In March I completed a flash fiction story which will be shopped around as soon as I’ve kicked the tires and made sure it’s working right. Still haven’t finished that longer short story yet, but I think that one’s just a matter of time.
Loki, Son of Laufey is finished with the light edits I put it through in March, and The Castle in the Story is currently being looked at by volunteer proofers (thank you to all my volunteers!). Right now, my writing/publishing time is split between figuring out how to create covers that will do the stories above justice while using no money, and working on the sequel to The Castle in the Story, The Curator’s Song.
For those who are curious, I’m going to post part of the first scene. If I’ve already done this, please forgive me.
Disclaimer: This story is still very rough. Anything and everything might change, or even be cut entirely (e.g. the main character’s name…not sure I like it). As a result, please do not share this or repost (telling others I have a snippet up is fine, just so long as they see this disclaimer).
And, as always, all rights are reserved by me.
Thank you. Enjoy!
Lily Marsh ran down the streets of Knocksure’s Hope, the package clutched to her chest. Brown cloth, rough under her hands, made it difficult to hold, and the weight of the book inside, thick and heavy and encrusted with gems that she could feel through the cloth if she shifted it right, made her arms ache. Weak, little. She hated that about herself, wanted to be like the tall, powerful women Richard liked. But at sixteen years, she wasn’t certain yet what it was men wanted. Because it was very clear, from what she could see, that Richard liked women very different from the woman that had given birth to Lily. And that was the only one she’d ever heard a man talk about.
Not that her father talked much about her anymore. But when he did, it was with a reverence and awe that spoke of a love to last centuries.
That was what she wanted. And that was why she slowed down as she approached Richard’s street, even shifting the package so that she could fix her hair as she walked. She stopped entirely before turning the corner, closing her eyes so that she could no longer see or be aware of the collage of buildings pressed against each other like drunken friends, the bright colors each of the inhabitants painted theirs like a vertical rainbow quilt, stretched out on either side of her. She breathed in the salty air, became aware of the distant call of gulls from the shore. She thought of the sea, the rhythm of the waves she and her father and sister sometimes watched (not often anymore) and relaxed until she was sure she had the same haughty, self-possessed air that Richard’s women did.
Slowly, in spite of her father’s orders to hurry back with the book, his order not to linger or take her time, she began to walk down Richard’s street: Merchant’s Row.
Here, the buildings had signs attached at all levels and of all kinds. This was the street that held the local chapter of the Merchant’s Council, and the street where anyone who wanted to be sure to advertise their business put out a sign. It was also the main road through the city, running directly from the Templed lands beyond to the sea. Everyone passed through here. And as she approached the corner, she clung to her self-possessed self with a small amount of terror.
More people than usual walked the street today. Now and then, a cart threatened to run into another. Shouts and yells, even in the cool morning air, had begun to rise faster and louder than usual. Vina would likely have her hands over her ears today, and that meant it would be a miserable day for Lily. Vina was always a handful on busy days.
No. Richard. She focused on Richard and living in his small apartment on Merchant’s Row, just across from her father’s bookstore. He sometimes watched the street outside. With that thought in mind, she began to turn the corner.
A cloaked body slammed into hers, knocking her back, the book flying out of her hands and landing with a thud on the ground, the cloth pulling away enough to give a glint of gold in the morning sun. Scrambling, she reached for it, but found the one who had knocked her down was faster, scooping up her book with a speed that caught her off-guard.
She stood up to demand her book back, but it was shoved back into her hands. “Be careful,” the man said, and she looked up into a barely concealed elven face, blue eyes locked onto hers. She thought she saw a forest, and a sword held by two hands, being given like an offering. And she knew the sword. She’d seen it before when the wind had blown down the street and opened the man’s—no, elf’s—cloak enough for her to see from inside her house. And then she knew who was in front of her.
“So sorry,” she said, hoping the rumors about him weren’t true. “Thank you, for—”
But he’d already left, his cloak billowing behind him.
I’ve finally finished redrafting and the fixing that inevitably comes afterward! Now, it’s just a matter of searching out the errors.
Unfortunately, I can’t do that very well on my own. Someone reading this for the first time will always find more errors than I will after I’ve read my story several times over.
I’m very aware that reworking The Castle in the Story has taken far, far longer than I first anticipated. I am very sorry for that. Unfortunately, because of budgetary constraints, I’m doing a lot of this on my own and that means everything takes longer. If you’d like to help and get a free copy of the final version with your name in the Acknowledgments, and if you’re the kind who loves pointing out errors in the stories you read, please send me an email through the Contact Me form on this site. Unlike previous crowdsourced copy edits, this time you can choose whichever form you like of the following three:
Just let me know which one you prefer and I’ll send you that format along with what I need in order to use your comments to copy edit the final version. Once it’s ready to be published, I’ll send you your free final version with your name listed in the Acknowledgments!
This offer will be open until March 22. After that, the final copy edit will begin.
I began a short story in February, but have yet to finish it. My goal for March now is to, at least, get that one story finished, then a flash as well. The goal is for the year, and I still have time. 🙂
The Castle type-in is going well. I’m halfway through the manuscript, adding all the corrections.
As for things I learned in February, I’m posting two links for those women out there who think they’re struggling with perimenopause who may, in fact, be struggling with adrenal fatigue.
Just a note to say that. Gotta stay accountable.
I’ll wait a few days, fix it up, and send it.
More as soon as I can.
It has been an exhausting year.
My biggest project, which I think, if memory serves, I announced all the way back in January of 2016(?) was to publish The Castle in the Story. I swear, I thought I would just have to rewrite a bit here and there, tighten things up, etc.
Nope. Not even close.
This one project pushed all the others aside, except for one that I was creating for a pen name.
That one project has now been rewritten and is late enough in its editing saga that I think, think, it will be ready for publishing by February. Maybe. *fingers crossed*
I’ve also begun work on The Curator’s Song, the long-promised sequel to The Castle in the Story. And I like what I’m seeing, which is good.
Once The Castle in the Story is complete and published, I’ve decided to take down the FictionPress version. I’m concerned that leaving it up will only cause confusion, especially considering the enormous changes I’ve made to certain plot points. And when I say enormous, I mean ENORMOUS. There’s a number of things that were toned down, others that were strengthened, and a couple of points that I should have seen in the first draft but didn’t for whatever reason that now occupy a much needed space in the novel.
Not to mention, whole swaths of characters just GONE. Anyone picking up the Kindle version expecting to see any of the Ranger boys is going to be sorely disappointed.
So, if you want a copy of what’s essentially the raw draft of this story, better get it now before the definitive version is published.
There’s a few other projects I have in mind for the coming year, but given how awful last year was, I think I’ll wait until I’m more certain of what’s finished and what isn’t before I commit to any dates.
One last thing. I am going to try writing a short story a month, in addition to my novel-writing. My goal is to get thirteen stories submitted by the end of the year. This blog, if nothing else, will be my means of staying accountable.
What are your goals for 2017? (Doesn’t have to be about writing.)
I don’t usually blog about books I only marginally liked or thought was just okay. But here on my blog, I want to point out that, as a writer, I very much enjoyed how Lazette Gifford manages to apply setting to plot seamlessly. The weather, the terrain, the politics and culture, all of it alters what’s happening, and I think this would be a good book to read for those who have trouble with that in their writing.
Now, on to the review.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
(Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.)
I really wanted to like this book. Like, a lot. And there’s a lot of good things in this book, so I thought for sure by the time I got halfway through that I would at least be able to give it three stars.
I mean, it has great characters in the form of Lord Micalus Raventower, a reclusive yet kind aristocrat who does his best to help the more unfortunate members of the city as well as create the most amazing clockwork creatures and devices, and his bodyguard, Merriweather, a woman devoted to her assignment and her career who ends up helping Raventower in many, sometimes off-beat, ways.
Together, they try to solve the mystery of who might want Raventower dead, and why. With enemy ships in the harbor, a livid sister who feels she should be in charge of Raventower’s estate, and a fellow aristocrat with a judge, there seem to be quite a few. Throw in a high-probability of romance, a few fantastic twists in the plot regarding Raventower’s mysterious ability with clockwork and the nature of the devices themselves, and it sounds like something a fan of steampunk would love. (Further disclosure: I’ve kept meaning to read some steampunk…this is the first novel I’ve read in that genre. Just so you know.)
However, here are the things that didn’t work for me.
First, there’s a lot of speculation, which can be very entertaining. It can. But it felt sometime as if the speculation kept going around in circles with no real progression within the scene.
In line with that, the action is very similar to life: gas and break. There are long scenes where nothing seemed to be happening, and then suddenly I’m reading scenes where the action doesn’t stop. Until it does. That got old after a while.
(Ironically, part of what got to me was just how much plot was stuffed into this novel. Nothing felt as if it naturally unfolded from one scene to the next with just enough breathing room to take in the changes. The setting changed several times and in the last half of the novel it felt, for whatever reason, like there was too much ground being covered physically and not enough time to breathe. Like the characters had to hurry to one location, where very little happened, and then they had to hurry back, with nothing of any real import happening during the journey. My experience could be wrong, but that’s how I remember it.)
The romance I kept hoping for never really happened. I mean, there’s some nice dialogue, but nothing that really made me go “Ooooh!” except for Raventower’s occasional reactions to Merriweather. I’m not sure why that was the case. Mairelon the Magician and Magician’s Ward had a very sweet romance that was also reserved in the way it was presented, and yet I was very involved in that romance.
The lack of emotions and emotional reactions, in fact, was one of the things that started to disengage me from the story. Maybe that ties into the gas/break nature of the plot. I don’t know. I do know that by the time I got three-quarters of the way through, I was skimming. Not even the final revelations at the end interested me, though I have to admit I really enjoyed a scene with Raventower in the ocean, a scene that not only explained where sea metal came from but had Raventower trying to make it to safety in the middle of a battlefield in spite of his own personal obstacles. It was a very engaging scene and I loved it.
The ending, as a result, didn’t interest me. The romance never materialized as I’d hoped. The revelations of the secrets, including finding out what Raventower’s father had done, felt lackluster. Although I might pick up the second book when I get the chance, just to see if the romance develops into a real connection, I’m not enthusiastic about it.
Again, I really wanted to like this. I’m sorry.
Okay, so after slogging through the rewrite from hell, I think I’ve finally recovered enough to work on the edits for The Castle in the Story. This is the point where I would love to have some feedback and help with proofing, so if anyone wants to volunteer for Comma Duty*, I’d love to have you.
If I get volunteers, I’ll likely put it up as a Google Doc so that I can get all the comments consolidated.
Because I’ve been getting an uneasy feeling about putting the whole of the novel online, I’m stopping my free updates.
I don’t know why I feel uneasy, but I’ve learned not to ignore those feelings. I’m sorry if anyone here or on Wattpad is disappointed. I hope the finished novel makes up for that disappointment.
Anyway, so that’s that. Moving on.
I have an experiment I’m running. I have a subscription up on Gumroad for a new novel I’ve been working on here and there to keep myself from going too crazy. (Editing doesn’t count as writing and I’ve been doing far too much of that lately). It’s called The Vampire’s Mad Scientist and it’s a sweet paranormal romance. Or, at least, that’s what I’m aiming for. Here’s the cover and the description:
Leslie Summers, an ambitious biology student, wants nothing more than to find the cure for vampirism, a disease that has exploded in recent history for unknown reasons. But after her theory is rejected by the professor overseeing her education, she decides to take matters into her own hands, creating her own study, and putting her in terrible danger. When she’s saved by the handsome, and frighteningly wealthy, Falkner Dubrinsky she finds herself at odds with both humans and vampires alike, with secrets revealed that she wishes she never knew.
Worst of all, day by day, Falkner’s presence is reminding her of needs she’s tried to forget until she realizes she’s going to have to choose between the truth and the love she’s always dreamed of.
The description, the updates, everything might change in the final version. But I wanted to try this for two reasons:
1.) I’ve never written a vampire novel before, let alone a romance, so I’m hoping this will teach me a number of things about this genre.
2.) I’ve never tried to raise money for a project before it was finished. But this one…I want to make sure there’s at least a small demand for a sweet paranormal with a vampire as the hero before I commit time and energy to it. So yeah, if no one signs up, I’m not going to do more than a few chapters in this. Much as I love the characters, I’ve got a number of other stories clamoring for more words as well. And I do have at least one promise to keep.
So, if you’d like to read it, it’s $1.75 each month for the next four months. Updates are weekly, and I should have the first chapter up tonight.
This is a beta novel. In other words, things may still change in the final version. On the plus side, subscribing means you get a free copy of the final version of The Vampire’s Mad Scientist. For those of you who want to examine the process of writing a novel, this should give you some golden material!
If you’d like to read The Vampire’s Mad Scientist, here’s the link:
Thank you for reading. I hope to have a free story for everyone the next time I post. In the meantime, take care and Happy Holidays!
*Comma Duty…meaning, alerting me to grammar mistakes, punctuation problems, lack of continuity, and essentially making sure I didn’t screw things up/that the novel is readable and logical in the way it presents things. No people walking through doors I forgot to open somehow, you know?
Just a quick note to say that the rewrite is, with two exceptions, done. Those two exceptions are elements I’m not sure I want to keep yet. But yes, the copyedit will begin very soon.
Currently, I’m planning on publishing this sometime this month (i.e. October). *fingers crossed*
Eight of the ten of us have, at varying levels of intensity, colds. Including me. Again.
Why post about it? Because it’s looking like I won’t have The Castle in the Story ready in September, due to this illness. Thankfully, the most dramatic changes have been made, so the rest of this pass is just making sure everything is in order and makes sense.
Second pass will be the copyedit, but I have to typeset the book first. More on that soon.
In the meantime, bed, and juices, and my laptop so I can keep editing. Wish me luck!
I don’t usually mention books that have just come out or are coming out, but this is one that I feel is a must read for anyone who wants to write space opera or already is.
Edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Women of Futures Past is a collection of various science fiction writers, all of them women, and with a broader view than most. I already owe Kris Rusch for mentioning Leigh Brackett in at least a couple of blog posts, making me intensely curious about the writer of “The Empire Strikes Back,” my favorite Star Wars movie. Now, I have Zenna Henderson to add to that list of wonderful writers I’ve never heard of.
The link to the sample is below. It includes not only a short story by the aforementioned Henderson, but an essay by Kris Rusch about why she did this in the first place. It’s a vital essay for anyone wondering why, if even were so prolific in SF in the twentieth century, none of their stories seemed to show up. I highly recommend, even if you don’t end up buying, that you at least read the essay. It’s changed my entire view of my first genre.
With possibly the exception of Friday updates, I’m going to be away from the blog for a while. A deadline is coming up and I have to focus. Not even sure I’ll be able to upload the rest like I’d hoped. We’ll see. I may have to keep what I have as an excerpt.
Next announcement will probably be regarding the cover for The Castle in the Story, which is almost done. The cover. Not the editing.