Archive for May, 2013

Just a little while ago I typed the magical words “THE END” at the bottom of the last page of MAGIC AND POWER. It came in at just under 75,000 words. Yeah, this was the story that was going to be short, a novelette (7,500 to 15,000 words). It’s rough, but, hey, that’s why they call it a rough draft. It’s time to close that file and let it rest a little before coming back for revisions to smooth that roughness out.

So now I’ll turn my attention to other revisions for a little while. I’m getting my middle grade fantasy, MAGE STORM, ready for my critique group next month. (That’s not that far away, now.) I’ll take another pass through BLOOD IS THICKER, the sequel to BLOOD WILL TELL. And, meanwhile, I can let my imagination play with that weird Oz story and try to get enough of a handle on it to plunge in and write that one.

I think I have a pretty good idea of the world in which this story takes place (think of it as a Jurassic Park version of Oz). What I need to develop more is the main story line. What is it the character wants? What does she need? How do those two conflict? And what will she have to do to get what it is she wants? It’s the conflict that drives the story forward and I need to have a grip on that before I start.

Meanwhile, new chapters of FIRE AND EARTH and BLOOD WILL TELL are available free on wattpad.

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Only two chapters left to go in the current WIP, MAGIC AND POWER. My fingers are starting to get itchy to type that magical “The End”. That never gets old.

Last week I posted a few possibilities for what I might work on next. My terrific critique partner, Donna (whose debut novel A CHANGE OF PLANS comes out the first week in June. Trust me, you want to read this. I’ll be reviewing it here on June 5th to convince you of that) commented her preference for my “weird Oz story.”

What I’ll actually work on next will be some revisions. I’ve got a sequel to BLOOD WILL TELL that needs at least one more pass. My middle grade fantasy adventure, MAGE STORM, goes out to my critique group in June, and by then MAGIC AND POWER may have rested long enough to start the second draft.

However, while I’m doing all of that, I’ll be working on some of the development of my “weird Oz story.” I keep putting that in quotes because, while Oz is part of the inspiration for this story, the actual story may not have much or anything recognizable to do with Oz.

This story got started when I was frustrated. I’d read one too many stories in which the female protagonist sat around an waited for some guy to show her what to do. This earns a throw-the-book-against-the-wall reaction from me. So, I was thinking about under what circumstances it would be okay for the female main character to need this kind of help.

One thing that came to mind was dropping my “Dorothy” into Oz–a world in which all the rules are different than the ones she knows. In that case, she might need someone to get her out of the results of an honest mistake–once or twice. After that, she’d better be smart enough to either keep herself out of trouble or learn to deal with it herself.

So, Oz. But this version won’t have Munchkinland or even a Wicked Witch. What it will have are a lot of folk tale elements turned on their heads. What you think would be cute and fuzzy and safe, will be the most dangerous. And things that look spooky, might just be the only things you can trust.

Before I can start, though, I need to decide what kind of story this will be. Will it just be about “Dorothy” (that probably won’t actually be her name) getting home, like “The Wizard of Oz”? Or will it be about something bigger? And if so, what?

As always, new chapters of FIRE AND EARTH and BLOOD WILL TELL are available on wattpad.

And, before I close,

Happy Memorial Day

My father.

My father.

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I finished that dance scene–actually a full chapter. There’s a little less male dominance agression than I’d originally intended. That’s what revisions are for. The first draft is just to get the story down.

So, now I’ve got four more chapters sketched out to finish this one. (I think. This story has surprised me more than once already.) As it’s nearly 66,000 words now, that’ll be just about right for a young adult novel. The climax is in sight. And that awkward scene I talked about in my last post in which the couples sort themselves out will be the denoument.

There’s going to be a lot of work to do on the revisions, partly because of those surprises. It’s usually best to let it rest a little before turning right around and starting the revisions, though. So, it’s probably time to start thinking about what comes next. Possibilities at this time:

  1. That weird Oz story that was supposed to come next before this one decided to grow into a full novel on me. This one still needs some development.
  2. The rewrite of one of my earliest novels, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, aka MAGIC’S APPRENTICE. Since it’s been written once (and a half in MAGIC’S APPRENTICE), this one would be easy.
  3. Some other shiny new idea I haven’t even considered yet. After all, that’s what happened last time.

Ah, well. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, don’t forget FIRE AND EARTH. The introductory price is going up nearly everywhere (except Amazon).

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

Also, new chapters of FIRE AND EARTH and BLOOD WILL TELL are available on wattpad. (Though, you know, you could find out how they end much faster if you just go buy them.)

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I’ve just completed Chapter 19 in my current WIP, MAGIC AND POWER. I’m going to need a new title for this. And, yeah, at just over 63,000 words, it’s definitely going to be a novel. That wasn’t what I originally intended with this story, but, it is what it is.

I’ve just reached a point where my main character, call her “A”, is definitely done with one relationship, but hasn’t yet committed to another, with a character we’ll call “J”. The other character in that first relationship, call him “S”, hasn’t given up, yet, though. This is where I have to go carefully. My tendency is to cut off the old and start the new, but that would waste so much good conflict.

Besides, someone else, call her “M”, has set her sights on that discarded first love. And there’s a separation coming up where A will be physically away from S for a period of time. I have this awkward little scene in my head where A tries to convince S that it’s over and she’s now definitely with J at the same time S is trying to break the news that he’s now in love with M.

Oh, the possibilities.

First, though, I’ve got a dance scene to write. A is still mad at S and has decided he’s not what she wants. S hasn’t accepted that. J is in the wings, trying to get A to turn to him. I see some male dominance competition playing out at this dance.

Yes, I definitely need to string this complication out longer.


Next week, the introductory pricing of FIRE AND EARTH will go up almost everywhere.

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

Also, new chapters of FIRE AND EARTH and BLOOD WILL TELL are available on wattpad. The FIRE AND EARTH chapter is my favorite from that book.

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This morning, I finished up the revisions to my middle grade fantasy adventure, MAGE STORM. Well, this round. I can set it aside for a while, but I’ll want to give it another read through before I hand it off to beta readers next month, just to make sure I didn’t create any new problems.

So, now I’ll be getting my head back into my work in process, MAGIC AND POWER. I left two of my characters really angry with each other. Well, one was spitting fire–not literally. It’s fantasy; I have to be careful about metaphors like that. Some people might take it literally. Her magic is with plants, not fire. Although, the other character might have gotten a clue that if he’s ever going to argue with her again, maybe he should find a place with fewer trees. The other character is more confused. He expected some push back to what he was asking, not the (figurative) face full of claws he got.

So, now I’ll read through that last chapter and get ready to carry the story forward. The fun is really just beginning for these characters.

Also, don’t forget about FIRE AND EARTH. The introductory pricing of $2.99 will go up to $3.99 almost everywhere next week.

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

Also, new chapters of FIRE AND EARTH and BLOOD WILL TELL are available free on wattpad.

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My current WIP, MAGIC AND POWER, is on temporary hold while I work through a particularly difficult spot in the revisions of my middle grade fantasy, MAGE STORM. The tricky spot is because I’m taking a section that originally had only two characters and revising it to include three characters. There are so many more possibilities for a bit of conflict between the good guys when there are three of them rather than only two. I think it will ultimately work better, but that doesn’t make it easy. Especially when I’m trying to be very careful about adding too much to the word count.

I love MAGE STORM. Always did. Here’s the pitch (which will need more work):

Like everyone else, Rell believes that magic died along with its users at the end of the Great Mage War. All that’s left are the violent, semi-sentient mage storms made up of the ashes of the magic users killed in the war. Then he’s caught in a mage storm and infected with magic he doesn’t know how to control. Rell must find someone who can help him learn to deal with this gift for his own safety and that of everyone around him. If he can’t, that fire he accidentally started in the barn will be nothing compared to what the magic will do to him. If he succeeds, Rell could begin healing the damage caused by the war and ending the mage storms forever.

I’ve already got ideas for three sequels to this one, more trouble that Rell and his friends can get into.

Of course, that’s never all I’m working on.

Don’t forget FIRE AND EARTH. (I have to find time to do some more promotion for this one.)

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

As always, new chapters of FIRE AND EARTH and BLOOD WILL TELL are up on wattpad.

Oh, and I finally figured out how to do the European 4 in 1 chain mail pattern:

European 4-1

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

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A little of this and a little of that, today.

Work progresses on the WIP, MAGIC AND POWER. It had slowed to a crawl for a couple of days as I had a really difficult scene to write. It’s one where my main character is assailed by doubts and is unprepared to make a difficult choice. I’m sure that it’s one that’s going to need plenty of work in the revisions to strengthen it. Sometimes int the first draft, you just have to put down what you can and move on. Now I’m on the scene where my characters can get really angry with each other. This one’s going to be a lot more fun to write.

In other news, Amazon made me really happy this morning when this turned up in my inbox.


Gotta love free advertising.

On the chain mail front, I know I haven’t posted anything recently. I finally ran down a new set of instructions for European Four-In-One. This is the standard pattern of actual chain mail used as armor back in the middle ages.

Sometimes, it just helps to try something a different way. That’s what finally worked for me with the helm pattern. The different perspective can just help it make sense. It works for writing, too, by the way. Stuck on something? Try writing it from a different point of view.

Also, as usual, new chapters of FIRE AND EARTH and BLOOD WILL TELL are available on wattpad. You know, though, it’s going to take over a month to get to the end at two chapters a week. Both books are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and other places.

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The central conflict is what drives a story forward. Without that, you have a vignette, maybe a very long vignette, but not a story. I learned this 0ne the hard way. I learned it with the second book I wrote after I got serious about writing. (We’re not counting that thing under the bed I wrote in college, all right?)

I wrote roughly 100,000 words and, literally as I was writing the last page, I looked up and realized that it didn’t come out to a story. I had characters and a setting and things happened, but I knew instinctively that it didn’t come out to be a story. I’m ashamed to admit how many different things I tried to fix before I realized the real problem. It didn’t have a strong central conflict that unified all those things that happened to my characters and made the final resolution feel like, well, like a resolution.

Lesson learned. I’m willing to plunge into a project, particularly a shorter project, and discover the story as I go. But I won’t start anything until I feel I have a handle on the central conflict.

I’ve mentioned before that my current project, working title MAGIC AND POWER, has surprised me more than once. The first surprise was when it decided to grow from an intended novelette or maybe novella into a full-fledged novel. It’s currently at almost 58,000 words and I project 65,000 to 70,000 when I reach the end of the first draft. (It’ll grow a bit more in second and third draft. They always do as I flesh out descriptions and give more attention to the secondary characters.)

Why this is a problem and how it relates to the title of this post is this: the original conflict for a nice little novelette can’t sustain a novel. I’ve had to work in a bigger conflict and allow the original to become a subplot. Unsurprisingly, this is something that’s going to need a lot more attention in the next draft. It’s sort of a hodge podge right now. But it has to be done for the whole thing to come together.

The irony of this situation is that I took up this story at this time (intending it to be much shorter) as a way to keep the writing muscles flexed while I try to work on the central conflict of what I intended to be my next novel. The best laid plans of mice and men . . .

Don’t forget, FIRE AND EARTH is now available just about everywhere.


And, as always, new chapter of FIRE AND EARTH and BLOOD WILL TELL are available free on wattpad. (Although, if you like the stories, you can read them much faster then two chapters a week if you buy a copy.)

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It’s what we writers do. We put our characters in situations and just when they think they’re getting comfortable, we stir things up and make them uncomfortable again. After all, stories require conflict.

So, I’ve posted before about the love triangle in MAGIC AND POWER. Well, it hasn’t been that much of a triangle, really, until now. The main character had a boyfriend back home, before she left for school. She’s just developing a relationship with a friend/potential boyfriend at school. But, since the two potential love interests have never been in the same place, it’s not too complicated. Guess who’s about to show up at her school. (Where’s that evil little emoticon when you need it.)

So that’s what I’m working on now at about the two-thirds mark in this story. Things are getting a lot more interesting.

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to find new ways to promote FIRE AND EARTH.

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

Also, as usual, new chapters of FIRE AND EARTH and BLOOD WILL TELL are available on wattpad. (Or, if you want to read faster than two chapters a week, check out the “My Books” page for links to where both are available for sale.)

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