Writing Wednesday: NaNo Is Coming

NaNoWriMo is fast approaching!  With only half of October left, I’m getting ready for November’s writing in earnest now.  I’m set up on the NaNoWriMo website (add me as a writing buddy, if you’re writing too!) and am putting the pieces together to be ready to go on my next project, The Princess Beyond the Thorns.

I already have 35,000 words written for this project, but those words are in a somewhat complicated shape.  I essentially wrote two novellas some months ago, which are now Parts One and Two of the planned novel.  I revised Part One before my September writing retreat, but I still need to finish revising Part Two, so that everything is lined up and sorted before I dive in to completing the novel for NaNoWriMo.

I’ve already gone through Part Two and determined where I need to add a chapter or reorient an existing one.  The biggest changes I need to make are to bring Terrence’s perspective in (because the original version was all Rose, and now I want it split more evenly between them!) and to add in details and context that weren’t important when this was a smaller piece.  So I need to rewrite around three chapters to put them from Terrence’s point of view, and add in about six more (mostly Terrence, but there’s some extra Rose stuff I need too).  Plus do any revision on the remaining, less heavily to-be-altered chapters.

As I calculate it, if I take care of one chapter per day, that will get it all done before NaNo starts (with three days to spare).  And if that turns out not to be feasible, there are less significant changes in the final portions, so it won’t be too big a crisis as long as I get most of the way through.

We’ll see how that all goes…  In the meantime, here’s a bit I expanded in a Rose chapter, now that I have a better sense of her character growth over the span of the novel.


Instinctively, automatically, she reached out for Terrence’s hand again.  She had known they’d be separated eventually, but she still wasn’t ready for that, not yet.  Only after their fingers were entwined did it occur to her that the entire room, and the king, had seen that gesture, had seen her reach for Terrence.  What would they read in it?

Without even looking at her, Terrence’s fingers tightened around hers and he said evenly, “I’ll show Princess Rose to her new rooms.”

A longer look from the king this time, and did she hear a faint murmur in the crowd?  But finally the king said, “My youngest son has grown suddenly bold.  How…remarkable.”  He turned away, to return to his throne, everything in the movement speaking of dismissal.  “Very well then.  I expect to meet with you directly after.  We have much to discuss.”

For just a moment, this felt like a solution.  And then some little part of Rose rebelled, maybe the same part that had been so angry when she thought she was going to die.  Because this was a solution, but it was a dismissal too, and she didn’t want to be that girl anymore, the one she had been in the before time.  The girl who was sent off into another room while the men discussed important things.  While they discussed her.  And if she had just showed the king and all his court that she couldn’t stand without Terrence next to her—it felt suddenly as though, if she didn’t make some kind of gesture right now, right at the beginning, she would never be anything more than she had been.

Squeezing Terrence’s hand, wanting him to know she wasn’t exactly rejecting his effort to help, she very carefully, very clearly said, “I appreciate Prince Terrence’s kind offer, but I would like to attend that meeting.  To discuss my return to court.”

This prompted a louder murmur among the crowd, and the king stopped a step away from his throne.  He turned very slowly back around to look at her, eyes narrowing.

Writing Wednesday: Plans Revisited

Before I went on a writing retreat in mid-September, I put up a list of writing goals.  I didn’t get to most of them on retreat, but I’ve been working away at projects since then.  I thought it might be fun (and good for me to keep things straight!) to come back and see where projects stand now.

Here was the list…

  1. Finish revising Guardian III for beta-readers – I completed this on retreat, my main goal!
  2. Guardian II revisions based on second-round beta reader feedback – This got done as my first project when I came back.
  3. Guardian I revisions based on read-aloud review – I started this on retreat, and finished it within a few days after.
  4. First-round revisions for Thorns I, Part Two – This is my next project, and planned focus throughout October!
  5. Beta-read a friend’s novel (due by mid-October) – I sent this off to her at the end of September.
  6. NaNoWriMo prep for Thorns I, Part Three – Closely related to #4, this is my other October focus, especially as NaNoWriMo gets closer.
  7. Continue drafting short stories for planned “Bookstore Anthology” – My main project of late September, I made some good progress on my story of a ballerina falling into Leroux’s Phantom.
  8. Stonehenge Circle Writers’ biweekly blog prompt short story – Well, this is ongoing…

So that’s five out of eight complete, which is a nice feeling.  I don’t usually have quite this many things going all at once in different stages. 😀  It’s been interesting, but I’m looking forward to being more focused again…

Writing Wednesday: Down Once More?

I’m having a bouncing-around kind of period for my writing right now.  Until I dive into NaNoWriMo, I’m working more casually on a number of smaller projects.  One of these is my short stories for a planned anthology, in which characters magically enter books.  I wrote about my plans to send a character into Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera before.  I wrote roughly the first ten pages some months ago, moved on to other projects, and now have circled back to write a bit more.  Because obviously the weeks before NaNoWriMo should be spent writing!

Michelle has been at the Opera overnight, and in the morning is ready to hunt for the Phantom.  She just isn’t sure exactly how to go about that.


I thought about trying to find a way below the Opera—if I descended enough stairs, would I find the underground passages the Phantom had led Christine through?  Could I eventually find my way to the Phantom’s rooms?

Somehow I doubted it.  After all, it couldn’t be that easy, or the Opera Company would have found the Phantom long ago.  Unless that was authorial suspension of disbelief.  Maybe Leroux’s story just wasn’t that plausible.

Yeah.  It was weird being in a book.

Writing Wednesday: Cover Design

Despite finishing up this round of revisions for Guardian III, I’ve still been deep into the trilogy so far this week.  I’ve made some minor edits to Guardian I and II, but also got rather distracted from more pressing matters by a sudden desire to play with cover art.  I’m working on coordinating covers for the three books–and happily, some time ago I found available stock photos of a ballet dancer who looked like Meg to me.  Photo shoots with multiple images of the same model are the best when dealing with covers for a series.

Cover reveals are a long way off,  but here’s a glimpse…a closer view than the one that’s been lurking in my blog header for quite a while now!  I like her expression a lot–though I had to do some Photoshop magic to hide a tattoo on the model’s arm.  Not very 1881, that detail!

Stonehenge Circle Writers Retreat: Sunday

We’re all home from the 4th Annual Stonehenge Circle Writers Retreat, and back to our regular days.  Our last day, Sunday, was a much shorter day, finishing up by 11 am, but still a nice end to the weekend retreat.

We only did a brief workshop, looking at some writing resources to help with dynamic description and writing in a more active style, and discussed how to structure a book bible.

We had some free write time as well–I’d finished my work (for now) on Guardian III, so I launched right into what I dearly hope will be the final final edits for Guardian I.  This was much less intense than the work needed for Guardian III–I had a print-out of the draft with minor edits already noted on it, and just needed to go through to implement in the digital file.  By the end of the day, I got through about about a third of the novel, so that was a solid amount of progress on that as well…some of it done on retreat, and some of it done after I got home.  Because obviously, when you get home from a writing retreat and have a spare hour, the thing to do is more writing! 🙂

Day Three Writing
Blog posts written: 1
Pages of Guardian I edited: 90

Stonehenge Circle Writers Retreat: Saturday

We closed out Day Two the 4th Annual Stonehenge Circle Writers Retreat, and just have a few hours left now!  Our second day, Saturday, was equally awesome, and I was happy to get more writing in.

Our focus on Saturday was on plot.  We went over common plot structures and how they compare (there are some pretty good parallels in the Hero’s Journey and the traditional Romantic plotline!)  We then used that structure to group-plot a book about Lola, yesterday’s character.  It was a pretty freeform, idea-tossing conversation that got the entire book plotted in a couple of hours.  It was pretty amazing–and you know you’re in a good point with writing when the sentence “so then the parkour group mobilizes with the coven to fight the vampires” makes complete sense. 🙂

We also finished The Fellowship of the Ring, compared the plot to the Hero’s Journey structure, and had some solid discussion on the really brilliant things both Tolkien and the filmmakers did in all the tiny details of that movie.

Outside of workshopping, I had a solid day in revising–I got through the end of Guardian III (!) per my retreat goal, went back to weave in references to a special performance I decided on at the end (mostly to satisfy my own need for a correct timeline, and otherwise why was there a performance on a Tuesday?  Conundrums), plus a couple other notes resolved to call this pass done.  I even resolved a note I’ve had in here since November of 2013, finally figuring out how to clarify something I’d left unsaid all this time.  So that is super exciting on so many levels!

And we still have about four and a half hours of retreating left…

Day Two Writing
Blog posts written: 1
Pages of Guardian III revised: 45

Stonehenge Circle Writers Retreat: Friday

It’s relatively the wee hours of the morning on Saturday, and I thought I’d do an update on the first day of the 4th Annual Stonehenge Circle Writers Retreat.

A few people came Thursday night, but I arrived Friday morning and we kicked things off officially at 10 am.  We spent the day primarily discussing character creation.  In what was basically a writing jam session, we tossed ideas around to create a character as a group, using some character-building tools and online personality tests.

We ended up with Lola, a trash-talking chef who does parkour in her free time, who is slow to trust others because she was betrayed by her previous boss/mentor.  She has a buzzcut and is very buff from her parkour exercise, and has some insecurities about not being the conventional female standard of beauty.  Deep-down, she wants a long-term romantic relationship but doesn’t think she’ll find anyone, so she uses Tinder or the equivalent to casually date a lot of equally buff women.  Over the course of the book we may or may not group-write, she falls in love with a vegan ballerina.  She has complicated feelings with her large Hispanic, conservative Catholic family, and as a kind of guilty pleasure she likes Austen movies and pork rinds.

But believe me, that summary just scratches the surface!  By the end of the day, we all felt that we knew Lola personally, and she might show up at the door, possibly with Charlie the ballerina. 🙂

As a pre-start to our plotting workshops planned for today (Saturday), we watched the first half of The Fellowship of the Ring, with discussion on the plot and character threads set up at the beginning of the movie that carry through the trilogy.  We also wound up observing just how much Tolkien there is in Harry Potter! (Ring wraiths/dementors, Sauron bound to the ring/horcruxes, and of course, wizard mentors with large beards…)

Outside of workshopping, we did some free write time…although the retreat house also has a pool and a hot tub that had a nice view of the full moon, so we may have been slightly distracted by that too!  All in all, a full day and nice kick-off to the retreat.

Day One Writing
Blog posts written: 2
Pages of Guardian III revised: 21