revamping Mythos

Richard (my husband) and I are sitting down and discussing what to keep and what to get rid of in Mythos. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far:

Get rid of: The creepy prologue, The B plot with James as her dangerously possessive husband,  first person point of view (with two different parts and two different protagonists!), all those jumpy scene cuts, the word “engendered”.

Keep: The A plot — Lilly’s identity, the A+ plot — the importance of Lilly’s identity, the now B plot — Lilly’s and Adan’s relationship, the Nephilim (half-Archetype cannon fodder), Adan and Lilly’s daughter Angel and the Archetype cats.

I think I’m going to write it from scratch with only an outline. Or maybe not. I don’t know when I’m going to write it — probably NaNo in November. Wish me luck!

Dealing with the Problem Child

I think I’m going to rewrite Mythos from scratch. Ok, from near-scratch.

Mythos is the book I just put through querying that is currently gathering even more rejections than before. Even I think the book is a problem child at this point, and I’m just patiently waiting for more rejections.

I don’t blame the agents for rejecting it.

I don’t want to abandon Mythos completely, because as far as worldbuilding is concerned, It’s beautiful worldbuilding. It’s just that — well, my beta-readers can’t get through it. It has some convolutions that aren’t adding to the plot, as if it was two books smushed together. It is two books smushed together, actually. It was my second book, and the first book is even more problematic.

So what I’m going to do when it’s time to write again is take the outline and rewrite the whole damn* thing. In third person. Without some of the convolutions. Without my tendency to put in too many scene breaks and without the word “engender”** and maybe a few other words that drive my readers crazy …

* “Darn” will not work here.
** Sheri, this one’s for you!

The first baby step

Miraculously, I’m at a coffee shop editing the beginning of Whose Hearts are Mountains. This is how the book begins. I might have posted an earlier version earlier, but this has been tweaked. I’d love it if you let me know whether this is too random or weird to start a book with.


“Once upon a time, there were beings who looked like people, only they weren’t the people you see every day. For one, they were stronger than ordinary people, and they lived a lot longer than ordinary people do. They existed to help people understand who they were and where they came from.  By the few who knew them, they were called Ancestors, Archetypes, or sometimes Alvar.

“They lived in a realm far away, yet as close as a thought. In this realm, they existed rather than lived, mere vessels for the ancient memories they held. Some of them tired of this passive role, and wanted to go Earthside to see these people they represented. So they jumped to Earthside, which was only a thought away, defying their Oldest. These Alvar occasionally chose to bring children into the world, which defied their Oldest to a degree that could not be forgiven. Of those Alvar were born the Earthbound Alvar, who lived among people.

“There was one of the Alvar who was born of the male Alvar of the Kiowa and a female Alvar of legend, Lilith. They left their son (for Alvar were born full-grown) with the Kiowa to learn about them and to help them. All he remembered of his birth was that two people, his parents, told him he was special and that he was never to give the secret of his birth away to anyone. 

“The Kiowa shaman named him “Old Man” even though he looked young, and as time passed, he did not age as the others did. Eventually, the band felt frightened of him because of his lack of aging, and he left to join other bands of the First People to hide his true age. He understood that others grew old and died, and he didn’t understand why he didn’t. He also wondered why he had never been young like the babies born to the Kiowa.

“Eventually, he was kidnapped by evil people who put him in chains, people who didn’t realize he was Alvar, but he escaped by jumping – something he had forgotten he could do – back to the place where the Kiowa, his original people, banded. They had gone away, but he became a cowboy, moving from place to place and job to job so that his true nature – which he didn’t understand – wouldn’t be detected.

“He lived like that for years, and finally found himself at a place of learning, so he could discover who he was. He fell in love with a woman named Allie, who looked at him as if she knew him, and asked him lots of questions that tipped close to uncovering his secret. One day, Allie took him to talk to their professor, who was very wise. The professor, Mari, told the man, who called himself Will that she was different in the way he was.  Mari told Will and Allie about the Alvar, and Allie grew to love Will even though he was not like her. 

“One day, they made a child, born fully grown as children of Alvar and humans were born. All of the pain of Will’s past washed over him at the sign of his offspring, and his mind shattered. He disappeared before Mari or Allie could stop him. Allie never stopped loving him, or the child they had together, and she surrounded that child with all the love she could muster, love enough for two.”
“Mom,” I groused, setting aside the cipher box I fiddled with and pulling myself up on the floral print couch, “that’s not a bedtime story for a child – that’s an anthropological treatise.” I wasn’t joking – my mother, Alice Schmidt, had been a preeminent anthropologist who studied Plains cultures at the time of arrival of white people. The story went that she had been trained by the famed Native American anthropologist MariJo Ettner, who had disappeared ten years before and left her coveted research notes to my mother. 

“What did you expect?” my mother asked, her green eyes laughing. “You ask an anthropologist to tell a bedtime story, and you get anthropology. If you told a bedtime story, it would be a fable about an encrypted ghost that terrorized hackers.” Mom, of course, was right – not only because I had chosen to become an anthropologist specializing in urban legends, but because I was my father’s daughter – and my father had been, before his disappearance, a key government encryption expert, and he and I played with the tricks of his trade, cyphers and algorithms.

“So that’s the bedtime story you told me,” I chided, hiding my annoyance that I couldn’t remember my childhood once again. 

“It was the best I could do,” Mom shrugged, then looked at me searchingly, as she often did. Arthur Schmidt — no, Durant Smith after the Witness Protection Program gave him a new identity — strolled in, all rumpled blond hair and steel-framed glasses. Durant was my father figure, but not my father, and my clouds of hair and green eyes came from my mother. My unknown father explained the deep chestnut color of those clouds of hair. “I packed up your car,” he sighed. “The backpack I gave you is under the passenger seat. Take good care of it.”

“Are you sure you want to give me that backpack?” I queried. “You’re giving all your toys away.”

“I’m giving Arthur’s toys away,” my stepfather quipped. I hugged Durant, who was a short man who came to just above my chin. I hugged my mother, plump where I was slender. I studied their faces, which looked just a little older, just a bit more worn, than my first memories of them five years before.

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Six months after that memory, my parents were killed in a home invasion while I was halfway across the country in graduate school.   As a cultural anthropologist, I have chased many stories in my life. The story my mother told me, like the memory of much of my childhood, eludes me.