Back to Business

The month of November seemed to fly by faster than normal, there was way too much going on and not nearly enough time for any of it.  We celebrated Thanksgiving and three birthdays.  Then there was the decorating and the cooking and the other dozens of things needed to prepare for the holidays.

As for NaNoWriMo, my rebel project hit a wall at the 15,000 word mark when I realized that I had a major plotting issue.  I call it my rebel project because instead of writing a new piece of fiction I chose to put the polish on the book I’ve been fighting to finish.

The problem goes something like this – everything was fine with the story, but it needed something to give it a little oomph.  To do this, I combined the roles of a more minor character with a main character.  This made so much sense in the planning phase and I was really excited at the different possibilities it offered.  Now I can have a love triangle along with all the action and adventure.

However, as I began my revisions and started changing that character to fit both roles I had a terrible realization.  I need him to be a part of a mini quest with another character but I had neglected to figure out how he gets involved with that character in the first place. They are not an obvious pair, and for the life of me I have yet to find a great way to get them to work together.

So, I shelved my revisions until I could find a way to fix this problem it out and started a crochet project instead.  This is avoidance behavior at its finest.  Now that I’ve taken a break and let the problem stew for a while I think I’ve found a way to fix it.  I’ll need to write it out and see if it will work.


My new pair of slippers, I love the flowers!


A cozy tam for the colder weather

On a happy note, I did manage to finish and package up a short science fiction story for submission to a few magazines. I’m crossing my fingers that all goes well, this is my first time submitting to a professional market that isn’t a contest.  If all goes well, I plan on doing more short stories for magazines. ‘

For the month of December I plan to pick up the manuscript once again, fix the plotting problem and continue revisions.  I would still love to finish this round by the end of the year, but it looks like it might take a bit longer.

Waiting for Perspective

I am now two weeks into a self imposed six week break away from my manuscript and random scenes and characters are still wandering through my head.  Taking a break between drafts is important because it helps me regain needed perspective and distance. While writing I get too close to the story and can no longer see what’s on the page as compared to what’s in my head.  The best way to overcome this is time away.

800px-Sharpened_PencilTaking a break doesn’t come without a downside. The other night one of my characters brought up a plot error, an action that didn’t make sense for the character in question. I wanted him to be wrong and ignore the problem but he wouldn’t let me alone. I didn’t pull out the manuscript, I know that’s what he wanted, so over the course of the day I mentally worked over the problem until something clicked. If I didn’t, I know he wouldn’t let me sleep.

Even with random characters haunting my steps, being away from the book has been a welcome change. I’ve finally had the time to work on some of my smaller projects and see progress there. The one short story I’ve been editing is only a few pages from turning itself into a novella if I’m not careful. My goal is to have it finished and submitted to a few markets for publication before I return to work on the book. 

For the next four weeks I’m looking forward to continuing work on my short stories and taking a bit of a break before diving back into the gritty process of refining and editing the manuscript. After this draft it will be ready for beta readers! As much as if terrifies me, I’m looking forward to getting some real world feedback.

An Anthem for Post Apocalyptic Fiction

For most of you it won’t come as a surprise when I say I’m a musical gal.  I love a song that gets the heart pumping and the body moving. With that in mind, most of my writing has a particular type of music that works best with it. This summer I heard a song that I immediately fell in love with, Radioactive by Imagine Dragons.  It’s got huge heavy drums, great vocals, and cool lyrics.

Every time I hear this song it conjures up memories of great scenes from my favorite post apocalyptic movies and books and captures the darkness and struggles found there. I have yet to branch out into writing this type of fiction, but one day perhaps I will as it’s one of my favorite genres to read. Post apocalyptic fiction includes such series as, The Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and The Uglies.

Cool, huh? Now I want to come up with a great story to go with this, but I’m told I first have to start completing a few projects. Until then I’ll have to keep this on the back burner, collecting ideas and concepts.

I’ve matched my epic fantasy novel project with a different type of music, symphonic metal; which is best described as what would happen if Mozart and Metallica had a baby. The result is an odd but appealing cacophony of screaming guitars, drums, strings, and keyboard, all with a great soprano at the helm.

For me symphonic metal epitomizes the juxtaposition of darkness and light, of beauty and brute strength, making it perfect for epic fantasy, at least the variety I write.  There is always the battle between good and evil, the hero’s journey to overcome his villain. The story must be as beautiful as it is chilling and must stick with the reader long after the book is closed.  At least that’s what I hope will happen, I have to finish it first!

Fiction Friday: Izis of Velchi

At last I’m going to share part of a fantasy story with you.  This tale was meant to be a short story but as with most fantasy pieces I set out to create, it has grown during the course of the writing and now is begging to be part of something much bigger.  I like it enough that it might become part of the novel trilogy I’m writing.  Enjoy!

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The fickle breeze of Autumn carried the scent of brittle leaves and the promise of early snow.  It teased the deep hood of Lianea’s cloak and spun her earth colored hair into ribbons as she walked the ancient pathway.  Here, folded deep within the Velchin wood, she sought a cure for the illness plaguing her village and her dear brother Liandro.

As she drew closer to the glade the sky grew darker, the air pressed up against her, stealing her breath.  She clutched the handle of the short dagger she wore at her waist, knowing it would do her no good but reassuring all the same. With each step the dark press of air grew more eager, more oppressive. The village elder had warned her that there would be forces that would try to stop her from crossing into the glade, that she must not give them heed.

She forced her way through the stone archway and as she passed the darkness lifted. Inside the small glade stood an alter and statue of Izis, goddess of knowledge of the past and future, one hand cupped before her, the other over her heart.  The green veined marble had been worn by the wind and weather, moss grew along the folds of her long robe..  Lianea felt the statues eyes upon her as soon as she had entered.

As prescribed by the elder, Lianea lit the tallow candle and cupped her hand around it as she set it into the small hole in the low alter.  The flame seemed too weak in the failing light, too fragile for such a task.  The townspeople had said the same about her when she demanded to leave and seek help.

On either side of the candle she set the four required items, a blue feather, the blood of a dying man, a silver coin, and a rose crystal from the mines of Turah.  This last she admired in the flickering candle light, never having imagined that a place filled with such sorrow would contain a wealth of something so beautiful.  There in Turah her guide had met his untimely end when he stumbled and fell from one of the high ledges in the mine. She set the crystal next to the vial filled with his blood.

Dusky twilight filtered through the branches as the moon made its journey across the blanketed sky.  Lianea recited the first incantation as she poured the dark contents of the vial into the hands of Izis. As she did, a cold mist trickled into the glade.  While reciting the second incantation she dipped the feather in the blood and then used it to draw the broken circle slashed with five lines, a symbol of submission and humility.  The mist gathered around the statue, boiling and churning at Lianea’s feet.

With the third and final incantation she held the silver coin to the flame until it stung her fingertips and then pressed it into her outstretched wrist.  She clenched her teeth, holding back a gasp of pain as the coin burned a circle into her skin.  Izis required a token of suffering.  As she spoke, the mist drew itself up around the statue, covering it like a shroud. It pulled the flame from the candle into itself until it began to glow with its own ghostly light.

Lianea’s heart raced, screaming at her to flee the clearing as the once statue came to life before her.  She willed her feet to stay firm, she could not fail, not after coming so far. Liandro needed her to be strong. She placed the rose crystal in the palm of her hand and the other hand over her heart, the last offering.

A voice whispered through the trees. “Too long have I waited for an offering from the children of this world, too long.” The voice trailed off, but the presence of the spirit of Izis remained strong, studying Lianea. “You have suffered much child, I feel it within you. Speak your request. If it is within my power, I will grant it.”

Lianea drew in a breath, she was the last hope for Liandro and all those of her village who had fallen ill. If she failed, the sickness would claim them all, herself included.  “Oh Great One, the people of my village are dying of a sickness.  The elders have never seen it’s like. I petitioned them to leave and seek help.”

The mist rose up around Lianea, brushing her face. The gesture reminded her of times when her mother would stroke her cheek to sooth her. As the mist touched her a flood of images from the last few weeks filled her mind.  People crying, clutching wives, fathers, and children in their arms before returning them to the earth.  So many. Dark bruises covering arms, legs, and faces. People moaning, consumed by fever. Her own brother, pale and listless on his cot.

Lianea sagged to her knees, overwhelmed.  The mist withdrew.

“There is hope little one. I will grant you knowledge of those who can help.  You must seek them out.”

The mist rose towards Lianea’s face once more and she flinched as it brushed her skin. This time images of people she had never met and towns she had never visited filled her mind, teaching her and filling her with a peace she hadn’t known since before the sickness began. She knew what she had to do.

…to be continued…

Writing Update – June


June marked the start of summer vacation for the kids and a lot less undisturbed time for me.  It felt I spent most of the month spent finding balance between housework,  playing with the kids, and finding time for me to continue working on my story. Still, I ended the month with the manuscript heavier by a surprising additional 22,000 words, bringing the total to about 57,500 words. Even with challenges, I managed to crank through roughly 88 pages.  I’m thrilled.

At last I feel like I’m making some real progress.  For the longest time  I wasn’t sure about where the story needed to go or how to get it there. Now, with this month’s work, the story and it’s characters are gaining momentum and I can see where it needs to go.

Writing a first novel is much harder than it looks, you are not only discovering your characters and the story, but you are also discovering yourself as a writer.  It’s taken years to find what techniques work best for me.  Looking back the solution seems obvious now.  If I could have figured out my style of working earlier I could have saved myself a huge amount of time.

Along with the progress made on the manuscript, June marks the first time I’ve received a formal rejection letter for a short story submitted to a contest.  Although I would have loved it if my story were accepted, receiving a rejection is a milestone every writer must face.  Having one says I’m submitting and putting my work out there.  It won’t be the last rejection letter I receive and in time there will be acceptances as well.

I’m looking forward to July with its heat and long days.  If I can make the same amount of progress that I did in June then I’m on track for finishing this draft by the end of summer.  After that, the bulk of the work is done and I can start focusing on detail work and really making it shine.

I can’t wait.

The Perfect Book


We all have our favorites, those books that are never far from our night stands. They are the worn and comfortable books that we keep coming back to year after year, like an old friend. What is it about those books that hold our attention even after the surprises are gone?

Everyone has different things that they look for in a great book.  For some, the story comes first above all else.  For others it might be a strong romantic connection between the characters.  As a writer it is important for me to recognize what makes different books great so that while writing my own I can bring all the good parts together and create a story that will resonate with readers.

For me, the most important element of a book are its characters.  Not only must they be well-written and well-rounded, they must have something about them that I find fascinating.    For some characters this might be a great back story, for others it might be a problem they must overcome.  In the end, I must care about what happens to these people and I must want to know more about them.

The story comes in close second. A great story has the power to captivate and hold my attention. It is hard to put down and even when I’m not reading I’ll think about it.  For it to do that it must be meaningful.  The characters must have real stakes against them and something either very painful or very personal to lose.  

The more I read the more I realize how important it is for a book to have beautiful prose.  I want to be able to fall into a lush weaving of words, not just read a story.  There are few authors that have mastered this skill. Sue Monk Kidd is one of my favorite authors just because her prose is beautiful.

 Last but not least is creativity.  In fantasy writing I want to be amazed by what worlds the author can create and what magic lies in them.  In standard literature I want to be surprised at solutions to problems and at twists in the plot.  All books are a result of creativity, however some have the power to grab my imagination better than others. 

How about you dear reader?  What do you look for in the perfect book? Share your thoughts below!

Fiction Friday: The Music of Heaven

Today’s post is a piece of flash fiction inspired by this piece of abstract art.  For more terrific public domain abstract art, check out The Public Domain.  Enjoy!publicdomain-free-remix-share-texture-abstract

“They’ve broken the sky, now there’s no going back.” Balzac said, reaching towards the cacophony of color and light that arched overhead.  The sky seethed in billowing masses of reds and deep purples.  Sparks of lightning, like brilliant stars, dotted the heavens, filling the boiling clouds with flashing light.

Sabine pulled the rough woolen blanket tighter around her, so that nothing below the curve of her neck could be seen.  “I’m scared, I never imagined it would happen this soon.” she said, her voice soft compared to the thundering above.

Balzac lowered himself down next to her with a grimace, he wasn’t as young as he used to be and after the day’s journey he ached all over.  A cold breeze pulled at his hair, teasing the silver strands into his face.  “There is no need for fear now.” He patted her shoulder. “If only they had listened sooner, they should have heeded my warning.  This wouldn’t have happened.”

“It isn’t your fault, you never intended your studies to lead to this.  Your’s was a search for truth, for understanding of our world.  If anything your discovery should have been used to heal the rift in the sky, not to tear it further.”  She opened the blanket and beckoned him to join her inside.  “It is beautiful, isn’t it?’

“Of course it’s beautiful, even in its death throes it manages to put on a show.  I imagine it won’t be much longer before the transition is complete, then all this will fade to nothing.  Dark grey clouds will blanket the earth so thick that the sun’s light will no longer pierce through.” He pulled the blanket around them both and shut it tight, closing out the chill.  Inside her warmth was welcome.  The cold would only grow more bitter as time passed.

There on the crest of the southern ridge they sat, below lay a city in ruins, their city.  But Balzac knew, he had predicted that it all would happen.  The diplomatic disputes, the wars, the destruction, and finally, the breaking – he had seen it all when he discovered the secret to the music of the sky.

To him the world and everything in it was organized in numbers and frequencies, harmonics and resonances.  To discover how it all worked he immersed himself in his lab, measuring the vibrations of the heavens and then engineering exact matches.  The university provided the funds and equipment as long as he published his findings.  Perhaps that was his first mistake, but then there was not other way to get the money. Tools for studying celestial vibrations didn’t come cheap either.

“Balzac?” Sabine asked, “Are you certain that there is no way to repair the damage?  Could the vibrations be neutralized?”

“No, I’m certain. I would have to discover the exact frequencies and patterns they used, which is impossible as both change as soon as they meet the harmonics that exist above. Although now I’m not sure if I would want to.  The effort, if it were possible, would take years of precise applications, maybe even decades.  By then there would be no society to save, civilization would have returned to a primal state, that is if anyone managed to stay alive for that long.”

Sabine curled in tighter to him, hugging her knees to her chest.  He wrapped an arm around her and breathed in her scent, she smelled of sweat and floral shampoo.  Having her here with him here at the beginning of the end felt right.  The thought of facing this catastrophe alone made his stomach twist.

“It’s final then, you plan to carry out your orders?” To his surprise she had tears on her face.

He wiped away her tear with a thumb. “Yes. I’d rather it end this way than watching countless millions suffer.  It’s clean. . . ” he sighed, “it’s humane.”

“And what about us? We’ve been together for so long, seen so much.  Should that all be lost?”

“No Sabine, we won’t be lost, we will be changed, transformed into the very harmonics and vibrations that I’ve studied for so long.  There is a place for us in the heavens among all of our family and friends.”

“I wish I had your faith. For now I must rely on yours, it is enough.  You were always the strong one.  Do it.  Do it, before I lose my nerve.”

Balzac pulled the activator from his pocket and the silver key from its chain around his neck.  He slipped the key into its slot and turned it, opening the cover.  After he entered the complex arming code the device chimed to life.   When he discovered how to break the sky, he had also discovered the frequencies that would annihilate the life from earth.

Together they pushed the button.  From deep within the bowels of the earth it started, a deep thrumming rhythm unlike any they had heard, it sent a chill that started at the back of his neck then shot down his limbs.  The sound thrilled him, electrified him. From a distance higher tones flowed in undulating patterns all across the land and sky counterpointing the music from below.  Tears of joy bathed Balzac’s face.

It was the music of the death of earth, and it was beautiful.