May 10th. Thank goodness.

let down your hair

I meant to write something completely different. But that’s how it goes. I start with an idea and almost never end up where I planned. I do not take this as a sign I should outline. I take it to mean my original idea wasn’t right. Not that this is right. Well, anyway. I’m getting chemo treatments and my hair is falling out. And it seems to me that if you’re going to have a fairy tale asylum while getting chemo, a version of Rapunzel must show up.

In one room, slept Zelia. She was young and slept most of the time. Nothing in her room revealed her reflection because if she saw her reflection, she would drop to the floor in a pool of grief. They had taken her hair. They said she was vain and wayward. They said her mother was afraid for her safety, and so until she learned to do better, they would keep her safe and away from the world.

Before coming to the Asylum, she had beautiful hair. She wore her hair long and she liked to see the sunlight shine on the loops that fell over her shoulders. She liked the way heads turned to watch her walk down the street on a bright day. Her hair captivated everyone and got her many things she wanted.

When she was nine, she learned people would pay her for locks of her hair to make good luck charms. She’d sell a few curls for spending money. Sometimes she’d buy her mother a gift, but the gifts only made her mother angry. “You can’t sell bits of yourself, girl,” her mother said, slapping the gift away.

Her mother was the one who called the Asylum. She’d seen her daughter let a boy touch her hair in front of God and everybody. “I can’t control her at all,” her mother told the head nurse. “She’s grandiose and charming. She lies and manipulates. She won’t responsibility for her actions.” Zelia was fourteen.

Zelia had thought her mother would come get her after a few days,a nd those first few days no one bothered her. They left her alone with her shimmering hair with only the instructions to think about the consequences of her actions. She thought and thought and paced and paced until she stopped looking at the clock expectantly and her hair fell limp.

They found her curled up, her arms and hair entwined. “You’ll hurt yourself,” the nurses said and brought the scissors.

That night Zelia opened her eyes in spite of the sleeping medication. She could do that if she wanted to. It was her one secret from the nurses. And she heard footsteps in the hall. They were the wrong sort of footsteps. Zelia knew the steps of all the nurses, the security guards, and the orderlies. These were the wrong footsteps and at the wrong time.

Getting out of bed was risky. She didn’t want a nurse to see her up, but she’d never heard these footsteps before. Zelia peered through the keyhole and caught a glimpse of Hannah making her way down the hall. For the first time since she’d been locked away, hope leapt in her heart. Someone had finally come to save them. She knew it as surely as she knew she’d see the sun shine again on her hair.

The Princess Detective…continues

This series should alternate–in no planned way–between a narrator and the princess. The introductory passage was from the narrator. This bit is from the princess.

My grandfather told me that in his day a princess had to be pretty and nothing else. A good princess, he said, is ornament. I think he’s making it up.

Everyone knows a princess is meant to lead the fight.

The princess sharpens wits as well as knives. Yes, beauty is for the first day of the year, the first day of her reign, but the wolves never wait for a girl to pin up her hair. How romantic that would be.

People ask if a wolf or jealousy killed my prince. The rumors could wrap the forrest a hundred times. I found the body. Of course, I did. Who else is allowed to approach a prince in the woods? Only a princess. And a murderer.

I guess I shouldn’t joke. When I saw his body, I couldn’t tell where the blood spilled from. Then I stepped closer. The gashes could’ve been from a wolf. That seems the easiest answer, but many different knives have owners in these parts. I know exactly which blade looks like a wolf bite and I know who owns it.

But that man was drunk at the time of death–drunk and passed out on my mother’s floor. Oh, pretty rumors surround that, I can tell you.

I inspected his knife and it was clean. Shining even. Only a fool though keeps her knife dull and spotted. Clean knife, clean kill.

Too many people around here know how to imitate a wolf bite. I suspect I shall have to go to the wolves and see what they know. Providing they don’t see me.

The Writer Games

In front of a live audience, write until you drop dead. The last one writing gets a book deal.

What do you think?

Have you read The Hunger Games? I don’t want to link to it lest I end up with too many people over here. Seriously.

I haven’t read it or seen the film. I’ve decided to read the books, but doubt I’ll see the movie. The idea of the story is depressing enough without adding visuals.

Anyway, I don’t know why I care, but there is this argument going around the Internet that I find annoying. A friend of mine recently stated that he wasn’t going to see The Hunger Games because it was a copy of Battle Royale. Copied? Was it? Well, I had to know more about that. We (as in we writers) try so hard to be original, it is maddening to see someone copy and end up with a best seller.

So I search for reviews, interviews, and whatever else. But after reading several pieces about the stories, I have to say I don’t believe Suzanne Collins copied the Japanese movie. If you disagree, please keep insults to yourself.

But I find I’m really, really irritated about this whole brouhaha over nothing.

I’ve seen comments that go something like this, “I haven’t read The Hunger Games, but I’ve heard it’s a rip off of Battle Royale, so I’m not going to.” Yes, letting hearsay form your opinions is always a good idea.

And this, “Battle Royale came out ten years ago–before The Hunger Games.” Okay. Valid observation. But Collins says she never heard of Battle Royale. Is she lying? One friend said, “People will say anything for fame and money.” Sure. But Collins dislikes media attention and there’s nothing about her lifestyle to indicate she’s all about the money. And not to point out the obvious, but if you’re all about money, writing a YA novel may not be the best choice. And I don’t call people liars without proof.

And until the other day I hadn’t even heard of Battle Royale. Well, it’s Japanese and had a limited release here in the States. I’m not sure why people assume Collins has heard of it. It’s not exactly like she’s said she didn’t know they’d made a movie of Titanic.

I also fail to see what is so amazingly unique about Battle Royale that someone else couldn’t come up with a similar idea all on her own. Am I to believe that in the whole of the world and history, only one person can come up with the idea of young people killing each other for sport? Anyone with a passing knowledge of Greek myth, Lord of the Flies, and reality TV would have a chance of imagining just such a plot. People come up with similar story ideas every single day. Anyone who writes should know this. You write something, and then–presto!–you come across something that is basically your idea. Was it stolen? No. I guess, it’s unfortunate Joseph Campbell isn’t around to ask about myth and collective storytelling.

And finally, am I to agree that only one version of any story can exist? If that is the case, then a lot of people better put down their pens. Battle Royale has a male lead (from what I’ve read about the plot). It is Japanese. So that’s it? No one else can tell their perspective on such a story? You know what, Romeo and Juliet has been written, so please, no more star-crossed romances. What else. Oh, no more stories aliens invading earth. No more assassination stories. No more war stories. No more man vs nature stories. Sorry. Been done. We should have a Only-One Rule. That would save us all a lot of trouble.

Have you ever known anyone who loves a particular band until that bands gets popular. Suddenly they don’t like that band anymore. They accuse the band of selling out. Or they look down at those Johnny-come-latelies as not real fans. Some smug nonsense in that. I hear a similar tone in some comments–they’re so cool as to know Battle Royale before the rabble, anything else pales in comparison. I’ve seen a few comments by people who love BR and are angry that only is it getting more distribution here in the States. Can they be pleased that THG has given their film some attention? No.

You could also read this post about the whole kerfuffle. I found it level-headed.

I’ve been trying to understand why this issue bothers me so much when I’ve no vested interest in either. Maybe I’m worried (hopeful!) it could be me. Maybe the novel sitting in my hard drive has already been done and I don’t know it. I’d like not to be raked across coals by people who don’t know anything about my work or me.

What sort of literary ruckus do you care about?

The Friendship Obituaries

Do you remember the first friendship to die?

We were in the 2nd grade and the murder was accidental. Or at least, I hadn’t considered the consequences of my actions.

In the lunch line I kissed a boy on top of his head. He was short with blue black hair and big blue eyes. I was the tallest kid in the class.

He was horrified.

My best friend, S., was angry. She liked him too, and the two of them were the same height.

S did eventually speak to me again, but the friendship died. I didn’t understand why she was so mad. It wasn’t as if the boy had then suddenly decided he liked me!

The last I remember of S was our sophomore year in high school. We hadn’t spoken in years and I saw in her the hallway. She was pregnant.

We never did speak again.

But in the 2nd grade we were best friends.


Do you remember your first best friend?

Green-eyed Monster Sucks Out Soul

Have you read The Night Circus? I’m in the middle of reading it–a gift from my husband, who didn’t even know the book was on my wish list.

And as I’m wont to do when something captures me, I’ve read more about it online–like this interview on CNN.

I love the novel so far, and I’ll probably love it til the end. I’m like that when I give in to a book.

(I’d like to add that I don’t understand those who claim this book is “the next Harry Potter.” Yes, it is about magicians, but it is nothing like Harry Potter. It’s like saying How to Train Your Dragon is the next Lord of the Rings. And I certainly don’t see 12 year olds lining up to meet Ms. Morgenstern no matter how charming and delightful she is. Nor is the book part of a series…oh bother. I guess they’ve got to claim something is the next Harry Potter. They’re wishing.)

Anyway. Erin Morgenstern started the novel as a NaNoWriMo novel. Sigh. You know, I’ve written 7 NaNoWriMo… Her novel is about, obviously, a circus. A year and a half ago, I participated in Story-a-Day. The stories were all meant to be fairy tales. And in the city the stories take place in, a circus sits in the heart of it. Granted, many of the cities don’t mention the circus, but it is there, in my mind, and it is open only at night. Sigh.

It isn’t anything like the circus in Morgenstern’s book. But…you know know that if the collection of stories were ever published, everyone will think, Oh, like The Night Circus!

But her book is beautiful. (And did I mention that Ms. Morgenstern is also an artist?)

My book has been eviscerated by a foaming, rabid beast.

I’d like to tell you that I wrestled the best with great strength of character and defeated it. But in truth I think I’ve thrown myself under its claws.