RX: 3/4/2009

So yesterday and today I got up semi-Dark & Early to continue working on Revision Xibalba.  It’s still slow going.  Taking a couple of weeks off certainly didn’t help.  I reread the last chapter first, smoothing a few more things (can any writer read a “complete” chapter and be 100% happy with it?) and then edited the three sections I had finished but not connected to the main draft, which is now just under 70K.

Yesterday, I grabbed the next few sections in Jaid and Ruin’s POV from the first draft and began polishing.  I think I did 2.5 pages yesterday, and finished the rest of the section this morning.  Bad things, dude, very bad things.  Hopefully I’ll build some momentum and grind through these last few horrible scenes quickly.

Tally: 

  • 14 13 revision sections
  • 4 new sections to complete Tara and Quinn’s threads.

That’s it!  I know I can do this by the end of March.

However, I did receive the first pass of edits on The Road to Shanhasson last night!  Wheeeeeee!  They’re pretty light, thanks to the terrific job Soleil, Ann, and Bethanie did of beta-reading.  I’ll get those back to Deena by Monday.  She didn’t even kill me for all the horrible things I did in that story. *wicked laugh* Although one comment totally made me laugh out loud about increasing the boys’ ages…

I also have to get the blurb and tagline stuff filled out on Dear Sir, I’m Yours (the story formerly known as Letters).  That will be tougher.  So that’s my first goal.

RX Snippet:  This section takes place in a cave, so it’s absolutely dark.  They’re in an underground pool of water.

“Which city is this?”

“Iximche.”

Surprise splintered through her, followed by a tsunami of dread that nearly dragged her back down to the depths of Lake Atitlan.  This is where her father had made his greatest pre-Chi’Ch’ul discovery.  This is where her mother died.  “Why?”

A new voice echoed in the darkness.  “Because he knew I’d come here.”   

Ruin tensed and whipped his body around toward the speaker, pressing her back from the threat.  Something slammed into him with the dull sound of flesh on flesh and ripped him away.  Water splashed violently, but she couldn’t see what was happening.  If she charged after them, she’d be killed, yet standing here, doing nothing…

She heard a wet, heavy thunk, and Ruin grunted.  God, he must have been stabbed.  Who was it?  It didn’t sound like a demon.

“At last.”

Involuntarily, she backed away into the water.  That voice did sound like a demon.  Her teeth hurt and her muscles tensed so hard and fast that she shuddered.  She couldn’t even call it a “voice” when it grated like metal on metal, screeching to the point of pain.

“Give me the White Dagger, lady.”

Until then, she didn’t even remember that she held it in her hand.  The thing felt slick and foul on her palm as though it were coated in rotted, feculent scum.  Gritting her teeth, she forced her fingers to grip it, not to sling it away.  It pulsed with a heavy, steady throb like a living heart.

“Jaid, don’t you dare–“  Ruin’s ragged voice cut off on a strangled, bubbling sound.  She didn’t need to see him to know that his throat had been slit.

 

02/16/2009

I’m so far behind it’s not even funny.

I can’t really blame it on any single thing.  I just lost my groove.  I got out of “work mode” and I’m struggling to get back to that place that doesn’t mind getting up at 5 AM and has no interest in doing anything but writing.

Certainly not watching Phantom of the Opera AGAIN like I did last night, this time with the monsters.  Then I watched it again after they went to bed, only I fast forwarded through everything to hit only the scenes I wanted to see.  I had to quit listening to the sound track, because those songs are still pounding in my head this morning and I can’t seem to think of anything else.

So this is a rather sorry update.  I will not be finishing 7Crows by the end of the month.  I’ve finished one scene of 20+.  It’s not going to happen.  That’s fine.  I’ll take my time and do it right the first time, AFTER I finish the Maya revision, which I haven’t touched for days.

My first order of business today (2/17/2009) is to finish the next new scene in Tara’s POV.  I’ll report back tonight on how I did and where I stand in Revision Xibalba.

2/9/2009

A most excellent day of revision.  Dark & Early this morning, and then quite a bit tonight, despite parent-teacher conferences for Princess Monster.  She also conned me into reading a book she checked out from the school library that had me bawling like a baby.  Wenny Has Wings by Janet Lee Carey.  I don’t know how any parent could read that book and not cry.

4,382 in revision.  I told you it would be bam, bam, bam action from here on out, which means a lot of these sections should fly.  I do have a few research holes to plug as I go, especially once we get to Iximche.  Luckily there’s not a lot known about that ruin, so I can make up a lot.

No work on 7Crows today.  That deadline is looking pretty impossible.

Snippet:

A demon howled, a cry of derision or glee that skittered down [Ruin’s] spine.  His sense of time told him it should be high noon, but no sunlight reached the waters.  Clouds roiled in the small circle of sky, darkening the sun.  If he failed, if he allowed a demon to reclaim the White Dagger for the might of Xibalba, the sun might never shine again. 

Yet dread at what he needed to do twisted his gut.  What he needed from her now might be the final thing that drove her to turn her face and heart from him forever.

Terrified but calm, she smiled with relief as soon as he joined her.  “Where are we going?”

Solemnly, he traced the curve of her cheek with his thumb.  “Do you trust me?”

She stared at him, her chin trembling slightly. 

“Priest!”  The demon screamed above.  “Surrender the White Dagger, or I’ll slice the woman’s skin from her body in thin strips and feast on her flesh!”

She paled and her pulse thumped in her neck.  Staring at him, she weighed his many sins against the night they’d spent together. 

Carefully, he kept his mind closed and his face shut down.  He would not accidentally use the mental connection he’d forged through healing to sway her.  Steeling himself, he prepared to make the most difficult sacrifice of his life.  His heart rebelled.  A knife cracked open his chest and exposed his frantically pounding heart. 

How could he leave her to a fate worse than death?  Did he dare force her?  His mind and heart raged at one another in the everlasting battle he could never seem to escape.  This was his true curse, this desire to throw all caution away for his heart. 

For his love.

“I would die to save you,” he whispered raggedly.  “I love you.”

She trembled.  “You barely know me.”

“I know your heart.  I touched your soul when I healed you.  I love you like no one else could.  I cannot harm you, Jaid.  Trust me.  Let me save us.  I’ll pay the cost myself.”

A splash told him the demon had jumped into the cenote, willing to risk that he’d send it back to Xibalba in order to gain the greatest prize of all. 

Ruin clenched his hands into fists.  Choose, choose, he screamed silently.  Don’t make me force this choice upon you.

2/8/2009

Last week’s goals:

 

  1. Take a look at my NSR day sheet and decide if I’m going to keep Dr. Charles Merritt’s POV or not.  I axed his POV for now; if nothing else, I’ll use these sections as “DVD extras” to give away.  I also found a way to resolve the other character’s thread that I believe will allow him to be on stage in Dallas after all.  I’m really looking forward to the way these characters will interact. 
  2. NSR:  at least another 10K in revision.  Close:  9,017 in revision.  The dreaded sex scene took longer than I anticipated.  In the first draft, I was trying for a sexy book.  After plotting these other threads and complicating the overall plot significantly, the romance is a much more minor angle.  It’s well over 200 pages into the story before Ruin and Jaid get together, which is fine.  However, the culmination of that thread just didn’t fit at all with the revision.  Frankly, it was pretty bad, one of the worst sex scenes I think I’ve ever written. :oops:  Have no fear, though, it’s much better now!  Shockingly, I think it’ll be the only intimate scene in the book.  I just don’t have time or opportunity to throw them together in a place of safety again.  From this point out, it’s bam bam bam action.  No time for nookie!
  3. Plot 7Crows.  Finished.  I have a pretty good block figured out.
  4. Begin first draft of 7Crows.  Sort of started.  I have several pages of hand written notes.  I’m oddly reluctant to begin this story.  I think I’m a little afraid of it.  If I don’t get a good start on it this week, it’ll be too late to even consider finishing the story in time.  I’ll simply set it aside and concentrate fully on the Maya story.  Once it’s done, I’ll have plenty of time to come back to the novella — I’ll just have to decide what to do with it if I miss the deadline!

Goals this week:

  1. Write up Character Clinic posts in advance so I’m not all stressed out this weekend.  I want at least 3 posts set up and ready to go.
  2. Another 10K in Maya revision. 
  3. Make final decision about whether to try for 7Crows this month or not.

I didn’t get quite as much done this week — mostly because of the good news I shared on Friday.  Ironically, good news can derail me as easily as bad news.  I was stressed out about questions and working out a possible relationship with an agent.  The latter didn’t pan out, but I was closer than ever, which makes me very happy.

Friday night, we had an unexpected get-together with That Man’s family.  We ended up shopping for a sheet (not a sheet SET which would have been much easier!) with his mother at JCPenney’s after dinner.  Standing around visiting, and bored, I might add, I didn’t realize that Middle Monster decided to race straight at me from behind and plow into me full speed.  It was like whiplash–in my lower back.  Ironically enough, the one time I was on muscle relaxers for a strained back, I had hurt myself manuevering her infant seat (fully loaded with MM herself!) into the back seat of the car. 

It’s not all that bad, yet, but I definitely feel like I’m wearing a very low-slung belt around my hip area, and after long periods of sitting (aka church this morning) that belt gets tighter and tighter.  I may have to use the heating pad to get through work tomorrow.

Tonight I wrote a quite long scene in Quinn’s POV that I didn’t expect.  Yes, I have a detailed spreadsheet.  Yes, I plotted out the rest of the block.  I had “Team Update” in this spot, and as soon as I got his team together, they informed me that the serial murderer they’re tracking had struck again, this time on the outskirts of Dallas.  This prompted a lot of Googling until I decided on the appropriate location and did enough research to get the site details down.  Then of course I had to decide WHAT happened and why that was significant.  Took me all day off and on (while we watched the NFL ProBowl, so I wasn’t fully dedicated) but I finally finished that scene.

Snippet:

“It’s getting stronger.”  Quinn’s stomach felt tight and small, clutched like a fist.  “It took time to play with them this time.”

“Why,” Ballard cleared his throat nervously, “do you say that?”

“Look at the broken vase, the disarray.  Someone came to the door, and then ran when the demon busted through.  We know how strong this thing is, how fast.  It could have killed whoever came to the door then, but instead, it played.  It enjoyed the chase.”

Sickened, Quinn led the way deeper into the house.  The first body was an older woman in the kitchen.  Her white apron looked like a gallon of ketchup had exploded on her.  Eyes wide open and staring up at the ceiling, she lay twisted on the Travertine tiles, chest flowered open as before, but…

“Where’s the blood?”  Dylan asked, his breath a loud pant in the room as he took another picture.  “There’s not a drop on the floor.”

The walls were pristine, the shining, polished cabinets clean.  The woman’s skin wasn’t slack and saggy as with the other victims.  Other than the mess of her chest, she could have simply slipped on a wet tile. 

“Did it gain some new power?”  Ballard asked.  “Or maybe it’s not as hungry.  Maybe all it needed was the heart.”

From the far end of the kitchen, Cruz stepped in and waved them toward her.  “Or maybe there were plenty of fresh, young victims waiting just on the other side of the door.”

2/4/2009

Dark and Early this morning, I accomplished the following:

  • went back and revised the last scene involving Tara and cut out the stuff that happened too early.  Rewrote the scene to fit with the day sheet.  NSR total word count down 266 words.
  • wrote next new section in Tara’s POV, 1199 words, the official “meet” of her thread with Quinn’s.  From now on, they’ll be working in conjunction.

Next scenes are the first sex scene of the first draft, and they’re pretty bad.  They’re going to need a ton of work.  Once I get past it, though, the next few scenes should fly.

Snippet:

[Ruin] muttered words [Jaid] didn’t understand and drew the blade across his left palm.

Fisting his hand, he dripped blood on the altar and then flung his hand hard, slinging blood out onto the waters below.

Breathlessly, she scanned the lake, waiting.  When her father had performed the ritual, he’d released an inland hurricane.  She glanced at Ruin as he put the knife away and then back at the lake.  “That’s it?”

His mouth quirked.  “When done correctly, yes.”  Stones clacked together.  He whipped his head around, staring down into the darkness of the plaza.  “They’re close.  We need to go.”

“Go where?”  Bewildered, she searched the still waters, the three volcanoes perfectly reflected.  Something tinged on the altar and chips of stone flew up, stinging her arm.

Ruin shoved her up the ramped stone, using his body to cover her.  “They’ve seen us.  Go!”

On the rock slab that hung out over the water, she felt her stomach pitch and her head whirled like a merry-go-round.  Shimmering waters beckoned, but it was quite a drop.  This lake was so deep that it’d never been sounded.  She remembered how her father had disappeared beneath the surface.  He hadn’t flailed or tried to swim; he’d sunk like a boulder. 

Shivering with fear, she reached back and clutched Ruin’s hand.  He wrapped his other arm around her, and together, they jumped.

02/02/2009

By word count alone, I ended up negative today in NSR.  I wrote the next new section in Quinn’s POV — braving Melville to do so — and then axed the only section in Dr. Charles Merritt’s POV in the second major draft, which was longer.  I also did some shuffling around of character placement.  A character needed to die a bit earlier than I planned.  Good work, even if the word count doesn’t reflect it.

Then tonight my Amazon order arrived containing The Complete I Ching.  I’d bought this book as research for my hero in 7Crows, and whoa, it’s so interesting!  I’ve been trying to plot it out, but couldn’t seem to get the pieces to fall into the right order in my mind.  So I decided to play out a toss of the coins and see if I could get a plot.  I got so many good ideas, it was freaky.  I ended up plotting the whole thing tonight.

For example:  Tian’s, the hero’s, static trait is that he always consults the coins.  The first scene shows him doing this.  So naturally, in his darkest moment of betrayal, he checks the coins, and rightfully gets the hexagram 36 – Ming Yi – Brilliance Injured or Darkening of the Light.  I was getting ready to move on to the Masquerade, when one line from the description caught my eye:  “Hunting in the south, captured the great chief.”

Hmmm.  Interesting, I thought.  I ended up adding a scene where they do just that — capture the Queen’s right hand man. 

This static trait comes back in the first climax, where he distracts someone who knows him well by doing the casting again before “making a decision” when he’s really just buying time.  There, he casts 18 – Gu – Worm or Decay.  I just love the whole idea of it.

I’m sure I’ll need to do more tweaking, but the outline of plot is here.  I still need to think of one crucial item that ties Morghan’s father to the theme, and I need to spend a bit more time making sure her dark moment is appropriately hopeless.  Anyway, here is the first draft of the block outline for 7Crows.

Section Title POV
001 Tea with the Stars Morghan
002 Dragon Hid in the Deep Tian
003 At the Captain’s Table Morghan
004 Sage Advice Morghan
005 Promenade Tian
006 Winged Dance Morghan
007 Scaled Mask Tian
008 Fallen Crow Morghan
009 Lost Morghan
010 The Crow Queen Tian
011 Flying in Darkness Morghan
012 Trap is Sprung Morghan
013 Dragon Flying Low Tian
014 Black Feathers Morghan
015 Bedraggled Crow Tian
016 Wing to Wing Morghan
017 Suspicion on the Wing Morghan
018 Darkening Light Tian
019 The Queen’s Right Hand Morghan
020 Masquerade Tian
021 Tower of Crow Morghan
022 Consult the Oracle Tian
023 As the Crow Flies Morghan
024 Seven Crows Morghan

 

My typical section averages around 1K, so this will be right in line for the size requirements.  Assuming it doesn’t grow too much in draft…

February Goals

My number one goal for this month is to continue Revision Xibalba.  I looked at the first draft, and I have about 28K remaining.  Less if I decide I don’t need to keep Dr. Charles Merritt’s POV (which would be 5 POVs–I tend to think that’s too many, although I love the perspective he gives of Xibalba).  I will also add 5-10K for the other subplots that I’ve added, specifically the corresponding Dallas threads.

If this was all I were working on, I’m sure I could finish it this month.  However, I’d like to not only write but also polish a new novella this month (7 Crows) for a deadline.  I have what I think is a really cool world with characters ready to go.  It could be the start of a brand new series.  I guess I’ll see how it goes.  It’s only 20K or so.

My primary priority will continue to be Revision Xibalba.  The project is too close to completion to be derailed by a new project, no matter how bright and shiny.  Balance.  I need balance this month.  If you’ve read long, you know that’s not exactly my strongest trait. 

I tend to get just a little obsessed.  :wink:

For now, I’m going to try to go to bed earlier, get up earlier, and see if Dark & Early can help me hit both goals.  To make this even more exciting, I might have some editor revisions this month — which will take immediate top priority. 

Also, come back around Valentine’s Day for a Characterization Clinic.  I’ll post details this week.

February is shaping up to be a wild and crazy month!

02/01/2009

I hope to have some news I can share in the next few days.  Stay tuned.

With the Superbowl tonight and basketball yesterday, I wasn’t sure if I’d even come close to my goals.

Last week’s goals:

  1. Character interview at Ginger Simpson’s blog for “Bring a Character to Blog Week” starting today.  My post (the interview with Ruin, The Rock) is set to post Tuesday morning.  DONE.
  2. Write up some kind of intriguing post for the first Drollerie Press blog tour on 1/31/2009.  DONE.
  3. Grow NSR by 13K to make up for shortfall last week.  So close:  12,758!  I’ll take it. 
  4. Plot 7Crows to position myself for a novella month in February.  FAIL.  I’ve got tons of good characterization done, but haven’t worked any more on the plot.

Goals for this week:

  1. Take a look at my NSR day sheet and decide if I’m going to keep Dr. Charles Merritt’s POV or not.  I can’t remember how many scenes of his I kept in the previous 200 pages or so.  I also have a timing problem with another character.  I planned to have him in Dallas for the final showdown, but events are spinning out faster than I anticipated in revision.  He might not make it out of Guatemala, and maybe that’s okay.  Dark & Early this morning, I reviewed my day sheet and looked at the revision draft.  I’ve only included one section in Charlie’s POV so far.  Easy to axe.  So for now, I won’t add any more in his POV.  If I get to a scene that is missing something because of that, I can always go back and add him later.  I may offer those Xibalba scenes later as “DVD extras” or something.  Now to figure out Rafe’s timing.  I have a feeling he’ll stay put in Guatemala and the story won’t care one way or the other.
  2. NSR:  at least another 10K in revision.
  3. Plot 7Crows.
  4. Begin first draft of 7Crows.

I’ll post February goals shortly.

Snippet:  Tonight, I edited the midpoint reversal.  In fact, my protagonist dies.  Sort of.  Almost.  :mrgreen:  :shock:

Warmth gushed down Jaid’s chest.  It took her a moment to realize it was blood.  Her blood.  There was no pain, just this fountain of red splashing against the black glassy rock.  She fought the weariness suffusing her limbs.  The knife came down again and she braced for pain, but with a tug, the leather strap of her carryall fell down.

Her notes.  He was taking her research, her life’s work. 

She struggled to chase him, but she couldn’t control her limbs.  Her arms and legs refused to move, as though the puppet strings had been sliced.  Madelyn fell to her knees beside her, but Jaid couldn’t make sense of her words.  She didn’t hear anything over the roaring in her ears.

Gone.  Her research was gone.  Too much blood.  Dad was trapped.  Demons were free because of her research, which was now in the hands of a deranged man willing to do anything to end his torment.  Darkness closed in.  She fought to keep her eyes open, her mind working, her heart beating.  She couldn’t go.  Not yet.  She still had too much to do.

Hands rolled her over.  She blinked hard, forcing her eyes to focus.  Ruin leaned over her, his eyes blazing.  His lips moved, but she couldn’t hear him.  She remembered his mouth, the taste of him, the solid press of his body against hers.  He would have rocked her world.  Devastated her resolve.  Ruined her careful attempts to protect her heart.

Ruin.  It almost made her smile.

01/29/2009 Part 2

Most of the night was spent working on my Drollerie Press blog tour post.  I wanted to show why I call this blog “dreaming in rhyme” — but I wasn’t feeling particularly poetic. 

My favorite thing to do is parody.  Take a famous poem, song, even a Bible passage, and change it into something else (like Story Genesis, which I’m going to have to repost since it’s currently gone after the domain transfer last fall).  Yet tonight, I couldn’t find the RIGHT poem to warp.

I turned to Gregar, my wicked Shadowed Blood Muse, but he was no help at all.  Poetry, after all, is Conn’s area of expertise.  He reminded me of a particularly smoldering rendition of “She walks in beauty like the night,” and viola, I had my poem to warp into a “bio” or introduction.  It should go up 1/31/2009.  I’ll post a link here when it’s up.

I also typed in hardcopy edits in NSR through Chapter Six while watching Tivo’d Hell’s Kitchen and American Idol.  Not sure how many pages that is, exactly, since I printed it single-space to save paper.  Still have a good 40 pages or so to input.

I also revised the page navigation on the website slightly, consolidating the multiple “Series” pages into a single Bookshelf page.  I needed to make room!  Let’s see, I have the Connaghers (don’t know if that’s the “series” name, exactly, but it was a starting point).  As soon as I finish Revision Xibalba, I’ll have a Maya series.  Then there’s the new 7Crows world I’m building.  I can’t have a tab in the navigation for each or it’ll get too cluttered.  I hate putzing around with html tables, though.  I’m never happy with the end result, but the Bookshelf page will do for now.

I’m dreading the Evil Day Job tomorrow.   Loooooong phone meeting.  I’ll be taking Aleve beforehand to help mitigate the headache of straining to listen and track voices of a rather large group (some strangers, so I won’t be able to recognize their voices as easily) through up to six hours of discussion. 

Oh, and if possible, I have a COLD.  Yes, I just finished antibiotics for bronchitis, and now the right side of my nose is like concrete and I’m sneezing my ass off!  I tried Bethanie’s suggestion of Airborne, and promptly gave myself a mouthful of canker sores (not kidding, 5 on my bottom lip alone) from the high vitamin C dose.  Sigh.  I guess I’ll have to do it every other day or so until my body gets used to it.  Off to blow my nose and early bed to make up for staying up until after 1 AM last night.

01/29/2009

Sorry, I ended up getting absorbed in reading an old work last night, and stayed up waaaaay too late.  It’s a pleasure to read something from last year that I’ve written, and I have no desire to change yet.  Usually I want to grab the red pen and shift sentences around, eliminate words, etc. but I didn’t feel that urge.  I’m sure I’ll feel differently once the editor gets ahold of it.  :wink:

 

On the other hand, I did do some heavy editing earlier, both yesterday before work and early evening after dinner.  I printed out the 52+K version of NSR and made an entire hardcopy pass.  I’ve got half of those edits made back in the main file.  It was a good opportunity for me to put the threads all back in my head.  Sometimes, I can’t see the big picture like I need to.  I can’t see if I’m using too much green, or not enough orange, or if the red has been entirely forgotten for 50+ pages.  I’m very pleased with this revision so far.  It’s tight, the plots weave well, and I left myself itching to hurry up with the next scene already, which is a good thing.

I still need to write something for the Drollerie Press blog tour 1/31.  I haven’t been inspired yet.  Part of me thinks I should use the opportunity to “dream in rhyme” but the right poem hasn’t hit me yet.  I don’t know whether to do a parody, or a hidey-hidey-ho song, or what.  We’ll see what I come up with.  I’m running out of time!