Hey guys, guess what?! I have a new story in Beneath Ceaseless Skies called “The True and Otherworldly Origins of the Name ‘Calamity Jane,’” and I’m super proud of this one. It’s a weird western (duh), and I think the title pretty much gives it away … or does it? It’s borne not only from my love of westerns and female heroines, but also from a vacation I took out to Arizona last November.
I was with my father in the car on the way to Tombstone. We were going there not only for the spectacle, but also so I could do some research for a YA Novel I want to write. The landscape in southern Arizona is beautiful desolate death, nothing but mountains and scrub. I looked out the passenger window at one point and saw the oddest thing: a royal blue adobe hut, covered in ivy and moss, with “GALLERY OF DREAMS - OPEN NOW” painted in yellow over the lack of a door.
My first thought when I saw this was, No human lives in that building.
So I fired up the Notes App on my phone furiously tapped out all these ideas of what could be inside and who lived there and all the hinky stuff that could be going at that place. A lot of it made it into the story, a lot of it didn’t. Since I was working on my current novel-in-progress, the story (and the odd building) remained in my head until I had time to write seven failed drafts.
It takes a village to fix stuff when it’s horribly wrong. This village took two writers groups, my husband, another author, and both journalist parents. Because of them, the story became what it was when I sent it off to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. And thankfully, Scott Andrews liked it enough to give it a home.
Scott and I worked together for a few months to edit the piece to get it just right for Beneath Ceaseless Skies. And I have to tell you, working with Scott and going through this editing process was one of the best and most eye-opening experiences of my writing career. I learned so much. I’ve never taken a creative writing course — sure, I went to the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, and I’ve been to panels and go to two critique groups, and I’ve read loads of books on writing, but nothing taught me as much as Scott giving this piece a thorough and kind going over.
Because of him, I now write in a new frame of mind. I take into account things I never found in a book, and he told me about books I would have never found on my own. The two pieces written since were heavy with his advice in mind.
“The True and Otherworldly Origins …” whole track from chance-inception to publication has been amazing, and I wanted to share it with you, because it’s one I want to remember forever.
While we’re talking about stuff I wrote — I won Second Place in an On The Premises mini-contest! The contest was about the word propinquity. It’s a conceptual word, meaning a closeness that inspires either attraction or sameness. If you want, you can read my winning contribution here.
While we’re talking about stuff I’ve done — I got into the Writing Cross Culturally workshop hosted by MadCap Retreats! Daniel José Older (an author I really admire) is one of the instructors, along with Nicola Yoon and Leigh Bardugo. The workshop is this coming March in Tennessee, so Stella and I will have a great time writing, learning, and peeing on trees.
I have a lot planned for 2017, including getting back to the novel-in-progress draft as well as regular blog posting. I’m done with my training classes for Stella, and she and I are doing great. Because of her I was able to attend three days of World Fantasy Con, I’m now able to go to the grocery store for lunch supplies, and I even went to Target during the holiday rush. Although Stella is doing great and all the training was totally worth it, her classes and all her private lessons really took a lot out of me. Now that those are over, I can get back into my regular writing-swing.
Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this non-inspirational, totally-informational blog post. Sometimes I have to keep you updated on what’s going on with me, but we’ll be back to normal next month. Promise.
Happy new year!