Thursday, November 24, 2011

"Woo-hoo! I win!"

I have officially earned my purple bar as a winner of National Novel Writing Month 2011. Now if I could just decide what goes into the second half of Chapter 19. Or should it be a short chapter, and Chapter 20 a longer one?

I think I like that better. No law says all my chapters have to be the same length. They've been steadily growing throughout the story anyway. Chapter 19 is officially done, then, and Chapter 20 will be extra-long, with two halves to cover the important doings on both ends of my story. And then...

Well, I'll get to "And then" when I get there. Right now, I have had a very blah Thanksgiving (nothing really wrong, just mild cold-like feelings and lack of desire to do anything productive) and I need sleep. Here's hoping for a Black Friday filled with words.

Hard to believe it's been only a little over two months since all of this began. A month and a half since I started work on A Widow in Waiting. And here I am, well on my way to 120,000 words, with just one more "slog" section to get through before I can write the big finish I've been dreaming of.

It will feel amazing when I can finally present this story to all of you, and find out if you like it, if you're intrigued by it, if the characters feel as real and the world as engaging to you as they do to me. If by amazing I also mean terrifying. Which I do. But then, that's the tradeoff I always knew was there.

Please, God (and you, my wonderful readers), let this work...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"The holly and the ivy..."

I've been humming this all day, though the greenery in the excerpt—yes, I said excerpt, everyone contain yourselves—that I'm going to give you is neither of the two. I think you can figure out what it is for yourselves, though.

A bit of background on this snippet. Brighteye, a young man of the travelers, and Andraste, a young woman from the village of Glenscar, have been quietly courting for a few months, despite the strong prejudice of Andraste's mother against travelers (the words "filthy beasts" have come up).

Today is Christmas Eve, and Brighteye has just asked his beloved's father for her hand in marriage. Her two younger siblings and their friends, both from the village and from the caravan, are shown here reacting to the news of what the father said in response.


Upstairs, in the schoolroom, there was much rejoicing.

Cob, Ronan, and Sergeant were doing a three-sided stomping dance, grinning all over their faces, with little Trimmer trying valiantly to keep up until Cob scooped him off the floor and set him on his shoulders. Blanid and Sinead were hugging each other, shrieking under their breaths, and jumping up and down, with Joy and Stray running in circles around them.

Darkeye burst in through the door, and Sinead let go of Blanid to charge at her and drag her into a three-way hug. "I always wanted another sister," she said, beaming at Darkeye's tearful, triumphant face. "And now I get one for Christmas, and a big brother too!"

"You get all of us." Darkeye picked up Stray and passed her to Sinead, who cradled her naturally on one hip. "We're all family, somehow. All kin." She turned to look at the boys, her smile seeming too big to be contained on her face. "All of us, now. No more sides."

"I don't know." Ronan stopped dancing. "Ma'd be perfectly happy to be a side of her own."

"That doesn't matter now," Blanid said firmly. "This is Christmas, and your sister—" She pointed at Ronan and Sinead, one with each hand. "—your brother—" Both hands came around to point at Darkeye. "—and all of our cousins, one way or another—" The hands circled twice in the air and came together in front of her chest in a praying position. "—have just got themselves engaged to be married, and we're not going to let anything stop us from being happy about that! Are we?"

Heads shook all over the room.

"I didn't hear that." Blanid stuck her hands on her hips and looked down her nose at everyone, even Cob, who had at least three inches on her. "Are we?"

"No," Ronan said defiantly, followed by Sinead and Darkeye's quieter, "No."

"Are we?"

"No!" This shout was louder, more in unison, with the littler ones joining in as well.

"Are we?"

"No!" The noise rattled the window, shaking off some of the snow which had collected on its panes.

"Then let's go downstairs and be happy!" Blanid pointed theatrically at the door, and the majority of the group charged through it, yelling, leaving her alone with Cob. He was watching her, as he often did, though she thought his face had a bit more respect in it than usual. One hand slid into his pocket and withdrew a small item, which he displayed to her.

"What is—oh." Blanid giggled. "I've heard that's been going around the house all day. Use it and pass it on, isn't that the rule?"

Cob nodded. His eyes, the same intense green as the leaves in his hand, hadn't left her.

"Well, come on then." Blanid turned to face him directly. "I won't bite."

A small hand reached back into the schoolroom and discreetly pulled the door shut.


So. Cute? Interesting? Make you want more? The writing continues well, with Chapter 18 complete and Chapter 19 likely to be the last one before I launch into the finale...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"Ugh. That is all."

The weather can't make up its mind, and neither can I. Half the time, I'm sure this story is just fine and people will love it. The other half, I hate it and wonder what in the world I think I'm doing.

At least I have cute cats on my bed. And almost 110K words written. And two more weeks until my personal goal...

*sigh* I don't know why I'm rambling. Maybe I'm just overtired. Pretty sure I won't sleep if I try, though, so I'll play a game, maybe read a little, and then try and write until I get sleepy.

Sorry for short and lousy post, but honestly, there aren't many people who care. No offense, and lots of thanks, to anyone who actually reads this.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Two steps forward, one step back."

Writing A Widow in Waiting can occasionally feel like that. I'll think I've finished a chapter, then come back to it an hour or two later and realize the scene I closed with is wrong for the spot in the story where it is. It'll be used, but not where it is.

As you can imagine, this is messing with my NaNo word count like crazy. It doesn't help that I'm being simultaneously inspired for Fifteen and have written a couple ficlets for that, and that I'm also maintaining separate documents on the characters and their powers...

If I were counting all of that, I'd probably be at least a week ahead on NaNo. As it is, I'm a day ahead and about to get farther, as soon as I quit blogging and go actually write. Which is going to be another few minutes, since I'm not done here yet.

At the moment, I'm in the middle of a big confrontation between my heroine and a man who wants to marry her. He thinks he knows something about her that he can use to get her to agree, but he hasn't realized yet that she also knows something about him.

The trouble is, I want the man to appear at least partly sympathetic still (until we get to the end of the book, at which point he is revealed to be one of the series' villains), so he can't be as nasty as I originally wrote him, not quite yet. It's a fun tightrope to walk.

Oh yes, and if I didn't already mention this, I have reached 90,000 words. My original goal, 100K, will be reached by the end of the week, but the story's far from over. At a guess, we're about 3/5 to 2/3 finished... stay tuned for further updates!

Also a quick apology for the rather emo post before this one. I need to vent occasionally but try to keep it to a minimum...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

"I wish I could tell you..."

Dear Mom,

I wish I could tell you the truth about my life. I wish I was sure you would understand. But you've shown me, over the last few weeks and months, that you don't want to understand, that you would rather live in your fantasy world than take the trouble to understand my real one.

I wish I could tell you that nagging me about going out and socializing only makes me more certain that there's nothing I'd rather do less. I don't like people. They're loud and rude and self-absorbed, and either they want things from me I can't give, or, much more often, they don't notice me at all.

I wish I could tell you that my writing seems to work best when I have a starting point, a touchstone to return to. I wish you could understand that it's not theft or laziness to spin out from someone else's idea, that it can actually add to a story, give it extra dimension and richness.

I wish I could tell you how sorry I am to be such a disappointment to you. But that would require you to tell the truth for once rather than trying to lie about being proud of me. I know you want to be proud of me, and that does count for something, but it still hurts to hear you forcing yourself to lie.

I'm sorry that I don't write literary fiction that still manages to both be uplifting and to live up to your high moral standards, and that I haven't given you the perfect son-in-law and the gorgeous grandchildren. I wish I could be the daughter you want. But I'm just the daughter you have.

There are a lot of things I wish I could tell you, Mom.

If only I believed you would listen.

Love forever,


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"I know what I have to do..."

That doesn't make it easy.

Although I love my family, and always will, right now they seem to be bad for me. The days after family visits are purely awful for writing, both because I'm off my rhythm and because my parents don't know what I'm up to at the moment.

Also, I used to be able to stay up all night and write very well, but it seems that method is now lost to me. I tried it the other night, and wrote stuff that will be useful at some point, but isn't right for the place where it is. For a perfectionist like me, that's tough.

And finally, I just have to hang in there and keep writing, even through my bad case of middle-of-the-story blues. Every writer knows this stage, and unfortunately for me, during the DV, I got into the habit of ignoring my story to get through it.

Well, I can't do that anymore. I said I would have this story ready for you by Christmas, and doggone it, I'm going to give it my best shot. I do have approximately 75K words of good stuff done, and I am not, repeat, not giving up.

Besides, I have a secret weapon. When I get blocked on Chronicles, I can just switch to Fifteen. The characters are similar enough that I don't get completely out of the world, but the setting is much more familiar to me, so I can do some fun writing and clear my head.

For instance, what started as a 500-word ficlet is now growing into a full scene, which introduces a bunch of the modern cast and establishes several things that have translated from the original setup of Chronicles into the 2014-15 world, both good and bad...

And that's more than you want to know, probably, but I do love to babble about my work. Now for one game, and then to make up the wordcount I lost with a story that didn't quite go where it was placed...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Moving right along…"

National Novel Writing Month started yesterday (yay NaNo!) and I am already 5000 words to the good. I'm not playing strictly by the rules, since a NaNovel is supposed to be a brand-new project started fresh at the beginning of November, but I think I can be forgiven.

I have also been having fun toying with a half-sequel, half-reboot of the Chronicles called "Fifteen", in which, three years after the main action of the four books I'm working on now, fifteen of the main characters pledge themselves to do whatever is necessary to stop an evil force.

Unfortunately, they cannot stop the evil entirely, but they are able both to weaken it and to hold it back for fifteen times fifteen years. They're also able to keep it from harming their friends and relatives, who escape to other parts of the world and pass the story down in their families.

Fast-forward to the year 2015, United States of America. Bit by bit, fifteen people discover the story of what happened in the village of Glenscar in the year 1790. They learn how their ancestors fled, and what they were running from, and the one most important fact of all.

Their time is up.

Brain, why must you give me ideas for TV series? Especially ones that I'm positive I could write better dialogue for than I saw last night on "Glee"? (I'm only watching for Damian. Thank God they let him wear red in the last scene. Now we just have to hide his hair gel.)

But seriously, I've got this world on the brain, and I'm in the middle of what will be, if I let it, a lost week. I had to sing at church last night for All Saints Day, I'm going again tonight for All Souls Day, Thursday night I have rehearsal, and Friday I have to go visit the family…

Gripe, gripe, groan, grumble. Complain, complain, complain. Grump grump. There, all done. Now to get another thousand words on the spinning wheel scene before I have to get changed for what choir members affectionately refer to as "the weepy Mass".

Hang in there, everyone. Happy November, and there will be more writing coming your way soon as I can!