Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Well, I did it.

I actually spent most of last night revamping the entire first 500 words of OHN (it had to happen sometime). But then I looked over some of the other entries and realized the ones that held my attention had treated it not as a "first 500 words" contest but an actual "first page" contest and broken off their story at a moment of high(er) tension instead of just running to the end of their tether. I checked those wordcounts and they were closer to 300.

So I went with my gut (and something similar to Christy's suggestion) and cut my own off after about 300 words at a good breaking point. (From there she's just going outside and observing the setting until she runs into Old Teresa, which is an interesting exchange but doesn't have a good break until around the 700-word mark.)

Here it is, FWIW:

From One Highland Night (c) 2007

Today was supposed to be her wedding day.

Elizabeth Martin should have been standing in a little church back home in Kentucky, surrounded by friends and family. Instead she stood in the lobby of the Loch Awe hotel, a massive granite structure in the Baronial style nestled quaintly in the Scottish highlands. The person looking back at her was not her husband-to-be but an overly perky desk clerk who apparently didn't know the difference between polite chatter and prying.

If I am forced to answer one more personal question from a nosy Scot—especially that question—I will find the nearest haggis and cram it down their throat. Sideways.

Outwardly, she forced a smile and accepted the brochure the clerk handed across the counter. "No, I don't have 'a fine braw laddie' to go out on the loch with. I'm by myself."

She was not going to cry.

The clerk shook her head, setting short, tight black curls to bouncing, and clucked her tongue. "Ah, now that's a shame. Pretty lass like yourself with your great dark eyes... Did ye no' go and pick some St. John's wort last night?"

Her incomprehension must have shown on her face, for the plump-cheeked young woman leaned forward over the counter and whispered conspiratorially.

They say it will tell if you're to be married in the comin' year—if the flowers dinna wilt. It's best to do it on Midsummer's Eve, ye ken. But I'm sure it'd still work if ye tried tonight."

"Thanks, I'll keep an eye out for some," she lied as she turned to go.

Married this year? Not likely. She didn't need folk tales to tell her that was not going to happen. Doug had done so quite effectively three months ago, when she caught him making out with her best friend.

She was absolutely not going to cry.


*Interesting side note: I was actually really getting into revamping this thing. It gives me hope and renewed encouragement to get into rewrites (first round of many, no doubt) soon.

Where in the World is...The Spymaster's Lady?

Nope!  Not Waldo.  *g*  And not, strictly speaking, Annique herself.
We're talking your actual, physical copy of Joanna Bourne's wonderful book The Spymaster's Lady.  (If you haven't read it, see my review below, and then go get a copy!)
Take a picture of your book, with or without you in it, at a place of local interest near you.  Submit it for judging by February 16th.
The prizes?  A free, signed copy donated and autographed by JoB herself, and a gorgeous bookmark made of "rose quartz, amethyst and mookiate semi-precious stones, Czech and Brazilian glass, Swarovski crystal and sterling silver wire".
How can you resist?
Keep the signed copy for yourself, place beautifully marked with the one-of-a-kind bookmark from Firefly, and then you can share your other copy with friends and relatives!  (Or better yet - keep both copies and make them buy their own! *w*)
Head on over to Claire's blog for all the details and how to enter.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Patry Francis Blog Day

As a writer who - in my alternate guise as mild-mannered (!) medical physicist - also fights cancer, I can't help but get involved in the blog event to support author Patry Francis and her book THE LIAR'S DIARY. Even if I am coming late to the game.

Copied from Precie, who copied it from Backspace... *g*


Aside from being authors, what do Kahled Hosseini, Neil Gaiman, Jennifer Weiner, Lisa Jackson, and Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Stanford University Irvin Yalom have in common? They're all blogging today to boost the sales of another author's novel.

Patry's Francis's debut THE LIAR'S DIARY came out in hardcover from Dutton last spring. The trade paper release is today, January 29th, but a few weeks ago, Patry was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. She's had several surgeries, and her prognosis is good, but given that she doesn't have much energy for promoting, these five authors, along with over 300 others, have banded together to do it for her.

In support of Patry Francis and this remarkable blog initiative, Penguin Group USA would like to offer 15% off the paperback edition of The Liar's Diary when purchased online from until 2/15/2008. On the shopping cart page, enter PATRY in the 'coupon code' field and click 'update cart' to activate it.

From the Backspace web site.

Please see Lit Park for more information on how this day came about.


Well, pretty much everyone knows about the SEFPC over at Nathan Bransford's blog.  Because I'm a glutton for punishment, too, and because someone actually recommended I enter *blush* I'm gonna toss my hat into the ring.
But I'm torn on exactly what to enter.
Oh, it's definitely the first page from OHN, which I'm relatively happy with.  But how much of it?
Nathan originally said up to 16 lines (I think) consitute a first page.  Well, mine's 11, though I could maybe include the next few.  But now he's saying up to 500 words, which is my first page and most all of the next one.  And I really like the punch the first page had (involving sideways-crammed haggis, hehe) by itself, which lessens slightly as you move on into the next pages and the setting up of the location and action-to-come.
So should I put my literal first page only, at a mere 11 lines and measley 136 words?  (And look dinky - that's "small" in American slang *g* - compared to other entries?)
Should I stretch it out and include the next 9 lines, which takes us to the next decent breaking point? That'd make it a total of 20 lines, and 267 words.
Or should I seriously rewrite the entire first 500 words and give it as much punch at the end as possible?  (Which, yah, I know I should - and likely will - do anyway, but wasn't planning on yet.)
Thoughts?  Comments?
Until then I'll keep myself busy working up a proposal for that sketch of my characters.  If I go through with it, it's gonna cost - over $300.  But, as I told DH in LOLspeak: WANT.  Want, Want, WANT!!!1!  *g*  Maybe I'll go back to selling plasma for a few weeks to pay for it...

Downtime: Week 2

I sympathized with Jen's feelings over the weekend, thinking "why isn't anyone blogging?" Then I remembered I wasn't, either. Heh.

Well, last week at work kicked my ass. Worked late (meaning past 7 pm) Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. (This after getting there around 8 am. Yeah, I was pushing 60 hours.) And I was busy most all of that time, so unfortunately not much blogging, Forum, or anything besides work. I was lucky to see Little Boy before he went to bed.

Had Book Club with my playgroup Wednesday night, during which we discussed The Time-Traveler's Wife. I also passed around my copy of TSL - hey, we were in a bookstore - and recommended it in case there were some closet romance readers (or anyone interested in becoming one, or who liked books about spies). *g*

Saturday was spent almost exclusively with LB at a playgroup thing, giving DH the day off to bum around the house. Sunday was church and then in-laws (the fun ones).

And so passed my second week of "rest" before diving into rewrites. I'll probably do that around February 15th, give or take.

I decided this week is all about the fiction for me. I just finished One Night for Love by Mary Balogh, one of my favorite Regency authors. (Save TSL, I hadn't read much Regency since starting OHN, so it was a nice change.) I'm also reading Hand of Devils and The Peculiar Princess *nods at Christy* and coming up in my TBR are the Kinsales and Woodiwiss that the good folks at the Forum recommended for me. Also Child of Awe, which I never finished. Hmmm...and I've got The Sixpence Bride by Virginia Farmer, another time-travel which looks good - cover art notwithstanding! - and The Highlander's Touch by Moning (I wasn't overly impressed with her first, Beyond the Highland Mist, but I've heard her later stuff is better).

Next week will be the non-fic, the craft stuff, that I was putting off reading (or rereading) until I had a first draft. Sin and Syntax looks as fascinating as grammar books can get *g* and I have Writing the Breakout Novel by Maass (some of you *cough* may know him). Also The Novel Writer's Toolkit - signed! - that I picked up at a Crusie-Mayer workshop. And such staples as The First Five Pages (Lukeman), Self-Editing for Fiction Writers (Browne), and Characters and Viewpoint (Card), etc.

We'll see how many I get through. Hopefully all the reading will get me charged up for plunging into OHN and making it really shine.

I also need to fiddle with Liquid Story Binder and get everything set up, since I think I want to do my rewrites in there and take advantage of all the nifty features it has. I've already set up character dossiers and photo galleries for Alec and Elspeth. I can do a timeline, storyboard, track changes, auto-backup...

Gah, it's after midnight, and tomorrow I don't get to go in late like I did today. (I went in at 11 am this morning, after a leisurely family breakfast and some errands, thanks to my gracious and understanding boss, who suggested it after all my hours last week. Unfortunately I was also at work tonight until almost 8 pm. *sigh*) So I'm for bed.

OH! I just sent off an e-mail to a really awesome comic book/graphic novel artist (Jason Badower - see his blog here) who is accepting commissions to find out how much he would charge to do a drawing of Alec and Elspeth. How kick-ass would that be? Extremely kick-ass. So I hope I can afford it and he has time to do it before his next big project. *crosses fingers*

Friday, January 25, 2008

Burns Night

Tonight, January 25th, is the traditional night to hold a Burns Supper and celebrate his works along with Scottish culture in general and, of course, haggis!

In honor of the occasion, here is the famous Burns poem (from this site):

Address to A Haggis
by Robert Burns

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o' need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An' cut ye up wi' ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they strech an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve,
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
'Bethankit!' hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi' perfect sconner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro' bluidy flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whissle;
An' legs, an' arms, an' heads will sned,
Like taps o' thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o 'fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

For an English translation and more fascinating information about haggis, see this page from the World Burns Club.

And those of you who can enjoy the wonder that is haggis *g* tonight, please do so on my behalf! It's banned here in the States.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Back to the Grind

(The day job, that is.)
After my long weekend I am rested and relaxed, though I wish I had MLK day off, too.  I indulged in some long-awaited retail therapy and boy, did I pick a good weekend to reward myself for finishing a novel - every store was having a huge sale.  I revamped my work wardrobe and got some nice casual stuff too (I needed new jeans).  All in all I got over $700 retail worth of clothes and accessories for $300 in gift cards and about $22 cash.  Bonus!
I also managed to get the chaos that was my not-so-walk-in closet finally cleaned out and organized and it is once again possible to "walk in" it.  Hehe.  Following my current rule that for every new piece of clothing I buy or accept as a gift, I have to remove one piece (I have way too many clothes) DH and I both ended up with 3 big bags - 6 total - of clothes for Goodwill.
Now I'm back at the office and it's time to catch up on some delayed work projects. 

Friday, January 18, 2008

Bracing myself

Well, Wednesday was good and not-so-good.  Having had a decent night's sleep for a change, I was very energetic.  *g*  At that point, the excitement over finishing the book really hit, and I got a little giddy.  Unfortunately, I had about 2-3 days' worth of work to do, and only one day to do it in since I was taking the long weekend.  I ended up not leaving my office until after midnight.  Bleh.

Then, as most of you know, I got braces yesterday.  For all the gory details, you can go here.

After that I went to the spa.  Man, that was awesome.  I'm talking fluffy-robe-with-chocolate awesome.  I had an hour-long custom facial, then a 20-minute "hydrotherapy" (it was basically the natural child of a bathtub and a jacuzzi), followed by a one hour massage.  I think I slept through part of the massage, hehe.  Forgot I had braces, though.  *w*

Today's been good.  Slept 10 hours last night - that's twice my recent average.  I've had hardly any pain from the braces, really, and I finally got all the Christmas stuff put away (!) as well as some laundry and general cleaning.  It's a good feeling, this getting things done...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ten Things About Me as a Writer

Meme the second...

1. Your genre(s)?
Scottish time-travel romance, if you want to be specific.  (It really is a subgenre.)  More broadly: Scottish historical romance, time-travel romance, or simply Historical Romance.  I also like "Romantic Historical Fiction" as a descriptor, because it implies I'm actually making the setting, y'know...historical.

2. How many books have you completed?

ONE!!!  (Sorry, still riding that high.)  *g*

3. How many books are you working on now?

I guess two.  Just finished the SFD for One Highland Night and while I'm letting that sit prior to rewrites, I'm starting to think more about the second book, One Highland Wife, for which I actually have a plot brainstorm and several extant scenes written already.

4. Are you a linear or chunk writer?
I usually call myself a chunk-linear hybrid, though I like Claire's term "outlining chunker" and may steal it.  *w*  Basically, I'll chunk until I get an overall idea for the plot, then I'll write an outline so I know most of what happens, but I'll continue to write scenes out of order as they come to me, and switch back into linear for the final tying-together.

5. The POV you're most partial to?

Deep Third, a.k.a. Third Limited

6. The theme that keeps cropping up in your books?

Now you're starting to sound like my high school English teacher...  Well, in OHN it's - I think - the sacrifices we're willing to make for the one we love.  And looks like OHW will incorporate that as well.

7. How many days a week do you write?

On average, I'd say five.  I try for seven, and succeed often, but sometimes stuff comes up.  (And sometimes I take months off, despite my best intentions and still mentally working on the story.  *sigh*)

8. What time of day do you get your best writing done?

It was late evening, around 9 pm-midnight.  Lately I've been doing well in the early morning (5 am-8 am or so) as well.

9. Who are your mentors?

Depends on how you define mentor.  If it's someone who has specifically influenced my development as a writer, I'll credit most everyone at the CompuServe Books and Writers Forum.  Especially Jo(anna) Bourne, Beth Shope, and all my friends/future betas reading this blog.  *g* 

10. Who are your favorite authors to read? (different from mentors)

I still have to include Joanna Bourne here ('cause hotd@mn I loved her book and look forward to the next one).  Also Diana Gabaldon, Mary Balogh, Lisa Kleypas, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Mercedes Lackey, and many more I'm leaving out but to remember and list all of them would take ages...

Ten Things I've Done that You Probably Haven't

Looks like it's meme time in the blogosphere again. *g* Consider yourself tagged if you see this.

Gah, I live a fairly normal, boring life really. Some of these will probably be pretty lame. I haven't eaten grubs or gone undercover or anything like that... *w*

1. I've been invited to audition for Jeopardy! (Never got called, though - and last week a woman from my city was on and failed miserably. I couldn't help thinking "She took my spot!" *sigh*)

2. I've broken/snuck into an archaeological site in Israel (that takes care of you, Claire *w*) after hours. (Full disclosure: I was with a group, and our guide was an IAA archaeologist with clearance to the site, and we were just running late so he took us around and we all climbed the fence and went up the back side of the tel.) It was Tel Megiddo, the supposed site of Armageddon (from har Megiddo - mount/hill of Megiddo) if anyone's interested.

3. I've played the part of Satan in the wordless (okay, I'll say it - mime) drama entitled "A Tale of Two Kingdoms" while on a missions trip to Mexico.

4. On that same trip, I was on a bus with a woman possessed by a demon (or several). Seriously.

5. I' know what up on a service ledge in the tube room of a very large research Van de Graaff accelerator. Beam wasn't on, though; it was after midnight and the lab was shut down for the night. And at least one person reading this can say the same thing.

6. I have, in fact, started beam, tuned, and done research on the gamma spectrum of Te-118 (an isotope of the element tellurium) with the aforementioned Van de Graaff accelerator. That also involved filling the HPGe detectors with liquid nitrogen. You can have lots of fun with liquid nitrogen. *g*

7. I've broken a $50,000 piece of physics beam scanning equipment by rotating a multi-ton linac (LINear ACcelerator) gantry into it while I was in grad school. They didn't kick me out or make me pay for the repairs, thankfully.

8. I have a literal right to the moniker "Bahama Mama", considering my son was conceived in a cabin on the cruise ship Carnival Fascination, somewhere in the waters off Nassau.

9. I've solved a mathematically-impossible puzzle. Honestly. But I was 12 or 13 at the time, and the puzzle was presented to me as merely "hard." I spent the better part of a day on it, found a solution, had this confirmed by quite a few people, and promptly lost it. Some years later, I was presented the same puzzle and dismissed it with "oh, I've solved that one." Presenter: "No, you haven't." Me: "Yes, I have!" Him: "You can't've - it's impossible." Me (obstinately): "Well, I did." (I've never been able to solve it again.)

10. I offered to elope, immediately, with my high school boyfriend if he could solve same puzzle. I was serious, and would have followed through if he'd done it. (He didn't, but it all worked out for us in the end. See #5 and #8...)

Wow, I can't believe I'm about to hit publish with some of the stuff I included here. Let the Reader Beware. *w*

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

In honor of the occasion

I googled "percent writers finish novel" to see just what statistic I broke this morning at around 7:47 am and found this quiz (not that I need to take it now, but still):
My results, FWIW:
Mostly Bs: You just might have what it takes to finish your novel and lead a relatively normal life (which means you're probably lying).
Heh.  And no, I'm not lying.  Book = finished.  Life = anything but normal.  I really did answer mostly B's.

The announcement you've all been waiting for...

I'M DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm utterly exhausted and kind of in shock at the moment, but just typing those words did kinda bring it home and made me a little teary-eyed.  Appropriately, even though chunking, the last scenes I wrote were the end of the final chapter and the epilogue.  Alec and Elspeth have their HEA at last.

Final word count: 111,587 (give or take)

418 pages

It's completely SFD - emphasis on the S - and riddled with brackets but it is a complete, contiguous story after 18 months of work.

I'll be excited once I've had some sleep, but for now, I have to get ready for work.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Line of the Hour, Monday morning edition

From Chapter 28:

It had started to rain, a fine, misty drizzle just this side of snow that seeped into her clothing and chilled her to the bone.   Where was she?  Kilchurn—the knowledge blossomed and she clung to it, an anchor in her swirling confusion.  When was she?  Ah, now that was the rub.

She stumbled through the empty ruins and found the spit of marshy land that connected the once-island to the loch shore.   Later than the nineteenth century, at least.

The sound of voices caused her to turn.   A group of brightly colored and heavily clothed tourists walked around the edge of the castle from the direction of the pier.  She caught snatches of their conversation as they drew near.

"Her clothes—"

 "She looks burned—"

 "Miss?  Miss!  Are you all right?"

"The date, what is the date today?" she asked urgently.

They gave her odd, concerned looks but someone said "March first" in hesitant Gaelic and it was only then she realized her own question had been in Gaelic as well.   She turned toward the sound of the voice.

"What year?" she asked, this time in English.

"Two thousand eight," said the voice.

"Oh, thank God."   And she closed her eyes and fell blissfully unconscious.

Monday morning

I'm back at work, in the process of my caffeine infusion (this one in the form of instant cappuccino) and about to set to. I last left my intrepid heroine in a hospital bed suffering from "amnesia" and my hero grounded - literally - by news of her death. I can't just leave them like that...

But in the meantime, your LOL of the day, courtesy of ICHC. I now present a summary of OHN, chapter 25:

The Reality


When you get within 2500 words or so of finishing your WIP, you get pretty optimistic.

Then you realize that's still over 5 hours writing at the top of your form, with no breaks, and somewhere around 4 am you start to slow down.  No matter how much caffeine you've consumed.  *w*

To that end, I think I'm going to call discretion the better part of valor and turn in for a few hours of sleep.  I'll pick up full steam from there.  I will definitely finish this tomorr-- er, today.

Looks like I'm going to hit 110K, which is more than anyone (myself included) guessed.  The front end is heavy and the back end is light, but that's what revisions are for.  Also gives me room to cut where needed and still maintain a healthy final wordcount.

Line of the Hour

Heh, no LOTD for me, I'd be too far behind.  *g*

But I've always like this line, and reading back through the scene it's in I was impressed with it again.  (I allow myself these little enjoyments, because I generally feel like 80-90% of my stuff is complete tripe.)  Well, okay, I'll give you a whole snip.  This is from chapter 27.  The line in question is the one about singularities.

She squeezed her eyes shut against the smoke and heat and certain death.  Please, God, let it be quick.  The fire shrieked and roared in her ears and then it was utterly silent and she knew in that instant she was about to die, felt herself falling into the abyss even as the ropes that bound her burned away.

But no—she knew this feeling, recognized it on some primordial level.  This wasn't death; she wasn't moving toward the light but toward a void, a different kind of unknown.  The wormhole.  The shrieking had been the stone, the warmth of its resonance lost in the heat of the flames.  Where would it take her?  Home?  Or would she find herself in another time—past or future—where once again she must start from scratch and try to fit in and survive? 

No matter what, there would be no Alec waiting for her on the other side, no friend or lover to guide her even if she did return home, and that prospect was very nearly enough to make her hope the flames claimed her before the portal opened fully. 

All this she thought in the moment when time slows, the one that comes before death and at the edge of singularities.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends…

I am finally, finally done with Act III, the climax.  Within Act IV it looks like two half-chapters (about 1K each) to complete and some other odds and ends.  Maybe 10 pages.  And a bit for the epilogue.  The rest is in place.  Rolling on...

The Rush

I think it's got me.

That mad dash to the end that some writers say catches them up and propels them onward.


It's 1 am and I'm quivering with excitement.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and at last it's drawing nearer.  Pass me another Mountain Dew, and has anyone seen my caffeine pills?  It's going to be a long night.

But I am about to finish this book.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Not as much writing progress as I'd hoped for today, mainly because Little Boy woke up from his nap too early.  *g*

But!  I have gotten through chapter 25 "in the black" - which is to say, in completed form.  (In my spreadsheet, the wordcounts for each scene are black if that scene is complete, red if it's "in progress".)

Chapters 26 and 27, which I had hoped to complete, are still only half finished.  I was going to finish them tonight, but I decided instead to finish sorting all the extant bits and Act IV.  I finally have everything organized!  Right now it looks like there will be 34 chapters and an epilogue.

I have about 20 more pages to write, give or take, to finish the SFD.  Can I do that in two days?  Dunno.  It's certainly within the realm of possibility.  I'll just really have to make sure to stay on track.

But with the aim of being as productive as possible tomorrow, I think I'm going to go to bed.  I write faster if I've had a decent amount (which for me is 6 hours, anymore) of sleep.

Oidhche Mhath...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Win a signed copy of The Spymaster's Lady!

Win a free, autographed copy of the most excellent (see my review below) book The Spymaster's Lady by the incomparable Joanna Bourne.

Just go HERE.

Leave a comment about how you heard about the book.  Winner will be randomly selected on January 25th.

Good luck!

Scottish Fantasies

No, that is NOT the new title for my book. *w*

It's this CD I just got:

Scottish Fantasies for Violin and Orchestra

A piece from this came on the radio in our office about a week ago, and my boss turned it up for me. I really liked the music, especially since I've been looking for a Scottish "soundtrack" to write to that didn't involve bagpipes. *g* Turns out he knows the violinist. I ordered the CD that day, and it came in today.

The music is beautiful. It puts me "there" and there's also an extra connection with Alec since he plays the fiddle/violin.

Now back to work. I'm trying to wade out of the end-of-week morass at my day job, and I've got bunco tonight. Over 1800 words written so far, and moving well along through chapter 23. Hopefully I'll continue that momentum tonight when I get home (whenever that is).

P.S. Take a close look at the backdrop on the cover of the CD. Recognize that castle? (If not, look up. And to the right on the sidebar.) *g* It's all over the CD case - there are two or three shots of it. A sign?


My time until deadline is dwindling, and my reserves are flagging as I've been hitting this so hard for almost three weeks now (thought it would be a few days at most) so I am once again descending into a self-imposed blackout.  I'll likely keep blogging, though I make no promises.  But I probably won't respond to comments or e-mails until later.
I'm also gonna hold off on commenting on the rest of the January X's.  And those of you waiting on my Scrabulous moves, it might be a few days.  *g*
After most of yesterday spent researching and brainstorming, I finally have a clear plan for my current sticking point.  Unfortunately that involves completely ditching and rewriting all of Chapter 23 and the first part of 24.  (Also the last bit of 22, but I did that last night.)  I'm going to *try* to get that done today.  Then 27 still needs about 1500-2K on it, and into Act IV where there is a lot of stuff to cut and replace.
My wordcount will likely start to fluctuate as I add and cut stuff.  Who knows where it will end up?
I can't spend all day tomorrow working as I have the past few weekends, and Sunday we have a family thing out-of-town.  But Little Boy will be going to Granny's house from there, and not coming back until Tuesday afternoon.  DH is working on a term paper for school ( Ph.D. level, so pretty intensive).  Therefore Sunday night and likely all of Monday afternoon/evening will be focused on writing.
See you on the other side!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Liquid Story Binder XE

After seeing the posts on CompuServe about Scrivener, I was insanely jealous. *Almost* enough to switch to a Mac. (Something DH and I have discussed, but we both have laptops and a joint desktop so we don't need another computer right now and it's low on the list of priorities. We'll get one at some point. As my Mac-user brother says, we should raise Little Boy "bilingual", hehe.)

Anyway, I've been googling around looking for a Windows equivalent. And I think I've found something pretty close in this program:

Liquid Story Binder XE

Like Scrivener, you can organize multiple files and associations, have pictures and notes available with texts, work with individual chapters and have the program combine them into a master document for you...there are a lot of options. Timelines, outlines, dossiers, even tracks project goals and opens where you left off. At the very least this would replace my spreadsheet. There's a full-screen editor and I like that it has the tools I need - text formatting (italics, bold, etc.) and none of the stuff I don't.

I'm futzing around with it right now and so far I like what I see (except the default white-on-black text display which took a bit of jiggling to change). But I'm way behind on my WIP progress, and the clock is ticking. I absolutely *must* be done writing by Monday night. And I'm getting ready to do some (okay, quite a lot) more "hacky, slashy, poky-poky" as I move into Act IV.

One nifty thing - you can load it on a memory card or USB data stick and take not only your files but the software with you and use it on whatever computer you're on.

Also like Scrivener, you get a free 30-day trial and then the cost is reasonable, about $45.

I have a feeling I'll be plunking that down in 30 days...

A fun find

While double-checking the definitions of some dialect I used in a snip in Alec's POV (because it's jarring some people and I need to decide if I used it wrong, or if they're just not used to those words) I came across a great resource:
It's got both Gaelic and Scots stuff in there, and so far I've been able to find everything I used.  I have a Gaelic-English dictionary, but it's rather abridged and doesn't have the Scots.  And I trust Webster's.  So this is gey useful.  *w*

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Writing Diet

Well, it hasn't worked for me (I tend to munch while BIC) but MAN!  What if?
We'd all be supermodels...

Marathon, day...whatever

I'm behind.  (What else is new?)

Sunday night I didn't finish chapter 22.  Monday I didn't either.  I didn't get any words on Monday at all.  But!  I was up quite late hashing some things out with DH and I discovered 2 things: A) I actually have a lot of underlying reasons/motivations for stuff that happens in the book, even if I didn't plan it that way.  So, yay!  And 2) I figured out kinda how I wanted the blank stuff in 22 to go, which was a big breakthrough 'cause I'd been massively writer's blocked on it but I couldn't really move forward without it.

Yesterday I did get 22 finished.  And I spent quite a bit of time organizing the remaining Act III chapters and I think that's pretty much set now (still have to finalize the chapters themselves, though).  I'd been moving scenes around trying to find the best division of wordcount and "cliffhangers"/breaking points.  Should this scene go at the end of 24, or the beginning of 25?  That kind of stuff.  But I think I've got that worked out now.  Only thing is, that opened up about another 1K to write for 23 - which is leading up to the "big night" - and left about 2K in the newly created chapter 27 to be filled in.  24, 25, and 26 are pretty much there, just need to be smoothed in.

I have to decide how much revision I'm going to do on the old chunks.  Some are slated for massive rewrites but I've known that for a long time.  Maybe I should do that as I go along, but it would eat up major time.  Part of me says just do what's necessary to tie it in to the overall current storyline, insert it, and move forward with the stuff I need to do to have a complete MS.  The rewrites can be done during - gasp! - rewrites.  *g*

So today I hope to finish 23 and smooth as much as I can from the remaining Act III chapters.  If I can work on 27 too, that would be great, but I don't know how that will go.

I've decided "endcapping" (getting up a little early, and staying up a little late to work in two sessions) doesn't work as well as well for me as one big session.  So depending on how much I get done during the day today, I might go to bed after Little Boy goes down and get up right at 5 am tomorrow to get a solid freshly-awake 2 hours in before work.  We'll see.  I've been skimping on sleep lately so I'm due for a catch-up night anyway.

Oh, FYI: I have closed entries for the guess-the-wordcount contest!  I want to keep updating and that would give late entries unfair advantage.  (I suppose if you had a guess and have been meaning to enter I'll give you one last chance.  E-mail me here and let me know before 5 pm EST today.)  Those of you who've entered, don't despair yet if you see me overshoot your guess.  There is stuff to be cut as well as written.  Nothing's final until it's,  *g*

Monday, January 07, 2008

Review: The Spymaster's Lady

One of my sitemeter hits was someone searching for Spymaster's Lady reviews, so I guess I'd better go ahead and get my formal review up.
'Cause, um, yeah...this is one of the BEST books I've read in a long time.
Even knowing some of the big reveals ahead of time (having seen Jo's synopsis when she was trying to decide on a title) I was swept up in the story from page one.  I thought I'd just skim the first few pages, maybe the first chapter, and save the rest for when I finished my own WIP.  Nothing doing.  I had to sit up until after midnight reading the night I got it, and I finished it the next day.
When I finally surfaced, it was as if I'd been suddenly deprived of sensory input.  The story world was so lush, so rich with detail, that I was completely immersed in the world.  Even some of the best Regencys I've read (Balogh, Quinn, Kleypas, Beverly, I'm leaving someone(s) out...) while most excellent books, haven't taken me so completely into that world.
Annique (fka Anneka) Villiers is exactly the right combination of kick-ass and believeable heroine.  She takes care of herself, even in the face of disability, she's able to extract herself from sticky situations, she's not afraid to do what she needs to, use who she needs to, or hurt who she needs to.  She's one of the best at the Game, and at only 18-20 years old.  But!  She's not infallible.  She can be captured, she can be hurt.  And she's so completely, authentically French.  I really felt like I was in her head.
Grey (aka Robert Greyson something Fordham) is the kind of romance hero I like to see: intelligent, deadly, honorable.  And kudos to Jo (ah, I mean, Ms. Bourne) for stating openly he's "not handsome" - who says every romance character, male or female, has to be the most stunning example of their sex?  Yet Annique is attracted to him.  To me, that makes it a "romance" novel and not just a "physical lust" novel.
Speaking of romance...shoo!  A big indicator for me on how into a romance novel I am is if I start skimming the sex scenes.  No skimming here!  I was reading every hot, hot word.  Intimate, smoking, and completely lacking in "purple" prose.  Bourne finds a way to say everything without resorting to jarring euphemisms.  And did I mention it was hot?
The language...oh, the language!  The character's voices are so unique, the differences between French and English so easily discerned - and accurate -  but beyond that just the richness of the prose and the wonderful turns-of-phrase and fresh metaphors make this a joy to read.
Oh, and the history.  This is one meticulously researched, spot-on accurate book.  Hence my total immersion.  And I would sing its praises for that alone.  As I've said before, I'm sick of non-historical "historicals".  Just putting the characters in gowns (or kilts, as the case may be) and having them be "Lady This" and "Sir That" does not a historical make.  And even someone who doesn't read historicals would get into this book, because of the action, suspense, and - of course - romance!
RUN, do not walk, to the nearest bookstore to pick up a copy (or two - this is "gift book" good) of The Spymaster's Lady.  And put My Lord and Spymaster on preorder, while you're at it!
P.S.  And for anyone who has tracked down a copy of Her Ladyship's Companion, pay attention to who answers the door at Number 7 Meeks!  I got a little chuckle out of that.

Time to take the plunge

One of the things I've been putting off until I finish the book is actually joining RWA.  Some would consider that a backwards arrangement, but I'm getting all the help I need writing the thing from the good folks at CompuServe.  Revising, publishing, marketing, etc. are more what I feel an RWA membership would help me with.  And if I never finished it - just in case - I didn't want to have spent the membership fee for nothing.  As I'm now within a week of that goal, it's become a moot point.
In addition to national, I plan to join at least my local (state) chapter.  I've actually already been to a meeting, but membership is dependent on national RWA membership so I've been putting that off, too.
Well, the next meeting is January 19th - after my projected finish date - and the subject is
"A Walk Through History"
Featuring a Q&A with history experts, examples of historical clothing, and a discussion of historical resources for writers.
A sign?
Anyway, I'd like to be a member in good standing by then so I can really get to know them and fully take advantage of the meeting.  Looks like it's time to take the plunge.

This is what I get for procrastination

As some of you are aware, I hope to publish under a pen name.  After discarding several options (mainly names that already had significant Google presence for other things) I settled on Rebecca Gabriel.  Those are family names, it's not too far back in the alphabet, and I just sounds like a "romance author" kind of name.  I've gotten kind of attached to it.
Now there's a question of if I'll be able to use it.  I just stumbled across an author that writes - guess what? - Scottish historicals.  Her name?  Sarah Gabriel.  And her newest release's heroine's name?  Elspeth, of all things.
(To be fair, she writes straight historicals that are medieval-set, and other than the name Elspeth her book has nothing in common with mine beyond Scotland.  And she's got degrees in medieval history, so I might give her books a try on that factor alone.  I've gotten rather sick of non-historical historicals...)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Best laid plans...


So last weekend I thought I could finish this book. 10K in two days was a stretch, but if I holed up in my writing space and didn't come up for air, possibly doable.

So I went at it hammer and tongs all week. "I'm so close. Any day now."

Thursday and most of Friday were a bust, though, 'cause I was reading Spymaster's Lady. Can you blame me? *w* (And most of early Thursday was eaten up by that other book I was supposed to review, which was a monumental waste of time. I would have stopped after the first chapter if I hadn't had to discuss it. Which, of course, got postponed a week.)

Then it was "If I don't do anything else this weekend, maybe I can finish by Sunday night." I've gotten up early, gone to bed late, skipped church and any other activities, and barely saw my husband and son.

Well, you see where that's gotten me.

So I've come to the conclusion - as others *did* warn me - that you've always got more to do than you think you do when you get close to the end.

Where do I stand right now?

Well, you'll notice I have broken 100K. Which pretty much everyone expected. *g*

Up through Chapter 21 - that's Glencoe - is complete. I have the remainder of Act III sorted into chapters, which are chapters 22-26. Chapter 22 is barely half written, and 23 has big gaps. 24-26 are mostly complete, but I flip-flop on how I want the division of scenes to go, so I need to finalize that and fill in a few gaps.

Act IV is mostly written, but I need to divide it up into chapters, cut a few things, add a few scenes of moderate length (1K or less), and finish a couple scenes. Oh, and write the end of the ending. *g*

To that end (ha), I've got a new (hopefully realistic) end date: the 15th. That's the end of Sven Round 2, the goal of which is to have a completed MS. (Also only 2 days before my braces go on and I get distracted by other things.)

I'll be joining Deniz in her 8-day marathon. Here's my plan:

Tonight: finish writing chapter 22 if it kills me
Tomorrow-Tuesday: finish chapter 23, and finalize 24-26
Wednesday: sort Act IV into chapters, as much as possible (27-32?)
Thursday: write new scenes for Act IV
Friday: finalize 27-28
Saturday: finalize 28-30
Sunday: finalize 31-32

The latter half of the week depends on how it all sorts out, of course. I'll leave Monday and Tuesday (13th-14th) as overflow just in case.

Hi-ho, hi-ho...

To beat a dead dog...

This has nothing to do with the two (yes, 2 - guess I'm really in for it now) dogs that are killed in my book, actually.

But I was checking my sitemeter referrals, and one of my previous Mary Sue posts came up, and when I checked the search string to see what other stuff people were sorting through and encountered my blog I found this:

Accused of Mary Sue

And one of the things that was said in the comments really struck home:

"It does not simply mean a protagonist who has some things in common with the author, or who has adventures the author enjoys living through."

So there.

'Cause I mean, really...if a protagonist couldn't share some things with the author or have adventures the author enjoyed, why the h3ll is the author writing that story?

Anyway, I'll let the sleeping dog, er...dead, I mean...when did Schrodinger get here with a box?...Whatever, I'll give the subject a rest.  *g*

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Weekend marathon, take 2

Almost 12 hours since I got up this morning, and I'm over 2K to the good and completely done up through chapter 20.

Current wordcount: 99,755. 260 pages of contiguous MS.

The holes in chapters 18, 19, and 20 have been filled. I'm breaking now to go see my husband and son, do some shopping, have dinner, and put the son to bed. Then, back to it.

I'd like to finish chapter 21, which is Glencoe itself and now mostly written, tonight. Chapter 22 as well, if I can swing it. But that's a tall order. I have quite a bit of new stuff to be written for that chapter.

From there, it's (optimistically) downhill. More knitting together and smoothing. I'll likely be a heathen again tomorrow and skip church. Hopefully the last time I'll need to.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Oh, all right, you talked me into it... *w*

From One Highland Night
(c) Jennifer R. Clark

One of the soldiers shoved him, staggering, into a snowbank. The frigid mound could not chill him further than he was already. Greedily, he swallowed what he could, for they had given him no water and his throat burned from exertion and the cold. His lower lip was split, and the right side of his face was crusted with blood from a gash in his scalp, made by a Campbell musket. He could feel it tightening the skin when he winced. Which was often.

Wrists still bound, now rubbed raw and shaking, he struggled to pull his plaid around himself once more. The action aggravated his ribs; if they were not broken, they were at least bruised. All of this he noted with some detachment. His concern was focused elsewhere, miles behind him in the valley of Glen Coe.



See, that's how I work.  I complain (in my last post) about my limits and then I go and break them.
Today has been a good day.  I sat down this morning and pounded a chapter's worth of words out of the scene I'd been avoiding - Glencoe.  There's still work to be done; the chunk itself looks a bit like swiss cheese, as do most of my "in process" bits.  Large solid pieces with holes scattered throughout (where I left off to hop down - or up - and work on whatever popped into my head at that point).  So those will need to be filled in, but the majority of it is there.  Pretty good stuff, if I do say so myself.  *g,w* 
When I'd exhausted my creativity stores for the morning, I switched gears (and hemispheres) into "organize" mode, and guess what?  Those miles of blank pages I was fretting about yesterday were mostly full after all.  I've rearranged chunks into chapters and I now have up through chapter Twenty-Two in place!  (The aforementioned Glencoe chunk became chapter 21.)  259 MS pages.  By wordcount that's more than 2/3 of the story in a contiguous piece. 
Mind, all the newly-inaugurated "chapters" (18-22) still have varying amounts of writing left to be done within them, to fill gaps/smooth transitions, but no more than about 2-3 pages each.  I'll be working on that tonight. 
The exception is Chapter 22, newly named but incomplete. It begins with Alec bound and dragged through the snow from Glencoe back to Kilchurn.  I have a planned bit where Elspeth takes the news of his capture back to Glenstrae and recieves a cold welcome (it is somewhat her fault) and from there departs for Kilchurn to rescue him, by whatever means necessary.
That, I really think, is the last "big" chunk I need to write that isn't at least in process.  The rest will be sorting into chapters and filling gaps, as I have been.  Still time-consuming, but there's definitely been a HUGE uptick in my momentum.  Woohoo!
Now it's time to do the job I get paid for, hehe, and then maybe take a little nap in my office to refresh before I set-to again.  DH is being very understanding and agreed to let me stay late to write.  I'll work here until dinnertime, then go home to eat and put Little Boy down.  Then, more writing!  I've become a machine.  Not sure how long I'll hold out tonight, since I'm running on about 5 hours sleep and have been hitting it pretty hard already.  I may turn in "early" so I'll be fresh in the morning.  Now that I have an alarm clock that actually wakes me up, it's my most productive time.
Non-related: tomorrow is my impressions and x-rays appointment, and two weeks after that (gulp!) I get my braces.  Guess I'll take the book I'm supposed to review/chat about tomorrow night - but still haven't read - to the appointment, and skim it in the waiting room.  *w*

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Slog

I got 8 hours of sleep for the first time in over two weeks last night.  The fact that those hours were 3 am to 11 am is irrelevant.  *g*  But starting so late means I haven't had a lot of chair time today.  I'll work hard for the next few hours and get up early tomorrow as per my new habit, but I'm starting to feel again like I'm treading water.

I am both excited for and (somewhat) disheartened by my friends who have kicked up their outputs lately.  Seems no matter what I do, even if it's getting up way early and planning to spend the entire day writing, I can't manage more than 2-3K a day.

Of course, having a toddler in the house is a distraction whether or not I hole myself up in the spare bedroom with my laptop.  A big part of my "lost" time has gone to him, which I don't really consider a loss.  (Today it was lunch and putting him down for his nap, then when he woke up he seriously spazzed out because I wasn't around, so I had to go calm him down and play with him a bit before he'd let me back upstairs.  Then it was dinner, bath, and bedtime.  But I'm a mom before I'm a writer, that t-shirt I like notwithstanding.)

And I'll admit, as the scheduled date for my braces appointment nears, some of my attention has been drawn back to preparing for that.

But the main thing for me has been the organization.  I've written 95K to date, primarily in chunks.  Going through the story and knitting everything together is eating up loads of time.  I might spend over an hour on 200-300 words that round out a chapter, or tie up a loose end, or smooth the transition from one event to another.  When I'm free-reining it on random chunks, my pace is usually twice that, at least.

The part of the book I'm in now, late Act II moving into Act III, is the part with the biggest gaps.  And they're the detail-filled gaps, the stuff that a) I've been avoiding and 2) takes more time to visualize, because it incorporates all that has come before and sets up for the climax and end of the book.  Oh, and it's the really historical bits.  This is the run up to Glencoe, and I'm constantly fact/date checking.  [Brackets] won't help me here, because I can't visualize the scene without knowing exactly what's going on in the bigger picture.

So even though I had put up to chapter 17 in order over the weekend, it took until today to really complete parts of 15 and 17 and get halfway into 18.  Now I'm staring probably two chapters' worth of blank pages in the face, and though most of Acts III and IV (with Glencoe itself the notable exception) are already down, there will still be extra writing for that.  Finish on Sunday - or today for that matter - what was I thinking?

Nevertheless, I've revised my goal to the end of this week, and I'm going to keep slogging at it until I finish or collapse from exhaustion.