Friday, February 28, 2014

Prompt: The Spell

Thanks to Sara Helwe for permission to use her beautiful image, “The Spell”!

Salafiera ignored the delicate morphos fluttering around the table, doing their best to cheer her. Karzin was always giving her things, making amends. He didn’t realize that every thing he made small broke her heart a little more. She didn’t want them smaller, she wanted to be larger. Her own size. Human.

Karzin believed if he waited long enough, everyone Salafiera had known and loved would be gone, and she would love him. It had become his unshakeable faith, though Salafiera had never given him any reason to believe it. But faith wasn’t based on reason, she thought with a grimace, closing her book and gently brushing a morpho from her shoulder.

She looked around the table, where she stood on a stack of books, lit with candelabras as the sun faded behind heavy damask curtains across the room. It would take Salafiera most of the night to climb down the table and walk across the floor to the windows. Sweeping aside the long velvet train of her gown, she walked to the edge of the table, and softly whistled.

Grishl flew from his perch near the window and landed before her, bowing his head. She stroked his soft feathers and climbed onto the wren’s saddle. When he flew back to the broad window ledge, she dismounted and stared out at the setting sun, idly stroking his soft cheek patch as he trilled under her hand.

“If you would caress me like that, I would do anything you wished.” Karzin’s voice made her stiffen, and Grishl butted his head against her hip in alarm.

She steeled herself to turn around, cautioning herself against hope but refusing failure. “You know what I want, Karzin,” she said firmly. “That will never change.”

He stood in the doorway, and for a moment, the sadness that crossed his face did give her hope. Then he, too, stiffened, bowing formally. “Then neither shall you, minutina. Good night.” He closed the door behind him.

Grishl gave a harsh chit, and Salafiera stifled her laugh at his brave posturing. “I agree, Grishl. We must find our own way, then. Let’s return to our research, shall we? Karzin must not discover that I can read his spell texts as well as his insipid poetry…”

Dogs in House

Nora Jones, Come Away With Me

Time writing
25 minutes

February word count

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Prompt: Rivalry, stumble, fire, bakery, mistake

“It was a mistake,” Seth groaned, holding his head in his hands as he slumped on the curb across the street from the blazing bakery. A small crowd of onlookers watched the firefighters valiantly struggle to contain the flames.

“A mistake,” Seth cried out again, as the roof collapsed with a roar, and the firefighters pulled back, pushing people farther away from their initial perimeter. He buried his face against his knees, hands covering his head as if he could hide from the noise, the heat, the smoke. Oh God, the smoke…

It was the last night of the Talk of the Town annual challenge, and Seth was determined to beat his archrival, Paul Wilson, master baker at the other renowned bakery in town, Sweet Society. They had studied together at the Cordin-Bleu Austin, and the faculty had fueled their instant rivalry, appointing them to lead opposite teams in challenge after challenge. Seth ignored the social politics and kept his eye on the prize: graduating top of the class from the premier culinary institute in Texas. With honors. But he shared the walk across the stage with Paul – the first time in the school’s history they had award the distinction to two so closely matched students.

Seth left Austin without a backward glance and returned to Houston, where he already knew the perfect location to build his dream, Café au Lait. Six months later, they won their first Talk of the Town award. The following month, Paul opened Sweet Society across town, and their rivalry continued, year after year, trading the top spot in Houston’s fickle sweets-laden heart – and stomach – and sticky fingers.

This year, Seth was determined to take top honors a second year in a row. With luck, they could parley that victory into sweet supremacy against the thorn in his side, Paul Wilson’s Sweet Society. He had been planning special creations to debut throughout the month, and the crowds had shown their appreciation in record numbers. But they had been equally appreciative of Paul’s efforts, and the now legendary competition was indeed the Talk of the Town.

Until Seth had a brilliant idea. He thought it was brilliant. Or maybe crazy. He was afraid to tell anyone else, in case they said it was crazy. The more he thought about it, the more he was convinced. It was brilliant. Finally, the night before the end of the competition, he called Paul…

Time writing
35 minutes

February word count

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Prompt: The Painter’s Honeymoon

The Painter's Honeymoon, Lord Frederic Leighton, ~1864 

Marcella leaned against Frederic’s arm, drawing in the scent of his warm breath as he rested his temple against hers. She casually curled her fingers against his left hand, while he painted with his right. She closed her eyes, lest she influence his art too much.

It was one thing to lend him a little fae strength, another altogether to put images into his mind, or directly through his hand onto the paper. For one thing, she would be discovered by those she hoped to avoid. For another, it would age him too quickly. She wanted a long and happy life with Frederic, She wanted his life to be long and happy.

She first saw him in Montmartre, in the shadow of the towering white Sacré-Coeur. While she could not enter that sacred space, she loved its noble architecture…and the artists who gathered below it. Marcella was the model for hundreds of artists through the ages, their lover, their muse.  Drawn by his curly dark hair and fair face, she was entranced by the talent evident in his sketches. She convinced him to take her to his studio to model. And to make love once the late afternoon sun had faded.

They were inseparable from that first day. She needed no glamor to hide her youth – it was only as the years passed that she must appear to age at least a little. But she felt the passage of time all the more keenly for having loved and lost so many times before. Frederic never questioned her tears when they walked through the carefully tended Cimetiere de Montmartre. His sensitive soul was touched by the final rest of so many great spirits. He would never know how many of them she had watched grow up, grow old, grow feeble, and die.

He first proposed the second Sunday that they lay in bed, feeding each other croissants, grapes and figs. She laughed and told him to be careful – the next time he proposed, she would believe he meant it. He worked three months to earn enough to buy her a slender band of gold with a small garnet, her favorite jewel. He slid it on her finger after they made love at midnight, hidden in a small cove of the Tuileries. She cried tears that glistened blue in the moonlight and whispered, “Oui, oui, oui” as they made love again.

She whispered it again now, and his fingers tightened around her. She felt his smile against her cheek. “Let me finish, Cherie. The light is almost gone,” he murmured. “Oui, oui, oui,” she said with a smile, and he laughed the deep throaty laugh that made her pulse quicken. He laid down the brush beside his canvas and pulled her tighter against him, lifting her mouth to his. “Oui, oui, oui,” he replied. And then they needed no words, no magic at all.

Spotify trance mix

Time writing
45 minutes, interrupted

February word count

Monday, February 24, 2014

Novel Report: Hey, this writing thing is hard work!

So, many of you know that I am writing a novel, Mira's Children. It’s a young adult science fiction (YA/SF), and my original goal was 100,000 words. I cruised along really well for the first 40-50,000 words, but I have been really struggling since then. I’m currently just over 62,500 words. Yes, that's a picture of my first full printout of it :)

To give you perspective, if you’re not familiar with writing/publishing, word count means more than page count. Here’s a random sampling of a few familiar/favorite titles:
The Color Purple
To Kill A Mockingbird
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Fahrenheit 451
The Dark Is Rising
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
The Hobbit

To give you an idea of my progress:
Thanksgiving 2011
Started writing
11,366 words / 54 pages
Thanksgiving 2012
44,506 words / 220 pages
49,091 words / 237 pages
Thanksgiving 2013
62,880 words / 305 pages
62,575 words / 305 pages

Wait, whaat? Word count went *down*? Yes, editing…
And page count stayed the same, even less 300 words? I know, it’s a mystery…
And, you might notice an extreme lack of progress from Thanksgiving, 2012 onward. Well, I was already bogged down before Thanksgiving of that year, to be honest, so I jumped feet-first into another novel -- a fantasy called Oceansong -- during “NaNoWriMo” (National Novel Writing Month). I reached my goal of 50,000 words in the month of November, and I pretty much haven’t touched it since. You might notice a theme here...

Meanwhile, I started this blog on 12-31-12, and I’m really very proud of the fact that I haven’t missed a single day since! However, there’s no question that the time I spend here takes away from potential novel-writing time. Some friends have advised, not unwisely, that I reconsider my blogging efforts, and refocus that energy and time on the novel. And I get that, I really, really do. I wrote over 250,000 words last year! That’s probably 2-3 novels! But, there’s an accountability to posting my blog daily, even if it’s only for a few faithful readers (and I thank you more than you could know). I know myself well enough that I will not be as diligent if I am accountable only to myself.

So a dear friend of mine recently had a brilliantly simple idea: why not blog about my writing progress, rather than something new, at least every once in awhile. As it happens, I am part of a weekly writing group that meets on Tuesday mornings, so Monday night will be my novel progress report.

And here we are. Except I haven’t written anything. In two weeks. Last week, I was going to “cheat” and take a blog post that I’m interested to expand into a short story. Hey, it’s still writing! But Daughter was ill, and I didn’t want to leave her alone, so that didn’t happen.

And I was at Mysticon this past weekend, which didn’t leave me a lot of time for writing. And I’m exceptionally tired this evening after a full day’s regular work and an editing gig with a deadline. Excuses, excuses, there’s always something.

So the upshot is, I am still struggling towards the climactic ending of my novel. Then I have to start editing, re-writing, more editing…

But I *am* going to write “The End” one of these days…soon. And I thank you all for your encouragement as I slog my way there.

Next week, a scene from my novel, Mira’s Children, and hopefully progress to report!

Dogs in house

Time writing
~45 minutes, interrupted

February word count
Too low