It’s Not Cheating, I Tell You

I like house plants, and I like to experiment with them. So, every now and again, I have to buy new stock because I’ve either murdered the old or gotten wonky results. To keep myself from going overboard when that happens, I have a rather simple rule: I go alone, and I can only have what I can carry. It works in theory. Well until I see the nth plant I just have to have and fail to grow an extra set of hands. Then it’s time to go and buy a pot large enough to stuff two or three plants inside. A bit of an exploit, but, technically, I’m not breaking my rule. Right?

What Lies Within Is Live

Buildings think and feel, but, most of all, they remember the things we’d rather forget.

Plagued by nightmares featuring his childhood home and mysterious intruders, Ash needs to discover the truth before the chance is taken from him. When he goes to visit the house, he finds the place in ruins and haunted by memories not his own.
But the state of the building is only the beginning. The secrets, Ash finds hidden within its walls, make him wish he’d left his past alone. Some things should never be remembered.

Buy on Amazon

What I Learned While Revising What Lies Within

You can’t spent months with a story and come out on the other side without having learned something. Even if you end up hating the story with a passion and start fantasizing about it and a bonfire in the backyard you don’t have. So here’s what I learned.

While I like the concept of Holly Lisle’s One-Pass Manuscript Revision, it really doesn’t work for me. At least not in its entirety. When I finished going through my first draft, I had more hand written pages than printed ones. All nicely rewritten material, that made the story more in depth and consistent. Thing is, I used none of it. My penmanship isn’t too horrid, but I’ve trouble reading it anyway, and I’ve never been good at just straight up copying text.  So I ended up rewriting everything, I’d already rewritten, again. And I believe that’s what slowed me down so much because when I got to the part where I only marked things I wanted to change, things sped up a lot. And I did my final pass for typos and leftover really awkward wording in two day.

Mark only is also how I revised John & Other Stories and it may have been better for it…. Or worse, but that’s not really for me to judge.

Anyway, when I start revising After The Fall in December, I’ll be using part one of One Pass and then proceed my way.

I also learned that I need to stick a post-it note over my desk that says “HIT SPACE AFTER EVERY PERIOD AND COMMA.” because I think I gained several hundred words just by fixing that.

And one more thing. I’m also never going to focus exclusively on revising ever again. It hurt to not write anything new for so long. Though I did work on the outline of ATF and wrote the first chapter. Still from here on out, it’s always going to be a mix of both.

What Lies Within Blurb

Buildings think and feel, but, most of all, they remember the things we’d rather forget.

Plagued by nightmares featuring his childhood home and mysterious intruders, Ash needs to discover the truth before the chance is taken from him. When he goes to visit the house, he finds the place in ruins and haunted by memories not his own.
But the state of the building is only the beginning. The secrets, Ash finds hidden within its walls, make him wish he’d left his past alone. Some things should never be remembered.

What Lies Within First Page

The wire mesh of the construction fence rattled, driven by the fine tremors running through Ash’s hands, as he braced himself against the cool metal. Looming beyond the flimsy barrier–at the end of a too short driveway–stood the building that fueled his nightmares, and hidden within its walls lay the key to unraveling Ash’s past. At least he hoped–and feared–his intuition wasn’t misleading him.
Despite how much the sight of the house unsettled him, Ash couldn’t help the stab of disappointment at its condition. In his dreams, the house stood tall and proud–larger than life somehow–but this…this was little more than a carcass, gutted by years of neglect. Long cracks interspersed only by holes of various sizes, created an intricate network of passages throughout the cracked paint and likely the wood underneath. Many of the shingles had slid of the roof to form mounts of rubble that poked out of the scraggly patches of yellowing grass, now passing as the house’s lawn.
Only the towering trees on either side of the path, lived up to Ash’s expectation. Though they allowed rays of light to fall through their crowns, they seemed to be sheltering the house with their shade.
He wanted to turn around and leave, but his mind felt drawn to the house; tempted by the opportunity ahead that lay ahead. This was his only chance, too. By next week the once grand estate would be nothing but an empty plot of land for nature to reclaim. Sooner maybe. Demolition went pretty fast these days. His cowardice had caused this. He squeezed his eyes shut and forced air through clenched teeth in a whistling sigh.
Like this, he could see the house in its former glory, smell the fragrant aroma wafting from the flowerbeds, that once ran along the foundation, and hear the children chasing each other across the yard. The memory of their laughter alone was almost enough to drown out the scrabbling deep within his mind–a sound that came far too close to gnawing at times. Only the chance to finally get rid of that, had driven him to give in to his current therapist’s prompting. Even then, he probably would have out it off, if not for a seemingly random article in a paper it had no business being in. Who knew that the other side of the country cared about the looming demolition of the only place ash ever remembered calling home?
No. As much as the idea of taking even a single step closer to the house terrified him, he had no choice. He needed closure. Needed to find out what he’d forgotten before he spent the rest of his life regretting yet another bad choice. Besides, other than probably mountains of dust, there wasn’t anything to fear here. He just had to talk himself into believing that.
Beady eyes in the dark. Staring. Waiting. Coming for him.

The Evolution of A Story

Today, almost a month after my intended publication date, I finally finished revising What Lies Within. This story has been a pain to work with since I first conceived it and honestly, if I ever have to lay eyes on it again after I get it set up on Amazon, I’ll be a happy person.

WLW started its life as a 1st person 500 word flash fic about a light in the basement, that killed the MC’s best friend and his dog. It had a lackluster ending, that was little more than the MC returning to the basement and dying.

In its second iteration it became a 1000 word 1st person story about the same thing, but ending with the MC at a Motel deciding to go and die. Longer but just as bad.

Both these version were creatively titled The Light.

On the third rewrite, I decided to switch to 3rd person. I had this neat little plan to turn it into a 1.5k word piece, which went great until the middle exploded and turned it into a 5k story And in Coming Home the MC finally got a name and didn’t die, but the story still lacked something. It moved to fast and provided too little reason for  the MC to return , because it no longer had the best friend or the dog.

I made several attempts to fix the story , before trunking it ,because it was stalling me. It’s a mix of these attempts and Coming Home that What Lies Within grew out of . It’s roughly 12k words long and the only thing it still has in common with the first version, is the MC returning to his childhood home after a long absence.

I’ll get the blurb and Amazon sorted out this weekend. I’m feeling too drained to deal with that right now. I just wish, it wasn’t midnight, so I could go and buy myself a piece of cake.