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Book Candles. Editing. Fun.

Write a book. Now, go back and re-read the book  few years later. Edit your book while swilling coffee, ordering book candles, and bathing in the horror that you actually wrote that and thought, “Damn. This is art.”

This is my current place in life. I finished a novel last week (Moonborn) and then quickly wrote 8,000 words in Halfway Drowned. Then, in a crisis of conscience, I decided to begin a project that has haunted me like my fashion decisions from the 1980s. I began to revise my first novel, The Forest Bull, and to call it a humbling experience isn’t really accurate.

It’s more like . . .shamespiration.

By the third paragraph, I winced. By the fourth page, I considered deleting the book entirely. The fact is writing is a muscle. It gets stronger with use, and despite the clarity of our ideas, a lot gets lost in translation from mind to paper. I’m twenty-six chapters into this self-flagellation, and the results are drastic. Sometimes, I cut a sentence. Or two. I add a detail here, subtract a clunky phrase there, and a different book begins taking shape.

It’s clearer, smoother. I think part of my first book is that I tried to be mysterious and ended up being an idiot. You’ve got to give readers a clear path. I didn’t. I was. . .sort of clear. I’m thankful that the 2017 version of me is willing to change what could be a killer book with my favorite villain.

I’m keeping a running count of how many words are deleted, and what I add. I think, based on the first half of the revision, it might be about even. Sometimes,  less is more. In this case, better is more, and in honor of my newfound commitment to these characters, we’re issuing a new paperback version. Same art, new font, and smaller. Handy for carrying with, using as a weapon, or displaying on your book shelf.

The art is *really* nice. Amalia hit a home run four years ago, and I still love the way Elizabeth looks coming out of the forest, dripping evil and, umm, evil.

Okay, back to it, but not before we discuss BOOK CANDLES.

I’ve ordered custom book candles for all of my signings this year. They smell like waffles, have the label of the Hawthorn Diner, and the size is “adorable”. I think they’ll be five bucks each. More to come once they’re here– I’ll post pictures and you can imagine the wonder of waffles as you read.

Cheers for now!

 

Virginia. So Much More Than Ham.

I’ll be in one of my favorite cities next week, Roanoke, Virginia. I’m speaking at the Roanoke Regional Writer’s Conference. It’s on the beautiful campus of Hollins University.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: Virginia is incredible. It’s just so American, and Roanoke is a shining example of a great town. If you haven’t been– go. See the star. See the town. See the people. They’re Virginians, so they’re steeped in history with the friendliness of the South, and the sights of the North.

Roanoke Writer’s Conference.

I can’t say enough good things about this event. It’s a wide spectrum of thinkers, writers, and writing styles wrapped up in an atmosphere of sharing– and there is an unmistakable joy for the written word. It’s my second year, and an absolute highlight for me.

In case you’re still not sold on Roanoke, let’s recap some things: The star!

Rivers, nature, and bridges that are statistically likely to terrify nearly one third of all humans!

And, of course– the city itself. Lovely.

So, to sum up: Books, fun, ham, Roanoke, coffee, friends, and nature. Can’t wait.

Waking Up Kids.

There are three species of animals in this house.

Cats.

Dogs.

A manchild. He’s eight. He’s five feet tall and weighs one hundred pounds.

I am, at various times, tasked with waking/relocating these beasts as demanded. Cats are the easist; I make cooing noises in my ridiculous pet voice, they glare at me, flick their tails, and leave.

Dogs are a bit more complex. If it’s cold outside, or raining– then they’re comfortable, and that means they have no interest in moving. I may be required to physically lift and transfer them to another area. I may bribe them with food (usually what I’m eating) or I may coax them on the rare occasions they’re feeling charitable.

The kid is a different story.

For one thing, I feel an enormous sense of wonder watching him sleep. Yes, it’s vaguely creepy to hover over my spawn and keep repeating, “Aww, would you just look at him!”. If he were older, he’d most likely open a baleful eye and ask me to stop making him feel like the subject of a study on overbearing parents.

More often than not, what I feel is guilt. Here’s the kid– five blankets, all strewn about like a crime scene after a hurricane, limbs in positions that would make a Yogi proud, and gusty sighs of contentment. Here I come, ready to disgorge him from this toasty nest and ask him to go to school. I don’t like doing it. I’d rather drink coffee and let the kid sleep, then start school at a civilized hour– around ten would be nice– and do away with the feeling that I’m some cruel warden who works in reverse. Winter mornings are the worst. I certainly don’t want to be up and out among eight hundred screaming kids, why would he?

Today, he slid from bed and thumped across the floor with a half-smile. It took a little of my guilt away. At least until tomorrow, when I have to rouse him again.

Just ten more years, kid. But for now, I might let him sleep for a few more minutes. It’s good for both of us, I think.