Let me start out by saying I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. But I’ve got this book that I want to share with the world, and I’ve got a platform to experiment, so let’s see where this thing goes.
While I’m still pursuing a traditional publishing career, there’s this one book that’s nothing like the rest of the stuff I’ve written. Normally I churn out fantasy for kids, but this is a more contemporary love story. It’s drama, it’s for adults, there’s kissing and lovemaking and assault and death and lots of serious introspection on what it means to be alive, what’s worth fighting for, and learning when to let go of things. That’s not to say that middle grade fantasy doesn’t cover similar deep subjects–as an author of several novels for youth let me tell you, they’re pretty deep! But this book is strictly for adults, and so I’m trying something different with it.
It’s a story I’ve spoken of before, set in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 tsunami.
I’ll be posting it chapter by chapter on Wattpad, and you’re all welcome to come along on the journey, provide feedback or comments of general support and/or derision as I go, and when I’m all done posting it and consuming the commentary, I’m planning to polish it up and see what I can do with it as a self-published novel.
You can find a link to the novel over here. At the time of this post there are 3 chapters up out of thirty. The rest will be coming in short order over the coming weeks. While this isn’t a fully edited novel by any stretch, it’s not a first draft by far–this sucker has been through multiple revisions and rewrites, and I’m confident enough to share it with you, dear readers, and get your thoughts.
Here’s to the journey!
Bonus related (but stand-alone) short story!
Returning to Twitter after taking a year off (14 months, to be precise) was an eye-opening experience. Within an hour of returning, I already felt the toxic cocktail mixture of malaise and fear and disgust that chased me away in the first place. Except this time it felt stronger, like its anger-laser had been more focused, more refined. Perhaps even turned into an orbital ion cannon of societal destruction.
I’m not sure if it actually got worse in the year I was gone, or if I’d just forgotten how awful it was when I left. But I stuck with it, to see if I could figure out why it bothered me so much, and in the ensuing two weeks I discovered something terrible:
Social media is killing us.
(No FCM this week. I wanted to finish up a post I started writing several years ago instead.)
Earthquakes are similar to first kisses in many ways. There’s that moment of uncertainty that starts it all off where you think something’s going to happen. Something exciting and frightening, but you’re not quite sure what. Nervousness works its way into your toes and slithers up your legs, sapping the strength from them. You’re afraid you’re going to fall.
Sometimes you do.
Last time on FCM, we read about a girl made of living flame. This week there’s fire involved, as well, of a different sort. Fire in the form of fiery main character Hiruko Jones who’s having a really bad night watching her kid sister.
THE NINE SINS OF HIRUKO JONES is another one of those books that only has a single chapter in existence. I’ve got a pretty good idea of where this one is going and how it’s all going to end, but at the time I started writing it I’d also started work on SISTERS OF BLOOD AND SHADOW and the ninja girls won my heart. I may revisit this one later, though.
This book is a little bit Labyrinth, a little bit Dante’s Inferno. The titular character goes on a journey through a version of the afterlife that resembles Dante’s Hell mixed with the Japanese land of the dead to find her sister, and face nine of her own terrible sins along the way. Instead of Virgil, she’s escorted by the spirit of her favorite visual kei singer. Think David Bowie in epic makeup, with a wholly sarcastic, smart-ass attitude. See the above photo for a prime example.
Someday I’ll finish Hiruko’s story. It definitely still has its hooks in me, even rereading this sole chapter after a few years. Enjoy this peek into my tortured mind with the first chapter of THE NINE SINS OF HIRUKO JONES.
I had an epiphany last year while walking around the lake with my daughter before piano lessons. A couple of ducks with two baby ducklings were floating around, diving to dredge up the occasional worm. Aside from some Canada geese harassing them from time to time, the ducks carried on with life doing what they’ve done since the dawn of time.
The ducks don’t care who is president. The ducks don’t care about the latest outrage on social media. The ducks don’t care about which celebrity couple is adopting a new baby or getting a divorce. The ducks don’t get worked up at 24/7 news coverage of the atrocities of the world.
The ducks float around the pond and take care of their family. No matter how bad things get in the rest of the world, the ducks are going to do their thing and be all right.
I want to be the duck.
Last week, FCM focused on water. This week, we turn to fire.
EVEREMBERED is a book that has sung its siren song to me for quite some time. It’s a fantasy about a girl made of living flame, the last of her kind in a world where the sun is rapidly dying out. I’ve outlined most of it–there’s still some connective tissue that’s unknown and I’ll figure out what it is when I get to it. I often find writing is more like archaeology than invention. An author doesn’t so much fabricate a story as uncover it. I often learn my characters aren’t exactly who I thought they were, and that sort of delightful surprise is what I live for as a writer.
Aside from that outline, there’s just this one chapter. It will change, as all first chapters do, but I think it’s worthy to stand beside the first chapters of more complete novels I’ve scribed. In fact, just rereading it tonight as I prepare to post it, I’m longing to revisit this world once more and unlock the rest of its secrets…
It’s still Monday somewhere. I promise.
A grueling gauntlet of cross-country travel delayed this post a bit. Four flights in barely 48 hours takes a lot out of someone.
Last week was full of grit and darkness, and this week’s first chapter isn’t much brighter. But where last week was grimdark fantasy, this week is a contemporary love story. A PETAL OF CHRYSANTHEMUM (are you seeing a pattern with flowers?) is a novel I wrote quite a few years ago, when I first started kicking the dust off of the keyboard and diving back into this writing thing that I’d pursued with such reckless abandon while in college. It takes place amidst the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. With a wife hailing from Japan, I’ve got quite a few emotional connections to that country, and the tsunami really hit me hard. I clearly remember not being able to work for several days as I stared in awe at photograph after photograph of a land that nature had all but erased. A land that on multiple levels I’ve fallen in love with over the years.
I put this book aside for a while to pursue writing middle grade fantasy for kids (and there’s some of that coming in future weeks!) but recently I’ve returned to it and started making edits. As with the other entries in this series, this is not a fully polished novel yet. It’s just a snapshot of a book that’s been through several revision passes and is currently undergoing some subtle (and even not-so-subtle) edits to see if I can really make it sing.
I originally drafted this novel in 2011-2012, shortly after relocating to Seattle, when my family was temporarily living overseas. I think that feeling of isolation bled into this one somewhat subconsciously. It’s fun going back and reading all these things I wrote, and thinking through what I was feeling and doing at the time. Each novel I write is a mirror into the state of my soul at the time. I only hope the subsequent edits don’t tarnish the reflection.
Without further ado, the opening chapter of A PETAL OF CHRYSANTHEMUM.