Tag Archives: work in progress

My Goals for the Writing Gump-A-Thon

This is not a long post.  Just here to tell you that my goal for the Gump-A-Thon is 2k a day.  It evens out to 58k at the end of the 29 days.  EIGHT THOUSAND WORDS MORE THAN NANOWRIMO.  I just do not even know what I’m doing to myself.

Join us over in the WriteWriteandWrite.com chat room if you fancy some writerly company, bottom of the page.  =]  Some of us will be write-a-thoning, others won’t, but we always love the company.

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Introducing: Kadri

This is a brief introduction to Kadri’s character from Kestrel.  I’ve been doing a lot of work with her and her story lately, and it’s given be some perspective into the flaws of the story line.  I love Kadri, she’s fabulous, though her ability to shut down emotionally unsettles even me.  Enjoy her.

“I shot him. It wasn’t the most rational thing to do, but he was there, and I fired without batting an eye. I still don’t feel bad about it. In fact, I don’t feel anything. Adrian was a traitor; if I didn’t shoot him, someone else would have, and probably for reasons that didn’t benefit “The Cause.” They’d have shot him in cold blood, probably for money, drugs, or information. Not that I’m saying my principles were noble or anything. I’m just saying Adrian was the bad guy—at least he was in my story, and who are you if you aren’t the hero of your own story?

I’m getting a little off track. I shot Adrian once through the left eye as he held a knife to Talmai’s throat. I could have talked him down.

“They’re not ‘people,’” he said. I had heard that so many times it made my stomach churn. Not just because Talmai was an Ularian. I’m a clone. So was Adrian. As far as most humans are concerned, we’re not people either.

So I shot him. Talmai turned out okay, aside from a small cut where the knife had been pressed against his neck.

No one can tell me that we’re not ‘people,’ no matter what kind of ‘person’ we are. Human, Ularian, hyper-efficient enhanced human clone—people are people. But that notion is just the reason I’m here.

After all, if you’re not the hero of your own story, who the hell is?”

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Random Update

No featured blog this week, but I will let you all in on some nonsense.

The blogging tribe idea has gotten a very slow start.  We’re all trying to hold onto our enthusiasm, I think.  My work schedule has included far too many 10-our shifts for my liking, so it’s been hard to really kick things into high gear on my end.  In all straight up honesty, I can’t wait to move back to MA.  Firehouse is draining me of anything that brings me even the faintest bit of joy.

On the up side, I plan to be back in Massachusetts by March.  I’m either taking up bartending or hairdressing, I haven’t decided which, but both look like some measure of fun, even if it’s only to find out I’m terrible at one or both.  I need to keep writing, and that’s been a bit of an issue lately.  I’ve been working at some flash fiction pieces that I’ll share soon, as well as some character creation.  In another realm of things, I’m getting myself situated with making candles and beauty products.  My new shop, The Midnight Magpie, will be open online hopefully within the month.

I know, I’ve got my hands in a lot of different pots right now, but I really need to find some measure of happiness in my life before I go completely insane.

On that note, expect a Flash Fiction piece on Wednesday, featuring a new character.  In fact, the next two weeks will feature brand new characters!    Yay!

Okay, enjoy your Monday.

–KM

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LfBH – 14: Parting Ways

An intensely rocky start back into LfBH, so I hope you’ll forgive me.  A more action-packed piece will be up on Monday.  Thanks to everyone who enjoys LfBH for your patience. <3  LfBH is nothing without you.

+~+~+

There was little time. The skies, even here, were a dismal gray, as if Blackford Hill was reaching out to offer its misery like a plague upon the people of the small village. Every time a guard entered the village, he brought with him a depressing silence that lasted for hours after he left. Phaedra knew that their presence was wearing thin on the residents here, and so, once they were healed enough to move about safely, she proposed they leave.

Felix was unhappy. He knew his father would be looking for him. He knew that this wasn’t over for him, and if Silas insisted on tagging along (which he knew he would), then things would be very dangerous for him, indeed. As far as the young Count was concerned, his life had been thrown away the moment he set the flame to that temple. The gallows were the place for him, but Silas had a chance at a new life.

Tully, on the other hand, was eager to be out of here; eager to be as far away from their prison hellhole as humanly possible. She wanted to go home. She wanted to be where it was safe, warm, and dry. She wanted Phae and a life of their own.

Standing at the mouth of the village, where the only broad road led in, the stonework ending at the edge of the populated area and melding into packed dirt, Phaedra shouldered a crude canvas bag with a single strap over her shoulder, and glanced to Tully.

“I’m ready…” Tully responded to the wordless request. “I don’t want to leave them behind, Phae, can’t they come with us?”

Phaedra sighed. “They’re a liability to us, just as we are to them. It’s safer for everyone if we split up. We need the best chance possible at not being picked up again.”

“I suppose that means we’re not going back to The Willow?”

“Tully…”

“It’s fine, Phae… it’s fine. Let’s go, alright? We’re losing daylight.” Tully turned to face the road, just as Silas came bounding up behind them, a hand falling heavily on Phae’s shoulder, accompanied by a good-natured laugh.

“Thought you’d run off just like that, yeah? I don’t think so,” Silas laughed as Felix sauntered up beside him, and cast his eyes away.

“We didn’t want to make this any harder,” Phae explained, and gave a faint smile as she turned. For as skeptical as she had been of these two men during their first hours together, she had gained more respect and affection for them during their time here than she had expected. They were good friends, even Felix, the mouthy pain in the ass. It was because they were good friends that they deserved a fair chance; it would be selfish to hold them back by traveling with them.

Tully threw her arms around Felix and kissed his cheek. “If we ever go back home, I’ll find a way to let you know. You can come visit. You’d love the bakery, Felix.”

Felix’s cheeks flared a bit red and he smiled faintly. Friendship had never been something he had been good at, but with Tully, it was so easy. She a sweet person with good intentions and a love for just about everyone.

“I’ll come visit with you, I promise. At the bakery, or elsewhere, I’ll find you when things settle, Tully. Maybe Silas will be with me.” Another faint smile.

“Don’t look so grudging. He likes you. Let him stay. You need someone to support you, Felix. You can’t possibly let yourself be miserable forever. Let him enjoy your company, and for the love of the Gods, try to enjoy his, hm?”

Another dark blush from Felix and he laughed. “It makes me feel guilty.”

“You shouldn’t. Go. We’ll talk again soon. I promise you.” She shoved him lightly, and turned to take Phaedra’s hand, a slight wave behind her to signal their departure. Tears sprang to her eyes, and she inclined her head, as if doing so would keep them from falling.

“It’s for the best,” Phaedra stated yet again, giving her hand a little squeeze. “It’s safer for all of us if we split up. And our work will take us to places where they have no business being.”

Sniffling in finality, Tully brought her hand across her eyes and nodded. “I know. And Felix has business with his father. I just hope he comes out of it in one piece.”

Phae gave a grim nod, and kissed her beloved’s fingers. “We all will.”

Felix cast a glance to Silas, his eyes sliding over him head to toe, and he gave a very bare, helpless smile. If Silas were ever to change his mind, Felix knew that it would be now and he would be left alone. Silas was a good man, and he knew that he liked him, but how could the Count expect someone like Silas to suffer his upper-class woes?

“That was hard, yeah?” Silas drawled, drawing on his cigarette and tossing it aside.

“Smoking is disgusting…” Felix muttered and turned toward him, pulling his cap over his head and meandering alongside Silas.

“I know. So, what’s the plan, Count?”

Felix rubbed his forehead. “I don’t know. Go to my father. Kill him. Take what he doesn’t deserve and try like hell to do some sort of good with it, I expect. We need to do something about Blackford Hill.”

Silas slipped a hand discreetly into his and tugged him between two buildings, where he promptly stole his lips in a reassuring kiss. “Let’s do that, then.”

Felix swallowed hard and stared at him, before he dropped his eyes to their clasped hands. “Let’s,” he breathed with a faint nod. “Yes. Well, to my father’s then.”

With a single glance back to the departing women as he came out of the narrow alley, Felix drew a breath and pulled Silas down the road in the opposite direction.

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Writing Prompt: The First Lie

Salut!  So, some of you must be wondering what happened to my posts for the last week and a half.  WordPress decided that it won’t post my scheduled posts in full.  The post text is deleted and replaced with my initial draft line, like the post was never saved.  So, I apologize for any emails that didn’t link to posts.  I think I have it under control.  To rectify the situation, both of the last two Writing Life posts will be posted this weekend.

LfBH will now be posted bi-weekly.  I can’t keep up with the volume and quality, and if I want to have less editing work later, I need to put the time in to make sure each post is up to standard.  The next LfBH installment will go up on Monday, October 24.  I know, it’s a long time from now, but I’m plotting a NaNo novel, and editing the hell out of the first 13 chapters of LfBH.  So, wish me luck.  =]

Now, for the writing prompt!

Write a scene in which a lie lands yourself or your character into a pot of hot water!

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LfBH 13: Trust

The small village they’d managed to find was a godsend. The people were so sympathetic and willing to help. Silas was just waiting for someone to yell ‘Surprise!’ and burst in, yanking them out of this safe haven. A safe haven that was a barn. Felix hadn’t stopped complaining since they arrived, but Silas was just happy to have a dry place to lay his head. After all, the townspeople were kind enough to give them first aid supplies and food, even a pile of blankets to soften the hay beds and keep warm.

“If you die, I swear I’ll have you resurrected so I can personally beat you to death,” Felix said irritably as he wrapped Silas’ battered ribs, the bullet hole in his right shoulder was already doctored and patched the best Felix knew how. “I’m not a fucking doctor.”

“You’re not much a conversationist, either, Count,” Silas grinned, his face pale though he was making the effort to keep the other from worrying. Felix was an unpleasant little bastard when he was worried.

“Conversationalist.”

“I’ll talk how I want. If you need me to, I can just sit quiet an’ look pretty, but I got no one but you to impress out here.” He poked him in the ribs. “And I’d say you’re pretty impressed by my amazing act of heroism back there, huh?” Another grin.

“Shut up, you could have died.” Felix shoved his companion’s head back on the pile of hay. “You still could.”

Silas couldn’t help laughing, though it was through a grimace, a sense of humor didn’t do well for broken ribs.

“Hilarious, I know,” muttered Felix, shaking his head. “But… you know, thank you… for what you did. We’d never have gotten out without you and Phaedra. Even if we lost that girl they tried to save. I wasn’t happy about her being dragged along at first… but I never wanted to see that happen to her.”

“Me, either, but it’s not like we can go back now. We can’t let losing one person take us down. We have too much riding on this escape…. I’m not going back there, Felix, not for anyone.”

The Count only nodded somberly, patching up his companion to the best of his ability—which wasn’t exactly top notch. He was far from a doctor. In fact, the slightest scratches he’d retained as a child were tended to professionally. Tearing bullets out of living human flesh was nerve-wracking, stomach-churning, grueling and unpleasant work. Besides, Silas’ muffled screams into the folded up bridle they’d pulled off the barn wall were enough to make Felix’s hands shake so violently it was a small wonder he didn’t make things worse.

Once finished, the temporary doctor plopped down next to Silas and sighed, arms around his knees as he looked up into the spider-laden rafters. The whispers of Phaedra and Tully two stalls over caught his attention, though he couldn’t make out much of what they were saying. Sleeping in a barn, on damp hay, dirty and caked in flaking blood, his fingers stained from his tending to Silas…. Still it was better than Blackford Hill.

“You’re thinkin’ too hard.”

Felix glanced to Silas, who used what little strength he had to yank Felix down beside him, his unaffected arm looping around him to pull him against his chest.

“Don’t touch me,” Felix grumbled, though there was little weight behind it.

“Shhh, you’re ruining it.”

Felix rolled his eyes. He’d just ripped bits of metal out of the man, he still he was completely placid and ready to just go to sleep. “Shouldn’t you be in excruciating pain?”

“I am, and you’re making it worse by bitching. Shh.”

Felix had to admit, relaxing against the warmth of another body was a special sort of comfort. Or maybe it was just Silas’ body. If anyone else had put a hand on him at this point—well, it wouldn’t have been pretty.

“You trust me, don’t you?” he asked, tilting his head up a bit to look at Silas, before he propped himself up on one hand to he could look down at him.

“Why wouldn’t I? You planned this whole thing, and here I am, right? That’s not nothin’.”

Felix gave a little nod, though he didn’t seem satisfied. His eyes drifted down to to the bandage on his counterpart’s shoulder, his fingers brushing over the slowly-blooming bloodstain.

“What?” Silas stilled his hand, and kissed his fingers, dried blood and all.

Felix turned away, cheeks flaring red. “Nothing. Just worried. It’s a big plan. I don’t know if we can—”

“We can because you want it bad enough. It’s going to work out.” Again, Silas pulled him down and kissed the top of his head. “I trust you. Go to sleep.”

Felix rolled his eyes, but didn’t argue. “My father will know I escaped. He’ll know I have people with me.”

“Then we’ll compensate. If we can bring down your father, Felix, we can bring down Blackford Hill, and any other places like it in your father’s lordship.”

That was true. Felix wanted revenge more than anything, but his will for revenge was fading now that he was out. Now that the pressure of torture and starvation was lifted. Now that Silas wasn’t dying and he didn’t have the Overseer breathing down their necks about every little thing. Though, if removing his father from the equation brought the ruin of Blackford Hill, then it would be well worth pushing forward.

“Alright. We’ll continue with the plan,” he offered finally, and gave a small, resolute nod.

Silas smiled and gave the Count a firm squeeze. “Good. We’ll plan it out better if it puts you at ease. Just relax and sleep for now. We have time.”

Time. Just last night, time was what they were running short on. Now, they were reasonably safe, even if they had to move within a few days. They had time, and Silas trusted him. Satisfied in that, Felix finally closed his eyes and tried to sleep.

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Writing Life: Making Time and Motivation

Image © Simon Clayson

The biggest obstacle I face as a writer is overcoming the tendency to put writing on the back burner.  Writing is my life, my love, and my means of staying sane; I’ve put writing before friends, jobs, and relationships—

So why can’t I put more importance on setting aside time to write?

My excuses:

  • There’s a show that I want to watch.  (I have a DVR.  This shouldn’t even be an excuse.)
  • Facebook.  (Life-destroying social network paired with my apparent lack of willpower.)
  • There’s always a fresh idea beyond the one I’m working on.  (Attention span fail.)

Are any of them valid?  No.  Not really.  They waste time, make me homesick, show just how lazy I am.  And when I schedule time to write, I usually foul it up somehow: procrastinate, self-sabotage, just plain fail.  Being a “work in progress” as a person and as a writer must yield some progress if it’s going to continue to be an excuse for my shortcomings.

This post isn’t going to offer you a definite solution.  I can offer some suggestions that I should probably try myself. I suppose what people like me—people like us—need most is a support group to keep one another accountable.  I’m not sure how to go about this yet, but if I come up with anything, I’ll let you lovely people know.

So, suggestions?

  • Write it on your calendar.  Seeing “Write: 8a-3p” in your face makes it more tangible a goal than defining it vaguely in your head where you can’t physically see it.
  • Tacking/Taping sheets of inspiration, work, or development material around your work station.  It keeps your project real. I  look at it and remember little things I love about my project.  It makes me want to work on it.
  • Get other writers who need to get their work done to write with you.  Online or in a coffee shop.  Have word wars and share favorite sentences or bits of dialog.  Swap paragraphs and get opinions.  Never underestimate the support of writing with others.

Just remember that you don’t have to eat, sleep, and breathe writing to be a writer, but do make time for it.

How do you overcome procrastination and laziness?

Do you have a support network?  How deeply is your writing impacted by that network?

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Writing Life: Clustering

How many of my loves use clustering as an initial plotting technique?  Anyone?  Well, I’m here to give you as many reasons as I can why you should.

Let’s start with this: clustering empties your brain.  The rules of clustering state that you need to write down ANYTHING that comes to mind, even if it doesn’t connect to anything else.  Write it down, no matter how ridiculous, because you never know when you’ll find that gem that connects points A and C with the ever-elusive B.  It’s like really messy, bullet-point free-writing.

My good friend Coffee over at The Land of Man-Eating Pixies recently posted about something her shop teacher said, and it’s really brilliant.  It’s the ENTIRE reason I swear by clustering (even if he wasn’t talking about clustering =P).

“Your brain is filled with stupid. There’s layers and layers and layers of stupid in your brain. So you have to give yourself fifteen minutes and a couple sheets of paper, and you have to write down every idea that pops into your mind. Even the ones that suck. Because you have to empty out all that stupid and maybe something halfway decent will trickle out. And you’ll be like, ‘WHOA WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? THAT’S ACTUALLY KIND OF GOOD.’ And the only reason you’ll have that halfway decent idea is because you emptied out all the stupid.”

I adore her for sharing this.  You guys need to visit her blog.  MOVING ON.  Yes, you need to empty out all the crappy ideas, because you never know when one crappy idea winds up as an integral part of your hook.

What is clustering?  Let me illustrate.

Messy photography, I apologize.

1.  Color-coded legend!  You don’t have to use highlighter, but I do.  Yellow for settings and locations, pink for characters and character relationships, and orange for groups and organizations.

2.  The actual cluster.  You start by writing a name, an event, a setting, plot point, etc. in the center.  From that center point, you write any connection you can make to it, then you branch off by making connections to the connections.  On the lines that connect them, you can write why their connected, catalysts, necessary information, etc.  Seriously, write ANYTHING that comes to mind.  If it doesn’t connect, don’t connect it.  If you don’t like it later, take it out.  In this way, clustering functions like free-writing; removing any mental blocks you may have between A and B and giving you deeper insight into the connections between characters and events in your story.

3.  Bullet points that detail this and that within the cluster.  If I hit on a point I like, I toss it up in the bullet points.  Sometimes it even turns into a faint starter outline.  It’s handy.

4.  Believe it or not, this is actually part of the original cluster.  It erupted into a detailed plan and layout of the city in which this all takes place.  All I’m missing is the drawing.  It’s easy to get carried away in clustering, after all, and that’s encouraged!  Anything that propels you forward.

Need a better view on each point?  I’m going to leave out number 1, since I think I can assume we all know how to work a legend.  I’ll also add another apology for the poor photography.

2.

3.  (Don’t you love my handwriting?  It’s like someone blindfolded a toddler and handed him a Bic pen.)

4. 

Whew.  There we go.  See in 4?  Above the mess of setting details, it’s linked to my cluster.  It all connects somehow or other.  I’m sort of grateful for my crappy photography in the first two pictures.  It keeps some of my details super-secret.  =P

In any case, that’s clustering!

Do you use clustering?  Are there other pre-outline development techniques you prefer?  How do you handle your initial ideas?

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LfBH 12: Stitches – revisited

Do you guys remember Stitches?  It was the first flash fiction I wrote involving Phaedra and Tully.  A Letter from Count Malrais was the first, and together, they sparked Letters from Blackford Hill.   I had to add and alter a bit, but here’s Stitches, revisited.  Enjoy. <3

~+~+~+~

“You haven’t even flinched.”

Phaedra’s eyes flicked up to catch a dreamy smile on her friend’s lips, before glancing back down again. The gash on her forearm pinched together at the top when Tully pulled the thread taut, tying off the third in a series of stitches.

“Would you rather I were howling in pain?” asked Phaedra, her voice soft as it always was, though for once a light humor crept into her tone. The woman was always so severe, Tully couldn’t help but worry for her sometimes.

“Of course not,” replied Tully, pressing the point of the curved needle through the split flesh. Still, Phae didn’t react. “I just… admire your strength.”

She was still smiling. Phaedra gave her head a light shake. Tully baffled her sometimes. It was a long fight to get out of that colony, free from the fences and the locks, and rifles trained on them every second of every day; still, Tully smiled. Even when they were captured, bound and carted off to that awful place, Tully still managed to smile. Fiona was left at the edge of the woods, lifeless. Phae knew Tully was pushing back the pain that dwelt there; the pain that exploded from her love when Fiona took that bullet. There were tears, tantrums, fury from everyone else, dozens of others all desperate for answers….

Tully tried to stay on the bright side.

Phaedra wasn’t aware of any bright side.

Their lives had gone completely out of control, all because they had chosen to share an inn room while Phaedra helped Tully find a cure for that awful cough she’d had. Fortunately, the cough was alleviated, but they had hardly gotten their things packed to go back to work at the bakery, when the door came crashing off the hinges—

Phaedra shook her head and sighed. Going back to the bakery seemed useless now. Would they go so far as to wait for Phae and Tully where they worked?

The small town they’d stumbled across in their escape had no knowledge of the horrors of Blackford Hill. They knew only that the government had a compound there, but were left in the dark about what was held within it. The soldiers made it clear that they would shoot anyone on sight if they came snooping around. Now, huddled in yet another inn room, together, though this time accompanied by Silas and Felix—two married couples on holiday? Could they pull that off?—Phae submitted to Tully’s pleas to stitch the gash in her arm, and rub balm on the bruises and scrapes.

It killed Phae to see the blond’s arm wrapped up in blood-stained linen. Tully deserved so much better.

“Done.” Tully started packing up her first aid kit, and Phaedra lifted her arm to look over the other woman’s handy work. The stitches were clean, and the cut wasn’t even bleeding through the gaps.

“Thanks,” murmured Phaedra, and grabbed a strip of cloth that had been torn from Tully’s underskirt, starting to wrap the newly-sewn arm. Torn and used clothing was suddenly a luxury she’d never appreciated before. “Where did you learn to do that, anyway?”

A sad smile was cast over Tully’s shoulder as she tucked her things away. “I wasn’t always a baker, Phae. Somehow, I don’t expect you were, either.”

Their eyes met, and a silence passed between them, understanding and steadying. Something in that silence earned a smile from Tully, and Phaedra’s eyes fell to the fabric on her arm.

“No. Not always.”

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Updates Mean I Love You!

It’s been a busy summer, folks!  But I’m back at home at my desk, G&L HQ, and ready to throw myself back into my work.  So, here’s the run down:

  1. Tomorrow, you’re getting Letters from Blackford Hill Part 12.  It’s going to look familiar to some of you.  <3  I hope it brings back fond memories of the beginning of LfBH, because it certainly did for me.
  2. Wednesday, Writing Life is back on track with a brandy-new post on clustering!  The how-tos and the whys are hopefully answered. <3
  3. Thursday is a special day at G&L!  For those of you unfamiliar with the Speak Out with Your Geek Out movement, I urge you all to check out the Facebook event page.  It urges the geek community to embrace its geekiness!  Let us all blog about our favorite geeky activities!  Share them with the world!  So, any day from Sept. 12 – 16, blog about your geeky hobbies, and Speak Out with  Your Geek Out!  Thursday is G&L’s day.  =P   Enjoy.
  4. Friday is another scheduled writing prompt.  I hope these are helping you guys out!  You’re all still welcome to share the pieces spawned by the writing prompts, and I’ll link them in the post! <3

I’m working very hard to get back on track, and three of the four above posts are already written and scheduled, so NO MORE FALSE PROMISES!

Speaking of false promises, does everyone remember when I promised you all a G&L e book exclusive?  I’ve been working on it, and I’ll be releasing it on Tuesday, Sept. 20th.  Everyone who has subscribed since May will receive a .pdf or .epub (other formats available upon request) ebook of exclusive G&L fiction!  The offer continues until October 31st, so if you haven’t subscribed and want the fiction that isn’t posted here, subscribe to the blog!  =]

One more thing!  Letters from Blackford Hill has been plotted to the end.  When it’s finished, I’ll leave it up on G&L while I edit, and when that’s done, it’s coming down.  LfBH will then be available on Lulu in ebook format… possibly in print, I haven’t decided.  What do you think?

Inkwell Imaginings, the writing group I began in Massachusetts, with the lovely Jessi of A BA in BS, now has a sister group in Jacksonville, FL.  And a website. <3  Progress!

Anyway! I’m back!  I missed you all!  And I’m eager to be posting again!

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