Tuesday Tidbits: What We Don’t See

What we don’t tell in a story is just as important as what we do.

I think of stories as being set in living worlds, thousands of other lives, other adventures, taking place around the main thread of telling.

Although some authors attempt to chase these many threads into madness, most stories pull one or two and leave the other stories to fall to the side.

But what if the stories that aren’t being told are just as important as the ones that are?

I’ve always been interested in the art formed by negative spaces. The ability to use the shadows and the emptiness around a foreground object to create a more interesting picture is something that has always interested me as a writer.

Stories seldom start on the first page of the book.

They are the product of all the events that have happened before and during and after, connecting at the point the narrator observes them. Even avoiding philosophy, we don’t get always get to choose what narrative we’re thrust into in our own lives. When living, we have to take the scene set before us and hope we make our way successfully across the stage.

The main character of With Honor Intact runs into problems because she is missing pieces of other people’s stories. The “Tales from the Virtue Inn” series is a fast-moving modern fable, but it is also fundamentally a mystery. Honor’s decision to cut ties with her home as a teenager means that she is missing the crucial pieces of information she needs to survive in the strange world of the magical Inn she is managing.

Honor’s story is as much as about what she doesn’t know as what she does.

It is not magic to face an unfamiliar world unprepared.

It is not magic to balance our duties and desires on a swiftly changing stage.

The magic is that we make the attempt in the first place.

The magic is that we succeed.

The Larger PictureSometimes we miss the larger picture. Sometimes it’s better that we do.

The idea of a living world that the narrator tells of a small fraction of the activity is something that I have wanted to write for a very long time. “Tales from the Virtue Inn” explores the inevitable consequences of missing pieces of the bigger picture in a dangerous, fantastical setting.

With Honor Intact will be available digitally from all Amazon sites on April 23, 2015. To read the first book in the series, you can find The Guests of Honor here.


The Secret Lives of Well-Lived Homes

I knew that the old house understood what I said.

When I was very small, I used to rest my head against the walls and try to hear what it had to say.

I was sad when we moved and sadder still when the house was changed beyond my knowing.

This may have slept inside my head, long past the time when I thought that the creak of the floorboards was an ongoing conversation.

There is something about a house that has lived.

It carries memories that nothing flesh could bear.

It keeps that knowledge deep within its inner beams, dispersed in the shifting of foundations and the groan of warping wood.

There is also a moment when life passes from a house.

Even if it is still occupied, still being used, some vital force disappears, leaving only the barest of shelters.

I have been asked where the Virtue Inn formed within my head and it is a struggle to explain.

I have known so many houses that have a story, lurking under fading wallpaper and unreplaced asbestos.

Their voices are quiet but insistent.

What if we shaped you as you shape us?

 I answered their question.

IMG_1853Even after life has passed, the stories linger

If you are interested in seeing the Virtue Inn in “The Guests of Honor”, my US Kindle Countdown promotion is here. If you are in the UK, my Kindle Countdown promotion is here.



A Tale of Bones and Magic

What is a fairytale?

As a child, you could not pry me away from the folklore section of our local library. Every collection of world mythology or folktales I could find, I devoured.

Ironically, I was much less interested in the stories labeled as fairytales than I was in the many other stories from around the world.

It has been an interesting circle for me to find myself writing something that is described as an adult fairytale.

It has no fairies, no elves, no vampires, no princesses.

There is no profound moral message, no easy vengeance or reward.

The magic does not take its core from Northern European stories.

But there is something, in the story or the telling, that makes people feel as if they are reading a modern fable.

In the end, like so much else of what I discuss here, I think the perception is rooted in the magic.

There is a sense of discovery in those fairy stories. Even as terrible and grim as the bones of most of those cautionary tales were, there was also a keen and present sense of adventure, of the fantastic waiting just beyond our mundane existence.

I would like to hope that some piece of both magic and terror lives within the story I have tried to tell.

What is a fairytale?

A story that speaks to our internal child, even as it reminds the adult of the wolf at the door.

IMG_0365Through what strange woods have we traveled, for a story half-forgotten?

If you are interested in seeing “The Guests of Honor”, my US Kindle Countdown promotion is here. If you are in the UK, my Kindle Countdown promotion is here.

I’d also like to point out Ebooksoda if you are interested in receiving updates on books that are on sale in specific genres. I’m doing some advertising with them tomorrow and I’ve been super impressed with the content curation that they do in the genres I’m interested in (Fantasy and YA).