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When you saw that bit of bone poking through the ground.....

......what did you find when you dug up the rest of the fossil ???

Stephen King likened the building of a story's plot with the digging of fossils. You see just the tip piercing through the ground... it could be the patella of a mastodon, the sternum of a coyote or the severed finger of a mob hit....but you'll never know unless you keep digging, right?

I've had people ask, where do you get your ideas from? How do you know what you want to write about? Why did you write this story and not that story?

Well, there's no easy answer.....and to show you how twisted, confused and random ideas can be, I'll share what led me to this past NaNoWriMo novel idea .....

"Tangle of Matter and Ghost"-- Title borrowed from the chorus of Leonard Cohen's, The Window. Thank you, Sarah Heustis, for finding that songbook in our "tent sale" books !!

1/ Watching an episode of Antiques Roadshow (I know, strange)...and a woman brought a Victorian necklace whose pendant was 2 Swallows "flying" into one another with small cluster of tiny pearls on either side--- the appraiser mentioned the sailor superstition of Swallows (how they always come "home"), given as a good luck charm for the sailor's safe return. The tiny pearls were in sets of 3, and represented Forget-Me-Nots, so the sailor leaving wouldn't forget who they left behind.

----this got me thinking about how things return to where they began....I loved the idea of the necklace and the prospect of the "returning" and the "not forgetting" being forced on someone

----which led to the idea of a curse and a trapped spirit(s)

2/ Watching an episode of Ghost Adventures (the one set at Magnolia Plantation)....with the slave quarters and dark magic

----this got me thinking about Voodoo and the tying of curses to objects

----which led to the idea of commissioned curses and what would happen if you didn't "pay up" for services rendered

All of this twisted together to form the immature kernel of a Southern/Victorian ghost story.... a tale where magic is asked for, but not paid for....a tale where Voodoo takes its payment in soul currency if it cannot collect any other way.... a tale of cursed love that is forever tied to an object that won't let you forget you're cursed......

You might only see a fraction of skeletal structure poking through the ground, you might even miss it if you aren't careful....but just imagine where it's going to lead you now that you've unearthed it.

*** The above was written during the planning phase of NaNoWriMo, prior to the actual NaNo event***

Of course, all of this unearthing was done in October. Now that NaNoWriMo has come and gone, the further unearthing of my literary fossil has revealed, not the simple sternum of a coyote as I once thought, but the knotted conglomeration of a herd of mastodons, frozen in eternal combat.

Once the story began to write itself during November, I found that I was no longer writing a Victorian love/ghost story. The "fossil" I had begun to chip the dirt away from suddenly nestled itself in the Civil War and the idea of curses took on a life of its own--- no longer was it restricted to an object. Suddenly, everything became a receptacle for the horrors endured. Even the land produced ghosts of its own.

I have a previous post, listing off the number of new characters that just appeared as the story wrote itself, like the pieces of my mastodon herd were slowly prying themselves from one another--- another rib free here, another tusk loose there.

As I continue to write, it is obvious there is more to this archeological dig than I was, at first, prepared for. Everyday I am learning more, I am unearthing more....and just when I think I've FINALLY come to the last piece of bone, I am tricked into unearthing yet another mastodon that has twisted itself in the mix of things.

I think I may have cursed myself by inserting the word tangle into my title.... oh well, at least I like playing in the dirt......


  1. I like the picture you are painting. It has me thinking of driving down those long never ending Mississippi roads trying to avoid the thunder storms and getting eager to explore the gray fossil beds that appear on both sides of the road filled with shells and plants from another time.
    Keep it up!

  2. Your picture is equally intriguing.... we will definitely have to add a fossil hunt to our list of adventures that needs to be planned! :-)


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