NaNoWriMo update—finished!

I have just passed the 50,000 word mark  of words written since November 1st. Although I haven’t been a participant in NaNoWriMo, doing write-ins or chatting to ‘writing buddies’, even getting any writing buddies, it has provided the discipline I need to keep at it.

The daily word target has been 1666, which seemed daunting at first but I’ve been keeping to it, and overtaking it this last week. Since I started with 19,000 words already written, I now have almost 70,000 words towards my WIP which is a great start. I’ve no idea how far along the story is—the two main protagonists haven’t actually met yet. This could be a long one.

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NaNoWriMo update

Seventeen days into NaNoWriMo and I’m keeping up with a slight lead. I’ve written rather more than 30,000 words this month and had 19,000 words written before the beginning of November. I needed this challenge to keep me focused. The story is more or less mapped out since it’s historical fiction with just a bit of embroidering to make some connections that history doesn’t mention.

The challenge is not so much to know what to write, as why. I don’t suffer from writer’s block so much as writer’s doubt. Justifying so much time writing is difficult. Until I get a book past one of the committees that decides what gets published and what doesn’t, the doubt will persist that my time should really be spent doing something else.

Whether I could actually stop writing is another question. Meanwhile, back to the Norman Invasions. I have a wedding to prepare and the Battle of Waterford to fight.

Microfiction #writephoto: The rath

For Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt.

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As far as the eye could see stretched an ocean of acid yellow. The whole countryside was a blanket of colour that glowed with a sinister luminosity on stormy days. She’d heard they’d used the stuff to soak up some of the muck from Chernobyl. It looked like the kind of plant would like radioactive food. She remembered years and years ago, when she was a child, and there had been woods and cows here, a bit of potato and a bit of cabbage. Rapeseed was more profitable though.

She walked the straight farm track that cut through the yellow, towards the only bit of green in sight. She smiled as the field came to an abrupt end at the foot of a low hill. Not a hill, a rath. She said the word to herself as she climbed the fence, rather stiffly, that had been put there to keep the cattle off the slopes and now kept the yellow sea in its place. Thorn bushes grew in great clumps, and hazel and oak crowned the summit. She found a place that caught the sun when it came out, and sat, listening to the leaves and watching the clouds.

They’d never dare plant on the rath, she thought. Nobody. Not even the new style farmers with their fancy crops and their shiny machinery. The air was old here, and the earth. Who knew what lay among the tree roots? The air was old and it whispered. She listened and nodded.

“I’ll bide a little while longer,” she said aloud. “But by sunset, I’ll be gone.”

The leaves rustled, the blackbirds sang, and she drank in the ancient air. Just a little while longer.

 

Opening Ys part two

I haven’t done any promotion for a while, and this isn’t really promotion, but to celebrate reaching the 20k mark in new writing of the current WIP (second volume of Ys), here’s the unedited opening. It will very likely change, openings often do, but for the moment this is it.

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Una One-Eye, Una of the Sapphire Eye, Una Death-Glance, trudged along in silence, carrying the burden of her worries as stoically as a hardy work pony. Hakki, her little brother, danced along in front of her, weaving his small boy dance of joy, always happy to be moving, curious about every movement, every changing colour on the mountain, flash of bird feather, whistle in the wind. He held Goat’s halter but Una suspected the beast would stay by his side anyway. She watched Fiachra from beneath lowered lashes, observing and appraising. Fiachra—thrall, companion, and possibly friend—had a new spring in his step. Although he was burdened with the bags the unfortunate pony was no longer in a position to carry, he seemed not to feel the weight. Winter lingered long in the high passes of the mountains, but the air sang with the promise of milder days, and the grass was greener, the trees covered in a misty haze of new leaf. Una wondered was she the only one to have any doubts about this journey at all.

The Vesturlands were the home of demons, monsters and the Guardians. No one, not even the hunters from her village by the ocean had ventured beyond Hrafngill and taken the rocky path down to the heath lands below. Not even Geirri with his boarhounds and his staghounds. Not even when food was scare in the bleak mid-winter and they said the game knew it was safe beyond the Jötunnsfell so there was meat there for the asking. The Vesturlands were spiked with fastnesses, they said. The black fortresses crowned the peaks with their eyeless walls of basalt, and the Guardians held them with not so much as a band of village drengur. They had no need of armed men. The terror of the fish monsters was enough to keep even the hardiest at a distance, and who would want to brave the Guardians anyway?

Fiachra would.

Fiachra drew her thoughts back to him. However far they strayed, he pulled them in like a fisherman playing a fish on a line. Was she just a fish on a line? The notion made her frown. Fiachra strode ahead, his long legs untiring, his head held high. She would follow him, but she would not walk with him. As she watched the movement of his shoulders, the rhythm of his stride, the light changed and shifted. She reached out to steady herself, to retain her balance on the earth suddenly treacherous. Dread filled her belly with cold seawater. She knew this feeling; a waking dream was beginning.

Fiachra! she called out in her head but no sound came. She was drifting, away from the waking world and into the dream. She listened, but instead of the insistent voice of the Valdur general she heard the sound of waves. Fiachra’s name caught in her throat and the hand stretched out for balance became an entreaty. Fiachra had gone. His shock of black hair was no longer visible against the sky grown just as dark. Another was there, with hair the colour of ripe barley, a stranger. And the black was not of the sky but a cave, and the stranger with the barley-coloured hair was heading into it. She wanted to call out, to find Hakki and run out of this dream, this vision and wake in the comforting world of birch trees and sunlight. The cave loomed. The barley-headed man marched confidently into the mouth that shivered and stretched. Una tried to scream. The cave was not a cave but a maw, a black gullet.

Please, make him stop! She did not want to see what happened next, but the seers who formed her dreams would not listen. She and the fair-haired stranger were trapped in a vision of horror. The hooks of teeth were clear now, a pale spiral disappearing into the depths of the black throat, hooks that quivered and rippled like rigid flesh. The tunnel narrowed, the throat contracted, and Una screamed. The confident stride broke, and the man turned, a young man, and beneath his barley-coloured hair, his eyes, one blue as the sky, the other brown as a bird’s wing, were wide with surprise.

NaPoWriMo: The darkest meanest time of year

A Nove Otto.

Photo ©Tracy

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The darkest, meanest time of year

Is when the thaw of ice is near,

But nothing fruits on pear or plum.

Famished fox with hollow flanks slips

Beneath bushes stripped of rosehips,

To dig for bones, for mice or crumb,

Watches the sky caught in the trees,

While blackbird listens to the breeze,

All waiting for the spring to come.

End of NaNoWriMo

And beginning of WordPress’s spray a blizzard across your blog posts campaign. Thanks WP—I love it really.

Although I didn’t sign up officially, I was a fellow traveler this year, setting my own goal. It was far short of the 50k words that most people were aiming for. Knowing my capacity for wandering off subject and fiddling around with poems and bits of short fiction, my more modest goal was just to finish the first draught of In Paradisio, the third volume of the Wormholes series. I say modest advisedly, as I was aiming for an estimated total word count of 65k, and I’d already written 45k. Idling along at 5000 words a week, I reckoned a month should do it.

In the end, I reached The End first time around with over a week to spare and 74000 words on the clock. Yesterday evening, end of NaNo, the total after another run through stood at 78000. I’m pleased with what’s come out. I have a nice bunch of characters, a world that is (I hope) original, and a plot that explores love and relationships more than superpowers and good versus evil. Nor are there nearly as many plot holes as I expected. Maybe I just haven’t noticed them yet.

Volume three???? I hear you ask. What happened to volumes one and two? I’m pleased to say that I have release dates for Wormholes #1: The Abomination:

January 26 for retail pre-order and purchase through the Finch Books website.

March 22 for general retail release.

The covers are being finalised so I’ll post when I get the final version. In the meantime, here’s a wormhole.

Clifford-torus

What November has in store

First Monday of November, the notorious NaNoWriMo, and I have made a decision. I’m going to finish this novel in the month. It’s no big deal, I reckon another 20k words will finish the first draught and since I’ve set myself a lazy 5000 words a week goal, there should be no problem. I like setting myself challenges, as long as they’re easy ones.
This novel is the third volume of a duology. Yup, when I signed the contract for the first Wormholes book, I was persuaded that three is better than two, and as stories go on as long as they’re allowed, I accepted the challenge to write a third volume. I won’t go into the plot details—I’m still making them up as I go along—suffice it to say it’s a rather strange story.
Wormholes begins at the end of the world, with standard apocalyptic elements, plus some of my own invention, characters strictly my own and now personal friends, and an extremely unpleasant demise for our poor Earth. The second volume takes Carla and Tully to a parallel world, closely followed by the unpleasant elements of the first volume. What happens and how it happens is best left a closely guarded secret for the time being.
I had intended the story to end there, but of course, where there’s life there’s hope and another story. This third volume is on a different plane altogether and focuses more on relationships than exploding universes. Which doesn’t mean there isn’t a fair amount of action, it’s just that some of the action is of a more ‘adult’ nature, while keeping strictly within the decorous bounds of YA.

Here’s an unedited snippet.

Once they had passed through the second wall, Carla and Tully soared skyward, passing through the realm of the waking world and into the dark, velvet world of starlight. They walked for a while high above the glitter and ghostly glimmer of Paradisio that stretched as far as the eye could see.
“Where’s Between the Walls?” Tully asked, peering in all directions.
“We can’t see it. The walls around it send images of Paradisio back to us.”
“It really is like a box then. With a lid,” Tully mused.
“There’s something behind this, Tully. And I think we ought to find out what it is.”
“Why us?”
Carla chewed the inside of her lip thoughtfully. “Because we’re not exactly like the Grigori. I know they keep telling us we are, that we’ve come home blah blah blah. But I don’t feel as though I belong here. Not the way it is. Maybe the way it used to be…”
“Speculation, sweetheart. This place is the best. The dog’s bollix, as Dad would say. We’ll settle in, and when we do, we might find we were worrying about nothing at all.”
Tully smiled and hummed a tune, and Carla wondered if he even understood what made her feel uneasy. Tully’s singing made the stars gleam brighter, and meteorites danced like synchronised fireworks around their heads. Either she and Tully had developed powers they could never have imagined even in Lutecia, or Paradisio itself was full of magic. Tully stopped humming and held his head on one side, listening. His eyes glittered with amazement.
“Can you hear?” he whispered.
Carla stood quite still and held her breath. The silence of the night sky was broken. Like ripples on a stream, faint music made by unearthly voices came to her over the waves of darkness. She looked at Tully, her eyes wide.
“It’s the stars,” he breathed, “the planets. They’re singing.”
“What does it mean?”
Tully beamed at her. “It means we’re in heaven.”
Carla grinned. “Seriously.”
“The possibilities here are endless. Nothing is beyond us if we try hard enough. You can see why Nisroc wants to protect his world.”
Carla frowned slightly as if a cloud had passed over the moon, and the music faded. “Yeah. I s’ppose.”
Tully took her hand and led her into a fiery nest of stardust. “You worry too much,” he said gently and pulled her down beside him. “Time for dreaming.”
Carla snuggled into his arms, loosening his shirt from his trousers, letting his unmistakeable Tully smell fill her senses.
“I wonder if the Grigori dream too,” she said.
“Erelah said they all do.”
“Erelah? You mean we might bump into her up here?”
“What have you got against Erelah, anyway? She’s a good laugh, when you get to know her.”
“And you have?”
“Yeah, a bit.”
Carla fought to keep her ground in what felt like shifting sands. She held Tully tighter, finding the buckle on his belt. She bit his ear and whispered, “Like this?”
Tully kissed her hard on the mouth. “You ask the silliest questions.”
“Indulge me.”
Tully kissed her again. And again. “Of course not.”
His hands were on her skin beneath her shirt. His mouth was on hers. The stars were singing. Carla let the unpleasant thoughts slip into the gentle darkness between the planets and returned Tully’s kiss with the same passion as in the old days.