Tag Archives: Alpha Female

The Dark Moment…I think

I just got done writing a very emotionally difficult scene in Alpha Female, and I thought I’d share.

SPOILER ALERT!  Don’t read any further if you plan on reading it and want to be surprised.

The backstory: Luke is the male lead, Natasha is the main character.  Luke and Natasha have fallen in love, and Luke has healed her after she almost died but the price he paid was “going rogue,” which basically means he’s reduced to his animal impulses and not much else (including speech…he speaks very oddly here). She’s trying to get through to him, because he is extremely dangerous and could kill her.  And she believes she can save him….

“It’s not just you,” Natasha said, her voice quivering. “It’s everything. I still have to do the rituals for my Fallen. And, home. I suppose I could go back…in time.”

He nodded. “Back, you. Me, leave. Now.” That tightness got worse, almost suffocating, and he reached out and brushed her shoulder. Little touch. Just to see. “Sad, no. Don’t want.”

“It’s all right.” Natasha reached out to him, twining her fingers with his. “I’ll be fine. It’s you I’m worried about.”

“No, you. Worry, no.”

“How can I not? You almost hurt me, you can barely speak…how am I going to fix this?” Tears streamed down her cheeks, and she sobbed.

He laid his hand on the the edge of one wing. “Choice, me. Heal, you.”

“You should have let me die!” she said, her hands clenched into fists. “You would find another and you wouldn’t be…this.” She stood and walked towards the door. Away from him.

And even though she should have gone and he should have let her, he let out a whimper. He didn’t want her to leave, he realized. He wanted to hear her talk to him and touch his hand. He wanted her near him. Not far away.

Not outside.


“Don’t…go,” Luke said, forcing the words out. His heart raced in time with his thoughts. Chaos again. Chaos, no.

Natasha arched a brow. “Don’t go?” she repeated. “Is that what you said?” She closed the distance between them in three long strides. “Say it again!”

He winced. He wasn’t sure he could do it again. “Go, don’t. No…” He let out an ear-piercing scream, so loud that he was sure he’d popped his own eardrums. He couldn’t stand this. He needed to talk, not be an animal. “No…”

“All right. Take a breath. Say it again for me.” Her eyes held the world to him. He was nothing without her.


His mouth worked, his tongue moved, but he couldn’t pry the words out. He couldn’t slow his thoughts long enough to know what sounds to make.

He really was an animal, wasn’t he?

He let out another scream. This time, it was a howl. Once he turned [wolf], he could never go back.


So I’m doing pretty well with this, which makes me all sorts of happy.  Now back to your regularly scheduled programming…

So what have I been doing?

Yeesh, that’s a really good question.  The short version: banging my head against the wall.  And hating everything.  And jumping when my Inner Slave Driver says so. 

Lemme  explain.  Awhile ago, I got horribly, mercilessly, wacked-out-crazy stuck on Alpha Female.  It was so bad that I’d open up the file and I’d go numb.  Nothing would happen.  I’d feel uncomfortable and slightly panicky.  And then it would get so intolerable that I would have to close the file.

Imagine about a week of doing this, and then spending all my time away from the computer obcessing about it.  How to fix it.  What went wrong.  Alternate ideas.  Throwing lots of stuff on the wall.  Seeing what stuck.  Soul searching.  Wondering if  I really need to finish this draft now.  That’s important, yanno.

So at the end of that hellish week, I finally — after brainstorming until my eyeballs damn near started bleeding — came up with something.  The current direction?  Wrong.  The current ending?  Wrong.  It all needed to go from where  I started rewriting it last.  Ugh.  That really friggin hurt, but I saved the file under different name, just in case it was The Crazies and not a Brillant Idea like I thought.

Soooo I start in on the new direction and it’s flowing for a day or two.  I’m on friggin fire.  I can’t type fast enough.  It’s going, it’s going, and then..it went.  Just…nothing.  I went to start the next scene last night and ended up with this mess:

“Are you sure you’re up for this?” Derek asked as we walked quite a distance away from the Circle and through a copse of trees. The sunlight sent diffused light through the canopy of leaves, and I hugged myself, suddenly cold. The smell of saltwater reminded me of the time that Luke and I spent at the beach, and my heart clenched tight.

“No, I’m not,” I admitted. “But I have to do this.”

“It’s just down this path.” A dirt path lead to complete darkness. Disconcerted, I followed him, wondering how far into the darkness Luke was. I realized that I should have had my daggers. Some kind of protection. Who was to say that Derek wouldn’t just..kill me? They didn’t exactly owe me anything. Although, I was still the Alpha Female, and it had to count for something, right?

I tried to think positively.

I’m positive that I’m going to die.

 I shook my head. This wasn’t going to work.

“Natasha?” Derek asked. “Are you okay?”

I blinked. “Wha – yes, I’m fine. Just a little worried.”

“I can imagine.” Derek stopped at a short nondescript building made of brick. It seemed to completely fill the area, but maybe it was my imagination. Luke was in there. Right now. I wasn’t sure if that scared me more or gave me comfort.

The sound of chains banging against each other broke into my thoughts. Derek was trying to unlock the chains.

Not even going to go into why this sucks, just that it does, okay?

So what’s going on?  Well, my best guess?  Some things have been weighing on my mind, and as usual, I’m putting too much pressure on myself (what else is new?).  I would like to finish this draft of Alpha Female by the end of the year.  What might be the reality is that I don’t, and that’s okay.  But I have goals!  Well, sometimes goals aren’t everything.

I’m not giving up on it, but I am going to lighten the load a bit on myself.  It’s been difficult and I know I need to work through these things, but I have been working on Alpha Female since August.  Three rewrites plus countless other scene rewrites.  This has been one of the toughest books I’ve ever written.  Why?  I don’t know.  I can’t say it was because I had a deadline, because that was shot to hell halfway through.  It’s almost as if the book is fighting me.  Why?  I love Natasha and Luke, I love the Pirouette world, I love the story.  So why am I so effed up about it?

I don’t know.  That’s a bit of a mystery.  But it’s really pissing me off.

I’ve also been thinking about Pirouette and where to go with it once I start the revision.  Out of the gate, I’ll need to revise the first two scenes.  That’s been simmering in the back of my head for awhile.  And a new project — well, an old one that’s screaming for my attention — is Darkweaver.  I have Ideas, baby, but can’t work on it.  I need to finish Alpha Female and Pirouette before I can even start think about writing it.  Because I could get involved in that for a year and meanwhile, Alpha Female and Pirouette suffer.  Can’t do that.

And, lastly, is poetry chapbook #2, Without Wings.  I have a preliminary file started with the poems in a possible order.  They still need editing and the order needs to be studied.  It’s due to the Turtleduck peeps on Feb. 1st.  So that’s in the plan as well.

So, I’m taking it easy.  Hopefully, I can get something going before the end of the year.  I hope.

Buy my chapbook!

You know you want to.  Come on, it’s only $7 and Christmas is coming…

:looks around:

Oops, did I just say that?  Sorry.  I think Alisia’s been hijacking my brain again.

What I was going to say was that my chapbook, Life as a Moving Target, is now for sale by Turtleduck Press.  Head on over to the Turtleduck Press site at http://www.turtleduckpress.com or to my website at http://www.erinkendall.com to get more information and/or to buy a copy.

You know you want to.

Even if you’re not into poetry — my chapbook is written so everyone can understand it.  That was important to me. 

:glares at Alisia, who’s grinning at her:

Um, sorry about that.  She’s doing it again.

Anyhoo, a friend of mine reviewed my chapbook on her website.  Here’s what she had to say:

Again and again, she uses metaphors for balance, for movement, for focus — tightropes and pirouettes, crawling, tops, the world pulling her along with it. Other images appear, rainbows and fog, medical terms and magic, shadows and shapes.

Overall, this is an incredibly moving and personal collection of poems, that deserves to be lingered with, reread, and shared. I encourage everyone to check out the excerpt at the Turtleduck Website and consider buying the chapbook.

If you’d like to read the full review, check it out here: http://www.erinmhartshorn.com/life-as-a-moving-target-review/ .  I’m so excited about it!

In other news, Alpha Female is giving me fits, so it hasn’t been going well.  But I did finish the Pirouette notecards.  The grand total? 118 !  That’s alot of notecards! But they will really help me nail down what needs to be changed.

Goal for the rest of the year: get as much done on either project.  After the first of the year, things will get crazy again, so for now I’m taking it easy.  No outrageous demands.  :grabs Inner Slave Driver by the throat:  You hear that?  I need a break.  And I will take it.

:whip cracks:

I mean, uh.  Yeah.  Going to write till my fingers bleed.  Uh huh.  Must work harder.  Must…….  :incoherent whispers:

NaNoRevMo – days 21-27

This past week has been really rough on me.  I lost a few days due to some personal stuff that made it virtually impossible to work on anything.  Everything is fine.  I just wasn’t in the mental place for writing and taking the time off actually worked to my advantage.

I was also horribly stuck on Alpha Female.  It always happens near the end: I’ll lock up completely and not be able to move forward to save my life.  I’ve heard that some writers subconsciously don’t want to finish their projects and by getting stuck, they’re able to delay the inevitable. It happened with Flamebound, too, although I’m not sure if it happened for Pirouette.  But it’s starting to flow better now, so I might actually be over the hump and into the home stretch.

I don’t doubt that I’ll need to do another edit pass, though.  Some of it is new words and right now, the goal is to finish it first.

I also worked on more Pirouette notecards.  That’s also coming along.

And of course, my chapbook is launching with Turtleduck Press on December 1st.  You can find out more at our website, http://www.turtleduckpress.com .  I’m looking forward to that. 

Bits of poetry are still rattling around in my head, but nothing’s jumped out at me.  I may need to just freewrite sometime soon and see what happens.  For some reason, I can’t seem to make the pieces gel into something cohesive.  I imagine it’s because I haven’t written much poetry lately.  Must change that.

All in all, I made pretty good progress if a bit slow.  Hopefully, things will pick up in the final 3 days.

NaNoRevNo days 15-20

Yeah, just moving along.  I’ve worked mostly on Alpha Female, except for one day when I got really, really stuck and couldn’t conceive the notion of writing.  I thought about it instead.  That day — I don’t remember which — I worked on the Pirouette notecards.  I also gave some thought to my second chapbook that’s releasing April 1st from Turtleduck Press.  Working title is Without Wings, and it’s all love poetry.  I’ve been trying to get myself to write more happy poems because the happy ones I have are of inferior quality and the better quality ones are mostly sad.  I’m not sure I want to have a whole collection of sad poetry, so it’s time to write some happy poems.  But, unfortunately, the muse isn’t cooperating.

Last time I wrote a poem was last year for Life as a Moving Target.  I actually wrote 3, 2 of which are included.  The other, Insignificant, will be in the second chapbook.  But as much as I try, I can’t get into the proper mindset.

I used to freewrite alot and then turn it into poetry.  I wrote alot.  I still have alot of my drafts.  I’m considering using some of those as jumping off points for the new poems.  I have a list of lines in my iPhone, but they are all for the third chapbook, Don’t Close Your Eyes.  I wish my muse would just throw me a bone.

Anyhoo, so that’s what I’ve been doing.  Slowed down some on Alpha Female, but today I was able to work through the block.  It’s still not perfect, but good enough for now.  I’d like to finish it by the end of the month.  I should be able to do that still.

What got me so stuck?  Werewolf pack rules and werewolf fight scenes.  Yep, that was my undoing.  And I decided to use something from the original draft (nothing is ever wasted) so that was an added bonus.  I still have a few things to clear up and a plausible way for the ending to happen, and another edit, and then I think I can call it done.

This has been a very insightful experience.

Also, one of the winners of my giveaway hasn’t contacted me so I’m re-drawing a new name tomorrow.  If you weren’t part of the first, comment here (with an email address or you will be disqualified) and I will add you to my original list.  Those of you who were part of the original giveaway are still eligible for the re-draw so no need to add your name again.

Talking to myself

I wrote 576 new words on Alpha Female and I’ve set the end in motion.  However, I left out something really important, so it’ll need to be added in next time.  Hopefully tomorrow.

What I’m grappling with is the Pack structure.  They have a mating rite where the males compete to mate with the Alpha Female (Natasha, the main female character).  They have rules.  Delia, the antagonist, broke the rules.  So technically, she should be dealt with and wasn’t.  Well, except for a death threat.  😉  I dunno.  I guess there are more things to consider. My beta reader brought the whole Delia thing to light — Luke, the male lead and Natasha’s love interest, needs to address Delia trying to kill Natasha.  She should, technically, die, as was implied in one of the earlier drafts.  I need to definitely tie this up before the novella ends.

And then there’s the climax.  I’m basically keeping what I had, except for the circumstances that lead to it, if that makes sense.  Luke needs to go rabid on her, and she needs to [spoiler alert!] heal him. [end spoiler alert!].  I really, really like that.  It’s different than what I’d planned, but as I was writing the current draft, I went with it.  I think it works well. 

I think it might be trying to tie all the loose ends together in one shot that’s killing me.  Maybe I need to do it one by one, not all at once.  I always feel like my brain is going to explode.  Or maybe I could make notes to refer to later about these things.  I’m still learning what works and what doesn’t.  And I feel a bit like I’m climbing through quicksand.  However, if I can get this done within the next few weeks, I could get it back to my beta reader and maybe, just maybe, be able to submit it by the end of the year, which is the goal.


NaNoRevNo – days 6-13

My bad.  I meant to update every day or every few days and I kind of dropped the ball here.  I lost 2 days due to being sick.  The others I worked on the Alpha Female revision.  I’m actually almost to the end of the draft and have discovered that I’ll need to rewrite most of it.  That’s a good thing and a bad thing.  There is a lot wrong with the end.  It needs to go in a different direction.  I also have a few more tricks up my sleeve. The actual ending is kick ass.  It’s just that what comes before sucks.

There, I said it.

Little bit of work on the Pirouette notecarding.  A few awesome first lines came to me a few days ago at work (where else?) so I’m kind of excited about that.  Still fending off the plotbunny from hell.  I now have a kick ass first line.

“I tried to cheat Death once.  Instead, I became Death.”

Doesn’t that just give you shivers?

In chapbook news, I’m pulling names tomorrow.  If you want to be in on it, comment to this post or my status on Facebook.   The short version is that 2 people will win a signed copy of Life as a Moving Target before it releases on Dec. 1st.

We go live in 2 1/2 weeks.  I still have some stuff to finish up on the website.  A “behind the scenes” page that will contain the first draft of the opening poem and a few that didn’t make the chapbook cut.  Also, a bit about how the chapbook came to be, what inspired particular poems.  So if you end up reading it and want to know more, stop by my website after release.  Dec 1st.  Got that?  Good.

NaNoRevNo days 3, 4, & 5

I kind of got busy so I haven’t been able to post my progress.  I worked on Pirouette’s notecards and finished adding the conflicts and such to the ones that have been written.  I just need to finish writing up the rest and adding conflicts to those.  Things are making sense, and I’m beginning to see where there’s weak conflict, no conflict, or (and this one’s a killer) no twist.  Every scene needs one.  So I have to give that some thought.  This twist/adding conflicts thing is part of HTRYN and so far, it’s really helping.

I’ve been working on Alpha Female as well.  I have some plotty things to consider before moving on.  But it’s coming along.  I feel optimistic that the draft is already much better.

The idea that I had to fix a problem?  Seems to be working so far.  I have no illusions that it’s going to be The Fix, but again, I’m feeling optimistic about it.  My idea is to try to nail everything in one go like Holly Lisle does.  Obviously, if I can’t, I won’t.  But with a project that’s smaller in scope, it might be doable.  And if I can, it will help me so much with Pirouette’s revision.  So, I think I’m doing pretty darned well so far.

Since I haven’t shared a snippet in forever, I’ll share one from Alpha Female.

Dropping Luke’s hands, I turned to Simone, acutely aware that I was frowning. “I’m not convinced that I am your Alpha Female – ”

“You don’t understand.” Simone’s eyes were warm and accepting, her face peaceful. “You smell of Pack. Only Pack smells of Pack. It follows that you’re our Alpha Female.”

Delia stood now, her mouth twisted in a grimace. “I for one will not allow a Fae to lead me. I don’t care if she smells like Pack and has one ounce of Lupi blood in her! This is unacceptable, Luke.” She put her hands on her hips, glaring at Luke as if she wanted him dead. Or was it me she wanted dead?

“Delia,” Luke said in a warning tone. “It’s not like I get to choose what race my Alpha Female is.”

Delia scowled in my direction. “She herself has denied it. So let it go.”

“It’s not that easy and you know it!” Luke was suddenly in Delia’s face. He’d moved so fast that I couldn’t track it. But he was there, his face red and his eyes flashing with suppressed rage. “You’re just pissed off because you’re not the one.”

I knew it! “Apparently his wolf likes me. Not you.” I bared my teeth in a smile that wasn’t genuine.

Delia grabbed Luke’s arm. “Did you see them? Or is this all just a ruse – “ She gasped, backing away from all of us, her face stricken. “It is you.” She recovered quickly, though. She charged at me, moving so fast she was a blur.

I drew both my daggers, ready to fight.

“I’m going to kill you. Slowly.” She held herself tall and regal, her elegant hands clenched in fists.

Suddenly there was a press of power, and Luke let out an inhuman growl. “You will do no such thing.” His eyes flashed amber; several people gasped. “Stand down, Delia. Or you won’t like the outcome.”

“Crap, Delia, he’s going to turn!” Simone grabbed Delia’s wrist, but Delia pulled away from her.

“What are you talking about?” I asked, my heart racing. I had a bad feeling about this.

The others moved into a loose semi-circle around me. The wolves growled.

“You don’t want to know,” Simone said evenly. She’d paled just a bit, and was that a tremor I saw in her fingers?

“Touch her and I will tear your throat out,” Derek said. “As Luke’s Second I order you to stand down.”

Delia threw a punch at me; I ducked. She stumbled, and it gave me the opportunity to grab her. I pressed my blade against her throat, drawing blood. “Do not mess with me. I’m Dark Covenant. I can and will kill you.”

Luke let out another growl. And then he spasmed, falling to the ground.

Chaos. The wolves surrounded him, a living wall. I couldn’t even see him. But the tension in the air was obvious. Something was really wrong.

“Stay back!” Ilene came through. “Luke, stay there. We’ll neutralize the threat.”

I stepped forward into the Circle. “What’s wrong with him? Why is he like that?” My eyes widened as he flailed about, his head thrashing from side-to-side and his hands clenched in fists.

Layla glanced at me, her eyes narrowed. “It’s the madness. Every Alpha Male goes through it.”

Delia shoved me away. I stumbled, almost falling, but not quite. “Let me help him.” Her words carried a strong command.

“If you’re his Alpha Female and not her,” Brandon spoke up from beside me, “then prove it. Tame him.”

Delia bit her lip. “I will tame him.” She shot me a dirty look. I fought not to go to work on her with my blade.

I watched as she knelt beside his now-shivering form. She took her hand in his and pressed her lips to his palm, slowly, reverently. She glanced at me again as if to say see? I’m the one.

 I wasn’t sure I believed it. He showed no signs of calming. In fact, he seemed to get more agitated –

Another spasm. His arms flew out, and Delia scrambled away to avoid being hit. She looked shaken.

“I can’t – can’t – do this – “ Luke grated out. He reached blindly for someone or something. “Help!”

I inched forward, but Delia shoved me back again.. She knelt by his side again and touched his face.

And he exploded.

His body flowed into fur and a muzzle, paws and a tail. His eyes burned bright amber. He wheeled on Delia, snapping his jaws.

“You might want to get away from him now,” Derek suggested. “He might actually eat you this time.”

NaNoRevNo day 2

Today, I worked on Alpha Female.  I had no idea how to fix the problem that got me stuck, but went with an idea I had and it seemed to work, so yay!  I did about 3 pages of revision.  I got to a part that needed some major smoothing, and that pretty much did me in.  But I call that progress nonetheless.

Might try to squeeze in more notecards for Pirouette later tonight, or read Crave by J.R. Ward.  Hard choice!

NaNoRevMo day 1

I’ll admit it: most of today was spent reading (and finishing) Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning.  If you haven’t read her Fever series, I implore you to do it NOW.  She’s that good.  So good that I put everything on hold to finish it in less than 2 days.

But I did manage to work on the Pirouette notecards.  I have some new ideas.  Just from writing down the conflicts and why the scene matters, which is an HTRYN thing.  I’m jumping around alot in the methods, sort of freeform, more or less to see what really helps really fast.  Might seem counterintuitive, especially to HTRYN folks, but so far it’s working.  Somehow forcing yourself to pick apart each scene brings everything that’s working — and not working — into focus.  I also have a few scenes that need to be changed due to decisions I made either mid-draft or after.  With the notecards, I’ve got all the information right there.

On the Alpha Female front, I’m a bit stuck.  I have this one plot issue that needs to be figured out before I can even consider moving on.  Been thinking about it but nada from the muse. 

So, score is as follows:

Pirouette = 1, Alpha Female = 0 Poetry= 1*

*Because I had an inkling of a good first line for a poem.  Not sure which chapbook it belongs to yet.

Also, the Turtleduck Press teaser site (which has some very cool things on it) is LIVE! Check it out! http://www.turtleduckpress.com .