Monthly Archives: September 2012

Finding the Door

The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli

When Robin loses the use of his legs, he loses the chance to become a knight like his father. But with the help of a kind monk and a wandering minstrel, maybe he can find his own sort of heroism in order to save the castle.

 

This is not my usual genre. The Door in the Wall isn’t fantasy, it’s historical fiction. Nevertheless, there is something magical about this book. Robin lives in fourteenth century England, and at the beginning of the story, he has contracted some kind of illness resulting in paraplegia. You might think that a book about a crippled ten-year-old might be depressing, but you’d be wrong. Because of the way he faces his disability, Robin’s tale is fun and encouraging.

He faced challenges but encountered none of the prejudice or misunderstanding that was probably aimed at those with disabilities in the Middle Ages. There was really only once that someone told him he couldn’t do something. Not exactly realistic, but this is a middle grade book (geared for kids 9-12ish), so I wasn’t expecting really heavy themes. Let’s not scare the kiddies with lifelong infirmity, please. However, the theme that did come across loud and clear was extraordinary enough and one that some adults have plenty of trouble with: that when you come up against a hardship or challenge, there is always a way through. You just have to find the door in the wall.

One of the things that roped in my disability-and-all-its-quirks-obsessed mind was the friar who took Robin in and cared for him. Brother Luke not only feeds and bathes him, performing the role of care-giver, but he also massages Robin’s back and legs and makes him build up his stamina by sitting up and then swimming. I kept wanting to point and say “Look! A fourteenth century physical therapist.” I don’t know what illness Marguerite de Angeli had in mind when she wrote Robin – it could be any number of things from guillain barre to lyme disease – so I can’t say how accurate his recovery is, but Robin regains some strength from all this. He can support his weight enough to get around on crutches, and he can swim like a fish (granted, a gimpy fish, but he doesn’t drown which is the important thing).

As if care-giver and PT weren’t enough, Brother Luke also takes on the role of counselor and occupational therapist. He teaches Robin carpentry, how to read and write, and how to sing and play the lute, giving him some very valuable emotional stability. Robin learns that he can be helpful and useful, even if he will never be a knight. Do you know how long it took me to realize that just because I couldn’t be a PT, it didn’t mean there wasn’t something equally important I could be doing? I’ll just say this ten-year-old kid beat me to it.

Sure Robin still frets about whether he can do certain things, and he worries about what his parents will think when they find out about his new limitations, but Brother Luke’s efforts have given him a self confidence that would be the envy of most healthy adults. And when the castle is threatened, he steps forward to accept his role. In fact he’s the only one with the right combination of skill and innocence to pull off the mission and he embraces it wholeheartedly, saving the castle and becoming a hero in his own right. Oh sorry, was that a spoiler? What? Did you really think he wasn’t going to do it?

So you can see why I liked it so much. I thought it was highly deserving of the Newberry Medal it received. In 1949. Did I mention this was written in 1949? Seriously, some of the books I’ve read from this year aren’t this enlightened. You can bet this is a book I’ll be reading my kids just as soon as they’re old enough to get past all the thees and thous.

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Accessible Excerpts: Emotional Baggage

This is an excerpt from my novel, By Wingéd Chair, one in a series of posts in which I try to show how I use disabilities in my writing. Click here for my intro to the series.

After a run-in with some monsters, Merry has accepted help from Lans, Vira-we and Whyn. But she and Whyn have already gotten off on the wrong foot.

“Here, mushka, I’ll lift you.”

I looked up at Lans. He was holding out his arms. “Lift me where?”

“Onto a horse. The chair has to stay here.”

I felt my stomach crawl into a knot, and I swallowed. “What? No, I need it.”

“No wagon,” Whyn reminded me from the other side of his horse.

Panic crept up my numb legs and settled below my heart. I lost control over my face, and my icy protection fell away. I shook my head. “Then I’m not coming.”

“I don’t believe this,” Whyn said.

“You can’t take my chair away.” The words were torn out of me. “I can’t move without it. I can’t even crawl.”

I’d never admitted to anyone how I felt without the bulky contrivance my father had invented for me, and I realized how close the tears were to the surface. If I didn’t calm down and get the mask in place, I’d never be able to cover up the confession I’d just made. I took a shuddering breath.

“Here, lass.” Lans handed me a clean handkerchief. He didn’t tell me not to cry, or to calm down. He didn’t utter false reassurances. He just solved the most immediate problem. I used the square of linen to dab at my damp eyes and nose. Maybe it would look like I was wiping away the rain.

“We can bring it,” Vira-we said.

I looked at the quiet tribeswoman and hoped the gratitude leaking out from under the cold defensiveness wasn’t apparent in my expression.

“Nara can drag it behind her. We Adhahi do it with our tents, and she’s trained for it.”

“We’ll go slower,” Whyn said.

“We’d already be going slower,” Lans reminded him. “Will Nara be able to carry both of you and the chair?”

Vira-we was already pulling rope from her packs. “At the pace we’ll be going? Of course. And Ax has all he can handle with you and that greatsword, so don’t even volunteer.”

I noticed how they didn’t suggest putting me with Whyn.

Vira-we started tying ropes to the strange straps on her saddle, and Lans held out his arms again. He didn’t ask if I needed help; he was just there waiting to provide what I needed. For a moment, I didn’t know how to handle that. I hated having to ask for help, and I hated when people offered it to me when I didn’t need it. But to have my needs anticipated, without drawing attention to my handicap… somehow that was better. I let a smile peek through before I covered it with my usual hostility.

 

As I go through this series, I’ve noticed it’s harder and harder to separate scenes that deal with Merry’s disability and scenes that deal with the emotional baggage that comes with her disability. To me, they’re the same. You can’t have one without the other so they’re kind of a package deal. There are plenty of places like this one where I’m not trying to get across how Merry walks (or doesn’t walk) or the specific physical problems and limitations that she encounters. I’m trying to give you a glimpse inside her thoughts, showing how her limitations have affected and even warped her thinking.

Here, Merry is confronted with the possibility of losing her chair, and the thought terrifies her. So much so that she looses control of her carefully cultivated mask. I think her reaction is perfectly natural at this point. The chair is her anchor and her freedom all in one. It’s loss would be devastating. Hmm, perhaps this is something to explore a little more later. This is also the first glimpse we have of people who can help her without making her feel inferior. I’ll just go ahead and come out with it. Lans is one of my favorite characters.

 

As always, comments and criticisms are appreciated. What did you think? What did you like, what did you dislike? Did I accomplish what I set out to do?

AE: Common Experiences                                                       AE: Some Essentials

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First Lines

First impressions are everything. At least, that’s what everyone says. Now, I don’t think that’s entirely true. You can recover from a bad first impression…eventually. But I can’t deny they’re important. Which makes the first line of a novel equally important. Let’s say the first page of a book is like a job interview and the reader is the boss. They’re saying, “All right, here’s your chance. So, entertain me.” That means your first line is like your suit and your smile. Important, right?

In The Breakout Novelist by Donald Maass (intense book, I’m sure I’ll talk about it at some point) he has an exercise for first lines. He says “Try this at your next critique group session or chapter meeting of your writer’s organization: Ask everyone to bring in two opening lines: their favorite of all time, and the first line from their current manuscript. Mix them up in a hat. Read them aloud and ask people to raise their hands if they want to hear the next line. I promise you, you will see the intrigue factor at work again and again – or not!” See, didn’t I say it was a good idea to learn from the masters?

Let’s do that here. I’m going to take the first lines from some of the books in my library and see what it is that makes me want to go on. Normally, I give authors more than just the first line before I’ll put the book down. In fact, I’ll usually read the whole thing telling myself it must get better on the next page. That’s something I need to work on but not today. Today we’re just going to look at the first lines.

“When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.” The Fellowship of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein

You know, I respect Tolkein but I don’t think this one works. I recognize he wrote in a different time but this doesn’t make me want to know more (except maybe how he can be that old, but this is fantasy, the genre is full of ancient wizards and wizened dwarves).

“I’d never given much thought to how I would die – though I’d had reason enough in the last few months – but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.” Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I’ll preface this with: I really don’t like Twilight. But I thought it deserved a look since it’s so popular. I have to admit, it’s not a bad first line. Really melodramatic and a little cliché (not to make excuses, but that’s setting the tone for the rest of the book), but I definitely have some questions. Why is she dying? What’s been happening the last few months? And what kind of person doesn’t think about dying, especially if she had “reason enough”? Well, someone who seriously has no imagination.

“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.” The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Another popular one, though it can’t be because of its first line. This gives me no sense of the character, and I think waking up in the morning has to be the least interesting way to start a story. Though, I’ll admit, once I got past the first couple pages, I couldn’t put it down.

“Your grandfather,” said Vanyel’s brawny fifteen-year-old cousin Radevel, “was crazy.” Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey

This is one of my favorite books but not one of my favorite first lines. This doesn’t tell me anything about the protagonist. I know I’m supposed to be thinking “Why is the grandfather crazy?” but what’s actually going through my head is “Why is the grandfather important?”. And the thing is, he’s not. We learn pretty soon that he’s dead and his craziness only matters right here in the first paragraph. It has nothing to do with the rest of the book. Kind of misleading, if you ask me.

“People…they do the craziest shit.” Nightlife by Rob Thurman

This one just makes me smile. As you read on, you realize this is a perfect introduction to Cal’s character. And it raises questions. Who are the people and what are they doing?

“That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me.” Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Oh, so many questions. And what a great intro to Ella’s voice.

“I am not as I once was.” The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

What a great promise to start a book with. I know right off the bat that this character is going to grow and change and not necessarily in good ways. The tone of the voice is almost one of regret or forgetfulness, but in just a few words it gives us a sense of Yeine’s character.

“On my seventh birthday, my father swore, for the first of many times, that I would die face down in a cesspool.” Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg

This is one of my favorites. How could you not keep reading? The language is beautiful, the sentiment is shocking, and I already have so many questions about the character, I’m not sure which one to pose first. Maybe: What is up with his family? That actually turns out to be one of the most compelling things about the book.

So what I’ve learned from this exercise is that I expect the first line of a book to give me a glimpse or a sense of who a character is. I expect questions to be raised, otherwise why would I want to go on? And those first words should set the mood or the tone of the entire book. Something I didn’t realize before I started was how important the promise of the first line is. In the case of Magic’s Pawn, I felt misled. But The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms stayed true to its promise, though not exactly the way I’d imagined. That isn’t something you can tell until you’ve finished the book, but it is definitely something that your readers are going to notice if they go back and read it again. Something we all hope for.

Character, tone, questions, promise. That’s a lot to scrunch into one sentence. What do y’all think? Anything you look for in a first line? Did you disagree with any that I talked about? I think these elements are important but writing is still subjective. A line that works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. In the end you need to know what would keep you reading.

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Accessible Excerpts: Common Experiences

This is an excerpt from my novel, By Wingéd Chair, one in a series of posts in which I try to show how I use disabilities in my writing. Click here for my intro to the series.

Merry is on her way home after events in Benevere have forced her departure.

 

The train platform cleared as people ran from the weather. It was just rain. Did they think they were going to melt? I looked around our stop. The town was no more than a way-point on the train line. A few houses and a hotel were clustered around the tiny station. As if mimicking the buildings, a couple young men waiting for the train had sought shelter under the eaves of the ticket office.

One of them looked at me. He had a mop of bright gold hair and an infectious smile. I found my own lips curving upward in response. He was kind of cute. He said something to his friend before he stepped toward us. My breath caught, and I forced myself not to reach up and make sure my bonnet was straight. My heart pounded as he drew nearer…

And then stepped around me to talk to Cecily.

If my legs worked, I would have kicked myself. Why would he be looking at you, stupid? Even if I hadn’t been forced to live my life in a chair, he still would have picked her over me. She looked like a porcelain doll, one that had never been played with, with her straight blond hair and clear skin and big, limpid brown eyes. Like a cow’s.

Sitting next to her, no one would think to look at me with my messy brown hair, muddy green eyes and skin that was prone to spots.

Finally the boy’s friend dragged him away so they could dash through the torrent to board the train. I glared at him as he went by, but he didn’t seem to notice.

“He was cute,” Cecily said. “And charming, wasn’t he?”

“I wouldn’t know,” I said, lifting my chin. “I don’t pay attention to boys.”

“You will one day.” She gave me a condescending smile. “You’ll meet a boy who’s cute and charming and doesn’t care about your legs.”

My fingers clenched on the wheels of my chair. My mask would protect me. It would hide me from the good intentions of stupid people.

“Oh, do you really think so?” I said, hoping she would catch the mocking in my tone.

But Cecily was about as bright as the cow I’d compared her to. “Of course I do. There’s someone out there for everyone.”

So much for mockery. “That’s complete muck,” I said.

 

First off, who hasn’t had this happen to them? Anyone? I feel like humanity is bound by common experiences and this is one of them. You’re standing there and someone waves at you. You look around thinking, he can’t be looking at me, can he? But he is. Oh my gosh, he really is. And then you realize his friend is right behind you and now you look like a dork.

Merry’s experience has a few other implications. He couldn’t possibly be interested in her not only because she’s not as pretty as Cecily, but who would want to make eyes at a pair of wheels. And this scene proves that she’ll never receive that kind of attention from the opposite sex. Which is okay because she totally doesn’t want that kind of drama in her life. Right?

Poor Merry. I spend the rest of the book showing her she’s wrong.

 

As always, comments and criticisms are appreciated. What did you think? What did you like, what did you dislike? Did I accomplish what I set out to do?

AE: Personal Space                                                                            AE: Emotional Baggage

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Frohock’s Mercy

Miserere by Teresa Frohock

After abandoning his lover in Hell in order to save his sister, Lucian is left feeling battered and broken by his decisions. His sister, unappreciative of his sacrifices, continues to consort with demons and fallen angels, and now she wants him to use his ability to open Hell gates to serve her fallen master. This is the last straw for Lucian, who realizes that the sister he loved is beyond saving. He wants a chance to correct his mistakes, but can he redeem himself to the order he forsook and the woman he betrayed?

 

Teresa Frohock storms the gates with her debut novel Miserere. The story drew me in right from the start, giving me a protagonist with achingly familiar wounds and a world I wanted to explore on my own two feet. I really love broken characters with pasts they can’t outrun, and Miserere was full of shattered people trying to put each other back together.

One of the things that really struck me about this book was its really unique structure. Normally, a book has an instigating event, something that propels the character into the story, then they go along until something forces them to change their plans. And they go along some more until the black moment, right before the climax and resolution, where everything seems to fall apart and you think they can’t possibly win after all that.

Miserere started after what seemed like the blackest moment already happened. Lucian had already put his love and trust in the wrong person and betrayed everyone who depended on him and turned his back on everything he’d had faith in. But the book isn’t about how Lucian got to that point. It’s about how he pulls himself back from it. His backstory is revealed little by little, and we get to see just how far he fell as we see him climbing back toward righteousness. It’s about healing, forgiveness, and redemption. No wonder I liked it so much.

Lucian seems like the character I should be talking about. His disability is plain. He was crippled deliberately by his sister, who wanted to prevent him from running away again. He walks with a permanent limp, suffers from fatigue, and has limited movement in his weak knee. There are several climactic points in the book where Lucian takes up his sword to defend someone and his knee gives out on him at the worst possible moment. I loved that it was in these moments, when he reveals his strength, his faith, and how far he’s come from the man he used to be, that his weakness struck him down. Yet even when he’s forced to the ground, he crawls toward danger. He struggles to find his cane so he can stand and resume his defense, or he goes straight for his enemies, even while on his knees.

While I loved Lucian for his strength and his journey, it was Rachel who truly fascinated me. Her obvious weakness was the eye she was missing from a demon possession, and she does have to worry about her blind spot while she’s swinging her sword around. But what was the most disabling for her was the wyrm’s infiltration of her mind. It clouded her thoughts and her abilities, led to blackouts and memory loss, and all in all weakened her in an entirely different way from the physical. Her ability to trust herself and her perceptions was shattered. Her physical blindness was only the outward expression of her clouded mind.

One last thing that blew my mind a little bit was the title. I picked this book up for the title. To me Miserere sounded like misery and that was just too intriguing to pass up. But miserere actually means “have mercy”. Given the characters, the plot, and the themes of this book, do I really need to say any more? Maybe just a little. Holy crap is that awesome.

In some areas the writing was a little amateurish – I could tell this was Frohock’s first book – and I felt like some clarity was lost in an effort to spread out the backstory. Despite that, I tore through it in two days, so those must not have bothered me too much. This time I read it as an ebook, but I’ll definitely be getting myself a physical copy so I can add it to my collection.

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Accessible Excerpts: Personal Space

This is an excerpt from my novel, By Wingéd Chair, one in a series of posts in which I try to show how I use disabilities in my writing. Click here for my intro to the series.

This excerpt comes immediately after Masks from last week. Madam Francine has just threatened to kick Merry out of school and now Merry is on her way to the museum.

 

My wheels sank into the thick grass as I pushed myself toward the street, and I struggled to keep my drawing supplies balanced on my lap. It felt like I was wading through the underbrush of a jungle, but I pressed on like a fearless explorer. I liked the image of being a fearless explorer, even if my jungle was just a manicured lawn.

Heels clicked on the cobblestones, and I looked up to see Cecily, one of my classmates, coming back up the street.

“Oh, Merry,” she said. “Here, let me help you.” Her voice was too soft, too sweet, like an overripe apple. Without waiting for a reply, she grabbed the back of my chair and started pushing me down the long cobblestoned street. I bit my tongue before I could snap at her. I wanted to tell her I could push my chair by myself, that’s why it had wheels after all, but I didn’t want to give Madam Francine any more reasons to get rid of me. I needed that recommendation. So I ground my teeth and accepted the humiliation.

 

It’s amazing how people can be so desperate to seem helpful that they ignore things like common courtesy. This scene actually came from personal experience. I use my wheelchair at the airport, and the flight crews are usually really helpful and accommodating, giving me as much time as I need and being patient with all the weird quirks that come with using both crutches and a wheelchair. But they always offer to push me to the plane. I understand why they do, jetways can be really steep, but I’m a healthy 27 year old in a sleek manual chair, and I travel with my own 6’6” mobility assistant. I’m good, thanks.

One trip, one of the flight crew approached as we were getting ready to board. They were running late and he was obviously in a hurry to get me on the plane and settled, but he decided the best way to do this would be to grab the back of my chair – without asking, without even saying “hey, we need to get you on the plane” – and start pushing me.

This is a huge violation of personal space and just plain courtesy. When I’m using the chair, if you touch it, it’s like you’re touching me. That man figuratively put his hands all over me without asking and then took away my freedom of movement. It’s making me clench my teeth just thinking about it. Don’t do this. Ever. All right, if the person is careening down a hill into a pit of lava and stopping to ask for permission is going to result in their fiery death, then yeah sure, grab them. But a delayed flight does not equal fiery lava death. If they look like they could use some help up a hill or through a door, go ahead and offer it. They could have been waiting for a big brawny guy to come along and do just that. But don’t be insulted if they refuse. Being able to do something for oneself is really important, no matter how hard it is. If they’re the ones that ask you for help, even better. They’re in a much better place than I am.

As for the flight crew guy, both Josh and I tried to get him to take his hands off me, at first politely, and then not so politely. He insisted that it was company policy to push wheelchairs down the jetway. BS. I’ve flown a lot, on a lot of different airways, and I’ve never heard that before. But in this case, all I could do was grit my teeth and bear it.

Argh. Ok, I’m putting the soap box away now.

 

As always, comments and criticisms are appreciated. What did you think? What did you like, what did you dislike? Did I accomplish what I set out to do?

AE: Masks                                                                                        AE: Common Experiences

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Learning from the Masters

I’ve said before, I don’t have a degree in writing. I took one creative writing class in high school, that’s it. And I’m not really planning on going back to school. Yet I can study under masters of my craft like Mercedes Lackey, Tamora Pierce, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Terry Pratchett without budging from my library. I can improve my writing by reading and studying the authors I admire (not to mention practicing what I’ve learned).

What amazes me is how many people out there think to themselves “Hey, I could write a book” without having read anything but the morning paper over the last five years. Do you think Jacques Cousteau said “Hey, I could be a marine biologist” without ever having been to the beach? Reading familiarizes you with genre requirements, reader expectations, and above all, feeds your imagination. That last sounds cheesy, I know, but think of it like a linebacker. It can’t do its job unless you feed it four course meals full of carbs and protein. Agent Kristin Nelson has said on her blog that she wishes she could demand authors submit a receipt with their manuscripts proving they’ve bought (and hopefully read) a book in the last month.

You can learn directly from your favorite authors. Study their words, their language. Francine Prose calls this “close reading” in her book Reading Like a Writer (though I don’t recommend close reading this book unless you really like literary fiction and classics and/or plan on writing literary fiction).

What books did you absolutely love? What was it about them that made your heart beat faster? Why do you pick that one particular book up over and over again like a favorite blanket? How can you recapture the feeling you get from those pages? Reading isn’t supposed to be a chore but if you keep these thoughts in mind as you read, you’ll start to see the details that slipped by the first time. You’ll notice the mechanics that make the story work this way and not that way.

One of my favorite books is Mercedes Lackey’s Magic’s Pawn. My copy is worn and dog-eared from so many readings. Finally, I decided to figure out what it was that had captured me the first time I read it as an ignorant high schooler and kept drawing me back over and over. It didn’t take long, since I was so familiar with it already (seriously, I read it about once a year). It was the character. Vanyel is strong and appears unapproachable, but as the reader you can see the vulnerabilities that he tries to hide from those in his world. That fragile strength that could break with just one wrong word made Vanyel so real and tangible.

Elizabeth Haydon has written a series that kept me up at night. The Symphony of Ages is a long read, but I found myself losing hours flipping pages. After some study, I figured out that it was one specific plot element that made this such a compelling read. At the very beginning, the two characters cross paths and diverge again, and they go on operating under a false assumption. They believe they’ve lost each other, but the reader knows the truth. Through three fairly hefty books I watched and waited and squirmed, knowing a secret that was killing me. I could not physically tear myself away from them because I had to see when and if they would learn the truth. Oh, such sweet agony.

These authors are obviously doing something right, and I hope that maybe some of that will rub off on me. I try to take what I’ve learned from them and apply it to my own writing. Right now, it’s just baby steps, but maybe one day, someone will be reading my work and thinking “Hey, I could write a book”.

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Accessible Excerpts: Masks

This is an excerpt from my novel, By Wingéd Chair, one in a series of posts in which I try to show how I use disabilities in my writing. Click here for my intro to the series.

This is the first scene of the novel where we are introduced to the main character, Miss Merry Janson.

 

Madam Francine turned to me. She was too well-bred to tap her foot, but she did put her hands on her hips. “Merry,” she said. “I think it’s time we reevaluated your place at our school.”

I crossed my arms and cocked an eyebrow at her, wondering if I was about to be sent home in disgrace. Again.

“Has my performance been unsatisfactory?” I asked. We both knew she couldn’t find anything wrong with my consistent top marks, but I wanted her to say it out loud.

“No,” she said, her eyes sliding away from mine. “Your class work is exemplary, as usual. But your…situation is unique. I’m not sure what your father was thinking when he sent you here. What is it you hope to accomplish by studying with us?”

I opened my mouth to respond, but Madam Francine liked to answer her own questions.

She continued as if I weren’t there. “Most of our girls leave here with the training to become exceptional wives and mothers. Or, if they haven’t received a proposal, they become governesses for influential families. However, I don’t see you fitting into either of those roles. You are obviously not suited for marriage, and no respectable family would hire you to teach their children.”

My face burned, and I snapped my mouth shut before I blurted out my dream. Why was I surprised? Most people thought I was useless, and I had trained myself not to let them get to me. I set my face in the cold, hostile mask I’d perfected just for stupid, cowards like Madame Francine.

“My father is paying for my education,” I said. “Not for your opinion.”

I yanked on the wheels of my chair and pushed myself out of the park, not looking to see if she followed. Saints help me, I only had to deal with Madam Francine for another month. Then I could ask her for my recommendation, and I’d be on my way to the University.

 

These few paragraphs are supposed to accomplish a lot right off the bat. I’m establishing Merry’s disability and how the people around her react to it. I’m also introducing Merry as a character and letting you see how she handles the reactions. Which is not particularly well here at the beginning.

Merry’s struggles are deeply personal for me (as if you couldn’t guess that already) but this is one I was really anxious to get on paper from the start. After my injury, the only way I knew to deal with people, to cope with the constant sympathy and encouragement (encouragement can be strangely discouraging), was to put up a mask. An expression or a personality I could wear that would hide what I was really feeling from the world. My mask was a smile and an eternal optimism I didn’t necessarily feel all the time. Merry’s is cold hostility. In some ways I think hers is a lot more honest than mine was.

 

As always, comments and criticisms are appreciated. What did you think? What did you like, what did you dislike? Did I accomplish what I set out to do?

Post it Proudly                                                                                           AE: Personal Space

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GUTGAA Meet and Greet

So I’m posting out of order and on a different day than usual for a special reason. I saw this really cool event going on and decided the timing was just too perfect. Deana Barnhart is hosting a Gearing Up to Get an Agent blogfest. Very awesome and timely. I could have waited to post this until Friday but that’s the last day of the meet and greet, and since half the point of this is to make new friends and connections in the writing world, I wanted to get this up a little earlier. Hope y’all don’t mind that there’ll be three posts this week (oh my gosh the world is coming to an end).

And in keeping with the meet and greet portion of our program, here’s a little about me. I’m a 27 year old writer, and I live in Denver with lots of books, a husband and a service dog. If I’m not writing, I’m reading, and if I’m not reading, I’m playing a video game, and if I’m not doing any of the above, I’m trying out something less nerdy. I’ve been writing since I was fourteen but for the last six years I’ve been concentrating on retelling fairytales about characters with disabilities. It’s been a blast.

-Where do you write?

At my desk in my library, surrounded by books. And in restaurants, at the dinner table, on the couch, at a friend’s house, or anywhere else where I figure out what happens next.

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?

A bookcase full of writing books and my editorial calendar. And a wall.

-Favorite time to write?

Uh, am I supposed to stop writing sometimes?

-Drink of choice while writing?

Vanilla coke. But I had to cut out caffeine so…

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

No music, no TV. I’m too distractable. On the rare occasion that I’m possessed and I have to have sound, I’ll listen to the Lord of the Rings soundtracks. But nothing with words ever.

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

The one that I just finished polishing? Or the one I just thought up and haven’t written down yet? I’ll go with the first since it’s more interesting. I got the idea while sitting in rehab (in a wheelchair) that I wanted to read about fantasy characters like me, so I wrote the first page of what came to be By Wingéd Chair.

-What’s your most valuable writing tip?

Just write. It’s impossible to edit something that doesn’t exist and you’ll never get better if you don’t practice. Get out of your head and just put pen to paper.

That’s it for me. Click here to blog hop.

Don’t forget to stop by tomorrow when I start my new series Accessible Excerpts.

 

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