Writing Wednesday: Novel Growth

I’m deep into revisions for the third book of my Phantom novel, and as expected–it’s getting longer.  Originally, when I thought the trilogy was only two books, this portion was only the second half of the second book.  This is my first serious revision pass treating it as an independent volume, and the major thing I’ve realized so far is that I need more at the beginning.  Plenty of plot threads or emotional moments were adequately set-up if this was part of something larger.  As a new book, they come out of nowhere in the first few chapters.

So I’ll be expanding the early chapters quite a lot.  So far I’ve mostly just marked places where I need to add a scene (or three), but from what little I’ve started writing, the book has already grown more than 2,000 words.  I’ll be surprised if I don’t end up adding at least 20,000 by the time this is done!

For today, here’s a bit I already added.


I glanced at the one locked drawer in my table, and my mood dropped.  I hadn’t opened the drawer since before the mob arrived.  I’d been avoiding it.  There was something I didn’t want to know.

But this was getting silly, and if I was going to see Erik today, I ought to just find out—before I could decide against it, I unlocked the drawer and pulled it open.  There should have been a folded sheet of directions hidden away in the very back.  The directions Erik had given me to his home before, the ones I hadn’t needed to use in months but had kept on hand, just in case.

They weren’t there.

Trying not to attract any attention with the movements, I sorted through the old playbills, cheap jewelry and handkerchiefs that filled the drawer.  I wanted the directions to be here, not because I needed them, but because I needed to know that they weren’t somewhere else.

That they hadn’t been used by someone else.

Writing Wednesday: Back to Revisions

After a month of short story writing, I plunged back into Guardian of the Opera revisions at the beginning of June.  I’m working now on Book Three, and once I finish at least an initial round of revisions, I’m hoping to be in a place to start setting a (more specific) timeline for publication.  We’ll see!

In the meantime, lots to do here.  I did a very fast skim through the book already, just to try to get a sense of the shape of it as Book 3, rather than the second-half of Book 2 (when I thought this was two books) or the last section of the whole story (when I thought, long ago now, that it was just one book!)  What I realized is that this book is definitely more emotionally intense than the previous two–because it was supposed to be the climactic section!  Which somehow stretched to 70,000 words…

That still puts it about 40,000 words shorter than the other two books, but it’s also the least revised, and I always lengthen when I revise.  So I expect the lengths to get closer together.  And hopefully it will be an exciting conclusion to the trilogy!

For today, here’s a bit I’m adding into Chapter Two, because I decided I needed at least one more emotional upheaval, here at the beginning…


Nothing had to change.  Everything had been fine before.  Before, when I knew I loved Erik and had resolved not to tell him about it.  He wouldn’t understand.  I had been so sure he wouldn’t understand, and that he wouldn’t ever feel the same about me.  Not when he was so in love with Christine.

I had told myself that not telling him, to continue being his friend and not tell him, was the only option.

But that had never been a comfortable option.  Not even before I kissed his cheek when a mob was coming for him, before I watched him (apparently) drown, before I had lived six days with the possibility that he was dead and I would never again have the chance to tell him anything.

That had been before I saw him step alive out of the shadows, before everything in me had taken wing at the sight of him, before I had impulsively reached out to hold onto him and been embraced in return.

I lay on my back in bed and played with my gold necklace, the little disk with a G on it that would always belong to my sister Gabrielle.  Even though she had died seven years ago, when she was only nine, and I had worn it longer now than she had.

Sometimes people went away forever.  And knowing how possible that was, did I really want to leave important things unsaid?

Writing Wednesday: Dancing into the Opera

I wrote last week about the Peter Pan story I’m writing for a planned anthology, involving people entering into books.  I’m planning to write at least two stories for the collection, and have started playing with the second one.  I’m not straying far from familiar territory, as I decided to send a character into The Phantom of the Opera.  But the trip will be out of familiar territory for her–Michelle has seen Webber’s Phantom, and has no idea how different Gaston Leroux’s version is!

Here’s a bit from near the beginning.


I walked along the wall and stopped at random at another shelf.  Nothing was grabbing me.  It all looked boring, boring, boring…

And then I stopped on a black book with silver lettering.  No dust jacket.  But there was the key information on the spine: The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux.

I found myself smiling involuntarily.  Now that had been a good Saturday night.  Kim and I went to see the Webber play, because her husband hates musicals and thinks only tourists go to see Webber.  Whatever, it means I get to be Kim’s theater buddy.  So we went to the play and of course I rolled my eyes for the first scene, the “rehearsal of Hannibal.”  They were trying, and it wasn’t bad dancing, but it wasn’t professional ballet either.

Continue reading “Writing Wednesday: Dancing into the Opera”

Writing Wednesday: Falling into Neverland

I recently took a trip to London, my favorite city.  There are endless literary connections (and I made some connections to the recently-read London) but the most prevalent one for me is always Peter Pan–or more precisely, it’s prequel, The Little White Bird, or Adventures in Kensington Gardens.  I wanted a writing project while I was traveling (because I write every day!) so the natural one to work on was a Peter Pan-related short story I’ve had in mind.

One of my writer friends invited me to contribute to a planned anthology of short stories, all based around a central concept–bookshops where people can actually enter into the books they open.  Each short story will focus on a different character entering a different book.  Peter Pan is in the public domain (mostly–it’s complicated) opening it up for this sort of story.

So I did my daily writing on vacation by working on the story of Will, who found himself falling into Peter Pan…literally!  Here’s an excerpt.


Will took the book into his hands.  It felt oddly warm, but not in a bad way.  It was a friendly sort of feeling.  He meant to open the book to the first page, but the pages seemed to twist within his fingers, and he opened instead to perhaps a quarter of the way through.

He had just read, “When playing Follow my Leader, Peter would fly close to the water and touch each shark’s tail in passing, just as in the street you may run your finger along an iron railing” when the bookshop—and rather importantly, the floor—dissolved around him.

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Writing Wednesday: The Prince’s Friends

Continuing the tale of my sequel story, “The Princess Beyond the Thorns,” in writing the second story I had to introduce far more characters.  The first one had only Rose, Terrence, and a couple of kittens, with brief appearances by Rose’s parents in her memories.  The second one brings us back to the castle, and besides introducing Terrence’s father (as I shared in the excerpt last week), I wanted Terrence to have friends too.  This week’s excerpt introduces a couple of them.


The door opened to admit two strangers, a man and a woman.  Both were dressed in the silks and elegance of the court, both perhaps a few years older than Terrence.  The woman was tiny, but even in crossing the room it was evident she was a bundle of energy.  The man was tall with the build of a warrior, and walked more slowly as he entered, favoring one leg in a slight limp.

“Good morning!” the woman chirped, then said over her shoulder, “You see, I told you she’d be awake.”  To Rose again, she said, “Do forgive the intrusion, but we wanted to catch you before the court swallowed you up.  I’m Lady Elena Worthington, and this is my husband, Sir Henry.  May we join you?”

“Please,” Rose said, faintly bemused, and indicated the extra, she had thought unnecessary, chairs at her breakfast table.

Lady Elena sat down across from Rose, folded her hands in her lap and put all her energy into her direct gaze.  “Practically everyone in this castle is going to be trying to figure out if you’re a suitable kind of princess, suitable to sit on the throne and suitable to bear the legend.  We’re not like that.  We want to know if you’re suitable for Terrence.”


Writing Wednesday: Beyond the Thorns

After I finished my week (or eight days) of short story writing, I wasn’t quite ready to go back to my novel.  I wrote about my break-out story, “The Princess Behind the Thorns,” and I didn’t feel like that was entirely done yet.  Even when I wrote the apparently happy ending, I knew I left a lot unresolved, and things weren’t going to go smoothly for the characters in the immediate future.

So I decided to write that story, about what happens after the spell is lifted and Princess Rose and Prince Terrence go home.  This became “The Princess Beyond the Thorns,” and the brief excerpt below may give you some idea of what they’re up against in this second part of the story.


The king.  They were coming closer to the king now, and though Terrence had told her his father was a hard man, Rose found herself searching for something, some hope, in his face.  Some hint of Terrence’s kindness.  The king was older than her father had been.  His hair was gray but his back was still straight, his hands strong as they grasped the arms of the throne.  She could see something of Terrence in his eyebrows, in the shape of his jaw.  But the eyes were dark, not Terrence’s blue, and they were coldly assessing her as she approached.

Continue reading “Writing Wednesday: Beyond the Thorns”

Writing Wednesday: 7 Stories, 7 Days – #8

My goal with this writing effort was to write seven short stories in seven days.  #7, “The Princess Behind the Thorns,” stretched to two days and 9,000 words.  After I finished it, I found I wasn’t quite done with the project.  So on day 9, I wrote one more story.  After that I went on to other projects…until the next time I decide to write a spurt of short stories!  I really enjoyed the project, and loved the chance to invest deeply but briefly in new worlds and characters.

I also enjoyed the chance to write in different styles than usual.  This last story, “Cinderella’s Dresses,” is obviously a fairy tale twist, but darker than most of what I write.  Here’s the beginning, written from the prompt, “The dress spoke for her.”


The dress spoke for her.  It said wealth, power, beauty.  It said she belonged, amongst this august company who glittered and glimmered in the candlelight.  She never had to say a word.  The footman let her in without a murmur, without asking her name, without looking for an invitation.  The dress said she was meant to be here.

It was the dress that told the prince to approach her, as she stood near the bottom of the stair, suddenly afraid to take the last few steps down to the shining ballroom floor, to enter into that whirling, elegant throng.  She knew she would be lost among them, not knowing where to turn, what to do.  The dress shimmered and glowed and beckoned the prince away from the girl he had been eying with a considering favor, to approach her instead, to bow and to extend his hand.

The dress seemed almost to dance for her too, its full skirts whisking about her legs, twirling and floating and carrying her along with the music in the prince’s arms.  When he whirled her away from the crowd, out into the moonlit garden, the dress spoke for her then too, rustling as they walked, whispering that she had secrets.  But the whisper of silk could only hint at elegant secrets, rich secrets, aristocratic secrets.  When he plied her with questions and she blushed and demurred, the dress whispered that all was well, that her story was a delightful one, that someday he would be so pleasantly surprised when he learned the truth.

When the clock struck midnight, the dress all but carried her away.  She ran away down the path, feeling her skirts growing slight and intangible in her hands as she lifted them to flee.  The dress distracted her, its thinning, dissolving remnants twining about her legs, so she didn’t judge the steps correctly, so she stumbled and lost one shoe.  The dress was mere cobwebs and air now, and she didn’t dare to stop, even to pick up that one glittering shoe left behind.

She limped home, retired to her small bed by the fire, and lay awake until nearly dawn, trying to decide if the ball had been the most delightful thing that had ever happened to her, or simply terrifying.