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!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Time for a smackerel of something." Winnie the Pooh would say. I apologize in advance for any formatting issues, but the layout of the blog means the paragraphs will be somewhat long. Please do your best to read it anyway.

Here follows an excerpt from Chapter 9 of A Widow in Waiting. Eleanor, the title character, has just received a letter from the man she loves, or rather she would have received it if her overprotective father had not opened it first. She must think quickly, or risk losing her one link with her love...


Eleanor lowered the letter, an icy coolness taking possession of her mind. "What was it you wished to know, Papa?" she asked with a calm which astonished her even as it penetrated deep into her consciousness, shielding her frantic longing and her wild, snarling anger beneath its bulk.

"If you've given this—this puppy some encouragement, some grounds for thinking he can say such things to you!" Mr. Langley snatched the sheet back from her and glowered at it, starting to crumple it into a ball. "Because if you have—"

"Of course I haven't," Eleanor interjected. "Papa, please, you're being ridiculous. Don't throw it into the fire, I need something to have a good laugh over." She held out her hand for the letter again, and Mr. Langley, looking much astonished, deposited it in her palm.

"And here I thought—" he began, then rubbed his chin. "Well, Nora, it seems I misjudged you. You've some sense after all. I thought you'd ruined your disposition once and for all, having something so like a trashy romance happen to you. Husband shot by highwaymen, sheltered by a handsome young devil—for I won't deny Byrne's handsome in his own way, just like his sister's quite well to look at, quite well indeed—but you're no green girl any longer, Nora. I should have known better than that."

"Yes, Papa." Eleanor nodded serenely. "John may be older than I am, but you know boys grow up more slowly than girls, and I've had my seasons in London, while he's lived all his life mewed up in that little place, with never a chance to see anything in the way of a lady but his own sister. I came running literally into his arms, a classical damsel in distress—what could be more natural than for him to fancy himself in love with me? And you know there could be nothing worse than for me to try to tell him it's all a bag of moonshine, because then he'd be sure to lay snares for me to try to make me love him. No, the best way is for me to let him write me mad letters for a while, then slowly forget all about me."

"And so it is!" Mr. Langley laughed aloud, delighted. "So it is, by Jupiter! He'll soon think better of it when he gets no replies to all his fine lovemaking at a distance, and will his pocket stand the expense of another trip all this way in that half-a-year he was talking about when he's had no reason to think he'll find a welcome here? No, out of course it won't. And back he'll go to his own little life with his horses and his acres, but with always the sweet memory of my Nora to brighten his days." He patted her cheek. "There's my good girl, so wise in the ways of the world so young—you'll find a man soon enough who'll be able to value you at your true worth, and maybe not so very far away, hey?"

Dutifully, Eleanor smiled at this sally, and began to flatten the paper mechanically, as she would have played with any small item she happened to have in her hands.

"I'll leave orders he's not to be admitted to the house, just in case he's more stubborn than reasonable," Mr. Langley went on, half to himself, bustling back around his desk. "And you know, of course, Nora my love, if there had been something in all this—if you'd been bird-witted enough to lead young Byrne on, give him false hope, or even fall for his bouncers yourself—why, then, of course I was leading up to telling you that devil a penny of mine you'd ever see if you got yourself leg-shackled to him. But I'm sure you knew that, and it don't signify in any case!" He waved a hand at her grandly. "Run along, now, and go have your laugh over the high-flown language the boy thinks proper for lovers. I daresay you can find a few of the best bits to make us all merry at dinner!"

Since "us all" would include only her father and herself, Eleanor was sure she could manage this, as she knew exactly which turns of phrase Mr. Langley would find most amusing. Dropping him the tiny curtsey proper from a lady of quality to her father, she turned and left the study, moving at the grave and measured pace of a woman with much on her mind.

She didn't start running until she reached the upstairs corridor.


Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Any or all of the above will be read, appreciated, and responded to as time and other abilities permit.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Good news, bad news. Who knows?"

I won't go through the whole story about the old man who never committed himself to what kind of news it was, because if you don't know it, you can probably find it online, or in an email forward somewhere. Instead I will tell you my news.

Tonight, I will be working on Chapter 9 of A Widow in Waiting. Chapters 1-8 are almost 50K words long. This is the good news.

The bad news, if you can call it that, is that this feels, story-wise, like the one-third rather than the one-half mark of the book. So it may turn out to be a bit longer, and take a little more time to finish, than it otherwise would have. I suppose I could trim, but I really don't want to.

I am going to be writing two other books covering this same time period, but one (Playing with Fire) will be from entirely different people's perspectives, letting you see events that are only reported here, and the other (Shadow's Dancing) will be in a different place altogether.

So... yeah. You'll have to let me know yourself if you think this is good news or bad news!

As for the DV, I will write it when it is ready to be written, and when this is ready to take a break. No idea quite yet when that will be, but trust me... you'll know.

Happy seven-year anniversary to it, though. My gosh, seven years... I was lounging on a futon when the idea hit, listening to a friend try to play my keyboard, and we were planning on watching a Netflix DVD of Star Trek: Voyager...

And then I started staying up until 3 AM and typing frantically until my roommate threatened to drop Oscar the O-Chem book on my head... at which point I would apologize and crawl into my bed-cave to think about what I would type the next day...

Good times, good times. Thank you for all the love you've showed me in the years since, and I hope we can keep it up! How's about I shoot for this time next year to wrap up SD and bring the DV to a fitting conclusion, huh?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Good grief, when did that happen?!"

It's October 20th. Which has taken me a little by surprise, since I haven't been keeping very close track of the passage of time, at least not outside my story world. When did it get to be what I can only call late October?

I know, I know, right after it was mid-October. And that came after early October! No, I haven't had too much caffeine today. Why do you ask?

But in any case, that's not the only thing which is a little surprising. My reboot of what was originally The Highwayman's Apprentice and has become The Chronicles of Glenscar officially began on October 11th, with the first part, currently in production, entitled (as you know) A Widow in Waiting.

Today, I will pass 40,000 words.

The next two days will not be so good for writing, since I have to take the bigger of my brothers to our parents' house for the weekend, but after that I have two more weeks free until brother, roommate, and self head north to see Jekyll and Hyde at the beginning of November.

Knock on wood, head, and a bunch of other things, but it looks like I might be delivering that original to you in time for Christmas after all. And likely some more Dangerverse as well, once A Widow in Waiting is finished and edited.

Sorry for the scarcity of blog posts lately, but there's something about this world that jumped it over all the other ideas I've had so much longer. I hope that I can convey it to you, so that you feel the same magic reading it that I feel writing it.

If you would like an excerpt, just let me know…

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"There's a wall there!"

No, I haven't started running into literal walls. I hit something of a word count wall today, as I have done precisely zero writing, but seeing that it's been exactly a week since my mother and I had that "little talk" of ours and I've already written one-fifth of the new version, I think I can be forgiven.

This will be something of a random post, since I have been forbidden by executive order from discussing the Chronicles of Glenscar in the apartment for the last few days, and Krystal reads my blog. (She wants to get her mind clear so she can see how things are running for pace and world-building.)

So... how about them Steelers?

Just kidding. Let me see, let me see, news of my life...

The problem is, I really haven't been doing much other than writing, petting cats, and singing in the choir, except watching a really funny production of HMS Pinafore on PBS last night. It was from the Guthrie Theatre in (I think) Minneapolis, and I will definitely be watching for more from them.

To start with, several of the songs were reorchestrated with more modern beats, and a lot of dance was added to the show. At one point, to annoy their captain, the sailors do a full-on Broadway-style tap number, and several of them can also do tumbling tricks, so it was great fun to watch.

Some parts for Little Buttercup, the older woman character, were done as flamenco, complete at one point with a Spanish-costumed "orchestra" (some of the other actors pretending to play instruments), and oh my goodness, her red skirt with its padded bustle and her green-and-black striped stockings...

But the highlight of the night was an added scene in which nasty, smelly Dick Deadeye is dubbed "Sir Richard Posthumous-Optic" by the visiting Queen Victoria, as missing her is apparently the source of all his general misanthropy. Wow, just wow.

Krys and I had a lot of fun discussing, if this cast were to put on The Pirates of Penzance, who would play whom. Gilbert and Sullivan wrote for a fairly static cast of singers in their own time, so many of their shows are written for similar voice and body types.

And now that I have bored you all, I shall conclude with a moment from the end of Chapter 2 of A Widow in Waiting:

"It would have been nice to be able to properly swear at the donkey-brained mouth-breather who had made this necessary, but she was under a natural handicap when it came to describing his lineage. Family members were just so hard to curse." 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"So this is what going nowhere feels like."

Never fear, that was sarcasm. I am in fact going somewhere at a truly astonishing rate.

I am pleased to report yet another 10K word milestone, accomplished once again in four days, though Monday was a wash so I suppose I should say three. A Widow in Waiting (alert readers may notice the initial article has changed) has two full chapters finished and a third champing at the bit.

I also have working titles for parts two and three of the Chronicles of Glenscar. Part two, the tempestuous romance of the king of the traveling folk with what he initially thought was a meek little village girl, is entitled Playing with Fire. As you may imagine from the title, he couldn't be more wrong.

Part three, in a nod to the misplaced apostrophe which started this whole crazy thing off, is currently called Shadow's Dancing. It will contain the full story of the travelers' princess and her wooing of a noble-born highwayman, along with the beginning of the story which will be finished in part four.

That final portion will, of course, be called The Highwayman's Apprentice, and the stories of the other three parts will converge in it. Evil will be vanquished, true love will prevail, and a toilet will be disassembled. (You'll just have to be there.)

Although my stomach still occasionally feels "gone" when I think about what I'm doing, I've never written more quickly or, I dare to think, better. Thank you, thank you, thank you all a million times for your words of encouragement. They made all the difference in the world.

As soon as Sesame vacates my lap, I will switch the laundry into the dryer, and then… Chapter 3, in which Eleanor, the titular widow, must cope all at once with her husband's death, her brand-new love, the expectations of society, and her discovery of a power about which she had only dreamed…

Saturday, October 8, 2011

"Well. That was... unexpected."

Apologies for the long lapse between posts.

The Celtic Thunder concert, as expected, was amazing (special props to the hilarious interplay between new member thirteen-year-old Daniel and returning member Keith on You've Got a Friend in Me and Ryan's fantastic rendition of Friends in Low Places). The family visit afterwards was...

I showed my mother my current draft of The Highwayman's Apprentice. At first, she was intrigued, though there were points she did not understand. As she went along, she said that the story felt too crowded and I needed to focus more. Then, last night, the family sat down to watch Storm.

This morning, my mother and I had a talk.

Since I am sure you have all had variants of this talk with your own families, I will spare you the details. Suffice to say, my mother now feels that THA lacks originality and interest. She characterized it as a "transcription" of Storm and said that she saw nothing of me in it.

Storm, though a great deal of fun, is a sixty-minute musical revue. The plot is somewhat melodramatic and far-fetched. The characters are cliches, drawn larger than life to give the songs more emotional punch. They do not even have names, being known simply by their function within the story.

From it, I have evolved, or I am trying to evolve, a cast of characters who are real people, with names and wishes and decisions both made and yet to make. I am, or was, delighting in what might be happening that we never see, before, around, and after the documented action on the DVD.

Apparently my current work on THA, and the synopsis of the rest of the story the way I had planned it, did not convey this to my mother. She said that it will never come to anything worthwhile, and she strongly recommended that I abandon it immediately.

In her infinite wisdom, my mother would also like me to abandon the Legendbreakers universe, as she sees no central theme or unifying point in that either, and feels that I am simply pandering to people's emotional desires by pitting the evil Reality Cops against the good Legendbreakers.

Very shortly after these two modest requests, she lovingly pointed out to me that I seem to have trouble finishing things. Good heavens, I wonder why. I also wonder why I might have packed up my things, and my cats, and left my family's house six hours before I originally intended to go.

I do not plan to stop answering the phone to my mother, or to no longer go and visit her, or anything equally melodramatic. She wants what's best for me, and she did help me today, by pointing out some problems with the current draft of THA, though it can still stand as backstory.

Which it will.

The response to the teasers and ideas I have tossed out has been very positive. These characters have a firm hold on my mind and if I have not written them well enough to make them clear and distinct without too much cliche or stereotype, well, then, I'll just have to try again.

What do you think of three short, interlinked books, each covering the same period of time but telling the story of a different place and a different couple, or two, and then a fourth to tell the end of all the stories at once?

The first one I have in mind would be called The Widow in Waiting, and if you read the teaser a few posts back, it tells the story of Grainne's brother Sean and his dark-haired lady. The others do not yet have names, except for the last, which is still The Highwayman's Apprentice.

There will be magic. There will be bright colors and loud noises, and feats of derring-do. There will be young love and middle-aged love and family love (it wouldn't be an Anne story without families, would it?). And yes, there will be highwaymen, and gypsies, though less in the first book than in the others.

Still interested? Because in the end, my readers, my friends, it is you who make the decisions. It is you who decide if a story is or isn't worth my time, because it is you, and only you, who can tell me if you will or won't read it.

Please, please let me know. This has been a hard day for me and some support from you, if it's warranted by what you see in this post, would make all the difference in the world.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"A song I'll sing of an English King..."

The Highwayman's Apprentice continues very well. I am now one-quarter finished and much better satisfied with the quality of the work as it progresses.

At the moment I am writing several very angst-filled moments, including an angry teenager who feels that no one listens to him and a man who is helpless to stop a recurrence of one of the worst times in his life. However, I am looking ahead to far less unhappy topics. Specifically, dirty songs.

A couple of my characters will be traveling undercover, and since both of them are musically inclined, they decide to pay their way by singing in taverns. Tavern crowds are not notorious for being finicky or overburdened with delicacy, especially in the 1780s. There will be dirty songs.

Randomly, Celtic Thunder is in Pittsburgh this Tuesday, October 4. Krystal, my sister, and I have three excellent seats and are greatly looking forward to the show.

I would make this a longer post, but the fact is that there's really not much to report. The weather is nasty, the cats are cuddly, Krys isn't feeling her best, and I continue to write like a madwoman. Maybe when I hit about the 50K mark on THA, I can take a breather for some DV, but no guarantees...

Friday, September 30, 2011

"How about... excerpt?!"

If you don't understand the title, try this link (video is entirely safe to watch and under a minute):

How about... cupcakes?!

Then enjoy the following excerpt from The Highwayman's Apprentice, to celebrate it reaching 20K words at nine days into production writing! Comments, thoughts, and questions are very welcome!

Quick pronunciation guide to the names of the ladies (and if I'm wrong, please do let me know, I'm working off a source I think is trustworthy but I could always be mistaken...):

Grainne: Grawn-ya
Saibh: Sive, to rhyme with "five"
Liadan: Lee-den


Turning back to the desk, she stopped in surprise. A sheet of paper lay on the floor, where none had been a moment before. By its rough left edge, she guessed it had been torn from her brother's sketchbook, and likely it had been displaced from the desk by her stack of shirts, but the picture drawn on it was nothing and no one she had ever seen before.

"Who is she?" Grainne stooped to pick up the paper. "More important, what is she going to be to us?"

With his usual economy of line, Sean had depicted a slender, dark-haired lady walking alone in a formal garden with her face full of sorrow, her right hand not quite covering the wedding band on her left. The ring was shaded with dark, fierce slashes of the pencil, and some of the crosshatching formed tiny arrows. Following them with her eyes, Grainne gasped. Another face was peering through one of the topiary sculptures past which the lady walked.

"And whoever he is, I hope he never comes here." She set the sketch down hastily on the desk and took a step back from it. "How does Sean do that?" In just those few pencil strokes forming the watcher's face, so cunningly hidden within the leaves of the trimmed bush that a casual observer might miss them, her brother had managed to convey an impression of careless, brutal power. "When I think that Ma gave us both the same lessons in art, and I never got past women in triangle dresses and men in square shirts and trousers…"

But in reality, people were curved, curved and firm and warm where they held her close against their side and peered down into her face, with perhaps a strong dose of arrogant possessiveness in that speculative smirk but nothing of the easy cruelty, the delight in others' pain that the man in Sean's drawing seemed to radiate. No, people might have a wicked glint in their sea-blue eyes, but it was only an invitation, not a command.

Grainne shivered deliciously, thinking of the secret she had shared with no one. Saibh, with her devotion since childhood to stalwart and steady-minded Finn, would have found it nigh-impossible to understand. Liadan might have stood a better chance, given her ongoing flirtation with Kieran, except that flirtation was all it was. Neither of them was seriously interested in the other, but they found it amusing to play the game, and it drove Stiofan Connolly, currently at sea with his father and the Laverty brothers, absolutely mad, which was a bonus from Liadan's point of view.

Fleetingly Grainne wished that Isabel was here, Isabel with her energy and her enthusiasm, with her rapt attention to stories about Glenscar and her frustrated desire to experience the forbidden life of a village girl for herself. Isabel, if anyone, would have comprehended perfectly Grainne's feelings on the subject of the black-haired king of the gypsies…

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"My UFO needs a tuneup."

UFO, in this case, stands for Unidentified Furry Object, one of which has been occupying my lap for the last half-hour. It isn't exactly unidentified, though, as I have long suspected that cats are in fact alien energy-sapping devices. What we call a purr is simply the motor revving.

Fluffy, the black longhair I had when I was a kid, had the worst-tuned motor I ever encountered in a UFO. He was audible across the room. Sesame isn't quite that badly tuned, but she still makes a considerable amount of noise, as does Poppy when she's in the mood.

In contrast, my sister's Jinx is well tuned but in need of oil, judging by the rusty gate noises he makes on a regular basis. Of course, we suspect that he is half Siamese, which explains both his voice and his temperament. He let a live bird loose in the house the other day…

Enough about cats. You want to hear about my writing. The Highwayman's Apprentice continues to burgeon, being sufficiently absorbing at this point that most of my fan fiction is on temporary hold. If I go back to fanfic anytime soon, it will probably be to finish "He Nearly Killed the Cat."

I know how eagerly everyone is waiting for more Surpassing Danger, but if I'm going to finish THA in time for Christmas, I need to concentrate on it for a while. Also, though I don't confuse my characters, the style of THA is sufficiently different from that of the DV to make switching a little difficult.

Give me a week or two to get well into THA, maybe to the end of the first section of it, which is the only part directly inspired by Storm. The fever may have abated some by then, and I can get back to Dangerverse. We shall see.

Also an interesting discovery—I can listen to music and dictate at the same time. Apparently what's coming over my headphones does not interface with what's going into the microphone. Now I just have to make sure I don't randomly start singing in the middle of my writing…

Monday, September 26, 2011

"Your bed has ears." (Photo post!)

Krys and I got home from shopping to discover the above:

You have to look closely, but on top of the mound of pink on the bed, there is in fact a pair of ears sticking up. They belong to the Poppycat, who is shown below in her favorite cave, otherwise known as the suitcase I will be returning to my mother in a slightly furrier condition than when I borrowed it:

Not to be outdone, her sister Sesame has decided that my closet makes a good cave. My skirts now have a cat-shaped divot in them.

And finally, Sesame has also claimed Krys's smartphone for her very own, and has, I think, quite a look of irritated feline executive interrupted in the middle of a VERY IMPORTANT MEETING.

Writing is shortly to take place. Now if I could only decide between original or fanfic...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"It's happening again..."

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while may remember a post entitled something along the lines of "One tenth in one week. I think I'm onto something," in which I noted that I had written ten thousand words of "He Nearly Killed the Cat" in one week's time.

Today is Saturday. I started working on The Highwayman's Apprentice on Wednesday. Its current word count stands at 10,185.

Granted, many of those words will go to backstory only, or will have to be chopped and changed around, placed in different parts of the story, but that's not the point. The point is, I have a truly hot little piece of work here, and people sound very interested in it.

So, since some people seem to have gotten ideas about Christmas (where, I can't imagine. No, seriously, I really don't know. Did I say something about Christmas without meaning to?), I'll make it official.

Who would like an Anne B. Walsh original fantasy novel, The Highwayman's Apprentice, for Christmas 2011?

*shakes head* I can hardly believe you haven't met them yet. They're all so real to me. They have names and lives and feelings and desires, and they want you to know about them, to understand what it is that they want and why they did what they did.

They caught me, as I hope they will catch you, from that very first moment, when a young nobleman, forced to flee from the law, wounded and half-dead from fever, stumbles into a forest clearing and frightens three children, prompting the boy to defend his sister and their cousin...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"They didn't do THAT on PBS!"

Yes, another "Storm" post. I promise it'll be the last for a while, though you may hear more about the characters I'm evolving from it as The Highwayman's Apprentice continues to grow.

The song in question is "Midnight Well," sung by the gypsy king, the story of a naïve village girl who went out in the night to meet a dangerous gypsy man and was never seen again. On the surface, it's a classic "be a good girl or else" song, but there are elements in it which give me a different feel.

Credit where credit is due, though, Krystal came up with the idea I'm using for The Highwayman's Apprentice, when she pointed out that although the gypsy king and one of the village girls certainly do meet at the well during the song, he seems to be telling a story about another gypsy and another girl…

In any case, the title of this post refers to the final pose struck by the characters during the song. On the PBS special, the girl spreads her arms like wings, and the gypsy, standing behind her, grasps her hands and folds his arms around her, holding her against his chest.

On the DVD, this is not the closing pose of the song. Instead, the gypsy takes the girl's hand and supports her as she performs a controlled fall, landing on her back in the grass. He then drops down on top of her, straddling her, and lowers himself down to kiss her, at which point the camera changes focus.

I could be wrong, but I think I have an inkling as to why this particular pose did not pass muster for the PBS-aired version of "Storm." Certainly it caused me and Krys to do a lot of shrieking when we watched the DVD for the first time. Also a good bit of envy. Ryan Kelly, gypsy king… mmmmm…

Oops, did I just say that out loud?

In any case, both "He Nearly Killed the Cat" and The Highwayman's Apprentice are hot in my head right now, and the only other thing I have on my slate is singing at Vespers tonight. Today is the feast day of St. Maurice, the patron of our parish, so we always do an evening prayer service.

If you happen to pray, toss a prayer God's way for me. If not, send me good thoughts. I got picked to sing the opening solo of the trickiest piece we're doing, and it just about tops out my range…

Monday, September 19, 2011

"You never swear. This must be big."

The title of the post is Krystal speaking, in response to my comment of "Holy s***!" as I checked the TV listings last night. I snatched up the remote and frantically changed the channel to PBS, at which point she said what I said.

Celtic Thunder's "Storm" was being played last night. We got in a bit late to catch the beginning of the first showing, thanks to going out to dinner with my brother who is in college across town, but neither of us found it a hardship to stay up till midnight to catch the second time through.

"Storm" is a bit of a departure for Celtic Thunder. The boys have generally done straight-up concerts, maybe with a theme or story to a couple of songs in a row, but "Storm" is a full-length sung-through theater production. And good heavens, what a production it is.

I won't bore people with a full description of the plot, but it involves several variously-fated love stories, a handsome highwayman, and a colorful caravan of gypsies, and it got all my story juices flowing. The result hit people's inboxes early this morning—Surpassing Danger is finally beginning.

However, "Storm" did also inspire me in its own right. It leaves several questions unanswered at the end, along with a great deal of backstory which is never told. So… how would people like to see, after my current projects are underway, a period piece entitled The Highwayman's Apprentice?

Our "Storm" DVD arrives tomorrow. I can't wait. Now to get a few more calories in me, to fortify me for my evening writing. It is, after all, Monday, and if I can, I'd love to get a chapter of "He Nearly Killed the Cat" out on time…

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Fur. It's what's for dinner."

Not that I deliberately set out to eat fur, but in a two-cat apartment, it's inevitable. Not to mention when Sesame settles herself onto my lap, purring her loudest, and then whips her tail across my face just as I'm leaning forward to pet her…

I should explain yesterday's hypothetical a bit more. I am not the theater director in question, and the casting has already been done. The only reason I was asking was to find out if I was the only one wondering about the decision.

That decision was to cast the more experienced girl, who has the less appropriate vocal range. While I admit to a bias in favor of the less experienced girl—she is my sister, after all—I don't think it extends to thinking she could play a part when she can't.

Just to make life even more fun, the girl who has been cast in the part (the show, for those who asked, is Jekyll & Hyde, and the part is Emma, Dr. Jekyll's fiancée) is my sister's friend. She is very talented, and did a wonderful job of playing Eponine in last spring's Les Miserables, but…

Anyone who knows musical theater will know that Eponine is written for an alto, or at most a mezzo-soprano. This girl has the perfect range for Eponine. Emma, as far as I can judge by listening to the soundtrack, was written for a true soprano.

I know that none of this is my business. I no longer attend that school, I don't run the theater department, and this may be nothing but a case of my prejudices running away with me. It just bothers me, but I'm going to let it go, because I have some more interesting news.

While researching Les Miserables the other night, I found some very interesting information on Wikipedia. Apparently there is going to be a film version, to be released in 2012, starring Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert.

Several other names were given for cast members, but no roles were attached. However…

Anne Hathaway has made her career up to this point out of playing good girls, so it seems unlikely she'll break tradition now. She would make a very charming Cosette. And who can doubt that Helena Bonham Carter will be a terrifying Madame Thenardier?

But the name that caused me, and I imagine will cause you, the most excitement was that of the actress I think will probably be playing either Fantine or Eponine. Can we or can we not imagine Emma Watson in one of those roles?

*runs away happily to her writing*

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"So am I a ding-a-ling or a ding-dong?"

No, this isn't another "I hate me" post. It's a semi-serious question. I've joined my church's bell choir, along with singing in the adult choir as I already do, and will be headed off to rehearsal shortly. Thought I would toss a quick post online before I went.

I do also have a question on which I would like feedback. Let's say that you're a high school theater director. *braces self as everyone choruses, "You're a high school theater director."* Thank you. For one particular female lead in the fall musical, you have two contenders.

Both girls can sing, dance, and act, without question. One girl has more experience, but her vocal range is wrong for the character. Her part would have to be transposed. The other girl does not have as much experience, but is still capable, and could sing the music as written.

Given these specifications, who would you cast? I'm just curious, because I know what my call would be, and I'd like to see if other people agree or disagree with me.

Short post tonight. More probably tomorrow. Everybody send healing thoughts Krystal's way--she's used almost an entire box of tissues today on account of hostile sinuses...

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Whiny PAGE alert, whiny PAGE alert!"

PAGE, as long-time readers will know, stands for Panther Author Goddess of (depending on my mood) Everything or Evil. Panther is my Animagus form, while the other three terms need no explanation. It is my official title, and I do my best to live up to it.

Unfortunately, on Saturday, I was more living down to it than living up. I was having a bad day, but that's no reason for me to take it out on all of you. I do apologize for the most unpleasant blog post, and thank all of you who responded to it so very kindly.

Since not much is going on around here, besides a very good day for my choir on Sunday, I think I will instead tell you a funny story about one of my experiences with my former job. Then I will go and finish Chapter 9 of "He Nearly Killed the Cat," and then I will post it.

I've mentioned the setup of the department I worked in before, but for a brief refresher, we had one big boss, five little bosses, and fifty-odd people working under them. One day, the big boss asked me as a favor if I would go to the convention center, a few blocks away, and pick something up for her.

I need to emphasize several things about this. First, it was asked, not commanded or required. Second, I had nothing else currently in need of my attention, and it was, at the moment, a nice day out. Finally, I like taking walks. So, I agreed.

I should have known better.

The moment I left the convention center on my way back, it started to rain. I continued walking, but the rain got harder. When it reached pouring stage, I ducked under an overhang at a piano store. Surely, I thought, this heavy rain can't last long.

Once again, I should have known better.

I stood under that overhang for half an hour. The rain continued, getting only harder as time went on. The street, one of downtown Pittsburgh's main avenues of traffic, was very nearly flooding. And still, the rain continued.

Finally, I saw my chance. A bus was coming which would take me to within a two-block dash of my office building. I darted out and flagged it down, crossing the street in the process, which thoroughly soaked my shoes. The rain I caught in the interim got the rest of me pretty wet as well.

Fortunately, it was well into the summer, so I was wearing mostly lightweight fabrics. I also have a sense of humor, and the look of horror on the big boss's face when I walked, dripping, into her office and politely deposited the items she'd requested on her desk made up for everything.

The gift card to Moe's Southwest Grill she got me as an apology didn't hurt either. But I did leave a rain poncho on her desk the next morning. Just because I could. She has a sense of humor too.

I hope that you have enjoyed this small excerpt from my (someday) upcoming office musical, "Bankers' Hours." Now back to our regularly scheduled programming, which in my case means it's time to write. Enjoy the rest of your Monday, and watch your in boxes for that update notice!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"I'm not good for anything, am I?"

It's been that kind of a day. I slept late, too late judging by how tired I was when I got up, and then spent the rest of the day playing games and eating a lot. I did no writing, very few chores, and never ventured outside the door of the apartment.

It doesn't help that the allergies I'm now fairly sure I have are playing up. I take pills with a four-hour cycle to them, and usually I only need to take one per day, but today I've been able to set the clock by my sniffles returning.

I've been in this mood before. I know it doesn't last. That doesn't stop it from being unpleasant while it's here.

Sorry if this post brings people down. I didn't want to let the day go by without posting something, and this is all that came to mind. Not that anyone reads this blog anyway, so I suppose it doesn't matter.

I'm going to try to write. I don't know how well it will come out, but at least then the day won't feel like a complete waste of time. It may still be one… no, not going there. That never ends well.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Am I evil, blah, or both?"

It's a fair question, especially on a day like today. The sky is blue with only a few clouds, the temperature hovers comfortably between warm and cool, and I am sitting indoors, thinking up new ways to torture characters and cats.

Part of the problem is that "He Nearly Killed the Cat" is in one of its transition phases. We've finished the first portion of the story, where the world gets established, a few characters get introduced, and the conflicts are set up for the next part. Now for that next part…

Unfortunately, it's not as easy as that. I have to figure out both what order would be the most convenient to have the conflicts resolved in from a writing standpoint, and what order will keep the tension and interest going from a reading standpoint.

Also, I have to decide which conflicts affect one another. Though this story, by its nature, has an episodic feel, the various things the characters do on their individual adventures are not isolated. They will have far-reaching effects. I just need to figure out what.

And finally, I have to get up the gumption to keep writing on this story and to work on other stories, fan fiction and original. I know me. If I let myself off writing every time I feel blah, I'll feel blah all the time.

(very little voice) Some nice reviews would help…

But seriously, what I need most right now is food, more tea, and then just to sit down and doggone well do it. No excuses, just work. It's the only way I'll ever get anything done.

So, with that in mind, to the kitchen! (And really, those reviews would help. I know I have to wean myself off reader appreciation eventually, but does it have to be right now?)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Screaming surge protectors, Batman!"

Last night, our power went out. This morning, my nine-year-old power supply/surge protector finally gave up the ghost. When I pushed the on button, it emitted a high-pitched beeping scream that sounded like I'd taken it into the electronics torture chamber.

I'm currently dictating this to a computer plugged into the power strip which used to power the TV and its accessories. The TV and accessories are now plugged into the power strip which used to power the electric kettle and Krystal's laptop. And the electric kettle and Krystal's laptop…

Well, you get the idea. I was playing musical power strips for about fifteen minutes this morning. What with that and a late morning request by my mother that I get my brother a particular size of sketchpad he can't find in the college bookstore, no writing has occurred today.

I would, however, like to point out that the day is far from over. Especially if you're me. Expect the usual update tomorrow. Now for America's Got Talent and shepherd's pie.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

"And now for something completely different…"

Sesame is sitting on my lap!

No, that's not what's different. In fact, that's pretty much the same as every other day since we got the cats. Especially days that I sit in my desk chair. I swear there's a cat magnet in this thing.

No, what's different is my writing project for today. Those of you keeping up with "He Nearly Killed the Cat" may have noticed that our new characters, Lin and Nima, have friends who haven't appeared yet, named Jason and Reyna. I'm about to write the true story of how they met.

Anyone who's been reading my work for more than two years may recall that Jason and Reyna first appeared in 2009's Christmas story, "A Strange Way to Save the World." However, they have recently informed me that this is not really their story, just a silly thing they were doing together for fun.

Thus, it falls to me to correct my mistake and give the world the true history of Jason, Reyna, and the new strange way they saved the world. Not our world, but Jason's native one, and one Reyna stumbled into due to… well, you'll have to read the story and see!

Assuming it passes muster, "Mommy Magic" (a working title, but one I'm fond of, so I think it's probably going to stay) will be published in Horror, Humor, and Heroes Volume 3: New Faces of Science Fiction, available soon on a website near you. Watch this space for details!

Friday, September 2, 2011

"What a difference five weeks makes…"

Today I heard from Mary Beth, my colleague at my former job. She had a question, which I was able to help her out with some, but the phone call made me think. It's been exactly five weeks today since my last day of paid employment.

So what do I have to show for those five weeks? Well, I'm much better rested, happier, and better able to focus on my writing for long periods of time. I've established a routine for the tasks of my life, and I now have one fifth of a novel-length work completed!

Granted, that novel-length work is fan fiction, but it is set in an original universe and using original characters along with the fan fiction characters of the Dangerverse. I consider it a stepping stone into full originality, and hope the readers who are following it with every sign of interest will do the same.

Mary Beth is a good bit older than I am, and had mentioned once or twice in my last couple of weeks that she'd once had big dreams like mine, but had chosen a steady paycheck instead. Today she reiterated how much she admires my courage in going after what I want.

Although it's nice to be seen as courageous by people I respect and admire, like Mary Beth, my own parents, and you, my loving readers, the truth is far more prosaic. I am simply not persistent enough to sit in a cubicle for the next thirty or forty years. Five years was quite long enough, thank you very much.

Besides, don't we always hear the same things from older people, people who've had cancer or other life-threatening diseases, even people having a midlife crisis? "Follow your dreams. Give it a try. You regret what you didn't do more than what you did."

So, in that vein, I will forge ahead with my writing of "He Nearly Killed the Cat." After I nearly kill my cats by scaring them half to death with the floor-cleaning devices, that is. Can anyone explain to me why they're just as scared of the squeaky mechanical carpet sweeper as they are of the roaring vacuum?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Let me explain…"

I seem to have inadvertently misled people with my comment about starting writing "as a job." Let me see if I can clear that up.

By "as a job," I meant that I would be spending job-like hours on writing from now on, instead of relaxing most of the time as I did in August. Not that August wasn't great (I highly recommend a month of vacation to anyone who can swing it) but it's time to move on.

So, from now on, I will be spending five to eight hours a day, five days a week, focused on writing. My daily word count goal is 5000 words, which I've seen a professional writer say was his daily output. It's a lot, but even typing, as long as I know what I'm saying, I can do a thousand words an hour.

Of course, the kicker is "as long as I know what I'm saying." If I'm trying to work out plot problems, solve character difficulties, or wrestle with quirks in settings, I may not make word count for the day. Or worse, I may make word count, then realize later that it's no good and I have to discard it.

One of the ways I will be solving this problem is by having more than one story going at the same time. If I get blocked on one, I can just switch to another. If one catches fire, I can let the others go for a little while and focus in on that one.

I've had people ask me if I don't get characters from different stories confused, but honestly, even when I was writing two or three HP fan fictions at the same time, I never did. Each world… well, there really isn't a word for the sensation, but "feels" or "tastes" come closest.

Each world, then, feels or tastes different to me. The characters, even though they come from the same sources, have their own unique personalities and abilities, and I would no more get them mixed up than a mother would mix up her children!

On the other hand… my mom did have the bad habit of calling every name in the house, including the dog, before she found mine, and sometimes would even resort to "Hey you, the big one, c'mere…"

Well, let's just say that I haven't had a problem in the past mixing up my characters. I don't know if I will start once I have original settings to think about, but somehow I doubt it. Still, the proof is in the pudding, so why don't I stop blogging about writing and get to actual writing?

(Also, allow me to take one moment to be very, very glad that my mother does not read this blog…)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"How about one for ill-considered blog posts?"

I think I need to make it a rule that I should never respond to an email, or any other form of communication for that matter, until at least an hour after I have first seen it (or heard it, or read it, or whatever else I might do). Every time I send immediate responses to things, I seem to get myself into trouble.

For instance, I responded badly to my mother's email from yesterday, and now I've come to find out that wasn't what she meant at all. Her worry was more that I wouldn't be able to draw people into the lives of new characters, not that I shouldn't write anything else.

Fortunately for me, and probably the only reason I've survived to the age I have, my mother is usually quicker to forgive than she is to get angry. She does have a temper, but it takes a lot to set it off, and it always helps if people apologize. Which I did.

To add to it all, my body is behaving badly, as if I had caught a very mild form of flu. I don't have a fever, but I feel like I do, and both my balance and my digestion are somewhat off. It may be the effects of stress, or I may actually have picked up some kind of germ, but it's still unpleasant.

On that pleasant note, I shall depart for the day. The cats need to be fed their dinner, and I need to encourage myself to do something useful. And not to get stupidly depressive. I do hate how strongly the state of my body tends to affect my mind and my emotions…

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Is there a return desk for hereditary gifts?"

My mother emailed me earlier this morning. She's read the first two posted chapters of "He Nearly Killed the Cat" and while she thinks it's cute, she feels that I need to "begin the hard slog of creating new characters that will engage your audience," as she put it herself.

Mom feels, according to her email, that I should "[r]efuse to connect them (my shiny new characters) to any previous character" and that I should "[f]ind their unique qualities." As an example, she used Homecoming, another original story that I have been working on, on and off, for the last two years.

If you have been with my Facebook page for a while, I wrote about Homecoming in one of my notes. My loving mother (and that is not sarcasm—she does love me and wants only the best for me) believes that those characters are less derivative and therefore more worth my time.

Unfortunately, the Homecoming characters are only one step less derivative than the "He Nearly Killed the Cat" bunch. Sorry, Mom. Guess I fooled you, even though I didn't really mean to. Do you still want me to write Homecoming now, or has my honesty tainted it for you?

I guess that I am also failing in making my point with "He Nearly Killed the Cat" and the Legendbreakers universe in general. What I was trying to say, and what I hope I am still trying to say, is that a story isn't worthless just because it uses elements from other stories.

I know that I'm taking this too hard, that my mother didn't say and doesn't mean that my current work is worthless, just that she feels other things would be more worthwhile. At least, she did when she didn't know that the thing she prefers also drew from my previous work. I don't know how she feels now.

Apologies for the slight emotional dumping nature of this post. I have to go now. It sounds like one of the cats is into something they shouldn't be again. Will do my best to continue writing today—I'll certainly experience worse over my writing career than a slightly critical e-mail from my own mother…

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"One tenth in one week. I think I'm onto something."

That is, one tenth of the word count needed for a piece of fiction to be considered a novel, especially in the speculative fiction genres. And that also is, the amount of time I've been seriously working on "He Nearly Killed the Cat."

Despite one or two critical reviews, I do think I'm onto something with this story. I apologize to anyone who doesn't like the puzzling aspects of it, but I felt that too much exposition too soon would be more likely to drive readers away than a few unsolved puzzles.

After all, I have a good track record with clearing up things which originally puzzled readers. See the previous main Dangerverse stories as well as most of the AU's. Exposition, on the other hand, requires a light touch, especially in wholly invented universes where everything has to be explained.

I'm trying to err on the side of "making the story interesting," and maybe I haven't explained enough. Maybe there are too many unsolved puzzles and not enough information to keep people's interest. I never said I was perfect, and I still have plenty to learn. I always will.

Still, the vast majority of reviews have been positive, and the story is far from over. The characters from the original Legendbreakers novels have decided they want to come and play, so I will be introducing them shortly. They were also mentored by Eve and Suzie, and live only one domain over.

For those of you who read my blog, here is a sneak peek at Neenie and Fox's neighbors in Outer Time:

Lin is a magician whose golden hair makes him look young, but whose blue eyes hint that he could be much older than anyone imagines. He was released from magical captivity within a stone pillar by his current girlfriend.

Nima used to work third shift to make enough money to satisfy her taste for Renaissance fairs and archery classes. Now she specializes in long-distance intimidation sniping and double target shooting exhibitions with her best friend.

Reyna was in the wrong place at the wrong time when a dimensional gate broke open. Her parenting, or rather "aunting," skills turned it into the right place, and she made it home with a young man who certainly thought it was the right time for them.

Jason always knew he'd spend his life traveling around and making music. He never dreamed of how far his talents might take him, or that they would turn out to be a gateway to a power he didn't think existed.

Intrigued? I certainly hope so. Watch for these four in upcoming chapters, and for other characters you probably know a lot better! This is, after all, a DV fanfic…

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"ALIENS! No, wait, it's just lightning. Never mind."

There was an enormous storm here last night, with several hundred lightning strikes inside five minutes (according to the local news). It got me up around 6 AM, after I had been up until three writing, and then scaredy-cats invaded my bed…

I'm not feeling quite as awake as usual right now, as you might guess, so this will probably be a short post. My current state of consciousness is hovering between "slightly loopy, good for writing" and "get horizontal within next ten minutes please."

As everyone who is enjoying "He Nearly Killed the Cat" will be glad to hear, I plan to take advantage of the good-for-writing portion of the evening as long as it lasts. It helps that I'm at what I consider a fascinating point in the story.

Writing fan fiction, while an excellent thing for developing writing skills in general, does have one major drawback. Because the world is already fully created, there is little need to describe characters or settings, since readers already know what they look like.

Therefore, my descriptive skills are not all they could be (though I kick butt at dialogue, if I do say so myself). With the chapter I am now writing, I have a brand-new setting to describe, and I hope to do so well enough that readers feel the same way I do about it.

Namely, that you could come around the corner one day and see it, and walk in the door and make yourself at home. Maybe snag a pretzel rod out of the jar on the counter, or steal some of the chocolate on the top shelf in the far left cabinet.

Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

(Not really, but hey, a girl can dream, can't she?)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"The team has been consistent..." "Yeah, we always lose!"

Since I have lived in Pittsburgh, I have gone to see the Pirates play at PNC Park five times. I have never seen them win. This past Sunday's game was especially heartbreaking, since they had two rain delays, then blew their one-run lead in the ninth. Ah well, I suppose we can't have everything.

On the other hand, I now have a cute little Pirates helmet cup that came full of ice cream. I wonder what the people at the Sweet Spot ballpark ice cream shop would say if I walked up to the counter and asked for a free refill? I'm sure I wouldn't get it, but the look on their faces would be fun.

I was going to write this morning, but there's a garbage truck outside my window and a vibrating feline on my lap. (Hi Sesame!) The combination of annoying and comforting distractions means it will be a little while before I can get my mind focused on "He Nearly Killed the Cat."

When I first conceived of this story, I thought that it would be just a distraction itself, a fun way to get used to writing in the Legendbreakers universe before I launch into one of the big projects like Bread and Salt. Of course, I also thought Living with Danger would be ten chapters long!

I really have to start being more suspicious of the things I initially dismiss as inconsequential. They usually turn out to be the most important of all.

In this case, the rules of the Legendbreakers universe mean that I am literally writing the self-originalization of the Dangerverse characters. I can't say too much more without wrecking the story, but if you have ever wished that the DV were an original… well, stay tuned!

I don't think I will tell you where the title of my post comes from today. If you're any good with Google, you can figure it out yourself. Besides, I have a warm cat on my lap and I don't feel virtuous at the moment.

Quick! To the writing before I lose my evil mood!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

"Saying goodbye, going away…"

It's the standard good news, bad news scenario. Good news: Damian McGinty, late of the group Celtic Thunder, has won "The Glee Project" along with another contestant. Bad news: Damian is now late of Celtic Thunder. He will not be touring with them this fall.

This news affects me more than I thought it would. I'm the last person in the world, and certainly I have no right, to stand in the way of anyone going after a dream. Still, when Krystal told me the news, I very nearly cried, threw our Celtic Thunder poster across the room, or both.

It seems big girls really don't cry. Neither do they wantonly fling things, especially when those things only halfway belong to them. Instead they sit down and calmly try to figure out why they feel the way they do. I find this terribly annoying in other people, never mind myself, but such is life.

Due to a great many factors, including my personality, my upbringing, my environment, and just plain stubbornness, I have had something of a prolonged adolescence. My mental image of myself is stuck at the age of seventeen, and though some of my emotions have matured, others haven't.

One of those immature emotions is apparently having crushes on celebrities. It helps that Damian is both quite handsome in the "black Irish" style and has matured from a sweet boy tenor into a dark chocolate baritone equally alluring on traditional ballads and pop standards.

(May I say in passing that I hope Damian never reads this, as I think it would cause us both terminal embarrassment. Note to any prank-minded readers: terminally embarrassed writers hole up in their bedrooms and categorically refuse to write. You have been warned.)

Another piece of immaturity I find myself guilty of tonight is wishing that everything could stay exactly the way it was. It's so good the way it is, this line of thinking runs, so why does it have to change?

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, life is change. Nothing's really ever the same, and all we can do is try to make as many changes as possible for the better.

So, with that in mind, break a leg guest-starring on "Glee", Damian. May the road rise to meet you and the wind be always at your back. All your Thunderhead fans will miss you on the tour this fall, but hey, they'll probably watch "Glee" just for you.

In the meantime, I'm going to make hay while the sun shines, or rather, write angst while I'm in the mood for it. (It may be somewhat ruined by the fact that Dragon recorded "The Glee Project" as "The Ugly Project" the first time through…)

The title of the post, in case anyone is wondering, comes from a song aptly titled "Saying Goodbye" from the movie The Muppets Take Manhattan. Look it up on YouTube. Have tissues ready.

Friday, August 19, 2011

"By the four you take and the two you give…"

Never fails. Open a window and there's a roaring garbage truck directly underneath. Granted, that's six stories down, but it's still noisy. Still, I think I can concentrate long enough to explain my new ideas for the Legendbreakers universe.

I wrote more about Legendbreakers in a note on my Facebook page (search for "Anne B. Walsh, writer" if you want to find me), but basically it's a defense of fan fiction. I'm not saying that fanfic is equal to original writing, but it should be allowed to exist as long as it isn't infringing an author's rights.

The Legendbreakers are a group of characters who have left their original stories and travel through the cosmos of storytelling, fighting against the Reality Cops whose mission is to destroy derivative stories. Some of them come from stories we all know, while others have been obscure up until now.

In any case, my three current titles for Legendbreakers novels are:

1. Bread and Salt
2. Water and Wine
3. Blood and Tears

Bread and salt have many symbolic meanings in traditional stories. They are a hospitality offering, a gift to a new family, or the items a liege lord gives to his newly sworn men. Thus, Bread and Salt will be the stories of the Legendbreakers as they interfere with traditional fairytales.

Water and Wine may be a bit more controversial, as it will involve religious mythologies. However, I will probably be sticking with the ancient myth systems such as Greek and Norse. I'll offend plenty of people in my career as a writer without setting out to do it deliberately.

Finally, Blood and Tears will be stories from the real world, either historical events which could have happened another way or things which didn't quite happen (in our world, anyway) and how the Legendbreakers were involved in either outcome. Reader input on this one is welcome.

I will also be writing a crossover with the Dangerverse, entitled "He Nearly Killed the Cat." Harry Potter fans will recognize this as a snippet of Lily's letter from Deathly Hallows, and Dangerverse fans will know that no cat is ever just a cat in the DV. So what if…

After all, Harry Potter fan fiction is one of the fastest-growing universes there is. Why shouldn't the Legendbreakers go looking for a native-born group to help them out? And if the group is already used to teamwork, so much the better!

There's just one problem.

The Legendbreakers recruit only from worlds that have already been mostly or completely destroyed.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen. The Panther Author Goddess of Evil is back!

Oh yes, before I forget. The title of the post, and the titles of the three original novels, refer to the six things a new Legendbreaker must do to break his or her ties with the world where he or she was born. Want more details? Give me some encouragement to write that crossover and you'll have them!

(Yes, I'm shameless. You should have known that a long time ago.)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"They say to write what you know… so crazy cats and laundry?"

I know, I know. I know a lot more things than crazy cats and laundry. But having my world consist of them for a couple weeks has been very relaxing.

Some writers need constant inspiration from the world around them. Others need to be more isolated, to let the ideas emerge from their subconscious. As I stated in an earlier post, I tend to feel like my writing is more "seeing" than it is creating, so I would class myself in the second group.

I know that I need social interactions, that I can't be by myself all day, every day. Still, I have a higher need for solitude than a lot of people. Trips to the library and the grocery store, choir rehearsals and possibly dance lessons, and plenty of correspondence with my fans seem to fit my needs just fine.

Of course, I'm still on vacation at this point. I'm learning the ins and outs of the voice-recognition software, finding out how difficult or easy it is to let it work for me. I've also had an expected but still annoying reaction to hearing my writing spoken aloud.

I'm used to having my writing go straight from my thoughts onto the page without any audible input. Even though I work alone, in my bedroom, fairly late at night when my roommate is sleeping and the only people around to hear me are the cats (who aren't people but you know what I mean)…

Well, what I'm trying to say is, I get embarrassed. Hearing spoken aloud the words that have played in my head, even in my own voice, makes me self-conscious.

Although I've heard my work read aloud before, it was always finished. When I saw flaws, there was nothing I could do except promise myself I wouldn't make that same mistake again. Irrationally, with a work in progress, I feel more humiliated by imperfections and end up stopping before I get very far.

I know that recognizing a problem like this is the first step to fixing it. I just wish someone could tell me what the second step was!

(Note to readers: No, this does not mean that I'm not going to write. It just means I've hit my first obstacle and am working on a way to get around it. Thoughts are welcome, but please, phrase them politely. This is a family blog.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"I got a feline, whoo-hoo, so tonight's gonna be a good night…"

In case you can't tell, I was happy to see my cats when I got home last night, and the feeling was mutual. Poppy and Sesame were a little suspicious of the smell of my sister's Jinx on me, but they got over it quickly, especially when I emptied my suitcase so they could sit in it.

I'm grateful they weren't more suspicious, because I must also have smelled like a great many strange dogs. My family and I went to the Great Lakes Medieval Faire on Sunday, which is a pets-allowed affair, so that we got to meet lots of very happy dogs who wanted to be everyone's friend. Also two snakes and a ferret, but that's another story.

Despite our visiting the Faire on the one day of the season when it poured, we had a good time. My dad showed off his kilt, my mom bought a pretty leather pouch, my bigger brother fenced and tried the Highland Games, my sister was acclaimed Queen of Love and Beauty at the joust, and my littler brother got to run around in the rain.

On Monday, before I left for home, I got to go to my grandmother's house and help her make her little meatballs which go in Italian wedding soup. My fingers were cracking again (which is another reason that I like my voice-recognition software) so I couldn't roll the meatballs myself, but she and the boys showed me how it should be done.

Rather than spend $50 on a full tank of gas to make the round trip between here and my family's house, I decided to try out the Megabus to get home. I would've taken it both there and back, but Mom decided to deliver me our family's old TV and take me home with her afterwards.

Thus, on Monday, I found myself waiting for the Megabus beside a little girl who was proclaiming to everyone in the vicinity that she was going to be bad all day. Fortunately, she wore out all her badness in the twenty minutes the bus was late, and was good on the entire two-hour ride thereafter.

One bagel, hot tea, and trip to the library later, Krystal pulled up on her way home from work. I loaded my suitcase into the backseat of Dug, her car's affectionate nickname, hopped into the front, and was shortly at home among my rejoicing felines.

The tabby version of said rejoicing felines has just joined me, and I'm surprised her purring isn't overwhelming the microphone. Fluffy, the black longhair I had when I was a kid, was the loudest-purring cat I ever knew, but Sesame comes awfully close.

In any case, this post is getting long and rather rambling, so I will close with one happy thought. I love my family very much, but I don't have to see them again until the middle of October. Now for some serious writing… but what?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"The cats are always crazy. They fit in well here."

Poppy and Sesame have been running around the apartment all day as if they were possessed. They slept in the sun for a while, then washed each other, then wrestled, then washed each other again. For them, this is perfectly normal behavior.

One of the nonhuman races of my largest original world, Trycanta, is essentially cat-based. Their behavior patterns in my head have changed a great deal in the year since Poppy and Sesame came to live with us. However, I don't consider this rewriting but merely seeing more clearly. Let me explain.

Writing, to me, is less a conscious creative process and more as though I can see into the lives and worlds of other people. My first inspiration for the Dangerverse was not like inventing an entirely new story, but like watching a scene from a movie that I had never seen before.

For this reason, I spend a lot of my "writing" time staring into space, playing computer games, petting the cats, washing the dishes, tormenting the cats with the roaring demon from hell which lives in the coat closet (it's even more fun when you close the bedroom doors so they can't hide), etc., etc., etc.…

This looks like goofing off, but in reality I'm just watching my movie. Sometimes, really more like often, I don't see it correctly the first time I watch it, or I misunderstand what I'm seeing and have to watch it again. The scenes are usually out of order, and sometimes the dialogue is unclear, but that just makes it more challenging.

At times like this, I get a better understanding of the Bible passage about seeing "through a glass darkly". It awes me, and at times frightens me, because even the imperfect sight I have now can be overwhelming. What must perfect sight be like?

With that overly brooding thought, I will leave you for now. Note to self: no more tea after eight o'clock at night unless there is a definite writing project in the works. Philosophy and the wee hours of the morning don't mix.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"13 plus 14 is 27... that's an apricot!"

Having a roommate addicted to hidden-object games makes for interesting overheard moments.

This post will be somewhat historic. Not only is it the first post after something of a long silence (for which I do apologize) but it is also the first post I am dictating using my brand-new computer and my shiny voice recognition software!

Although it did not capitalize "this", and although it is a little rough on the autopunctuation feature, it is still very useful and will save me a lot of time. Not to mention, it will keep me from developing carpal tunnel syndrome!

The life of an unemployed, and at the moment vacationing, writer is a quiet but fun one. (Should I find it amusing that when I said vacationing the voice recognition put in occasioning?) For instance, today, I washed a large pile of smelly bowls, petted two attention-hungry cats, and walked to my local library.

Walking to the library serves many goals. First and foremost, of course, I love to read. I gobble books at a speed terrifying to anyone who doesn't know me well. A speed-reading friend and I wagered a paperback on which one of us could finish Deathly Hallows first. I won, in two and a half breathless hours.

My mother has also been nagging me about getting enough exercise. My back is sore? I'm not getting enough exercise. I'm not sleeping well? I'm not getting enough exercise. I'm overtired? I'm not getting enough exercise, doggone it! So today I got exercise. This one's for you, Mom.

But most unexpected of all, I love to look at pretty things, and the neighborhood through which I walked to get to this library branch is full of them. From old stone houses with squat towers and slate roofs to overgrown gardens full of black-eyed Susans, the walk was delightful to the eyes.

It was also not nearly as sweaty as it could've been since the weather has broken some, which is a great relief to everyone. 85 degrees and humid may be nothing to our southern cousins, but around here, that makes people (and cats) melt. Today was a balmy and breezy 80. Just right.

So, having gotten exercise and located my nearest source of free books, I think I can consider the day well spent. Tomorrow is for laundry, for an appointment, and for wondering whether I should deal with my lack of social life or get started on my writing first. Thoughts?

Friday, July 22, 2011

"Hey! They shorted us a shrimp egg roll!"

Note to whoever takes my job: the Chinatown Inn on Third Avenue owes you one of those. Make sure you collect next time you order in.

I know, I know. I said I'd be back on Thursday, and this is Friday. If I had a good excuse, I'd give it to you, but I don't, so I won't. Instead I shall ramble about random subjects, since my brain is busy going "Holy crap, I'm only going to be employed for five more days, what have I done..."

Poppy and Sesame are convinced that I have done something awful to Krystal (who is on a family vacation). They glare at me constantly when it gets to be 6:30 and 7 o'clock and 7:30 and she's still not home, what did you do to her, where is she... who knew cats were so good at giving the evil eye?

I coordinated my department's outing to the ballpark in May and all I got was a lousy sunburn... and, apparently, a pair of free tickets for a weekday game. I think I'll take a friend. Maybe I'll take a couple of friends.

Speaking of a couple of friends, party at my place, to celebrate my leaving my job! It's going to be one wild weekend, filled with... um... petting the cats, and building couch forts, and catching up on crazy stories, and WOW LIGHTNING (pardon the randomness but that was a HUGE bolt) and, of course, the Medieval Faire!

Faire breakdown for this summer: Pirate weekend is for friends. Celtic Celebration weekend is for sisters. And the entire family is going to Barbarians vs. Romans. Note to my dad: You have to pick a side for that one, you can't be both!

I will try to post again before the weekend is over, and this time I will try to have an actual topic to write about. But, until then...

Muffins. *huge grin*

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"A dishwasher, a window seat, and a yard. But mostly a dishwasher."

Do my three wishes label me as hopelessly pragmatic and out of the reach of the finer things in life? Or do they mean I'm a good honest realist, feet firmly on the ground to counterbalance my very active sense of fantasy?

Maybe they just mean I don't like doing the dishes. And like to curl up in a cozy spot with a book, and would adore being able to have a dog again. But mostly they mean I don't like doing the dishes.

Dishes and their ilk--all the chores involved in keeping a house, or even an apartment, in a state that doesn't cause my mother to perform emergency phone nagging (because she knows, she always knows)--were probably my biggest shock when I graduated from college and stepped out into "real life".

You mean there really isn't anyone who's going to pick up my mess? I have to do it... MYSELF? But... but... but I have a college education! I have a job! I don't have time to do this stuff!

Surprise, surprise... when I didn't have time to do "this stuff", "this stuff" didn't get done.

If you're like me, you probably grew up hearing the concept of "woman's work" despised and reviled in all directions. Down with housework! Down with the drudgery of the home! Women are fit for so much more than just a kitchen!

But through my first year on my own, I started to question this. Not the idea that women should be free to choose their own lives--besides having a personal stake in the question, I'd rather not be pilloried by screaming feminists--but the idea that a kitchen and a home are prisons that must be escaped at all costs.

Some of it probably goes back to my preoccupation with parents and families. The idea of home grows naturally out of those two, and with it the thought that it isn't such a bad thing to have one. Everyone needs a place to eat and sleep, along with a place to feel safe and happy. What is that but a home?

To add to that, the same factors which make a home and a kitchen confining also make them controllable. We live in a frightening world, where our actions have consequences beyond our comprehension. Isn't it comforting to know that you can make something better, even if it's just washing a bunch of dishes?

And now, unfortunately, it's time for me to put my money where my mouth is. Or rather, put my fingers... where my fingers were. (Is it just me, or did that make no sense and sound dirty at the same time?)

What I'm trying to say is, time to stop blogging about dishes and go do them. See everybody later this week, when there will be further random musings of Anne's mind and possibly an update on the writing!

Friday, July 15, 2011

"Come in here and show me how to terminate you..."

It sounds like the punchline to a bad office joke, doesn't it?

The long-suffering secretary finally snaps and tells her overbearing boss where to get off; he fires her on the spot; she starts packing up her desk while he stomps into his office to make it official; finally, after about five minutes of silence, he looks sheepishly out the door and says...

Only one problem with that. Well, three. The boss in question is female, she's never been anything but awesome to me, and the termination was my idea.

Two weeks from today, I leave the world of high finance, my bread and butter for the last twenty-fifth of a century, to embark upon a journey of self-discovery through the medium of the written word. For inspiration, I shall draw on the creative powers of my own tap into the human collective unconscious, along with one of the greatest phenomena in contemporary popular fiction.

In plain English: I just quit my job. I've been working at a bank for the last four years, and I've finally saved up enough money that I can afford to take some time off and focus on my writing. Due to both a wildly active imagination and a love of (among many others) the Harry Potter books, my forte is fantasy fiction, with a special focus on families.

If you're reading this on the day it's posted, you probably know that, because you've probably come here because I posted a link on my Facebook page or one of my fan fiction sites. If you're reading this at some future date, you may not know that. Or rather you didn't, but now you do.

What else will my hypothetical future readers need to know that they don't yet? Well, to start with, I'm Anne B. Walsh of Pittsburgh, PA, Anne with an E but never Annie. I am somewhere in my mid-to-late twenties, but prefer to act my shoe size. I have one roommate, named Krystal, and two cats named Poppy and Sesame have us.

(If you quibbled with the grammar of that last sentence, you have clearly never lived with cats. )

When I'm not writing, I love to read, sing, cook, eat, and drive the cats insane with the Laser Pointer of Doom. My three siblings, two parents, and one grandparent live about two hours away from here. And, when I was twelve years old, I found a list that changed my life.

Even at twelve, I knew words were going to be my future. So when I found a list called "Pointers for Young Adult Writers," I grabbed at it eagerly. Imagine my shock when the very first item on the list read as follows:

"1. Get rid of the parents. Be especially certain to kill off or otherwise remove the parent of the same gender as your hero or heroine. You want them to have lots of adventures, and you can't do that with parents hanging around and nagging about homework and bedtime."

Hanging around and nagging? Is that really all parents do? Well, take a good look at children's books, fairy tales, Disney movies, etc. How many of them feature parents who are either absent, ridiculous, or the enemy? It makes for good comedy, sure, but is it really the message we want to send?

From the day I read that list, I have made it my mission in life to prove that first item wrong. So here's to enjoyable and well-crafted fantasies with something for everyone, in which children grow up and have adventures not in spite of their parents but because of them and alongside them.

Maybe they're impossible, but I'm sure going to have fun trying to write them anyway!