MayNoWriMo: Day 31

I MADE IT!

Sorry for the screaming, but I’m pretty darned pleased.  If you’d asked me a week ago, I would have been sure I wouldn’t make it.  I just didn’t have any fire left in me.  I was distracted, dismayed, and generally dissastisfied.  But that’s why challenges like this work for me.  I simply can’t stand not meeting that commitment.  If I begin to say to myself that it’s impossible, then I begin to work harder. 

So many times this month I wanted to give up and work on a more fun, exciting, easier, [insert adjective here] project.  I had a bright, shiny new idea that I wanted to tackle.  I had a release, and another in the upcoming month.  I had website pages to update, reviews to hunt down, kids getting out of school….

You name it — I had an excuse for it.  But the challenge kept me on track. 

Almost 10K in two days to finish.  My wrists held up pretty good (although they may be sore tomorrow) — but I’ve been sleeping in my splints all month to be safe.  The story isn’t finished, either, so I guess this craziness continues into June.  However, I sort of wrote myself into a hole today, and I need to decide whether to continue down this path or not.  Lilias learned some key information “too early” for my plot, so now I’ve got to decide what changes, or if it’s feasible to keep her in the dark.  I like having smart characters that act — and not stupid characters that sit around waiting for someone to give them a clue — so I think I’ll be tweaking my stupid outline yet again.  :wink::roll:

 

No rest for the weary!  Anybody up for a JuNoWriMo???

50,368 / 100000

MayNoWriMo: Day 30

Wow, I never thought I’d be this close!  Today I got an incredible amout of work done, thanks in part to getting up somewhat early while the rest of the family snoozed the morning away.  I had 3,494 words before they got up!  Then I had another late afternoon session while the monsters played on the blow-up water slide (1020 words), and then while watching TV tonight, I chipped away at the scene and wrapped it up, bringing my day’s total up to 5,833 (this does include some words from last night too but I didn’t make an update so I threw them together).

MayNoWriMo total: 46,233.  Only 3767 to go!

46,233 / 100000

I’m too tired to pull up a snippet. Tomorrow is church and laundry, while the monsters are also wanting to go swimming over at Aunt BB and Uncle J’s apartment complex. It would be heavenly if That Man would take them and let me stay home….

Don’t hold your breath.

MayNoWriMo: Day 28

Despite my lack of updates, I have been steadily toiling away on my MayNoWriMo project, Arcana.  50K by 5/31 is looking rather grim, but I’m pleased with what I’ve accomplished so far.  Tonight, I broke 40K and worked through a particularly difficult stretch of “new” material.  I have a murder mystery on my hand, and some surprising developments I hadn’t accounted for.

And yes, I deviated once again from my ridiculously detailed outline, but after 2-3 unplanned sections, I was able to right my course back to the outline and picked up the next planned scene accordingly.  There are some rough patches in this draft, but I’m not going to worry about that now.  That will be Revision Hell Deux!

MayNoWriMo total:  40,400 words

40,400 / 100000

Snippet:  In this section, we’re introduced to the antagonist.  Well, he’s the obvious antagonist.  There are other more arcane players that aren’t fully explained until later, but Aubrey drives the main conflict of the story.  I hope I got the clothing details right. 

This takes place at a small gathering, of which Lilias has this to say:    In the long, illustrious past of Nocturna Castle, there had never been a more tedious party.

“My dear Wilfreda has made quite a conquest.”

“How wonderful, and so early in the Season?  I wasn’t aware that you’d already been to Town.”

“We haven’t departed yet,” the lady preened.  “We shall still go, of course, but Wilfreda is quite taken with the young man, and he’s very suitable; not a grand lord, certainly, but his family name is impeccable and he stands to inherit a barony.”

Lilias made a sound that she hoped to be appropriately impressed.  She caught Violet with an imploring gaze, but her fickle sister launched into another country reel; she’d charge over and blast Mr. Nevarre with her fury, but she wouldn’t dare risk getting caught in Lady Mouls’ long-winded recounts of gossip, not even for a bit of Society news.

“You should know him, at least his name,” Lady Mouls said, jerking Lilias’s gaze back to her.  The smug glint in the older woman’s eyes made her stomach tighten.  “Oh, do forgive any impropriety, but he accompanied us tonight as Wilfreda’s escort.  Where are they…oh, there!”  Lady Mouls waved her hanky at her daughter and cooed.  “Why didn’t you tell me your husband’s family was visiting?”

Lilias’s heart beat ponderously, as though her blood had thickened and congealed to syrup.  Slowly, she turned her head in the direction indicated.

“Mr. Aubrey Slymere, such a handsome man.”  Lady Mouls sighed happily.  “Wilfreda is quite beside herself with joy, I assure you.  He stated that he was your husband’s cousin, so I’m sure you don’t mind that he accompanied us this evening.”

Mr. Slymere possessed the same golden hair, high, classic forehead, and proud hawk’s nose as Lilias’s deceased husband.  In fact, they could have been brothers.  Here, too, was the London dandy that Violet had hoped to meet:  fine double-breasted cutaway coat in sapphire velvet, white waistcoat quilted with sparkling golden thread to match the buttons on his coat, and spotless white breeches and stockings.  With such a high collar and the snowy white cravat twisted in a tall confection at his throat, he surely couldn’t turn his head without risk of injuring himself. 

Sensing the attention, he turned and escorted his companion in their direction.  For all his charm and civility, Lilias felt a blast of cold winter’s ice creeping through her veins.  Grimsgate taught only the darker arcane, and if this man were truly her husband’s cousin, she knew very well what sort of magic he might possess.

Soul darkening, life stealing blood magic.

Mr. Slymere’s mouth curved in the darkly sensual smile of a cat grinning at the frantic bird flopping on the ground with a broken wing, and the castle nexus erupted about her.  Raw energy bubbled up from the earth, molten power at her command.  It filled her without her consciously opening her gift and burned away the dread ice that had threatened to paralyze her. 

Kill him now.

MayNoWriMo: Day 17

Continued reading through my sections and making adjustments as I went to bring everything “up” to meet my outline. All the niggling little sequence issues that were bothering me have been fixed, and in the process, I added 1504 words! Then I finished the next new scene last night. All in all, a pretty productive weekend.

Up later than D&E this morning, so I may not get much done until tonight.

28,178 / 100000

Snippet:  This is the last part of the scene between Violet and Lilias that I was sharing last week.  This bit is rather prophetic, or at least foreshadows Violet’s character arc through this story.  I wanted to capture, too, the back and forth relationship of sisters:  love and understanding one moment; competition the next; angry words spoke in haste.

Lilias averted her face.  “I don’t trust myself.”

Violet’s chest felt constricted, as though her corset had been tied too tightly.  She’d never been in this position before:  her sister needed her.  Lilias needed to hear the right words to encourage her, as she’d encouraged her younger sister all these years.  What if Violet said the wrong thing?  Would it push her unstable sister over the edge into madness?

Something flapped above their heads, drawing their eyes to the sky.  A black bird swooped down and snagged a mouse a dozen paces away, and then soared toward the South Tower. 

“It’s still here.”  Lilias glanced at her, delight bringing some color back to her cheeks.  “I saw him last night, but I didn’t know it was a raven.  We haven’t had ravens at Nocturna for nearly a thousand years.”

Smiling at her sister, Violet suddenly knew exactly what to say.  “I trust you, Lily, with my life.  I love you.”

Her sister wrapped her up in a fierce hug that made them both cry, but this time, the tears were happier instead of tasting of ash and sorrow.

“I love you, too, dearest Vi.”  Lilias stared up at the South Tower, smiling at that fool bird.  Why did a raven mean so much to her?  If Violet had known, she would have written to every acquaintance they’d ever made and begged a scraggly dirty bird.  “Things are changing, for the better, I think.  Can you feel it?”

All Violet felt was the lingering threat of ozone and boiling clouds on the horizon, regardless of clear blue skies and green growing things.  However, she merely forced a smile and nodded.  She’d been in a foul enough mood the past few weeks since the school had re-opened; she wouldn’t ruin this fragile moment of recovery with some dire threat she couldn’t even find the words to express.

“A gentleman arrived awhile ago inquiring about an item Father had borrowed,” Lilias said.  “Did you know of any book he might have sought from Egypt?”

“No.  Is he handsome?”  Her sister merely blinked at her, so Violet added, “the gentleman?  Did he pass through London?”

“He didn’t inform me of his travel itinerary,” Lilias replied, a wry twist to her mouth.  “He’s coming this evening; you can inquire of his travels then.”

Excitement bubbled out of Violet’s mouth, a warbling song of laughter.  She skipped ahead and twirled, laughing more when her straw hat slipped from her head.  She untied the ribbons and swung it like a slingshot.  “At last, an interesting gentleman and a party!  It’s almost as good as a Season.”

“He’s staying in the carriage house, so you will have multiple opportunities to ensnare him.”

Something in her sister’s voice made Violet pause her dance.  Lilias smiled, still, but there was a tightness about her eyes, and her lips were compressed. 

A surge of femininity swelled within Violet, a sweet, fierce sensual power that she’d never felt before.  She’d never been able to compete with her sister for a beau before.  “I wager he’ll ask me to dance before you.”

“There will be no dancing tonight.”

“Then he’ll ask me to help him find this book.” 

Lilias didn’t respond, walking instead faster.  She was nearly to the door, and then it would be students and lessons.  She would be the eldest, assured and powerful, and Violet would be reduced to the little sister in need of guidance, tolerated, not needed.  This lighthearted moment would be gone as quickly as that ugly bird. 

Desperate to hold on to this strange and wonderful moment of adulthood, Violet threw back her head and held her arms out wide, her face tilted to the life-giving sun.  She filled herself with power, drawing more, more, sweet and thick and untamed.  Molten honey poured through her veins instead of blood.  Lightning crackled through her mind, blasting away lingering shadows of grief.

She wove strands of power high into the sky, seeking rain clouds and rainbows.  She’d coax a gentle spring rain while the sun yet shone, casting rainbows and crystals of light.  Yet all too quickly, the sweetness bordered on pain.  She couldn’t hold nearly as much as Lilias, and there was no moisture in the air that she could draw. 

Her gifts were lightning and wind, tornadoes and rain, fierce in the moment but too capricious to hold in the palm of one’s hand for long.  Power melted away like those wisps of clouds, leaving her bereft and slightly embarrassed, else surely she would never have said, “And he’ll ask to marry me, too, and perhaps I shall say yes.  I’ll be gone to London within the month and sailing to Karnak!”

Her sister gave her a look of such sad censure that Violet drew in a sharp breath as though she’d been slapped. 

“Oh, Violet, you know nothing of this gentleman.  Why would you say such a thing?  You haven’t even met him!  How could you possibly think you would find him a suitable match?”

Stinging and feeling unusually weary from straining to use her magic, Violet retorted, “I shall never make such a mistake in choosing a husband as you.”

Lilias recoiled and covered her hand with her mouth, her fingers shaking.

“Lily,” Violet breathed, tears spilling in horror.  How could she have said such a thing?  Why did her own thoughts and words so often betray her so foolishly and childishly?  “I didn’t mean it.  You know how much I adore you.”

Her sister turned away and pushed open the door.  “You shall have your Season, Violet.  I’ll see to it.  And you may choose any husband you wish.”

“Lily–”

“I’ll introduce you to Mr. Nevarre this very evening, but I warn you:  I find him very cold and dangerous.  Choose wisely, dearest.  You may only have one opportunity at happiness.”

MayNoWriMo: Days 13, 14, 15

At the end of day 13, I had added 2000 words. Yay, right? Until I realized that I had a significant plothole. I hadn’t seen it, and my storycar crashed right into that crater and bent the axle.

You see, I had deviated from my handy-dandy outline, and then forgot to pick up that change going into the next section. Even though I’m touching this story everyday. Even though I’m writing like a madwoman. I forgot this one little thing. It wasn’t until I went back about 5 sections to fix the villain’s POV thing I commented on in the last MayNoWriMo post, that I realized I’d crashed my storycar and didn’t even know it.

So I declared yesterday a “read-thru” day. As I’ve commented before, I typically write in individual daily section files. Then at the end of the story, I combine all those little files into a “first draft,” smoothing as I go in a first-pass revision. Since I had to read everything and pick up the lost thread anyway, I decided to smooth everything I had now into a first draft and see what I had.

I made it through 90 pages yesterday! And then fell into yet another plothole. Sigh. I woke up Dark & Early this morning, troubled about the way I’d left the current scene. It had deviated significantly from my outline, and I couldn’t simply move to the next planned scene without adding something to connect the two, but what? Finally I cut the last nearly 300 words from last night’s scene, ended it, and began an entirely new “010A” section to slide in between. I think this will resolve my issue, and give me time as a connection.

Whew. So much for that ridiculous outline, yes? I’m glad I have it, really, although I might bitch about it. A lot of the plot maneuvering has already been done for the overall story plot — it’s these darned character arcs and subplots that are giving me fits. Still, I’d be up you know which creek without a paddle without my outline, even if I can’t stick to it completely!

Half way point: I’m right on track. Can’t afford to fall behind, though, so although I haven’t finished smoothing all sections, I need to keep the new words coming. I *hope* to finish revising the “first draft” this weekend and gain new words at the same time.

25,103 / 100000

Too lazy to pull up a snippet today.

MayNoWriMo: Days 11, 12

I ended up squeezing another session in last night for another 811 words.

Today Dark & Early: 839

Tonight: 1418

Sadly, I’ve deviated a bit from my monstrously large and detailed outline.  I think I’m still fine — it’s more motiviational changes that have happened or been explained better than my plot.  However, I did decide to eliminate the villain’s POV.  I just wasn’t able to pull it off without losing some of the suspense in the main story line.  The perfect “mystery” would unfold if Nevarre’s POV wasn’t included, but I like having his take on scenes, and he has much to add.  This isn’t a “mystery” anyway, but there’s some nice doubt brewing in Lily’s mind–and so in the reader’s mind–that I completely lost with the villain blabbering about all the horrible things he wanted to do.  For such a major structural change, I wasn’t comfortable leaving the earlier section in the villain’s (incorrect) POV, so I went back last night and revised it out.  The new words last night were continuing the earlier scene in Violet’s POV — instead of switching as I’d planned.  It hink it works much better.

I also skimmed Donald Maass’s The Fire in Fiction over lunch today and got a ton of ideas for things to do to the Maya story.  He really makes me think.  Combined with the plot weaknesses that Angelle identified, I think I’m coming up with a plan to knock this story out of the park.  I hope.  I pray.  I’m so sick of Revision Xibalba!!!  But the story deserves the best I can do, and there’s no sense in rushing a bunch of queries out into the world and ruining my A-list shots when I know the story has some problems that I can resolve first.

*cue Michael Jackson’s Thriller – inside joke*

So somehow, I need to fit some revisions in over the next week or so as well as MayNoWriMo.  If I can juggle two massive stories at the same time…  While two books are coming up for releases this and next month.  *dies*

 

22,643 / 100000

Snippet:  A few paragraphs explaining why the North Tower is charred and how Lilias came to be a widow.  (And NO, she’s not the dreaded virgin widow of Romancelandia!)

Reaching up, Violet cupped her sister’s wan cheeks in her palms and turned her face down to hers.  “If someone is doing evil–black magic as Edmund had been doing without our knowledge–then I hope it does happen again.  If someone is hurting one of our loved ones, then I hope you stop them, whatever it takes.  Edmund deserved to die.”

“And I brought him here.”  Lilias pulled free, gently, but she did take Violet’s hand in hers.  “Papa tried to warn me that Edmund was not for me.  I brought a monster to our family home and turned a blind eye until Papa paid the price of my mistake.  I couldn’t save him.”

“It’s not your fault that Edmund was doing black magic,” Violet retorted, squeezing her sister’s hand so hard that she winced.  “It’s not your fault that Papa discovered him in the middle of a terrible spell and Edmund killed him.  I’m just grateful that you were there to punish him.”

“I was so angry,” Lilias whispered, her voice hoarse.  “I lost control.  I wanted to blast him to hell for what he’d done.  What if he’d hurt you, too?  What if I’d tried to open the school, and he’d killed one of our girls?  But what’s worse…”

She made a choked sound, the slim column of her throat working.  “I thought I loved him.”

MayNoWriMo: Days 9, 10, 11

Although I didn’t get much writing accomplished this weekend, I did touch my files every single day. Combined with Dark & Early this morning — despite insomnia last night and a burgeoning cold — I can claim another 1815 words, bringing my total up to nearly 20K.

19,575 / 100000

Snippet:  This one is from Violet’s POV, the younger, headstrong sister who has one fierce dream.  She thinks she’s willing to do anything to achieve that dream, but she’ll learn the price of her choices before the story is over.

Violet flinched guiltily, and then glared at her sister as she dismounted, embarrassed at being caught and called out so easily.  “Does the Headmistress need my services so soon?  Should I drone on for hours about verb conjugation, or did you wish me to teach Francis another country reel for this evening’s soiree?”

“If you don’t wish to attend this evening, I understand,” Lilias replied softly.  “And you don’t have to teach French.  Miss Weston or I will gladly cover those topics.  In fact, I may need your help with a magic lesson.”

Appeased, Violet handed the reins to the stable boy and patted her mare’s shoulder before joining her sister.  Linking arms, they walked back toward the castle proper.  “Who?”

“Francis, of course, to see if that ‘tickle’ was real, and Becky.”

Violet laughed.  “Now you suspect one of our maids is descended from some long lost arm of the Ravene family?”

“One never knows.”

Good heavens, she’s serious.  “You want me to teach the maid to be a mage?”

“Let’s start with testing them both.  I’ll help.  I’ve already spoken to Mrs. Lane and made arrangements for additional help to come up from Ravenscar for the next fortnight until we know for sure.”

“Of course,” Violet said, not even attempting to keep the bitterness from ringing in her voice.  “There’s money to hire another maid, but not enough money to send me to London.  I shall never escape this place!”

Lilias jerked to a halt and stiffly pulled her arm free.  Red spots darkened the cheeks of her otherwise pale face.  “I’m doing the best I possibly can, Violet.  Surely you understand that we need servants to cook your meals and wash your linens, unless you would like scalded skin to your elbows to go with your French and dance lessons?”

“I’d rather slave in the kitchens than teach those silly girls another day!  You may enjoy teaching, Lily, but that was never my dream.  You know I want more than this:  I want a Season, dances, dresses, beaus.  I want a life!”

“Please,” Lilas whispered, her voice breaking.  “I need your help.”

If her sister had yelled back at her, then Violet would have felt better.  The storm would have blown out leaving rainbows and sweet-smelling air behind.  But this plea shook her world as badly as her parents’ death.

As the eldest, Lilias had always been strong and knowledgeable, always there when she needed help, tucking Violet back into bed at night after a nightmare or answering her questions when Papa had been too lost in his library to notice that his daughters were growing up before his eyes.  Lilias was as formidable as Castle Nocturna.  It didn’t need anything or anyone, it simply existed, undefeated and proud on the hill, demanding the respect and loyalty it deserved, the same as Lilias.

Hearing that shaken, fragile quality in her sister’s voice made Violet’s heart squeeze dreadfully.  Tears burned her eyes and she clutched her sister’s hand between both her own.  “What is it, Lily?”

“I’m…afraid.”

She might as well have declared that the sun had fallen from the sky and pigs flew.  “Goodness gracious, not you, Lily.  You’re never afraid.”

“I am now.”  She stared up at the burned hull of the North Wing and shivered despite the welcome warmth that had finally broken winter’s hold upon the land.  “I’m afraid it’ll happen again.”

MayNoWriMo: Days 7, 8

I was sooo tired last night, I could barely keep my eyes open. I finished yesterday’s Dark & Early session quite short — well under 1K — and so I tried to stay up until I got the normal NaNoWriMo daily goal (1667) but I just couldn’t make it. I did, however, finish two more bookmarks. This time, I tried Joy’s pattern. It’s quite a bit more complicated than the one I found online, and not as fast to make, but oh, they are so pretty! I laced one with two colors of ribbon and it looks quite nice. I’ll post a picture later.

Because I was so exhausted last night, I wasn’t sure how well I’d do this morning, if I even managed to get up. I almost stayed in bed, but finally dragged myself up shortly after 5 AM. The morning seemed endless. It’s dark outside still (stormy) and it’s been a really long week, but I finished up last night’s section, started a new one, and finished it (it was one of those blessedly short < 1K sections). So excellent progress this morning, even though the word count isn’t huge.

Yesterday: 1400

Today: 1295

Total: 17760

 

17,760 / 100000

 

Snippet:  Mrs. Lane is an interesting character; unfortunately, I didn’t “know” her before starting this story, so I’m sure I will need some serious revisions later.  I want her to be as remarkable as Miss Belle, providing some comic relief but also a larger than life and highly interesting, well motivated character.  This is a start, but I’m sure she’ll need much more work to get her just right.  First draft, revisions coming.

Mrs. Lane stood in the doorway to the kitchen, her chin jutted out, feet braced wide, gripping a wooden spoon in her hand as fiercely as any knight wielding a mace.  “The carriage house is ready, my lady.”  Bristling with indignation, she shot a glare at Mr. Nevarre that would have sent His Majesty stammering and scurrying away.  “I shall be on guard, sir.”

Mr. Nevarre bowed lower to Mrs. Lane than he’d done to the lady of the castle, again, never lowering his eyes from her challenge.  “Then I shall sleep well indeed, safe in the knowledge that Castle Nocturna will withstand any threat.”  He straightened and turned his attention to Lilias.  His mouth tightened, his eyes dark with speculation.  “If the lady still wishes to extend the invitation?”

Weighing her alternatives, Lilias concentrated all her senses on the man.  Could she trust him? 

At first glance, he appeared as any other gentleman:  his clothing fine but not fashionable, his manners impeccable, obviously well educated and traveled.  However, at closer glance, one noted that his skin had been darkened considerably by long years in the desert sun.  Instead of the shorter fashionable curls most gentlemen had adopted, his hair was long and tied at his neck in a queue.  The shoulders and arms of his coat strained, promising incredible strength that a gentleman of leisure could not claim. 

And his eyes, brown with flecks of gold, but not soft or warm in any way, rather as cold as the cobra focused on its victim.  Every time she studied him, she was reminded of some kind of fanged serpent.  How could she possibly allow this danger to remain in Nocturna, near her sister and innocent students? 

On the other hand, if this man had tried to kill her last night, then it might behoove her to keep him close–where she could defend herself at the first sign of danger.  To do so, though, she would need to use her magic and allow the castle’s nexus to fill her.  She suddenly felt as though the massive stone walls of the castle had tumbled down to stack upon her shoulders. 

Perhaps she wasn’t suffering the beginning stages of mage madness; perhaps she could live long enough to ensure Violet’s dream of a Season and a happy marriage to some young gentleman.  And perhaps this deadly man meant her no harm, neither.

Releasing a little sigh of resignation, she inclined her head.  “Allow me to direct you to the carriage house, Mr. Nevarre.”

She walked with him through the heavy oaken door opposite the main entrance, following the pebbled path that meandered alongside the Great Hall and then across the courtyard.

“When I was a girl, I used to carry a hoe,” Mrs. Lane called after them.  “Snakes love to creep into the henhouse and devour the eggs and sweet little baby chicks.  Mark my words, a venomous viper dies as quickly as a garden snake once its head is chopped off.”

MayNoWriMo: Day 6

For the record, I’m completely insane, if you didn’t realize that before now.

Thanks to a mention on Joy’s blog about crocheting a bookmark, I got the wild idea that I should do this for Mother’s Day.  (I don’t think Mom reads my blog very often if at all, so I should be safe.)  Then I realized it’s also Teacher Appreciation Week at school…

Gah.  I made one over lunch, and then ended up making four total tonight.  I haven’t messed with the “thread” instead of “yarn” in ages.  My eyes, my eyes!   The first one is a dud–I messed up the pattern.  The other three came out pretty cool and I’m getting better with each one.  I bought a ton of different colored threads and ribbons — I think I’m going to have a blast with this.  Until I get sick of it, of course.  It’s like anything else I do — I go through obsessive phases, and I’d better be thankful for whatever I finish, because when I move on, those projects will be doomed to a container and storage for ages. 

Dark and Early this morning I had almost 1K, so after the monsters went to bed and I finished the last teacher gift, I was determined to get at least 1667 total, the daily “min” to hit MayNoWriMo.  (Shhhh, yes, I’m ahead, but don’t tell Gregar or he may wander off for a kae’rahke or some such nonsense instead of tossing me into the Well.)  Then I got the min and realized the end of the scene wasn’t that far away…so I pushed onward!

Yes, these last two scenes have been a little bit shorter.  I’m still worried about length, but I’ll break that na’kindre to saddle when I get there.  Okay, now I’m really getting scared — why all these Sha’Kae al’Dan references?  Wrong story, Gregar!  Maybe I’d better check that last file…

Today:  1,926

Total: 15,065

15,065 / 100000

 

Snippet:  This section immediately follows yesterday’s snippet.  First draft, subject to heavy revision later.  If you don’t want to flip back and look, Lilias believes — rightfully — that Mr. Nevarre is getting ready to kill her.

What on earth did he have beneath his coat?  Flames roared higher, lapping at the foundations of her mind.  No, no, I don’t want to kill him.

Immediately, his manner changed.  He smiled and slipped his hand out from beneath his coat, empty, palm out.  “Your family has been collecting these books for generations.  I do beg you to forget that I ever made the suggestion.”

Disarmed by his immediate capitulation, she tried to calm the flows roaring to her aid.  Power thundered in her blood, her nerves painfully alive and overloaded with sensation.  It had been so long, and the castle’s flows were strong and rich.  She tasted the water of the lake, the rich verdant forest beyond, each individual life of her tenants and villagers down the road.  Violet, her sweet, vibrant sister, glowing like a small sun.  And this man before her, a coiled poisonous serpent, smiling and whispering that he was no threat, no threat at all.

Breathing hard, she tightened her control, forcing those mental gates closed that would separate her from the flood of power sweeping away her mind.  She felt like a tiny stick adrift in a storm-tossed ocean, and just as battered.  Bit by bit, she regained control until only a trickle of power remained.  She kept it like a small blade in her hand, in case Mr. Nevarre decided to strike after all.

She took a shaking breath.  Her forehead was damp with sweat.  “Nevertheless, Mr. Nevarre, I still wonder why you’re here.”

“I did indeed come in search of the book I spoke of earlier.  I think–” he hesitated, as though trying to decide how many lies to weave for her.  “I think it has been a very long time since you drew magic, my lady.”

“Yes.”  Her voice was clipped and brittle, but she didn’t care.  After battling the magic, her body sagged, bereft and yet exhausted at the same time.  “I should have known immediately what you are.  That’s why I don’t believe you in the slightest.”

“The book I seek is potentially dangerous in a darker mage’s hands.”  He spoke gently, softly, as though to a child.  “When so many months passed without correspondence, we began to fear the worst.”

Lilias had borne more disappointments, regrets, and agonies than this stranger could possibly fathom, and she refused to crumple into a crying, fainting fluff of a gently-bred lady before him. 

“My father was not a dark mage,” she retorted, taking a step toward him.  The banked fire threatened to burst into life again, but she firmly suppressed her magic.  She couldn’t afford another battle with herself and expect to retain the last shred of her dignity before this accomplished mage.  “Exactly what sort of book did the Archmagus send him?”

“A book on blood magic.”

Lilias felt the blood drain from her face and her knees wobbled alarmingly.  “Ridiculous.  He couldn’t possibly have been a blood mage.  Before my mother’s death, he taught my sister and me everything we know.  Even afterwards, when he began to withdraw into his obsession, he never dabbled in the darker magics.  I swear to you, Mr. Nevarre, my father was not a dark mage.”

“We don’t believe he meant to learn the book’s techniques himself; rather, he desired to confirm the events of a great historical event that occurred here at Nocturna Castle.  A death powered that magic, my lady, and the spell was detailed in that book.”

She swallowed hard, uncaring that her hands had begun to tremble.  “Did it describe the manner in which the nexi had been locked?”

“Indeed, that very event,” Mr. Nevarre replied grimly.  “So you understand why I must confirm whether the book was destroyed or not.  If such powerful magic accidentally fell into the wrong hands, the lock may be breached, freeing the maddest, darkest mage we’ve ever known to spread horrors throughout the world.”

MayNoWriMo: Day 5

I worked a bit more on Arcana last night, but mostly I discussed the Maya story with May, brainstormed some plot issues that Angelle noted, and played with George, my new (to me) Mac desktop!  Oh, I adore George already and I haven’t even started playing much with Scrivener yet.

Since I didn’t have that many words, I just rolled last night’s work into this morning’s Dark & Early session. 

I have a big problem.  I’m averaging 2043 words per section.  I have 100 sections.  Do the math.  *dies*

Here’s hoping to a few short sequels!!!  (ETA: Finished section 007 at 975 words — a little closer to my estimate!)

Today:  1,581  1,843

Total: 12,877  13,139

13,139 / 100000

Snippet:  This is a piece from Chapter 2 shortly after Mr. Nevarre and Lilias first meet.  He’s talking first and then I move into Lilias’s POV after the break.

“I must admit we’ve long coveted several books in Nocturna’s library.  Would you consider selling a few select pieces of your father’s collection to me?  I assure you the books would be well cared for and treasured in the Temple of Amun’s library.”

Her face locked down and the glow died from her eyes.  She jerked away from him and dropped her gaze to the floor.  A tremor shook her shoulders, and she froze for several long moments, studying a whitish smear on the floor. 

The massive–and cold–fireplace on the wall burst into roaring flames.  Crashing waves of power rushed to her, rising behind her like a tsunami.  At last, he’d found the witch.  Bracing himself for battle, he made no offensive move, choosing instead to fortify his own shields.

Slowly, she raised her gaze to his, her hands fisted at her sides.  Those lovely soft mossy eyes now blazed like molten emerald fire.  “Why, exactly, are you here again, Mr. Nevarre?”

***

How could Lilias have forgotten for a single moment the attack last night?  It was rather too convenient that a stranger arrived claiming an association with her deceased father a full year after his death.  Why had he come now and not months ago when her father’s letters had ceased?

Fire blazed in the fireplace once more, but she allowed the flames to remain.  She needed the protection.

Mr. Nevarre bowed without lowering his gaze from hers.  “I beg your pardon if I offended you, my lady.”   

Chills raced up and down her arms and her teeth ached from the strain in her clenched jaws.  The man was centered and focused, every muscle coiled…for what? 

Dressed in simple, understated coat and breeches with pristine linen tied modestly at his neck, he’d certainly appeared harmless when she first noticed him in her library.  However, the mild-mannered bibliophile suddenly appeared icy, hard, and very, very dangerous.  What eastern tattoos might be hidden beneath that civilized shirt–on his throat, say, where she’d seen a similar mark on her attacker last night? 

“I thoroughly understand your reluctance to part with your father’s precious collection.”

Power sang to her, whispering of the danger despite his calm manner.  Again, she cursed her reluctance to use magic.  If she were thoroughly entrenched in her home’s power, then she would have known danger loomed, both last night and this very moment.  Now she stood blind and alone, small and terrified, no proud raven at all, but the field mouse about to be devoured by a snake.

If she were going mad, though, every time she touched the flows, her madness would increase.  It would eat away at her mind, devouring her reason and memories until she was nothing but a screaming shell of agony. 

With this stranger standing before her, she risked the threatening insanity and opened herself to the castle’s nexus.  For the first time in over a year, power swelled within her.  Every sense was heightened.  The man smelled of cinnamon and cloves that had been roasted by Ra’s glorious sun.  She clearly heard Mr. Nevarre’s rapid, steady heartbeat like a drum.  Most of all, she felt the deadly coil of his magic within him, a vicious cobra poised to strike. 

Another mage.  She’d allowed another mage–an extremely powerful one, no less–to breach her defenses, and she’d not even known of his presence.  Magic pounded in her head, pulverizing her bones with urgency. 

Gritting her teeth against the wildness pulsing within her, she forced out a response that had nothing to do with the subtle challenge rising between them.  “His books are precious to me, yes, but you don’t fully understand my reluctance to sell them.” 

Mr. Nevarre’s right hand slid beneath his coat and he shifted his weight, leaning slightly toward her on the balls of his feet. 

He’s preparing for a fight, she realized.  No, he’s preparing to kill me.