Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Not only have I condensed my impressive 8-page synopsis for Faith of the Four and One to only 3 pages, but today I made a screen. As in a window screen. My very first. And it even fits in the window with only a slight gap along the side and top. I can now throw open my kitchen window as wide as it can go. Huzzah!

Still digging out the front yard, though I'm down to only a three by five strip of gravel that is only about an 1 1/2 deep and fairly loose. It was too hot today to do any more than two barrows full, rather than the whole lot as I'd have liked. I've started laying out fill and when I have all the fill laid and the top soil amendment raked in, I'll plant the bag of crocus bulbs Mom gave me and then lay sod over the rest. And tada! Lawn!

And this weekend I get to buy my tree for it. And then begin work on the other, shorter half of the front yard. Whew. It sure would be awesome to have the entire front yard done by Fall. Gee, maybe I'll go ahead and get the other tree for that side to goad me on.

And back to writing news, tomorrow I'll edit down my three pages to two pages and start toning it towards the main character so it reads like her. Maybe I can then coax my fellow INKers to have a look at it for any suggestions. And then editing the MS excerpt. And I still have to do the final edit on my poems and get them in the mail, preferably by tomorrow.

The big wheel keeps on turning and I'm rolling, rolling, rolling . . .

Excerpt from Signet

He didn't have to go to the Church, however, but to the neighboring Court. It was a long, rectangular black building with a graceless, blocky entrance, also watched by two guards. These doors would always open, day and night.
"Because vengeance cannot sleep until justice is done," he whispered, paraphrasing from poetry.
The guards straightened up and looked wary as he came up the narrow stairway. Without question, they opened the doors. Interesting. He didn't have to declare his business, and they didn't escort him either.
He didn't need an escort. He knew the way.
There, in the cold, plain hallway, the bench where he'd sat and waited his turn at regular intervals from age eleven to age nineteen. At the moment an old woman sat there, nodding beside a middle-aged man who had a sleeping baby in his arms. The man hugged the child closer when he noticed Lark. The shifting drew the old woman's attention. She looked Lark's way and stared boldly, sizing him up as if death held no fear for her anymore. Then she looked back down and clasped her hands tight over her belly.
The door opened and a girl of about twelve years in a dirty skirt and dirtier blouse came out. A cold voice followed her. "Next."
Oh, that voice, so familiar. The old woman and the middle-aged man didn't move. Lark nodded thanks to them and walked in.
Icy blue eyes gazed up and froze. The dark-haired priest stared, the pen in his hand still after a long stretch of scribbling across a ledger. His mouth tightened and he closed the ledger book.
Lark set the bottle of brandy on the desk. Anger bubbled up from nowhere and everywhere, a hatred for this priest that ran so deep it was a part of his spine. The priest hadn't done anything to the boy Lark had been. He'd only been a stone in a cell wall, and as free of personality as rock, but still Lark felt a powerful urge to destroy him. "Remember me?" Lark asked.
The priest turned around to place the ledger among many others in the bookcase on the wall. Then he turned back, folded his hands together on the table, and looked a long time at Lark's face. Defensiveness and loathing gave way to realization in the priest's expression. "Yes."
Lark sat down. "I'm here to pay off my indenture."
The priest continued to stare a moment before he pursed his lips. "Clever."

Ridden by the Muse

What's my best metaphor? I like ridden by the muse because it has this being screwed in both a good way and a bad way implication that fits the way that writing has (yet again) taken over a lot of my quality time. Then there's sunk into fantasy. I'm definitely sinking, although there's a quality of being swept along a swollen river factor, probably with a waterfall coming up soon. In the zone: definitely zoning out for very long periods of time whether I'm at the computer or not, working out what's going to happen.

What's getting written? I've been swapping between Signet, the sequel to Masks, and a concept that I've restarted twice before and I think I've got it right this time--working (ugh, can't even bring myself to call it a title, more like calling it names when it gets on the bus) King's Breed, which was previously Kingmaker. Really need a new working title for it.

Anyway, I started out Signet wrong, which is normal, so I restarted it. Following the theory of deleted writing isn't always wasted, I realized that I could use that false start as a logic train for Lark. Basically, on his long ship voyage back to the mainland, he thought out as many possibilities as he could. If he'd picked the most paranoid and reactive path, like I started him out with, he'd quickly paint himself into a corner and wouldn't be able to do anything without taking even worse risks than the ones he'd been avoiding. So, rough draft two starts out with him taking the tiger by the tail, and when Winsome protest that ack! too dangerous what are you doing?!! he can honestly say I couldn't think of a better way to get it done. Call me stupid, but this is how it has to be or we'll fail. Believe me, my writer tried it a way that seemed much smarter and we got stuck in an incredibly crappy place. So just relax and enjoy the impending doom.

The issue with King's Breed that I'd been having was not enough of the right kinds of magic. I tried writing it completely without magic and that didn't work either. The characters themselves, their souls are steeped in magic and under the threat of gods and creatures far more powerful than them and that's where they operate best. 'Normal' problems roll off them like water off of oilskin. And yet I didn't want the typical amorphous, worshipped sort of gods and typical magic, because then everything comes off shallow. (See how many drafts of this damned thing I've tried??!! You'd think I'd just give up on it altogether.) I think I've got it this time. Magic is soul, and soul is magic. The farther away you get from the soul's tether, the more difficult employing magic becomes. Most can't affect anything outside their own bodies. Really magical creatures/people can affect things they are intimate with (interpret intimate freely here.) Super magical creatures can affect things they touch as long as the other soul is on board with the changes. Very powerful magical creatures can overcome another soul's will and dominion within the husk. And the most powerful of all, those refered to as gods, can affect things with souls without even touching them (though even they need to be pretty darned close.) Suddenly my conflicts clarified, and the danger was clear. It's been a fun ride for this first 5000 words. Don't. Want. To. Stop ...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Shout Out

Heya, Carole! I've been trying to leave you comments on your wordpress site, but for some reason it won't let me sign on, or it thinks I have logged in already but won't let me comment, so anyway, here it is:

I think it's awesome how much you are sending out there! Cheers cheers cheers! And way to go with the deletions! I totally encourage deleting when it serves the purpose of clarity. Clarity is good a think.

I think I'm going to join your parade of submissions and finally get the poems I edited out to the regional poetry contest. I've been sitting on them for too long.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Kicking Frustration Out of My Way

Today is not starting as well as I'd like, so I'm taking aim and kicking the frustrating out of my way. And mainly, that is all computer stuff.

I tell you, if it weren't for needing an email to do quick correspondence, I'd be sore tempted to rid myself of the internet altogether. Sure, blogging is fun, but its been sporadic of late, both the ones I write and the ones I read. Email is fun to check, but usually its just my daily doses of newsletter stuff, like the weekly weather updates and my notes from the universe (which I do love) and the Ideal Bites on green living. Pretty much everything else is just time-taking stuff, like cruising through cool merchandise sites that encourage me to spend money (I ordered toys yesterday) or reading up on news I'd rather not read anyway, just because its there.

Which explains why I haven't been online much at all lately. No Messenger, just online once or twice a day to check email and cruise blogs. If I leave the computer on, I end up checking email everytime I pass (though if I checked earlier that morning, that's pretty much it for the day). I can feel myself slowly phasing out of the internet altogether and while I'm sure writer who depend on internet connections would poo-poo this, I can't help but feel that this is a much better state of mind for me to be in. I think if it weren't for my daily newsletters and blogging, I wouldn't be online much at all.

Which makes me think . . . would that be so bad? So far, I've gotten more writing done by not doing it on the computer. Can't surf the net as a distraction if there is no internet hooked up to your typewriter. My procrastination now end with clean cabinets and organized files rather than three hours wasted online with nothing to show except three lost hours. And nearly 75% of my stress comes from the computer. The antivirus won't work, the monitor freezes, the Word doc closes on me . . . I can't think of anything else in my life that causes me as much regular frustration as the computer does.

So I find myself getting away from it more and more. Thinking about how easy it would be to just pop down the hill and check email from the library computer. How much space I would have in the sitting room if we got rid of the computer desk.

Sure, I'll need a computer to plug in my ms's after I've finished with the rough draft, but that would be a swell thing for a laptop to do. Not connected to the internet and sitting back at the kitchen table like I do with my typewriter. Heck, I could even get one with a wireless modem and go hang out on the neighbor's porch and ride their wi-fi like they invited the neighborhood to do, or go have a sit down at Starbucks, do my email and call it good.

Man, it's a good thought. I really like that thought. I think I'll aim for that. Then I can add another rocking chair to the sitting room and maybe a low set of bookshelves for the expanding collecting of books and toys and when folks come over, we can hang out in the sitting room with tea and biscuits and the desk won't jut out into people's hips and the computer hum won't be an obnoxious drone. And I bet I could even keep up my blogs by writing them during my downtime here, then sending them when I wi-fi.

Hee. And now all my techie friends are shaking their heads because once again Ris is plunging herself three steps further back into the 80s.

Did I mention the toys I ordered are updates of the 1982 G.I. Joe articulated action figures?

Yo Joe!

Monday, August 20, 2007


I'm supposed to be polishing Masks but instead I've been daydreaming constantly about the second book. Luckily it's raining, and it doesn't look like it's going to let up any time soon. This means I'm probably off the hook as far as getting the yard and a half of mulch out of our pickup truck and into the garden, therefore, I can be very bad and start that very first (aka sucky) draft of Signet. I haven't hatched a plan for the last book of the trilogy yet aside from the climactic triumph/horror, but that's okay. I'm sure plot will present itself while I'm writing Signet. I'm not sure this needs to be a trilogy. Two books would be fine. But I'm also not convinced that two books, or a trilogy for that matter, is all I've got. It's a pretty plot-heavy universe and playing there is fun. If readers agree, this could end up being a series of unknown length. It would be fun to take Mark/Lark into old age. He would be a nasty player as an older man.

Quote I'm playing with to drop somewhere in Chapter Two of Signet: "I'm learning that the number of scars a man's body can wear are infinite. There's always room for one more without compromising the presence of all the others."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The End

Stats: 126,324 words, 607 pages, twenty six chapters
Completed before midnight on Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Exhausted but happy.

Going to bed now.

Monday, August 13, 2007


I still haven't written my synopsis for Comet-Crossed (or thought up a better title). I have figured out what the hold up is. It feels like a mountain that I've never climbed before, the one where the first steps are right along a sheer drop. One misstep and I'm a person pancake.

Only it really isn't a mountain. It's more like a molehill, and I like molehills. I like to dig up the nice dirt to use in my garden. Meaning that whatever I push up in the synopsis, I'll be able to shovel over into the story.

I like that analogy.

The other big reason has been time. I haven't seemed able to sit down more than once at the typewriter a day, so rather than work on a story, I need to work on the synopsis instead. I didn't want to accept that right away, but now that I have, I really have no other excuses.

So, I absolutely will hammer out a rough draft to my synopsis (that being the other hold back, that I'd have to write a magnificent, fully realized synopsis on my first try--d'oh). And I will have it hammered out by tomorrow. There. Goal set in print.

And then I can start revising my excerpt. And the synopsis. Yay!

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Mark settled back at his desk. He took several deep breaths while hiding behind closed eyes, hoping that a sense of calm and distance would get him through the next few hours. Peace settled into him with surprising ease, but he knew it was just a veneer. It would have to do. He got out the documents and clean paper and began to write. He'd managed to get through one page and part of the next when he heard a shout. He set the pen down and listened, trying to hold on to his calm.

A gunshot blasted from down the hall. A woman screamed. Mark dove for his weapons belt just as the door to his room opened.

It was Jester Juggler, and he was smiling.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


I'm almost to the end of Masks. I'm happy, and yet, I'll miss working on it. On the other hand, I'm excited to get it marketed out to the outside world. On yet another hand (I've got lots of hands) I've already been thinking about the next book, and I'm extremely excited about that.

Now, to rock Mark's world two more times and drive him over the brink. The world will be a better place, maybe, but he'll pay a heavy price for it. Mwa haha! Let the suffering commence!

Knowledge is Power

If the back yard grows into a wild meadow before it gets mowed, I get foot rubs for all my hard work chopping it down.

If the bathtub doesn't get cleaned until it looks pink, I get backrubs for all the effort I put into it to make it white again.

If the dishes congeal in the sink until there are no clean glasses left, I get chocolate praises for making the dishes clean again.

What I've learned from all this? When I keep the house and yard spotless and up-to-date, no one notices. If I let it go to hell, then spend a week trying to get it back under control again, I get lots of rubbies, praises, and chocolate!

Hmm, wonder what I should do with this knowledge?

Monday, August 6, 2007


I see the end in sight.

In Masks, I just poisoned Mark. He didn't like it much. Physically he'll have problems for the rest of his life. Emotionally, it'll haunt him until the day he dies. He never wants to be poisoned again. He'd rather have just about anything else but poison done to him. It was that bad.

Hee hee hee.

Oops, did I just giggle outloud?

Anyway, the bad guys have made their move. They're going to make a couple of other moves too, things Mark really can't do anything about. Then it'll be Mark's turn. And he's not playing nice anymore.

I could type all night on this, but I should really go to bed.

Nah, who needs sleep?

Here Again

I think I have enough rough draft of Comet-Crossed to start editing it for submission to the writers workshop. I have just over 6000 words, which gives me room to grow during the edit. I'm going to do a full on edit, too, but first I want to get started on the synopsis so I know the best way to take the edit. I'm looking forward to it.

But it means photocopying, so I'll be running out today to make some copies. Which means I'll finally get my script copied, too, and I can start toying with that in my spare time.

Not that I think I'll have a lot of spare time. The house and yard have overgrown a bit since last week's camping, so this week I'll be cutting it all back. And I just picked up two new books to read. And I want to try to make some blackberry freezer jam. And I promised to take Kate to the park. And Friday I'll be out at Mom's all day since it will be our last day to see my nieces before they head back home to Texas. I gave all the girls disposable cameras, which they promptly filled, and I have the film developing now. We'll build photo albums on Friday for them all to have to take home. I got ones big enough to add other photos, too, because Kate has another camera full of film. She loves taking pictures.

I sent some of my film in too, but I still have 13 rolls left. Dang. How do I let them sit for so long? I think most of them are from Kate's first year. Once I get them all developed, I'll be organizing a new photo albums with them.

Lots in the works. It's fun to have so much going on, though it will be nice to have most of this week free to spend here at the house getting it cleaned up and the finishing the yard work. I still have debris from the great tree cutting fest to take to the wood recyclers, too. And gravel to dig up and move. And beds to weed. And and and

It just keeps going. I love it!

And in the mean time, much editing, more writing, some map-drawing and synopsis-making. And plotting plotting plotting!

Sunday, August 5, 2007


I'm up late because I let myself get extremely dehydrated. This happens from time to time. For whatever reason, when it does happen, it affects my heart and breathing. Maybe it somehow irritates the same nerve as my dislocated-now-frozen rib. Dehydration is weird and does weird things that are counter-survival. Or maybe they're not. Maybe headache, nausea and diarhhea somehow work together to move a person more quickly from a dehydrated situation to a hydrated one by causing the person to want to overcompensate for the negative impacts these things have on overall body hydration.


It all started off with the fair.

No, I take that back.

It all started with PMS, where I become dehydrated and anemic as my body throws all kinds of resources into building a little house for someone who will never move in. Grr.

Then we went to the fair where I didn't drink enough water while walking around in pleasantly warm weather. This set off a case of the trots yesterday evening. Or maybe it was something I ate. Or both. Even if everything I ate there was perfectly good, it was also very salty and sugary, which require--you guessed it--lots of water to process.

Then today I worked, and at work I never get enough water to drink. There isn't enough break time, and we aren't allowed water at our checkstands, which I think is crazy but whatever.

Then I got home and watered the garden, but not me. And when Rory kindly offered to work on dinner while I sat and put my feet up, I poured myself a glass of wine. And then I poured myself another glass of wine.


But the good news is that although I'm not well enough to sleep, I can sit here with my glass of water and work on Masks and keep refilling the glass until I'm well enough to sleep.

This could take a while. Fortunately, I've got lots of plot ahead of me to work through.

Which reminds me.

In murder mystery and cop stuff there's talk about motive, opportunity, etc. Well, I learned a shade different paradigm, very closely related but with some deeper implications and it's going to influence my next scene.
An act of violence from a person requires:
Intent. This is different than talk. Lots of people talk a good game. I'm gonna kill you for saying that! Oh yeah? Whatcha looking at? That's not the same as really deciding to act. The intent to do violence shows in a person's eyes, in their voice, in their posture, in ways that sometimes are too subtle to have physical description but people tend to know when someone has suddenly become dangerous. Intent can be a sudden thing that develops because of a powerful trigger. It can also be a long process where a person comes, sometimes very reluctantly, to a final conclusion that this must be done. Whether it's fast or slow it can be the right decision or the wrong one, and opinions will vary as to whether it's justified. In a good story, there's lots of gray area and the development of intent won't be simple. If the person can't develop sufficient intent to harm, no harm will be done.
Means. The person has to have something going for them that allows them to do harm on another person. It might be money and connections. It might be skill with a weapon that's readily at hand, or sufficient physical prowess. It might be intelligence that allows them to work the environment into their favor even if they're outmatched physically (such as pushing someone over a cliff.) If someone is unable to physically harm another because they don't have the means, the violence isn't going to happen.
Opportunity. Even if someone has intent and means, if they're not in close enough proximity in time-space, violence isn't going to happen. Opportunity is as simple as having a chance, but also as complex as being in the right place at the right time under the right circumstances for that individual. If the attacker's means involves a knife and he has within his parameters of action an absolute need to get away clean, his opportunities will be far fewer than someone who merely needs to end up within one hundred yards and line of sight because he has a sniper rifle and knows where his intended victim lives. Which brings up another thing. To properly have opportunity you have to find your quarry. So it's simple, and yet not so simple. If the person can't find or develop a place and time for violence to happen, it will not happen.

And so I go into the next scene with someone putting together this complex web of intent (because it's not easy for them to decide to kill,) means (with what form of deadly force will have the best effect with minimal risk toward things important to protect,) and opportunity (which is harder to set up than you might think.)

If it was a cakewalk for anyone, it wouldn't be any fun. If it's too easy for one side or the other, then there wouldn't be a story. It would be a news blurb at best.

Time for more water, and time to write.