over the third step. She was patient about the ordeal, sitting obligingly in one spot so that at least the vomit had tea with only one step, instead of offering cream and sugar to all ten. My three-year-old watched from the upper steps, jumping with the adventure of it all. Continue reading “Drafting Soal: Evolving with “The End””

It was dark, but I still pulled into a parking lot to think. I had just returned from a writers’ group, our second meeting. I had pulled this writers’ group together in a fit of inspiration following my first writers’ conference. I was eager to share my ideas, and to work in a tight-knit group that could confirm where I was flawed–and where I was going.

But I had still been shaken when, on the first meeting, my outline for Soal had not stood up to inspection. “The motivations are a bit hazy here.” “Why is she doing this?” “Um . . . when does the action start?” I hope I am not the only writer that finds those moments absolutely terrifying. It is like the little imp in the back of your head–the one that throws banana peels at your screen and laughs shrilly every time you stumble on a word–was having a feast thrown in its honor. It was delighted. And I was drenched in banana slime. Continue reading “Outlining Soal: First Words”

Machines scorch the land. Desolations, she calls them. You don’t fight them–or she didn’t until one killed her only brother. But she never dreamed that inside the machine might be humans like her, and a boy with the eyes of her dead brother.

This is the concept that sparked my current book Dust to Dust: What would you do if you suddenly felt empathy for a boy who participated in the murder of your only brother?

Empathy is complex. It can frighten us. Once we have let in others’ emotions, where do our own emotions go? What do we do when those emotions conflict? How do we resolve injustice or rage? In the end, do we learn to see more clearly, or simply learn to cave in? Continue reading “Drafting Dust to Dust: Facing the Fear of Empathy”

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