Tag Archives: Works in progress

I hope to God it’s good.

“Finished this day — and I hope to God it’s good.”
— John Steinbeck, upon completing The Grapes of Wrath

It’s not likely to be as good as Steinbeck, but I have just finished the second draft of my sequel to Greetings from Coldwater. Surprisingly, it bears a closer resemblance to the draft I posted here this spring than Greetings from Coldwater’s second draft bore to its first. This probably has something to do with the fact that I was working from an outline and actually had an idea of where I was going this time.

I’m still not completely happy with the last chapter, but the rest of it feels solid, and a friend from church who very much enjoyed Greetings and the first draft of this still-untitled prequel/sequel has agreed to give it an edit. I’m looking forward to his feedback.

It’s been a ride. I know more about Celtic mythology now than I ever imagined I’d need or want to know four years ago, when Miss Shirley began bugging me in earnest for a prequel, or even seven months ago, when I sat down with a stack of real books and a Kindle full of ebooks and began taking notes. If my interior monologue is worth a damn, I owe Beverly Cleary a beer. If my fantasy elements are worth a damn, I owe J.K. Rowling and the late Rudolfo Anaya a beer. If the dialogue is worth a damn, I owe Quentin Tarantino a beer. And if the book reaches its final form before Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine goes into mass production, I probably owe the notorious M.L.G. (New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham) a beer. That shelter-in-place order lit a fire under me and gave me a nice block of time without a lot of distractions to get this project to this point much faster than I would have otherwise.

As the Dead once said: “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

Emily

Work in Progress

Amid all my other projects, I decided to create a houseplant-themed mural in my office to use up some leftover paint. I’ve been working on it, a few minutes here and an hour there, for about a week and a half. Here’s how it’s been going so far:

The big challenge of painting in the desert is that acrylic dries almost instantly, so you have to work really fast and do really small sections at a time to keep it from drying before you finish blending it. It doesn’t help that my office is hot in the afternoons, and most of the paint is several years old. The latex tends to get thick as it ages, which makes it dry out even faster. Still, it’s been a while since I painted a mural solely for my own enjoyment, and this is a pleasant way to use up some leftover paint I’ve had on hand for upwards of 10 years.

Emily

Fi(o)n(n)

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here. To read the chapters I’ve posted in order, click here.

Fi(o)n(n)
Sangre Mesa ~ Coldwater, N.M.

The ground rumbled as if in agreement. Morgan thought for a moment that the dragon was expressing her approval of the creature’s destruction, but Dr. Kavanaugh drew her attention to the pool, taking away that notion. “Look.” She pointed at the water. It was bubbling and churning.

“Oh, what fresh hell is this?” 

A familiar face surfaced. Before Morgan’s eyes, a mountain of a man emerged from the pond. Continue reading Fi(o)n(n)

Kill It With Fire

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here. To read the chapters I’ve posted in order, click here.

Kill It With Fire
Sangre Mesa ~ Coldwater, N.M.

Holly leaned against Colleen, who was making a valiant, albeit unsuccessful, effort to suppress a grimace as Morgan cut the rest of the butter into bite-sized pieces, which she and Holly began eating like popcorn.

Morgan chuckled. “You’re trying really hard to hide it, but I can tell this is totally grossing you out,” she said to Colleen.

Colleen sighed. “Is it that obvious? I’m sorry. I know it’s helping you, and I’m really glad Joey thought to bring it.”

“The butter was Joey’s idea?” Holly asked.

“Sort of. He said Miss Shirley sent him with it.”

“Ah.” Holly nodded. “I should have realized Joey didn’t come up with it on his own. He would have insisted on bringing cake to go with it.”

Morgan laughed, then winced, pressing her hand against her side. It suddenly occurred to Holly that not all of the bloodstains on Morgan’s skin and clothes belonged to the monster.

“What happened?”  Continue reading Kill It With Fire

Mama Knows Best

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here. To read the chapters I’ve posted in order, click here.

Mama Knows Best
Sangre Mesa ~ Coldwater, N.M.

Warm. Morgan was pretty sure she should have been cold. She’d just spent several hours — or maybe it had only been several minutes — fighting a monster in water that couldn’t have been more than 35 degrees. She was tired and woozy and was pretty sure she’d lost a lot of blood. The wind was blowing out of the north. She should have been cold. Why wasn’t she cold?

Heat moved up the side of her cheek, its movement reminiscent of a dog licking her face, and her eyes fluttered open. She could just make out Mom’s face above her own, and she heard voices calling to each other:

“She’s awake!” 

“Thank God!”

Morgan tried to sit up, but she couldn’t muster the energy. She could hear Lenore clicking her beak near her ear as if to scold her for trying to move too fast.

Lie still, Queen. All is well. The dragon’s voice spoke softly in the back of her mind. She was too tired to do anything but obey it.

 “Here. Feed her this.” That was Joey’s voice. What was he doing here? What was anybody doing here? What was going on?

She heard a shuffling sound as someone joined her mother on the ground.  Continue reading Mama Knows Best

Summoned

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here. To read the chapters I’ve posted in order, click here.

Summoned
Holly’s House ~ Coldwater, N.M.

Sierra took in the scene in Holly’s bathroom. The humidity had dissipated by the time she and Colleen arrived, but everything else supported Colleen’s theory that she’d missed the principal by just minutes. 

“Don’t touch anything,” Sierra said. “I doubt this is anything the police can help us with, but just in case it is, we need to treat this like a crime scene.”

Colleen nodded. “I don’t think I handled anything other than doorknobs. Well, that and the switch on the coffeemaker. I didn’t think it was a good idea to leave that on and risk starting a fire.”

Sierra’s eyes swept over the counter. Holly didn’t wear a lot of makeup, but an open jar of what Sierra recognized as an expensive brand of mascara was lying on the counter next to a tube of lip gloss. Other odds and ends were scattered across the counter — a wide-toothed comb, a pump bottle of argan oil, an elastic — and a drawer below the counter was ajar. Sierra didn’t pull it out, but the contents she could see suggested that Holly had left in a hurry, a suspicion corroborated by the wet towel lying in a heap on the shag throw rug in front of the sink.  Continue reading Summoned

The Search

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here. To read the chapters I’ve posted in order, click here.

The Search
Sangre Mesa ~ Coldwater, N.M.

Morgan was pretty sure Dr. Kavanaugh had been taken to the mesa, but whether she was on it, in it, or simply close to it was another question entirely. Morgan remembered that sense of being watched when she was tending her beehives and decided that was as good a starting point as any. 

She knew she and Lenore could search more efficiently if they were apart, so she sent the raven to fly over the trail while she went to check the spring. It was unlikely that the monster would have traveled deiseal, especially if it had to drag a fully grown human with it. Doubly especially if the fully grown human in question is fighting like a tiger all the way up, Morgan thought.

Her wings gave her the advantage of height and the ability to canvass the area much faster than she could have done on foot, but her vision wasn’t as sharp as she’d have liked, and after the third time she dropped to a lower altitude to check out something that turned out to be a boulder, she decided she’d had enough. She closed her eyes and recalled a video she’d watched about peregrine falcons and their spectacular ability to spot prey from the air. When she opened her eyes, her vision had cleared. She was still struggling to distinguish shapes that were the same color as the mountain — twice, she caught herself overlooking wildlife until it moved — and she really hoped Dr. Kavanaugh hadn’t picked today to wear earth tones. Continue reading The Search

Another delay

OK, sweetiedarlings … I know I left you on a cliffhanger this morning, but today was our last day of school before summer break, and I spent my day and most of my evening Zooming, grading, pulling reports, tying up loose ends with the yearbook, and updating paperwork, so I just don’t have the energy to write another chapter tonight.

I have to spend tomorrow removing several hundred dollars’ worth of fabric objects from my classroom, per CDC recommendations. This will either eat the entire day and leave me too exhausted to write, or it will irritate me enough that I’ll come home and hide out in Coldwater for the rest of the summer.

In any case, I expect to have another chapter for you by Sunday at the latest, and odds are fairly good I’ll have something done sooner than that. Just, y’know, don’t expect to see a chapter at 9 a.m. tomorrow unless my muse and the Insomnia Fairy both decide to roll up on me at once in the middle of the night.

FYI: I’m about four chapters from the end of the first draft, and then I’ll need to let the story rest while I work on some other projects. What I really need is a road trip out Route 66 to Winslow to have dinner at the Turquoise Room and spend an evening wandering the grounds of La Posada and communing with the ghosts of long-ago Harvey Girls before I tackle the next draft, but I don’t know how soon that’s going to happen. We’ll see.

Emily

Missing Person

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here. To read the chapters I’ve posted in order, click here.

Missing Person
Tumbleweed Motel ~ Coldwater, N.M.

The closer Morgan got to home, the more uneasy she felt. She was parking her bike next to the shed and was about to take off her bee suit and put away her tools when she saw Colleen’s old Subaru parked in front of the office. Morgan’s heart skipped a beat. Colleen wasn’t in the habit of dropping by the lobby just to say hi. If she’d come here, something must be wrong. Morgan left her bike out and ran for the back door, her hood flopping against the back of her stained-up canvas jacket. Lenore had flown ahead and was perched above the door, waiting for her.

Morgan raced into the kitchen to find Joey pacing, his eyes as big as saucers, while Mom and Colleen stood next to the avocado-green phone mounted to the wall, staring at it as if they expected it to ring. Colleen looked stricken.  Continue reading Missing Person

Queen Bee

NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here. To read the chapters I’ve posted in order, click here.

Queen Bee
Sangre Mesa ~ Coldwater, N.M.

Morgan parked her bike on the trail and clambered over a couple of rocks to get to her beehives. For the umpteenth time, she thought about how grateful she was that Daddy had set up the little apiary and taught her to take care of it. Counterintuitive as it sounded, there was something weirdly soothing about being surrounded by stinging insects eager to defend their home. Today, with her throat still sore from screaming for somebody who really wasn’t worth mourning, Morgan needed the comfort of an afternoon in her apiary, and the unseasonably warm weather meant she could give the hives a quick inspection without endangering their little occupants. She was looking forward to it as she pulled the smoker and a grill lighter from the milk crate Mom had attached to the back of her bike for hauling cargo. 

Morgan opened the smoker and pointed the lighter at a wad of cotton she’d gleaned from the side of Route 66 between Tucumcari and San Jon last fall. The raw cotton was great smoker fuel, and it didn’t cost anything. She and Daddy used to go out every year and collect a couple of big ziplock bags full of the stuff. These excursions usually occurred on a Saturday afternoon and ended with a bowl of ice cream at a pizzeria in Tucumcari, where they’d pick up dinner to take home to Mom. 

Morgan’s eyes watered, probably not from the smoke, as cotton caught and she flipped the lid shut and squeezed the bellows a couple of times to make sure it was going. She pulled on her gloves and lifted the lid off the first hive, aiming a few puffs of smoke into the opening on the inner hive cover before using her hive tool to pry off the cover. Continue reading Queen Bee