Writing Wednesday: Riffing Off of Awesome People

I took a pause in my revision work this week to take a turn on my other ongoing project – I’ve mentioned before that I’m writing a collaborative novel with three other authors, Pesto, Pirouettes and Potions.  We’re writing it round-robin style, each writing a chapter then passing it on to the next person, and my turn came around again this week.

I had a lot of fun reading through the five chapters we had so far, and then writing up Chapter Six.  I got into a nice flow of conversation between the characters, getting to know their dynamics a little more.  I had the chance to play with Charlie and Lola, our two heroines, and their friends Nathan, who dances in the ballet with Charlie, and Mario, Lola’s roommate.  Mario is a flirt who thinks Charlie is cute, Nathan likes to tease straight guys who assume he’s gay (he isn’t), Charlie is totally freaking out over her crush on Lola, and Lola is trying to convince herself not to crush on Charlie–so it’s awkward all around and so much fun to write.

This was the first chapter I wrote picking up after other people wrote theirs – I wrote Chapter Two previously, but since it was introducing Charlie (while Chapter One introduced Lola) it was pretty independent.  I really enjoyed being able to riff from things other people had written–like continuing Charlie’s tic of saying “oh goddess,” or building from a previous-chapter moment when Charlie introduced her dog.  I probably wouldn’t have thought of either thing, so I loved springing off of the ideas to continue building.  Here’s an excerpt that shows both those ideas continuing to grow!


Was this whole business, stalking the Pilates classes, showing up at brunch, going too far?  Was Charlie building way too much on one charged exercise class, and one not-quite-a-date?

But it had been such a good sort of date.  It had been a long time since she’d felt a connection like that.  And Sammy had liked Lola—who had understood his name.  Charlie only introduced him as Samwise when she wanted to see if someone would catch the reference, pick up the semi-secret code she was sending out.  And Lola hadn’t just asked about Lord of the Rings, she had asked Sammy if he was a Hobbit.  So adorable.

Oh goddess, she had it bad.

Writing Wednesday: Carrying On

A short update today, because there isn’t too much to report on the writing front.  I’m continuing my main focus on revising Guardian III, with a goal to finish this pass by the end of the month.  So far I’m on track, despite being out of town last week.

It’s nice to polish up the story, and I’m also looking forward to finishing and doing some new writing in March.  Newish writing, at least – my plan is to complete two short stories for an upcoming anthology I’m contributing to.  After a couple months of revision, I’m finding myself with an itch to create something new – writing and revising are really two different things, especially revising this late in the process.  I miss inventing…which may be why watching the BBC Pride and Prejudice

over the weekend sent my brain spiraling off on a sequel idea focused on Charlotte Collins (née Lucas) and possibly involving Mary Bennet and Anne de Bourgh.

Interesting?  Crazy?  I don’t know!  Definite symptom of lots of time spent revising, and maybe a project for a future date.  But for now I’m trying to stay focused on the revision–I have a trilogy to finish, after all. 🙂

Writing Wednesday: Tab and Center and DropCap and…

My writing projects lately have me deep in the midst of all three installments of my Guardian of the Opera trilogy.  I’m doing finalish revisions of Book III, I’m reading Book II out loud for absolutely-final revisions, and I’m formatting Book I for publication.

Book I is, of course, the farthest one along.  This is a slightly mixed stage of the process.  On the one hand, it’s exciting to be this close to the final product.  On the other hand, the actual work can be very tedious!  There’s some initial creativity that’s fun in deciding how to lay out the book–where to place the page numbers, how to format the beginning of each chapter.  But there’s also a lot of going through and repeating the same formatting steps again and again!  Mainly it’s the formatting at the beginning of each chapter: adding a section break, formatting the chapter header, putting the space above “Chapter X,” removing the tab in the first paragraph, adding a drop cap…in this case, all those steps, 36 times!

But I do like seeing how it looks.  And I’m very much looking forward to ordering proof copies.  That’s when all of this pays off!

For now, here’s a sneak peek at what that work at the beginning of each chapter ends up looking like…

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…


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


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!