Merry Fates Round Table TAKE ONE!




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Hey, all! In honor of the new year, the Merry Fates are using you as test subjects as we experiment with form and content of our blog.  We’ve been discussing amongst our selves what we want this blog to become as we move onward in our careers.  We know we want to keep it primarily a fiction blog, so no worries!  We’ll each continue to post a story a month, and will reserve the fourth week of the month for something fun. 

Today we’re introducing the new feature: Merry Fates Round Table.  This is like a she said – she said – she said post where we chat (like we always do) about everything under the sun.  Only now, we’re going to clean up the chat and post it and generally try to keep ourselves entertaining and informative.  Beware: we make fun of each other a lot, so occasionally the chats might go slightly haywire!

BONUS: I might be sneaking a contest into this post.  Read on!  😀

<chat begin!>

Maggie: Soooooo. Since we’re going to be doing roundtables and this blog is about us, let’s be totally self-involved and talk about ourselves for the first one.  Not our small-town roots and the boys we have loved and lost, but how we write.  SO Tess gets to go first. Because she’s alphabetically compromised.


Tessa: (I needed more gin but am back now.)  (How’s that for an intro to how I write?)


Brenna: explanatory


Tessa: This is how I write MF in particular, right?


Maggie: Yes. This segment is not long enough to explore the insane nuances and dysfunctional intricacies of how you write a novel. Trust me. I know what they are.


Tessa: :p  My ideal MF fiction is written thusly: I have a first line, a climactic moment, and a main character. Especially the first line and climactic/ending moment. Then I sit down at my computer, type the first line, and make things up for a couple of hours until I’m done.  And it’s brilliant.


Maggie: That’s actually sort of humblingly more organized than me. And I thought I was the one with a process.


Tessa: Well, that’s just the good ones. The bad days I’m like, "Oh great internet god, Wikipedia! give me an IDEA!!!"


Maggie: And it asks you for a donation


Brenna: I’ll admit straight-up, I have no process


Maggie: Well, for me, I think it’s pretty much best represented by a story that never got posted to MF through a variety of factors.  I was driving my Camaro one day and I noticed there was a grasshopper on my windshield. Just where the hood met the glass. So while it must’ve been hot as hell with the heat of a V8 coursing over its little insectile body, it was sort of shielded from the warp speeds I was driving.  Anyway, I needed a story for MF. I was driving, and thinking, and listening to music very loud, and praying not to see any cops, and then I ran out of road and pulled into my parents’ driveway.  The grasshopper jumped off once I’d stopped, and I thought, I just transported a grasshopper about 7.2 miles.  And I thought, you could really inadvertently bring a lot of strange things stuck to your car. Like a demon.  That’d be awesome.  That COULD BE A STORY. What if you . . . and there you go. I let that percolate, sit down at the computer, set my egg timer for an hour and GO BABY GO as they say.  That’s my process.


Tessa: That’s how stories should happen, I always think. I’m jealous of you when you do that. Can I say that?


Maggie: You may say that. I will preen. Wait, why does it make you jealous?  That’s what you just said YOU did!


Brenna: I work pretty much the same way, and sometimes it drives me crazy–it goes, idea, character, poking around and trying things until I figure out what the end should be. And then sometimes the end means going back and changing a lot of the things leading up to it.


Tessa: because I overthink my stories. I don’t start with a concept or a ‘what if’. I feel like I need a complete idea. Like, I need the what if AND the THIS IS WHAT. I never am confident unless I have the ending. Maybe that’s why i like to have an ending first.  So I don’t have to revise the short story much.


Maggie: Well, I think the reason I do it that way is because I can’t do that when I’m writing a novel.  I can’t write a novel without knowing the very final scene.


Brenna: It’s strange, for long work I almost always have an ending point in mind. So, basically, ditto Maggie.


Maggie: And Merry Sisters is a place for me to just be totally indulgent, take an idea, and run it into the ground like I used to as a badly behaved teen writer. When I didn’t know you were supposed to warm the idea up first and actually cool it down and take the saddle off before you put it away.


Tessa: and I don’t. I have a hard time knowing how my novel will end, but I HAVE to know how to end my story, or I stress SO HARD.


Maggie: So it’s safe to say we all work opposite to our long work?  That’s weird.


Brenna: maybe we’ve arrived at some significant discovery


Tessa: For me, the novel can grow, and sprawl and be whatever it wants, but the short story should be a BANG, and the bang always comes with the end. so I need the end to start.  I think I can say yes to that.


Brenna: Even if I think I know the bang for an MF story, I get proven wrong. I get to the end and it doesn’t work, so I have to figure out the real ending


Tessa: Interesting! All my best MF stories started with the ending.


Maggie: Oh, so true, Brenna.


Tessa: Like, ASH TREE SPELL, started with the image of her lips falling off and turning into petals, and then she cuts out his heart. That was the first image of the story: the end.


Maggie: Sigh. I love that story of yours. Maybe I should rethink my life strategy. I used to try to plan them out to the end. And all that happened is that I ended up  pounding this square peg into a round hole, and then texting Tess and saying WHAT SHOULD I DO and she says JUST KILL EVERYONE and then I have to do something I hadn’t planned either way.

 Tessa: hahahahahah. I do say that ever time. To me, the point of a short story is WHAT CHANGES. And the change comes with the climax/end. So it makes sense for me to want to start with that.


 Maggie: Huh, I was just thinking back about my stories and the initial genesis of them, and I don’t think I always think of the beginning.


Brenna: so are you an image-person, Tess? You see something captivating and figure out where it came from?


Tessa: ….. yes?


Brenna: I know for me, I always just think of an idea, and sometimes the idea’s in the middle.


Maggie: Yes, that. I just think what I think of is rarely the end.  It’s often a premise, which is not the same as a beginning.


Tessa: what kind of idea though? A philosophical question? an image? what do you mean by "idea?"


Brenna: for me, idea is more like what Maggie said: premise.


Maggie: Okay, like, Heart Shaped Box. I wanted an epidemic where the only way you could survive it was to eat someone else’s heart.


Tessa: yeah, that makes sense, Maggie, like the premise you were playing with a while back of "the world on fire" but you never found the story.


Maggie: I wanted to know what that world would look like.  That was my idea.


Tessa: ok, yes. that’s the same thing as the fire one i just mentioned


Maggie: Yep.


Tessa: So you two start macro. And I try to start micro.


Brenna: yeah, I almost never start micro


Tessa: that totally makes sense to me, as I think back on my favorite stories of yours.  (both of yours)


Maggie: Wellllll . . . I was going to argue with that, but then I realized that my other recent fav, Papillon, was what if there were people who only lived for three days, what would that do to your religion. So yeah, I guess so.


Brenna: I have to reign in my Themes and try to make them manageable and accessible.

Maggie: It’s funny, Brenna, because with yours, I always feel like yours are about the people.


Tessa: what’s cool, is I think looking at our styles, you’d think that Maggie and I did things the same way, and Brenna was different, just because Brenna tends toward more "literary" and we’re more "commercial."


Brenna: I do love characters (it’s like an addiction), but with the short pieces, they almost always evolve from the premise.


Maggie: Yeah, I agree with that, Tess.


Brenna: whereas with novels everything I’ve written so far has stated with a character


Maggie: Again, the opposite from the shorts.


Tessa: lol, and for me, novels start with premise! lol.


Maggie: I’m . . . actually learning about my process here.


Tessa: ME TOO


Brenna: this is like a scientific principle


Maggie: I feel so juicy and virtuous.


Tessa: ❤


This will make next story so much easier. ;p


Tessa: I should always be drinking during these roundtables.  Was there an Arthurian knight who drank all the time? That = me.


Maggie: I was trying to think of a really pithy response, and totally lost.  What do you guys think about length?  How does the online format change what you do with that?  I know it means I always have that wordcount thought in the back of my head.


Brenna: well, I used to feel like when I was writing an online story, it needed to be short–like flash-short


Tessa: me too. I check more than ever. But as the one of use who tends toward the longest stories… I feel like most of the time I need at least 2k to tell a good one.  And I agree with that, Brenna, I used to think that, too. The stories I posted on my personal blog pre-MF were all short. 1500 or less.


Maggie: We all started really short. I remember being shocked once that my favorite stories were all the "long" ones.


Brenna: now, I’m not so rigid about it and the stories feel more natural, like I’m just letting them be whatever length is best for that story


Tessa: I think of it as having started writing "vignettes" and now I write actual stories


Maggie: I remember being shocked that they didn’t feel too long.


Tessa: they shouldn’t, if theyr’e good


Brenna: I think it took me a while to think about pacing, rather than length




Brenna: if something is paced right, it won’t feel long or too short


Tessa: and voice has so much to do with that


Maggie: It was weird getting used to characterization in a short.


Tessa: like, your prose poems, Brenna, are so short, technically, but can feel epic.


Maggie: It’s like a bad date, you get in and mess around and get out as quickly as possible.


Tessa: (in a good way) hahaha.


Maggie: Leaving as much of an impact in as short a time as you can.


Brenna: the characterization is a good point–it has to be so economical


Tessa: it’s taught me to try to figure out how to tell the reader everything they need to know about one character in one sentence.


Brenna: you have to really know that character, at least for the duration of the story


Maggie: Yes, I would’ve never thought that was possible before. Actually, I would’ve never thought it was possible from me before. It’s pretty safe to say it changed everything about the way I write.  I think you can tell a shocking influence of my shorts on LINGER vs. SHIVER, which was pre-Merry Sisters.


Tessa: heheh, and it’s funny,because that would be the one thing I’d say I’ve learned from your writing, Maggie, that is the most important: instant characterization. From Brenna I’ve learned about insta- atmosphere. One single word teaching me everything a bout Character from Maggie, and one word teaching me everything about mood/atmosphere from Brenna.


Maggie: I feel like that’s true. And from you, Tess, I learned that you could talk about the most mundane of things and make them sound important.  Also, you do epic in a small space really, really well.  I’m still try
ing to work out that one.


Tessa: This = Group Hug Time


Maggie: that sense of history before the story began.  Yeah, it’s probably indulgent of us.  But it’s the end of another year together. so when else would we?


Tessa: It’s good for us to know though


Brenna: Tess has also been great at demonstrating how to write really raw and visceral emotional scenes.


Maggie: Okay, this is really what I want to steal from Tess: she writes new folklore.


Brenna: now that I’m actually thinking about it, that’s had a big impact on my stories and my style


Maggie: the stories of hers that I hate to love because they’re so good feel old and organic and like they already existed. Ash Tree, for instance, is a good example. Death Ship.


Tessa: If you guys make me cry I will not forgive you. Just sayin.


Maggie: You shouldn’t drink before these things and then you wouldn’t.


Brenna: hahaha–Tess is sentimental!


Tessa: It’s true. But it’s Christmas time


Maggie: And with Brenna, I remember it’s the way you say things that humbled me from the beginning.


Brenna: (if I mock you, you won’t cry)


Tessa: Yeah, I remember reading parts of Brenna’s stories out loud. Because I knew they needed to be spoken.


Maggie: It was so fricking . . . beautiful. Efficient. Spare.


Tessa: Yes. One word. The Queen of Diction.


Maggie: You could pull out any sentence, put it by itself, and I’d say, I’d buy that book.


Tessa: yes.


Maggie: I never really thought about CRAFT before Brenna. And that sounds terrible.


Brenna: aw, know you guys are making me squirm and blush!


Tessa: LOL


Maggie: But I’d thought about storytelling, and about emotion, but not about actually sitting down and saying, hey, everything should matter in about four different ways.


Brenna: because I’m not as good at being sentimental, so I just get awkward 😛


Maggie: That’s okay. I’m done. I think.


Tessa: you’re cute when you’re awkward.


Brenna: Maggie’s stories charm, gets me every time. There’s always something so vivid and real and wry, even when I know it’s fiction, I get seduced by the world and the people.


Tessa: Maggie, I am sometimes just sitting there, quiet and dumb, when I read something in your stories. And I stare at a single sentence and think "how did she DO THAT?"  You make me want to read anything.


Maggie: happy sigh No really happy sigh My dogs just all sighed too.  I’ll take


Brenna: that’s the short version of what I was trying to say.


Maggie: I know. We are so damn sentimental tonight. But I don’t care. We can cut all that out for public usage and I wanted to say it.


Brenna: it’s Christmas!


Tessa: Charm is good, too. Like I’d follow her stories into hell because they smiled at me.


Maggie: Because face it, what we have is pretty damn awesome.


Tessa: and so complimentary


Maggie: And look at what we all did this year. It’s not just bull and rosy back patting.


Brenna: no. kidding. This was a big fat year of awesomeness


Tessa: OMG YOU GUYS WE’RE ALL AWESOME AND GOING TO BE PUBLISHED. Ahem.  Ok, I’m done.  But I have a really good feeling about these roundtable things.


Maggie: That’s the gin.

<chat end>

NOTE: We were chatting the night before Christmas Eve.  Forgive, if you will, the season’s, erm, sentiments getting in the way of us making you laugh.  Unless you laughed at us being mushy, in which case, you’d fit in with us SO WELL.  

If you DID make it all the way to the bottom of this post, here’s the contest: anyone who can guess which characters in Arthurian legend we nick-named each other will win something awesome.  It might include one of the copies of SHIVER that I’ve marked up with lots of notes and jokes and cartoons making fun of Sam (who I love).  Leave your guesses in the comments.  (Hint: none of them are very obscure, and they *could* be bad guys.)

Contest ends, um… Sunday morning when I wake up. If nobody has guessed correctly, I’ll draw a random name from the comments! 😀

45 thoughts on “Merry Fates Round Table TAKE ONE!

  1. Ya’ll are so freaking cute! And, yes, I did laugh at you guys getting all sentimental. It was like reading a Hallmark commercial.

    I can’t think of who you all would be in the Arthuian legends…hmmm….I’ll have to think on it for a bit.

  2. Yeah, it’s been about ten years since I’ve read any Arthurian legend (yay Wikipedia!) and the BBC’s Merlin has totally warped my knowledge of the characters, so I am totally guessing on these.

    Brenna totally reminds me of the Lady of Shalott, if only because of the painting/hair, lol. If not her– Gawain?

    Tessa is… either Morgan Le Fay or Nimue.

    Maggie is, um… Taliesin?

  3. Loved this! Yanno, this is just a wild guess, so feel free to toss around snickers-a-plenty. I’m going with Morgause (Anna), Elaine, and Morgan le Fay. Ohnoez, snicker, snicker, snicker… 🙂

  4. This is clever and a good way for fans to get to know you. You have to leave everything in. Laughing and mushy is good. I don’t know enough about the Arthurian legend to guess. I have character names for Brenna and Maggie, but I’ve not thought of one for you.

  5. Hee! Interesting how all your guys’ writing processes for shorts are the exact opposite for novels. It’s the same for me, too. (Short stories MUST have an end in mind. Novels…not so much.)

    And…nicknames from Arthurian legend? Of COURSE you’re going to base a contest on the one mythology I know nothing about. 😛

  6. Well… everything I know about Arthur comes from early Anglo-Saxon and Welsh lit, and Maggie knows the romance epics, and Brenna probably knows all the Christian-religio-demonic versions… so we don’t really have a meshing understanding of the stories themselves. I recommend going with stereotypes. 😀

  7. What are your guesses?!?

    We try to be clever. But sometimes *trying* to be clever equals lameness. It’s a tough line to walk. 😉

  8. We thought that was interesting, too! It’s cool to know that it’s that way for you, too. I wonder if it’s a wider pattern?

    We intend to hold MANY more contests, so you’ll have more chances. Though you could probably guess based on a really good Wiki article…

  9. LOL. Something tells me that that translates to ‘omg, you’re really, really wrong there.’

    I will wait and ponder this some more, then.

  10. *laughs*

    And it will be all my fault.

    Excellent. Oh, wait. I usually LIKE your characters and don’t want you to kill them off!

    Durn it.

  11. You are spinning it all wrong. Tt’s not that you can’t spell; it’s that you made a special new word just for me!

    Only a true friend would re-invent the English language for you.

  12. Okay here goes – Master splinter is Lancelot, The Oracle is the Fisher King (keeper of the holy grail and Joseph of Arimathea in a past life), and Ishmael is Balin le Savage, Knight with two swords (but will always be the lady of the lake to me).

    Second guess – Tess is Morgan le Fey, Brenna is the lady of the lake, and Maggie is still Lancelot.

  13. Thanks for sharing the chat. I did have to giggle at your mushy sentiments, but I was laughing with you, right? =D

    I’m going to guess that Tessa is Morgan le Fay, Maggie is Elaine, and Breanna is Morgause . . . of course those last two could be switched too . . . Maybe Maggie is Morgause and Breanna is Elaine. Hmmm.

    I chose those names because they were sisters and since you’re the Merry Sisters of Fate . . . =D

    Oops . . . that’s what I get for guessing before reading the other comments. Someone beat me to those guesses. =)

  14. i love being the guinea pig for these things! This whole chat-round-table-arthurian-thingy was a great idea

    sadly i only know of like less than none characters of arthurian legend

    so here, curtesy of wiki! (and partially my own brain) are my guesses anyway!!!


    brenna = elaine of astolat because i think she drowned herself due to her unrequited love of lancelot (pig) and brenna has? a fascination with drowning (or lady of the lake who is less pathetic and all eerie and fabulous like brenna)

    tess = black night/morgan le fay or other heebiejeebie causing (possibly awesome/evil) person because he has a cool name and is often viewed as an antagonist figure

    Maggie = oberon who reminds me of her ballad, antler clad death guy (and who is also awesome)or merlin because just imagining how much trouble maggie could cause with a wand and badass personality gives me the giggles

  15. Yes, definitely laughing with us. We laugh at each other all the time. It’s only fair everyone else gets the chance.

    Good guesses! One of my favorite old articles about those sisters suggests that they were really the same person, and time/history/needs of storytellers pulled them apart. I like the idea of me, Maggie, and Brenna being able to combine our powers to create a super-being. Like Captain Planet.

  16. It’s ok, we don’t need you to join (though we like it when you do!) Just be sure to sign your name to the comment. A name or other userid if you’ve got google reader or blogger or something. No worries! 😀

  17. Ah ha! So that’s your secret to writing great novels. You three are really one amazing super-being. 😉 I should have known.

  18. I do that too, short stories have ends in mind/sort of detailed outlines, novels are loosey-goosey (a few strong characters and an overall image/problem/theme). However, I’ve not managed to finish a novel yet, so I always figured that was just me not knowing the process that will work for me. Maybe I’m not so far off track as I thought…

    As for Arthurian characters… just going to take a stab based all on this chat, because otherwise I’d think myself into circles. Lancelot for Maggie, because he seems like he’d drive very fast in a Camaro. Morgana for Tessa, because I think she does epic in a small space really well too. And Arthur for Brenna, because no one’s guessed him yet, and no one thought about craft before him either.

  19. Ah, the craft. ❤ I actually had to ask a friend of mine to help me with the Arthurian characters. My guesses:

    Brenna = Guinevere (the hair, the relationships)
    Maggie = Arthur (the wit, the relationships)
    Tessa = Morgana le Fay (the blood, the relationships)

    Ha ha. Happy Holidays. Here's hoping 2010 brings us many, many, many more stories by the three of you.

    edited because spelling iz hurd

  20. When I wrote my very first novel I had a vague notion of where I wanted it to end… probably because it was the first book in a trilogy so it wasn’t really and ending! Good luck with yours! It might be part of the process.

    I love the reasoning behind your guesses! They’re great.

  21. I think that maybe Tessa would be nicknamed after Morgan le Fay, Maggie would be Queen Guinevere, and Brenna would be The Lady of the Lake. I’m just guessing. I really don’t know the legend well at all.

  22. Tess is Morgan Le Fay
    Maggie is Merlin
    Brenna is Guinevere.

    Thank the Merlin series for having inspired such research. 😛

  23. We approve of using TV shows and movies to bolster your Arthurian knowledge! 😀

    (also, everyone agrees that I’m Morgan, so clearly I need to read more about her.)

  24. I like the version where Morgan is a good girl. Hmm, now that I think of it… any of you King Arthur? 😉

  25. Shucks, this ones hard, and I REALLY want to win! I love Arthurian legend but it’s been a few years since I’ve read any and it’s hard to remember. Everything is so different in each book.
    Lets see though…
    Maggie- King Arthur
    Brenna- Lady of Shalott
    Tessa- Nimue
    No idea really, but I tried! I did love reading this though! Very funny!

  26. It really was enjoyable learning how you three mutually figure out your methods, styles and how you have grown together as authors. I hope we will be privy to more of these types of discussions.

    However, figuring out which Arthurian character each of you received as a nickname is HARD! There’s just so many! And the characterization changes according to which legend you go with! Oy vey…

    For Breanna- I’m going with King Arthur. The discussion with CRAFT leads me to think of this. Arthur was a really detailed person, and has some of the best phrases. If you want to quote someone, quote Arthur.

    For Tessa- I thought Merlin. He has both a serious side and a playful side. I also thought about the ‘start at the end’ portion. Legend states that Merlin started old and actually became younger over time.

    For Maggie- I’m going with Morgan le Fay. Her stories are seductive, and that fits legend, with how Mordred was conceived. Besides, Nuala did remind me of Morgan in some respects…

  27. Those are excellently well thought out! Thanks!

    I’m glad you enjoyed reading the chat. We’ll be doing something like this once a month. 😀

  28. OK I suck with Arthurian legends but here’s my guess :

    Tessa – Morgan Le Fay
    Maggie – Merlin
    Brenna – Lady of The Lake

    Love hearing your though process 😀 Thanks.


  29. Heh…
    Im a King Arthur Nerd… So Basically all my King Arthur knowledge keeps on taking me back to the leser known knights and my favorite knights…
    Although in my group of Friends Im Lancelot. I get to run naked in a forest after i find out the lady i slept with wasn’t Guinevere! Wooo!

    Since i think i need to Shiver first before trying to win a copy with lots of notes in it. I’ll skip this contest. (anyways i like being Anonymous, gives me an heir of both mystery and of complete creepyness)
    Anyways i think i need to reed just a few more stories here and refresh my mind on Authurian Legends.

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