Unfinished Nursery

20150813_125542Her nursery is unfinished. It’s been this way for quite a while.  I can’t bring myself to change it because it is supposed to be so different now. And if I cannot have what it was supposed to be, I don’t want it to be anything else.

Her nursery is bare. The hardwood floor is unadorned by the nursery rug I wanted, and the walls are only painted one color. The wall shelves were never bought, the books we wanted to read her are still only on our wish list. Her clothes are hanging and folded, most unwashed and tags still on. The receipts are in a box, kept in case we needed to return anything, and I think now I should throw them away. I chose a rocking chair. The baby registry is still open.

My child’s crib is empty. It’s there, in one corner. There are no sheets or pads. The mattress is still in plastic wrap. The dolls I made for her are there, collecting dust and cat hair. Her empty baby book lies there too: Here was a baby who should have lived.

My child’s grave seems lonely, and when I visit I wonder how many people try to pry their dead loved ones from their resting, to hold them just one more time. I sit at her grave the same way I sit in her nursery. I think and I remember. I grieve and I wish.
Her nursery is my silent hell. It echoes with the crying of an infant only I can hear. It screams at me to fill it with love and light and laughter, telling me of how I have failed. Someday, I think, things will be different, even though now I am so broken that I do not wish to be put back together. Someday, I might have a living child. But for right now, her nursery is unfinished.

WorldBuilding: Crafting Magic

“He will hear my call a mile away. He will whistle my favorite song. He can ride a pony backwards, he can flip pancakes in the air, he will be marvelously kind and his favorite shape will be a star. And he’ll have one green eye and one blue.”

“I thought you never wanted to fall in love.”

“That’s the point. The guy I dreamed up doesn’t exist. And if he doesn’t exist, I’ll never die of a broken heart.”

-excerpt from Practical Magic (1998)

magic1Fantasy is virtually synonymous with magic, all the way from fireball wielding sorcerers to dragons to simple elemental manipulations. It is in our epic tales, slaying wicked villains, enabling bold heroes, creating social divides and protective wards alike. Given how varied in trait and definition “magic” can be, you’d be hard pressed to find a fantasy story that doesn’t touch on the mystical stuff, even if only to say that it used to be a prevalent force.

Writing magic is a lot like writing dragons – it tantalizes and entrances and stalwart fantasy readers love a good magically-enabled tale. And like writing dragons, it’s incredibly easy to mess up. Magic is not and should not be this… um, well… magical solution to everything that goes wrong in your plotline. It shouldn’t be an all powerful thing with no rules, no limitations and no price tags. It’s like everything else you write into your stories; it needs ground rules. They’re just ground rules you can write for yourself.

Consider these when you begin writing a magic-based story:

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Anyone who has checked out in Invisible Ink recently will quickly discover that I am a baby loss mother. We passed what would have been my daughter’s first birthday recently, and like anyone grieving can tell you, it’s hard. You’re living in this constant duality: the you who functions (albeit differently than before) and the you that’s always screaming inside your head. Baby loss parents master this internal conflict very quickly because we have to cut down on the casualties of grieving. It’s soul-shattering, bone-weary exhausting, and there are days when you wish you could just die from a broken heart.

But every once in a while, you encounter something heart-warmingly bittersweet that convinces you to keep moving forward. Yesterday morning I went outside to water the garden and found something that brought me to tears: daisies. Being the flower of April, it’s a flower we’ve associated with our Eevee since the day we laid her to rest; I’m growing my own right now, and when we sent out memorial cards on her day we included daisy seeds so that our friends and family could watch their flowers grow and be reminded of how beautiful life is.

The thing is though…there have never been daisies in this spot, they weren’t there the day before and I didn’t plant them. I know logically speaking they were probably carried into the yard by the wind or an animal, but it’s more comforting to think it’s her saying hi from her plane of existence. And if a little illusion offers a grieving woman some small measure of comfort, who can find fault in that?

On Fan Fictions

Over the past weekend I happened to be reminded of the existence of some of my early short story and novella writing attempts. As I poked around my profiles on FanFiction.net and Fictionpress.com two things were apparent: I’ve improved drastically in my writing ability and style, and… who writes fanfics anymore?

Okay, okay, clearly it’s more a rhetorical question than anything. Of course there are still dozens of fanfics being written every day, and with the um…*cringes* I can’t say “success” but, um… how about curiosity around 50 Shades, it’s clear that even something based on someone else’s ideas and structure can have real world merit in its potential for marketing and making money. But that lovely little series notwithstanding, it’s largely teenagers and avid fans writing fanfics, right?

So I want to know… what do you guys think of fanfics? Did you write them as a teen? Are you still writing them?

Academy of Villainy: 6 Things It IS Okay For Your Antagonist To Do

Capt. PicardA couple of weeks ago I posted 7 Things Your Antagonist Should Never Do, and while thinking and researching for that article I also realized that there’s a long list of things that your antagonist CAN do, cliche or not, under certain circumstances. Writing is such a fluid art that there really aren’t any hard and fast rules, merely rules of the time. For example, killing off a character was a big no-no… until the Game of Thrones craze happened. Now every time we pick up a book (or turn on the TV) we half expect to lose our most beloved characters.

But I digress. Here are 6 things that it is okay for your antagonist to do, and under what conditions.

It is okay for your antagonist to…

Think he is the protagonist.

Under what conditions?


It is okay for your antagonist to…

Do the evil laugh.

Under what conditions?

Only when you’ve already employed other villainy cliches so that your readers expect and can appreciate your tip of the hat to this one; your antagonist is aware he’s being cliche; for humor’s sake.

It is okay for your antagonist to…

Have something in common with the protagonist.

Under what conditions?

When you want there to be personal conflict between the two; when there is need for them to have a connection; when their goals are mutually exclusive but involve the same person/place/objective.

It is okay for your antagonist to…

See himself as a potential outcome for the matching protagonist.

Under what conditions?

When your antagonist is the dark and tormented type; when your antagonist has already walked a similar path to the one the protagonist is currently on; when your antagonist is arrogant and just knows (or thinks he does) the outcome of the hero’s path.

It is okay for your antagonist to…


Under what conditions?

Any; when your antagonist needs a tragic past; when your antagonist needs to be seen overcoming obstacles; when you need to demonstrate your antagonist’s resolve; when you need to make your antagonist more desperate.

It is okay for your antagonist to…


Under what conditions?

Any; when the protagonist winning isn’t necessarily what the rest of the story needs; when there’s going to be a sequel; when there’s some sense of justice in the antagonist winning; when your antagonist is actually the protagonist.

Plot Bunny Exchange

how_to_handle_your_plot_bunny_by_petit_j-d47xkyfI’m sure most of you are familiar with the idea of stashing away scraps of paper with ideas, plots and plot bunnies on them for a rainy day. And it’s a great idea, because our writer brains are always working and we don’t always have the time or the frame to use the things that come to us. The problem I’ve always had with this is when I dig one of those scraps out… I remember it. I remember it, remember the context under which it was written and why I decided to put it aside instead of using it right then.

And remembering why I didn’t use it makes me want to not use it, and before you know it, I’m disappointed sitting amid scraps of discarded paper.

So let’s do this: let’s exchange plot bunny jars and see what we can make from someone else’s stories. No re-writing anything, no adding context. A pure and simple exchange of story seeds. Who’s in?

Photo credit

Also! I’ve created a new Instagram account! It’s still figuring my way around the app and my community is in the single digits, so I’d love to follow any of you who are on there. Find me here.

51 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature

The only bad thing about this list is that all of these are already taken. :'( No seriously though, it’s useful to read other writers’ successes, even if they’re only one-liners. Here’s the full list, but here’s a few of my favorites:

“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” -Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

“You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.” -Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

“For poems are like rainbows; they escape you quickly.” -Langston Hughes, The Big Sea

“One must be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.” -Cassandra Clare, The Infernal Devices