Writing Update (May, 2022)

I’ve been having an unexpectedly busy past month in my writing.  On my last update, I mentioned revising Thorns 2; I was focused on that until mid-April, on track to finish this particular revision pass by the end of the month.  And then very suddenly I got hit by an idea for a companion story–probably a novella.  I thought I’d just jot down a scene or two…and it completely overtook my brain.

Penelope is a minor character in Thorns 1 – she’s married to Prince Gregory, Terrence’s brother and one of the chief villains of the series.  She’s sent away from the castle halfway through the book, which was fully a plot device for Rose and Terrence’s story.  But I started to wonder about Penelope, to wonder what had become of her when she was sent away.  And once I started wondering, she took up residence in my brain, with apparently no intentions to go away until I wrote her story.

The “novella” kept getting longer, turning into a full novel.  And with Penelope more or less shouting at me (even though she doesn’t shout in the entire book), and bringing along a few new characters to join her, I ended up writing a 60,000 word first draft in three weeks.  That’s the most I’ve ever written in three weeks, and the fastest by far and away that I’ve ever completed a first novel draft.  She just really, really wanted her story told! Continue reading “Writing Update (May, 2022)”

Writing Update (April)

It’s beginning to look spring-like near me, and as the weather gets warmer, obviously it’s time to…settle down at the laptop for more writing!  I was very happy to meet my March goals – I finished the latest revision pass of The Princess Behind Thorns, the first in my newest series, and sent it off to beta-readers last week.  I’m putting that one on pause until I get feedback, and then I’ll do final revisions and get the story out to all of you!

For April, I’m working on the second book in the Thorns series, The Princess Beyond the Thorns.  I wrote this one for NaNoWriMo a few years ago, when I thought it was only the second half of the first book.  But it got…long.  So I have a rough first draft of Book Two already, and am working on some initial revision this month. I really enjoy this installment in the series – Terrence and Rose fell in love in Book One, but they still have some things to work out in Book Two.  Plus the attention shifts to two new villains, and the stakes get higher. Continue reading “Writing Update (April)”

Writing Update (March)

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. 🙂

Post-NaNo Writing Update

I had a really good NaNoWriMo, writing 35,000 words of my next project, a World War II companion novel to my Phantom series. But 35,000 words is definitely not a full novel, so I’ve continued writing my draft through December.  My goal is to write an additional 20,000 words this month, and so far I’m on track!  I’ve written just over 10,000 words, putting me at about 45,000 total.

The storyline is moving along well too.  We’re up to June 11, 1940.  The French government announced they were leaving Paris on June 10, precipitating an intense exodus of people trying to flee the city.  So, as I sometimes think of it, this is the day when Rick left Paris, broken-hearted because Ilsa didn’t meet him at the train station – for you Casablanca fans out there!  According to the research I’ve done, Casablanca probably underestimated the chaos at the train stations.  120,000 people left Paris in a single day!

My heroine tries to get to a train, but can’t get through the crowds and ultimately decides to stay in Paris.  Which then brings us, of course, to the Nazi occupation.

For now, though, here’s an excerpt I wrote a few days ago.  It was for a Christmas scene – Paul gives Maggie a copy of The Phantom of the Opera, and she decides to tell him a secret…

I took a deep breath.  “My grandfather was the Phantom of the Opera.”

There was a pause.  He was still looking at me expectantly, as though he thought there was going to be more.  Then he seemed to realize that was the secret, and he blinked, brow furrowing again.  “Wait – you’re related to Lon Chaney?  You have one grandfather who was a famous composer and the other one—”

“No,” I said, shaking my head and smiling slightly.  “Not the actor who played the Phantom.  My grandfather the composer was the Phantom.  The real one.”

“But it’s a fictional story,” he said slowly.  “A novel.”

“Sort of.  I mean, a lot is fictionalized, but it’s based on real events.  I told you my grandfather’s name was Erik Rouen.”  I tapped the book.  “The Phantom’s name was Erik, he was involved in building the Opera Garnier, and he composed music.”

Writing Wednesday: Finalizing

I’m in a good place for finishing writing projects right now.  I made the final, final edits to Accompaniment yesterday – my proof copy arrived last week, I did some reading through it, and finished the last few edits I found as a result of that.  That completes the paperback, so now I need to do the Kindle formatting, and set-up the hardback.  It puts everything still on track for the September 4th publishing date!

My next project is final edits to Guardian III, which should be much smaller than the ones I did for Accompaniment, so should be finished very soon.  Nice to be ahead of things on that.

Meanwhile, the Guardian prequel is out with beta-readers.  A couple have already sent feedback, so I’ll probably start implementing revisions for that shortly too, to hopefully put that out some time in August…a possibly ambitious timeline, but we’ll see!

That’s my main writing focus right now – lots of soon-to-be-done revisions.  I also put up a new video about Accompaniment‘s proof copy, if you’d like to check it out!