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And great rejoicing was heard all across the land! 

At least here in the house when I *finally* finished the scene from Xibalba.  Gah.  I think those were the hardest 1,158 words in the entire story, and I still have no idea why.  Maybe it’s because this scene acts as a wheel hub.  It brings in one new sub-thread that wasn’t there before, and must spin it into something new with the old thread that’s still there.

In the end, it was like making gold from hay. 

Anyway, moving on, the next scene is existing and only required editing, with some shifting around of chess pieces on the board.  The last line in that scene is a killer, and new, so I’m rather pleased with it.

  1. A whopping 602 words to finish off that new scene.  FINALLY!
  2. Revisions to 1,230 words.  I’d better pick up the pace in a hurry–I’m waaay behind for the week.
  3. Still need to write up something for the blog tour on 1/31.  I wrote a poem but it was stupid.  Need more thinking.


“Where is [the White Dagger]?”

Ruin shook his head mutely. 

She cupped his cheek, her fingers gentle on his face, and she might as well have reached her hand into his chest and stroked his heart.  His gaze locked on her smooth, dark cacao eyes.  “You can trust me with this knowledge.”

Could he?  Staring into her eyes, he wanted to trust her.  Every bone in his body ached to believe in her. 

Jaid nibbled her lip in thought, her hand still on his face, and every muscle in his body tightened with longing, shocking him.  He had not felt such fierce desire for a woman since…

Since his brother had wed the woman he loved, forcing Ruin to watch her as the powerful but unloved Queen until she died in childbirth.

Jaid’s muscles tensed sharply, and then she relaxed so fully she leaned against him as though her knees couldn’t hold her weight.  Her eyes met his and he saw the knowledge gleaming in those depths.  Ah, what a delight this woman proved to be when she contemplated a puzzle.  Gently, he placed his finger across her lips and willed his eyes to speak.

Don’t say it.  Then I won’t have to silence you.

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Not as much accomplished today, but hopefully I’m on the road to recovery!

  • 1081 words in new NSR scene.
  • Long-winded “synopsis” of last half of the book to May for her opinion on “coincidence” or “believable.”  Tentatively, we think this all works, but boy oh boy is it complicated.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to backtrack to fix a time discrepancy!
  • 7Crows: Thought some more the heroine’s goals, fears, and masks, and I think she’s as solid as I can make her.  Did some brainstorming/clustering on her. 
  • 7Crows:  I also started jotting down key phrases and ideas for scenes as they came to me, very loose and brainstorm-ish too.  I have 21 “titles” in no particular order that may or may not end up as official sections.  e.g. Gathering Crows; At the Queen’s Right Hand; God Save the Queen; As the Crow Flies; Wings on Fire.  No, I have no idea what all these mean, exactly.  I just know they’re cool, intriguing, and mean something.  Next goal is to figure out what.

Snippet:  This is from the new section this morning where all the threads begin to converge–and tangle up into that big honking mess.  I like Quinn a lot, though.  Yeah, I know I say that about all my characters, but he’s really turning into an interesting character who’s NEW to this draft.  I’m glad I found him.  He’s on the phone with an old “buddy” from college, with his friend Iago of the Mexican Garza cartel and Dr. Tennant, professor of anthropology, SMU, Dallas, present.  They’re all getting ready to brainstorm what the heck is killing a path across Texas when Quinn’s phone rings.

At the sound of the smooth, good-old boy voice he recognized from college, Quinn suddenly regretted answering the phone.  “Davis!  Last I heard you were working for the Governor’s Office.”

“That’s exactly why I’m calling.  Governor Wyman has a very delicate request.”

“Look, I want to be totally honest with you,” as much as it pains me, he didn’t say out loud.  “I’m not exactly on good terms with the FBI right now.”

“What, you?”  Davis laughed.  “Everything-by-the-book Salazar?  I don’t believe it.”

Quinn fisted his right hand.  God help him, he’d love to punch the jerk just once on that perfect aristocratic nose and watch him wail and splutter like a little girl.  “Let’s just say I’m laying low right now.  If you have a special request from the Governor, I recommend you call SAIC Trudale.”

“Actually, I need you.  I was going to ask for a very specific favor because of our prior…”

Competition?  Silent hatred?

“Friendship.”  Davis paused, as if he, too, was remembering their on-and-off again camaraderie through the years at SMU.  They were both driven to succeed and from opposite sides of the track.  One of them, though, was more than willing to get his lily-white hands dirty if it meant he’d climb the ladder all the faster.  “I’m not making an official request.”

“I see.”  Quinn rubbed his eyes.  The last thing he needed in the middle of this bizarre serial killer case was to babysit some pet project for the Governor.  She had the reputation of a rabid pit bull once she set her mind–and teeth–on something.  As long as it’s not my ass she sinks her teeth into.  “What’s the problem?”

“Governor Wyman’s granddaughter is in trouble, but she wants it entirely kept out of the news and off the system.”

Of course she does.  Quinn barely repressed a long, heavy sigh.  If he were a betting man, he’d place a twenty that the spoiled little granddaughter had been arrested for drunk driving or something equally careless and foolhardy.  “What’s the charge?”

“Excuse me?  Oh, no, it’s not like that.  She’s not in trouble with the law.  At least, not in the States.  She went to Guatemala to help her father on an archeological dig earlier this week, and then sent an SOS text message to the Governor’s Office less than fifteen minutes ago.”

Quinn raised his gaze to his friend’s.  His heart beat heavy, slow, as though he could count to a million in between each thud.  “What’s her name?”

“Dr. Jaid Merritt.”

Quinn turned his attention to Dr. Tennant.  “Does the name Dr. Merritt mean anything to you?”

His old professor’s eyes lit up and he nodded frantically.  “She’s arguably the youngest and brightest epigrapher today and has translated hundreds if not thousands of Maya glyphs.  Tara asked me about some of those same translations this morning.”


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I do like Debra Dixon’s GCM method, but it’s not quite enough for me.  Tonight, I think I found the perfect mix.  Referring back to the Emotional Toolbox, I have a notebook page for each character that looks something like this:

Character Name

  • External Goal:
  • External Motivation:
  • External Conflict:
  • Internal Goal:
  • Internal Motivation:
  • Internal Conflict:
  • Fear, which ties directly to the internal GMC.
  • Mask, which is displayed in the external GCM.

I know how the heroine will answer the hero’s fear and force him to yank aside his mask, and vice versa.  Even better, the hero in Seven Crows will be forced to do that which he abhors the most in order to achieve his external goals, at least initially.  Morghan’s (still playing with her name:  Morgan, Morganna, and now Morghan, not sure what I’ll settle on yet) fear/goal, now that I look at it, isn’t quite as strong.  So I’ll think on it and see if I can make something even worse.

To give every supporting character his/her own story, I’ll also take a day or so and jot down GMC for at least two other characters, the Queen and the hero’s best friend.  Perhaps the heroine’s father, too.  Although he won’t be on page at all, he’s very instrumental in setting her goals for this story.

Next:  plotting.  I already have several pages of possibilities jotted as I brainstormed backgrounds.  I’m guessing I need about 20 sections, but I won’t have a good feel for individual section length until I begin writing.  A typical section for me is usually between 4-6 pages, so 20 sections is right for word count.  The POV may end up being first person.  Not sure yet, but I think the hero’s SECRETS will come out better if Morghan–and the reader–are both in the dark.

NSR:  2099 words, all brand spanking new except for maybe a paragraph or two pasted in from the first draft.  The new stuff is happening right at the midpoint of the novel, allowing me to not only worsen things for Jaid all around, but also giving me time to get the two new story threads in the States closer to convergence.  I also went back and dropped a few other little touches that needed supporting evidence earlier in the story (not included in today’s word count).

I’m really liking Jaid a lot.  She’s not the typical kickass sort of heroine so typical in contemporary/urban fantasy.  She’s smart and gutsy, but the worst physical violence she might do is throw a massive tome at a bad guy’s head.

Snippet:  truly first draft.  Knightley is a shady mercenary acting as a “guard” at the compound; Dr. Reyes is from the Popol Vuh Museum in Antigua; Jaid and Ruin I’ve already mentioned.  Some very bad things have happened in the peaceful little town of Santiago Atitlan, and Jaid finds herself trapped between very unhappy Guatemalan officials and the unknown “Venus Star” corporation.

“Sorry, Doc.” 

Still gulping air, Jaid raised her head and stared at Knightley.  He touched a Bluetooth headset at his ear and leveled his weapon at her.  “I’ve got orders to take over this interrogation.”

“You can’t do that!”  Reyes surged to his feet.  The weapon swung over at him and he froze.  “I’m here on behalf of the Guatemalan government.  If you refuse my authority, we will kick you out of our country faster than–”

Reyes’ eyes flared.  Jaid realized the comforting hand had left her back.  She jerked her head around, searching for Ruin.

Silent and swift, he rushed the guard.  Casually, Knightly whipped the gun toward him and fired.

She cried out, clamping her hands over ears, but there was no retort.  The barely audible pop sounded like a party favor.  Ruin went down like an elephant tagged by a high-powered rifle, though, instantly dropped in his tracks.  He crashed into a table that shattered beneath his weight, slinging glass, fresh-cut flowers, and splinters flying.

Crying, Jaid stood to go to him, but the gun pointed back at her.  Ruin gave one last twitch and went still.  He was obviously dead:  the back of his head had been blown away.  She didn’t try to stop the acid boiling up her throat; instead, she aimed it at the guard’s legs.

“Son of a bitch,” Knightley growled.  He cocked his arm back and the butt of his gun slammed into her head.

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I had big results on NSR this morning and lunch, which is really good because the next few sections are going to be BRAND NEW.  *groans*  Cut, paste, and polish is ever so much easier.

  • NSR:  3548 words in revision.
  • SFR:  tons of research tonight, trying to figure out the hero.  No wonder I had problems; I had him allllll wrong.  Turns out I should have cast him as Ken Watanabe.  This image (ETA:  broke old link; try this one instead) is PERFECT, even down to his clothes, although I won’t be using the geisha aspect at all.   
  • SFR:  Then I spent all night sorting through the various dynasties of China until I finally found inspiration in Empress Wu.  From there, the pieces I needed for the hero fell into place.  He’s not based on a real person, exactly, but I found Li Xian’s story very intriguing.  From there, I did a little more research on the Imperial Dragon and the Forbidden City (although it wasn’t built until the Ming Dynasty).
  • SFR:  So then I had a good idea of the hero’s background.  But what were his GOALS and specifically, how did that mess up the heroine’s?  I already had her nailed pretty well, and while I love the world and her story, it wasn’t a romance.  Not yet.  So then I did some doodling on paper and “worst case” scenarios until again, the pieces finally fell into place.  I’m still working through his backstory, but I think I have almost enough to begin plotting the main story!  The hardest part will be deciding where to start.  I have a very clear image in my head of an opening scene that is dramatic and kickass from the start — but I don’t know if it’s truly the right starting place.  The heroine and hero would have already met beforehand, and I don’t like to treat all that like history or flashback.  *shudder*  But I’m also targeting this first story in the world shorter, say 20-30K, so having the first meet over and done with might give me more room for story and worldbuilding, which I like very much indeed.

I’ve been referring to this idea as SFR, but that’s merely the genre, sort of *smirk, and no, I can’t say more*, and not the title.  I think it’s safe to say that the working title will be “Seven Crows.”  Anyone recognize the reference?  Let’s just say the premise of the story will involve SECRETS.  And yes, the crow is significant.  It drove me to pick the heroine’s name as Morgan or Morganna, I haven’t decided which, with a nod to Morrighan.

Snippet:  I haven’t done one in a while, so I thought I’d share a short bit from NSR.   This is Ruin and Jaid talking, the hero and heroine of the story.

“First, they must gain a human priest,” Ruin said.


“They killed me because I refused to help them.”

“Who can they get in our world?”

Staring at her, he didn’t say anything, his mouth flat and hard.

Black spots floated into her vision.  Her voice squeaked.  “Me?”

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I really didn’t think it would be possible for me to get caught up today, but I made every single one of my goals. 

My goals for last week were:

  1. Revise 10K of NSR.  Result:  10,304, thanks to 5,421 today.
  2. Revise short story for antho call.  Result:  fixed the last niggling issue and tightened.  It’s ready to submit.
  3. Initial research and worldbuilding for SFR complete enough to move on to characters.  Result:  This story is going to have a very mannered feel, but in a twisted, near-spoof sort of way that I adore.  (As long as I don’t let it get too cheesy.)  I have most of the heroine’s background figured out, as well as her father’s.  I have all the main characters named except the hero.  He’s still a big fat question mark.

Goals for this week:

  1. Submit the short story to the antho, which requires a query and a “new” bio because I think I’ll be submitting this under a different pen name.
  2. Revise another 10K of NSR.
  3. FInalize characters for the SFR.  Specifically, name the hero and figure out his goals and background.  How is he in opposition to the heroine’s goal?
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After a miserable night of sleeping (not the coughing so much — just couldn’t get and stay asleep — and I had HORRIBLE dreams), I woke up to Littlest Monster’s fever.  She’d complained of headache and sore throat the day before.  All parents of school-aged kids are probably whispering “strep!” and you’d be right. 

Meanwhile tonight Middle Monster also began running a temp.  She doesn’t have a sore throat though, and since she had her tonsils out last year, I don’t think it’s strep.

And of course, I’m still coughing and coughing and coughing, although my voice is better.  So I took Bethanie’s recommendation and bought some Airbourne tonight, as well as a general vitamin.  I got out of the habit of taking anything, which certainly hasn’t helped my immunity.  I’m determined to get over this thing!

I didn’t write until 10:30 tonight, but I did accomplish the following:

  • NSR:  revised next section, 1528 words.
  • NSR:  jotted notes for next (new) section in Quinn’s POV.  Will attempt that tomorrow.

I’m running behind on the revision.  I scheduled myself 10K a week, so I need to get 5K done by Monday.  With all the sick monsters, I don’t know if that’ll happen.

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  • NSR: Reworked the opening scene into Ruin’s POV.  Tough.  I actually ended up with negative words today, but it was a good change.
  • SFR:  brainstormed while sitting through basketball practice.  Got some good backstory for the heroine, but I have no character names yet.
  • Participated in Drollerie Chat tonight.  Sorry, I forgot to advertise it here!

And to prove that I’m really REALLY insane, I think I’ll be writing something new in the Blood and Shadows world to giveaway.  By 3/8 for E-Book Week.  *dies*

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  • NSR:  next scene revised; 1373 words
  • Read first three chapters of Debra Dixon’s GMC over lunch.
  • NSR:  Began making notes on how to revise the opening.
  • SFR:  watched The Crow for inspiration, tone, etc.
  • SFR:  researched nanotechnology and autosomal recessive inheritance.  Jotted tons of worldbuilding notes and major backstory.
  • Received two new research books via Amazon today thanks to rec’s by Jenna.  Should make the other possible new novella in March/April very, very interesting!

SFR is the “bright shiny” I mentioned in Dec.  SFR=science fiction romance, series/titles unknown.  Brand new world.  Tons of cool stuff.  Lots of research and planning.  I plan to get multiple projects out of this world, timing TBD.

NSR = Mayan Fantasy

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Changing It Up

I’m going to experiment with how I post for awhile.  I was using “RX Day xx” before, but quite honestly, this year is going to be craaaaazy.  I won’t be working on only one project at a time, at least not for more than a couple of days at a time.  I just have too much to do.

For instance, things I’ve worked on in the past week that I didn’t mention much here if at all:  an entire hardcopy pass of The Road to Shanhasson before Deena begins ripping it apart (400+ pages); a full critique/read for a friend; worldbuilding for the next project; research for the next project; detailed prep and GMC work for the Mayan story as well as revisions.

It keeps me accountable, and right now, I need that.

So on working days, I’ll record progress similar to what I did for NaNo, but it will be across multiple projects.  I’ll try to mix it up with detailed posts on writing, reading, movies, TV, etc. so it’s not a boring progress report, too.  If things do get too boring, I reserve the right to dump this method and try something else.  :mrgreen: