Leprechauns!

This week I’m Playing Nice With Others. Absolute Write’s blogging section has a blog hop every month, and this month I decided to join up. Hi out there, Absolute Writers! The prompt was St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland, or anything Irish. So of course I made you all a flash piece of fiction about sadistic leprechauns. Because I can.

Do enjoy.

 

* * *

There’s an old song that goes: “There are fairies in the bottom of my garden”. You know the one.

I don’t have a problem with fairies. They’re stupid, ineffectual little glitter-puffs, but they don’t give a gardener much trouble so long as the occasional plate of Dollar-5s is left out for them to eat. No, my garden is chock-a-block with leprechauns.

Shut up. It’s not sweet. It’s not cool. And if there’s a pot of gold down there those little suckers sure as heck aren’t letting anyone get at it.

They’ve killed one gardener already: hung his corpse on a couple of crossed sticks as a gruesome kind of scarecrow. Mum can’t see either the leprechauns or the dead gardener: she thinks he’s run off to Fiji or something. I see him every time I go out into the garden, though.

I tried to get rid of them once when I was ten. They were eating all my best carrots and eviscerating the sweetpeas I was training, and maybe we could have negotiated that. Only then they went and killed my dog. Cut out his heart and tore mouthfuls from it as I watched, yelping with laughter as I cried.

I laid rat-baits for them the next day. I reckon I must have caught a couple of them on the hop, because when I went out into the garden later on they tied me to the beanpoles and cut off two of my fingers. One for each dead leprechaun.

Mum thought I’d cut off my own fingers by accident: she couldn’t see the leprechauns then, either. That’s when I knew I was on my own.

 

“Don’t you know that today’s March 17? It’s a day for the wearin’ of the green!”

That’s a song, too.

It’s taken me a while to work it all out. It took a lot of time sneaking around the bottom of the garden and peeping out from behind the curtains in the upstairs bedroom before I found out where their burrow was. And it took a lot of time to gather all the petrol I needed.

Leprechauns like to drink, you see. And March 17 is their big one. They drink and wail and cause as much bloody mahem as possible. I think even Mum gets close to seeing them then. By the time midnight comes they’re back in their burrow, sleeping it off.

So in the wee hours of the morning on March 18, I sneak into the garden with my jerry-cans, one by one until they’re all lined up in a smelly row. It takes a long time pouring and a lot of petrol before I can’t pour any more into the hole. They’re probably already dead, drowned; but I can’t take that chance. The matches are in my back pocket.

 

The newspapers will probably talk about it for weeks. The morning the Schulmann garden blew up in a spray of concrete chunks and turf that sent the clothesline hurtling into next-door’s swimming pool. The roar that shook the neighbourhood and left a crater the size of a small car.

I lost my eyebrows, but it’s worth it. When I scrabble round in the debris the next day, I find a few blackened skulls and my fingerbones. There’s no sign of the gardener. I don’t know where he went.

 

Now there’s a tiny skull on a stick at the garden gate. Mum can’t see it, so why not? I hung my fingerbones with it as well, as a warning.

So far I haven’t had any more trouble, but if I do, I’ll know how to deal with it.

* * *

Check out the other blog posts in the blog hop:

J Elyzabeth’s Blog Post

BB Burke’s Blog Post

Joanne Zebedee’s Blog Post

A Simple Syrup’s Blog Post

Layla Lawler’s Blog Post

Sudo One’s Blog Post

Improv-o-matic’s Blog Post

Ahelia’s Blog Post

Leigh Anderson’s Blog Post

(NOTE: The last three are yet to be updated with links to the actual post, as they are after me in the blog chain. Do bear with me.)

All The Lovely Stuff

When I first decided that I was going to go with self-publishing rather than traditional publishing, there was no doubt in my mind that it was going to be a long, hard slog. I knew that I’d have to work very hard for potentially very little reward, and that success – if it came – would most likely come slowly.

I was prepared for the exasperatingly finnicky adjustments and bug fixes of preparing different formats for different platforms. I was prepared for the necessity of promoting myself (not an easy thing for an introvert). I was even prepared for the arduous gauntlet of GST, ABNs, EINs, ITINs, and every other taxation-related acronym. I knew I’d have to do a fair bit of leg work to get my books into the local bookstores, and that this would involve a lot of stammering, ums, and daft half-sentences that would lead the most patient store owner to wonder how an idiot ever managed to publish a book.

I knew, in fact, that there was a very good possibility that I would publish to very little reception, and that I might never write to an audience of more than three or four people (not counting mum and sis). I figured I could live with that, because let’s face it, I write because I love writing. Getting paid for it would be a plus, but it’s not the reason I write. Becoming famous would be awesome, but it’s not the reason I write.

I was pretty well prepared for most of what I’ve had to do. A few things have taken me by surprise: been harder or easier to do than I expected, etc. But I find that I neglected to think of one thing.

It didn’t actually occur to me that someone, having loved what I wrote, would write, email, tweet, or contact me in some way, to tell me how much they’d loved it. It seems a bit stupid of me not to have thought of it. But the first email I received, telling me that the writer loved Masque and that they were waiting eagerly for my next book, was a complete surprise. The second left me stunned and a little dizzy, and inclined to stare into the middle distance with a fatuous beam on my face. Then there were the lovely tweets, comments, and emails that followed.

So to everyone who has contacted me in some way to tell me how much they enjoyed my book/story/excerpt, etc: Thank you! You’re part of The Lovely Stuff about being an author. When you tell me that Thing you particularly enjoyed about my book, it delights me to know that someone noticed that Thing. Odds are, I worked very hard to make it right.

It can sometimes feel like I’m shouting into an immense void, and the occasional human touch from across the internet is very much appreciated. Thank you for reaching out and becoming a part of my life.

Jim Carrey in The Mask, sourced from http://giphy.com/search/thank-you/2

Jim Carrey in The Mask, sourced from http://giphy.com/search/thank-you/2

Let The Games Begin! (Aka, Masque Is On Tour, And So Am I)

Let the games begin! The book blog tour for Masque has kicked off at The Indy Book Fairy, where you can read an excerpt and enter to win a paperback copy of Masque. Come on along and say Hi!

Further stops will be:

15th- I Heart Reading (Starter Party)

17th- Nat’s Book Nook (Promo Post)

18th- Books, Books, and More Books (Promo + Excerpt)

20th- Howling Turtle (Promo Post)

22nd- Mystical Books (Guest Post)

24th-100 Pages a Day (Book Review)

25th- Tea Talks (Promo Post)

26th- Jooniel Obsesses Over Stories (Book Review)

28th- Literary Musings (Book Excerpt)

28th- Dreams Come True Through Reading (Promo + Excerpt)

29th- C.J. Anaya’s Blog (Book Review and Character Interview)

So follow along with me as I traipse merrily across the blogosphere: and don’t forget to enter into the rafflecopter draw to win a paperback copy of Masque!

(I’ll even sign it for you. Hmm, draw or put-off . . . ?)

masqueblogtourbanner

Last Edits And Other Means Of Torture

There’s this feeling you get after finishing a story. It’s something like: “Yes! I’m done now! It’s finished!”

It’s completely wrong. Your brain is lying to you because it knows just how much work there is still to go. In comparison to what you’ve still got to do, writing the MS was the easiest thing in the world.

I’m talking about edits. First edits, second edits, third edits- heck, anywhere from first to fiftieth edits. You painstakingly go over the MS from top to bottom, start to finish; hunting down every wrong word, misplaced comma, unnecessary adverb, missing preposition, and incorrect spelling. You sit back, exhausted from your Herculean efforts, and reward yourself with a cup of earl grey tea and as many biscuits (cookies, for the Americans out there) that you can scoff. Congrats! You’re done.

Except you’re not. There’s still Last Edits to go. (Why, yes, those are the Capital Letters Of Doom).

Let me show you what Last Edits look like.

MS #3MS #2MS #1

Admittedly, these are the most extreme of my Last Edit pages. Some of the pages have no red pen at all, just glorious black and white. Some have a scribbled-out word or two, with notes to remind me about continuity for one thing or another.

I usually leave a MS for at least a few months after edits before I begin Last Edits. It makes me more inclined to notice things I wouldn’t necessarily have noticed otherwise, and if I’ve been working on another MS, it’s the closest thing to a fresh look that’s possible. Last Edits are a chance to get an overview of the whole MS: what the pacing is doing, how the register is behaving as a whole, and if the continuity of well, everything, is smooth and painless.

The problem is, when you sit down to do Last Edits, you can’t turn the line editor off, either. (Well, can’t. Bully for you if you can.) So I end up doing little bits of line edit as I go. It’s excruciatingly painstaking.

And it’s worth every minute. (I can say this because I have less than 30 pages to go on my Last Edits of Wolfskin. When I was halfway through all you’d get from me were growls and snarls.) You may have to replenish your red pen supply by the time you’re finished, though.

Congrats! Your Last Edits are done!

Oh, did I mention the proof copy that’s going to arrive in the mail any day now? Yeah, you’re gonna find a lot more missing words in that one, too.

Enjoy it, won’t you?

Masque On Tour

Well, Masque is going on a book blog tour from March15-29. I’ve agreed to go along as chaperone, so if you see us out and about, say hi! If you’re a blogger and/or interested in signing up for the tour, the details are here: Enchanted Book Promotions Masque Blog Tour. I’ll post a schedule and further details a couple days before the tour kicks off.

masqueblogtourbanner

Wolfskin Excerpt

Wolfskin is on its final edits and will be published May 1st, 2015! It’s set in the same world as Masque but is a standalone novel with separate characters. I will hopefully be doing a blog tour a month or two after publication, but in the mean-time, here’s a short excerpt for you to get a feel for the book.

Enjoy!

 

When I stepped from the thread to the path leading to Akiva’s front gate, there was a woman between me and it.

She was so beautiful. I’m not sure why I expected her to be otherwise. Her hair was black and glossy, and hung loose to her waist in a sleek, rippling sheet that mingled with royal purple satins and silks that were as sleek as her hair. Her eyes, framed by impossibly long, dusky eyelashes, were of an equally impossible shade of violet. I saw them and my herbs scattered themselves on the path, dropping heedlessly from my nerveless fingers. Those twin violets gleamed with the same darkness I had seen in Bastian’s eyes the first time I met him.  

Horned hedgepigs! I thought, swallowing. It could only be Cassandra.

She looked me up and down with those brilliant, purple eyes while I regretted fervently that I hadn’t been a moment quicker, and then said: “You’re not pretty.”

Her voice was bell-like in consideration; and, like every other part of her, breathtakingly beautiful.

“I know,” I said. Even if I had been as beautiful as Gwendolen, I couldn’t have hoped to compare with Cassandra. I eyed her unblinkingly, wondering why it mattered to her.

“You’re not pretty,” she repeated; a statement, not a question. “I didn’t expect that. He must be desperate.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” I said, scowling. I was coldly frightened, and that made me angry. Black, tarry magic was stirring around her, creating nasty pockets of corruption in the air that made me feel ill: it was vastly more powerful than anything I had ever seen.

She looked at me contemptuously through the haze. “Beauty is all that matters to him, stupid child. You can only lose.”

“Bastian isn’t here,” said Akiva’s voice suddenly and startlingly. I tore my eyes away from Cassandra’s and saw her, knobbly and infinitely welcome, leaning on a stick behind the enchantress. For a horrible moment it had felt like I was drowning in the brilliant lavender of Cassandra’s eyes.

Akiva hobbled past her and put a hand on my shoulder. I felt a sense of her power, welling up deep inside her, warm and comforting. I think I was still looking up at her with wide eyes when she said quietly: “Go into the house, Rose.”

As I closed the gate with cold fingers, I heard Akiva reiterate: “The wolf isn’t here.”

“I can smell him all over her!” hissed Cassandra.

There was a silence suggesting that Akiva was shrugging; then her old, firm voice said: “I sent him away: he knows what I think about him. Today was goodbye.”

Their voices faded with distance, but as I loitered on the garden path I saw the warm glow of an astonishing and formidable power rising to meet and match Cassandra’s. I recognized it as Akiva’s, hale and hearty, and stronger than I could ever have imagined. After that I hurried to get into the safety of the cottage, feeling the hairs prickle on the back of my neck, because I knew that it was no longer safe for me to be out in the open. Once inside, I plumped myself down in Akiva’s chair, absently staring into the fire and contemplating the extraordinary power I had just witnessed. For the first time in the excitement of my new magical prowess, I felt thoroughly humbled and weak. My own power, puny in comparison to that shown so effortlessly by both Cassandra and Akiva, was pitiful past thinking about. I was suddenly very thankful for Akiva’s protection. In the coldness of the moment, I knew there was no chance that I could ever hope to fight against Cassandra and win.

Wolfskin is available for preorder on Amazon and Kobo, due for release May 1st, 2015.