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Archive for December, 2011

Goals for 2012

I’m blogging a day early this week.

I decline to make resolutions this year because, let’s face it, we all forget about our resolutions by Valentine’s Day at the latest. Goals, though. Goals are measurable and goals can be self-motivating. As you make progress toward a goal, and see that you’re making progress, it becomes self-rewarding. Goals also tweak that competitive streak. So, I’ll make goals for the coming year.

Writing Goals:

  1. Dispose of BLOOD WILL TELL one way or another. It’s time to cut ties on this one and move on. BLOOD WILL TELL was originally written in 2009. It’s been queried fairly widely, had a few requests for partials or the full manuscript. A full is out now. If that agent declines, I’m going to e-pub it. I think it’s good enough. Besides, BLOOD WILL TELL is a paranormal romance. Everything I’m writing now is YA or MG. Finding the right agent for BLOOD WILL TELL and its sequels isn’t necessarily going to yield the right agent for my current and future works.
  2. Keep querying MAGE STORM. I really think this one is good enough, too.
  3. Get SEVEN STARS (hopefully with a better title) out there. This is my best yet. This means a polishing edit, getting a decent query together, writing the synopsis, and researching agents (although I can build on the list I already have for MAGE STORM).
  4. Get MAGIC’S FOOL polished up. It’s only a first draft right now. It’s going to need two or three more drafts. And readers. I have that slated for March. Like SEVEN STARS, I’ll want to give it a good long rest before the final edit. I probably won’t start querying this one until 2013 (assuming the Mayans were wrong, of course).
  5. Keep writing. Well, here I have an embarrassment of riches, even leaving aside the sequels to MAGE STORM and MAGIC’S FOOL. There are the two sequels to BLOOD WILL TELL. If I e-pub this, I’ll want the sequels as follow-ups. My YA alternate history, THE BARD’SGIFT. A new idea for a retelling of “Little Furball”. DREAMER’S ROSE, if I can ever figure out what that story needs to make it really shine. And a couple of short story ideas. I have to follow up on that Honorable Mention from Writers of the Future. I’ve got a couple of ideas. I’ve just been too swamped with the novels to write them.

Personal Goals:

  1. Get a regular exercise program established. It has to be something I can do at home. Possibly something to make walking the dogs a little more fitness-related as well. Something I won’t mind keeping up when the weather turns warm, too. My measurable goal for this is modest. Two pounds a month. If I can lose two pounds a month it would make a real difference in so many ways.
  2. Repair my seriously broken sleep habits. I sleep for four or five hours, get up and putter around for two and then go back to bed. Ridiculous. I need to work towards one lump of continuous sleep. (Unless, of course, a great idea hits me in the middle of the night. That has happened once or twice.) 
  3. Get the vegetable garden cleaned up and back in full production. Keep it that way.

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Unfinished BLOOD WILL TELL COVER art

I have to admit that I’m stuck–for the moment–on BLOOD IS THICKER. Only two chapters from “The End”, too. I’m not happy with the last couple of chapters and a little nervy about making a time jump at this point in the story, even though I’m sure that’s what the story needs and trying to drag through the intervening time would probably feel just like dragging.

I’m filling the time by playing around with the potential cover art for the first book in the series, BLOOD WILL TELL, in case I decide to e-pub it after all. (I’ll know more about that, hopefully, in a couple of weeks.) Here’s what I’ve got so far (obviously only half finished).

I’ll get myself unstuck pretty soon. I have a couple of things to do to get there:

  1. The latest podcast of Writing Excuses is about finishing your story. I haven’t listened to it, yet, but I think I need to make some time for it.
  2. I need to remind myself–until I believe it–that this is only a first draft. First drafts don’t have to be perfect. In fact, they’re not supposed to be perfect. That’s what second, third, etc. drafts are for. I can fix it later, but not if I don’t get it down in the first place.
  3. But, meantime, letting my brain up for a few days to play with something else may not be such a bad idea.

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I’m going to post another short scene from BLOOD IS THICKER today.

Since this is not the beginning, here’s a little background. As you might have gathered from the previous scene, dragons aren’t limited to a single form. They can, for example, appear human–an ability they use heavily when spending time in our world, for obvious reasons.

Valeriah has never been here when she wasn’t working as a bodyguard. To her, Christmas just means more crowds, noises, and smells to make her job harder. Rolf, on the other hand, has had more recreational time here. This leaves them with different views of the season.

Kamara is Rolf’s younger sister, here for the very first time.

As soon as she saw the decorations on the light standards in the parking lot, Valeriah groaned. “Christmas. Perfect. Busiest shopping time of the year.”

“Well, we left here six months ago and it was June, then,” Rolf said.

“I know. It’s just easy to lose track of the dates over here when you spend a lot of time in Chimeria.”

“What’s Christmas?” Kamara asked from the back seat.

“A big holiday in the main religion over here. They all go out and buy each other gifts they can’t afford and don’t need.”

Rolf laughed. “Scrooge! Christmas can be fun. Singing. Parties. Decorations.”

“Dragging a dead tree into the house.”

“The piney smell of the forest drifting through the house.”

Valeriah made a rude noise.

“Eggnog.”

Valeriah made a face. “Yuck.”

“Hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps, then.” As the look on Valeriah’s face changed, Rolf continued, pressing his advantage. “Peppermint bark, candy canes, fudge, Christmas cookies.”

“It sounds like fun. Are we going to celebrate Christmas?” Kamara asked, interrupting Rolf and Valeriah.

“I believe a Christmas party for the employees of Goldings Bank is traditional,” Rolf said.

“Oh, good!” Kamara said, bouncing in her seat

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This is my 200th post. In honor of that and as a sort of early Christmas gift, I’m going to post the first page of the first draft of my current WIP, BLOOD IS THICKER.

“Rolf?” Valeriah pronounced his name carefully, even though it didn’t have any of the soft ess sounds that were so difficult for a dragon’s tongue and throat to produce without hissing.

“Hmm?” Rolf answered, opening one eye. He lay stretched out on the beach, dozing and digesting the cow they’d shared for lunch. They were both resting before her afternoon flying lesson.

“How long iss thiss going to take?” Damn, those esses were hard.

“Which this is that, sweetheart?”

Show off. He didn’t have any trouble with his esses. Then again, he’d been a dragon from birth. He’d had a lot more time to practice. “Learning to be a dragon.”

Rolf stretched out his huge golden wing to embrace her and reached out with his long neck to rub his chin along her back.

Signs he knew she wasn’t going to like the answer. She felt herself tensing, subconsciously balancing her weight as if she were going into a fight.

“Most dragons take about ten years to master a new form,” he said.

“Ten yearss!” She jerked, half unfolding her wings in outrage, and clunked Rolf’s jaw with the top of her head.

Rolf pulled his head back but continued to rub his wingtip along the edge of her wings. “It’s not just learning to fly and speak Draconic. You’ll have to learn dragon magic. And, because you’re a red dragon, you’ll have to learn to breathe fire, too. That’s one I can’t teach you. Golds don’t breathe fire.”

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It looks like BLOOD IS THICKER is going to end up being short. I’m at just about 40,000 words with only about three chapters left to go. Of course it will grow some during the second draft when I add in some missing descriptions, the missing background from BLOOD WILL TELL, and delve deeper into the characters thoughts and emotions in some of the early chapters.

But I doubt it will double in length. It’s not likely to make the 97,000 words of BLOOD WILL TELL. More like, about 60,000 would be my best guess at finished length for this one.

That’s outside the novella range (17,500 to 40,000 words), but still very short for a traditionally-published novel intended for an adult audience. A few years ago, this would have been a major concern. There’s no market for novella’s unless you’re a name author and next to no market even for novelettes (7,500 to 17,500 words). Very short novels (outside of certain genres) run into as much trouble (at least from unknown or debut authors) as extremely long novels.

However, the publishing world is changing. There’s e-publication now. And I’ve been seriously considering this for BLOOD WILL TELL and its sequels anyway. (Look for a final decision on that early next year.)

In e-pubs, the artificial limits set by traditional publishing don’t have to apply. That’s very freeing. It’s one of the great benefits I see from the rise in e-publication.

It would just affect the price I choose to set on the work. Less for a substantially shorter story. Or, I could choose to bundle. Maybe add a short story (or novelette) into the bargain. Or both, and give the reader the option. There are any number of choices I could make.

 So, I’m not going to worry about it. I’m going to tell the story the best way I can and the length will be whatever it is.

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I’m feeling better. Not all better by any means, but better. My m’s still sound like b’s and I have a cough like the bark of a seal, but I do believe I’ll live. The poor dogs may even get a walk today, but let’s not get crazy.

I’ve kept up writing even when I didn’t feel so good. Hopefully it’s all coherent, but I guess my readers will let me know that. Well, writing is a nice, quiet, not physically taxing activity. That’s part of it.

But a big part of what’s kept me going is that I’m at the point in BLOOD IS THICKER where I get to write the “fun” parts. Things are coming to a head.

All of the set up has been done. (Well, my readers tell me I’m going to have a bit of work in the second draft, but that’s for later. The delicate balancing act of giving enough information about what happened in the first book, but not so much that it drags the story to a halt isn’t quite right, yet. This is a stand-alone story, but some things that happened in the first book are relevant to how the characters got to where they are now.)

Now I get to write the parts where things really move. In the last two chapters I’ve had a suspense scene and an action scene–and I’m not even at the climax, yet. Although I’m getting close enough to the climax now that the excitement is building. I can feel the downhill slide towards those magical words: “The End”.

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Sick

I’m sick, so this is going to be a real short post.

I hate getting sick at this time of year. There’s too much to do. The decorating is only half done. The wrapping is barely started. I have hand-made gifts to finish. I haven’t even started the baking.

Worse yet. Mom’s sick, too. She actually got sick two days ahead of me. Not good for a woman her age.

I must be a real writer, though. Because in spite of getting sleep in two-hour bursts (before the coughing wakes me up) and generally feeling as if I’d been pulled through a knothole backwards, I managed to finish Chapter 18 of BLOOD IS THICKER and have started on Chapter 19.

 

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