by Dorlana Vann
Cinders on your face and hands, so you said.
Instead of supper you were sent to bed.
No one to play with—No huge castle walls.
Dined on the cold floor like one of the dogs.
Every day, I must hear your sad stories.
Really Mother, they are getting boring.
“Eleanor,” you start, “you are so very blessed.
Living the sweet life of a spoiled princess.”
Let me live it and make my own mistakes.
And you’ll see mirth is not an evil trait.
Dear Mom is from my short story collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales. It was inspired by Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper by Charles Perrault containing Stories or Tales from Times Past, with Morals, with the added title in the frontispiece, Tales of Mother Goose. France: 1697
There’s No Cure for Dead
by Dorlana Vann
She opened and closed her mouth a couple of times, loosening her jaw, before she spoke. “You can’t be serious. Marriage is no longer something we can consider.”
He stood far away, at the other end of the long, formal dining room table. He was handsome now: tall and regal. He used to look so hideous he’d hid from the world. But his compassion and heart were so big that she had fallen madly in love. So she wasn’t surprised by his proposal even if it was a bit insane.
“I love you,” he said. “I want you to be my wife.”
“I know you love me. I love you, too. But we have to face facts. You must accept this. You shouldn’t even be feeding me. Look at me. What kind of bride would I be?”
“A beautiful one. When I was beastly, you saw something inside me and loved me for me.
I love you for you. I know who you are on the inside.”
The rancid taste in her mouth distracted her for a second. Was it from the meal she’d just devoured or her own tongue? What had he said? Was he actually trying to compare her current situation to his past? “But I’m not like you. You were cursed by a witch. I’m–”
“Doesn’t matter!” He slammed his fist down on the table, making the china and silver jolt. “I’ll use every last cent I have to find a cure.”
“You’re not listening to me.” She tried to stand, but the chains around her waist stopped her. It took a second to remember why she was confined to a chair. Oh yeah, that’s right; dinner had taken a little too long last night. When hunger hit, nothing else fit in her head. If it hadn’t been for the butler with the Taser, they wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. “Sweetheart,” she said sweetly, trying to calm him, “There’s no cure for dead.”
“Maybe one of my tears, or a potion of some sort … or maybe a kiss.”
“Right.” She rolled her eyes. They stuck like that for a second until she shook her head to get them straight again. “You’re going to kiss me? Do I even have lips, anymore?” Just as she pushed out her tongue to feel for lips, a twinge in her head stopped her. What was she doing?
“There’s got to be something. But first, we will get married.” He walked beside the table toward her, stopping halfway, a hint of fear in his eyes.
The sudden spasm in her head caused her to let out a moan. The hunger didn’t feel the way it had when she’d been alive. This appetite was in her brain. It rumbled, it stirred, it wanted, it hurt. But she’d just eaten an entire plate of … Who? Where was the butler?
He was saying, “I mean, we can’t really have a honeymoon right now. We’ll postpone it until later. When you’re better. But please let me prove my love and devotion to you.”
She tried to remember her meal tonight, but then a series of intense, sharp pains ricocheted inside her head. With both hands, she pulled at what was left of her hair.
When she brought her hands down to look at them, brown hair clung to her fingers. Wait? Whose hair was this? She glanced around the room: extravagant, expensive, a stone fireplace, a cathedral ceiling. What was this house? Who lived here anyway? Who was this walking closer to her? Her brain pulsed and rumbled. He was so close – she sniffed the air – and luscious. Her mouth watered, and all she wanted was one little taste, one little nibble.
“Right after the ceremony, I will hire the best researchers on the planet …”
She tried to get up, but for some reason she couldn’t move. She tried again, and again, and again. The hunger pains moved down to behind her eyes, causing her to squint to see the delicious meal that was igniting her senses.
“So? What do you say? Will you marry me?”
The food was right there in front of her now. Maybe if she stretched out her arms as far as she could, she’d be able to reach it. All she needed was a one bite to make this unbearable torture end.
“Oh Belle, I don’t know. But you did just eat, so I guess one hug, to seal the deal with my fiancée would be okay.”
There’s no Cure for Dead was inspired by Beauty and the Beast (French: La Belle et la Bete) by Jeanne Marie Le Prince de Beaumont. France: 1756. It is one of the short stories from my collection, Supernatural Fairy Tales: paranormal short stories inspired by fairy tales
Three of my books are for readers who like a little quirkiness with their paranormal. Although they are not considered “horror stories” some are spooky, & some are quirky, some were inspired by classic fairy tales, but they are all supernatural fun!
Jaclyn’s Ghost: Ghosts, Mystery and Fashion. Can this diva solve her own murder? Or will she be stuck in limbo forever?
Silverweed: Granny, a werewolf, and three teenagers trapped in a spooky old house in the middle of the woods. In this Little Red Riding Hood inspired supernatural fairy tale, the roles of prey and predator are blurred.
Supernatural Fairy Tales: Paranormal short stories inspired by Fairy Tales. A warlock’s indecent proposal, vengeful ghosts, pill-popping wolves, merfolk (Are they just misunderstood?), trees in love, a bratty princess, a vampire strolling about town doing lunch, fairy dust, and more!
I have used a lot of different methods to write my books over the years. The technique depends on the story and if I already have an idea or not. One tactic is to build inspiration upon inspiration, like a house, from the ground up. Creating a novel in phases not only gives you a jumpstart but also challenges your imagination. It’s an in-depth way to really get to know your story, plot, and characters. The process is slower and more laid-back than others. If NaNoWriMo is a sprint, then the Building Method is a marathon. However, I’ve written four novels this way, so I know it works.
Foundation: Find inspiration. Purposely seek out something that you can use as an initial starting point. This can be a picture, a song, a childhood memory, a dream or a combination of things. Write it down, pin it on a bulletin board, think about it, and do a little research until a story idea begins to form. For me, when I use this method, fairy tales plus a supernatural element are my inspiration.
Framing: Write a short story. To support your idea, expand your inspiration into a short story. The trick is, you must get it out your mind that this will be used for a novel. Just write the best short story you can. Under 3,000 words should be a good word count goal. Then edit and give it to readers to critique. Then sit on it for a week or so.
Exterior: Outline. Use your short story as inspiration to plot your novel. (The short story might only be used for the backstory, plot, setting, moral, etc.) Whatever your outlining style – detailed chapter by chapter, pre-rough draft, one sentence chapter summaries on index cards – by the time you’re finished, you will have a few or a lot of recognizable details from the short story, but it will have developed into its own unique design.
Interior: Write. Fill in your outline with a rough draft. This is your sit-your-butt-at-your-computer-time and write and rewrite. I think having either a word-count or an hours per day goal is essential. Write your first draft using whichever style you prefer: don’t look back or edit and research as you go. And then write your second draft, and your third … until you are sure your story is solid.
Final Walk Through: Editing. Time is one of the best editing tools. Distance will give you a better perspective. Work on something else for a month and then edit. After that, hand it out to your readers and then edit some more.
Closing: Submissions. Find the perfect buyer. And don’t forget, you also have a short story.
Love and Laughter,
by Dorlana Vann
It felt as if the castle walls were closing in on me. With each passing moment, my eyes grew heavier, as did my head, as I struggled to keep watch. But my thoughts must be enough to keep me awake till dawn, for the dragon had escaped its chains and until its capture, I am the princess’s night keeper.
The fair maiden, with her golden hair sprawled upon the pillow, was only beautiful while she slept. Otherwise a creature, one may dare say, more horrifying than the one I stand guard against. However, this minor detail makes no matter, I must protect all the same.
Her, under the deep velvet blankets, snug against the wintry wind which steals in through the cracks. And I, standing with my hands so frozen that they barely hold the weapon I am meant to defend with. However, I can’t let the bitter cold distract me either. I am to be strong and heat myself with my inner strength.
But my legs had forsaken me hours ago and had fallen asleep, and the relentless tickle of tiny thorns haunted my numb feet. But I mustn’t move an inch which may disrupt the princess’s sleep.
Suddenly, the clamor of a thousand drummers with the rumble of a thunderstorm arose in the darkness. I knew my time had come. Adrenalin swept through every inch of my body as I rushed the window and came face to face with the notorious dragon. With one mighty thrust, I lunged my heavy sword into the beast. The heat from his breath knocked me clear and only after I regained my wind, could I look up to see my enemy.
The princess was sitting up now, her screams muffled by the dragon’s wail. With only one eye visible through the window, the dragon searched until he spotted his prey.
In a frantic state, I ran toward the princess’s bedside. However, before I could reach her, the dragon’s sharp talons came through the window and seized the princess with a swift swoosh.
I watched in horror as the dragon brought her up to his mouth and swallowed with one significant gulp.
He then flew away, my sword still in his side like a pesky thorn, his appetite cured for the night.
I fell to the cold stone floor, pounding my fist, hard at first … and then more gently as I gazed up at the warm soft covers. I crawled on my belly, like a failure should, and slowly lifted my weary self upon the bed, near tears, and then sank into the sound sleep of a princess.
The Guard is one of the short stories from my collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales.
When I was writing the rough draft for The Trouble with Scarecrows, I received comments back from a critique partner. It was clear that she hated my main character to the core. Of course, I defended my reasons as to why I had given Brenda a Scrooge personality. For one, she is actually the antagonist in the first book so I had to stay true to her character; and two, I thought I had managed a deep character arc.
Then I received comments from a second critique partner. She didn’t show such disdain, but still she’d marked certain places where the character made her feel uncomfortable and where she’d thought she’d gone too far … pretty much saying the character was mean.
I had spent a year with this character (on just this book) and it was hard to think about making drastic changes. But I had no choice but to really pay attention now. So the first thing I did was just add an extra clear “remorse scene,” one where the MC poured her heart out saying how sorry she was for all her wrong-doings.
I was satisfied with that for a little while, but my nagging brain wouldn’t let it be. I knew it wasn’t enough. *Sigh* The character was the heroine, not the antagonist anymore, and even though she was feisty, tough, and determined, I also had to make her likable. So I went through the novel, softening her up where needed and only having her feistiness appear as reactions to situations.
But I still had this feeling that something was missing. Finally, during the rewrite, a writing concept I had forgotten all about popped into my mind: Save the Cat. If you are a writer, you have probably heard the term. It is a concept and the name of screenwriter’s how-to book by Blake Snyder.
Here is the writing rule from the book Save the Cat: “The hero has to do something when we meet him so that we like him and want him to win. A screenwriter must be mindful of getting the audience ‘in sync’ with the plight of the hero from the very start”
Even though this information is in a screenwriter’s book, I think it applies to novels too. It makes sense and it certainly applied to my story. Even though I was fixing the character in later chapters, I needed that initial scene so that the readers would sympathize with her immediately. It didn’t take me long to find the obvious spot for this in my first chapter. (A shout out to my honest and tough critique partners!)
I wrote down the three little words and posted it to my bulletin board with my other two important writing reminders: “Emotion, Thought, Decision” and “A scene is never about what a scene is about.” It will sure save a lot of grief and time if I remember to “Save the Cat” before I start writing my next rough draft.
Love and Laughter,
A scarecrow is the opposite of a wingman, a dating decoy used to scare away any “crows” who are giving unwanted attention, making it difficult for the right man to have a clear shot.
Thirty-year-old Brenda Fisher believes the best way to get over her ex is to face her past and find a new guy. She knows the type of man she needs in her life … and the type of man she does not, which includes alpha males like Neal Parker.
Neal Parker’s friend and former boss, Larry White, had been gracious enough to let him stay at his old apartment rent-free while Neal pursues his culinary degree. But now the owner of the multiplex–Larry’s high-strung ex-girlfriend, Brenda Fisher–is threatening to sell it out from underneath him. Brenda is possibly the sexiest woman Neal has ever met. Nevertheless, he’s aware of her past destructive relationship with Larry and knows it’s best to stay clear.
When Neal finds out Brenda might be in need of some help in the romance department, he tries to trick her into an exchange: scarecrow services for the apartment. Brenda does not appreciate being manipulated. She ups the stakes, and if Neal wants the future he’d planned, he’ll have to play by her rules.