Outtake: Magical Girl story

Somehow I’ve roped myself into working on three different projects at the same time.  I’m revising Meet the Lidwells and writing the Apartment Complex story, and now I’m writing outtakes of my Magical Girl story for my warmup words (while listening to ELO, no less).  Go figure.

Here’s an outtake I wrote Thursday evening.  Hope you enjoy!


[Story so far: a group of college kids are on a camping vacation in the wilderness and witness a girl, clad in armor and wielding a glowing broadsword, tearing a hole in reality and jumping through to escape an unseen evil presence.  The girl closes the hole, but faints.  The kids bring the girl to their rented cabin to nurse her wounds, and a few days later she reawakens, though stricken with amnesia.]


Zuzanna stepped out onto the porch of the cabin and once again tried to remember who the hell she was. She was a solider, yes. Zuze was definitely her name, weird as it was. She was apparently a badass — Katie’s description, at least. She remembered ripping a hole in the fabric of time and squeezing through to get away from… who? Someone named Krozarr? A vague emotion stirred whenever she thought of that name, and she wasn’t sure why. This amnesia ate at her, frustrated her to no end. She needed to know who she was and where — and when — she was from, damn it all! And she knew she needed to get back and finish what she’d started.

But how?

“Hi, Zuze,” she heard off to her right. Katie was sitting in one of the wicker rocking chairs, kicking back and relaxing, enjoying the morning. “You doing okay today?”

Zuze hummed in response. She still wasn’t sure how to talk to this young girl who, in an odd way, reminded her of herself. Zuze had never had a quiet childhood, and her teenage years had been fraught with noise and stress and worse. Again — she knew the memories were there, but she could not quite connect with them.

“Frustrated,” she said. “And hungry.”

“I hear you,” Katie said, smiling at her. “The boys should have come back with more food and supplies by now. I don’t know what’s taking them so long.” She pulled the blanket closer around her legs, despite it being not all that cold. She seemed distracted, looking out into the front garden and down the pathway, wanting to say something but holding back.

“Do you mind if I sit with you?” Zuze asked, pointing to the other chair.

Katie blinked, the question unexpected. “S-sure, go right ahead.”

“Thank you,” she said, and sat down. She didn’t feel all that cold… in fact, she felt too warm. The others had been grousing about a cold snap earlier, but she alone hadn’t noticed. She wondered if she was just used to the climate back where she was from that this current one felt like bliss. She looked out across the garden as well, past the treeline at a large lake off in the distance. That body of water definitely looked familiar. Of course she couldn’t remember the name. She still couldn’t remember a lot of things.

“Zuze, can I ask you a questions?”

Zuze glanced over at the girl. “Sure.”

Katie frowned, thinking of what she wanted to say before she spoke. “You’re from the future, right?”

“I…I believe I am, yes.”

“You don’t know how far, though? You still don’t remember?”

She shifted uncomfortably. “I’ll… remember it eventually. Pretty sure I will, anyway.”

“Hmm.” Katie shifted herself, still frowning. “You were fighting someone. I don’t think any of us saw his face, but we heard his voice. Sounded like a big bad guy. I…” She drifted off, looking away, and Zuze let the silence linger. This was hard enough for her to comprehend, so it had to be worse for this girl. “I tried looking up his name online. Different versions of it. I couldn’t find a match anywhere. For you to jump through time to get away from someone like that, they have to be pretty evil. And they’d have made the news *somewhere*. So I’m thinking you’re from pretty far ahead.”

Zuze shuddered. “He won’t bother any of you, I promise,” she said a little too quickly.

But Katie smiled instead. “We’re not worried about that, Zuze. We’re worried about you. I’m worried. I want to help you remember. So I figure, if we can’t pin down exact memories, we can at least narrow the scope, right?”

Zuze blushed, equally warmed and embarrassed by her words. “You don’t have to do that, Katie,” she said. “It’ll come to me soon enough.”

But Katie wouldn’t relent. “Don’t you see? We want to help. You’ve dropped into our lives, Zuze. Literally. You ripped a hole in reality and jumped through, and we were all there to catch you. We’re your friends. We want to help.”

Zuze couldn’t believe what this girl was saying. She couldn’t bear to expose these young kids to the evils of her own time! She did not want their lives on her conscience. And yet… she found herself tearing up. She even felt a little cold that moment, and wished she’d brought a blanket of her own.

“I…” she started.

“We’re here for you as long as you need us,” Katie said, and laid a hand on hers. “We can be your safe haven for the time being.”

Zuze wiped the tears away, grinning like an idiot. “Th-thank you, Katie,” she said, her voice just above a whisper.


Postscript:  Of course I’m going to give this one an anime-inspired title.  Given that this one has ties to ELO, I’m going to call it In My Blue World for now. 🙂


On Outlining: The Discography…?

anime piano

I’ve complained about outlining before, both here and elsewhere…even in high school I disliked outlining, if only because I knew even then that I was a pantser writer and that whatever outline I created would be thrown out within the first couple of pages.  It always felt like a waste of time.  So previously here, I talked about swallowing my pride and stubbornness (and working against my long-ingrained pantsing style) and giving Meet the Lidwells! a solid outline.  It’s working out well so far, I think.

Especially since I came to the conclusion that in order for me to have a solid story, I needed to give it a solid backbone.  And considering this story is about a band, what would be more solid a backbone than said band’s discography?

If you think about it, a band’s discography does tell an interesting story.  Take the Beatles, for instance.  From the prologue-worthy “Love Me Do” to the first peak point at “She Loves You” to the end of Act I with A Hard Day’s Night; the conflict of fame versus creative evolution in Act II (with plot peaks of Rubber Soul and Revolver) and climaxing at Sgt Pepper; the conflict of creative outlet versus personal evolution with The Beatles and the recording of Let It Be, climaxing with the creative peak of Abbey Road.  And finishing the story with a bittersweet denouement; the band breaking up but their legacy lasting far into the future.  [Hell, they even have a song called “The End” that works as a closing epigraph.]  It’s no wonder they have so many books written about them.

Read any music biography and you’ll see similar backbones.  Each band or performer has their own life story with climaxes and low points, successes and failures.  These are actually great books to read if you want to learn this sort of storytelling.  [Off the top of my head and looking at my nearby bookshelf, I would definitely suggest reading Johnny Marr’s Set the Boy Free, Bob Mould’s See a Little Light, or Carter Alan’s Radio Free Boston: The Rise and Fall of WBCN for a taste of a rock bio with a lot of plot peaks and valleys.  Those are but three of the numerous books out there; next time you’re at the local bookstore, take a peek at their music section and take your pick.]

These are also good books for how to tell a story in a format other than straight prose.  The current popular style of rock bio seems to be in the form of an ‘in their own words’ text; most if not all the dialogue is from recorded interviews, but without the interviewer’s words or point of view.  The flow of the story is usually chronological, from the band’s creation to their demise (or alternately to their present iteration); it behaves almost exactly like fiction does.  The only difference is how the story is presented.

A Division of Souls Ending, Director’s Cut

As promised, here’s what I call the “Director’s Cut” of the ending of A Division of Souls.  This one’s been in my head for at least two years.  And yes, this was written to fit Failure’s “Daylight”, as expected.

I actually thought about writing a prose version of this ending for the book, but it would have just been extraneous.  It’s a completely visual segment anyway.  So, using my dusty and woefully underused BA degree in film, I decided to instead write this in screenplay form.

Hope you enjoy!


Continue reading “A Division of Souls Ending, Director’s Cut”

Am I a Professional Now…?

Our local bookshop…where my trilogy is available in e-book form!

Don’t laugh; I’d been asking myself that question since September 2015, when A Division of Souls first went up for sale online in e-book form.

Can I call myself a real professional writer at this point?  Well.  Depends on who I ask.  And I’ll get positive answers, indifferent answers, negative answers, ‘you’re not there yet’ answers, ‘oh bless your heart’ answers, pedantic answers, and everything in between.

I’ll be honest — I haven’t asked anyone that, and I don’t plan to.

Sure, I’ll ask people for their opinion on works in progress.  That’s what beta readers are for.  I’ll ask for creative advice if it’s needed and/or warranted, because I want the end result to be done right the first time.  I’ll definitely ask for advice about self-promotion, because it’s one of my weaknesses.  I’m doing all the homework expected of me to make sure I’m doing it all correctly when it comes to the legalese and financial stuff.

But I decided pretty early on that asking someone else about my professional status is kind of self-defeating.

Again, I came to this conclusion by comparing my own writing career to that of a musician’s.  I understand that particular field reasonably well because of my lifelong obsession with music and my willingness to read all kinds of music bios and academic texts (and meet the musicians if possible!) to learn even more about it.  I find that putting my writing life into this kind of perspective has made my choices so much easier and less painful.

But my point being:  Sure, why the hell not call myself a pro now?

  1. I’ve got three completed novels out, released through well-known, respected independent avenues.
  2. I’m already working on my fourth, with future books at pre-planning stages.
  3. All parts of the production have been done by my own hand — editing, cover art, formatting — mainly because I wanted to do it that way.  I want to learn the business.
  4. I’m still learning the fine art of promotion, but I’ve already done a lot of homework on it and am now acting on it.
  5. Same with the legalese and the economics side of it.  Both are definitely daunting, but I’m willing to learn so I can do it right.
  6. I’m now attending conventions not just as a fan, but also as a panelist.
  7. I set myself some high standards from the beginning, so as to not make my work look like I’d thrown it together at the last minute.
  8. Importantly: I know I’m not a commercial writer.  I tried writing that way, and it didn’t pan out.  I’m fine being a college radio author instead of a Top 40 radio author.  In fact, I kind of prefer it that way.
  9. Most importantly:  This is a life-long career goal of mine.  I’m duty bound not to do it half-assed.

Sure, it’s all DIY, but it’s a professional-level DIY.  This is me being inspired by the American punk bands of the early 80s putting out their music on their own, passing out cassettes or starting labels like SST and Taang and Alternative Tentacles and Ace of Hearts.  They were never going to hit the charts during their heyday, and they usually had a small following…but they had a STRONG and loyal following.  They also all had a very strong bond with each other, like an extended family.

Once I realized the writing field works in almost exactly the same way, I knew I could do succeed as a professional author.

An indie author, but a professional one.

And I’m fine with that.