Flames and Fairy-Tales

Actually Finishing Something [in] July
Week Three Questions

Were you able to meet (or exceed!) your goal this week?

I know I said I was going to push through the next scene of Gingerune, but last Tuesday I was emailing back and forth with Anne Elisabeth Stengl and we fell to talking about her book Five Glass Slippers which is due to come out June 2014.  The book is part of a contest she is holding and is going to be a collection of five Cinderella retellings.

1.  Your story must be based on the fairy tale “Cinderella.” While you are at liberty to retell the story in all sorts of exciting and original ways, the core of the tale must be recognizable. Include as many of the classic themes as you can, though you may feel free to switch them up and surprise us!

2. Your story must be between 5,000 and 20,000 words long.

The deadline isn't until December 31st, but the upshot of the deal was that by the end of the email, after a gentle prodding from Anne Elisabeth, I was crushed under a story idea and have spent the last five days writing and editing the first draft of my submission.   Keeping it under 20,000 words was stressful, exciting, and rather easier than I was anticipating.  The manuscript is now making the familial rounds and I hope to get the outside-eyeball edits in by Wednesday.

As for Gingerune...  I got through that scene this morning.  I'm on the ragged end of it, but the bulk of the thing is finished.  In her blog-hop for Dragonwitch, Anne Elisabeth mentioned her newly released novel was one of the hardest she had written so far, and eventually she took to the habit of making herself sit down and write 500 words.  She was not allowed to get up until she had written those 500 words, and then she could go do something else - clean, cook, pet a cat - and then she would sit back down and write another 500 words.  Having more trouble with Gingerune than I had with Plenilune, I plunked myself down this morning and made myself write 500 words before I got back up.  In light manner I have written over 1,000 words and got a remarkable amount of housework done...  It works!

Where did you get the bulk of your writing accomplished?  In the quiet of your room, outside on the patio, on the bus...?

Mostly the spare room at home, where I have my desktop, but I also scribbled at my parents' house Wednesday and Saturday afternoon. 

Share a couple of your favourite snippets.

There, alone on a bit of turf which faced south and was warm, she sat quietly and worked at weaving the rushes into baskets. From time to time the hours were marked off by the sweet, sharp song of the treble bell overhead; absentmindedly, Ella nodded to herself, counting off the thin seconds as the silence trembled overhead as the bell was canted back and laid its blows behind, hovered, then was brought back round again. There were only two bells—she stopped her work once and peered upward through the alder at the squat stone tower—the ordinary sweet-voiced one which had been cast in the town and which sang out over the countryside every day, and then the great ominous tailor-bell which had been carted up from Aachen. She did not like to hear that one tolling.
the stolen child

Have a care!” said Odele sharply. “Do not fling them all over the floor, which is dusty! We just bought them!”
She said it, thought Ella, as though that made them more valuable than if they had simply been stolen.
the stolen child

She had several nasty, formless dreams which she could not remember clearly afterward, but the last dream came upon her with a clarity that stung. A voice was calling, “Way! way! way! Way for the Queen of Thera!” She was in a press of people in a sun-bleached street. Everything was sharply divided in white light and black shadow. Her skin prickled. With the rest of the crowd she turned and leaned into the street, trying to get a glimpse of the royal person bearing down upon them. There was a horse with a dog’s head and tail, a fanning cloak that snapped like a flame, and then Ginger’s heart wrenched in her chest as the face of the person looked down into her own.
It was herself.

Without the prince’s manservant at his shoulder, Mazelin lost his composure. “Oh, Ginger,” he said, and his voice broke in spider-thin lines across his words. “Oh, Ginger, I’m so sorry. Oh, baby—” He set the flats of his hands against her flanks and murmured broken equations in a blind attempt to put her back together. Roxane’s hands tightened and Ginger’s chest, feeling the two of them falling apart around her, contracted as well. “I’m sorry. I’m so—I’m so—I’m so sorry. I did not think. I did not think…”

List the favourite foods of your main characters.

This is a curious question.   For The Stolen Child, I would say cranberries and roast pheasant.  For Gingerune, I think Ginger's and Roxane's favourite food would probably be fresh bread in olive oil and herbs (the olive oil, consequently, does not last very long), and Mazelin's is a hearty beef stew: big chunks of beef and copious amounts of heartiness.

Introduce us to the antagonist(s) in your story.  Does he or she prefer crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

We don't have peanut butter yet, Mr. George Washington Carver.

The Stolen Child is recognizably a Cinderella retelling: the antagonist remains the same.  In Gingerune the antagonist goes by the appellation of "Dream."  You will meet him from time to time in the other novels: he has a habit of turning up, like a bad penny.  But he gets his limelight in Gingerune.  He is an interesting study in villainy because he is not human: being human, or not, makes a difference, I am finding.

For a second or two his figure shook—there was a sense of crackling thunder—and as his mouth opened to answer she thought she saw great teeth and a furnace-colour of heat shimmering around his face. “When you close your eyes and sleep,” he said, “you see visions of your fears.” He turned back toward her: his eyes had taken on a fulgurant aspect. “When we shut ours, we see nightmares too.”

Check out the rest of the Actually Finishing Something [in] July gig at whisperings of the pen!

4 ripostes:

  1. These snippets are intriguing, Jenny! I love the idea of a Cinderella retelling, and I may have to enter in the (very near) future. :)
    I think, however, that my favorite snippets were the first two from Gingerune. Especially the first. Nothing is so terrifying as a main character seeing themselves for the first time in a way they never imagined.

  2. It rather tickles me to see that you went for a variation on Cinderella's name too—my own heroine's name is Ellie. :)

    And you can write something that you have to try to keep under 20k in five days (and have beautiful snippets like that in it)? Being a notoriously slow writer myself, I'm green with envy.

  3. Oh, thanks for reminding me to get on the ball with my own Cinderella story. (pun intended.) I have it all planned out ... it's just a matter of writing it.

    I probably should do a 500 plunk myself ...

    Isn't it wonderful when you get through a tricky scene?

  4. Kendra - A 500 plunk. I like that. And it is a nice push: 500 usually gets that proverbial ball rolling: once you get that far, you're not willing to stop, but 500 itself is not a daunting goal to set.

    Elisabeth Grace Foley - The Stolen Child is an actual retelling as opposed to a story with strong Cinderella themes (nothing wrong with either, of course), so yes, I did choose to keep the original northern diminutive.

    Bree - I'm glad you liked the snippets! It was an agony choosing them. My goals have been so small, I have had little to draw from. O.o