Listen to “Moonshine” on the Manawaker Flash Fiction Podcast

I am officially dubbing 2019 the Year of the Podcast! In February, my paranormal comedic short, “Bad Vibrations,” was read by the incredible Tina Connelly on the Toasted Cake Podcast. And today, you can listen to my darkly sweet modern fairytale, “Moonshine,” on the Manawaker Flash Fiction Podcast, read by the equally incredible CB Droege.

“Moonshine” explores adolescent heartbreak and midnight enchantment and whether or not you should trust fairies. Speaking of fairies, there is fairy dialogue in this story, and CB Droege completely kills it. The moment I heard one of my fairies speak, my face lit up with the biggest grin, and it stayed there for a full ten minutes. Truly, this narration is fantastic! I’m really honored to have a story featured on the podcast. CB, you’ve outdone yourself!

If you happen to have ten minutes to spare and love fairytales, this one’s for you. Listen to “Moonshine” HERE.

And if you enjoy CB’s reading of my tale, consider subscribing to the Manawaker Flash Fiction Podcast or becoming a patron.

Cheers to the Year of the Podcast!

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Everything’s Coming Up Superheroes

Divine Five

This week is shaping up to be decidedly super. My husband and I are halfway through the Netflix adaptation of The Umbrella Academy graphic novel series (more fangirling on that later!). I have my ticket to see Captain Marvel this weekend in the fancy Dolby theater at our local AMC (the one with leather recliners that rumble, surround sound, and gorgeous projection). And yesterday, Divine Five: Dawn published, an anthology of superhero origin stories, which just so happens to feature my story “Shock to the System.”

Fun fact: I’m wearing a Wonder Woman shirt today in celebration, but I digress…

This was such a fun project! The editor/publisher, Timothy Pulo, simply provided me with a location (Marseilles, France), a name (Nikolas Travers), and a superpower (but I’m not spoiling that part for you!), and said, “Uh, go for it!” So yeah, the story was completely up to me. I had full reign to create the world, the relationships, the storyline, and the character of Nikolas. That kind of freedom is so liberating! And I had a blast writing my very first superhero story. (Although, I think it’s fitting to apologize to my protagonist, Nikolas. I put the poor kid through the ringer!)

Here’s a sneak peek of my story:

Excerpt of Shock to the System

By Tiffany Michelle Brown

Three blocks later, the métro sign appeared. Nikolas nearly sank to his knees in relief, but the thought of Marceline propelled him onward. He raced down the concrete steps, past a group of figures who wore dark-colored trench coats and argued in harsh whispers—Drug deal gone sideways, Nikolas thought—and into the underground tunnels of Marseille.

He was greeted, as always, with the stale smells of urine, mold, and grit, but the foul odors barely registered, because Nikolas had somewhere he desperately needed to be. There was a short, yet slow-moving line at the métro turnstile, and he briefly considered jumping the barrier, but knew he’d regret the decision later. He stood in line, like everyone else, then fed his métro card into the turnstile and pushed onto the platform. An overhead announcement proclaimed the next car would arrive in five minutes.

Nikolas ambled to the knife edge of the platform, ignoring the yellow safety line, and peered down the track, into the cavernous tubes of the métro line, as if he could summon the car with his mind. Of course, nothing of the sort happened. All Nikolas could see was darkness.

Nikolas sighed. Of all the nights to be late. Though perpetual tardiness was his status quo, he’d promised himself—and more importantly, he’d promised Marceline—that he would arrive at her place at a decent hour that night so they’d have ample time to celebrate.

And he’d broken that promise.

Flushed with disappointment, Nikolas reached into his pocket and retrieved his cell phone. The time was 8:02. He’d meant to arrive at Marceline’s an hour ago. And, of course, there were a slurry of text messages from his girl.

At 6:45: Still planning to be here at 7? I’m making your favorite! J

At 7:20: I’m guessing the métro is backed up or you left a little later than expected? I’ve got dinner ready for whenever you get here. Give me a call and let me know what’s up?

At 7:50: Nik, if you’re still at the office…

At 8:01: I’m not mad (well, maybe a little). But now I just want to know you’re ok. Call me?

“Idiot, idiot, idiot,” Nikolas muttered. “And for what? A medical app? An email that could’ve waited until tomorrow? You have to make this right.”

Nikolas paced the platform wildly, thinking through what he’d say once he got Marceline on the line. He concocted harebrained excuses—the office was under siege! He practiced over-the-top apologies—I’m sorry to the moon and back! He considered chucking his phone in the trash, so he could explain that he’d lost his mobile and couldn’t have contacted her.

In the end, he settled on a simple apology, coupled with an assurance that he was fine and on his way. They would talk more once he got to Marceline’s. He took a deep breath to steady his nerves, took a step away from the platform—and his ankle rolled.

Suddenly, Nikolas was pitching past the yellow safety line and toward the buzzing tracks of the métro. As he fell, he thought of Marceline—her golden, cat-like eyes, the raspy way she laughed, the way he felt safe wrapped in her arms—and sadness swept through him.

But then he stopped, mid-flight, and was pulled backward with a sharp jerk. Nikolas stumbled away from the rails, gulping in air, his body a patchwork of fine tremors. Beside him, a woman wearing a black trench coat stood calmly, as composed as a statue.

Merci, merci,” Nikolas managed between shaky breaths. “You…you saved me.”

“Yeah, I did,” the woman said. “I had to. You’re him.”

Nikolas frowned. What did she mean? “Have we met?”

“No. This is our meet-cute. Charmant, oui?

Nikolas wondered fleetingly if she was high—and then decided she must be. All the signs were there. She’d been reckless enough to save a man tumbling onto the métro tracks, risking her own life (although she’d seemed preternaturally strong). She was talking in riddles with utmost confidence. And it looked like her eyes were all black—so perhaps her pupils were dilated?

“Sure,” Nikolas said. “Listen, I’m really, really grateful. I don’t have much on me, but can I give you a little something?” He produced his wallet, but the woman caught his wrist before he could offer her anything.

“No,” she said. “You’re all I need.”

“O—kay,” Nikolas said. This exchange had become truly uncomfortable, and the woman still had a grip on his wrist. A really firm grip that Nikolas wasn’t sure he’d be able to break. “Thanks again, but I need to be go—“

“Could you tell me the time?” the woman asked, her black eyes peering into his.

Nikolas lifted his wrist—the one free of the woman’s grip—and glanced down at his watch. 8:05.

Huit heures…” he began, then felt fire in his wrist as the woman wrenched him to the side—not further into safety but toward the humming track.

She’s strong—too strong, Nikolas thought.

And then his feet left the earth and he flew. But this time he knew the mysterious stranger wouldn’t halt his fall. She’d initiated it this time, and Nikolas had no idea why.

As he tumbled, Nikolas heard the screams of passengers waiting on the platform, but they sounded warped, like he was underwater. He felt a sickening jolt as his body struck and bounced like a ragdoll. Heat seared through him, and it ran so hot, he almost felt cold. Nikolas’s back arched and his limbs stiffened as an electric current swept through him, painting his world in pain.

To find out what happens on the other side of Nikolas’s fall, pick up your copy of Divine Five: Dawn today!

 

kINKED Gets a New Cover!

kINKED

I will always have a soft spot in my heart (and my loins) for kINKED. Published by Pen and Kink Publishing, kINKED explores the intersection of ink and kink. And it just so happens to contain my story “Begin Again,” a tale that marks the first time I had the guts to publish something really, truly sexy.

Of course, a sexy collection deserves a sexy cover. And y’all, when kINKED first published, it had a cover that’ll make you blush…which proved a little problematic on good old Amazon. The OG cover is, well…visually risqué. And it made finding the collection organically via their search engine pretty difficult.

So…kINKED has a new, slightly less steamy cover. Check it out!

Kinked_photo_full_final_rework2

And here’s a little teaser of “Begin Again”:

“When the blue door swung open, Melissa lost her ability to speak as her gaze swept over the man she presumed to be the tattoo shop owner. Warm, amber light outlined his lithe yet strong figure, his dark, unruly hair, and the tattered jeans precariously slung about his narrow hips. He wore a gray t-shirt that clung to his chest as if he’d been standing in the rain, and where cotton ended, color began. Every inch of his muscular arms were covered in radiant koi fish, dark, twisty woodlands, long-dead rock stars, and lines and lines of block letters and script.

Melissa’s fingers tingled as an overwhelming desire to sketch him stretched through her arms. As far as drawing subjects were concerned, he was her type, someone who would be more at home on the battlefield than lounging nude in the heavens flanked by angels. Well, the nude part would be okay.

Melissa reached for the pencil she routinely kept in the back pocket of her jeans. But having forgotten where she was and what she was wearing—a black pencil skirt and a sequined top—she grasped nothing but air. Coming up empty, she clutched the arm nearest her, unsure of which friend it belonged to in the moment. She was afraid if she didn’t hold something, anything, she’d reach forward to trace her fingertips along the elegant arcs of color on this stranger’s forearms.”

If you’re looking for a steamy read, you can easily search for kINKED on Amazon…or you can use this direct link.

Happy reading!

Read “I’ve Got a Soul to Catch” in Thuggish Itch: Devilish

TI - DEVILISH

I’ve always been fascinated by magic, especially that of the close-up variety. I love watching the seemingly impossible manifest (or disappear!) right before my eyes. I’m definitely the type of girl that would be straight-up charmed by a magician walking up to me and asking if I’d like to see a trick.

But what if that particular magician had devilish intentions?

My latest horror short, “I’ve Got a Soul to Catch,” published in Thuggish Itch: Devilish by Gypsum Sound Tales, features magic tricks, the New York subway, and an unnamed man in black with dark ambition and a pack of playing cards.

Here’s a little taste…

“He slid onto the bench next to his unwitting victim, a girl in her mid-twenties who was listening to music through a pair of purple earbuds, bobbing her head in a consistent rhythm. They were seated near the back of the car in the furthermost corner and, for all intents and purposes, they were quite alone. The closest individual was the snoring man, and he certainly wouldn’t be a problem. The other subway passengers—well, the man in black would ensure they kept to themselves.

He took a deck of playing cards out of his breast pocket and began shuffling and fanning them flamboyantly. The man kept it simple at first, sending the cards flying from one palm to another with perfect accuracy and timing.

The cards slapped. The subway lurched. The man smiled. And the third time he executed the trick, he caught the attention of the girl seated next to him.

The man gave her a devilish grin and flicked the cards into the air. If any human had attempted this stunt, the cards would have spun out of control and fallen to the dirty floor of the subway car. But since the man in black was decidedly inhuman, the cards traveled in a graceful arc a full two feet above their heads, then drifted down to settle in the man’s awaiting palm.

The girl plucked the buds from her ears, her eyes widening. “That was incredible!” She laughed, and a gust of her breath fanned over the man’s face. It smelled of cotton candy, and it took all of the man in black’s restraint to keep from swallowing her whole right there in the back of the J train.

Of course, that wouldn’t do.”

To read the rest, pick up your copy of Devilish HERE!

About Thuggish Itch: Devilish 

Devils, demons and the idea of Hell have always featured prominently in the horror stories that I found myself reading as a teenager or the films I still delve into on a rainy day. I’ve always found it quite amazing how differently the leading man, Satan, is portrayed depending on the creativity and beliefs of the creator. Sometimes he’ll sport a large pair of curved horns and a pointed tail, his skin red, his body smooth and muscular. Other times, he’ll have the head of a goat and a large pair of wings that sprout from between his shoulders like those of a mighty condor. Thuggish Itch’s Devilish collection features, in no particular order, thirteen of our favourite tales, each of which provides a different take on the mythology, the red man himself and all of his minions.

Talking Scary Stories and the Silver Screen with Quoth the Raven Author Susan McCauley

Susie's Headshot 2015

To celebrate the release of Quoth the Raven, edited by Lyn Worthen and published by Camden Park Press, I’m getting cozy with my fellow anthology contributors to learn more about their stories and what inspires their dark little writers’ hearts.

Next, I’m interviewing Susan McCauley, author of “The Cask” in Quoth the Raven.

Quoth the Raven celebrates the eerie and influential legacy of Edgar Allan Poe. What is it about Edgar Allan Poe’s work that speaks to you (perhaps from the grave)?

There is something haunting about his work. His stories and the way they’re told have a way sticking with you – even years after you’ve read them.

Pick three adjectives to describe the story you wrote for Quoth the Raven.

Dark, twisted, eerie.

Imagine you’re in an old-timey elevator, a rickety one that boasts a well-worn, rusty cage. There’s a man in all black in the elevator with you, and he asks what your story is about. What do you tell him?

Assuming we’re in present day, I’d let him know it’s a modern re-telling of “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe, and that the story is about betrayal and revenge. Unlike Poe’s original story, the reader finds out why Montresor has his revenge on Fortunato.

Okay, I’m continuing with this scenario thing. It’s 1849, and you’re at a gathering of literature lovers, a salon, if you will. Across the room, you spy Edgar Allan Poe, and you simply must go over to him to compliment his work. What is the story or poem of his that you laud to excess? And why?

Of course I would have to talk to him about “The Cask of Amontillado.” I love “The Tell-Tale Heart,” too, but “The Cask of Amontillado” has impacted my life in so many ways in both my teaching and writing – especially due to my re-telling of the story and the subsequent short film that was made based on my story. I’d love to know how Poe was inspired to write “The Cask of Amontillado” and what his process was like with writing it.

As a writer, what do you think are the most important elements of dark fiction?

I think that atmosphere and tension are extremely important elements in dark fiction. Certainly all fiction needs tension to pull in a reader and keep them reading, but I think a combination of atmosphere and tension (along with some unexpected and/or disturbing events and images) are vital.

As a reader, why are you attracted to dark fiction? Why do you think we like to read about the things that terrify us?

I honestly don’t know why I’m so drawn to dark fiction. I can only go so far with it – and I don’t like gore. I prefer psychological and supernatural horror. I think why people like things that terrify us is because of our basic survival instincts. For hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of years humanoids have had to fight or run to survive. In modern life, we’re much safer and our basic needs are met. So, I think that by going to scary movies, reading scary stories, and going on scary rides, that helps fulfill a part of us that isn’t being used very often – at least not in countries where all of our major survival needs are met. So, I think it’s psychological and biological.

What’s a story or poem – by any author – that has truly creeped you out (in the best way possible, of course)? What was it about that particular story that just got to you?

The Haunting of Hill House (1959) by Shirley Jackson creeped me out. I first read it in my early twenties and had to sleep with the lights on for several nights. I don’t remember exactly what about the story got to me, but it was psychologically haunting. I’m going to read it again to see what it is about that book that created so much fear in me.

Who are some of your literary inspirations?

I’d say that William Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, and Shirley Jackson are some favorites. I have several more modern authors I find inspiring, too. Jonathan Stroud and Mary Downing Hahn are two of the authors I find myself returning to over and over again.

What are you currently working on right now?

Well, I’ve got two feature films (I’m also a screenwriter) in development. One, The Murdering Kind, is being directed by Academy Award winning SFX makeup artist, Barney Burman. For the other, The Lost Children of York, I can’t announce the director just yet because we’re still in the negotiation process. I also have a short story, “The Devil’s Tree,” which you can read for free on WattPad. I’ve turned “The Devil’s Tree” into a novel (it’s currently on submission). I’m also planning to adapt that short story into a short film and direct it myself.

Where can we find more of your work or connect with you online?

You can find more of my work and can connect with me online at http://www.sbmccauley.com/ I’d love to hear from you! And, if you’re interested, you can see the short film version of my story of “The Cask” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/55jEBuSdJAg

About Susan:

Susan is a writer / director / producer of horror, supernatural, and fantasy films and fiction for adults, young adults, and middle grade audiences and readers. Susan fell in love with writing, theater, and film when she was eight-years-old. That passion inspired her to receive a B.A. in Radio-Television with a minor in Theater from the University of Houston, a M.F.A. in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California, and a M.A. in Text & Performance from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and King’s College in London. Susan also studied acting at Playhouse West with Robert Carnegie and Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic ParkIndependence Day) in Los Angeles.

While living in Los Angeles, Susan wrote the story for and produced a short film, which later won awards at the Houston International Film Festival and the Seabrook Film Festival. In 2002, Susan moved to London to further explore professional theater. While in London, her stage adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s “The Nose” was performed at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art’s George Bernard Shaw Theatre; and, scenes from her play The Prisoner: Princess Elizabeth were performed at HMS Tower of London. She returned home to the U.S. in 2005. In 2007, she was the line producer of the Emmy Award nominated Civil War short film Now & Forever Yours: Letters to an Old Soldier. In 2016, her short story, “The Cask,” was made into an award winning short film that played at film festivals around the U.S.

Quoth the Raven coverAbout Quoth the Raven:

The works of Poe were dark and often disturbing. From dismembered corpses, rivals bricked behind cellar walls, murders in back alleys, laments for lost loves, obsessions that drive men – and women! – to madness, his stories have had a profound impact on both the horror and mystery genres to this day.

In Quoth the Raven, we invite you to answer the call of the raven and revisit Poe’s work, re-imagined for the twenty-first century. Here, the lover of mystery and goth horror will find familiar themes in contemporary settings, variations on Poe’s tales, and faithful recreations of the author’s signature style.

Purchase your copy of the anthology HERE.

“My Love, In Pieces” Serves Up Edgar Allan Poe-Inspired Body Horror

Quoth the Raven cover

Initially, I didn’t plan to write a story to submit to Quoth the Raven, an anthology of contemporary tales and poems inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I’d seen the call for submissions from Camden Park Press floating around the interwebs, and it sounded like a cool project, but I hadn’t had that lightbulb inspiration moment.

And then, I read a story a friend of mine planned to submit, and as I read her incredible manuscript, I thought, Wow, this is a brilliant retelling…and now I want to be part of this project. (Spoiler alert – my friend’s story, “Marcela,” was accepted for the anthology, because like I said, it’s brilliant! Penny Paling, I owe you, girl!)

So, I did a quick Google search for stories by Edgar Allan Poe, promising myself that I would only invest in writing a new story if I got an idea that melted my face off. That jolt of inspiration came as soon as I read a synopsis and then the full text of “Berenice.”

Here’s a brief description of the story from Wikipedia:

“‘Berenice’ is a short horror story by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in the Southern Literary Messenger in 1835. The story follows a man named Egaeus who is preparing to marry his cousin Berenice. He has a tendency to fall into periods of intense focus during which he seems to separate himself from the outside world. Berenice begins to deteriorate from an unnamed disease until the only part of her remaining healthy is her teeth, which become the object of Egaeus’ obsession.”

Now, I didn’t post the full description of the story above, because it contains spoilers for the creepiest, crawliest parts of the narrative, the parts that didn’t jive with readers when Poe first published it. That’s right, folks complained that Poe had gone too far with this particular story. Because of mass public upset, Poe ultimately decided to self-censor the work to make it more palatable to polite society.

So, I’d found a story that had a conclusion so horrific it was censored? Yep, I decided that was the story I wanted to resurrect and give new life.

And it was the right choice, because “My Love, In Pieces,” which you can read in Quoth the Raven (out today!) is one of the scariest stories I’ve ever written.

Here’s a little taste:

“I wasn’t ready to see you like that, broken and bandaged and so very ashen. Your skin, once the color of fresh cream, was the color of dirty snow. Your face was swollen and bruised, a misshapen fruit, thanks to the airbags. Your leg was broken in two places, but it had been reset and shrouded in plaster. The doctor said one of your lungs collapsed and you had a concussion. Your injuries were many. Thus, the medically induced coma. They had you on painkillers and steroids and other medications that had so many syllables, I wondered if the doctor was making them up for my benefit.

The worst part was that wretched plastic tube down your throat, the contraption responsible for your breathing, since you could no longer manage that on your own. I couldn’t see you. I couldn’t see my wife, the shining constant of my life.

My chest grew hot as a branding iron, and I feared I’d spontaneously burst into flame. My flesh would drip from my bones, and then…then, I’d be unrecognizable to you, too. Maybe that would be better.

“She’ll wake up, right?” I managed.

The doctor gave me a kind smile. “In time, yes. We’ll take her off the barbiturates that keep her under as soon as possible, but she has a lot of healing to do. I can’t give you a definite timeframe. Of course, we’ll do everything we can to help in her recovery.”

It wasn’t the answer I wanted. My fists curled and hardened at my sides, ready to fly.

I told the doctor thank you and shook his hand, though my palm was cold and clammy. He left the room, and we were alone. I sunk into a chair, ran my hands through my hair, and listened to the metallic beep of your heart.

It’s cliché, but it all felt like a bad dream.

I thought of that morning, of the time before. You’d surprised me, climbing atop my hips in the gray light of dawn, bringing your finger to your lips while grinning mischievously. You’d bit my shoulder to keep from waking the girls. You smiled at me. You gnashed your teeth in the throes of our lovemaking. You were so warm and alive.

A fine pressure mounted in my chest, and I tucked my head between my knees to alleviate a sudden swoon. As I gulped in sour hospital air, an object on the floor near your bed caught my attention. It was blindingly white, slightly round with distinct grooves, no larger than a fingernail.”

Y’all, you’re so not ready for what happens next! Pick up your copy of Quoth the Raven HERE and see how this creeptastic story unfolds.

Read “No Vacancy” in Issue #24 of Fabula Argentea

No Vacancy pic 2

Today, my short story, “No Vacancy,” appears in Fabulea Argentea’s 24th issue! And to be honest, it’s a story I never thought I’d publish.

I wrote “No Vacancy” years ago. When I wrote it, I was damn proud of it. It was one of the very first pieces I felt was “good enough” to send out to publishers for consideration. Head-in-the-clouds dreamer that I was at the time, I thought this story would be the tipping point for my professional writing career.

But it wasn’t. The rejections started rolling in. And they kept rolling in. And dear God, they didn’t stop. Despite what I thought was a never-ending wellspring of positivity, I found myself doubting my talent, the story, my future as a writer—all of it.

So, when the last publisher on my short list of literary journals and magazines said no thanks, I just…stopped sending the story out. I moved on. I wrote something else. I pushed the whole experience into the back of my mind, the place labeled, “Well That Didn’t Work Out, Did It?”

I was so green then and had so much to learn. I was just dipping my toe into the world of publishing, and I had absolutely no idea how many rejections were in my future (I’ve lost count, you guys). Or how my work would transcend all of those “no’s” from time to time to find some truly beautiful “yes’s.”

A few months ago, I reopened my Word document of “No Vacancy,” read it with fresh eyes, and nearly smacked myself upside the head. How could I have ever given up on this piece? Years later, it was still beautiful. Years later, I still loved it. And years later, my skin had become so much thicker. It was time to revive this piece.

I dedicated time to editing the story, sent it off to a number of publications for consideration, and today, it’s published.

This whole process has been such a nice reminder to never give up on the stories I write that I truly believe in. The stories that contain a tiny piece of my heart between the words. There’s a whole lot of me in this story, to be honest.

I couldn’t be more thrilled that “No Vacancy” has found a home with Fabula Argentea. Alongside each story, the Fabula Argentea editors explain why they chose to publish the piece. Here’s what they said about “No Vacancy”:

“Author Tiffany Brown caught our attention with her opening sentence. From there it only gets better as she masterfully pulls us into her character’s story. It’s a story we can read again and pick out even more of its subtleties. And isn’t that what makes for good fiction?”

If that isn’t recognition and closure for this little-story-that-could, I don’t know what is.

Here’s the opening sentence they reference—and a little extra:

“Bevan arched her back and stared over her shoulder, trying to determine if the patch of skin on her hip was vacant property or a hibiscus leaf that had never been filled in. When her vision blurred, she sighed and walked down the hall to the bathroom, the skin in question vibrating like hummingbird wings.

The cheap fluorescents buzzed and groaned. The old bulbs illuminated Bevan’s skin the wrong way, dulling the vibrant fuchsia, indigo, and lime she wore proudly like war paint. However, the hazy yellow light did the trick. Bevan’s suspicions were confirmed. She’d run out of real estate.

‘Dammit,’ she breathed. Bevan’s hands had begun to twitch earlier in the week, the way they always did when her thoughts turned to color and needles. At the time, she’d resorted to walking to the small grocery two blocks away and submerging her hands in bulk tubs of rice to dull the buzz in her fingertips.

Bevan considered putting on her sneakers, but instead, she picked up her cell phone. ‘Come over,’ she whispered when he answered.”

What follows is a story about identity, love, addiction, and tattoos. I hope you’ll read it HERE (for free!).

And if you’re a writer, I hope you’ll go back and re-read something you haven’t looked at in years. See if you can look past the drafty-ness of it, see the potential, and perhaps, breathe new life into something you previously gave up on.