Archive for September, 2010

Well, since I’m working through a polishing edit on MAGE STORM, preparing it for readers in the very near future, it’s time to think about queries and synopses again.

I have a query, although I’m quite sure it can be improved:. 

Fifteen-year-old Rell lives in a world where magic is dead.  It died with the all the mages at the end of the Great Mage War.  All that’s left are the mage storms, composed of the ashes of the dead mages, wreaking havoc.

Or so everyone believes until a freak mage storm infects Rell with magic he can’t control.  When he fails to learn how to control his frightening new abilities on his own, Rell runs off to seek help.  It turns out magic isn’t as dead as people think and real help isn’t as easy to find as Rell hoped.

The only teacher anyone knows of is Trav, who turns out to be an overbearing cult leader who murders anyone with real talent.  After witnessing his latest murder, Rell is next on Trav’s list.  Rell is forced to flee, but he can’t forget the friends he left behind.  Somehow, he has to learn enough to return and free the others.

That is, if Trav doesn’t catch him first, because Trav doesn’t let anyone get away that easily.

Now I have to start working on the synopsis.  I had a basic one I used as an outline, but it’s not helping as much as I hoped it would in creating a really interesting version of the story.  It’s still got to hook.

Ah, well.  Back to work.

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Bewteen Things

I’m at my least favorite phase of writing–being between things. 

MAGE STORM is basically complete and ready for readers.  I’ll do one more read through, but I expect any changes to be minimal at this point.  Just tweaks. 

My chapter exchange with DREAMER’S ROSE is not quite complete.  I don’t want to start the heavy revision until that’s done.

I’m working on revisions to a short story right now.  I may go back to working on the revisions for THE IGNORED PROPHECY next week. 

I don’t really have anything else that feels ready to start right now.  The world building for SEVEN STARS isn’t complete.  I have an idea for a sequel to MAGE STORM, possibly to be called DRAGON MAGE, but it’s not a good idea to spend the time on a sequel until you know if book one is going anywhere.

I start getting itchy for something new to work on.  I may even start the rewrite of the SHAMAN’S CURSE.  It’s not new, but a lot of the writing will be.

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Next Phase

Well, I finished the second draft of MAGE STORM yesterday.  It came in right about where I wanted it at 56,000 words.  So, now I’m in revision mode for a while.

I haven’t decided yet (I have a few days) whether I’ll put this up for a full novel read or just continue section by section.  Either way, it’s time to have a few readers look at it with fresh eyes.

Meanwhile, I’ll be catching up on the chapter revisions for DREAMER’S ROSE.  I have a backlog of eight chapters to work through.  And that’s if I get caught up before more come in (unlikely).  Yikes!  And two of those are going to be significant revisions.  I knew there was something wrong with that scene, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it.  My critiquing partner nailed it–it’s from the wrong point of view.  Duh!  That’s what happens when you’re too close to something.  Can’t see the forest for the trees.

After that, I’ll be making some revisions on a short story and deciding exactly what to do with it next. 

Meanwhile, I’ve already started to get an idea for a possible sequel to MAGE STORM

I’m not sure yet whether SEVEN STARS (I really have to find a better title for that one) is ready for me to start over.  I like my new plan for it.  I know where it starts.  I know the central conflict.  But I don’t really see the climax yet or exactly how it ends, so it’s probably premature to start on that.  Therefore, it may be a couple of weeks before I start any really new writing.  We’ll see if I can stand it that long.  Maybe another short story will come to me in the meantime.

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I’m making good progress on the second (and last) pass through on the second draft of MAGE STORM.  I hit close to the half-way point this morning.  This pass through I’m mostly finding places where I need to show instead of tell something, though I have done a little rearranging, too.

It’s mostly small things that I need to show.  Not things that need a whole scene.  Just places where I need to expand three sentences into something more like three paragraphs to flesh things out a bit more and, you know, make the story come to life.  Even so, I’ve added about 2500 words.

I hope to finish the second draft this month.  That’s going to depend partly on factors beyond my control.  Then it’s on to getting readers and incorporating revisions from critiques–the third draft.  I’ve actually already done that with the first three chapters.

I’m pretty well on pace to start querying this one early next year.  Fingers crossed.

As to the factors beyond my control:  Wednesday’s blog may–or may not–be delayed.  I’m on jury duty next week so everything will be, as they say, at the mercy of  the court.  My group hasn’t been called up for Monday.  So far, that’s all I know.

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Writers’ Groups

I’ve never belonged to a face-to-face writers’ group, mainly because I haven’t found one that suits my needs, yet.  However I do belong to three different online writers’ groups.  You’ll find them listed on the right side of this blog, if you scroll down.

Writers’ groups can be great.  They’re a place for support, which all of us occasionally need.  They’re a great place to learn about the ins and outs of this business, especially if they have members at all levels–beginners new enough to ask all the questions and veterans experienced enough to have some of the answers.

Still there are different kinds of writers’ groups, even online.  I’m a member of a brand new writers’ group (literally, the forum only started at the end of August), and so far it is completely awesome.  We’re divided up into smaller groups based on our interests–novels or short stories, genre, etc.  It’s possible to belong to more than one group.  I’m currently in a group focusing on young adult fantasy novels.  It’s a new experience, getting critiques only from people who are interested in the same kind of writing I am.  I love it.

I am amazed at the quality of writing, story ideas, and critiques in this group so far.  I predict that in five years at least one of us will be published.  Hope it’s me.

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There are revisions and then there are revisions.  I’m in the middle of two different kinds of revision right now. 

On MAGE STORM, I’m starting the second pass through of the second draft.  Technically, that’s a revision, although what I expect to look for and correct in this draft has already resulted in more than 10,000 new words.  It’s at least as much new writing as it is revision of what’s already written.  I think I may add as much as 5,000 more in this pass.  In fact, this pass is the first in which I’m really going to look at what’s already there, because I have some critiques on the first three chapters.  Other than that, I’ll be looking for places where I tell what should be shown or where I need to add to the descriptions or provide more internal monologue.

On DREAMER’S ROSE, I’m working through the revisions from an ongoing chapter exchange.  DREAMER’S ROSE is actually in a very odd place right now.  I’m working on the chapter exchange and the suggestions are improving the story immensely.  I did six chapters this week, which filled a couple of plot holes and fixed a couple of places where I just didn’t make the characters work hard enough.  I actually did add one scene and beef up some world-building description, but it’s often as much about what I delete as what I add.

On the other hand, these chapter revisions have also shown me that this one is going to need a much heavier revision, especially in the early chapters.  I’ve all but decided to make this YA.  It’s really close anyway.  Most of the story only needs a few tweaks.  The beginning, which needs the heaviest revision anyway, is the part that will have to change the most, because the novel currently starts with an older character, not the YA character.  Part of me is starting to get really excited about those changes.  I’m getting the itch to start, but I’m going to hold off until the chapter exchange is complete.

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Second Draft

I finished the first pass on the second draft of MAGE STORM.  It’s just over 50,000 words, now.  I’m taking a break from it for a day or two, doing chapter revisions on DREAMER’S ROSE.  Then I’ll go back for a second pass.  I’m still calling this the second draft.

In the first pass, I had a number of things marked in the text where I wanted to add material, often whole scenes.  In fact, there are two whole new chapters.  In the second pass, I’ll take a closer look, specifically for:

  1. Places where I need to add more detail to the setting.  Try to involve more than just one of the five senses.
  2. Places, especially near the beginning, where I need to get deeper penetration into the main character’s point of view.
  3. Places where I need to show, rather than tell.  I’m pretty sure I’ve got a couple of passage-of-time type places where I could find a better way to show it.

That pass will complete the second draft.  Then it’ll be time to start finding readers.  (Well, in fact, I already have.)

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New Character Page

Since I didn’t talk about writing at all yesterday, I added a new character to the Characters page.  Meet Mastan from MAGE STORM.

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Awful August

I write this post with a touch of trepidation.  I’m not sure if I’m tempting fate or not.  You see, my awful August actually started the last week in July and it’s carried over into the beginning of September.  I just hope it’s finally over.

It started at the end of July when the water main broke.  My water main, not the city’s.  That means I’m responsible for fixing it.  We were three days without regular running water. 

Then we had a strange occurance.  This isn’t particularly awful, just weird.  A comorant roosted in my jacaranda tree for a full day.  Now, I’m at least five miles from the ocean and there isn’t anything that remotely resembles a pond.  What is a water bird doing in my yard at all?  Towards the end, it became obvious something was wrong with the bird.  Turns out, wildlife rescue in my area (at least the ones that deal with water birds) need you to bring the bird to them.  This thing had a wicked looking five-inch hooked beak!  Finally, my nephew and I managed to get it into a dog carrier and get it to wildlife rescue.  Diagnosis:  It was just an old bird.

Then one of my dogs started having trouble with his mouth.  Always very food driven, suddenly Micah was tentative about taking treats and slow to eat his food.  It took three trips to the vet and three courses of (expensive) antibiotics to finally find the foxtail that had gotten stuck in the back of his mouth and burried itself about an inch deep. 

Meanwhile, during all this time, the house has shifted.  It’s probably because of all the rain we had last winter.  That’s just one of the joys of living in an old house.  In this case, it means that the back door doesn’t close properly.  I have to slam it hard enough to rattle the windows if I want to have a chance of locking it.  There’s not much to do but wait until the house settles back.  If I shave a little bit off the door so it will close now, there’ll be a gap when it moves again.  Usually, the movements aren’t this dramatic, but as I said, we had a lot of rain last winter.

Then, on Mom’s birthday, no less, the sewer main broke.  Again, mine, not the city’s.  The plumber wanted $8,000 to fix it.  Might as well say $8,000,000, because I don’t have it.  Fortunately, my nephew and my cousin were able to take care of it for $35 in parts and lunch. 

That same day, I got my jury duty summons. 

And, on the second of September, just to prove August wasn’t completely over, my other dog started walking on three legs.  Another vet trip and another vet bill.  It’s a soft-tissue injury (like a sprain or a strain).  She’s got pain meds and she’s supposed to stay off it for five to seven days.  The problem is, the pain meds are working too well and Aliza doesn’t see any reason to rest. 

So, here’s hoping August is well and truly over this time.

Back to writing in my next post, I promise.

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Now that the calendar says it’s officially over, I was going to post about “Awful August” today.  Well, maybe I’ll save that for Sunday.  (You have figured out that I post on Wednesdays and Sundays, right?)  Today, I’m going to celebrate.  It’s not a big celebration, but you’ve got to take what you can get. 

I just finished Chapter 9 of MAGE STORM.  This is a new chapter added as part of the second draft and it had me stopped earlier in the week.  I knew what needed to happen in this chapter; two characters who weren’t friends before become friends partly by virtue of working together against the antagonist.  But I didn’t know the details.  It’s really hard to write a scene, let alone three or four, without those pesky little details. 

I got the first part of the chapter written and then just stared at the # where the next scene was supposed to start.  Nothing. 

Ideas come to me best when I’m writing.  Not necessarily right when I’m sitting with my fingers on the keyboard, but when I’m spending enough time writing every day to keep the juices flowing.  So, I set MAGE STORM aside for a day or two.  I worked on some back-logged revisions to DREAMER’S ROSE.  I revised my latest short story. 

Then I came back to MAGE STORM.  Still nothing.  I started the scene anyway.  Even if I haven’t figured out the details, I know where it takes place and who’s there.  Those things have to be set up anyway.  Before I had that paragraph done, more was coming to me.  I just now typed the last few sentences.  I like it.  And now I can move on with the rest of the second draft.


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