A Compliment…And A Secret

Some of you know that my current work in progress is in the hands of my editor. Today she sent an email with this:

“This is really clever. Seriously clever. You’ve got 2 sequels — chapters 2 and 3 — to chapter 1, that lead seamlessly as a pair to chapter 4. Really really really well done, and something you should use at some time in the future when you give a class on how to break rules to benefit the story.”

Do you think I should tell her it was a fluke, or let her continue thinking I’m brilliant?



For the past three years I’ve been writing a new story. I’ve mentioned it here a few times, but only briefly because I’m superstitious that if I talk about an infant story too much, it dies and I never finish it.

Three years. Granted, I’m a slow writer in the best of times. But this has been hard because I’m trying to stretch my wings as a writer and am not sure if I’m succeeding. This one has multiple perspectives and story lines. It’s darker than I’ve written before, and it’s scary. Well, my goal is to make it scary. I’m not sure it’s scary enough.

My editor has her fingers in the story now, and she’s challenging me to delete chapters, strengthen motivations, and work on the scene/sequel process. It became obvious the beginning was very rough and needed a lot of work. No surprise there because beginnings can be the hardest thing to write as they have so much to accomplish.

The idea for the story came from a news event, but I don’t think I could have written it without being in a darker place myself. Without saying, ‘these are the things I’m afraid of in this world’ and then trying to place those fears on paper.

Anyway, I am hoping to have the book available by the end of summer. Cover art is in the process and I’ll share versions here to get opinions. But in the meantime, below is the beginning. The prologue. It’s still in edit but I’ll share anyway. Comments, first impressions, and opinions are appreciated.

And of course it’s copyrighted.


The Hole in the Wall wasn’t really a hole but a dead-end shaft with a steel door that could be barricaded from within and locked from without. And the Wall wasn’t really a wall, but a granite mountain deeply fissured and hung with a dark and shadowed forest curtain. One that went straight up, creating a sense of severe vertigo overwhelming anyone leaning back, and back, and back, to see the top. Here and there, stunted fir and cedar and hemlock twisted and bent waiting to fall.

Occasionally the Wall would free boulders to plummet down and leave deep impact craters in the forest floor.

Few rock climbers, hanging with harnesses and bandaged knuckles, knew the door was there, far below them where the forest washed up at the base of the Wall.

Curtis Jonason locked himself in the Hole five days a week. Some days he imagined himself a climber suspended in the heights, able to see for miles, see the rushing white water of the Skykomish River, speckled with daredevil kayakers. Or to gaze down on the tiny, tiny town of Index, Washington nestled a mile off Highway 2 in the Cascade Mountains. But he wasn’t an adventurer. And he had long ago come to terms with the reality that his adventures were only found in imagination and books.

Instead, each day, in cold weather gear, he unlocked the Hole with his smooth scientist’s hands, slipped into the dark, and bolted the door behind him. There, he would spend fourteen hours alone burrowed into the granite, a small stream rushing under his workstation, a flashlight his only illumination.

Alone with his machines.

morning star 09 006

Morningstar climbing route on a small portion of the Wall

Update On The Barks

My last post was about our tough Rottweiler growling (from the safety of behind her window) at a coyote in our yard. Here’s an update that might make you laugh.

Yesterday morning I let her out into the back yard and she disappeared. Our backyard is small and fenced, but she was gone. I looked everywhere using the flashlight, but no dog. I checked the house multiple times. I finally woke the husband. He started searching and I got in the truck to drive the area.

As I came around the backside of the fence, I saw a dark shape go into the bushes. I told my husband to check back there because she’d obviously got out somehow. A few minutes later he called and said she was in the house.

I’d checked the house. Thoroughly. He said her fur was cold like she’d just come in (our snow isn’t that long gone so it’s still chilly).

In daylight, he looked around but found no spot where she could have escaped the fence.

Mystery unsolved.

This morning I had to go out to our shop. The dog went with me. But she acted strangely. She stayed glued to my side and at the shop she raced ahead of me to get inside, and then didn’t want to come out. When I finally got her to come out, she walked glued to me again.

My husband said maybe she was smelling the coyote and was scared.

So when she was missing she could very well have just been hiding. Four in the morning, no ambient light, a black dog…she could have been under the deck with her eyes screwed shut and no flashlight beam would have found her.

And then driving to work afterwards, some pieces fell together.

It’s spring. Bears are coming out of hibernation but no berries are out yet.

Last year we had a bear come over the fence into the back yard.

There was that black shadow I saw outside the fence going into the bushes.

If the dog was hiding, what did I send my husband into the bushes to find?

And maybe…just maybe…we should pay more attention when our dog is scared outside.