Staff Notes

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Yesterday, I spent some time thinking about the Asylum staff. How many people work for the Asylum? I haven’t sort that all out and if you think of a position I forgot, please suggest it. So far I’ve got management (although I haven’t figured out how large management ought to be), maintenance (one person, I think, who might hire outside help from time to time for big jobs), security (again, number uncertain), two ambulance drivers, one physician, twelve nurses, kitchen staff (I should call my dad for help with this number. He was a cook in a hospital for about 50 years), and cleaning crew.

The trick is coming up with specific numbers. I mean, it is difficult to write a scene between the two teen boys sneaking around on the grounds and security if I’m not sure how many security guards are realistic. A security guard stands at the front and the back entrances and a few have to be able to chase down our protagonist and other characters.I suppose they could call in the town police if need be, but the Asylum likes to keep things quiet, which is harder to do the more people involved.

I’ve learned that the Asylum doctor is Giltine Diggs. As with most individuals the Asylum hires, she has no known family. She studied psychology before switching over to medicine. At the start of her career, Giltine believed she wanted to be head of surgery at a prestigious hospital. She soon learned that such positions confined her to hospital protocols and worries over lawsuits and profits. Asylum offered her freedoms mainstream institutions did not.

The patients say they hear the rustle of wings whenever she walks into a room and her hands are always cold. The patients do not wish for attention. The staff members do not question her decisions or invites her out for coffee or drinks. She hums this song as she works.

*

Thank you for reading.

Where is the Fairy Tale Asylum?

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I’m taking a lesson from JK Rowling. She wrote a massive amount about her fictional universe before (and while) writing the Harry Potter series. She said in an interview how she liked reading books where she felt the author knew everything about the world they were creating whether or not all that information made it into the books. I’ve tried keeping most backstory in my head, but, hey, my head isn’t what it used to be (thank you, chemo!) and I have got to write more down. Also, to be fair, my fictional universe keeps expanding, and even the healthiest brain would have a hard time keeping track.

So, all that said, I want to use this space for backstory and information I need to finish The Fairy Tale Asylum. One reason I’ve been stuck is that certain details are muddled in my mind. Maybe this will help.

Also, I remember an interview with Rowling in which she talked about a day she was at a coffee shop writing one of the later HP books, and she forgot a certain detail. She had to go to a bookshop, find one of her own HP books and look up that particular detail (something small, like eye color or some such) and how on other occasions she would go to an HP fan site (Muggle.net, I think) and remind herself of other details. Seven books is a remarkable amount of information to keep track of. You may not love Harry Potter as I do, but you have to admit that plotting a seven book story is a feat. It is amazing the seemingly minor things she drops in book one that come into play later.

Now for a few brief notes.

The Asylum stands on the edge of a small strange town off a length of desolate highway. A high stone wall surrounds the grounds, and shards of broken glass have been set into the top of this wall to help keep out prowlers. No one in town remembers the story of how the Asylum came to be.

The Asylum is six stories high, plus a basement and an attic. THere’s a shed, a storeroom, and a garage on the grounds. Guardhouses sit at the front and the back entrance. Each entrance has a wrought iron gate, the front gate being the more beautiful design.

The first floor has the admitting room, the head office, a visitor’s room, a staff room, doctor’s office and mortuary, a kitchen and a wide dining room (that has on rare occasions been used as a ballroom).

I think I need to draw a map. But I love books with maps.

The other five floors are rooms for patients. In the basement are lockers containing confiscated items and in the attic are trunks and suitcases and forgotten things.

This weekend I’m going to write about the staff. It takes a certain kind of personality to work at the Asylum. Individuals lacking family obligations are preferred.

Limping to the end of Story-a-Day May

I’m too tired to even find a picture.

I’ve been writing all day, and I don’t want to share much of anything. I felt this way yesterday too. But in the spirit of things, I’m sharing one paragraph.

She wanted to get away from him, and she was about to turn and walk, no, run the other way when a voice came to her. The voice sounded like her grandmother whispering in her ear, and it told her what to say. “The more you believe in a curse, the more it works,” she said to him.

Now, I’m going to go recover from a word overdose.

Thanks for reading.

Story-a-Day May Snippet

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I spent a long time today working on one scene for the novel in progress, and now that I really need to rest my weary head, I don’t want to share. Well, I want to share a little because I’m obsessive like that, but I’m only posting a few unedited lines.

Thanks for reading!

Deva leaned her head against the car window. She had the paintbrush. She could change things and she could talk to the dead. Why should she be afraid of her mother anymore?

Linnie took the next few turns too hard. “It’s great, actually. Mom won’t yell at me near as much if you’re around.”

“Promise me something,” Deva said. A terrible thought had come to her as she watched Linnie navigate the Ford Taurus through the early morning streets.

“Unending alibis for late night adventures and ghost rendezvous?”

“Sure, that. And that you won’t die.”

Linnie blinked and drove too fast into the apartment complex parking lot. “Not until I’m 97. How’s that?”

“I guess it will have to do.”

Story-a-Day Wishing

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I wish I could get more writing done. But what writer doesn’t want that?

I wasted a lot of time, but I scribbled down something. Yay! Something!

Deva told Linnie to drive to the lake where Hutton had drowned. They walked to the beach. Enough moonlight glowed on the water. Sounds of frogs, crickets, and waves hitting sand filled the night around them. The croak of an alligator echoed from behind the cattails.

The girls stood on the narrow beach. Deva, her arms wrapped around herself, stared out over the dark lake. “I didn’t want him to die.”

“Not even a little bit?” Linnie asked, standing a few feet away. She kept looking out at the lake and back over her shoulder at the woods. It was four in the morning.

“You can’t die a little bit.”

“You know what I mean.” Deva pulled strands of hair away from her face. The wind carried the strands back over her cheeks. It was warm, but she shivered.
Linnie moved a step closer to her friend. “Why are we here?”

“I dreamed I should come here.” The white of the sand reflected like snow, albeit snow littered with shells and broken, browned, shards of reeds. She walked closer to the water and squatted down close enough to touch the water.

“I said I wanted him dead and then he died in this water.”

“You didn’t make anyone die,” Linnie said. “Other people have died in this lake. It’s the water, not you.”

Deva touched the water. It was warm, and a wave came up to her shoes. “What was he going to tell me? You know, at the funeral home. I think he was going to confess something.”

“That boy had too many confessions to fit in one chat in a funeral home parking lot.”

But the wild look in Hutton’s eye that last afternoon stayed with her. If only she’d listened. “Sorry, Lin.” Deva stood. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. We shouldn’t have come here.”

Linnie gave her half a smile. Moonlight glinted on the curls of her hair. “Whatever you need to do, we’ll do.”

“Let’s go to the woods.”

“What?” Linnie’s body stiffened. “The woods?” She looked back at the dark trees. “Okay. Sure. They’re just trees.”

“I want to go where they found them. You know. The little clearing.”

Linnie rolled back on her heels and nodded. She let her friend stomp by on the sand to the brackish grass. “A tour of the dead,” she muttered once Deva was a few yards away. “Sounds delightful.”

They left the car on the dirt road and walked. They were two girls walking down a dirt road after four in the morning. Enough silver of the half-moon lit the way. They felt far away from everything and very alone. But they were wrong.

Story-a-Day. Again, finally.

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I’m disappointed I missed a couple of days. Sunday, I was at the roller rink all day for my kiddo’s skate competition. Monday was another day of races, and when they were over, the weather had gone insane done here. I spent the evening watching flood warnings. I sat with my laptop for a while, but my brain couldn’t function.

It’s debatable whether my brain is functioning today. But I wrote a new scene anyway for what it’s worth. Mostly, I wrote out of a determination to write something before another day went by. So, should this novel ever see the light of day, I should say that this is slightly spoilery. But if this is ever published, you’ll probably have forgotten this by then. Right? Of course.

Happy Story-a-Day and thanks for reading!

Linnie didn’t ask her mother for permission to take the car. Her brother had fallen back asleep on his sofa, the TV on, some 70s horror flick accompanying his dreams at full volume. One thing she, her brother, and her mother had in common was an ability to sleep through the racket of the world’s end.

Linnie dressed quickly, and she found the car keys on the floor by the door. She almost always looked on the floor first since her mother seemed incapable of bothering with the hook on the wall above the light switch. Her mother only managed the hook if she were in a very good mood.

The apartment parking lot greeted Linnie with silence. An earlier light dusting of rain had left a damp sheen to the night. Linnie scanned her surroundings and judging them safe, dashed to the car. As she feared, the gas gauge neared E. Of course. Her mother lived on the edge of empty.
While Linnie drove, she contemplated what bee had gotten caught in Deva’s bonnet. In spite of the directive to hurry, Deva hadn’t sounded panicked. She’d sounded determined. Linnie knew that sound well. More than anything, she hoped Deva’s late night impulse had nothing to do with Hutton Redge.

But with every mile that went by, she failed to find any other reason. Damn him. She smacked the steering wheel. Dying like the fool he was. She’d whipped up so much hatred for him, and now she’d have to be sorry and feel sympathy and hear the school talk about grief counselors and be lectured on lake safety. Already in homeroom that morning, she had to read and sign a list of facts about drowning. Not to mention the upcoming school assembly to talk about the recent deaths.

The thought of it made Linnie want hit her head against the steering wheel. Who was going to listen to the administration lecture about making better choices? Everyone was whispering about the real reason Hutton was dead, and it had little to do with his missing out on the drowning myths fact sheet.

Linnie cut the headlights and parked across the street from Deva’s house. She waited for Deva to come out of the house. Hutton’s death, she reassured herself, was just a coincidence. Her friend didn’t really have the power to curse anyone.

She smacked the steering again. Damn it. Believing the rumors wasn’t going to do anyone any good. But a few minutes later when, Deva emerged from the house, dressed all in black, her black army boots untied, Linnie flinched. Who else had her friend cursed? She shook her head. “Curses aren’t real,” she whispered to herself and reached over to unlock the car door.

A Story-a-Day Moment

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I am not home. But I jotted down a short scene this afternoon before I packed and headed out of town. It’s not much, but I wrote something! I don’t know what will happen tomorrow since I’ve got to spend all day at a skate competition. Well, I’ll at least think about writing.

Deva dreamed of the dead that night. She woke with her sheet wound around her and her pillow on the floor. After staring at her ceiling a good while, she called Linnie.

It was 3 in the morning.

Linnie’s brother cussed when he answered the phone, but he got off the sofa to pull his sister out of bed.

“Dev, what the hell?” Linnie asked, her voice thick with sleep.

“Can you borrow your mom’s car?” Deva asked.

“Seriously? Why don’t you borrow your mom’s car for a change?” She paused. “Oh never mind. I know. Fine. When?”

“Like now.”

Linnie didn’t reply immediately. “What’s going on, Dev? What can’t wait til sunrise?”

“My sanity.”

“Oh that. And what does your sanity need in the middle of the night?”

Deva took a deep breath. Her dream had been clear, but the more time passed, the foggier it seemed. By daylight, the entire dream would be gone. She was as certain of that as she was of anything. “The Red Moon.”

Thanks for reading!