Please welcome Kate Fellowes to the blog today as she discusses revision and her new story, “A Currency of Wishes” in the new anthology, Moonlight & Misadventure: 20 Stories of Mystery and Suspense.
Third Time’s a Charm
By Kate Fellowes
When I first began writing, I got such a sense of satisfaction upon typing, “The End”. I’d created something and it was complete on the page before me. Mentally, I’d dust my hands and wonder “What’s next?”
Now, I get the same feeling of accomplishment with those words, but I know that I’ve only completed part of the writing process and there’s lots of yummy work ahead.
If Step One is: Think it up, then Step Two is: Write it down, and Step Three is: Make it better. There’s the challenge. Make it better. Or, change it substantially, in some cases.
That’s what happened with “A Currency of Wishes”, my contribution to the Moonlight and Misadventure anthology.
Long ago, I’d had an idea for a short story featuring a crime in plain sight. I love those sorts of things, where clever criminals are bold enough to disguise their actions right in front of the wider world. Such bravado. Such nerve. Imagine it. Aiming my effort at a specific market, Woman’s World magazine, I wrote it up as a 700-word solve-it-yourself mystery. Alas, it was rejected. Fast forward a few years. I’ve published other stories in Woman’s World, but “A Currency of Wishes” sits alone and unloved on my flash drive.
Until I saw a call for submissions for a magazine. Having faith in my work, I knew I could rewrite it a little to fit the magazine’s guidelines. First to go, the solve-it-yourself ending. As with all rewriting, I found it a pleasant activity, tweaking the existing text into something different, kind of like making a new outfit by combining clothes I already own.
But, again, alas. No luck.
Then, earlier this year, the submission call for Moonlight and Misadventure appeared. I thought of “A Currency of Wishes” misadventure and knew a bit of moonlight was readily available to enhance the mystery. With a higher word count possible, I took the opportunity to expand the story and explore my characters in greater depth. Doing that changed everything. When I’d reached the finish line for the third time, the story had morphed from light-hearted flash fiction to something with a darker tone and noir-ish ending that surprised me. (I’m a cozy sort of girl.) The bones of the story were unchanged, the crime still in plain view, but so much else had altered.
The experience reinforced my belief in the power of words. Even when I’m reading the work of others, my writer’s brain is tuned into language. I’ll frequently pause to re-read a particularly striking sentence. I’ll take the time to analyze how the author constructed it and send them a silent “thank you” for their effort.
And I’ll wonder: how many times did they rewrite the sentence, the paragraph, the whole darn thing? How close to the original is the published piece?
Writing is rewriting, someone once said. As a new writer, I didn’t realize that truth and it wasn’t until I did that things started coming together for me. If there’s any activity that brings greater satisfaction than beginning with a blank page and ending up with a polished piece of fiction, I haven’t found it yet.
But, I’m happy to report, because of rewriting, I found the perfect place for “A Currency of Wishes”. Inside the covers of Moonlight and Misadventure, surrounded by nineteen other suspenseful tales of “things better left in the dark.”
Moonlight and Misadventure Synopsis
Whether it’s vintage Hollywood, the Florida everglades, the Atlantic City boardwalk, or a farmhouse in Western Canada, the twenty authors represented in this collection of mystery and suspense interpret the overarching theme of “moonlight and misadventure” in their own inimitable style where only one thing is assured: Waxing, waning, gibbous, or full, the moon is always there, illuminating things better left in the dark.
Featuring stories by K.L. Abrahamson, Sharon Hart Addy, C.W. Blackwell, Clark Boyd, M.H. Callway, Michael A. Clark, Susan Daly, Buzz Dixon, Jeanne DuBois, Elizabeth Elwood, Tracy Falenwolfe, Kate Fellowes, John M. Floyd, Billy Houston, Bethany Maines, Judy Penz Sheluk, KM Rockwood, Joseph S. Walker, Robert Weibezahl, and Susan Jane Wright.
Kate Fellowes ©2021
Kate Fellowes is the author of six mysteries, most recently A Menacing Brew. Her short stories have appeared in several Sisters in Crime anthologies, as well as Woman's World, Mystery Weekly, Cozy Detective and others. In 2020, she won the San Diego Public Library's Matchbook Short Story contest, with a 50-word mystery, “Whodunnit”. A founding member of the Wisconsin Chapter of Sisters in Crime, her working life has revolved around words—editor of the student newspaper, reporter for the local press, cataloger in her hometown library. A graduate of Alverno College in Milwaukee, she blogs about work and life at http://katefellowes.wordpress.com and shares her home with a variety of companion animals.