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WIPMarathon Check-In #1

It’s still Saturday for 20 minutes here! I’m a bit late but we decided to make this Christmas 2013 Setup Day, so this got pushed forward a bit! Checking in after this first week of WIP Marathon…

Last Check-in Scene Count: I decided to have one last polish of one MS before starting the drafting of my new WIP. When the week began, I had (oh, man) 20 chapters to read.

Current WC + CC (or SC): Since the week began, I’ve completed 9 of those. Not great.

WIP Issues this week: Changed a character’s name for the better, sprinkled in a few key sentences that link together some tension, and underlined this in my notes: “Show her excitement more clearly so her stumbling blocks hit harder.”

What I learnt this week in writing: A grammar tip: if you struggle to know whether to use “he/she” or “him/her”, try using “we” or “us” in place of the word in question. If “we” works, it’s he/she you want. If “us” works, it’s him/her. Learned it here!

What distracted me this week while writing: The #PitchWars Twitter feed, the LitReactor class I’m taking, and Baker’s Dozen wrapping up (I got a bid for 50 pages).

Last 200 words:

As I caught my breath, I kneeled and brushed myself off, only succeeding in smearing mud all down my front.

“Grand,” I said.

“Cousin, I would appreciate if ye would make certain this young woman is no covered in dirt in a week’s time, on the day you’re to deliver her to her kin, or I’ll have yer scalp decorating the mantle beside the antlers.”

Alasdair’s voice was a mixture of irony and coldness. Both Finlay and I flew upwards, and I swept a sideways look at him. The corner of his mouth was twitching as he nodded at the chief, who stood just below the arch leading to the kitchen gardens.

“Aye, cousin. Apologies.” He turned to me and bowed. “And to you, ma’am.”

My return bow was somewhat stiff. The day had come. We’d been waiting anxiously as Alasdair considered the suggestion Finlay brought to him weeks before, that he deliver me to Glengarry in exchange for thirty head of heifers and Flora. I felt a lump in my throat, but it wasn’t dirt. After all this time, my goal was finally within reach — but being removed from my library, Finlay’s gardens, and my new friend in exchange for some livestock suddenly filled me with soul-deep uncertainty.

And that is the end of a chapter. 🙂 Good luck everyone — see you on Twitter!

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It’s that time again.

cuillins 2

Nana nana nana nana, NANO!

My sister introduced me to NaNoWriMo several years ago and since then, I’ve used it as a tool to gauge how I make use of my writing time the rest of the year. A lot of people will argue over the value of racing to get 50k written in a month. Don’t listen to them. It’s a great idea that helps lots of people get the words down, the people like me who work better under a deadline with a ticking clock than without such parameters.

Does everyone who takes part in NaNo believe they’ll have a bestseller come December, when they’ll immediately begin to query said masterpiece? Of course not. Maybe some do, but the NaNo critics should stop and realise that many people do know how things work, and take the opportunity for what it is – a chance to kick yourself in the butt and get moving. It’s that simple.

More than anything, I love the community that springs up around it every year. It’s hard to find time to constantly take part, but I love chatting and seeing the conversations on Twitter and blogs between writers who are so supportive of one another’s goals and dreams.

This year’s a bit different than last. Last year I had my story meticulously planned, and writing was a breeze. This year, I’m doing revisions on one MS, and with the recent move, I haven’t had time to put a single word down in advance. So while the vaguest plot was floating in my head with two very distinct characters, I didn’t type a word of it until Saturday. But already, I’m excited with what’s coming out in my plot sketch and first chapter. We’ll see how this goes…

About Time

The other week, we went to see this film as I’m not ashamed to admit I love Love, Actually and watch it religiously once a year. It contains my favourite piece of music of all time (which I walked down the aisle to), and was penned by the guy behind Black Adder, Richard Curtis (If you haven’t watched Black Adder from start to finish, DO IT. Hilarious, historical, and also, quite heartbreaking).

One of the things I loved about this film was that Bill Nighy’s character had all the time in the world, and what did he choose to do with it? Read. He admitted to reading every book a man could want to read. The more I think about that, the more I wish I had that chance. I’m a re-reader. I know that phrase splits a crowd down the middle. I’ve read certain books over ten times. I love reading new ones, don’t get me wrong! But when a world and its characters take me in like a friend, I don’t ever want it to end, and find myself returning for the cosy familiarity mixed with the wonders of uncovering new things each time.

If you could go back in time indefinitely, what book(s) would you want never to have to read for the final time?

My top votes would go to LOTR (the whole thing), Simon R. Green’s Forest Kingdom and Deathstalker series, Harry Potter — all of ’em, and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. Of course, it’s easier to re-read picture books from childhood – I have a pile of these on my shelf that I’ve read since I COULD read, and opening them to revisit is relatively easy, but they’d make the list, too.

#WriteMotivation November

My goals:

1. Do Nano. Write 50k as a basis for new fantasy/sci-fi. Started, and on target.
2. Work on getting back into a daily routine after the Move That Took All Month. Trying. Adjusting sleep schedule again isn’t easy.
3. Spend majority of online social time encouraging others. Need to work on this!

I should also add, “Finish revisions on fantasy MS.” By next week, I hope to say this is the case. Good luck, fellow NaNoers!

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Cover Reveal! CONFLICT OF INTEREST by Allyson Lindt

Drum roll, please . . . . . . .

Not long after we met up as critique partners, Allyson Lindt got fantastic and much deserved news and success, and I’m proud to share in her cover reveal for her debut novel, CONFLICT OF INTEREST! SPICY!!

Now, let’s hear a bit about the tantalising story behind this saucy cover! 😀

“Kenzie propositions a sexy stranger in a coffee shop to prove to herself she’s capable of taking a risk. She doesn’t expect him to be sitting across from her the following Monday as her newest client. Even worse, she can’t stop thinking about what might have happened between them on a personal level if it weren’t for their professional relationship. He knows how to push her buttons, and she doesn’t want him to stop.

Scott has built his software company from the ground up to escape things like stuffy old men telling him how to behave, so he loathes his board of directors ordering him to make the public forget he doesn’t have a verbal filter. When his new publicity manager is the almost-fling he never expected to see again, he seizes the opportunity to have fun and still pretend he’s complying with the board’s edict.

Giving in to desire could mean both their jobs, but each “one last time” always leads to another. Now they have to decide what they’re willing to sacrifice to indulge this conflict of interest.”

Next, a bit about the fabulous author:

Allyson Lindt has been telling stories since before she could put the words on paper. She was lucky enough to marry her muse and soul mate. Their cats are their children, and when they’re not spending way too much time gaming, they’re building new worlds together. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies, and she made her authorial debut with a racy, erotic short story on a popular porn site for women. She loves a sexy happily-ever-after and helping deserving couples find their futures together.

And lastly, an excerpt from the forthcoming CONFLICT OF INTEREST:

“Why are you always so direct?” She had asked him the question once before, but she wanted more of an answer.

His gaze raked over her face as if he was trying to peer into her thoughts. “Chicks dig honesty, right?”

“No,” she corrected him. “Chicks only think they dig honesty until it includes something they don’t want to hear.”

“It worked on you.”

Arrogant ass. The thought didn’t have any malice in it. “You got lucky.”

He snorted. “Damn straight. And I wouldn’t mind getting lucky again.”

She rolled her eyes and shook her head, but couldn’t lose her smile. “Seriously, it has to be counterproductive most the time.”

“I’ll answer your question if you tell me something. Where do you usually meet guys?”

She stared back, confused about the gentle curve in the conversation. “Why?”

He pushed his barely touched plate aside. “Let’s see … probably not business meetings, that would be inappropriate. And I can’t see you spending much time in bars. We can add coffee shops to the list.”

“You were the only one.”

His grin spread. “I knew it.”

She slapped his hand playfully. “Yes, fine. You were a first. Happy?”

“Immensely.” He meant it. “Where did you meet your last boyfriend? The bookstore or something?”

Heat flooded her cheeks, and she ducked her head. It had been a lucky guess, that was all.

He laughed. “I was kidding. I’m right, seriously?”

“Yes, I met my last boyfriend at the bookstore.”

“The relationship section?”

She twisted her mouth in irritation and just glared at him. “Fiction and literature.”

“Bronte?” he asked.

“Vonnegut.”

He raised an eyebrow. “So what was the first thing he said to you?”

Why were they having this conversation? Not that she minded, but she was still trying to figure out his random tangents. “I don’t remember.”

“You’re lying.” There was no accusation in the words, it was a simple statement.

She looked at him, eyes wide. How had he known that? “It was something about how Vonnegut had nothing on William Gibson when it came to the cynical but not completely fatalistic future of the planet. And I told him that wasn’t a fair comparison because Kurt Vonnegut was absolutely a fatalistic literary genius and William Gibson was some sciency guy.”

His jaw dropped. “You called the father of cyber punk a sciency guy? I mean, I guess technically you’re right, but you said that?”

Finally she had caught him off-guard. “And his reaction was a lot like yours. Don’t get me wrong, William Gibson is fantastic, but it’s still like comparing Apples and Windows.”

She wasn’t sure why she’d tossed the reference in to mangle the cliché. It wasn’t like she cared if he knew she had any sort of geek cred.

“Nice.” His shock faded back into amusement. “And you went out with him after that.”

“For a while.” She didn’t want to get into the details. She was over the guy, but there was no reason to divulge she’d dumped him because he was boring in bed.

“So, last guy you didn’t go out with—the most recent one you’ve turned down. What was the first thing he said to you?”

“Like I remember. Maybe, do those legs go all the way up?” The background noise had faded as the lunchtime crowd thinned, and she was grateful she didn’t have anywhere else to be.

“But you let the guy who asked you about your honeyed walls give you a lift home.”

And she realized what he was doing—trying to point out to her why it was wrong to try and change him for the sake of appearance. He seemed fond of the object lesson rather than the direct answer. “Yes. Because you were sincere, and the guy in the bookstore was sincere—both of you inflammatory—but still sincere, and those assholes with the lines were just saying what they thought I wanted to hear.”

“I’ve made my point?” He didn’t look smug.

“Yes.” She took another drink. “But I’m still going to teach you to behave in public. You’re not learning to pick up women. You’re learning to keep your investors happy.”

He leaned in, voice low. “I already know the legs go all the way because how awkward would that be if they didn’t?” An underlying current ran through his words. “But if I told you that you had a beautiful body, would you forget this mission of yours?”

“You mean my job?” The way he’d twisted the otherwise horrid line added to her enjoyment, and the underlying compliment warmed her more than the wine had. “No. But don’t let that stop you from trying.”

“You’ve really read William Gibson.” He switched gears without pause.

“I prefer Philip K. Dick, but Neuromancer has a special place on my bookshelf. I was in a really weird frame of mind the first time I read it, it kind of screwed with my head, and I haven’t been able to forget it since.”

The rough canvas of a High Top traced up the back of her calf, sending a pleasant chill through her. His expression softened, eyes pulling up at the corners. “I know the feeling.”

*   *   *   *   *

I thoroughly enjoyed reading another novel of Allyson’s and I’m totally excited for the release of CONFLICT OF INTEREST. Hop over to her site, check her out on Twitter, and follow her blog! She has a wicked sense of humour, and she’s having giveaways throughout April for the A-Z Blogging Challenge, so you can’t lose. Check her out, and keep your eye out for CONFLICT OF INTEREST, out soon!!

As always, thanks for reading! 🙂

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Writemotivation Update #2: A NaNo Questionnaire.

I seem to be on a tardy roll, as this should’ve been up on Monday but since it’s NaNoWriMo November, then I’m lettin’ everything slide. Rule-breaker, that’s me. No rule can stand against the power of the creative mind. Or the fact that I’m trying really hard to focus on quality words this month. As much as NaNo is about reaching that 50k-word goal, this WIP has been around a bit. It’s not something I’ve just started this month, and while I know that the first draft of everything is rubbish, I still would like it to be slightly more polished rubbish than previous NaNo output.

On to my progress report:

1) 50k on WIP (in addition to pre-existing words): Current total word count = 64,049. NaNo so far = 23,000. Not bad!

2) MS#1 x3 = DONE! 🙂

This is my third year doing NaNo and as I mentioned, I’m adding to the words of the NaNo story I began last year, which took a back seat as I did revisions on my women’s fiction. So, a bit more about NaNo. I borrowed this from Meredith McCardle‘s blog, and she in turn borrowed it from someone else, so it’s making the rounds 🙂

Progress (word count or a general status update): 23,000. Nearly right on target for the 1,667 a day but I’ve been doing short, sharp bursts 😉

I do the same thing when painting. A few really intense sessions rather than forcing words each day. Not sure why; it’s not intentional but it seems to be how I work naturally. I let things stew for awhile then attack, but I never try to go any days without mulling ideas or writing out what-if scenarios at least.

Current Mood: Optimistic! I know where this bad boy’s going. But I’m not sure of all the stops along the way. Even loose plotting makes me feel much more certain 🙂

Inspiration (a writing-related quote): Every sentence must do one of two things – reveal character or advance the action. Not sure where I grabbed it but it’s on one of many Post-Its hanging in front of me.

Goals as of Today: Before this Saturday the 17th, I’d like to have the characters’ travels from A to B figured out – I know why they’re going, but I need to know how, with who, and what precisely they’ll do when they get there. If this is even just plotted out, rather than written out, I’ll be happy.

Recent Favorite NaNo-WiP Line: If I’d learned anything in my twenty years, it was that an unread book did you no good at all.

Non-NaNo News (because life DOES go on): My awesome friend Shona is getting married next weekend, and I’m so excited to see it happen!! Woohoo! 🙂

In My Downtime (ha!) I’m Reading: DARKER STILL by Leanna Renee Hieber.

You should read this blog post: 25 Ways to Unstick a Stuck Story

By: Chuck Wendig

Because: He’s funny, blunt, and these ideas are worth their weight in gold. I’ve already exercised a few of them successfully and if you’re stuck in your story, I urge you to try a few.

Gratuitous Photograph (because I love ’em!): Here’s one out of the vaults from a few years ago, when my good friend Amanda visited me in Cornwall. We drove down to Land’s End, your typical tourist trap, and were the only visitors. As such, I decided some excitement was called for.

Land’s End, where they charge you to see nature that’s free around the corner, is THIS exciting 😀
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The Next Big Thing Blog Hop!

Alexandra Diane, who I constantly envy as she lives in warm, sunny Florida, nominated me to take part in this and I’ve been meaning to for about 2 weeks but life got in the way 🙂 So here it is now. It’s an honour to be nominated 😉

The questions pertain to a work in progress, so in my case, it’s the novel I’m adding to during this NaNoWriMo month.

What is the working title of your book?
A BREATH OF SILVER

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The Fukushima Daiichi disaster of 2011, in large part. No matter where you were in the world, this had to have affected you in some way. And not just “if that thing blows, how will it hurt me?” but “how will this impact the people and land there now?” I read an article about how radiation seeped into the soil will affect generations to come, and this horrifying concept fed into a pre-existing idea of an isolated community.

What genre does your book fall under?

Fantasy, but it also has elements of Historical Fiction and Romance.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

20-year-old Bryn MacBride seeks help for her dying mother in the Outside, beyond the borders of their isolated society – where no one lives past forty-five due to an inevitable deteriorating disease, and no one has ever left, cut off as they are from the rest of Britain after a magical battle gone wrong.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I love this kind of stuff! I honestly think I’d need to do serious research to find the answers for this particular story, though. Let’s see, hmm . . .

For the MC, Bryn MacBride, off the top of my head I’d say Jennifer Lawrence, but only if she can do a believable English accent.

For her romantic interest, Finlay, he needs to be Scottish and a convincing warrior-sort, but under 30. Yeah, I can’t think of anyone at the moment who fits that bill, either…

Paul Bettany is who I have in mind when writing antagonist Eadric Harkness, though.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I respect self-published authors because of how much work they put in to the process, and their entrepreneurship. I consider myself someone who needs that working relationship with an agent and a publisher. The business side of things. That might make me needy or old-fashioned, but that’s the route I aim to take.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Current manuscript took me four months to draft, once I started putting it on screen rather than in notebooks, random scraps of paper, and in my head.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Wow. Well, I can’t say I’ve read any books that follow a similar plot line, but like Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER/CROSS STITCH, the MC goes back in time, and travels around England and Scotland. But she comes from the year 2211, a society that thinks it’s a sort of utopia–the future remnants of London after a battle between two Beings went awry. The fantasy aspects are no doubt heavily influenced by Simon R. Green’s BLUE MOON RISING and HAWK & FISHER series (among all his other writing), with a bit of characterisation and fight scenes along his lines. It’s inspired by a mixture of British and European folk tales/fables and mythology, so maybe a bit of THE SILMARILLION thrown in (nothing too lofty, then . . .) And in a strange kind of way, the film Romancing the Stone. I love how Joan Wilder was a romance novelist who had the quintessential unrealistic ideas about romance and was a success at depicting it on the page, but when it came to living out her own story, the learning curve was steep. Bryn will have a similar wake-up call, as she feels like she knows the Outside, history, and folklore better than anyone, since most Cimmerians aren’t interested in dwelling on things they can’t experience. She finds out she’s wrong, though . . . in about the worst way possible.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

A book-loving researcher obsessed with the ideas of what might’ve been and what could be — happiest by the fireside with a hot drink and just her imagination — Bryn is instead forced to enter into her own fable if she wants to save her mother, and her fellow Cimmerians.

The Ruins of Cimmeria were built upon the graveyard of a centuries-old subterranean labyrinth of tunnels — one Bryn comes to learn was known as the London Underground. To top that off, when she does emerge into the light of day, not only is it an Outside whose history was censored to Cimmerian citizens, but she finds herself in history, in the year 1691, and when her travels take her north of the border to find her ancestors, she stumbles onto the eve of the Glencoe Massacre. Not a woman with the best of timing . . .

Plus, a dangerous warrior with a rumbly accent, and the answer to the age-old question, could Men-an-Tol cure more than rickets?

That’s all for now 🙂

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