Friday Face-Off: Star Trek Lives

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It’s time again for the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme is: Vintage sci fi – “Live long and prosper.”

With a prompt like that, clearly I have to share a Star Trek cover!  To keep it appropriately vintage, I went back to one of the very first Star Trek novels.  I like to think of the earliest ones as from the “Star Trek lives” era of fandom, before there was Next Generation and syndication, and Star Trek fandom seemed to involve a little more hopefulness and scrappiness–or so I suppose from the forwards I’ve read in these books.  It was before my time!

As to the actual book, I thought I’d go for the slightly ironically-named Spock Must Die! by James Blish, which holds pride of place as “Book #1” in the Star Trek novel universe.

This is the original cover, and…I have no idea what’s going on with all those blobs.  It looks like the image was damaged, except that every picture of the cover (and my copy) have the exact same damage, so…yeah, I don’t know how or why it got approved and printed that way!

Continue reading “Friday Face-Off: Star Trek Lives”

Friday Face-Off: Sparkles Abound

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It’s time again for the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme is: the festive season – a cover that is glittery or sparkling

With a prompt like that, I can’t resist sharing the covers from two of my recent releases!  Sparkles actually form a key part of the plot in The Servants and the Beast, as part of the fairy’s curse is an accumulation of sparkles gradually filling the Beast’s castle.  They even had to close one wing because it was so filled with sparkles!

Here’s the audiobook cover – which was just out this week!

Servants is a collaboratively-written novella with four other writers, but one continuous story.  We collaborated again recently to write After the Sparkles Settled, a Christmas epilogue to the story, also out this past week.  I designed the cover, modeled after the original, though less sparkly…

These were very fun stories to write, so it’s fun to have a chance to share the sparkly covers!

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.

NaNoWriMo Day 7: Cuteness and Cracks

A week has gone by for NaNoWriMo already–and it seems like we only just started!  I am approaching 15,000 words, which puts me well ahead of today’s 11,669 word goal, or even my 14,000 word stretch goal (which is for 60,000 words at the end of the month).  So far, so good!  I did find that weekdays mostly have been several hundred words below non-work days, but that’s pretty well to be expected.

I’m coming up on the end of the plot section I’ve been writing.  I mentioned I’m in a kind of lull part of the plot.  You know that bit in Stardust, when Tristran and Yvaine travel around the magical country and discover their skills and grow as people and in their relationship, and Gaiman decided to put all of that in just six pages?  Yeah, that’s the part of the story I’m in, except that I’m apparently spending about 15,000 words here.  And Rose and Terrence aren’t so much growing their relationship as uncovering some cracks in it.  While having some cute scenes too.

The villain puts in an appearance in the very next scene I need to write, and two scenes after that everything gets a lot more tense, so I think that will be an interesting shift to make a week into NaNo.

For now, here’s a bit I wrote today that points up a relationship crack while also having some cuteness in the scene.  It’s set just after they narrowly (ish) escaped some bandits (so there’s been some excitement in the lull section too).  Enjoy!

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            “It would have been much more frightening,” Rose said at length, “if you hadn’t been there.”

Terrence laughed, half at the comment and half just with the relief of the moment.  “Now you’re just trying to flatter me.”

“No, it’s true,” she protested, lifting her head to smile at him.

“Well, it is flattering, but if things had gone badly—six to one isn’t very good odds really.”  He remembered in time not to say out loud that Gregory had always been able to beat him at swords too.  He just thought it, and the thought made him think of something else.  “You didn’t mean it, did you, about my father sending them?  It’s true he was upset with us, but he wouldn’t go that far.”

Rose’s smiled faded and she looked at him for a long moment before she said, “I thought it might sway them.  It did seem to help.”  That was almost an answer but it wasn’t satisfying.  He meant to push the point, but before he could Rose continued, in cheerful tones again, “It seemed to help more that you’re Good Prince Terrence.”

Terrence groaned.  “Do not start calling me that.”

Continue reading “NaNoWriMo Day 7: Cuteness and Cracks”