A Stitch in Time Slays Nine…give or take (Scarlet’s Fairytale Spin, Act 4)

W.A.I.T. Button

“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘A Stitch in Time Slays Nine…give or take‘!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on Allyn-a-Dale and Will Scarlet, in their respective getups as Jack Snow, Child of Destiny, and his sworn protector, The Woodsman, as they approach a large set piece bearing a distinct resemblance to the Arch/Drum/Moon Bridge in the Japanese Tea Garden of Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Beyond it hangs a backdrop depicting a tall, dark castle looming in the foggy distance.]

Will/Woodsman: Nearly there, now. Just this bridge to cross, a hedge maze to navigate, probably a few deadly traps to maneuver, and then we can storm the Beast’s castle!

Allyn/Jack: Um, when did we decide it was a good idea to storm the Beast’s castle? Isn’t it dangerous?

Will/Woodsman: Oh, come, Jack – he’s the Antichristmas, remember? If you’re ever to fulfill your destiny as the chosen Santa Claus (as shockingly revealed in Act 3), you can’t spend the rest of your life hiding in the dwarves’ safe house. You’ve got to face your foe head-on! Besides, the closer we are to danger, the farther we are from harm. It’s the last thing he’ll expect.

Allyn/Jack: You got that from a hobbit.

Will/Woodsman: Along with second breakfast, yes. Brilliant ideas all around.

[Just as the pair prepare to step foot upon the bridge, who should jump out from underneath but another pair – of trolls! Blue skin, lumpy false noses, tusks like a warthog’s, and all.]

Gawain/Troll 1: Halt! Who dares attempt to cross the great Beast’s bridge?

Allyn/Jack [glaring at The Woodsman ]: You didn’t mention the bridge was under guard.

Will/Woodsman: How was I to know the Beast can afford this kind of security? I’d have figured his troop of flying monkeys would clean out the budget.

Bedivere/Troll 2: He pays us in retired flying monkeys. They fry up real good. [mouth pulls into a suggestive leer ] Almost as good as humans.

Allyn/Jack: Mm-hmm. I don’t suppose there’s anything we have to offer that can persuade you to let us cross unmolested?

Gawain/Troll 1: Probably not.

Allyn/Jack: Then you leave me no choice.

[Reaching into his belt, Allyn removes a small handkerchief with a threaded needle run through it. One thumb and forefinger taking hold of the needle, he regards the trolls with a deadly serious expression.]

Allyn/Jack: You know Happy and Grumpy and Bashful and Doc, Sneezy and Sleepy, Dopey-as-a-Rock, but do you recall the most valiant little dwarf of all?

Bedivere/Troll 2 [shrugging ]: Rudolf?

Allyn/Jack: No. Tailor – the dwarf with the magic needle that can kill seven in one stitch!

Gawain/Troll 1 [in alarm ]: Seven what?

Allyn/Jack [with unwavering calm ]: What do you think?

[The trolls look at one another in unease.]

Allyn/Jack: One tug of this needle and thread, and you’re done for – along with five of your kin, somewhere. Now, I ask again: Might there be anything we have to offer that can persuade you to let us cross unmolested?

Bedivere/Troll 2: Erm, now that you mention it… perhaps our lives would do?

Allyn/Jack [nodding ]: An acceptable bargain. After you, Woodsman.

[The trolls vanish back under the bridge, and Will and Allyn climb toward the top of the prop bridge.]

Will/Woodsman: Very neatly handled, Jack Snow. Just maybe you’ve got the courage to storm the Beast’s castle after all, eh?

Allyn/Jack [glancing at the distant castle with misgiving ]: We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and David Bunge,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘trolls’ and ‘tug’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! Until next week, friends! Will and Allyn out!”

“Sophomore” or “Year Two in Review”

Does anyone know what this past Sunday was? ^^ Yes? No? Any guesses? …Put your hand down, I know you know… Actually, okay, go ahead and tell us.

It was the two-year anniversary of Ever On Word!

You’re darn right, it was! As of that Three Wishes Blog Blitz post (there’s still time to enter the raffle, by the way!), I have begun my third year of blogging! And what a year the last has been…

*cue flashback montage*

It started with a serial murder mystery inspired by my first summer on cast at the Bristol Renaissance Faire.

In between whodunit episodes, I chronicled my writing progress during National Novel Writing Month 2012, as well as my adventure at NaNo’s Night of Writing Dangerously in San Francisco.

Ah, San Francisco… What an experience that was – my first time in California! Small wonder I had that brief urge to go all travelog on you.

Once I got back home, things were pretty much business as usual, for a while – y’know, guests posts by a Merry Man and Merry Woman, rescuing words like a language-loving boss on Save-a-Word Saturdays… that sort of thing.

Then the world exploded in a blast of awesomesocks.

Because “awesomesauce” became obsolete the moment I saw these socks.
Because “awesomesauce” became obsolete the moment I saw these socks.

After years of little to report to inquisitive friends apart from, “yeah, still writing, still hoping, no big breaks yet,” I had not one, not two, but three amazing pieces of publishing news to share, back to back to back! An anthology, self-published novella, and a novel debut, oh my!

It all made for a very busy Danielle, lemme tell you, but I still tried to make time for reading, both for pleasure and as favors to friends. Over the course of Ever On Word’s “being or associated with the second in a series” year, I managed to post reviews for the following:

– “The Man in the Box” by Andrew Toy

– “Spirit’s End” by Rachel Aaron

– “Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology”, edited by Penny Freeman

– “The Scorpio Races” by Maggie Stiefvater

– “Caged (Holloway Pack #3)” by J.A. Belfield

Not too shabby, for a gal with a weird phobia about writing reviews. (:

I was able to pick up a couple of nice reviews for “The Swan Prince”, too, during the Blogger Book Fair in July. I’d only recently heard of the event, and it was my first time participating – spotlighting fellow authors here at my blog, guest-posting over on theirs, and, ohhhh yeahhhh, winning the Reader’s Choice Award for young adult fantasy, thanks to your votes! 😀

So, yeah. All told, it’s been a pretty big year for this little blog. And glancing ahead at what I know to be coming – (including but not limited to the release of “The Stone Kingdom (Book Two of The Wilderhark Tales)” in, like, two weeks) – it’s a safe bet Year Three will be easily as huge. #LezDoThisThang!

“Hostel” or “A Homophone for ‘Hostile’, but Way Friendlier”

As a part of my awesome NaNo 2012 adventure*…

*(My apologies to anyone who had performed a happy dance under the misapprehension that you wouldn’t have to hear another word about National Novel Writing Month until sometime next autumn. If you are, for personal reasons, sick to death of even a passing mention of the subject, please know that it was not my intention to contribute to your nausea, and have my assurance that this blog piece is not actually so much about The Month That Shall Not Be Named as it is about other stuff entirely. So do stick it out to the end of the article, if you feel that your constitution can handle it.)

…I traveled to California to, a) visit with my writing buddy bestie Tirzah and, b) participate in NaNo’s infamous Night of Writing Dangerously* in San Franciso*.

*(Both of these will totally get blog pieces all to themselves, in the near future. The “sick to death of NaNo” camp can feel free to skip the NoWD post.)

Now, while Tirzah’s house is significantly closer to San Francisco than is my place in the Midwest, it was still far enough away that we needed to find a place to board us while we were in the city. From what I glimpsed while walking its streets (usually somewhere in the range of “mildly lost” to “tragically lost”), San Fran’s got some ridiculously nice hotels to offer. But “ridiculously nice” = “crazy expensive”, often enough, and Tirzah and I were looking for something a little more within the budget.

Ultimately, then, we went with “a supervised, inexpensive lodging place for travelers, especially young travelers” – i.e., a hostel. The Pacific Tradewinds Backpacker Hostel, to be precise.

We arrived on a dark and stormy (well… rainy, anyway) Friday night, after a long day of missing train connections and walking several miles with forty-pound loads and inappropriate walking shoes (note to self from feet: Get some cushy insoles for my awesome boots) and, as I’ve mentioned, being lost. I was tired and sore and grumpy; Tirzah was tired and sore and less grumpy, because she’s the sort of cheerful person that I feel like punching in the face on nights like these. But upon the eventual discovery of the hostel’s door cleverly hidden just a few yards from where I’d been standing in despair, I did not cry – not tears of exhaustion at having to drag myself up three flights of stairs to get to the check-in desk, nor tears of joy at just finally, finally being there.

Checking in was a reasonably quick and friendly affair; we were given an overview of the rules of the realm, the keys we’d need to move about with autonomy, and the magical words every laptop-toting writer loves to hear: Free wi-fi. We spent our last hours of the evening in the common room, happily plugged in and slowly drying out and generally content with our lot. The night hadn’t ended before we’d gotten started on making ourselves at home, making friends, and making memories.

Tirzah with our new insta-buddy, Kat.
Tirzah with our new insta-buddy, Kat.
I told Tirzah to look like she was getting up to something in the kitchen;
she chose “no good”.

Pacific Tradewinds became our home base during our San Francisco stay; the place we looked forward to returning to after long days of sightseeing in the city and evenings dining and writing with fellow NaNo types. Falling out of my top-bunk bed didn’t happen, and enduring some roommate’s mighty snores for two out of my three nights there didn’t kill me (though I may or may not have spent a 4am contemplating suicide; my future husband had better not snore). Bathrooms were small and privacy was limited, but we’d been warned of that going in and were quite willing to pay that instead of additional money.

To my daily delight, every morning featured complimentary breakfast – toast (peanut butter and jelly optional) and cold cereal and hot tea and coffee. And if you were in the right place at the right time, somebody might offer you the remains of their lovely-smelling dinner from the next table over. (Evening number one, Tirzah and I were in that right place and time. Yum, yum, yay for chicken stir fry and potatoes.) There was even a Thanksgiving feast which, sadly, Tirzah and I didn’t get to partake in, having returned to her house the Monday before. On the upside, we didn’t leave too soon to miss out on contributing to the hostel-wide hand-turkey wall.

Voluntary holiday craft time!
Voluntary holiday craft time!
Tirzah is thankful for stars, clouds, ink and paper, the Night of Writing Dangerously, “The Night Circus” (the book that inspired her turkey’s design, by the way), a good night’s sleep, and all things noir.
Tirzah is thankful for stars, clouds, ink and paper, the Night of Writing Dangerously, “The Night Circus” (the book that inspired her turkey’s design, by the way), a good night’s sleep, and all things noir.
I’m thankful for books, characters, and we who write them; sky, water, and all pretty things blue; sisters, best friends *like* sisters, and San Fran; hostels that foster hand-turkey creation.
I’m thankful for books, characters, and we who write them; sky, water, and all pretty things blue; sisters, best friends *like* sisters, and San Fran; hostels that foster hand-turkey creation.
The Pacific Tradewinds hand-turkey wall, in all its glory. ...Or all the glory that we got to see before we left town, anyway.
The Pacific Tradewinds hand-turkey wall, in all its glory. …Or all the glory that we got to see before we left town, anyway.

So, that was pretty much my experience there. Travelers planning on passing through San Francisco, check it out. Pacific Tradewinds is run by a fun bunch of folks, and there’s plenty of cool stuff within walking or busing distance…some of which will get written about and photographically illustrated in a post coming soon to an Ever On Word blog near you. Stay tuned, y’all…

“NaNotes #2” or “Conflict On the Rise for Characters and Their Authors”

For National Novel Writing Month 2012, I’m chronicling my novel-writing journey! Need more NaNo in your life? Follow along. (:

* * *

DAY SEVEN

11:00pm: So tired… so very tired… I was up too late last night, for a couple of reasons – one of them being that I was having trouble with the then-current scene in my book. It’s hard to add words when you don’t feel you know what you’re talking about, and that’s pretty much always how I feel when I’m dealing with an action scene. I’m horrible at choreographing fights and physical stuff like that, because I can’t visualize that kind of thing well. My writing life would be so much easier if nobody did anything other than sit there and talk about their feelings and stuff. But after a quick night’s rest, I attacked my book’s monster vs. monster battle with renewed vigor, and I do not hate the scene nearly as much as I did this time last night. And then more stuff happened, which I’m too exhausted to say anything clever about it. 31,967 words. Bedtime.

DAY NINE

10:30pm: I’m discovering something about me and NaNo. I love that it means major novel output. What I don’t love so much is how it makes me obsess about word-count. I like to measure my progress in terms of just that: Progress. Did I move the plot forward today? Did I finally get to that scene I’ve been looking forward to (or, occasionally, dreading) writing? Did I finish a chapter? Did I sit there and gape as my characters’ conversion took an expectedly dramatic turn that adds a whole new layer to the story? Those things are progress. Saying that I sat there and typed for yea many hours (minus distractions) isn’t progress. Noting that I put down so many hundreds of words is progress, but… it’s just a number. And now I’m bugged that I didn’t just cut out a certain 1K words today that I know the book doesn’t need, all because I didn’t want my word-count to take the knock. It’s not cheating; all’s fair in love, war, and NaNo. It’s just, grr, those words don’t belong there! Get them out, out, out! I’ll erase them once the book’s over. Ah, a finished book… that’s progress! In the meantime, 40, 950 words.

DAY 12

12:27am: As of a few hours ago, I’ve finished “So Super Dead”. I had wondered whether I would be able to manage it, since Day 10 had been a real crawl of a day. Turns out that maybe a paragraph an hour is the best I can do while I’m half-socializing with the woman braiding my hair. Noise/distractions and my writing do not mix well. But even with the first half of the day yielding a pittance of an output, and much of my evening spent either on the road to/from or attending a hilarious pantomime based on Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol (gotta love a “Christmas Carol” spoof), I was able to produce something a little beyond the standard NaNo minimum of 1,667 words – about a quarter of what I would have considered ideal. And like I said, by the end of Day 11, I arrived at THE END. It didn’t quite hit 50 thousand words, but it was my anticipation of that back in October which prompted me to go for a second novel in a month. I may put off beginning Project #2 until Thursday the 15th, because later today (after I eventually go to sleep; ‘cause, y’know, it’s after midnight), and quite possibly Tuesday, I shall turn my attention to the matter of packing my bags so I can run away to California on Wednesday. Why? Oh, I imagine there will be one or more future blog posts to explain it all, eventually…

DAY 13

12:30pm: It feels so weird to not be writing, right now… I gave myself these days off for a reason, and they’re still good reasons, and it’s not a matter of worrying that 15 days will prove too few to write my second novel, because that was the budget for Project #2 from the get-go, and I’ve just demonstrated that almost 47K words in 11 days is doable for me. So it’s not worry. It’s just the same case of antsy fingers that I had back at the end of October. I’m chomping at the bit and pawing at the gate and otherwise displaying my transformation from human to impatient horse. Neigh, nicker, snort!!! (Translation: Hurry up, Thursday!)

DAY 15

The fact that Tirzah is on her laptop and I’m fooling around with a camera suggests that she could be getting more writing done than me.

9:16pm, California Time: Writing again at last! This morning was crazy slow, thanks to a whole bunch of factors. I was still tired from my travel day yesterday (my first time flying in a plane all by myself!), was trying and failing to concentrate in an unfamiliar environment (my first time writing in a Starbucks with Tirzah!), and, of course, this was my first day taking a crack at Project #2, “Singer of Skycastle, and Other Tales Within a Tale”. As with Project #1, I started off with a voice that just wouldn’t fly, and scrapping the first tortured efforts to begin anew helped immensely. 2,023 words done today, 49,016 overall. If I don’t blow by 50K tomorrow (or maybe tonight? ^^ Not likely, the way I’ve been dawdl— I mean, socializing), bigger shame on me.

DAY 18

8:20am, Cali Time: Hoping an early start will help to really pack in the words, today. Super fun distractions (bless/curse you, San Francisco!) have made it difficult to get into a rhythm with this book as quickly as I’d like. I’ve more than once contemplated scrapping this idea for now and rushing headlong into something else, but I daren’t do that; I promised the MC that it was his turn in the story queue, and it would really upset him if I went back on my word. So I’m once again approaching the narrative from a slightly different angle, and hoping that will make things go more smoothly. If nothing else, it’s got me feeling eager to write, rather than forced at mental gunpoint, so that can only be for the good, right? Back to the book!