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Showing posts from May, 2016

Novel Critique Cupcakes

Over the weekend, my wise writing partner Christina Mitchell fed me the best cupcake of my life (gooey chocolate filled with raspberry curd and topped with cream cheese / pudding / sour cream icing and sugar crystals) and dropped a bomb of a critique on the opening to my new novel, The Grove of Thorismud.

"I don't want to say it," she said.

"Just say it!" I begged.

And I'm so glad she did, because, as happens frequently, she was right.

She told me that I need to start this novel in a completely different place.

No biggie, right? That's a common revision to a first draft, and I'd only written about one chapter of the new book anyway.

Except she realized that the story needs to begin with the final quarter of my "prequel," Briars and Black Hellebore, and move on from there with lots of action and very little backstory.

That first three-quarters of Briars and Black Hellebore is all backstory, most of which doesn't need to see the light of…

The Sleeping Bro and Other Ancient Gender-Bends

One of my favorite parts of exploring fairy tales and myths is finding the gender-bent twins of every ancient story. In fact, I dare anyone reading this to find me a story that developed in oral history and challenge me to come up with a gender-bend of the same age or older.

My absolute favorite gender-bend discovery has been that of The Lad, gender-mirror of Allerleirauh (All-Fur; related to Donkey-Skin) whose story gives this blog, The Magic Nutshell, its name. Sometimes stories that seem to be about how awful and unfair it is to be a woman in the hetero-normative patriarchy take an even darker turn when the genders of the characters are reversed. If it's dangerous to be a lady in a man's world (which it certainly is sometimes), it can be even worse to be a man. Women are treated as goals (yuck), but men are treated as competition to be annihilated (yikes). Stories like "The Widow's Son" reveal that a "man's world" isn't every man's…

On Sleeping Beauty: Who Holds the Prick and the Bush?

path of pins path of needles  wooden splinter spinning wheel swords and armor thorny arbors choose your weapon kiss a steal 

The story of Sleeping Beauty as canonized by Disney in 1959 can trace its ancestry back to women's folk tales of Germany and France (as recorded by the Grimm brothers in the early 19th century), which were heavily influenced by French author Charles Perrault's literary work in the 17th century, which drew upon oral traditions of men and women from various linguistic groups and tribes, all the way back to the Norse myth of the shieldmaiden Brynhildr and beyond. And of course, Sleeping Beauty's family tree branches out in many other directions as well; no folktale can be claimed as authentically owned by a single language group or culture--these stories mix and blend as freely as human DNA.

When I look back at the exchange of narrative elements among groups of Western-culture transmitters of this story over time--epic poets, common housewives, literary aristo…

Purpling Prose

It's time to practice a new vocabulary word! I just learned that "purpling" is Christian camp counselor slang for any heterosexual interaction between a male and a female (blue + pink = purple), from flirtation to fornication in the bushes.


In standard English, "purpling" is a real word meaning simply "turning purple."

My bushes are purpling!


My husband and I are purpling!


My friend Lisa's hair may be purpling soon, because she is the late Prince's #1 fan, and she has just received tenure! Woohoo!


My sanity and wits are purpling! (But really, if you can help me solve either of the literary mysteries below, I'd be so happy because these questions are driving me crazy.)



My book characters are purpling!

And I'm purple-punch drunk because I've just completed draft one of chapter one of The Grove of Thorismud!

The Members-Only Perks of Working Motherhood

There has been much ado lately about the Woman Card and its discounts on wages and its bonus minutes waiting in line to pee. But the mother of all identifications that make you stronger if they don't kill you is ... well ... the Mother Card!

This week, I renewed my Capital City Writers Association membership, AND I got invited to a Members-Only luxury spa and tea party day at my daughter's preschool!

One of the perks of this event for my writing career is that it gave me an extra challenge in meeting my goals for the week. The price of attendance was giving up the one two-hour block of time each week when I can be alone in my house to focus on writing.

Plus now, I get to enjoy this manicure given to me by a five-year-old as I type. Yes, the teacher supplied nail polish remover and wipes for those of us who had to go back to work, but NO, I did not use them. And if you judge my manicure infused with the adorableness of a preschooler's love for Mommy, I will cut you, bitch.