The Quiet Grace of a Forced Reprieve

Last year was The Summer of the Move.  The first part of the year seemed to be shaping up into The Year of the Medical Maladies.  However, (knock on wood) things seem to be settling down a bit, so I am hopeful that the remaining part of the year will be known as The Year I Finished My Novel.

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Where I sit and write…or at least think about writing.

While recovering from surgery, I wrote.  A lot.  That is the good thing about writing, even if you are unable to move around much–as long as you brain is fairly clear and your fingers function–you can work on stories.  Depending on the amount of pain medication the doctor prescribed, there may be a bit more revising that normally required, but at least you can work toward your word count.

The novelization of The Collector is progressing.  I hate to speculate on an estimated draft date, because every time I do that Life explodes all over my meticulously crafted spreadsheet and then days pass without pen being put to page.  No, it seems that I do better when I try not to tempt fate.  When I write quietly, sneaking in words when no one is looking, that is when I make real progress.

If you notice my relative quiet on Facebook and Twitter, it is because I am adding words towards my story rather than into the ether.  If days, or a week, or even two (ahem) pass without a blog post, it is because a plot point has suddenly become clear, or a character needs my attention.

I go to sleep thinking about the story, and I wake up with snippets of dialogue in my head.  I drive to work plotting out scenes, and I spend my lunch typing them out.  It is a comfortable kind of routine, and it is yielding progress.

However, truth be told, I am grateful for the forced reprieve of the past few weeks.  I am blessed with amazing friends, a good surgeon, and a family that repeatedly humbles me with their love and dedication.  My husband and kids have taken such good care of me, and my mom and dad have surrounded me with love and prayers.  Yes, I am definitely blessed.

Nothing like a cancer scare to make you reassess and prioritize things.

Birthing a Novel

I am both pleased and humbled that my short story “The Collector,” has been well received.  And I am even more humbled that readers seem to want to read more about Junie Rae.  To be honest, I always wanted to write more about her…and about Granny Enid.  I wanted to tell more about what actually happened to Junie’s mother, about other people that helped Junie, and about those who wanted to exploit her and her abilities.

At first, I thought I would write some more short stories and offer a collection.  And I did write more short stories, and I will offer the collection very soon.  Only…the short stories weren’t about Junie, or about Granny, or even about Crankston’s Landing.  They were about other dark, twisty things.

Don’t get me wrong…I did write a lot more about Junie Rae.  But I realized that Junie really, really needed a novel of her own.  My readers seemed to think so, too.  So a novel is what Junie shall have.

The cover for the short story collection...it all of its glory!
The cover for the short story collection…it all of its glory!

Since I am not one to waste words, the collection of assorted short stories will be offered very soon, and it WILL include a slightly revised version of “The Collector” short story that is available on Amazon.  The version in the collection represents the beginning of the novelization of Junie.  The initial setup is trimmed down just a bit to get the reader into the action sooner, and several key scenes are fleshed out a bit more.  The collection also contains “Counting Crows,” as well as many shorter works.

For those of you who are clamoring for more Junie Rae, her novel will start out with the revised short story, and her story will continue from there.  You will get to find out what happened to Junie’s mother, why Junie was sent to Granny Enid, and how she is going to deal with her abilities and those who want to use them for their own, selfish purposes.  So, to all the readers and commenters who asked for MORE…you shall have it!  I am finishing the first draft now, and the summer will be spent editing.

When the leaves begin to turn and the air turns brisk, I want a cup of hot tea, a flickering fire, and a pile of book!   This autumn, you’ll be able to add the Junie Rae novel to your pile.  (Yes, it will be available as a paperback as well as on Kindle.)

The Bits that Haunt Us

Yesterday, I saw that WordPress was having a writing challenge.  I like challenges.  This particular challenge was to write a story with exactly fifty words–no more, no less.

I tossed around a few ideas (some of which I might flesh out a bit and post here later in the week), but the one that spoke to me most was this one:

The autopsy noted sixteen stab wounds, a ruptured aorta, and multiple defense wounds. Amid the sterile notations, the report memorialized the purple panties that you chose that last morning—before you went to work and fought for a final breath, before you decided not to call in sick after all.

As with most stories, this one has some background to it.  The first autopsy report I ever saw was my aunt’s.  I had ordered a copy of the report not long after my aunt was murdered.  A few of the details included in it seemed horrifically personal.  Not the detailed descriptions of the wounds–I had expected that.  But the fact that it detailed her underwear, her jewelry, those personal things that we pick out and choose to wear because we like them, because they reflect who we are.  These things seemed so out of place among the meticulously chronicled weight and dimensions of each bodily organ.

Life is uncertain, and bits of it will haunt you until its end.

For me, it is that blasted pair of purple panties that I never even knew existed until I read about them in an autopsy.

A few years back, I wrote to a near stranger and told her about this.  At the time, I thought I told her the story because she needed to hear it.  In reading her blog, I thought I saw her spiraling out of control.  I wanted to reach out to her.  To steady her.  But, if I am being honest, it was really that I needed to tell the story.  I needed to be steadied.  She asked if she could share my private email on her blog, and I told her she could.

Once again, that autopsy and all of its secrets have risen up in my mind.  This time, it gave me these fifty words to share.  I don’t know if I am sharing them because someone else needs to hear it, or if I just needed to tell it again.  Maybe it doesn’t really matter.

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Gay Carter
10/9/40 – 11/13/98
(This is why I hate Friday the 13ths)

About a Boy

About a Boy by Terri Wallace.

I have a piece of flash fiction up over at Postcard Poems and Prose today called “About a Boy.” If you have a minute (Yes, literally, a minute! Hey, it’s flash fiction!) go check it out.

Making Sense of Chaos

There is a lot going on over in my corner of the world.  I have been working on the follow up to my short story THE COLLECTOR (so if you haven’t downloaded it yet, now is the perfect time!).  The story follows Junie Rae as she learns more about what she can do and figures out that people want to put her abilities to their own twisted use.  If you like Southern Gothic, or horror, or creepy child protagonists, or small Oklahoma towns…this might be right up your alley.  (At a mere 99 cents, it couldn’t hurt to check it out!)

I received my copy of Spark: A Creative Anthology in the mail this week.  There are a lot of amazing authors in there, and somehow I snuck in there, too, and in Vol. IV you can read my story “A Sort of Homecoming.”   It is definitely an honor to be among the writers included.  You can get your own copy of Spark here.  It will look a lot like this, but without the cute, enthusiastic children:

Spark

My short story “A Call for Courage” is up over at Page & Spine.  It is a quiet little story that makes me both weepy and proud.  If you have a minute (or if you just don’t feel like doing actual “work,” since it is Friday and all) go over and check it out here. 

A dear friend (A. K. Francis) and I have also decided to stop talking about putting together a literary journal and to start actually doing it.  So there is that.  The journal is called Drunken Muse Press.  The site is still under construction, but we will be publishing poems and prose (including short stories, essays, or whatever else you can cram under that category).  Works should be under 5k words (but if it is amazing, we are flexible).  We will have weekly online postings, plus one print anthology per year (hopefully going quarterly, if all goes well).  I will let you know more once we get a few more things in place.

Also, if you aren’t familiar with A. K. Francis–you will really want to remedy that.  Her work is dark, and twisty, and creepy.  It is the kind of stuff that torments your brain when you try to go to sleep at night.  Her latest short story, Midway, is available at Amazon.  Fortunately, she has agreed to allow me to interview her here, so you will get a chance to see how amazing she is for yourself soon.

Whew.  Other than that, I have been dealing with sick kids, sick husband, snow and ice, crazy cold weather, a firewood shortage, and your general not-enough-hours-in-the-day.  So, you know, it is the perfect time to decide to start a literary journal.  Wish me luck!

The Unlikeliest of Places

Strange, the places where we find inspiration.  The other day, I had to look up some legal statutes.  I clicked on the wrong statute link, and ended up on the page listing Arkansas statutes regarding embalmers and funeral directors.  Apparently, there are lots of law governing things like: eye enucleation, transportation of dead bodies, abandoned cemeteries, […]