I've also reviewed a few books on Andy Reads Things although I'm still trying to get back into the habit of doing that for most, maybe even all, of the things I read. Right now I'm on a holiday binge. I talked about two Christmas books this week already and have another one of those and a Hanukkah novel finished reading and ready to start talking about. I'm actively looking for something Winter Solstice related as the only book springing to mind is Terry Pratchett's Hogfather, which I first read many, many years ago. (Although maybe Pratchett's Wintersmith would also fit? I'm trying to remember...) Fiction about Yule is hard to find, if for no other reason than when you search for "Yule" you get a ton of things that are actually about Christmas as the word was appropriated a really long time ago. I may have to write something myself...
I realized today that Pride, Prejudice, and Curling Rocks overlapped Christmas. I'd forgotten that. So I've already written a Christmas book. A Yule book seems like a logical next step. Oh, wait! Faerie Story Book 2 covers Yule! So there we go. But maybe one day I'll do something focused on the holiday rather than merely including it in the timeline.
But, yeah... I wrote a short story yesterday. I started it in the local library while waiting for a ride home after accompanying a family member to get blood drawn and finished it after getting home. Then I decided to edit and post it around making dinner, which was probably a mistake. It would likely have been better to just wait until this morning to do it because I doubt having the story available earlier saved anyone's life or anything, but it did cause my skillet potatoes to cook too long.
It's a fun little story, though, and I enjoyed writing it. It's about a tentacle "monster" who would like to remind you to never use flash photography in places where it is expressly prohibited. You can read it on the story blog at https://andybrokaw-stories.blogspot.com/2019/11/the-tangled-tentacles-of-fate.html
This was the sixth week of Wording Wednesday Season 3, which means there will now be a break from short stories. This makes me a little sad, although I clearly need to spend some energy focusing on Faerie Story. If you want to catch up with the other stories this season, which included a tale of a rat who paints and that of an adorable baby nagi, you can find them here.
Read A Promotion in Hell on my short stories blog.
I have actually managed to write some over the last few months, even though I haven't been writing about having written...
I completed an entire season of Wording Wednesday without a peep here. For Season Two, we wrote to prompts inspired by the weather, starting with Sunny with a Chance of Pixies and ending with a snowy tale named Three Little Humans. You can find that entire series on my stories blog marked with WWS2.
Last week, I wrote a story about some monsters hanging in a cafe called Cafe All Souls at 6:36 AM and last Thursday saw a tale about a woman who walks into a teashop to find it manned by a giant spider called Along Came a Spider and Sipped Tea Beside Her.
I have also been reviewing books. I fell off that wagon for a while and have a long backlog of books to potentially write about. Last week, I talked about the fantastic Caraval series and today I posted about a Pretty in Punxsutawney, a mashup of the films Pretty in Pink and Groundhog Day.
So, you see, I have been busy. I just haven't been talking much about it for a variety of reasons. Most of my work on the faerie novel has been working out kinks in my head, but it is still on my mind daily and I hope to get into a new revision soon.
Over the course of the month, I've written a short story every week, all at https://andybrokaw-stories.blogspot.com if you want to read them and haven't. The one I wrote Friday left me shaking, which I hope means it was good. It was set in a world that I already know fairly well as I have placed two unfinished novels in it. I dreamt about one of those last night and there's a decent chance that when I finish Faerie Story I will want to return to my dragonverse.
As for Faerie Story... I still haven't finished this round of Book One. I am another chapter or two from done, but like the way it's shaping up in my mind. When I finish those chapters, I'm going to jump straight into another revision because I already have a list of alterations and additions. There's only one more week left in this season of short stories, so I'm actually optimistic I'll finally have something to send the betas by the end of the month.
I finished the rough for the story I started this morning. It's over 3k words and I wrote them all today, so I'm trying to feel accomplished. What I'm actually feeling is lazy because I'm not editing it this evening, but it's honestly better to let it sit a while anyway.
I have been writing and not updating this blog for the last few weeks. Although I have been stalled again with Faerie Story, this is the third short story I've completed since posting here. With the last two, I spent a day writing what could either be an introduction or a full piece if I wanted to stop, then another day or two continuing. Today's story had an obvious early place to stop, but I rushed right past it because I knew the main story already and knew we hadn't gotten to it yet.
I'm also behind on my book blog. I've been reading, but not reviewing promptly. I'm thinking I may abandon my reviewing my queue and just start over with the next book I finish.
Right now, I'm going to watch something with my husband. I'd tell you what, but that hasn't been determined yet. :)
I also have a list of things to add into the book before handing it off to the betas. This means I'll probably not be handing it over before the end of the month, which puts me a month behind the imaginary schedule in my head. Again, this is not something to be upset about. I spotted things to add on my own, which implies I know what I should be doing even if I didn't do it already, and, once again, the changes will make the book better. So, yeah, spotting the problems means more work, but it's still a good thing!
In other news, I'm still on hiatus from short stories, but have decided on a theme for the official first season of the new Wording Wednesday format. It shall be Beginnings. I'll be hunting down my six prompts over the next fortnight so I'll be certain they work well together. If you have recommendations for artwork or artists, please let me know! (If the piece is by you, all the better!)
Wording Wednesday is currently on MeWe and Openbook, but I am thinking I may create a blog for it to allow people not on those networks to follow along and contribute if they wish. Eventually, Openbook communities will be visible to people without Openbook accounts, but I have no idea how far away we are from that. At present, Openbook is in alpha and still lacking a lot of features like free accounts and true public visibility.
I'm going to try to relax for the rest of today and get a jump on those new chapters tomorrow. Wish me luck!
Today, most of the day was eaten by a trip to the grocery store. Yes, really. No, the trip didn't take more than an hour. But I had to gear myself up to go, then I had to decompress after unpacking everything. Then I felt I should write my newsletter, so I still haven't done any work on finishing up Faerie Story Book 1. I'm about to to do that as soon as I finish the newsletter... Although I'm feeling a little dizzy all of a sudden, so maybe not...
The bit of the newsletter that doesn't involve the stuff you can see on my other blogs is reprinted below. Cheers!
Happy Spring! (Or Autumn if you're in the Southern hemisphere...)
Spring is hard for me. It's difficult to say if it's better or worse than summer, but it's certainly in my least favorite half of the year. Between hating heat and being allergic to sunlight as well a very long list of plants, spring tends to lead to sniffling and depression. So far this year hasn't been so bad. I have lost days in the last few weeks to sinus headaches, but my mood hasn't crashed, so I'm not going to complain too much.
Clearly, I'm already having problems keeping this up weekly and that's not going to get easier as the year progresses. Therefore, my weekly newsletter is now officially a fortnightly newsletter. I'll be aiming for the second and fourth Mondays of each month.
I have also changed from a goal to write a new piece of short fiction every week. Now I am planning to do "seasons" of six weeks where I write weekly short fiction followed by six weeks in which I focus more on my novels. I'm doing this because while I was enjoying creating a new story every week, it was not the one day a week endeavor I had aimed for but something that takes up at least two or three days, which had a significant impact on my progress in my novels.
Speaking of my novels, I am very close to completing my current revision of Faerie Story Book 1. When that's done, I'll send it back to my betas. I'm debating whether I am then going to try to jump into Book 3's rough draft for the second half of Camp NaNoWriMo (it's like National Novel Writing Month except not in November) or start revising the second book. Since I want to release all three books in very close proximity to each other, I will not be publishing Book 1 until I have at least a solid second draft of the third book. I'm not going to rush all of this. It's been seventeen years in the making to get as far as I have, so another year or so isn't the end of the world but could mean producing a much superior product.
The only other thing I have to report is that my beloved Washington Capitals are heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs again. If you don't have a favorite hockey team, or if yours didn't make the post-season, I invite you to follow the boys from DC. I'll give you two reasons. 1.) It would make me happy for them to win. And 2.) These guys known how to party every bit as awesomely as they know how to play hockey. The headlines of their madcap adventures after their first Stanley Cup win were epic, and I have no reason to believe they won't be just as stoked to do it again. Oh! And bonus reason 3.) Alex Ovechkin is one of the greatest players of all time (that's not just me being a fan, you can check out his stats) and telling future hockey-watching generations that you remember seeing him play will earn you some cred.
I'm off to write some more for you. Rock on!
Writing is actually really easy. Writing something decent is what's hard.
So, yeah... I spent the day working on part of what will replace those chapters. It felt like it was going slowly, although I wrote 2,022 words, which isn't bad at all. My brain hasn't been working too well today and there's a leak in my kitchen that was somewhat distracting. And will be distracting tomorrow when someone shows up to repair it...
So I'm probably spending the first week of camp finishing the project that needs to be done before I can start my camp project. But my husband's planning to go on a business trip mid-month, so I'll probably manage some extra-long days later.
Over the last two days, I've written over 3,500 words, split almost evenly between the two days. The current word count of the novel sits at 67,627. I have two more scenes to add in the next six and a half chapters along with several more sentences of description and will then be able to say I'm done with another revision.
I am still debating what I am going to do Monday. I definitely want to start something for Camp NaNoWriMo. What I'm debating is whether I really want to do the novel inspired by the floating ice bears or if I want to tackle Faerie Story Book 3.
The main argument against Faerie Story Book 3 is that I haven't revised Book 2 yet, and there's a lot about the ending that might change. But I'm thinking maybe what I need to do is go ahead and start Book 3, pretend I made changes as needed, and then revise Book 2 to contain those changes. It really doesn't seem any more muddled that way to me. In fact, it might be more clear because that will mean tackling Book 2 with a more concrete understanding of what needs to happen in it.
The main arguments for doing Book 3 are the one I just mentioned (that it would give me more clarity on what Book 2 needs to achieve) and that it's a way to make sure I don't lose Maggie's voice. Historically, I've been unable to go back to voices of characters after I've moved on from them, so that's a daunting possibility. To help combat that, I've been thinking the ice bear story would actually be written in third person, but I'm not sure if that would be enough.
Also, I've realized the ice bear story takes place in the faerielands. So the end of the entire Fairy Story trilogy could be important. (Although it takes place in another country, so maybe not.) I think I actually know the over all ending well enough to feel confident writing something that happens after it, though, especially since if any of the Faerie Story characters appear the appearances will probably be more like cameos than anything big.
I've got an entire day to think about this, so no rush...
You can see it over on my story blog at Andy's Stories: A Gift Returned.
I also plan to get some revising done on Faerie Story Book 1 today. I'm going back to the start to add some things that Chapter 23 made me realize I needed to add. My hope is to get through this revision of the whole book by the end of the month so that I'll be free to participate in Camp NaNo WriMo with a completely different project.
Overall, I'm feeling good about today, and that's always something to take note of and be happy about.
If it is a novel, then I may have been moving too quickly so far because I've already solved the most major understanding my main character had with the love interest. But if it's a short story, then I'm taking too long to solve the problem of the approaching giant ice creatures that my characters are currently sailing out to try to talk to. And I'm still not sure what the ice creature's problem is if it's something that can be dealt with quickly... (It doesn't have to be resolved, just reach a point where the resolution is a clear path forward. But still...) I'm thinking it seems a lot easier to make this the opening of something at least novella length than to try to cram it down.
The first novel I ever wrote was supposed to be a short story, so it's not like I've never done this before. It's one of the downsides to writing things without an outline.
So... Yeah... My current leaning it to put this aside until after I can get Faerie Story Book 1 fully revised, then maybe letting myself spend April doing Camp NaNo WriMo making this ice creature story a novel. I'm even giving the novel a working title: Polar Currents.
In the meantime, here's the picture that spawned all this:
It's called "Icebearg" and is by Jerry LoFaro.
I have been writing some reviews and have composed a few short stories that didn't get mentioned on this blog as they have their own places to be posted. This week's short story is actually last week's carried over, but the one I wrote the week before that turned out rather interesting and quite different than I thought it would when I started it. This week's is fighting to be allowed to be an entire novel. I'm trying not to let it.
The weekly short stories are things I'm enjoying doing, but I am considering discontinuing them in favor of monthly stories. In the past, I was able to spend a day and have something I was happy enough with. But lately, I've been spending much more time on them. Yes, the end results are much better, but it's interfering with my work on my novels. I haven't made a decision yet, so if you wish to influence it, feel free to comment.
As to novels, I spent most of the last few weeks suffering a mental block in the Faerie Story revision. I made it to the point I was supposed to add a new chapter and froze. Friday, I figured out what the hold up was about and managed to solve it in time to write the new chapter on Saturday. It establishes a few things that I'll need to go over the earlier chapters to alter for compliance, such as the faeries are now all vegan by evolutionary design, and I have one other issue I wanted to add earlier mention of, so I may go back to the beginning for a very quick pass through it all. Or I may just skip to the parts that need changing. I haven't quite decided yet.
The new chapter introduces a new arc that's going to translate into several new scenes needing to be added later in the book, so I'm really not sure if I'll make it through this before the end of the month. A girl can hope though.
I had thought I'd knock 20 out today, but there was a comment from a beta reader on the first page asking what the Oak and Ashe College mascot is. I was absolutely stunned to find that I'd never determined that. What kind of school doesn't have a mascot? Even schools without athletic programs have mascots!
So I asked myself, what would a tiny liberal arts school in Washington chose to be represented by? I asked Google what was already taken... We have a college that's repped by geoducks (that's a type of shellfish...) and a bunch of dogs, cats, and birds. There are bears. There's a school with orcas. But you know what's stunningly missing? The Sasquatch!
So I darted back through the first 19 chapters and added a handful of references to Sassy the Sasquatch and the Oak and Ashe Sasquatches. And I won't lie, I now find myself in the situation where I really want swag from my fictitious college.
stuff one could buy featuring it, and I may just...)
I've been slacking this week, but knocking out three chapters in one day means I should make my goal of the week, which was getting to the end of Chapter 12.
Tomorrow, I plan on working on my weekly short story and sending out a newsletter. If there's time, I'll also look at Chapter 12, but if that gets put off until Sunday, that's cool too.
For people who don't speak word-count, let me just say that three thousand is the longest short story I've ever written. Some authors have chapters in novels that run that long, but I don't think I ever have. It's not something that will take you all afternoon to read, but it's still a sizable chunk of words. And, yes, I honestly do think I needed them all.
The story follows a senior Enchantments major at a fantasy-world college, and I have to say I'm in love with her world. Humans don't have magic, so they channel dragon magic through familiars. Over time, the dragons change to reflect their connection to their humans, and I suspect that works both ways even though it's not established in this piece. I'm really thinking I want to think up a larger project to set in this world, although I'm not sure if I'd use these characters are not.
The story, if you wish to read it, is over on my stories blog and entitled A Tale of Two Enchanters.
At any rate... In addition to adding a few anxiety tells, I also tweaked a few details to get the narrative to make more sense, and turned a faerie vet into a human. Several of the betas felt I had too many faeries in my town and I realized that the vet was only one so that she could explain how Maggie's spayed cat could be pregnant. I decided it was okay to have the vet just assume Maggie was wrong about the cat being spayed and to let someone else explain that there are faerie cats who could have regrown her reproductive bits. While I was doing that, I came up with a name for the faerie cat species and established that the full-blooded ones are both healers and shapeshifters. We're told hybrids aren't usually shifters but that healing powers are a strong possibility.
I'm not going to work tomorrow because I'm going to Seattle to talk to some people about the house my family is building and Saturday I plan to focus first on composing my weekly short-story, but hope to get a little bit of revising done afterward.
And now I'm going clean my floors and walk through the woods in hopes that one of these things will help release some of this tension.
It's another day when I feel I should do more, but I'm overly tense from going Outside today to run errands. I peopled myself out to the point that even writing about people is seeming like a strain.
As in previous chapters, I added more about anxiety. I also hit upon a character I'm planning to change quite a bit about.
This character was previously named Chris. Somethings about them haven't changed. They're still nonbinary, still faerie, and still one of the other character's exes. But they're named Quin now because I decided Chris was too generic a non-gendered name. This person has too much personality to have chosen the name Chris. (And they did chose their name. At birth they were given a name which was very gendered. I'm not telling you what it was, though.) Having picked their new name, I started to realize all sorts of nifty things about them that I think will make them much more interesting and vibrant. And I have always known they'd do something rad in Book 3, but now I know what that thing is! And all because I found their real name. It's like I wasn't really seeing them before, but now I am.
I had already decided on some changes to Quin's arc, having realized that I can know they'll be awesome in Book 3 all I want but that doesn't mean it's okay for them to exist in Book 1 solely to be victimized and make other people look caring. (Which isn't what I intended when outlining Book 1 but is pretty much what I wound up with.) I was simply going to take one of these victimizing incidents and have them kick ass during it, but I've now hit on a series of cool things that they get to do.
Current word count is 56,638 and growing.
I thought to make up for lost time today, but there was unexpected turmoil because the clinic that manages my mental health care is spontaneously going out of business. They gave two weeks notice, even they surely know that isn't enough time to find new care. I'll be fine; I'm actually in a pretty solid and stable place right now. But the announcement caused no small amount of excitement and I find myself tense and exhausted now.
It also probably doesn't help my speed that I'm actually adding a lot of stuff, nor that most of the that stuff is draining to write. Trying to portray Maggie's anxieties in a more elaborate and realistic way means I have to think about being in such situation myself, so I'm feeling anxious along with her. That hopefully means I'm doing a good job of it, but definitely means I fatigue faster than I normally do while revising.
So I've made less progress thus far this week than I wanted, but I did make progress. And every little bit counts.
Below is an unrelated image taken after I returned from being lost in the woods to discover that the Post Office had left me an empty envelope with stamps claiming it got to them that way. It seems somehow appropriate.