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...