Astride the Border

I really need to buckle down and finish footofthroneAstride the Border, the end to At the Foot of the Throne. Nope, it’s not going to be a trilogy, and frankly the two “books” are really one novel. Not that I have the slightest idea what to call it as a single work. Possibly it could keep the original title, though I expect as the plot of the second story unfolds, one would question that as a good one. *grin*

I actually have the book notecarded and some 65,000 words written on it, so I’m really more than halfway there. Just a matter of getting a writing schedule and applying butt glue. Since my other big Life Goal is pretty physical, this is really a pretty good counterpoint to that. You know, the whole “healthy mind in a healthy body” thing. (And my son, yes, I’d love to read your essay on that very subject you did for school!)

Here’s the thing. I’m not in love with the characters. Oh, this is much better fiction than I usually write, being only an egg in the learning process. But no, I don’t love these characters the way I love others I have come up with, but no-one has ever seen.

This isn’t to say that the work isn’t good. The reason I don’t love the characters?

They’re too real. I frequently want to yell at them for being stupid, or knock them upside the head for being foolish and prideful, or blind and selfish. I can’t look up to or be enamored with them because they’re too real and flawed.

This isn’t to say that anything I love has to be perfect. I love plenty of people, but I know of no perfect ones. It’s just that for the most part, no, I wouldn’t really want to be close to or trust any of these characters. No, not even Marra. Seija, maybe. Sometimes. When she isn’t being thick as a yard of lard. And okay, Berat, but he’s shamelessly based on a real man I was missing at the time I came up with the characters.

So for now, I need to come up with a realistic writing schedule that takes into account the other stuff I do. I may wimp out at 500 words a day. But slow and consistent gets it done better than fits and starts of Heroic Effort.

At the Foot of the Throne

I’ve released At the Foot of the Throne as a Kindle book.  It’s 99 cents, so not a huge risk if you wanna check it out.

Rags to riches and finding True Love is not always all that the fairy tales say. In AT THE FOOT OF THE THRONE, two countries stand on the brink of war, and a young villager finds herself thrown into the center of the conflict.

A small shepherding community on the border of Lotharia and Sudra is destroyed leaving Marra the sole survivor. Pitched into the unstable politics between the two nations, Marra finds herself ordered to rebuild the strategically-important town in the hopes of preventing a war between the two nations.

If you don’t own a Kindle, but want to get it anyway, keep in mind that Amazon has e-reader software for its book in many formats — PC, MAC, and many mobile devices.

Being a Fat Athlete

I was doing some research on swimming and sore abs because… Well, I went for a good swim today and my abs are sore! Look, don’t you Google every damn thing you go through? You don’t. Fine. I’m a weirdo. Deal.

Anyway, as I was maundering around the Internet and avoiding finishing my last article for today (but I did send out a good query for AT THE FOOT OF THE THRONE three days early thnxsomuch!), I ran across Fat Girl on a Bike.

This chick made me ashamed of myself and face how damn’ vain and shallow I can be.

Vain? Yeah. You see, I’m fat. No, it’s not a value judgement. I am.

But I’m also an athlete, dammit. I never called myself that because I’ve always felt I “wasn’t there yet”. I played soccer, but I wasn’t great it at. So, I wasn’t really an athlete. I was a martial artist but I never earned a black belt, so I’m not really an athlete. I’m fat, so I’m not really an athlete.

This woman, who is doing triathelons not to “get skinny” or any other damn reason than she bloody well wants to compete in triathlons puts me and my scale stepping to shame. I’ve actually had to psyche myself out to go to the pool and swim, which I love because I didn’t feel like I really belonged in the pool with all the real athletes. It’s idiotic. Like you don’t deserve to claim a love of movement, which I do have, unless you’re committed to “getting skinny”. That’s gotta me more important than loving the movement for itself.

Now, I know swimming is good for me. How I feel after a good workout (and the sustained good mood for many hours) is a powerful motivator to get me moving. Yes, yes, yes, I’m all for the increased health benefits of being active.

But I swim because I love to swim. It feels good. I lift weights because I love to do it. I adore moving heavy stuff. When I was a martial artist, the love of having the guy a foot and a half taller than I am go THWACK! on the mat was immensely satisfying, and so was being knocked flying. (Hey, you know I’m a weirdo). Anything that requires finesse of physical control excites me.abbyestockton2.jpg

Will I get stronger and more fit the more I do it? Of course. But I don’t have to have goal of looking like Pudgy Stockton (I know, not fashionable, but I really, really like the way she looked) to just enjoy the workout for its own damn sake.

What to do on a snow day? Swim!

I didn’t go swimming at 5:30 this morning.  It’s snowing and I don’t like driving in the snow.  I’ll walk to the gym later today when and swim then.

School is closed, so I’ll be taking my son with me.  Yeah, just the “snow day” treat — a long swim!

If I’d had somewhere I had to be later in the day, I probably would have gone ahead and gone swimming early this morning, but I don’t.    I usually get up early to get in my swim just because if I get it done, I’m up and going for the day, better.  Still, it’s nice when I don’t have to!

Got some site work to do.

I’ve mentioned it before, but if you’re a user of MS Office, I really encourage you to try One Note.  I find it a fantastic planning tool.

I’ve been collecting a book list for the Polyamorous Misanthrope recommended reading page, but it’s going to be very different from the usual Polyamory “recommended reading”.  It’s not that the poly books aren’t good.  Many of them are excellent.  But I’m going to be dealing a lot more with historical example of social dynamics (why yes, the Oneida Community among others), and modern practices in negotiation and interaction.  I’m increasingly of the opinion that the new business model for interaction works very well indeed in poly situations.  Yeah, I’ve got a Misanthrope article brewing on that, too.

I’m also looking at the shambles that is That Damned Book and wondering where to go with it.  I had it all plotted out and when I read what I’ve written, individual scenes are kinda keen.  But as a flow of plot and events, It Just Won’t Soar, Dammit.  I’ve been working on That Damned Book intensely for two years now.  (And have been noodling with it for more like twelve years).  Maybe I oughta just let it go.  I wrote At the Foot of the Throne, which is a much better story as far as plot and pacing, in about seven months.

Oh, for you writers?  If you really enjoy novel writing software, I encourage you to check out yWriter.  I do use and enjoy it.  It can’t solve my problems for me, but golly does it help with planning and plotting!

Pondering on the writing

I was re-reading At the Foot of the Throne today in preparation for re-writing the  query letter and putting together a better promotion package for it.

It’s better than Stoneflower, even though I did write it with the intention of being a potboiler.  I mean, the pacing and plot is better, and the characters are pretty cool.  I wrote it with the intention of just being this piece that isn’t Meaningful Writing.  You know, Just Telling The Damn Story.

I think maybe not caring about how damned profound a story is worked for me on that one.  It’s decent work.

I’m finding the ending a bit unsatisfying though.  I’d intended it to be a trilogy, but I’m beginning to think I could take 20,000 (it’s 90,000 words right now) words or so and just turn it into one fairly long book with a much more satisfying, well-rounded ending and screw the idea of a series.

I  could actually do with some feedback on it, if someone would like to read it.

Writing Improves Parenting Skills

Okay, the title of this post is a lie. It doesn’t really.

But today I had the pleasure of pulling out something from At the Foot of the Throne to show my son that was relevant to his schoolwork.

For social studies, he must draw a map of the route he walks to his school from home. His first attempt was most certainly a first draft — as a first draft oughta be! I took one look at it, winced and used Gmaps Pedometer to map out the route, so he’d have a clearer idea of what it looks like, and told him to draw his map from that guideline. (The point of the exercise is legends, labels and scale, so I don’t think it’s cheating).

He had used up the graph paper he had on his first draft and asked me if I had any more.

I’m a fantasy writer. Yes, I have graph paper! How else do I…

draw maps?

I pulled out my At the Foot of the Throne notebook, and opened it up to get the graph paper, but I also showed him this:


I can’t show this in the size and detail1 that will make it easy for you to read it or understand it, but since he was learning about cartography in school, I asked him to read the legend and explain about the two countries. He did pick up right away that one was stronger in mineral wealth than the other, and that other had lots of farmland, but didn’t necessarily pick up on the political significance of such a fact.

I was kinda hoping he’d ask to take the map to show to his class to show about geopolitic… But he didn’t. Ahhh, vanity.

Still, it was nice to have the mapmaking tools right on hand for him so that he can do a good job for school.

1 For those of you who think that the map looks suspiciously like a Civilization II game, it’s because I used the same algorithms. I was stuck on creating the two countries, and my partner of the time handed me an appletini and advised me to, “Play Civ on paper.” It worked very well indeed!

Time to Write

“Oh, I’ll write that novel when I get the time.”

This actually makes me grind my teeth a little. Not because I think everyone in the world needs to write a novel. Hell, probably all novelists don’t need to be writin’ ’em, if you know what I mean. (Yes, yes, possibly me among them, so hush!)

Like anything important, though, you don’t find time to do it. You make time.

I didn’t always. I’d write when the Spirit moved me, and often it was good stuff — fun vignettes with interesting quirkiness or a tasty idea.

What I never do, unless I have a production schedule, is complete a novel.

At the Foot of the Throne was not actually the first novel I ever completed. The first was one called To Ride a Black Dragon (not fantasy — it was a contemporary piece) back in 1994. It was crap and unpublishable because there were points about plot and pacing I did not understand, but I did finish a novel, by golly.1 At the time I was not working full time, so I had a 10,000 word a week goal for myself. Doable if that’s all you’re doing, which in my case, it was.

These days it’s 1,000 words a day, but I don’t take weekends off, so you’re still looking at a 7,000 word week.

I’ve had people question the idea of just getting the work out like that. My reason for doing it is simple. When I have a challenging word count goal, I finish the first draft. I have something to edit and work with.

And at 1,000 words a day, you find yourself making time to do a little writing here, or a little writing there. Can you write 100 words while waiting for the water to boil for pasta? What about waiting for the bus?2

I used to have a writin’ ritual to get myself into the creative “mood”. I’d get up, have breakfast, make myself a latte, turn on a specific series of CDs and then settle down to write. The problem was that if, say, my then husband stayed home from work, or I didn’t have the equipment for a latte or something, the ritual was spoiled and it would throw me off my writing mood.

I stopped doing that and decided that as Frank Herbert so quaintly put it, “Mood is a thing for cattle or loveplay.” The goal, a finished product, was the important thing, so screw mood. Just write.

I’ve read more than one interview with journalists who turned to writing fiction who said that the deadlines and the pressure to put out copy were excellent training for the writing of fiction. With my own self-imposed deadlines, I’m inclined to agree.

‘Course it could be I’m completely talentless and will never make it anyway. But trying is fun!

1 It’s also salvageable, so it’s possible that I’ll go back and edit it pretty heavily, or even do a re-write, after Stoneflower.

2If you think that’s absurd, I promise you that if you go to a writer’s convention, you will find people who find weirder places to write than a bus stop!