BAD-ASS INSIGHT: C.S. Haviland

This week’s Insight is from C.S. Haviland, read on to learn about his long and winding road to Faerie. Be sure to leave a comment for a change to win a free ecopy of “Reality Divison. (Next Week’s Insight: David Sherman)

___________________________________________

 HOW FAIRIES FOUND ME

 It all began when I graduated from the University of North Texas in 1988 with a BA in Radio/TV/Film production, and in early 1989 I moved to Orlando, Florida and began to work as a production assistant, stand-in and extra on several TV series and films shooting at Universal Studios Florida (in the production studio, before the theme park was built). I worked with the original cast of Leave It to Beaver on their new spinoff show, and followed Superboy around with a parasol over his head to keep the Florida sun from running his makeup onto the blue suit, and fetched actor Chris Sarandon from the airport, and got myself fired from the set of Psycho IV... Oh yeah, lots of adventures in those years.

 In the summer of 1989, while waiting around on the set of a b-movie as an extra, I was inspired to write a low budget comedy screenplay entitled When It Rains.

 It featured two boys, Scott and Terry, both in their early 20's (my age at the time), who get caught up in a spy scandal with a family of young girls (named Anne, Kelly, Gina, Molly, Katy and Stephanie). Terry had too much confidence; Scott had too little. But the two were friends, and Terry found an opportunity to help Scott get over his fear of girls.

 Until then I had only written in science fiction, fantasy or horror, so writing a comedy was new territory for me. The script was so-so. It had a few cute scenes and pieces of dialog, but otherwise I didn't feel particularly proud of it. I have never had a great interest in pure coming-of-age comedies.

 About that same time I had started a fantasy screenplay I called Magicia, about a couple of college-aged boys who lived in an apartment in New York City, and one day they came home to find a beautiful young girl with small white-feathered wings in their kitchen, playing with their food. The boys could never identify exactly what she was or where she came from, but her name was Fawn, and the plot centered around keeping her hidden from the outside world. I only wrote the first 15 pages, and then was stopped.

 In late 1989 I was given an office at Universal Studios Florida to work as a reader for a small company there. In March, 1990, I partnered with my cousin, Paul Sirmons, and formed a production company called SHO Entertainment (SHO was to refer to Sirmons Haviland Organization, a future "parent" entity, which never materialized). We took over the lease for my office at Universal, and that is where I spent every single day until late 1993. The initial Universal theme park was built in those days, and I attended its opening ceremonies in the Spring of 1990 as a VIP. That evening I stood in a small room with tons of actors -- Michael J. Fox, Sylvester Stallone, Charlton Heston, James Stewart, Bill Cosby, etc -- and brushed past the whole lot so I could talk to Steven Spielberg. I had a pleasant chat with him, but it didn't lead to anything.

 Most of the time I wrote new screenplays, hoping to use one to raise private financing and make an independent film. But my low-budget scripts were too weak, and my strong scripts were too expensive to make independently. I tried to sell them as spec scripts but science fiction and fantasy are hard to sell on spec, especially if you're an unknown without an agent.

 In 1991 I tried to revitalize Magicia as a low budget fantasy named Fawn. This version was about a 14 year old boy named Ronnie who lived in a future where society had moved underground, due to pollution. He ran away from his abusive parents and discovered a fairy with small brown-feathered wings on her back, named Fawn. But again, I stalled about 15 pages into the story.

 In 1992, director Joe Dante (who made Gremlins) moved into an office two doors down the hall from me to shoot the movie Matinee, starring John Goodman. I got to know many of the cast and crewmembers. One day I was playing the soundtrack of Gremlins in my office and, like some kind of pied-piper effect, Gremlins producer Mike Finnell wandered into my office and said, "I know that music." That's how I got to meet him. I met Joe when I simply invited him in to sign my poster of The Howling. But I never spoke to either of them about my scriptwriting. I was afraid it would set up a barrier, and anyway, I didn't feel that I had completed anything they would have any interest in.

 But as fate would have it, the producer's assistant asked me if I had any screenplays to submit to Joe. I felt that was opportunity knocking, and hard. Though I didn't have anything on hand that would suit Joe's taste, I told her I would come up with one he'd like. So in May 1992 I pulled out my unfinished screenplays When It Rains, Magicia and Fawn, reworked the ideas and plotlines, thought about something I felt Joe would be interested in visually, and rewrote a new story called The Tree. This script featured three orphan boys, Terry (the eldest teen), Scott (about 14) and Ronnie (pre-teen), who crashed a car in the woods and discovered a giant tree. Inside a cottage under the tree lived a family of young girls (Ellen, Anne, Katy, Libby, Belle and Mariam) who turn out to be fairies (or dryads, more exactly), each with tall pointed ears and brown-feathered wings on their backs (similar to Fawn). For whatever reason, the combination of characters took on a life of its own, and the story fell into place almost automatically. At least 95% of the plot remains the same to this day, but that final 5% would be subject to numerous rewrites.

 I wrote my first draft in 40 days (my fastest work until I wrote Code & Chemistry years later, which took only 7 days), but by the time I was done, Joe and his company moved back out to California. I mailed the script to them, but it was rejected by their readers without explanation, and that was that. Neither Joe nor Mike had seen it. Not being the best networker in the world, I blew it.

 I rewrote The Tree numerous times between 1992 and 2002 as my life changed and my writing matured. Many of the rewrites were driven by a determination to make it more popular in screenwriting contests (a market in which fairy fantasies, especially at that time, tended not to do so well). I dropped the character of Belle rather quickly, to simplify things, but the scenes I kept changing the most were in the climax. I knew what I wanted, but I couldn't make it work just right.

 Occasionally The Tree screenplay would compete in writing contests. My draft of 1993 was a quarterfinalist in the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, the most prestigious contest for unproduced screenwriters, sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (of Oscar/Emmy fame). It was in the top 10% of 4000 submissions world wide. I got calls from agencies due to that, including Circle of Confusion, who would later discover the Wachowski brothers who made the Matrix movies. But I wasn't able to catch any fish. I entered various other contests but failed to rank.

 So I began rewriting The Tree again, trying to tease out its best chemistry. But I didn't have a lot of free time in those days. I moved to New York in 1996 and fell backwards into the internet industry, and was a member of the startup staff of the network that would become About.com, and in 1998 I founded the advertising operations staff in the startup called Mail.com. In the middle of all this craziness, in 1997, I also invested quite a bit of my time and money in an independent feature film written by my associate Gary Rogers and directed by my cousin Paul Sirmons, produced by our company SHO Entertainment, called The First of May. Shot in the Fall of 1997 it starred Julie Harris, Dan Byrd, Charles Nelson Reilly, Mickey Rooney, and the Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio, as himself. (Joe D died a year later, but he reportedly had watched his scene on a video screen in the hospital room the day before he died, and was very pleased with it.) I received two credits on the film: co-producer and location manager. (It would later debut on HBO in 1999-2003 and has won a dozen awards.) Based on the young adult novel The Golden Days by Gail Radley, the movie was about a foster child and an old lady in a nursing home who find something in common and run away together.

 In 1998 I finally completed another rewrite of The Tree and submitted it to the Chesterfield Writer's Film Project screenwriting contest, sponsored by Steven Spielberg's Amblin' Entertainment and Universal Studios. It became a semifinalist, among several thousand entries. In 1999, The Tree garnered a semifinalist status once again, this time in the Maui Writers Conference Screenwriting Competition, being one of the 50 scripts out of 550 submissions.

 After yet another tweak to the script I submitted it again to the Chesterfield contest in early 2001, this time partnered with my science fiction screenplay Code & Chemistry (which was written for--and competed in--the first Project Greenlight contest, in 2000, where it failed to rank with the hordes of competitive wannabes). Together, the two scripts gave me a semifinalist ranking again. The Tree was also an "Honorable Mention" in The Writers Network contest around that time.

 But there was still something wrong. The climax wasn't working for me. I needed the reader to feel more empathy toward my orphans.

 On September 11, 2001, I witnessed the horrible destruction of the World Trade Centers outside my office window in New York City. Soon after this shocking event sank into my daily reflection, I realized what I wanted to do with the climax of my story. I quickly wrote a new draft. Suddenly the whole story came together, as if it was waiting for that final emotional punch all these years. In late 2001 it was a finalist in the People's Picture Show contest. In 2002 it became a quarterfinalist in the New Century Writer Awards and also a quarterfinalist in the 2002 Screenwriting Expo screenplay competition (sponsored by Creative Screenwriting Magazine). At the prompting of my cousin / business partner Paul Sirmons, in late 2002--barely more than 10 years after its first screenplay draft--I decided to give The Tree a new, more descriptive name: Faith & Fairies.

 In 2002, my wife was tutoring the daughter of Caldecott award-winning children's book illustrator and author Ed Young. Ed was in my apartment one day and we got to chatting about my screenplay, and the difficulties I've had in getting anyone in the industry to read it without an agent. So he referred me to his agency, McIntosh & Otis, in NYC. So I sent the script to an agent at McIntosh & Otis who picked it up and shopped it around Hollywood for about a year. It got a lot of attention, but no takers. Part of the problem is that the movie business is still shy of making fantasy unless it is based on bestselling books, like Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, etc. When I had pitched it at the 2002 Maui Writers Conference some people advised me to write it as a novel. Selling it as a screenplay right away wasn't doing the story justice.

 This seemed like a good idea. Anyway, one of my biggest frustrations with these many rewrites was the 120-130 page limitation of the screenplay format. There was too much story I wanted to tell. So in late 2002 I decided to rewrite Faith & Fairies as a novel, expanding the story to include a dragon, many more fairies, and more plot points that interested me. It was at this time I introduced the scenes with the butterflies (inspired by my wife's love of the insect), the city of snorts and the sub-plot with the nail, the bowing scene near the end, Horde-Kaa and her fight with the Empress Mother, and a few other things.

 While the story still lives as a screenplay, and I still shop it now and then, I'm very satisfied with Faith & Fairies as a novel, and my readership seems to love it. It was this book that caught author Danielle Ackley-McPhail's eye, who found me on MySpace and asked if I wanted to participate in the anthology, Bad-Ass Faeries 2: Just Plain Bad. She explained the theme to me, and gave me a list of ideas that were already taken, which in fact included many I would have wanted to try. (I may have been one of the last to join the project.) Her directive was to think outside the box, to re-imagine what fairies are. Without overlapping someone else's approach. And make them bad-ass.

 I tried a couple of ideas and scrapped them. The idea I finally came up with wrote itself, as many stories do, and in the end I wasn't sure if it really fit the theme or not. The idea was about a union of fairies that keeps our reality separated from other realities... What if this union goes on strike? While I liked the idea, trying to "bad-assify" my fairy characters, and make them less like traditional fairies, was an unexpected challenge.

 At any rate, "The Reality Division" became my entry in Bad-Ass Faeries 2.

 Cheers!

--C.S. Haviland


BAD-ASS INSIGHT: Donald Shank

This week’s Insight is from author and artist Donald Shank, author of one of the most disturbing stories in the original Bad-Ass Faeries anthologies. Hope you enjoy. Be sure to comment for a chance to win an ecopy of Donald’s story. (Next Week’s Insight: C. S. Haviland)

________________________________

"A Pressing Problem" developed in basically the same way almost all of my art, music, and writing develops: a single image, situation, or theme pops into my mind and I work outward from there—adding, honing, experimenting as the piece slowly grows and attains its final form.

In the case of this short story, the concept of the Bad-Ass Faerie reminded me of traditional and non-traditional faeries that had come before, and my art background led me to the Brian Froud illustrations for Lady Cottington's Pressed Faerie Book. The concept of pressed fairies just naturally (to my warped sense of the logical, at least) led to several questions: If faeries were real, how would they feel about such a book? And if people can press faeries, then what about faeries pressing people? And if faeries were real, then what kind of a publisher would print a book of photos of real pressed faeries?

Things began to coalesce into a basic plot. I also intended to make a small statement about publishers making money off violent imagery (with a nod to a Larry Flint editorial comment from years ago pointing out the perverseness of a society that exalted violence via "soldier of fortune" magazines but found nudity verboten).

So I had the basic premise and plot, I just needed to visualize my BAF, and who better to be a faerie enforcer than a faerie styled on the Edward G. Robinson character in the film Little Caesar?



BAD-ASS INSIGHT: Robert E. Waters

Sorry for the unplanned hiatus, folks. Back this week with history-buff Robert E. Waters. With his stories you get a double dose: great fiction and plenty of meaty details true to history, period, and myth. Leave a comment and you might just win a free ecopy of At the Grasshopper’s Hill! (Next Week’s Insight: Donald Shank).

__________________________________

Lubbick, the War Pixie

By Robert E Waters

The idea for my story, “At the Grasshopper’s Hill,” began with a design challenge.

I work for a computer game company, and back a few years, the design staff used to conduct monthly challenges. During one such challenge, our team was tasked with brain-storming ideas for wargames, with the catch being: the game could not have any weapons. Now, anyone who’s designed games knows the difficulty in designing a fun “wargame” without weapons. But the gauntlet being thrown, I begin thinking, planning, and scheming.

As it happens, I was also playing a lot of Jak and Daxter at the time, an action-adventure game where this boy and his goofy animal side-kick engage in all kinds of missions, seeking artifacts, rescuing friends, breaking into this place or that, collecting treasure, etc. So I decided to come up with an idea along those lines.

It also happened that I had just watched the movie Patton. The real Patton used to have a dog named William the Conqueror (aka Willie), and so there was an idea: Design an adventure game using Willie and give him a companion that could ride on his back. Together, they would roam the Word War 2 landscape on all kinds of missions… without weapons.

Thus was born the war-pixie, Lubbick, a perfect companion for Willie. I even had one of our artist sketch the little guy in full military regalia; steel helmet, riding crop, and tiny ivory-handled pistols. Ol’ “Blood and Guts” Patton with wings! But, as things often go in the volatile world of game development, our concepts were shelved and never acted upon.

So the idea sat fallow for about a year, until editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail invited me to submit to BAF3. My first thought was to write the story of Lubbick and Willie, but this being an anthology on war, I was certain that there’d be multiple submissions on WW2, and thus I went hunting for a less-recognized and rarely featured conflict. The Mexican War of the late 1840s fit the bill perfectly.

There is really no reason why the Mexican War should be so forgotten in our history. For true history buffs, it probably is not. But it rarely gets mentioned these days, what with the seemingly endless documentaries and feature films of the various bloody disputes of the Twentieth Century. But this war shares one very important trait with modern times: Many historians believe that the Mexican War was a war of choice, and so too do many view the Iraq war of today. “At the Grasshopper’s Hill” neither agrees nor disagrees with that assumption, nor does it strive to create any kind of parallel between the two wars. What it does is tell a story of Lubbick and his trusty bird companion, Spindle, as they try to stop an evil sorceress from doing her evil sorcery things on behalf of a powerful Aztec god.

The Mexican war was also important for one other fact: It was the proving ground for nearly every significant officer who fought later in the American Civil War. Great generals like Longstreet, Beauregard, Grant, Johnson, and even Robert E Lee (who plays an important role in the story), cut their fightin’ teeth on the rough-and-tumble terrain of Mexico. The story itself takes place in and around the mighty fortress of Chapultepec (aka The Grasshopper’s Hill), the site of an ancient Aztec settlement. This mighty rock looks down upon Mexico City, and late in the summer of 1847, it was the only thing that stood between the US army and total victory.

Lubbick is an “eternal” warrior, small in stature but mighty in presentation. He’s drawn to human conflict like a moth to flame, and his exploits go back as far as Alexander the Great. He has sat on the shoulders of great men: Scipio Africanus, Charlemagne, Frederick the Great, Napoleon, to name just a few. “At the Grasshopper’s Hill” is the first story I’ve written in his exulted career; it will not be his last. I hope you enjoy it, and I thank you for taking the time to read this entry and in supporting this website and all its bad-ass faerie goodness.

Onward and upward!

______________________________________

Also, a shout-out to Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory for coming in the top ten Anthologies in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll , and the Official Bad-Ass Faeries Website for coming in the top four Promotions sites! Way to go BAF!



BAD-ASS INSIGHT: David Lee Summers


This week’s dose of insight comes from author, editor, and publisher David Lee Summers, who delved into world mythology for his take on Amazon fae. Though David met with some outrage from reviewers for his depiction of these warrior women we learn below that the very aspects protested were gleaned from actual mythology. Read on and enjoy. One lucky commenter will win a free ecopy of David’s story Amazons and Predators (Next Week’s Insight: Robert E. Waters)

_________________________________________

 

Amazons as Fae

David Lee Summers

 My name is David Lee Summers and I'd like to tell you a little about my story "Amazons and Predators" from Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory. At its heart, "Amazons and Predators" is a love story. Tzefira is a member of an all-female fae clan called the Oior-pata. She wants to marry Aethon, who belongs to an all-male fae clan called the Gargarians. The problem is, she will kill him once they are mated unless she has first satisfied her bloodlust by killing another male. Male humans will work, but it has been over a century since humans and the Oior-pata have been in conflict with one another. It seems Tzefira's plight is hopeless until the Oior-pata get caught between the U.S. Military and the Taliban fighting in Afghanistan.

The story had its genesis in March 2009 when Danielle Ackley-McPhail first invited me to submit a story to the anthology. As we discussed it, she suggested a story about Amazon Faeries. I thought that sounded interesting, so I set out to research both Amazons and the fae. I quickly discovered the histories of Herodotus, where he tells how the Greeks came into conflict with the Amazons. According to Herodotus, the Amazons were encountered on the border of a region called Scythia, which encompassed much of central Eurasia, including modern-day Afghanistan. Herodotus tells us that another name for the Amazon warriors was Oior-pata or "Man-slayers." These man-slayers reproduced by mating with males from a tribe called the Gargarians. Moreover, Herodotus introduced the idea that the Amazons had a law that said they could not mate until they killed a man.

My research then led me to archaeological articles about the real women warriors of central Asia. My understanding was that these women were short in stature compared to modern people. This is consistent with nomadic tribes of the period, where diet and general health may not have been as good as it is in modern times. Even though these real warrior women may not have been unusually short of stature for their day, it still gave me the image of small, feisty Amazons rather than the tall, statuesque Amazons that are often portrayed. Between the archaeology and the ancient historical texts, I began to form a picture of what Amazon Faeries might be like.

As the son and nephew of World War II veterans, military hardware has long fascinated me. Even before I was invited to submit a story to the anthology, I had been following articles about unmanned aircraft operating in such places as Afghanistan and Iraq. When I thought about my Amazon Faeries living in central Asia, it was not hard to imagine that they might be still alive today and not far from one of those war zones. When I then considered the idea that Amazon Faeries might have to kill a human before they could mate, I then thought about these unmanned drones. What if these Amazon Faeries were attacked not by a human, but by an unmanned Predator aircraft? With that question, I had an idea for the story. From there, I just had to learn more details about Predator aircraft and their operations.

In the end, I put quite a bit of research into my tale of Amazon Faeries. I hope that through the research, I have added something new to both faerie and Amazon lore. Like Tzefira, I hope that you can stand up to any obstacles that might stand between you and your true love.


BAD-ASS ACCOLADES!

Congrats go out to Bad-Ass Faeries editor Jeffrey Lyman who was just notified that he has taken second place in the Writers of the Future fourth quarter for 2010. To learn more visit:  http://news.yahoo.com/s/prweb/20110121/bs_prweb/prweb8081259

This is a great personal achievement for Jeff who has received honorable mention and even finaled several times in the past.

We knew you could do it, Jeff!


BAD-ASS INSIGHT: Jason Franks

From Australia, the land of some of our favorite bad-asses, we feature a post from author Jason Franks, whose work can be found in both Bad-Ass Faeries 2 and 3. Jason gives us a unique glimpse into Australian fae myth, as well as a very original take on fae challenges. One lucky commenter will receive a free ecopy of one of Jason’s stories. (Next Week’s Insight: David Lee Summers)

__________________________________________

'Theatre of Conflict' was not my original pitch for Bad-Ass Faeries 3.

I wanted to do a yookai story about the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, tying together Russian and Japanese folklore and exploring the famous sea battle. But there were already too many 'hardcore military' stories in the book, so I had to rethink. Perhaps something set a little closer to home...

I couldn't think of any faerie stories set in Australia, and I started to wonder why that might be. The aboriginal nations believe that the world was sung out of dreams. Australian folklore is populated by a few mythical beasts—Yowies and Hairymen and Drop Bears—but they are few and far between. Perhaps the so-called Dead Heart at the center of this country is somehow inimical to faerie creatures: in the Simpson Desert, only the barest echoes of the dreamtime can be felt. This gave me a setting and part of a premise, and that also gave me my first character: Albrecht Murrumbidgie, a sorcerer from the Yolngu nation who's gone off to London to power up.

I had also been watching the documentary Not Quite Hollywood, about the exploitation films made by the Australian film industry in the 70s and 80s (MAD MAX being the best known of these). That gave me an approach, and some of the trappings—shotguns and motorbikes and wide outback vistas. Quentin Tarantino appears on the documentary. These trash-cinema subgenres are Tarantino's favourite sandbox, and his recent work was another key influence. Faerie folk are supposed to be capricious and whimsical and flamboyant, orchestrating pranks and putting on shows for no reason whatsoever—that sounds rather like Hollywood to me. Or perhaps cut rate version Hollywood, luridly imitated in some distant country on a shoestring budget.

Anyway, why shouldn't the faerie folk have their own Tarantino?

The rest of it comes from Australia's military history. Since the American fleet saved us from the Japanese in the second world war, Australia has been very keen to support the US into war; even reintroducing conscription during the Vietnam conflict. Derek, one of the principal characters in this story, served at that time—although in an entirely different theatre of conflict. What if, in the 60s, the American government waged a secret, parallel war in faerieland? Of course Australia would have sent some troops along for the ride; well-trained enough to make up for their small numbers.

Derek's teenage niece and nephew Janice and Oliver are give the story a generational dimension: war and folklore and media all mutate as they are transmitted from generation to generation, and I wanted to show that. I learned to read with Enid Blyton and this is how I have repaid her: with shooting, explosions and bad language.

Bad-ass faeries, indeed.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jason Franks' fiction, in comics and prose, has appeared in a variety of places, including Assassin's Canon, Deathlings, Tango and, of course, Bad-Ass Faeries. His graphic novel The Sixsmiths will be in comic stores in November 2010. Franks is also the editor of the Kagemono horror comics. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.

 

Find out more about him and his work at www.jasonfranks.com and www.thesixsmiths.com.



Arisia Appearance

Bad-Ass Faeries authors Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Trisha Wooldridge, and Lee C. Hillman will be appearing at Arisia this weekend.(If there are others, I haven't been told about them, so just consider them a bonus when you get there ;)

The books can be found in the dealer's room and you can find Danielle's panel schedule at [info]damcphail .

Hope to see some of you there, so come get your bad-ass on!


BAD-ASS INSIGHT: John L. French


I know the anticipation has been eating away at your guts…but, finally, we have another Bad-Ass Insight, this time featuring author John L. French. To give you an idea of how bad-ass this guy is, when we were working on the below-mentioned story, I called him up about some issue or other, and John was busy gearing up to go assess a murder scene. Recently, I had the unique experience of being the “corpse” in a seminar he gave on CSI procedure, and let me tell you, this guy knows his stuff. Read on and I hope you enjoy. To learn more about John and to read a sample excerpt of his story click here. One lucky commenter will receive a free PDF of John’s story, So Many Deaths. (Next Week: Jason Franks)

___________________________________________________

My first attempt at writing a story for Danielle’s first Bad-Ass Faeries anthology did not go as planned. I had what I thought was a great idea for a story. The problem was that some other authors had basically the same idea and had pitched it to Danielle first. So on to the second idea, and that did not go as planned. Despite having had one book published and stories in several anthologies I was still learning the trade. As a CSI for the Baltimore Police Department I’m a mystery writer by nature and my stories all seem to have a crime element in them. Being a novice in writing fantasy in general and about faeries in particular, I did not get a story in the first Bad-Ass Faeries collection.

 But Danielle is anything if not persistent. When it was decided that the theme for BAF-3 would be warfare and battle, she asked me if I would consider writing a faerie story centering on a SWAT team. Okay, SWAT teams I can do, and I wrote her one set in Baltimore and involving faeries. And of course—things did not go as planned. “But John,” she wrote, “I wanted a story about a faerie SWAT team.” So I flipped things around and told what was happening in Faerie while the BPD was doing its thing in Baltimore. For this second story I channeled Jack Webb and took names from both a history book and my daughter’s fashion magazines.

And then things—well, this time they went better than planned. Since Danielle liked both stories, with her help I combined them into one larger hard-boiled faerie tale to be called “So Many Deaths.” I like it and I hope you will too.

 As for that story that didn’t get into BAF-1, I eventually reworked it and it’s now one of the stories included in my latest book Here There Be Monsters (Dark Quest, 2010) whose interior design was by, you guessed it, Danielle.

 And now to work on burning down Baltimore for BAF-4.


Holiday Giftage


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays of your choice from all the Bad-Ass Faeries!

We've left you a little gift on the BAF website:  Free, full length fiction.

Bernie Mojzes - The Morning After
C.S. Haviland - Sandrikin
David Lee Summers - The Man-Slayers of Scythia
 
You can find links to downloadable PDFs here: Free Fiction
 
Peace, Joy and Love to you all!
 
Danielle Ackley-McPail
L.Jagi Lamplighter
Lee C. Hillman
Jeffrey Lyman
And all the Bad-Ass Faeries Authors and Artists!

BAD-ASS INSIGHT: Trisha Wooldridge and Christy Tohara


This week we feature a guest blog by the writing duo of Trisha Wooldridge and Christy Tohara. These ladies are known for some pretty gritty faerie fiction. One lucky commenter will receive their choice of one of Trisha and Christy’s BAF stories. (NEXT WEEK: John L. French)
________________________________________

Hi! We’re the writing team of Christy Tohara and Trisha Wooldridge. Together, we’ve written two stories for the Bad-Ass Faeries anthologies: “Party Crashers” in BAF 2 and “Last Gate to Faerie” in BAF 3. We do write fiction separately, too, but we love the adventure of writing together and motivating each other to produce the best story we can. 

 We met in an online writing/gaming group 9 years ago. Even then, the characters we wrote were attracted to each other and our writing styles flowed. We considered writing together professionally about 5 years ago, but it took a while for us to get into that groove. Our styles meshed nicely; it was just a question of time. Fortunately, we made things work! 

 We get asked a lot how we write as a team. Every team is different, but this is how we do it. The process starts with a massive brainstorm session online (since Chris lives in Utah and Trish in Massachusetts) over Yahoo! Messenger. With "Party Crashers," we'd worked with the characters together before, so it was a matter of figuring out the plot. When Danielle asked for a new cast for Bad-Ass Faeries 3, we had to hash out both character and plot. In our brainstorm session, we also divvy up the characters and sub-plots that resound the most with each of us, and then figure out how they will interact—and even role-play out some scenes. Instead of swimming in our own cranial matter, we had another brain to pick, which gives the story more dimension and energy!

Once we're done brainstorming, we each take our assigned scenes, and write away. Occasionally we'll "ping" each other for plot points, questions, and sometimes just to "share an office" by having the same chat window open. After we’ve written our parts, we jump to editing. We trade work and get out the proverbial red pen. For both of us, editing is the hardest part of writing: cutting our work and "slaying our babies." And, we do some serious slayage. "Party Crashers," in its rough draft, was over 8,000 words, and the final draft in BAF2 is less than 5,000. "Last Gate To Faerie" had a rough draft of just under 8,000 that we had to cut to under 5,000 before we could even send to the editors. We both love words so much, that this daunting task is a necessary evil. Once we believe we’ve got something worthy to share with the editors—usually by draft 8, where each of us has gone over it about 4 times (which also unifies our writing voice)—we email it off with eager anticipation.

Getting our material back with editor comments and suggestions is bittersweet. After having already hacked our story to death, the editors always seem to want us to hack at it again. We look at the still-dripping axe with somber melancholy. But knowing that the advice is most often good for the story, we jump back into the editing process. The recent review of our story “Last Gate to Faerie” was a huge pat on the back for our hard work on this piece, but the “tight writing” comment can be largely credited to our wonderful editors who kept us moving to make it a better story.

 When the final edits are approved and the proofs sent, there is always a collective sigh of relief stretching from the Mountain West to the Atlantic coast. It's such a pleasure to see our hard work in print—and associated with other great short stories.

 We like to think we make a Bad-Ass writing team.