Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Forever Plotting...

In the midst of writing last week, it occurred to me that I was clueless about the first book of the Descendants. I mean, I knew what point A was, and I knew what point B was, but I had only the vaguest idea of how to get from point A to point B.

A long time ago, I had an idea for it, but then that was replaced by a slightly different idea. I've since realized that neither idea was going to cut it, so I've spent most of the past couple of days trying to figure out where my characters need to go and what needs to happen. And I think I've finally figured it out. 

I also figured out a couple of plot twists I did not see coming about Gwalchmei - who I introduced last week - but sadly they probably won't make it into the books. Or if they do, it'll be in a side story. 

Other than that there hasn't been much writing done lately. Work is just so chaotic right now! We finished switching systems and testing everything - only to find out that another issue has cropped up where some items aren't taxing properly in certain regions. In trying to figure out what the cause of this issue is, we have placed so many orders, and gone through the taxes of said orders so many times, that I have a near constant headache from the math. 

Since I'm all mathed out, I'm going to keep WIPpet Wednesday simple this week. Since today's date is 11/27/2013, I'm going to share 16 paragraphs (27-11=16... See! Simple!) from my fanfic, Between Two Worlds.

This is a scene from the fanfic that won't happen for another chapter or two. The woman who is helping Domick adapt to our world, Norah, has a son, Marcus. They and Domick have gone to a local pizza joint to get dinner, and Marcus takes the opportunity to introduce the man from Pern to video games...

Here there were several wooden or plastic cabinets with screens built into them. The screens glowed as moving pictures of animated characters attacking each other, or some strange monster, crossed their surfaces. The music- if the tiny tinny sounds pouring out of the cabinets could be called that - for each game varied, and it clashed together into one annoying cacophony that set Domick's teeth on edge. He longed to return to the Faire where it was quieter and even if he didn't recognize the music being played at least he recognized the instruments playing it. Unfortunately he didn't have much of a choice as Marcus proceeded to drag Domick from one cabinet to the next, calling them games, and showed him how to play each one. Some either had little stands built into the front, and others had objects that resembled the firearms some of the members of the military guilds carried around at the Faire site. One or two even had boxy apparatuses that you could sit in with an object that reminded Domick of the steering wheel on the cart Mudd had tried to teach him to operate. Remembering how well that had turned out, Domick gave those a wide berth... much to Norah's amusement. 

Eventually Marcus introduced him to a game called Guitar Hero. Here, Domick was positive, was something he could finally excel at. Even though the so called guitar with it's colored plastic keys barely resembled a real instrument, the game still involved music, so how hard could it be? He stubbornly chose the hardest song available, despite Marcus's advice, and was promptly booed at by an artificial crowd after only two bars of music. He frowned, and tried again, only to be kicked off the stage once more. 

He heard a chuckle behind him and turned to find Norah leaning against another machine while she watched them. "Enjoying yourself?"

He raised an eyebrow at her, "What does it look like to you?"

"Like you're about ready to beat the screen in."

"It doesn't make any sense. The notes its playing shouldn't be associated with the keys that I'm hitting."

"That's because its not a real guitar."

"I can see that." She snorted at his tone, pressing a hand against her mouth to smother the laughter that threatened to spill forth. "Can you do better?"

"Here, why don't I show you how it works before we run out of quarters." However, instead of taking the guitar he offered her, she came up behind him and stood so that her chest pressed into his back and her chin rested lightly on his shoulder. Her smell, that flowery yet spicy sent, flowed around him, reminding him of the incense the moors burned in their tents, and the image of her dancing on stage, her body undulating to those weird rhythms the drummers beat out, came unbidden to his mind. He stiffened at the memory and she backed away. "Sorry."

"No... I'm... It's... Please, continue." He gestured helplessly, and she gave him a smile, and covered his hands with hers again - but thankfully didn't stand nearly as close this time.

"You're thinking like a musician and you can't really do that here..."

"This coming from the girl who can't sing a note or play an instrument..."

She raised her eyebrows. "Do you want my help or not?"

"My apologies."

"Whatever." She rolled her eyes at him, but continued with guiding him through the the song Marcus had chosen. "See - you hit the keys on the guitar when the colors come up, then you move this bar up and down to get the game to recognize that you're playing the 'notes'.” This time the crowd didn't boo, but cheered. “Not that hard, is it?”

It wasn't now that she explained it, but, despite his years of playing on all manner of musical instruments, he still couldn't quite do it. He found himself gritting his teeth in frustration, especially when he saw the level Marcus was playing on and how easily he handled it. How, could a boy who had never played a musical instrument before be so much better at this than him, a master harper? He gave up, resting the controller in it's cradle. Thankfully Marcus was too enthralled to notice that Domick was no longer there to whine or beg the man to return to the game. Instead he continued to strum away, biting his lip in concentration. Now, Domick thought, if there was only a way to direct that energy towards the real thing.

To read more Between Two Worlds, go here
To see more WIPpet Wednesday posts, go here.
To see more ROW 80 updates, go here. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Going Old School...

It's been a rough week at work.

We're in the middle of switching from the old systems we used to report bugs and test updates to a new system where everything is in one location. It's a lot nicer, neater, and smoother, but it's taking some getting used to and getting everything switched over has been a pain in the butt. Not only is it tedious, but, as per usual, people are forgetting to communicate, so there's been issues with duplicates and other things.

As a result, I haven't gotten much writing done.

Even if I had the free time to, I couldn't. It has recently come to the company's attention that some employees are using the internet to do personal things instead of working like they should be. As a result, they've blocked it. No more writing on my breaks and lunches - which is when I seem to get most of my ideas. I could write when I get home, but, honestly, the last thing I want to do after being on a computer all day is spend more time on the computer.

The only solutions I can come up with is to either write on my tablet, take it all in on a thumb drive, or go back to doing it old school style.

Writing on the tablet is awkward, but it can be done. However, I don't want to bring my tablet to work and be accused of playing around on it instead of working (there are others who do that, and I swear after cutting the internet, that'll be the next thing to go!).

With the thumb drive, I worry that my employers will still be able to see what I'm doing, and even though I'm doing so on breaks or lunches, they might still be upset about it. Plus, thumb drives can crash. I had it happen to it me once or twice while I was in college, and man did it suck.

As I explained in an earlier post I'm not really fond of writing with a pen or pencil and paper. My handwriting isn't the greatest, and when I get to exciting parts I tend to start dropping letters and words. In addition to that I like to go back and edit frequently as I write. And it adds an additional step, because once you get done writing everything down, you have to type it in.

However, pen and paper seems to be the only way to appease work at the moment. Maybe doing so will help my handwriting. The husband says he can transcribe everything for me. Also, if I don't write something soon I may go crazy! (Of course, because I can't write, a lot of ideas for current stories and new stories have been plaguing me lately and keeping me up at night) So I broke down and bought a notebook (college ruled) and some pencils (that way editing is easier) on Monday and I've been giving it a go ever since.

After writing on a computer for so long, it feels a little strange to go back to paper. I'm ashamed to admit that I had forgotten how to write certain letters in cursive. Like F. I kept wanting to write what is J instead. And then I was getting some of my Russian Cursive mixed up with English Cursive, which is strange because I don't really remember that much Russian anymore - but apparently I still remember some of the letters!

Writing in pencil and paper is also very nostalgic. It reminds me of the days when I was writing my fanfic during certain classes (like math) and passing it off to my best friends to read between periods or during lunch. There's been once or twice I've looked around expecting to see one of them standing nearby, waiting patiently.

But other than that, so far so good!

I took pictures of new items to add to the etsy store, but haven't uploaded them yet. I've also had an idea or two for new products to add eventually. One of which involves beetle wings from the jewel beetle. The husband says it gives him the creeps, but beetle wing jewelry and embroidery is pretty popular right now. And everything I've seen so far that uses wings from this particular beetle turns out beautifully!


(This dress is probably the most famous use of beetle wings of all)

I've also started working on my Ravenclaw scarf again. The weather is turning colder, and my Husband reminded me we have a trip to Washington coming up in a month, so I'm rushing to get that done as soon as possible! I've only got 8 stripes left, so I should be able to do it, I think!

But now on to the good stuff! WIPpet Wednesday!

WIPpet Wednesday is led by KL Schwengel. To participate, just post a part of what you're working on that somehow relates to the date. For example it could be twenty lines from chapter eleven, or eleven paragraphs from chapter twenty. Then just enter the url to your blog at this linkie thingie (very technical term, that!)

Since I haven't been able to transcribe anything I've written in the notebook, I'm going to share this bit from The Descedants. It was one of those bits that demanded I write it right now a few months ago, and it doesn't take place until book two, so it's a bit rough. **Edit** I've also remove names of certain things to prevent spoilers. *End edit*

To set it up, Vivian and her friends have ended up in what they think is the past and have become separated. However, our heroine has run into a man, who, after hearing her story, offered to take her to the local King. Unfortunately they've run into a bit of trouble on the way.

So, since today is November 20th, here is 20 paragraphs:

“I told you to run.” Blood stained his lips as he coughed.
“I did - but they caught me. I escaped and came back for you.”
“Foolish girl.”
“You’d be dead if I hadn’t.”
“I’ll be dead shortly anyways.” They could hear horses in the distance, and the baying of hounds.
“She went this way!” A man called out, his voice echoing in the mists.
“I’ll have her hide for biting me.” Another shouted.
“Run.” Gwalchmei commanded her. “Go now.”
“I’m not leaving you.” She pressed her hands against his wounds. There was so much blood! It seeped between her fingers, running in red rivulets down the back of her hand and dripping off her wrists to stain the fabric of her dress.
The horses were closer now, close enough that she could hear the branches snapping under their feet.
“Go, I can distract them.”
“Like this? How?”
“We’re close... *safeplace* is only a few miles that way. You’re small and swift. You can...”
Vivian yelped as someone grabbed the back of her cloak and threw her to the side. The back of a hand caught her jaw, twisting her face to the side as the person slapped her. She fell to the ground and scrambled backwards as she stared up at the face of the man who's arm she had bit earlier. 
“A peasant does not strike a lord without paying the...” He growled down at her.
“*name*, stop!” Gwalchmei’s voice rang out through the clearing, suddenly strong despite his injuries. “She’s my *blank*. She didn’t know who you were.”
The man towering over Vivian paled. He turned slowly to find that Gwalchmei had forced himself to his feet, and was leaning heavily against the tree at his back.
“No.” The man murmured. “You died, at Christmastime, three years ago.”
“So I’ve heard.” Gwalchmei coughed again, spitting out a mouthful of blood.
“*Horse'sName*came back to us with your armor, and no rider.” His voice gained strength and anger as he spoke. “If this is some jest...”
The baying of the hounds was growing louder around them. They burst into the clearing, a mass of sleek grey long haired beasts. To Vivian's surprise, instead of attacking Gwalchmei, they pressed about him and licked his hand, whining for his attention. He stroked their heads absently, leaving bloody streaks on their fur. “It’s no jest, brother.”

To read more WIPs, go here.
To see more ROW 80 updates, go here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Adjust and Adapt

Since last week I've managed to grow a bit of a thicker skin regarding negative reviews and they're not bothering me as much. Even though the reviews weren't very constructive, I am using some of the information to make changes in my writing.

First, I will never publish something that short again - unless it has something to do with a series that's already been established. 

Secondly, I've lowered the price for the short story even more than what I had it at. 

Thirdly, I've made it very clear that the short story is just that, a short story, and a part of a serial. Granted, I already thought it was pretty clear to begin with. I had stated the word count in the description after all, but I made sure to mention it in the beginning as well. 

Now, since lowering the price of the short story, I've sold a few more copies and I may even earn a commission this month. Not a very large one, but hey, it's something (and I'll probably be a total dork and get a copy of the commission framed...)

Which brings me to something interesting I noticed - I seem to sell more copies on kindle than I do on nook. My husband and friends think this is probably because the kindle is way more popular than the nook. Even though I prefer the nook, I'm inclined to agree with them. For those that have published something, have you noticed a trend on which site sells more too?

Sadly I haven't done as much writing this week as I would have liked. I did get a start on the next part of the serial that the first short story was a part of. I also chipped away at the Descendants some more. However, I'm having a dilemma with a third story of mine (which is another one that will be eventually published under my pen name) I'm currently on the third draft, but I've been sorely tempted to go back to the second draft instead. There were changes between the second and third draft where the characters are a little older, and two side characters were cut out. Plus, it's set in a city that's closer to home, so I'm able to bring it to life a bit easier without doing a whole bunch of fact checking and staring at maps. I appealed to my beta readers to get their opinions, but they're not very helpful as they like both versions.

Cowrie hair falls are now available in my etsy shop! I'll also have more items up this weekend, including some men's clothing!

We're also having a sale for the Holidays! $10 off your order of $30 or more! Just use the code HOLIDAY13 when placing your order!

And now for WIPpet Wednesday!

Maya's prologue is still being stubborn. However, I do have a snippet from The Descendants that features the strange stone she saw in the ruins. This snippet also introduces Lucina* - who is another character that Vivian and Maya will travel with. Lucina comes from a very old and eccentric family. They're not exactly from our world, and they're very familiar with the story Bree told young Vivi in this snippet here. In fact, they believe they are descended from one of the girls in the legend.

This snippet is a very rough draft, so some dialogue may change later on. We'll see.

Here is 21 paragraphs from Chapter 3 of The Descendants. Since today is 11/13/13 I added 11 to 13, and came up with 24, then subtracted 3 from 2013, which added up to 21!

Lucina could remember running through the twisting maze of greenery with her cousins as a child. If she closed her eyes she could almost feel the warm summer sun from so long ago shining down upon her even though the evening air still held onto it’s spring chill. She trailed her hands along the leaves, terrifying the small animals that hid inside. The ran away from her, the branches crackling and bouncing against each other in the wake of their escape.

Grandmama tsked, and stopped her to wipe the dirt from her palms and tidy her hair as if she were a child. Even though Lucina was twenty two, she held still and put up with the old woman’s fussing - one did not argue with Grandmama unless one wanted to see the back of her hand.

Once Grandmama was pleased with her appearance - even though she lamented Lucina’s choice of clothing - she finally lead her around the final turn and into the center of the labyrinth.

Torches lit the large circular clearing, their flames snapping and dancing in the slight wind. Men and women dressed in ceremonial robes either sat on the marble benches sitting in a ring around the middle of the clearing, or stood around the perimeter in groups of two and three. They had been talking among themselves drinking wine from ornate goblets, their voices rising and falling in idle chatter.

In the middle of it all stood her father. Unlike everyone else, his robes were black as smoke, and decorated with crimson and yellow. His head bowed as if he was praying, and he held a heavy leather tome that Lucina had only seen twice before: the first time had been when her father had told her of her destiny to bring back the artifact, and the second time had been earlier that day when he had told her that tonight was the night.

“She is ready.” Grandmama said, her voice ringing with a confidence that Lucina didn’t entirely feel.

The men and women who had come to witness the ritual fell silent at the old woman’s announcement.

“Does she meet the requirements?” Her father asked, opening his eyes to stare at her. The pale blue irises were devoid of any expression or warmth, as if she were just one of his employees or a stranger he had passed on the street.

She resisted the urge to bolt, clenching her hands at her sides. Of course he was behaving coldly - he couldn’t show favoritism in such an important situation. He couldn’t show weakness, he had to remained focused on his task just like she needed to.

The guests in the clearing turned and studied her. Lucina lifted her chin up, suddenly defiant. She more than met the requirements; she had the purest blood of them all, and had been training for this task all her life.

As one the men and women nodded. They looked back at her father, murmuring their assent.

“Then step forward, chosen one.” He held out his hand towards her, beckoning for her to join him on the great stone disc that was set into the ground at the middle of the clearing.

Lucina did as he asked, quickly crossing the distance to where he stood. Some bowed their heads as she passed while others kissed their fingers. They grabbed at her clothing as she passed, whispering blessings and praying for her to have a successful journey. “You are our only hope,” some said. “The only chance to end our exile.”

Once Lucina reached her father, she kneeled before him, the carvings in the stone digging into the skin of her knee despite the thick denim separating the two. He touched her head, his fingers resting lightly against her thick black hair. “Daughter of Hestia, do you accept the spirit of *name* as he has accepted you as his own?”

“Yes, father.” She whispered.

“And you will follow his instructions and bring back the item as he has requested?”


“Your hand please.”

Lucina held out her hand for him to take. He took it firmly with his own, as he drew a knife from the folds of his robes. She licked her lips nervously, and he raised an eyebrow in silent reprimand. Taking a breath, she bowed her head. The pain would only be for a moment, she told herself, and the wound would heal quickly. Still she hissed as he sliced her palm, the sharp blade parting her skin without any effort.

Dark, red, blood immediately welled to the surface. Her father dropped her hand and stepped off the porta. “You know what to do.”

“Yes, father.” She closed her hand around the cut, squeezing it into a tight fist. The blood dripped between her fingers, falling onto the carvings at her feet as she began to chant.

To read more WIPpet Wednesday posts, go here.
To read more ROW 80 updates, go here.

*Lucina's name may change in later drafts.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The PCOS Diaries #5

I meant to write this earlier, but things have been so crazy around here that I haven't had a chance to do so until now.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reviews; the good, the bad, and the ugly...

The first reviews for my short story are in. Originally I wasn't going to pay attention to the reviews; you can't please everyone after all, and in a world where 50 Shades of Grey and the Crossfire Series are popular, who would want a normal boy meets girl story that has minor angst and no BDSM? However, after I saw that I had sold a few copies, my curiosity quickly got the better of me and I decided to see what people were saying about my story online.

I should have stuck to my guns.

The reviews aren't good. They complain that the story is too short, that 'it's meh' and 'a mess'. I've gotten mostly one and two stars, though there is a person who gave it five (and I strongly suspect that that person was a friend who took pity on me).

I'm surprised and at the same time I'm not really surprised. I knew that the short story wasn't my best, but I still thought it was pretty fun read. My betas agreed and said they enjoyed it - and they're not the type of people to lie just to appease my ego. The complaints that it's too short really astound me though - I gave multiple warnings that it wasn't very long and was the first in a series. I also made sure to price it appropriately for the length.

I won't deny that I'm very tempted to just throw in the towel and give upon writing adult contemporary romance for the moment. I mean, if this story got this review, who's to say that the next one will do any better? But these stories have been plaguing me so long (though not nearly as long as TUO or the Descendants) that I can't just give up on them. And just because a couple of people don't like the story doesn't mean that everyone's going to hate it. Maybe it's just not their cup of tea.

How do you handle bad reviews, oh dear and wise readers who have probably published way more than I have?

Despite all this negativity, there has been some really bright spots this week. The Husband got a job (Yay!) and started work on Monday. Unfortunately, his shift starts at 6:00 am (ugh) and in order to spend more time with him I've changed my hours at work so now my shift starts at 6:00 am too. It turns out hi job is just down the street from a farmer's market! I look forward to stocking up on fresh veggies on a regular basis.

We also had a really enjoyable Halloween hanging out with some friends and going trick-or-treating with our god kids. This was followed up with an amazing after Halloween Halloween Party, where we were able to spend time with some people we haven't seen since July. Another guest at the party had one of these:

I kinda want one now.

In addition to that I finally found a dress form that doesn't cost an arm and a leg - so I don't have to keep borrowing my friends. I also have a couple of sewing commissions coming up and I should have new items posted in the store this weekend.

And even if my romantic short story flopped horribly, at least TUO and The Descendants seem to be thriving quite well. And Mary the practical prostitute is keeping me on my toes with her adventures. Also, now I know how to format an ebook properly (copying and pasting from google docs into the nook press manuscript editor is not a good idea) and how to design a decent looking ebook cover (which I'm tempted to start doing for others...)

And now for WIPpet Wednesday!

WIPpet Wednesday is run by KL Schwengel. To participate, just share a portion of the story you're working on that some how correlates with the date, and then add your blog to the link thingamabob here.

I was originally going to share more of Maya's prologue, but the scene I'm currently on isn't flowing as well as I'd like. I've rewritten it three times and I'm still not happy with it. So, for this week I'll share more of Mary's story, and hopefully we can return to Maya next week :)

Since today is 11/6/13, here is 6 paragraphs from Mary's untitled story.

Evandora Mince was not what one expected when they thought of a brothel owner. A prim matron of sixty, she wore her steel grey hair in a tight chignon, and preferred to dress in somber black dresses instead of some of the more flamboyant gowns other Madams in Partridge wore. Appearances were deceiving however -- rumor was that she had been quite a stunning beauty in her youth. Supposedly she had had the King wrapped around her pinky at one time, and they had danced, naked, in the royal gardens beneath the moonlight many a time.

Eventually she had grown older. While some women remained handsome in their later years, that had not been the case for Madam Mince; her face was lined with wrinkles and age spots dotted her skinny hands. The gossips said that the King had set her aside in favor of marrying a princess from the continent and soon her other clients quickly followed suit. However, she had been given several gifts during their time as a lady, and, being a smart woman, Evandora had sold them and opened her own house.

Mary hoped to do the same thing one day, but as she didn’t have a royal client, she was forced to scrimp and save every penny she earned in order to make her dream a reality. This most recent fantasy of the judge’s would put her very close to her goal though . . .

“His honor was very pleased with you last night.”

She had assumed as much when she had seen the coins he had left on her bedside table as a gift, but she smiled anyways. “I’m glad to hear it.”

“He wanted to book you for a weekend appointment during All Hallows.” Madam Mince continued to flip through the letters, occasionally tossing one or two onto the fire.

“Yes, I was thinking we might use the country house for it.”

“I talked him into having the encounter here.”  

“The country house would really be more appropriate . . .”

“I am not opening it up just for one man. It’s too late in the season, and it’ll cost too much to heat.”

“Yes ma’am.” Mary bowed her head.

“And it’ll only be a day.”

Her heart sank at the thought of all the crowns she would be missing out on as a result of the change. “Madam . . .”

“The Masquerade will be that weekend. Our guest list is quite considerable, and I will need all my girls available.” She glanced over her glasses at Mary. “Do you understand Marie?”

“Yes, Madam.”

“Good.” Madam Mince finally sat the approved mail down in a dish for a servant to remove and disperse among the girls. “Now about Hannah. I have a gentleman interested in booking an appointment for her.”

“What?” Mary gasped in surprise. “She’s not finished training yet!”

To see more WIPpet Wednesday posts, go here 
To see more ROW 80 updates, go here