From the mind of Megan Arkenberg

October 25, 2010

November drives a hard bargain...

Posted by Megan Arkenberg with No comments
It's that time of year again: National Novel Writing Month. Last year, I failed miserably in my goal to write 50,000 words of short fiction, and I look forward to failing miserably again this year. But for tradition's sake, let's look at the long list of stories who want so desperately to be written.

1. The Dead Women of Bajos Court
Four dead women live in four gray houses at the end of Bajos Court.

It started as a horror story and ended as a reimagining of Bluebeard with a blame-the-victim complex.

2. The Women of Arcadio Leon
My body is a map of places Arcadio Leon has loved.

Experimenting with a new framing technique. A man's neighbor gives him the accumulated detritus of the local film college, but the box includes on particularly interesting film. I got halfway through this one and realized I spent all of it introducing new characters. Several of them need to be eliminated, but I haven't decided which.

3. The Dream-Gardens of Revenant Road
After the war, a woman calling herself Theophile Saint-Armand bought the old Venusberg place past the curve on Revenant Road.

Botanical gardens, and a woman with a terrible secret. But how do the two connect? That's what I've got to figure out.

4. The Riverland
Sixty-four miles past the Junction, the land becomes a red and vibrant place.

Still magical lions, still railroads, still a woman building the former without being killed by the latter. I've located a narrator and several key plot points. Now all I need is a voice.

5. All in a Hot and Copper Sky
The boy who wants to write a book about Socorro Mariner sits on the edge of my couch, tapping a pen against his knee.

The ex-mistress of the Queen of Mars reminisces. But what does the boy who wants to write a book have to do with anything? And what were they doing on Mars in the first place? Bogged down in research purgatory.

6. The Treasures of Orfeo [Name]

No first line yet. A story about fairy gifts, and the gifts princes really need to survive.

7. There Was No King is Israel
The girl called Requiem follows Levi to the edge of camp.

A retelling of Judges 19-21 in a post-apocalyptic setting. I'm a little reluctant to put effort into it, considering how difficult it's been to find a home for its sister story "Jericho," but I love the characters.

8. How to Howl at the Moon
You are standing in the forest, waiting for the wolf to find you.

The most intensely autobiographical piece I've ever started. It's about mental illness. I won't be surprised if I never finish it, to be honest, but I feel I have to try.

9. Café Macondo
"This coffee came from another dimension's grocery store," I explained.

Finally, all those hours spent working in a grocery store pay off! Yes, it's about interdimensional coffee, and yes, it's based on personal experience.

10. 29 Florist Avenue
Above all, a queen of [city] must know how to die.

I have a first line, and a setting, and a cast list as long as my arm. The plot will show up later. I can't wait to get to work on this one!

11. The Small Rain Down Can Rain
"We think there might be some interest," Stephan said, "in a posthumous collection."

Time-travel poetry is a dangerous art. Sometimes, people die. Laura Blumenthal is left to pick up the pieces of her poet sister's final collection.

12. The Improbably Library of Asmodeus Foster
Rosamund found the body in a footnote on page 216.

A great novel pulls you in, but what if you die there? A murder mystery, that's what! Like Laura in "The Small Rain Down Can Rain," Asmodeus Foster is protecting a poet sister's legacy, though I have the feeling Ms. Foster's is significantly more sinister.

13. "Four Burning Things" and "The Oracle and the Sea"
Mama Babel sets the coffee pot on the fire, stirring it with her bayonet to keep the gritty stuff from burning. and She hates the sea. For a long time, she thought it was the only thing she hated.

Are these the same story? If not, which pieces belong to which? I have complete drafts of both of them, but they seem to be lacking something, so I thought they might go together. But how? The quest continues.

14. Danae [working title]
He likes the owl best.

It began as a retelling of Perseus's birth, but now it has a healthy dose of sibling rivalry. And clockpunk—don't forget the clockpunk. I'm getting a distinctly "All the King's Monsters" vibe from this one, but that might have something to do with all the huge clockwork animals lumbering around.

15. Krahe [working title]
He wants to see the Crowgirl.

Ravens eat carrion. Zombies are carrion. Ergo, ravens must be the perfect defense against zombies. And being the alienated girl whom the ravens befriend could become very beneficial indeed. More sibling rivalry at work, and there remains the fact that I don't write about zombies and am not entirely sure where to go from where I am.

16. The Unbinding of Artemis Kale
Forty years later, when the murder of Artemis Kale had faded to a bourdon note in the amusement park's dying fugue, people still remembered the day Persephon Wilder came to Bluefish Bay.

Escape artists, and mediums, and murder in the sideshow tents. This story suffers from being loved too much. It desperately needs editing, and I can't bring myself to cut it into pieces. I need to see if I can coerce some family members into beta reading the current draft.

17. The Moth King
The National Library of Extinct Stories takes up three blocks of Vervain Street in downtown Andvarsuveld.

If Cathrynne Valente's gorgeous prose is a drug, I wrote this story in a drug-induced haze. It's missing huge chunks (I even marked them as I wrote the current draft: [huge chunk missing here]), so my task for NaNoWriMo will be shoving those in and making sure they fit seamlessly. Oh, yeah, and making sure the story doesn’t completely suck. Beta readers, to arms!

Whew! Looks like it's going to be a full November…

(Oh, yeah. The post title? Comes from a poem I also need to finish this month. My list of poems-in-progress is much, much longer than this.)


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