In Requiem

It’s been a rough 24 hours for us. Our little girl Ellie Mae is gone, and we’re resigned to the idea she’s not coming back.

She didn’t have the stamina to go far from the house, so we think she must have fallen off the seawall. I’m still processing guilt for not having been there to rescue her, but she’d slipped away on purpose, and if that’s what happened I suppose at least she was doing what she wanted.

Ellie was 14, diabetic, nearly blind from cataracts, and weak in the rear legs. We’re not sure whether she was deaf or not — she never listened all that well, even when she was a young dog.

There were few pleasures left in her life. I’d taken to calling her ‘snoozey the dog’. The time to take her for the big sleep was approaching. If I’d known she was outside, I might have let her be — when you’re doing that poorly, you should have your way whether it’s a wise idea or not.

Ellie was independent, and not affectionate except in the presence of company, but she laid in my arms like she wanted to be there, and always sought me out after stepping on something sharp. I loved her, and I suspect she might have loved me.

Goodbye, Ellie Mae Ewok. I miss you, and always will

Edited unto morbidity

When I posted this essay a few days ago, I thought I was done editing this chapter — that I’d be showing off what came of it and move on. Today, on December 20, 2021, after thirty-plus revisions over four different approaches, the headline is more appropriate than anticipated.

An engagement with editor Jon Oliver had produced the assessment that my novel-in-progress is in good shape, although not quite suitable as an entry point for new readers of Anye Universe material. The work needed, he said, a prologue.

Author/Editor Joan Dempsey advises against backstory-laden first chapters, but I thought to give it a try. Six-thousand-plus words and five different approaches later, I think Joan’s recommendation is the one I’ll go with. It was not a waste of time — usable material was developed, but it won’t go into a prologue.

For those interested in process, here’s the second-to-last draft. The last one contains text I’ll fold into the book.

Have you ever struggled with a first chapter? Tell me about it in the comments.
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