Writing Wednesday: Blog Updates and Book Developments

I said recently that I was eyeing the writing sections of my blog–and sure enough, earlier this week I delved into my “About” sections, especially the section for my books, and made updates.

If you click into “About My Books” (formerly “Novel News”) you’ll see that I’ve added considerable new content.  I finally put up a page for The Servants and the Beast, which released in June, 2019, and for its companion piece, After the Sparkles Settled, released in December, 2019.  I got a little behind on that–but I’m making up for it by putting up pages now for my Guardian of the Opera trilogy.  The first one will be out in June, 2020, but you can visit the page for each book and read the blurbs now.  The books are also up on Goodreads, if you’d like to add them to a “want to read” list.

The crazy thing is, this update more than doubles my list of books I’ve published/plan to publish, from four to nine.  That feels like a rather sudden jump!  But it has been years in the making, so…  It’s funny how it all fell out in timing.

Setting Goodreads and the new pages up occupied a decent portion of my writing focus this past week, though I’m also continuing to revise Guardian III.  Good thing, too, since it’s now a little more official that it’s coming out!

Writing Wednesday: Revisions, Revisions

Two weeks into 2020, but this is my first writing update of the year!  Be assured, I’ve still been writing away–just blogging more about reading lately.  I’m deep into final (?) revisions for Guardian III, going through beta-reader feedback.  So far it’s mostly been small edits, and no one has spotted a plot hole that derails the entire story–so far, so good!

I’m also working on some of the prep and marketing for Guardian I, which will be out in June.  Expect some revamps to the writing information on my blog, because that’s coming up on my list of to-do’s.

It all goes to show…the work is not anywhere near done when the first draft is finished 🙂  On that note, I also finished up the non-fiction revision tips book I was working on back at the beginning of January…but I expect to go back and revise come February!

For now, here’s a bit from Chapter One of Guardian III which I rather enjoy…

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I used to be in control—not of the world around me, never of that.  But of myself.  Maybe I was only a supporting character, maybe I didn’t get to be the lead of the narrative, of the great events happening at the Opera, but I knew how to live within my role.

A supporting character could be left behind, solitary and disregarded when her obviously more heroine-material best friend eloped in the night.  It had hurt when Christine left with Raoul de Chagny, when she had barely bothered to write me a farewell note, when she hadn’t sent any word in over a year.  But sometimes it felt like only what I should have expected.

And at least supporting characters shouldn’t have their hearts broken, or do anything important enough to cause anyone’s death.

As a supporting character I could become friends with the mysterious man who haunted the Opera, and I should have stopped at that.

I shouldn’t have fallen in love with a man who was clearly a title character if there ever was one.

 

Writing Wednesday: Between the Stories

After the big push of NaNoWriMo in November, I’m doing a complete change of pace for December.  I’m still doing my daily writing, but in a very different style.  Instead of writing a story, I’m writing about writing stories by working on a new nonfiction project.

I’ve been attending my writing group for about seven years now, and I’ve noticed patterns emerging.  We seem to give the same type of advice to different people again and again.  Which is fine, and I don’t mind!  But it did make me think it ought to be possible to pull some of this advice together into something standardized.  So I’ve been working on a book of revision advice.  There are a lot of books out there about writing, but I haven’t seen much focused specifically on revising.

So that’s my current project!  It’s not nearly as long or involved as a novel, so I’m hoping to do the draft (or the bulk of it) this month, and publish some time next year.  Although this is rather new and different for me, so we’ll see how that actually pans out!

Here’s an excerpt from one of my sections, with one of the most common advice given at my writing group.  This is (currently) Section 10, Breaking Out of the Brain Jar: Talking Heads

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There’s an old episode of Star Trek involving three brains in jars who, thanks to technology, can talk to each other and the rest of the characters.  I bring this up because a lot of writers fall into the trap of writing their characters as though they are talking brains in jars.  Not literally—that could involve some quite interesting details, in fact—but rather with the complete absence of any details suggesting these characters have bodies and are inhabiting the space they’re in.

Continue reading “Writing Wednesday: Between the Stories”

Writing Wednesday: After the Thorns

As per my last NaNo update, when November ended I had just a bit of my Princess Beyond the Thorns story still to tell.  So I continued at a pretty close to NaNo pace for the next few days, and finished out the story yesterday, on Tuesday.  I’m happy to have the draft complete and concluded!  Now I can put it away for a few months to let everything simmer before tackling the inevitable revisions…

Counting the three days of December writing, I wrote almost 67,000 words since November 1st.  That brings the total draft to about 121,000…which is long, but fantasy novels are often longer than other genres.  I’ll see what happens in revision.  This may turn out to be two books after all, but for now I’m still looking at it as one.

Over the course of 121,000 words, there were three walls of thorns, two adorable kittens plus a lioness, a handful of sword fights, three villains, two deaths, one wedding, one major fight between the lead couple, and a lot of kissing.

I’d offer an excerpt, but I can’t find anything from the last three days of writing that isn’t rife with spoilers…

Now that the big fantasy draft is done, I have other, slightly lower-key projects in mind to tackle for December.  Plus I have some fun Servants and the Beast-related news that should be going live very soon.  🙂  So stay tuned for that!

NaNoWriMo Day 30: Finish Line

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to my American readers!  And…it’s the last day of NaNoWriMo!  I’m excited to share that I reached and passed my goal of 60,000 words this month.

I passed the 50,000 mark on November 25th, and actually finished my 60,000 word goal a day early.  I had my highest word count day on November 29th, clocking in at 4,276 words.  I got together with several writing friends in the evening, including two doing NaNo, and it was especially fun to pass the 60,000 mark while writing with them.

I kept writing today, even though the pressure was off, and ended up with a final total of 63,068 words, a personal NaNo best.  I’m sooo close to the end of the novel too–I have about three scenes left, so maybe 2,000 to 4,000 words.  I hope to finish in the next couple of days, so I can slack off for December. 🙂

Well, actually, I have an entirely different project I plan to start in December, that I may share about soon.  We’ll see!  But that’s how it goes…  November 1st through 30th: write.  December 1st: keep writing!

Here’s an end-of-NaNo excerpt.  My characters have been angsting for a while, but I’ve brought them nearly up to the happy ending now.  There’s still a few things for them to work out, though…

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Terrence wrapped his hand around hers and it felt so familiar, so good, that Rose couldn’t make herself feel alarm even as they hurried behind the cats.  She knew Xevrix might appear at any moment, but she couldn’t feel it.

“I know this isn’t the time,” Terrence said as they approached the nearest door to the castle, “but when you left through that mirror, did you mean to leave permanently?”

“No,” Rose said in honest surprise.  “Of course not.  I wasn’t that angry.  I mean, I was angry with you—I’m still angry with you, come to think of it, but we can talk about that later—but I just…wanted to prove I could act for myself, I think.”

“Proved,” Terrence said.  “Very proved.  Maybe prove it less intensely next time?”

“Maybe listen to me next time?” Rose countered, tugging on his hand.

“I’m sorry—I’m very, very sorry, and I will happily be very eloquent about it later when we have the time,” he said, pushing open the door.

NaNoWriMo Day 24: Word Count Downs and Ups

We’re in the final week of NaNoWriMo now, with just six days left.  And it’s going to be a weird week, with Thanksgiving coming so late in the month this year!  I was keeping up very well for my 60,000 word goal, continuing to write around 2,000 words a day, even on workdays this past week.  And then…I got sick on Friday.  And, because I write every day, I clocked in at 306 words, and those were a struggle.  It’s actually kind of funny to see on my word count graph, as everything goes along pretty steadily and then–nose dive.

Fortunately, I had a big cushion in case of this kind of thing.  Despite the rough day, I never quite dropped below my target total per day, though I pretty well ate up my cushion.  If I’d stayed sicker for longer, I would have been behind very quickly for my 60,000 word goal–though I’d probably still be okay for the 50,000 goal.  Fortunately, even though I’ve still been recovering yesterday and today, I was able to spend both days largely alternating writing sprints and episodes of Psych (good show, I recommend it!)  So yesterday clocked in at 1,900 words (and six episodes) and today I hit 2,586 words.

The upshot of all that?  I’m currently sitting at 49,288, very close to the 50,000 mark and probably on track still for 60,000, as long as nothing too cataclysmic happens before the end of the month!

As to the story…it probably didn’t help that I hit a bit of a block the same day I got sick, but I managed to get over that hump and have outlined scenes up to the end of the book now.  I wrote a decent amount of angsting for Terrence on Saturday, which probably helped wrack up words, and today I hit another plot turn that brings us to the final, hopefully faster-moving and easier to write, section of the book.

I still can’t tell if reaching 60,000 words will also bring me to the end of the story.  I think it may be a little longer than that, but hopefully not by much.  I doubt I’ll try for a final push to finish the novel by the end of the month if it’s longer than 60K (maybe) but it should be possible to finish in early December.  And I think I’m good with that.

Here’s an excerpt from Terrence’s angsting chapter.  I think I last posted about Rose and Terrence arguing and…yeah, that didn’t end very well for them!

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It was almost as though the entire interlude of the last few months, everything from the day Terrence had set out to rescue the Princess Behind Thorns, hadn’t happened.  Except that Gregory was gone and he was treated as the heir in his place.  There was that.  But all the steps to get there seemed to have been neatly brushed away, as though he had simply stepped into a more welcoming, more accepting alternate world.

Terrence found, to his own surprise, that he hated it.

He didn’t want to pretend that Rose didn’t exist.  He wasn’t sure he wanted to talk about her, especially about how it had all fallen apart, but he didn’t want her existence to be swept away as though she had never been, as though she hadn’t mattered at all except as the reason he could claim the throne.

As though she really had only been the legendary Princess Behind Thorns, easily set aside now that her purpose of securing a new heir was complete.

He was glad every day that Emerald Eyes hadn’t left with Rose.  The small black cat stuck by his side with a stubbornness that overcame closed council room doors and his father’s dark looks.  Terrence brought the cat everywhere he was permitted, and if he was shut out of anywhere, he invariably turned up anyway.  If not for the black cat, Rose’s cat, Terrence felt he might have started to question himself if she’d ever existed.  If not for the tangible, furry shadow left behind, he might have started to think he’d only dreamed up a fantasy that had turned on him at the end.

Writing Wednesday: Hurtling Towards NaNo

I’m still preparing for NaNoWriMo, starting on November 1st – so just over a week away!  I’m on track at the moment with revising the first half of my Princess Beyond the Thorns novel, so that I can write the second half during NaNoWriMo.

I’ve also realized that, on some days at least, my pre-NaNo goals are more ambitious than my NaNo goals.  I intended to revise one chapter a day, but some of those “revisions” actually mean writing an entirely new chapter from Terrence’s point of view.  And a couple of those chapters have stretched over two days, which felt like I was getting behind…but the two days’ worth of writing was more words than would be a two-day goal for NaNo.  On Monday, for example, I felt like I was just trying to wrap a chapter that was taking too long–but I ended up by writing 2,400 words, well above NaNo’s 1,667 goal.

On the whole, I’m finding that encouraging…

I also think I’m past the most difficult revision sections, so hopefully this final week should be an easier slide towards NaNoWriMo.  For today, here’s something from a new scene I wrote yesterday–Rose fainted and Terrence brought her back to her room, and I realized that in his POV, I had a chance to do a bit of a play on the whole Sleeping Beauty aspect of the story.

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Terrence got Rose inside her rooms, laid her down on the long couch, and knelt next to her to study her still face.  “Rose?” he tried again, touching her cheek.  What did he do now?  Should he get her water or put a blanket over her?

Silvertips seemed more confident, leaping up onto the couch and settling down across Rose’s stomach.  A moment later Emerald Eyes emerged from the bedroom and scrambled up onto Rose’s skirts.  Fine, that was fine, but she still wasn’t awake…

He had the sudden, slightly absurd idea that maybe he ought to try kissing her.  This was, more or less, what he had expected when he had first plunged into that thorny tunnel.  A sleeping princess, waiting to be woken up.

Before he could decide if the idea was a good one or just strange, the door burst open and Elena rushed in.  “Terrence?  What’s going on?  What’s wrong with Rose?”