AFTER Happily Ever After

“And they all lived happily ever after.” My dad would close the book cover and lean down to give me goodnight kiss.
“And then what?”

This was a common conversation when I was a teensy-Tiffany. Happily Ever After wasn’t enough – I wasn’t trying to get a stay of execution from bedtime – I wanted to know what happened next.

“Well, Tiffers, they lived happily ever after. So they were, er, happy.”
“But then what happened?”

I wanted to know if Prince Stephan woke up every morning and told Aurora how beautiful she was. Did he get mad when she kept pricking her fingers on spinning wheels and calling out: BAND AID! I need a Band Aid! (In my version of Sleeping Beauty Aurora passes out from seeing the blood – there’s no need for any enchantment on the spindle). Does Prince Charming ever get annoyed that Cinderella allows so many mice in the house? Were there kids: princesses and princelings? I wanted proof of these happy endings – I didn’t want to relinquish characters I loved.

I always thought I’d be happy to read a whole book full of the happy part of the happily ever after. Who needs the conflict and tension? I’d be thrilled to see the other Prince Charming pick wildflowers for Snow White, or hear Darcy speak sweet, proud, nothings to Lizzie.

Or would I? Jo’s Boys and Little Men aren’t as interesting as Little Women (this could be because I’ve never forgiven rotten Jo for breaking Laurie’s heart). The kiss exchanged by Clary and Jace at the end of City of Glass doesn’t have a tenth of the passion of the forbidden one they share in fairy court in City of Ashes. And Breaking Dawn? Everything I wanted for Edward and Bella happened in the first hundred pages, the next 600+ pages weren’t all happy, but the seemed to go on forever and continue long after the plot had dissolved.

Would I want to hear Darcy complain to Lizzie about drainage and tenants at Pemberley or know the details of Rochester’s lifelong struggles to cope with the loss of a hand and vision in one eye? Not so much.

If I want to hear a Prince Charming talk about laundry, dishes, or other day-to-day aspects of what’s next? , I’ll just turn to my St. Matt.

As much as I hate when characters I love are hurting, as much as I agonize over adding tension and terror to the lives of my own characters, a story isn’t a story without suspense and conflict. The happily ever after isn’t special if the characters didn’t struggle or overcome an obstacle to achieve it.

Maybe I don’t need to know what happens, after the Happily Ever After, after all.

I’ve been EVERMORE’d

There’s a scene in Alice in Wonderland where the White Rabbit oversees the playing cards as they frantically paint tulips. Yes, paint them. Because they’re supposed to be RED, not white, and the Queen of Hearts will holler: “off with their heads” if any white flowers besmirch her garden.

It’s possible the White Rabbit has visited my garden lately.

My other theory is that I’ve been Evermore’d, because when I arrived home from my weekend in Boston, this is what I saw:

What is that RED tulip doing there? I don’t remember much from high school biology, but according to Gregor Mendal’s genetic experiments with pea plants, can the recessive alleles of PINK tulips produce red ones? Okay, I guess I remembered more than I thought – but I still don’t think it’s possible.

I’m quite positive that I only planted PINK. There’s no reason I’d plant any other color – pink tulips are my favorite flowers. They were only one I’d consider for my wedding five years ago, and when every florist I consulted turned me down (“They’ll wilt in Pennsylvanian July heat”) I had 800 flown in from the Netherlands. Sidenote: They didn’t wilt.

So how did these interlopers get in my garden? If it were just one tulip, I’d blame it on a rogue bulb planted by a squirrel, but check this out:

This is the view around the side of my house. I counted, there are 11 garden-crashing tulips. St. Matt didn’t plant them; he’s not the type to plant surprise flowers and certainly not red ones. This is our fourth spring in the house, so I doubt they’ve been lying dormant this long.

The only explanation I can come up with is Damen read how Jace had recently replaced him as my Distraction Fairy. Clearly, Damen stopped by and decided to assert his dominance by planting red tulips in my garden.

Sorry, Damen & Jace – I picked up my copy of Fragile Eternity today; now you’ve both got to compete with Seth for the title.

As for the rogue rouge tulips…. Anyone have any pink paint?

Maybe we shouldn’t talk to each other for a few days…

Were you good at maintaining a post-break-up cooling off period? If you had a spat with a friend and she hung up on you, did you wait for her to calm down and call you back?

I failed at both of those things: over-anxious to go from kissers to companions, I’d want to call and hang out while battle-scarred heart tissue was still exposed; I’ve never handled tension well either, I want things resolved and reassured before the fight’s begun.

Mostly, when I love someone, I want him/her near me.

Granted TBALMCSAP is not a best friend, boyfriend, or even human – but the two weeks of self-imposed separation have been hard on me.

I’ve missed my WIP; missed the characters, had songs I wanted to share with Gyver (we’ve got similar taste in music), and comfort I wanted to offer to my conflicted MC. My finger’s twitched on the mouse, itching to click the ‘open’ icon; I’ve wandered into the spare bedroom and stared longingly at my storyboards, written in color-coded marker on whiteboard walls. In a show of impressive self-restraint, I’ve steered my mouse away and refrained from paging through print-outs.

It’s not permanent, I’ve told myself. It’s better in the long run. I need distance to gain perspective and clarity. I’m not ready. Strangely enough, these words would apply to post-break-up scenarios as well – is that why they’re familiar?

Two weeks – they’ve passed in a blur of insomnia, Jace-flavored Distraction Fairy’ness, caffeinated mornings, midnight workouts, and catching up on grading.

I’ve got big plans for tomorrow. Plans that include not changing out of my pajamas or eating anything that requires cooking. Plans that include turning the ringer off on my cell phone and selectively answering e-mail (so if you’re curious about if I really love you, tomorrow’s a good day to drop me an e-mail).

Before you write this off as a self-indulgent waste-away day, let me correct you; It’s a self-indulgent day of all-consuming revisions.

It’s rare that I can find a whole day without commitments, interruptions, or company – and this one’s timing is fortuitous. It’s been two weeks since I finished the first draft of TBALMCSAP, I’ve suffered through my forced separation from the MS, and now I’m ready and able to belly flop in – purple pen at ready.

My first revisions are brutal – they’re comprised of amputations, reconstructions, and -dectomys of all sorts. There’s a reason I don’t use red pen – I can feel my WIP’s non-anesthetized pain – I don’t need a bloody visual.

So while St. Matt’s at work, while the puggles are snuggled in sunbeams (*please, please, puggles – feel like sunbeam snuggling tomorrow*), I’ll be pajama’d and purple-pen-prepared to tear down and build up.

Let me at TBALMCSAP – I’m ready. I’ve missed you.

He’s definitely NOT wearing a tutu

When I pictured the Distraction Fairy – which I frequently do while being distracted – I always pictured a her. And she had a pointy chin and ears, blonde hair, wings, wand, the whole sparkly shebang. Come to think of it, she looked remarkably similar to Tinkerbell, only she wore pink instead of green and obviously she has a tiara.

That’s not how I picture the fairy anymore. If you read yesterday’s blog you know that my Distraction Fairy is currently named Jace. And even though he is a blond, Jace would not don pink ruffled chiffon or a tiara for anyone. He’ll sulk, he’ll pout, he’ll be all-around angsty, but he’s not putting on a skirt.

At least he didn’t in Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones

I don’t know about City of Ashes or Glass yet because I don’t have them YET! Despite having finished book one in The Mortal Instruments Trilogy before going to bed, I don’t yet have numbers two and three.

Frustrating, I know! I turned the last page, looked around and noticed that it was dark out. I looked at the clock: 2:30 AM. Was my first thought: ‘oh geez, it’s really late and I should get to bed’? Nope. It was: ‘aw man, it’s hours before the bookstores open and I can call around to see who has the second and third books in stock.’

It’s quite possible that at this point I became a Distraction Fairy and peppered poor Emily Hainsworth with endless questions, predictions, and what-if’s about the rest of The Mortal Instruments Trilogy.

I take this to be evidence for why I need a Kindle or Sony e-book reader. With a few simple buttons I could have been blissfully re-engaged in Distraction Fairy indulgence.

I presented this argument to St.Matt when I woke him up at 3:30 AM. He disagreed. He thinks this is evidence for why I shouldn’t get a Kindle or Sony e-book reader. Let’s quote him, shall we? “You don’t need anything that’s going to make you sleep even less than you do now.”

Point taken.

But doesn’t he realize the Distraction Fairy flew away as soon as I ran out of pages to read? And then what was left? An overwhelming, itching desire to dig into TBALMCSAP revisions and not emerge for days, which isn’t an option right now.

I can do this.

It’s only an hour ‘til I go pick up doses two and three of the Jace-version of the Distraction Fairy and only two days ‘til I can bleed purple ink on TBALMCSAP.

As for St. Matt’s suggestion that Distraction Fairy take the form of culinary masterpieces or a spring cleaning binge, doesn’t he know the fairy can’t hold a wand and cook/clean at the same time? (And I seriously can’t picture Jace in a French maid’s uniform… guess I’ll have to wait and read).

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