May is almost over, can you believe it? At least my birthday isn’t over yet. Let’s hear it for grilled hotdogs, broccoli salad, and amazing strawberry crisp.
On the writing front, things are a bit in limbo. The Luck Child (Cabernet) is first-draft finished and off to test readers – many of whom have already finished and sent me their thoughts. The general consensus is one of high acclaim, and a couple areas that need work. My villainess needs to be more villainess-y, and a little plot twist I prided myself on turned out to be confusing and doesn’t pay off enough. I will be working on that.
Finishing Cabernet’s story left me in a sort of thundering silence. Going from “almost two thousand words a day for a month and a half” to “waiting for people to read and give me their thoughts” was very shocking to my writer system. I flailed around for a little bit, started reading James Scott Bell’s “Revision & Self-Editing” (very enjoyable so far), and then attempted to begin yet another new story. Yes, another one. (Can I help it that I have stacks of them eager to get out on paper?) I also have plans to sit down with my editor and discuss her notes on A Twist of Fae.
Meanwhile, here’s a little snippet for you from the part of The Luck Child about Cabernet as a youngster. All his life, Cabernet has had a rather unusual problem. No one remembers him. They can laugh and talk and be friends, but as soon as they leave, or lose sight of him, they forget he ever existed.
Rain sleeted against the diamond-paned window in the parlor. Cabernet, standing with his face pressed against the cold glass, could feel the distinct prick of each drop. No one interesting had driven by, no one remarkable had called at the kitchen door, and the rain would not stop. “We’re going to die here,” he groaned to whoever was listening. He peeled himself away from the window and flung himself dramatically into a chair. Right on top of his playmate.
“Gerrof,” Young Jackwell spluttered, digging both elbows into Cabernet’s back. “Did you want to play jacks or didn’t you?”
Cabernet let himself go limp and slid to the floor, where he lay on the moth-eaten rug in abject misery. “Not that again. You always win.”
Across the room, Penna looked up from her reader. “I think that’s why he likes to play it.” She smiled, then ducked back behind the book.
Cabernet propped himself up on his elbows. “What about,” he began, in as mysterious a voice he could manage, “we try something new.”
His comrade gave him a suspicious look. “Like what?”
In answer, Cabernet rolled onto his belly and squirmed beneath the lavender sofa. The dust tickled his nose as he felt around for the little sack he knew would be there. A foot nudged him in the leg. “Don’t get stuck,” Jackwell whispered. “We’d have to call the headmaster.”
Blast. It’s just out of reach. Cabernet snaked forward. A broken spring poked his ear, and the infernal buttons on his almost-white shirt snagged against a crack in the floor. “If I get caught,” he said, “call Miss Andenel. She’ll be more understanding.” The tips of his fingers touched paper. “Got it!” He wriggled his way back to the surface and held up the squashed packet.
Jackwell’s eyebrows squashed together in a frown. “What’s that?” he asked. His sandy-brown crop had been neatly combed into a good imitation of Headmaster Franks’.
Cabernet felt a sneeze coming on. He sat cross legged on the rug and gave his nose a good scratch. “Cards,” he said. “Like Franks and the bishop play when he comes to call.” He sneezed once, violently, then unrolled the top of the packet. “I made them myself. While the girls were doing their sewing.”
A flicker of interest crossed his playmates’ face. Jackwell climbed out of the chair and squatted across from the tiny mound of ink-splotched paper. “Do you know the rules?” he asked, picking up two of the cards and studying them.
“Of course.” Cabernet scooped up the stack and divided it in two. “High card takes all, three is a trump, and. . .” he racked his memory for other scattered tidbits. “Queens take a quarter. But we won’t play for money.” The cards squirted out of his hands and peppered the rug. Well, that’s problematic. Cabernet frowned down at the unshuffled cards for a moment, thinking. “Draw three,” he said at last. “And see if you get any matches.”
Penna’s laugh broke in on the game. “Do you want me to go get Guye?” she asked, closing her First Reader and laying it on a table. “I bet he’d know the rules.”
“No.” Cabernet slid three cards from the pile and held them out in his most gentlemanly manner. “Will you play with us?” He wiggled the bits of paper.
Penna shook her head. Her blond curls caught the candlelight like so many swirling fireflies. “No, but I’ll see if anyone else wants to.” She trotted across the floor and disappeared into the cold tunnel of flagstone that passed for a hallway.
“Deal the cards, Cab,” Jackwell said, drumming his heels against the floor. “I know that much.”
Cabernet snapped the cards together and glared at his friend. “The name is Cabernet,” he reminded. “Ca-burn-ay.” He rumpled the pile of paper around then handed three to his friend. “Remember?”
Jackwell buried his face behind the cards. “Yeah, well, it’s just a name. Get over it.” The inky vines Cabernet had laboriously drawn on the back stared at him, as if waiting for a response.
I wouldn’t mind so much if people just remembered it. “Got any matches?” Cabernet asked.
“No. Your turn.”
A draft seeped across the floor, stirring the cards. Cabernet snatched up his three before they could blow away. “Someone’s left the other door open.”
Jackwell dropped his cards. “I’ll get it,” he said, hoisting himself to his feet.
Cabernet nearly dropped his own. “No, don’t,” he said. “Let’s just keep playing. I can hold them down.”
“I’ll be right back.” His friend strode toward the hall without a backward glance. “What do you think’s taking Penna so long?” He turned the corner and disappeared into the hallway. For a long moment his shadow trailed across the floor, then Cabernet heard the far door shut.
Another gust of rain hit the window. The candle flickered.
Cabernet sat, still holding his cards. The top one, a charcoal colored fox, studied its own cards in a fierce attempt to ignore him. With a sigh, Cabernet began gathering the playthings and putting them back in the bag.