Tag Archives: Ygerna

What I do when I take a break from writing

The beginning of this month, I sent Ygerna off to beta readers. If you follow this blog, you know that it ended up WAY longer than I intended, and I decided to reward myself with a short “vacation.”

I did some sewing.

Our place isn’t big enough that I can have a dedicated craft room — or it might be if I tossed half my books, I guess, but I’m not to that point yet. 🙂 Anyway, to do any sewing I have to haul out the machine and take over the dining room table. A bunch of mending had piled up that I couldn’t do by hand, so I got that finished first.

Then I started on the fun stuff.

For a while now, I’ve been collecting ideas on on Pinterest for upcycling projects — making new out of old. I’ve also been saving favorite garments with tears and holes rather than throwing them away, hoping I might be able to find the time to play with them a bit and possibly give them a new life. I’m pretty pleased with the results. Here’s a jeans skirt that had a serious tear combined with a VERY old maternity dress I couldn’t throw away because I loved the material so much:

Upcycled jeans skirt

And matching top:

Upcycled t-shirt

A couple more where the pictures turned out *g*:

Upcycled long shirt

Upcycled t-shirt

I also taught myself how to make roses out of fabric, and attached one to a skirt I made my granddaughter out of pants she’d grown out of:

silk rose

I also made a set of Barbie dresses for my girls out of a thrift store top, and saved a couple more t-shirts by sacrificing others and adding a bit of lace here and there. It was huge fun. I think I have come up with a suitable reward for myself for getting a book ready to kick out of the door.

I couldn’t leave off writing completely while I was concentrating on sewing — I managed that for about two days before I had to get back to something, even if it was only brainstorming.

But more on that in my next blog post. 🙂

Great writing book on sale for only 99c — and no, it’s not mine! :)

I just noticed that a book that has helped me a lot in organizing a couple of recalcitrant manuscripts is on sale today for only 99c — a book I paid full price for! *g* It’s Libbie Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing.

Libbie Hawker, Take Off Your Pants

I admit, I can’t tell you yet whether her method works to create more successful books, since I have only applied it to a couple of books that are still WIPs, including the Pendragon Chronicle prequel that I’m working on right now, Ygerna. But what I can tell you is that when I dug the notes and scenes I had written a while back out again and applied Libbie’s plotting method to them, I finally had the feeling that I had a story that made sense and that I could finally finish.

One of the points she makes that has helped me the most is her emphasis on the main character’s flaw, and how integral that should be to the plot as a whole. I’ve created plenty of damaged and flawed characters in my time, but her plot structure can give you a great tool for building that more directly into the plot. In any case, her main plot points resonate with me as a writer more than a lot of of other writing advice out there. Here is her basic plot structure, so you can see if it might make sense for you:

– Opening Scene
– Inciting Event
– Character Realizes External Goal
– Display of Flaw
– Drive for Goal
– Antagonist Revealed
– Goal Thwarted
– Revisiting Flaw
– Repeat above several time (drive for goal, antagonist / goal thwarted)
– Aid from Ally
– Character Change
– Girding the Loins
– Battle
– “Death” / Overcoming Flaw
– Outcome

Another thing I like about this structure is that it doesn’t insist that the main goal is clear right from the beginning. Not only that, it admits that the main goal could well be tied to the character’s flaw — which will eventually have to be overcome. It reminds me of another piece of writing advice that I’ve been internalizing for a long time now: remember to distinguish between what your main character wants and what she needs.

So if any of this resonates with you as a writer, and you feel like you could use some help in plotting your books faster, grab this book for under a buck while you can. I have no idea how long this sale will be going on, since it’s not mine. 🙂

Very belated update, and Ygerna seeking a healer for #WIPpet Wednesday

A lot has been going on here in Central Europe, and I just haven’t been able to take the time for blogging while still moving forward on my writing. My sister came to visit — for the first time in over 25 years. Then we took a short trip to France, where we met her daughter and spent some time drinking champagne in Champagne. I still intend to write a blog post about that with pictures, but when we got back, I had better things to do: I FINISHED A COMPLETE DRAFT OF DRAGON TOUCHED TODAY! The rough draft was done end of February, but it was full of holes. That’s the way I work: first drafts are like a jumble of notes to myself and scenes that are completely written out. During revisions, I added another 20,000 words and deleted around 10,000. 🙂

This evening, I dived right back into Ygerna, inspired by the new cover by Lou Harper:

Ygerna

Do let me know what you think! It’s not finalized yet, and any feedback you have will be sent on to the cover artist. You can see the wraparound cover as well in my last post here on my blog.

I also never got around to a new goal post for this quarter, since that was up at the time my sister arrived, and shortly before we took off for France. I’m just going to carry over the goals from the last round. 🙂

I haven’t posted for WIPpet Wednesday for a while either. I’m sticking with Ygerna, but jumping forward to a scene I was just revising. Our protagonist has realized that she might be pregnant, and she goes in search of a healer who can help her do something about it. Thirteen short paragraphs for the 13th day of the month:

Ygerna reined in her horse on the outskirts of the small village and examined the roundhouses of daub and wattle. There was no help for it, she would have to ask someone which house was that of the village healer. She could only hope no one would recognize her; she wanted as few people knowing her secret as possible. That was why she hadn’t gone to the healer in the town across the land bridge from Dyn Tagell.
It wouldn’t do to be asking about herbs that would start her menses again there, where everyone knew the daughters of Erbin, the King of Dumnonia.
So she’d wrapped her distinctive red hair in a shawl, put on an old gown she usually only wore when she needed to help with chores, and set off for the next nearest village with a healer.
She dismounted and approached a woman throwing slops to the pigs. “Excuse me, can you tell me where the healer in this village lives?”
The woman set down the bucket and pointed. “The third house over there, Lady.”
Oh dear, the old mare and the old clothes had not been enough to disguise her class. Well, at least she knew no one here and no one knew her. They might call her “Lady,” but they didn’t know her name.
Ygerna lead the mare by the reins to the house indicated. A young woman perhaps a little older than Elen was tending a small garden of herbs and vegetables next to the house. A basket beside her contained some radishes, spring onions, and a couple of parsnips.
“Hello,” Ygerna said. “Are you the healer in these parts?”
“That I am.” The young woman rose, smiling, and wiped her hands on her apron. “How can I help you?”
Ygerna glanced around, unable to repress her nervousness. “May we go inside?”
“Certainly.”
The healer led the way into her modest dwelling, a roundhouse in the old style, and now Ygerna noticed that she too was pregnant. The belt of her gown was tied a little higher to allow for the gently rounding belly.
The healer closed the door behind them. “Let me guess, you need herbs that will abort an unwanted child.”

Emily Witt is our host for the snippet sharing session, in which we post an excerpt from a WIP on our blog, something that relates to the date in some way. If you want to play too, add your link to the Linky.

Revising, writing, and creeping through trees

I continue to jump back and forth between two projects that are largely completed, Ygerna and Dragon Touched, revising and filling in missing scenes as I go. It’s a lot slower than the mad rush to the end of Dragon Touched was, but I’m making steady progress. Last week, I got 4700 new words written and 7 pages edited.

What am I failing at? I haven’t been doing as much marketing, and my sales are slipping. I haven’t been submitting short stories like I intended. I haven’t started putting together any of the new ebooks on my list.

But I had a lovely day with my youngest granddaughter yesterday. We went on an adventure together, a walk to the river. We were creeping around and hiding behind trees, and taking a break on a bench to eat our “provisions” (“Proviant” is the word she used, which really surprised me). Writing and publishing are not everything. 🙂

On to WIPpet Wednesday. Two women have come to Ygerna’s aid in the cave used for storage, where Uthyr took her by force. My math today for 3/9 is 9 – 3 = 6 paragraphs:

“Ygerna,” one of the voices said — a voice she couldn’t place. A gentle hand went to her shoulder. “Ygerna. You should get up, let us take care of you.”
She considered the suggestion. Slowly she began to feel the cold of the cave seeping into her bones, a cold that only moments before she had wanted to sink into forever. Now it was just another detail of her misery, a misery she wanted to escape.
Ygerna’s eyelids fluttered open, and she gazed into two faces she barely knew: Elen, her brother-in-law Bican’s sister, and Morigan, wife of Ambrosius Aurelianus — and sister-in-law of the man who had just raped her.
“You are alive,” Elen said. “Thank the gods.” She took Ygerna’s limp hand and pressed it tight. Elen’s hand was so much warmer than hers. She felt herself clinging to it as she allowed herself to return to the world.
It was dark now outside the cave. The scent of spilled wine and olive oil and packed earth filled her nostrils.
She rubbed her eyes and pushed herself up on her elbows. “What are you doing here?”

Pendragon Castle
By Oldfaw at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41064863

Emily Witt is our host for the snippet sharing session, in which we post an excerpt from a WIP on our blog, something that relates to the date in some way. If you want to play too, add your link to the Linky.

A New Tale of the Rose Knights, and More from Ygerna for #WIPpet Wednesday

Today, Daily Science Fiction posted the next installment in the Rose Knights series I wrote with Jay Lake, “Harlekin.” Here’s the real Harlekin rose that inspired the tale:

Harlekin rose
Harlekin rose by T. Kiya on Wikimedia Commons

Quite a beaut, eh? 🙂

My progress in terms of editing and new words continues to be nice and steady. Last week, I managed to get 4700 new words written, and 39 pages revised. I’m quite happy with that.

I’m slowing down on the marketing front, though. I didn’t get any more short stories submitted to traditional markets, nor did I get much done in terms of promo organizing. Oh, well. I’m sure I will notice it in sales at the end of the month, but I think right now it’s more important to get more books out. My experience of recent months tells me that having at least one serious promo a month is the best way I’ve found to maintain fairly regular sales and keep my books from dropping into obscurity.

Since it is Wednesday, it is also time to share a snippet from a Work In Progress, otherwise known as a WIPpet. My math today is 3 x 2 for the date = 6 short paragraphs.

TRIGGER WARNING! I’m not including the “bad stuff,” but it’s implied in the scene below. So stop now if you don’t want to read that kind of thing.

We last left Ygerna in imminent danger, even though she didn’t know it. From your comments, I’m pretty sure many of you did. For any number or reasons, I do no want to post the scene in which Uthyr forces her, so today we are going to skip ahead to where she is found.

Ygerna must have passed out on the damp floor of the cave. The next thing she knew, concerned voices were whispering above her, rousing her back to her misery.
“Does she still breathe?”
“She must. I would not have felt her pain otherwise.”
“I have heard of those who communicate with the dead.”
“The dead feel no pain.”
She heard the flickering of a burning torch, and beyond her closed eyelids, she sensed increased light. She pressed her eyes closed and rolled her body tight into a fetal position she never wanted to leave again.

Emily Witt is our host for the snippet sharing session, in which we post an excerpt from a WIP on our blog, something that relates to the date in some way. If you want to play too, add your link to the Linky.

Showing Uthyr around Tintagel for #WIPpet Wednesday

I managed to increase my word count again last week a little. It’s still not where I want it to be, but I got 4100 new words written and edited another 20 pages. And that is despite having the granddaughters on the weekend and having to sew a bunch of Barbie dresses. *g*

I’m actually feeling pretty excited these days about getting a few more projects completed and published, and that’s helping a lot in creating new words. This month is not going to be as fantastic for sales as last month was, but I’m still in a place where this whole writing gig no longer seems as hopeless as it sometimes does.

On that positive note, it is time to turn to WIPpet Wednesday. Last week, Uthyr found Ygerna after she left her sister’s wedding banquet. Now she is showing him around the promontory. Math for today: 2 + 4 = 6 paragraphs for the day of the month:

Mist flitted in and out between the buildings as Ygerna walked with Uthyr to the edge of the cliffs on the north side of the near-island. She stared out to sea, pulling back wayward strands of hair with one hand.
“A truly impressive defensive site,” Uthyr said appreciatively. “It must be nearly impregnable. Has it ever been taken?”
“Not that I know of.” His words made her feel strangely proud of her summer home, although she did not like imagining it under attack.
Together they wandered along the perimeter of the cliffs. To the west, what could be seen of the sun through mist and clouds was nearing the horizon, looking like a bright silver ball. Beside them, the rocky slopes of the promontory dropped away almost straight down into the sea.
“Every time I see Dyn Tagell, I am struck anew at how perfect it is,” Uthyr mused. “If only it were possible to build fortresses as difficult to take as this one.”
Ygerna found herself relieved that he was thinking about defenses rather than staring at her, as he had at dinner. While his attention was flattering, at the same time it made her uncomfortable.

Tintagel
The promontory of Tintagel / Dyn Tagell. © Copyright Alan Simkins and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons.

Emily Witt is our host for the snippet sharing session, in which we post an excerpt from a WIP on our blog, something that relates to the date in some way. If you want to play too, add your link to the Linky.

A Golden Unicorn, an update, and Ygerna for #WIPpet Wednesday

First off, I want to point you in the direction of the most recent story in The Tales of the Rose Knights that was published on Daily Science Fiction today, “Golden Unicorn.”

All of the Rose Knights of these stories I wrote with Jay Lake are named after real roses. Here the Golden Unicorn of this week’s title:

Golden Unicorn rose
Golden Unicorn

Speaking of Jay, I finally got another story I wrote with him revised and submitted to F&SF this weekend. I have such a ridiculously huge backlog of short stories at the moment that I’ve decided to try and get at least one story submitted a week until my database is no longer full of “ready to send” entries. :/

That will involve more time spent on revisions, however, and it’s reflected in my numbers for last week. My new words for the week were way down, only 3600, but I also edited / revised 28 pages (some more work some less, so hard to distinguish). I haven’t yet worked out how much pages edited are “worth” in terms of new words, but I figure I have to start counting them or else I won’t get around to finishing all the projects I have on my hard drive. If I only measure success in new words, then I’ll never finish anything.

I also spent a fair amount of time on marketing, setting up ads for a sale next week, and applying for another BookBub ad. Wish me luck!

Since it’s Wednesday, I also have another excerpt for you. Once again from Ygerna, even though I am mostly working on revising Dragon Touched and various short stories. But if you follow this blog, Ygerna provides the most continuity, and it’s still a WIP, so I think we’ll stick with it for a while. 🙂 10 sentences today, adding up all the digits for 2/17. This snippet comes just after Ygerna leaves the wedding banquet, disappointed with the behavior of her betrothed, Gurles (the excerpt I gave you last week):

Ygerna made her way from the upper hall where the festivities were being held to the nearly flat top of the promontory. Patches of mist and fog twisted and swirled around her, coming and going with the wind from the sea. Despite the buildings that dotted the near-island, gusts always seemed to find a way to whip her cape around and tug strands of red hair from her braid. She pulled them back from her forehead and walked to the edge of the cliff to gaze out at the ocean, the sea that was named for their enemies, the Erainn. The pirates who had killed their older brother and changed all their lives.
The position of the sun was barely visible through the fog, but a hint of brightness a handspan above the horizon indicated that it was evening. Late enough that her parents would not scold too much if she didn’t return to the banquet and sought out her bedchamber in the lower hall instead.
She turned, intending to seek out her room — to see Uthyr not far away, watching her. Once again, that pleasant nervousness overcame her at the sight of his charming smile.
“You left the banquet early,” he said.

Emily Witt is our host for the snippet sharing session, in which we post an excerpt from a WIP on our blog, something that relates to the date in some way. If you want to play too, add your link to the Linky.

New ads for Yseult, and a late #WIPpet for Thursday

I was analyzing the Facebook ads I have running today, and I noticed that I’m getting very few clicks from women on my ads for Yseult. That strikes me as a bit unfortunate, since it’s a retelling of Arthurian legend giving some of the female characters much more prominence and more pov action. So I’ve decided to experiment with a new ad in addition to the old targeting a female audience. I will write new copy emphasizing the female perspective, and I’ve been putting together some alternative images today to test with it:

Yseult

Yseult

Do please tell me what you think! Anything is fair game, I don’t bruise easily. 🙂

Given the ad analysis and graphics work I’ve been up to, I’ve haven’t gotten any words written yet today, but generally the writing is going well. I think I may have written the last sentence of Dragon Touched yesterday. I was envisioning it ending in a different place, but then I realized that would end up being a bit much wind down. The first draft is still not completely done, since I have to backfill important elements that only occurred to me during the writing, and add more detail as well as the sex (something I tend to put off, much like battle scenes). But I think the complete shape is there now, and I’m coming up with more and more ways to continue this thing if there’s a demand. Pretty amazing to me how quickly I was able to knock off a first draft on this one! Hopefully I can learn something from the experience for my other projects.

Even though it’s Thursday already, I’m still going to throw a WIPpet snippet at you in parting. 🙂 Once more from Ygerna, which I will be returning to more seriously in the next few days. 14 sentences, for 11 + 2 (today’s date), and one to finish the scene. This comes right on the heels of the excerpt I gave you last week:

Gurles laid his own spoon down, without even having tried his custard. “Ygerna,” he murmured. “Uthyr has a reputation with women. I think you should stay away from him.”
She was grateful for the ambient noise of the wedding banquet, which she hoped had made his softly spoken admonishment impossible for all but her to hear. It would be much too embarrassing otherwise. In private, she might have excused his patronizing words, but in public she found herself fuming.
At a far corner of the long table, someone was raising their glass in a toast to someone else. Ygerna ignored it as if she had not heard, breathing deeply.
Eventually she trusted herself to speak again without lashing out.
“Thank you for your advice.”
She pushed her custard away and rose. “I find I have lost my appetite,” she said to the table at large. “Please excuse me.”

Emily Witt is our host for the snippet sharing session, in which we post an excerpt from a WIP on our blog, something that relates to the date in some way. If you want to play too, add your link to the Linky.

Writing, sales, taxes, and more from Ygerna for #WIPpet Wednesday

It’s amazing to me how inspirational regular sales can be for my writing. And I don’t think it’s just a matter of greed. *g* Just seeing a steady increase in books bought and pages read makes this whole writing addiction seem so much less like some kind of idiotic weakness on my part. It’s working! I’m finding an audience! Maybe I really can make real money at this someday!

And that puts all kinds of inferiority complex demons to rest, which in turn makes the writing somehow easier.

Speaking of which, the new Looking Through Lace boxed set is doing very well during its introductory 99c sale. I’ve sold 85 copies so far, and it’s made it into several top 100 lists. Here are the rankings last time I checked:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,633 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

#32 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > First Contact
#34 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Galactic Empire
#38 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Exploration

Whoopie!

On the less positive side, on Sunday I started doing our taxes, and all that wonderful writing momentum has ground to a halt. Our taxes are a very complicated affair, unfortunately. Last week, I got 5100 new words written. This week, only 200 so far. :/

On to WIPpet Wednesday. Last week, we left Ygerna making embarrassed excuses to her betrothed. Today I’m giving you 3 paragraphs for the 3rd of the month that pick up right where we left off:

“The weather,” Gurles repeated deliberately. “Then why does he keep looking at you like that?”
The few bites of honeyed custard she’d eaten — one of her favorite desserts — was beginning to feel like a stone in her stomach. Yes, why was Uthyr looking at her that way? At the same time, his intense gaze made her nervous in that strangely pleasant way she’d felt around him before. And when it came down to it, why was Gurles asking her such questions, as if she had done something wrong? She hadn’t even been aware of Uthyr’s attention.
She shook her head. “I don’t know.”

Igraine / Ygerna
Igraine / Ygerna

Emily Witt is our host for the snippet sharing session, in which we post an excerpt from a WIP on our blog, something that relates to the date in some way. If you want to play too, add your link to the Linky.