Friday, June 29, 2007

To Change or Not To Change . . . .

I'm stuck on my rewrites for The Sapphire Flute with five chapters left to go, the five chapters with the least need of fixing, and yet I've got a bit of a dilemma. A certain someone who shall remain nameless (*ahem* Annette Lyon) stated rather correctly in her comment that I am warped. It is true, I will readily admit it. I find things humorous that are both strange and gross, and thus the dilemma: whether to keep my favorite warped scene or cut it for my submission to Shadow Mountain. I can't help but wonder just where they draw the line on these types of things, and it's not like I can call them up and ask proper etiquette here.

So, I was wondering if any of you out there could help me? Give me your feedback, opinions, critiques or whatever and let me know if you would be offended by the scene. Personally, I find it hilarious, but like I've said several times now, I'm totally, completely, and irreparably warped.

Here's the setup: A conversation between Ember, the MC, and her Uncle Shad. Without giving away the entire story, Ember has just the day before discovered that she is 1/4 wolf and a shapeshifter. All wolves are shapeshifters by nature. In trying to hide from her attempted kidnapper, Ember has disguised herself as a boy, but not just by dressing differently, no - she shapeshifted (in appearance only) and now has the dilemma of finding a way to bathe in a city where public baths are the norm. She can't go with the boys, for obvious reasons, nor can she bathe with the girls in her current form.

Here's the scene that's giving me such fits:

"Did you find one?" Ember asked, desperation oozing from her sweaty, canine tinted pores.

Shad shook his head. "Sorry, kiddo. None of the private residents were willing to share their bath with you."

Ember groaned and collapsed onto the bed. "I can't go to the trials smelling like a wolf and covered in mud, What am I going to do?"

"It's very simple, Ember. You go take a bath," he said, leaning against the door jam and grinning at her.

"I can't!" she whined.

"You won't," he said.

Ember glared at him.

Shad pushed himself away from the doorjamb and paced toward her. "Look, Ember, why is this such a big deal. You just go in when the baths are empty, wash and get out. No problem."

"But it’s the boys’ bath. I can’t go in there. And what if they call me for my trial before I get to bathe?"

"So bathe earlier. Bathe now, if you wish."

"I can't!" Ember reddened just thinking about it.

Shad sat down on the bed beside her and put his arm across her shoulders. "All you have to do is put some shorts on. Nobody will see a thing."

"But I'll still have to see them! And I'd feel stupid with shorts on. I won't be like them and that will draw attention to me, which is the last thing I want. I don't have the same parts they do, Uncle. I need to blend in, be the same."

"Then make it so," he said shrugging.


"If you're so worried about not having the same parts then make yourself some. If you can shapeshift into a wolf and change your own body, you can change that too."

Ember was too shocked to respond at first and when she did her words were a gut response and sent out with all the feeling her little body could possess.


Shad started to laugh and couldn't stop. Ember reddened.

"Uncle," she said, rolling her eyes when he did not stop immediately. He doubled over in hilarity until finally she punched him in the arm and shouted. "Uncle!"

Shad swallowed his laughter and hiccupped at her but he did stop at last. He apologized, without a lot of sincerity, when he saw her reddened cheeks and tight lips. "Sorry." He grinned, not sorry at all, she was sure. He took a deep shaky breath and put his arm back around her. "The way I see it, Em, you've only got two options if you're that desperate for a bath. Either you go ahead and bathe with the boys, no matter how you decide to do it, or you go and bathe with the girls."

Ember was surprised. Bathe with the girls? How was that possible? "How can I do that? Right now I'm neither boy nor girl."

"So change yourself fully into one or the other." He said with a nonchalant shrug and a squeeze of her shoulders.

"But what about Mom? I can't really afford to -- " Shad interrupted.

"I didn't mean forever, Ember. Just to take a bath. If you're not comfortable being all boy then be a girl again and go bathe . . . before the rest of the building smells like your room. Please." He waved a hand in front of his nose and grinned.

Okay, there it is. If anyone is inclined to give me their opinion, I'd greatly appreciate it. Cast your vote, folks! Keep it or lose it? What's it going to be? Only one last request: please let me know why you feel one way or the other if you could?

Thanks in advance. You guys are awesome.


Aneeka said...

To tell you the truth, I don't see it being a problem content wise...but then, nor did I see what was so funny about it.

I guess I don't have your sense of humor :)

I'd say, if it's important to help develop character and set up something, keep it. If it's just a great scene that you love that really won't matter if it's there or not, toss it.

But that decision is entirely up to you :)

Nice writing, btw

Andy Lemmon said...

I agree with Aneeka. I didn't find it offensive, or particularly funny. The only thing that I would find offensive is if she decided to change all the way to a boy and bathe with them.

My vote is to keep it. I like the dilemma she's in. I don't think this scene would be what would make or break the story in terms of a sale. If the editor doesn't like it, he/she can always request to delete it, right? Or am I just a naive unpublished author?

Karen Hoover said...

Thanks, Aneeka and Andy. I really appreciate your honesty. I told you I had a warped sense of humor. ;) For some reason I can picture Ember's face as she realizes what Shad is suggesting, and then the fact that he laughs so hard . . . I guess it's one of those things that loses something in the translation. It struck me funny.

Andy, no worries, she doesn't bathe with the boys. I like the dilemma she's in too and feel like it adds to the story since the last half of the book is about the trouble shapeshifting creates for her.

Aneeka, thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you like the writing. One never knows how these things will be received. I can't help but breathe a sigh of relief when somebody likes what I've written. :D

Thanks again for taking the time to respond. It really does help.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I'm a little late getting in to this, but then, since when is that new?

I would keep it and just see what they say. They aren't going to reject the whole book because of one thing -- if they like the book but hate the scene, they'll ask you to change the scene.

Karen Hoover said...

Thank you, Tristi. I'll do that. I'm going to make a couple of small changes for clarification, but other than that I'll keep it in. Sorry it took so long to respond.

Karlene said...

I'm fine with the scene. I thought the situation was kind of funny. I wouldn't have her bathe with the boys either. That might be a problem.

(And don't give my opinion any more weight than anyone else's. It's just an opinion.)

Karen Hoover said...

Thank you very much, Karlene. I'm glad you feel that way. It confirms my own thoughts and those of everyone else, it seems. Thanks for taking the time to help.