Friday, May 29, 2015

Thunderlord snippet - Emergency

Please remember that this is a work in progress and drafts have a habit of changing drastically from inception to finished book.

From Thunderlord Chapter 20

Alayna felt another trickle, and then a cramping low in her belly, so sudden and sharp it took her breath away. She bent over with it. The spasm faded a moment later, but not entirely.  Not trusting to the steadiness of her hands, she set the candlestick on the stone hearth. A small spot of blood marked the front of her nightgown, but when she twisted the back around, she saw that it was drenched.

A knock at the outer door: “My lady?”

“Go away,” Alayna gasped.

What am I going to do?

\The door swung open. Though tears blurred her vision, Alayna made out Dimitra, holding aloft her own candle.

Vai domna, I am sorry to disobey you, but Sadhi heard a noise and reported it to me – Blessed Cassilda!”

The next moment, Dimitra grasped Alayna’s shoulders, turning her. Another cramp seized Alayna, worse than before. Then everything happened at once -- Dimitra shouted for Sadhi, hands lifted the sodden nightgown, lowered her to a bed spread thickly with towels, washed her with warm water – where had that come from, or had she lost track of time? – tucked layers of padding between her legs, pulled a new gown over her shoulders, eased comforters up to her shoulders --

“…Jerana, come at once…” Dimitra said, her back to Alayna.

Alayna, racked with yet another wave of pain, curled into a ball. I want to die, I want to die. What is happening to me? But she knew. She knew.

She roused a little at the sound of Jerana’s voice, a cool touch on her brow, a few murmured words, too indistinct to understand.

Help me. Help my babe.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Editing Tanith Lee (1947-2015)

Tanith Lee, one of the greatest writers of fantasy, died recently. I "came of age" in my own fantasy career reading her marvelous stories (even though we were born the same year) and had the delight of editing several of her short stories and in the process becoming friends. Many writers and readers have posted tributes to her. Here is a bit of my own story, originally written as part of a "behind the scenes" series for The Feathered Edge: Tales of Magic, Love, and Daring, which contained the third of the Tanith Lee stories I was privileged to edit.

What is there to say about editing a Tanith Lee story? You sit there, holding the typewritten manuscript that she sent you, and something in your brain turns itself into total fangirl jelly. But you already knew that.

To begin with, the first Tanith Lee story I worked on was for Lace and Blade (2008). She'd agreed to submit a story in the very early planning stages of that project, before I came onboard as editor. And it was my first gig as editor. Over the years, I'd worked with a bunch of different editors and had ideas about what worked for me, what didn't, and how I wanted to interact with writers "from the other side of the desk."  After years of participating in writer's workshops and teaching adult education classes in writing, I was all set to instruct and guide.

None of this prepared me for the experience of holding in my hands an original typewritten Tanith Lee manuscript.

The first, and most important thing, I had to do was to take off my fangirl hat and my fellow-writer hat, and affix my editor hat firmly to my head. This involved an excruciating change of gears. I made mistakes. Of course, I made mistakes. (And I learned how to clean them up.) I wasn't born knowing how to edit, let alone how to edit iconic authors in whose shadows I have long stood. Tanith herself encouraged me. She wrote to me, "On editing though - like writing, I feel strongly one must do what one feels is right. In me, of course, you run into an old war-horse, 40 years in the field, covered in armour and neighing like a trumpet." Which was a most gracious way of acknowledging that the relationship between an author and an editor is an organic process that, when at its best, is rooted in clear communication, deep listening, and respect. Not intimidation (in either direction), but a partnership in which both people have the same goal -- to make the story the best representation of the author's vision.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thunderlord snippet - Wedding Night

Please remember that this is a work in progress and drafts have a habit of changing drastically from inception to finished book.

From Thunderlord Chapter 19

The bed was even colder than the air, for the fire’s heat had not reached this far. Alayna slipped between the sheets, curled on her side, shivering. The women continued with their teasing, but she was too cold to care. If she said anything, her teeth would surely chatter, and they would think she was afraid. Perhaps that was the point of being half-naked in a chilly room – she’d be so glad of her husband’s strong body to warm the sheets that she would not care what happened next.

“Do you want aphrosone, my lady?” That was Jerana, speaking low so only the two of them could hear. “It will make tonight more pleasurable, although you will not remember in the morning.”

Alayna shook her head. She might be cold, but she was not afraid. If she should conceive – and she prayed to the Four Gods and any others that might be listening that she did – she wanted, oh yes, she wanted to remember this first night together.