TVTropes has this to say about "Dead Fic":
A fic whose chapters are spaced with wider updates each time. While this may be the result of a writer working for an overall better product, there is a higher chance of the writer getting derailed by work or personal life. Eventually the fic stops updating, and the reader is left wanting. The death knell comes when, rather than simply coming out with a new chapter, the author just assures the audience they haven't given up. Although rarely, RARELY, the fic in question may update again - sometimes just so the author can state outright that it's a Dead Fic or on Permanent Hiatus. (Or in that matter leaving a note at the end of a chapter and telling what was supposed to happen.)
Emphasis mine. That is the reason I have never posted an AN saying "I'm still working on this."
My writing style has changed immensely during the hiatus, or at least it seems so to myself. I am attempting to partially recreate the style used in the first eleven chapters. I have also learned a lot about fandom, and will be editing some of my earlier chapters slightly.
Here's a little guide. Written in February 2010. Yes, I really did stop in the middle of a sentence. Written in February 2011. Written end of May 2012.
I cranked it out because it was just ridiculous to go any longer since the last update. And because an entire awesome, cool, LONG series was written by Marquis Carabas in the last year and I woefully had no updates at all. And because Sagaverse plot bunnies keep bugging me and I can't post them until after I write the Saga and I promised myself I wouldn't start seriously writing the Saga til I finished CMK. (Sagaverse is my other Coraline universe, an AU of Call Me Katie)
Oh, and apologies to everyone to whom I promised this chapter way back in February...
Chapter 12: Double Garden
The girls walked out onto the porch. As they watched, a waning half moon rose. When the moon's rays touched the garden, two red-flowered trees slowly untwisted, rising upward as they did so. As a strange tree-like thing uncurled in the middle of the garden, several little golden lights fluttered around the two flowered trees, kindling the flowers into glowing red clusters.
Katie and Coraline reached the iron gate and Coraline pushed at it. The two sides swung open with a creak and the girls stepped through, looks of awe on their faces. Plants in the small plot in front of them pushed up through the soil. Before Coraline had a chance to bend down and closely examine the plot, several bright golden hummingbirds swooped down and hovered, wings humming, in front of the girls as if saying hello. They could have been made of gold instead of only colored that way; their feathers shon and glinted in the bright moonlight. They were the lights that had made the trees glow red.
Both girls stood in awe as the pretty birds circled them and then flew to the plants in front of them. Tall, covered, pitcher-like flowers grew up from the soil, each a different mottled mixture of green and orange and yellow and even some red around the top, and each with several long leaves to match. The hummingbirds flitted about, dipping their long beaks into each flower, and lights began to glow in the base of every bloom.
Katie and Coraline split to walk around the plot. As Coraline stepped past the final flower, the covering leaf abruptly flipped backwards and a button-eyed frog popped up to croak in a hoarse bass. The surprise coupled with the animal's odd light-blue-and-red coloring made the girls laugh.
The hummingbirds also split, some flying up both side paths and wakening the large red flowers that grew along and on the inner stone wall. These flowers outwardly resembled huge blooms of the "bleeding heart" flower, but no bleeding heart ever actually beat as these did, light pulsing in their cores. Other golden birds flittered around the plots nearer to the edge of the garden, bringing light and life to transparent pink tube flowers, smaller blue flowers with long orange stems that grew in dome formations, red-and-yellow petaled flowers in bushes, and vaguely fern-like plants with huge white leaves.
Katie and Coraline trotted up the left path, pausing frequently to gape and marvel at all the different kinds of flowers. Orangey-brown creepers twined along the cobblestones in their wake and under their very feet, sprouting single petals in varying shades of white, pink, and peach. The girls had nearly reached the bridge when Coraline grabbed Katie's arm and gave an excited cry, pointing.
Something had just come into sight from behind one of the small rolling hills on the outside of the garden. It seemed to be a blue metal contraption that bore an exceeding resemblance to a praying mantis. Round yellow headlights formed eyes, a pair of legs in the front provided motion, and two wheels in the back were turned by two more pairs of metal legs. As it walked—there was no other word for it—along the ridges, the head turned from side to side, spitting seeds onto the ground. On the tail end hung a watering can, from which poured a stream of water that sprinkled the ground. Odd flowers whose many petals rather resembled teaspoons sprouted behind the mantis, their color an unusual deep purplish-black.
The Other Father sat perched on the mantis' back, just behind its head. He had added a worn, floppy tan cowboy hat to his robe and pants of the night before. He looked over and spotted the girls.
"Heeeeeyy!" he cried, waving at them.
"We love your garden!" Katie shouted happily, cupping her hands around her mouth to be heard over the mantis tractor.
"Our garden, girls! What's ours is yours!" the Other Father called, smiling and spreading his arms out wide to encompass everything.
"Black aeonium!" Coraline squealed, running over to examine the flowers being planted by the tractor.
Katie laughed at her sister's unabashed enthusiasm, then yelped as her feet were attacked by several yellow flowers that had sprouted around her feet.
True, they were only snapdragons, but this was no ordinary garden. The petals of these snapdragons were shaped into vague but definite dragons' heads, and they darted here and there, yapping like puppies. Their gentle pokes produced quite a tickling effect. Katie hopped from one foot to the other, giggling, and promptly fell over. The snapdragons were quite pleased, and began poking her all over, yapping excitedly.
"Aah! Oh! Ahhh! Stop tickling me!" Katie chortled, rolling back and forth in helpless laughter.
On the tractor, the Other Father leaned to one side and put a hand to his ear.
"A daughter in distress! Sally forth, brave rescuers!"
He leaned down and scooped Coraline onto the tractor behind him; she shouted with surprise and then laughed as she saw Katie's predicament. As they passed a bizarre plant with a top like a huge cattail, the Other Father reached out and plucked an still-furled bulb-like flower and put it to his lips. With one blow, the flower opened, straightening out to become a trumpet-sized golden morning glory.
And as a trumpet the Other Father played it, tootling away like a hunting horn as the mantis pranced like a high-spirited horse across the bridge, Coraline holding tight to the man's waist when the mantis reared. As they left the bridge, two enormous jack-o-lanterns erupted from the pond, one on each side of the bridge. Fountains leapt up from within them, lifting the tops into the air, and white water lilies bloomed around the pumpkins.
Katie was still laughing helplessly, rolling from side to side and slapping ineffectually at the flowers. When the mantis halted next to her, the snapdragons stopped and turned their attention to its rider, stretching their stems to full length, mouths wide open.
The Other Father shook a finger at them. "Tickle no more..."
The praying mantis swiped one scythe-like front leg through the stems, severing them. The Other Father gathered the cut flowers together with a graceful sweep of his hand.
"...you dragonsnappers," he finished, and offered the bouquet to Katie. She got to her feet and took it with a relieved smile, giggling slightly as the snapdragons continued to yap, although less excitedly than they had before.
Now that the excitement was over, the girls remembered why they had come out in the first place.
"Well, she says it's time for dinner," Coraline said, poking her head around to look up at the Other Father.
"Breakfast!" Katie interjected, remembering the cheesy scrambled eggs and sausages. The sisters looked at each other, then at the Other Father.
"Food," they said, certain that that would be a safe description.
He smiled. "Hop on, Katie. I want to show you girls something."
As soon as Katie had clambered onto the mantis and was securely seated above the left wheel, the Other Father pulled a lever. A double-bladed propeller unfolded from the back of the mantis and sprang upright, then whirled round and round. Gently, the mantis rose up into the air.
As they rose higher and higher, Katie and Coraline noticed something. On the ground, the garden was a riot of color, a mishmash of hues. But from up here, it was clear that the plants were not randomly situated.
"Corrie..." Katie said slowly. "Does that look like—"
"It's a face!"
And so it was. The path and plot at the front of the garden were a neck and dimpled chin, and the pulsing red hearts lined a small half-moon pond of white water lilies to form a mouth. The rolling hills on which the aeonium grew resembled waves of hair. The curly tree and bridge at the center of the garden together were a pointed nose, and all over the garden the whites and oranges and pinks combined with the path's creepers to imitate skin.
"It's my face!" Coraline shrieked happily.
"No, it's not, not quite," Katie pointed out. "It's got my hair, from the aeonium, even if it's only shoulder length."
"But it's got my eyes, see the pumpkins? And the red trees are freckles, and—whoa, I didn't even notice that greenhouse when we were on the ground!"
"But it's definitely a dragonfly, like your barrette, and it's in the right place." Katie grinned. "This is so cool."
"I can't believe you did this!" Coraline exclaimed, almost bouncing from excitement.
"Mother said you'd like it," the Other Father said, turning to smile at the girls. "Boy, she knows you two like the back of her hand."
"No, do you think?" Katie said deadpan, and all three laughed.
They hovered in the air another minute or so, and then the Other Father piloted the mantis downward. They landed on the path right in front of the back porch. When they had all scrambled off, the Other Father clapped his hands twice and gave a sharp whistle. The mantis rose into the air once more—the resulting wind whipped the girls' hair around—and headed off in the direction of the greenhouse.
"And now," said the Other Father happily, "we eat."
"Mmm, so good," Coraline mumbled through a mouthful of waffles-and-strawberries.
"Yeah, nothing like our usual breakfasts," Katie agreed as she picked up her blueberry muffin.
"I love dinner-breakfast-food," the Other Father said, grinning. His plate was piled extremely high with a sort of triple-decker sandwich of waffles, eggs, and strawberries. He plopped a fourth waffle on top, spooned more stawberries on top of it, and began to cut the stack.
The Other Mother had placed the bouquet of snapdragons in vase in the center of the table, and was feeding the excitable flowers bits of sausage. Her plate was empty. "Katie, Coraline, Mr. Bobinsky has invited you to come see the jumping mice perform after dinner!"
"Really? They're real?" Katie asked, dropping her fork in her eggs in surprise.
"Everyone at home's been saying it's all in Mr. B's head. I knew they were wrong," Coraline said, pleased with this news.
"Well, everything's right in this world, kiddo," said the Other Father, grinning at Coraline. The Other Mother got up and walked around the table to put a hand on her husband's shoulder. She smiled.
"Your father and I will clean up, while you and your friend head upstairs."
"Our friend?" Katie repeated, confused. All their friends were still in Michigan, unless in this world Mairee and Bran and Drew really had come to Oregon already. And then it would only be Katie's friend. She and Coraline didn't have many mutual friends due to their age difference.
Even the doorbell sound is different here, Katie thought as it rang. Major instead of minor.
"Oh, there he is now!" the Other Mother exclaimed.
All of our mutual friends are girls. Who is she talking about?
The Other Mother walked over to the door and pulled it open.
It's not a cliffhanger if everyone knows what'll happen next, right?
I did the black aeonium research AGES ago. It turns out there are no naturally black flowers, but black aeonium are this really dark purple, and they look a little like the blue flowers in the movie. Here's a picture of the garden I described in this chapter (also made ages ago): picsDOTlivejournalDOTcom/cal_yn/pic/000224e4
A line I really wanted to use but couldn't find a good place for:
"If I'm the daughter in distress, does that make you the knights in shining orange PJs?"
For future reference, this chapter was posted on May 31st 2012. The previous chapter was posted on February 27th 2010. That's a gap of two years, three months, and four days.