Bella Novella

My first novella, The Taking of Stonecrop, was released this week. I wanted to answer some of your questions about the project:

Q: Why should I read The Taking of Stonecrop?

A: It wields intrigue, humor, and a sarcastic pronghorn. And you’ll support my mid-life reinvention.

Q: What’s the relationship between Spireseeker and The Taking of Stonecrop?

A: They are in the same world with the same characters, but are two mostly independent stories. The Taking of Stonecrop happens three hundred years prior to the events in Spireseeker.

Q: Which should I read first?

A: It’s fun either way. If you read Spireseeker first, you’ll enjoy reading more about some of your favorite characters when you read the novella. If you read The Taking of Stonecrop first, then you’ll have a little more background on the world before starting the novel—and you’ll recognize a few historical references.

Q: If Spireseeker is a stand-alone story, then why release a novella in the same setting?

A: I’ve recognized that asking readers to start with a fifty-chapter novel written by an unknown author was a bit unrealistic. But, hey, I’m an optimist. So I’m hoping people are willing to give the novella a try. And if they enjoy it, maybe they’ll follow some of my other projects, including Spireseeker.

Q: Will your next novel be in the land of Fayen, like Spireseeker?

A: No, it will be separate. I won’t preclude releasing additional short stories (or even another novella) here or there to add depth to the Spireseeker story, but my next major project is the Shkode trilogy: my personal twist on wizards and dragons. I’m so set on making it a great story that I’ve already been working for more than four months on the outline alone.

Q: What’s your favorite aspect of The Taking of Stonecrop?

A: I enjoy that it explores the personalities of some of the male-form elves. The female-form elves dominated Spireseeker, and though no disrespect was intended, I wondered whether the male-form elves didn’t quite get their due. So I’m happy to be able to highlight them a bit more.

If you have any additional questions about the novella, please let me know. In the meantime, I’d be honored if you’d give The Taking of Stonecrop a try.

E.D.E. Bell, 26 February 2014

Don’t Take No Snow

I should probably start by clarifying that I have no problem with winter, including this winter. It’s a great season to spend time with family, and a great setting to reflect on life. I loved the snowy Christmas, and I thought the snowy January flew by all too quickly. I am enjoying the snowy Valentine’s Day, driving past monumental snowplow-peaks, and watching big snowflakes weave through the air before falling dramatically onto my windshield. I am feeling no rush to move into Spring. Life is short enough without rushing.

It’s days like today that remind me of one of my most memorable moments. It was 2003, and I was sitting on a steep hill in my new car with a newborn baby in the back seat. I was good and stuck, and there was at least a half mile of traffic waiting behind me, all the way back to the main road. I couldn’t drive forward, I couldn’t pull off to the side (the residential street was lined with cars), and I couldn’t even go in reverse due to the traffic behind—all waiting on me. I was hesitant to leave the car, because it was really cold and I had a very tiny baby with me, who I would have to take out into the frigid wind if I left, and not to mention it was now dark. So I was at a loss regarding what to do.

I grew up in Michigan, and knew very well how to drive in snow. But when I bought a new car in 2003, I was in Virginia and didn’t much worry about getting a rear-wheel drive. I mean, it never really snows anyway beyond a dusting. Except sometimes it does. And being a few years desensitized to the concept, I thought nothing of driving my Cadillac up a steep hill which was, after all, the shortest way home. After all, it’s just snow.

So there I was. What happened next fell somewhere between a Christmas special and racist joke. And it’s entirely true. Three men came out of their houses (each a different house) all pulling their hats and gloves on. One was white, one black, and one latino. They waved at me to stay in the car, and told me to hit the gas. They each started pushing. The wheels spun, and I didn’t get much traction. The white gentleman yelled things like, “g’on and get on” in a classic Virginia accent. The latino gentleman yelled things like, “¡Ay ay!” and other things that I won’t repeat but sounded religious in nature. And finally, the black gentleman audibly strained (errrr), and as he pushed he bellowed across the neighborhood, “Ninety thousand dolla’s and you don’t TAKE NO SNOW? Com’ON Cadillac!” Then, as if it had heard the challenge, the car started to move.

I was torn between the gut reaction to stop and thank the men, or to let them know I had paid nothing close to $90K for the car. But as I leaned out to thank them, they waved an arm at me and shouted, “We’re thanked! We know – just GO!” And so I did. They kept pushing the car as I zoomed up over the hill, and the trail of headlights started to move behind me.

I’m still driving that car today. In fact, it did a couple of mean fishtails coming into my neighborhood this evening. And there isn’t a day I don’t drive my car on a snowy day that 1) I remind myself to avoid hills and 2) I think, “Ninety thousand dolla’s and you don’t take no snow? Com’ON Cadillac!”

To date it makes me laugh. And I always think with gratitude about the kind men who went outside in the cold to help keep people moving. No, I’m sure it wasn’t their first time nor their last, even that night. Which makes what they did even more admirable, in my mind. And so, I’m looking forward to a lovely snowy weekend. Just me, my family (including that baby who is now in fifth grade), and my car that still don’t take no snow.

So, while we’re talking, there’s some news on the writing front. I’ll be releasing a novella shortly, titled (wait for it), “The Taking of Stonecrop.” It’s set in the Spireseeker world, three hundred years before the story begins. If you’ve read Spireseeker, it should be a fun backstory. If you haven’t, maybe it’ll convince you to give it a shot. I’ll keep you posted.

Be well, and stay warm.

E.D.E. Bell, 14 February 2014