It’s been quiet around here recently – life and especially a baby can do that! But I’m pleased to say that my fiction writing has actually been going very well, on two different projects.
I spent January continuing my NaNoWriMo project, a World War II companion novel to my Guardian of the Opera series, focused on the Phantom’s granddaughter and the Nazi occupation of Paris. I wrote 20,000 words in January, and another 5,000 in the beginning of February, bringing the total draft-in-progress to just under 80,000 words. The story is probably about 85-90% complete, but I realized I was at a point where I needed to do more research for the final portions.
So I hit pause on that one, and have been reading books on the Romany, Parisian fashion, and life under the occupation. I plan to come back to the story in a few months to expand some earlier portions and write that last section. I came to really enjoy my main character, and to enjoy exploring life as the Phantom’s granddaughter, with amazing secrets about the Opera Garnier. Here’s a brief excerpt from about three-quarters in.
Another shifting and he emerged just far enough from the shadows that I could see blood on his face, a darkening around one eye, and he was standing wrong, like there were other injuries I couldn’t see. “Paul, what happened?” I demanded, stepping forward, catching his arm.
He shrugged, offered a half-smile through swollen lips. “I took photographs of the wrong people.”
“Of course you did,” I said, fear making my tone sharp – and after all, of course he did.
“I need somewhere to hide – and I thought, this big old opera house – I shouldn’t drag you into this, but—”
“Hush,” I ordered, “and come with me.”
After I paused my WWII story, I went back a project I mentioned on here months ago…and that has been stalled for months. A pandemic, pregnancy, and a new baby all interfered! The Princess Beyond the Thorns was my NaNo project of 2019, and I already have the first two books in a planned trilogy written. Book 1 needed some work in a middle section, trying to build in some court intrigue and plot threads to pay off in the later books, and I was pretty thoroughly blocked on the subject. A few writing friends helped me with a brainstorming session in mid-February, and I’ve been making revisions and adding a few new chapters ever since.
I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed my characters in this one, and I’m feeling good about the new elements, both as plot devices and as more ways to reveal character. I’m hopeful this one is back on track for publishing before too many more months, and I’m excited to eventually be able to share it. Here’s a glimpse for now.
Rose pushed back through the memories and the concerns to Lenora’s original question. The new hairstyle, would it look good on Henrietta? A ridiculous question to ask her, when she couldn’t possibly know what the style looked like, but either Lenora was very silly, or she knew that perfectly well…
Rose smiled sweetly, lips curving into a particular smile that felt familiar even though she didn’t think she’d worn it in a long, long time. “Henrietta, your hairstyle looks absolutely lovely just as it is. I never believed in following a fashion just because it was the fashion. But tell me, what did the ambassador from Glyster’s wife’s hairstyle look like? I don’t think I’ve had the chance to see it.”
There. A perfectly innocuous response on the surface with a multitude of layers to it. Calling Henrietta by first name indicated they were of at least equal rank, and was evidently still the social norm among princesses, since Lenora had called Rose by name. Complimenting Henrietta’s hair signaled friendly intentions and a possible alliance. Stating her disapproval of trends indicated she wasn’t weak-minded and easily influenced. And directly pointing out her own unawareness of the hairstyle under discussion drew a firm line against being made a fool of with ridiculous questions, while not being overtly hostile towards Lenora.
She had forgotten how exhausting conversation with the court ladies could be. But it was…sort of an interesting puzzle too.
If all goes well, hopefully I’ll have new novels to share with you soon! And of course, if you’re not yet up to date, my existing novels are still available too. 🙂