Tag Archives: wip

Happy New Year! And Happy new #WIPpet Wednesday!

We had a wonderful New Year’s Eve. We had the granddaughters again, like we have the last couple of years, and at midnight, we went outside to enjoy the fireworks on our street corner and shoot a couple of our own:

Fireworks are such a wonderful way to bring in the New Year, a celebration of what is to come.

During the quiet days between Christmas and New Year, I’ve been concentrating on catching up on the Big Translation Project. So I fear I haven’t managed to get back to the latest installment in The Pendragon Chronicles, and you will have to make do with Amber again. This time, I’m giving you 14 sentences for the new year:

When she reached the outskirts of Atlanta, she pulled into the empty parking lot of a big strip mall, parked her car in the back lot, and crawled into the back seat of her Honda. The sun was just barely beginning to flirt with the horizon, and Darcy wasn’t an early riser. Besides, when and if anyone looking for her came across the name of her high school friend, she didn’t want Darcy’s phone records to show a call early in the morning, the day after Amber’s husband was murdered.
She laid down, still wearing the curly blond wig. To her surprise, she slept deep and dreamless, only waking up when the sun began beating hot through the windows of her car.
Amber sat up, groggy and disoriented, not really knowing at first where she was. Then it hit her. Rick had been murdered last night, and she was on the run.
She bent forward, her arms around her stomach, and sobbed out the grief she hadn’t been able to express until now.
Feeling sick and shaky, she laid back down on the rear seat and spent a few minutes breathing in and out, in and out. Somehow, she had to get functional again so she could call Darcy and speak normally. The NSA listened to everything these days, she couldn’t have them digging up their records for the North Carolina police and finding a tearful phone call from a murder suspect — which Amber assumed she would soon be, if she wasn’t already.
She glanced at her watch. Almost nine am. Darcy wasn’t an early riser, but even she would probably already be at work by now.

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts. 🙂

Finishing Nanowrimo and a WIPpet snippet

We had our traditional Stuttgart Thanksgiving on Saturday, Nov. 30 (Thursday is not a holiday here in Germany), and I was so burned out afterwards, I couldn’t bring myself to post on Sunday — that I actually managed to “win” Nanowrimo! I’m very glad, not necessarily regarding the winning part, but I think of those 50,000+ words there are definitely a few that will be usable. And I’m getting quite a kick out of the mystery experiment.

Completing 50,000 words for the month of November is my biggest update since my last post, besides the turkey, of course:

Thanksgiving 2013

Mira seemed a bit skeptical about the traditional American cuisine of her Oma:

Thanksgiving 2013

Since Saturday, I’ve only managed to get another 1100 words written on Amber’s story, and 400 on A Wasted Land. But I also did a lot of brainstorming for the mystery, and that’s starting to come together — work that doesn’t “pay off” in word count but is still necessary.

Now that Nanowrimo is over, I’m going to get back to A Wasted Land. I really want to finish it, so I will have more books in the Pendragon series and I can start promoting them again. Sales are absolutely abysmal without promotion, but neither does promotion seem to pay off very well with books that aren’t in a series. Sigh.

Anyway, this week I give you another excerpt from the still unnamed mystery. My math is simple: 12/4 = 12+4=16 = 16 sentences. This is the first scene from a new POV character, a detective at the scene of the crime. Rough draft, so any comments much appreciated!

Detective Jude Forsythe gazed at the body of Richard Merritt, his hands tied behind the back of a chair, his upper body slumped forward, his congealed blood pooling on the kitchen tiles in front of his feet. Around him, the crime scene unit was taking pictures and collecting evidence: fingerprints, DNA, and anything out of the ordinary they could find. To Jude’s practiced eye, it looked like a professional job. The way the vic’s hands were lashed, the single, deadly shot to the head, the fact that none of the neighbors’ seemed to have heard a thing, which probably meant a silencer had been used.
But then there was the missing wife.
Merritt had been called in missing that morning by the law firm in Raleigh where he worked, after they had been unable to reach him on either his cell or at home. The caller at the law firm suggested the police try to reach his wife, Amber Duchamp. The receptionist who’d taken the call made a note of the names and assured the caller it would be looked into after twenty-four hours — and had filed the missing report away.
But when she got a call not long after, regarding a missing teacher by the name of Amber Duchamp, she took it to the police, and they decided to make a house call.
To find the front door unlocked, the husband dead, and no sign of Amber Duchamp.
Jude’s partner Brent strolled over, his arms crossed in front of his chest over his beer belly. “Wow, looks like the wife really had it out for him, doesn’t it?”
Normally, Jude was grateful that he’d been assigned to work with Brent as his superior, but now he had to hold himself back not to blurt out how much seemed wrong about this crime scene. “We don’t know that yet,” he said carefully.
Brent laughed. “You’re still such a good guy, Jude, you give everyone the benefit of the doubt.”

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts. 🙂

Changing horses in the middle of the stream – or, changing projects in the middle of Nano

So, I’m doing something which is probably very stupid, but I’m also hoping to learn more about myself as a writer in the process. I mentioned a couple of posts back that A Wasted Land has been coming along more slowly than I had hoped. Mostly this has to do with me needing to do more research and related brainstorming. I thought I had the plot pretty much mapped out, I had a synopsis and the first chapter with me at the last Villa Diodati workshop and I got some good feedback on it — but I also had a bunch of big, gaping holes: the progress of the battles in this novel, the secondary characters (who are still like ciphers), the settings I haven’t used in previous books. I was doing more research than writing, getting no more than 600-700 words done a day.

So I stopped. Not completely, of course. I’m still adding notes to my Scrivener file and reading some new (to me) books on the Dark Ages. Right now it’s The English Settlements: English Political and Social Life from the Collapse of Roman Rule to the Emergence of Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms:

I’ve often wondered if I could write faster if I didn’t (almost) always write such research-intensive stuff. So couple of days ago, I started to think about the kinds of plots I enjoy that aren’t fantasy, historical, or science fiction, something I could set in the here and now, in places that I know fairly well and won’t have to be researching two hours for every hour I write. I hit upon escape plots where the protagonist is running from a mysterious threat. Think The Fugitive, Terminator, that kind of thing. I figured I could set the story in the Pacific Northwest where I grew up. But if my protagonist is running, she could start out someplace else that I know pretty well, the Raleigh/Durham area where I spent a lot of time over the years for IBM.

And I started writing. I don’t have a title yet, nor do I know what the mystery is going to be, but I do have over 6,000 words already. Even though I didn’t do any pre-writing, I’m now at about 1200 words a day on my unnamed thriller. Those still aren’t Nano levels, of course, and I know I’m not going to “win” this thing, but it’s turning out to be a lot of fun writing something where I don’t have to do as much prep. And I’m not trying to imply that this genre is any easier to write than historical fantasy, it all seems to come down to the time factor. I’ve had to look up a few things, of course — what are the most popular cars in the US, where are the superstores in the Triangle and are they open 24 hours, how to get more money than your limit from an ATM — but it isn’t every little detail. And I can find the answers to my questions a lot faster. Besides, for the settings I can rely at least in part on memory. Those are huge time savers.

So if I can come up with a decent mystery for this thing and finish it, I may be in the market for a genre pseudonym. 🙂

For the above reasons, you’re getting something completely different from me this week for WIPpet Wednesday, from my unnamed fugitive novel. WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts. 🙂 My math this week goes like this: 11+2+0 (11/20) = 13. So I’m giving you thirteen short paragraphs from the first scene I wrote a couple of days ago:

Then she heard Rick bellow at the top of his lungs, “Help! I’m –”
And silence.
No! Amber felt as if all the air had been pressed out of her body. She rose again slowly, gazing sideways into the room for confirmation of what she was afraid to see. Rick, slumped forward on the chair, arms limp at his sides, blood pooling on the floor beneath him.
“Do you think anyone heard him?” one of them said.
There was a brief silence and footsteps, going and coming. “No changes in the lights on the houses nearby.”
“Good,” Griffith said. “When the wife gets back, we’ll make it look like a murder-suicide. The police won’t ask too many questions — we have that covered. Then the secret will be safe.”
Amber knew that if she sobbed her pain it would be her death sentence. It was an act of will the likes of which had never before been required of her. But even as she fought with her grief, an important detail had not escaped her — she couldn’t go to the police.
But what was the secret these people thought was important enough to kill for? What could she possibly know that was worth that? She was only a high school drama teacher, after all.
And on the other side of the wall, Rick was slumped dead in their dining room. For what?
For a moment, Amber considered stepping in front of the window, making herself known, allowing them to murder her and lay her beside her husband. What did anything matter, now? And if they had someone from the police on their side, what chance did she have anyway?
Then anger came to her aid, a wave of it so strong, she was sorely tempted to storm through the door with her wimpy hammer and the element of surprise and take at least one of them out. She knew what the odds of that were — very nearly zero.
On the other hand, what were the odds of her ever avenging her husband’s death? With Griffith having the police in their pocket, and her not even knowing what it was they had killed him for? Also very nearly zero.
But better than if she too were dead.

Very rough first draft, any and all comments welcome. Especially if you have any cool ideas what kind information or cover-up or whatever could be going on here. I have NO experience writing mysteries! 🙂

By popular demand, more from Kustennin for #Wippet Wednesday!

Ok, I admit, “popular” is a bit exaggerated — I think it was a sum total of one person who wanted to see Kustennin again. But I’m an obliging soul (sometimes), and one is enough of a demand for me. 🙂 So in honor of the date, 9-18, here are nine short paragraphs from page eighteen of A Wasted Land. In this scene, Kustennin is at the horse fair of Durnovaria to try to find some likely mounts for their mobile troops, the basis of much of the British military success in the previous Pendragon books:

Bedwyr was just taking the mare’s reins from her former owner when Kustennin felt a commotion behind him. He turned, but there was nothing there. It was his power of knowing again.
Then, in a distance, he heard the cry go up: “Raid!” followed closely by: “Saxons are attacking!”
Bedwyr hurried for the mounting block Kustennin had so recently used and swung himself up onto the newly purchased mare. “I hope I can keep myself on her back, even without a saddle, until I reach the camp of the soldiers traveling with us,” he said. “You locate the rest of our party at the horse fair. We will meet against the enemy.”
Kustennin nodded. People sometimes found it odd that he, the king of Dumnonia, so readily took orders from Bedwyr, who had only a modest seat in Gwent. But they had been fighting together for so many years now, and Bedwyr had decades more experience. For Kustennin, the old warrior had very nearly taken the place of Arthur.
He commandeered a likely looking dark bay stallion. “I will either bring him back to you when we have put the raiders to flight, or compensate you for him after the battle.”
The owner nodded unhappily and shouldered an ax, obviously prepared to do his best to defend Durnovaria.
The horse fair had been transformed into a chaos of running people and horses. Kustennin went in search of the other members of their party. “Cador! Judual!”
“Kustennin, here!” Cador and Judual had also “borrowed” mounts from the merchants with horses for sale, and together they started to ride in the direction of smoke rising near the southern gate of the city.
“Wait,” Kustennin called out. “If it is a raid, would not the Saxons target the horse fair itself?”

WIPpet Wednesday is a nifty meme where a bunch of us writers share something from their current Work In Progress that somehow relates to the date. It’s the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you want to join in the fun or just read the other excerpts, the linky is here.

Back to A Wasted Land, and another #WIPpet Wednesday

After getting Chameleon in a Mirror off to my beta readers last week, I returned to A Wasted Land. First, in order to get may head back into the project, I did some editing of scenes leading up to where I left off. As a result, the added word count is modest: 2,000 new words to Kustennin’s story. The ongoing, long-term translation is also keeping me pretty busy. More on that eventually, since it’s also an indie experiment, but not today. It’s late now in Central Europe, and I don’t have enough brain cells left for a longer, more involved blog post. 🙂

For my excerpt for WIPpet Wednesday this week, I give you 11 sentences from scene 9 (9-11). This is shortly after the last scene from A Wasted Land that I posted, in which Celemon confronted her betrothed with his infidelity. Now they are at the church, and Aurelius is being forced to marry the woman he slept with.

Gildas turned to Aurelius. “Do you confirm that you have had carnal knowledge of this woman and that she is with child?” he asked, his voice exuding disapproval. Of course, Celemon too disapproved, but she had little room in her heart right now for anything besides hurt and anger — and she a brave front to maintain. Still, she doubted if she could ever look down on anyone quite the way Gildas did, even if she were standing on the top step of a basilica. Gildas was the same age as Celemon, barely eighteen, but already he had developed the attitude of disapproval it took others decades to cultivate.
Bethan’s blush was turning from a becoming pink to a deeper shade of red, one of uncomfortable embarrassment, her smile fading with the priest’s explicit accusation. Celemon couldn’t help wondering if marriage to Aurelius was what she had wanted all along – but now she was being confronted with what her wish come true would mean for the rest of her life.
Aurelius did not answer Gildas’ question until his brother Iddon prompted him with one elbow.
“Yes,” Aurelius ground out.
“Then let us sanctify this union to ensure the legitimacy of the unborn child.”
As Gildas began to speak the Latin words, Aurelius stood stiff and angry at Bethan’s side.

WIPpet Wednesday is the brainchild of K.L. Schwengel, in which we post excerpts from works in progress (WIP) that somehow correspond to the date. Join in the fun and add your snippet here!

Another excerpt from A Wasted Land (for #WIPpet Wednesday)

It’s my first chance to play #WIPpet Wednesday again since returning from vacation. This time, I give you 8 paragraphs from page 21 (8/21). In this scene, Celemon has just learned that her betrothed is accused of getting another woman pregnant.

She wanted to scream and scratch Aurelius’ eyes out, wanted to cry and run away, wanted to do something, anything, about the hotness in her chest and the pain and anger closing her throat. Instead, she took courage from Kustennin’s steady gaze, saw his slight nod and the sympathy and approval growing in his eyes.
With the strength he had given her, she was able to walk past Bethan, where she huddled close against Yseult of Dumnonia, and up to her betrothed.
“It appears you prefer an alliance with a younger daughter from the house of Glastenning to that of Caer Gai,” she said, resisting the temptation to clench her fists in her skirts.
“Celemon, I –”
She raised a hand, ordering him to silence with a gesture, and to her surprise, he complied. “While I can understand the ambition to be allied with a more important family than that of a dead hero, I would have been happy to free you of your vows, especially if you had communicated your desires in a less public way.” Celemon did her best to give a very slight emphasis tot he word “desires,” and she thought she heard a few attempts to repress chuckles. That gave her even more courage. She was turning the mood of the assembled kings and queens so that they no longer regarded her as the victim, she could feel it — even though she had none of the powers of Kustennin and his mother.
“I am not one to try and hold a man when his … ambitions … wander,” she continued. This time, she heard an audible snort, and despite the pain still choking her, she smiled.
“It is not –”
“Quiet!” she commanded, finally allowing her anger to show. “Do not tell me what it is not, if you are not willing to tell me what it is. As you have shown an inclination to spawn heirs with other women before our own nuptials, I would much prefer to bow to the facts and make way for the mother of your child.”

You can see the other #WIPpets here!

I’ve gotten another 1600 words written on A Wasted Land since Sunday. While that is not as much as I would like to be able to achieve, I’m still getting back into the swing of things since getting back. Jet lag hit really hard after this trip, and I was pretty out of it for several days. But soon I will hopefully be able to get back to my experiment of trying to increase my writing output through various methods I’ve heard and read about. I will report! 🙂

Cover for Chameleon in a Mirror, and various other updates

Some time ago, I promised to post a revised version of the cover for Chameleon in a Mirror to my blog, and I’ve finally gotten around to it:

Please let me know what you think!

Since I got Island of Glass off to my niece, I’ve been working on A Wasted Land, the next novel in The Pendragon Chronicles, trying to sort through what I already have and figure out what is usable and what has to go to the trash bin. That means, I don’t have any word count to report, since I’ve been reading, analyzing, editing.

That’s ok. In the last year or so, I’ve been working on training myself to accept my writing progress, even if it doesn’t include words created.

Wishing everyone a great week!

Using Pinterest for research bookmarks, and an update

First off, I have to thank Emily Witt for a recent post of hers which I read. It was primarily about music for characters, but she also went into using Pinterest for images for book projects. I’ve been hearing for a long time about how Pinterest is yet another great social media site where authors can reach out to their readers. All I could think was, “Oh, no, another social media site where I’ll be expected to spend way too much time reaching out to my readers.” AKA, another time sink.

I’m pretty good these days about not wasting too much time with social media (maybe too good), but when I saw the images Emily had collected for her WIPs, a light went off in my head. I collect oodles and oodles of bookmarks for the research I do on my books and stories, which then get buried in oodles and oodles of other bookmarks in a big long list of URLs and page names. So for the sake of experiment, while I was working on the last revision pass for Island of Glass, every time there was something I wanted to look up on the internet, I would pin an image to my board for the project. I haven’t done much searching for images that fit my characters yet, like Emily suggested, but I can see where Pinterest would also be very good for that as well. Right now, I’m just thrilled with the visuals for my research links.

I finished another revision pass of Island of Glass yesterday and sent it off to my niece today. For my next project, I’m returning to Book III of The Pendragon Chronicles, A Wasted Land. After printing out the jumble of scenes and notes I wrote in March, I made a Pinterest Board for that project as well and started adding maps and images. I love having all those images in one place! If anyone had told me a week ago that I would become an enthusiastic Pinterest user, I would have thought they were crazy. 🙂

And the way I’m using it now, it isn’t really much of a time sink at all. If I’m researching something anyway, and the article I’m reading has a cool photo or map, I just add it to the appropriate board.

Besides returning to A Wasted Land, I will probably also soon be tackling another publication project of my collaborations with Jay Lake, if I could only decide which! I’m also considering taking an incident from Shadow of Stone, the story of Gawain and Ragnell, and publishing it as a short story, making it permanently free as a kind of advertisement for the novels of the Pendragon Chronicles. I’m a bit worried that it might piss off readers who don’t read the description (I certainly intend to make it very clear that this is NOT new material). But I originally wrote that episode thinking I could try to publish it as a short story in traditional markets to drum up interest for the books. What do you guys think? Would that be ok? Or should I just finally write another Arthurian short story for the same purpose?

Considering a new title: Playing with Lulu’s Titlescorer

I’ve been considering changing the title of “City of Glass” for some time now, but I recently bought a premade cover for the book, so now it is definitely time for me to make up my mind. By the way, here’s the cover I bought:

While I like the title “City of Glass,” there is a YA book now in the top 100 on Amazon also called “City of Glass.” I wrote my short story “City of Glass” years ago, long before the novel of the same name came out, but it might still look like I was using the title to try and capitalize on someone else’s success. Even though it wouldn’t be true, I don’t much like the idea.

So I started playing with titles today, and to increase the fun factor, I sent them through the Lulu Titlescorer. I’m not quite sure how the Lulu app rates things, but it is based on 700 published titles. The most important element seems to be “grammar type,” and I’ve noticed the app seems to like “___ of ___” titles — like “City of Glass,” which promptly landed a 69% chance of being a bestseller. 🙂

Anyway, here are some of the alternate titles I sent through the Titlescorer, along with their respective rankings:

Empire of Glass – 64.8

Making Glass for a Prince – 55.4

Glass for a Prince – 10.2

Gifts of Glass – 41.4

Glass Magic – 63.7

The Glass Prison – 63.7

Prison of Glass – 69

Facets of Glass – 69

I would love some feedback on the titles! A little background: Chiara is a glassmaker on Murano in an alternate 17th century, at the height of the demand for Venetian glass. It is forbidden for glassmakers to leave Venice, for fear that they will sell trade secrets, and the Venetian monopoly will crumble. (This was true, by the way — just not the magic and princes in my story …)

Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time the last couple of days to work on the novella, whatever it will end up being called. I completed the edits of From Earth to Mars and Beyond and got it uploaded again. I also had some formatting concerns I had to address for the Apple store version. I started putting together the ebook version of my story “The Leaving Sweater” and my short collection “Story Hunger.” To sum up, recently I have been concentrating on the marketing side of my career. This doesn’t fit with my goals, which had been to complete at least some writing each day before tackling marketing tasks. That plan doesn’t seem to be working for me, so now I’m considering alternating writing days and business days. Perhaps I will be more efficient if I can concentrate on one aspect of my writing career at a time.

Wishing everyone a great week!

A bedtime story, courtesy of my granddaughter

I had grandma duties yesterday, so much of what on other days of the week is usually my writing time was taken up with running after an energetic almost-three-year-old. (She will be three next week.) After I picked her up from daycare, she claimed she was tired and said we should take a nap together. I knew pretty well from the outset how that was going to go, but I didn’t mind the opportunity to lie down for a bit either. I’m a notorious night owl, and I’ve been staying up much too late recently.

So into bed we go, do everything the way Mira wants us to, getting sufficient stuffed animals, covering up, etc., and then she informs me, “And now we need a story.” (“Und jetzt brauchen wir eine Geschichte.”)

“Oh,” says Oma (that’s me, in German), “Are you going to tell me a bedtime story?” (Speaking in English — I try to speak as much English with her as possible.)

Ja.” So she settles in, sitting upright next to my head. “Es war einmal …”

Here the story she told me, from memory, translated into English, with a rough approximation of creative grammar.:

“Once upon a time there was a princess. The princess had a horse. She rided to the castle on her horse. It was the castle of the prince.”

Oma: “Was the prince asleep?”

Mira: “No, no, Oma, only the princess sleeps!” [Editorial intrusion: sigh.]

“The princess wanted to visit the prince. They were friends. But then the evil witch comes and turns him into a frog.”

Oma: “Did she kiss him and turn him back into a prince?”

Mira: “Let me tell the story, Oma!

“The princess didn’t want to kiss a frog. But then the evil witch came again and turned the princess into a frog. And then they ran away. When they got away from the witch, they kissed. And then she was a princess again.

“And then they went on vacation.”

And then they went on vacation (Image copyright by blessings, licensed through Shutterstock).
And then they went on vacation (Image copyright by blessings, licensed through Shutterstock).

* * *

My progress on City of Glass has slowed a bit. It has come to my attention that the longest story in my new collection From Earth to Mars has a few typos. It seems that by mistake I didn’t include the edited version that was published in Giganotosaurus; instead, I must have used an earlier version. I read through the collection before publishing, but somehow I didn’t notice the mistake.

Anyway, I am temporarily unpublishing the collection and going through everything one more time. It’s still available, but please don’t buy it until I republish! This is rather embarrassing, and I hope those who already bought the collection will forgive me. Once I have the new version ready, drop me an email, and I’ll send you a copy.

So that’s mostly what I’ve been doing the last couple of days. City of Glass is at just under 11,000 words now, and I’ll get back to it once I have From Earth to Mars uploaded again.

Also, in case you missed it during previous promos, Beyond the Waters of the World is free today and tomorrow. Be my guest, and if you are so inclined, pass the word along. 🙂

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week and making great progress!