Tag Archives: workinprogress

Back on the Madcap Trolley!

libraneer

I’m redoing Madcap Library, my series of fantastical stories set in an imaginary library, featuring a sloth with a speed addiction, book hunters, a library pirate, ninjas, book owls and whatever other madness crossed my mind…

The wonderful Hannah Botma did images for me, and I’d honestly forgotten how much I loved these stories and characters! I’m just formatting books 1 and 2, and then I have book 3 to finish – which is going to be ridiculous amounts of fun.

I’m doing a short story, too, so keep an eye out over the next week or two for all of the madness!

sloth

Playing with Voice

So, this came about thanks to a suggestion from Adrian on his blog. I am struggling for voice in my 1920’s necromancy – I just can’t get it to sound right, to feel right; it won’t flow. So he suggested playing around…

~

“Dash it all, sister,” the young man standing by the door said, perusing the invitation he’d been handed by the postman. “What the devil do you think she wants?”

“It’s a social invite,” a light voice said scornfully. The speaker didn’t appear to be in the room, but the voice came from the young man’s vicinity. “Afternoon tea is a suitably nice affair that you could be invited.”

“Why has she invited me?” The young man ambled over towards the table that filled most of the room and dropped the embossed square onto it. “Afternoon tea! Lord. It sounds a bore.”

“Or she’s just unwisely disposed of someone,” the light voice suggested, “and she wants you to speak to them?”

“Sister!” The young man stood up straighter, his dark brows knitting. “Dash it all, watch your tongue!”

“You have to admit it’s likely. Why else would she invite a necromancer to afternoon tea?”

“I hope you won’t speak that unwisely if I do accept the invite…”

“And you are going to accept,” the light voice said decisively. “It would not do to decline.”

“These teas are such a bore.” The young man flung himself into the nearby chair and kicked one toe at the carpet, which was starting to become threadbare. “I can’t eat, you do all the talking…”

“Well, you can’t decline. It’s an invite from Lady [X].”

The young man stretched out a hand and picked up the invite again. “Tomorrow. Well, I suppose I’d better write back and accept. But it’s going to be a rotten bore.”

~

There is no good way to get a summons from the mafia, even if it is an invitation to afternoon tea.

The young man stands in the centre of the dusky room, scowling at the square of embossed card he holds in one hand. His dark hair is cropped to his ears, his jacket missing a button, and one sock is in danger of sliding down his calf. The room around suggests that he takes more care with housekeeping than he does with his appearance, but it also bears signs of regular use; worn floorboards around the large table in the centre, a locked cupboard against one wall with inlaid sigils of protection, and an entire wall of bookshelves containing well-thumbed books. In short, the rather worn young man matches his surroundings – although the scowl on his hawk-nosed face does not sit there lightly, and suggests that it is not as well-used as the rest of the man’s features.

“Well.” The light voice drifts into the room. “At least they were polite.”

“They are sending a car for me.” The young man’s lips shape the words almost absently. “They want to make sure I attend.”

“And you’re going to, of course,” the lighter voice says sharply as the young man sighs. “What did you do to come to their notice?”

“Nothing!” The young man casts the parchment at the table and watches as it drifts aimlessly onto the floor instead. “I have never even met Lady [X] or any of her family.” He bends to pick up the sheet. “Do you think she wants my services?”

“It’s a social call,” the lighter voice says thoughtfully.

The young man straightens and drops the invite on the table, catching the corner with one finger as it drifts again. “An invitation to afternoon tea does not exclude her talking business.”

“Then she has disposed of someone, and requires you to speak with them.”

“Sister!” The young man frowned. “I beg you, do not speak in such terms.”

~

I will be one of the first to admit that my brother is useless in most matters except necromancy, in which he fortunately displays a talent that surpassed – and surpasses – my own. However, in matters of society, etiquette, and – dare I say – the heart, he is something of a fool. The matter of the invitation from Lady [X] was no exception.

He failed to open the invite when handed the envelope from the postman, and instead stood, staring with a most gormless expression on his face, as if the parchment itself would tell him what was contained within.

“Are you not going to open it?” I asked, with some acidity.

He did so, thankfully without further chiding, and we perused the contents. An invitation, by Lady [X], to afternoon tea no less!

“Well, you must attend,” I prompted after a minute of silence.

“What do you think she wants?”

“It is a social invitation,” I snapped at him. My brother’s fancies often take the wildest turns, and I consider it part of my duty to ensure he refrains from daydreaming at inopportune moments. However, on this occasion, I considered that he may have accidentally hit upon a salient point. “She may wish to discuss a matter of business with you while you are there, however.”

“Then why on earth invite me to tea?” My brother sat down gracelessly in one of the chairs surrounding the large table, throwing the invite onto its surface.

“So that she should not be subject to the gossip that would come if she were to invite a mage to the house, and so that she may discuss her affairs with some discretion!” At times I despair of my brother, for he has no sense of social niceties at all, and indeed seems to take pleasure in embarrassing me at every turn with his uncouth behavior.

“So she has had someone killed, and needs me to talk to them.”

“Brother!” I snapped, horrified. “Even if Lady [X] were to consider such a matter, I highly doubt that she would sully her hands with such business!”

“Oh, come off it, sister. You know that she married well, and his money has gone to her ends. Even if you are in ignorance of her business affairs, I am not.”

“I am certainly not,” I snapped, wishing my cheeks would flame to burn out some of the mortification I felt, “but it certainly does not do to discuss it! She is a social paragon and if she heard you speak of such things-”

“I wouldn’t get invitations to afternoon tea,” my brother finished with a certain air of glee. “All right, all right. I just don’t see the point of sugar-coating it, sister. You must be practical. You’re going to be the one doing the talking, anyway.”

“And I consider that a great relief!” I snapped, still mortified. My brother’s silence during public events, and the necessity for me to speak for him, is possibly the only redeeming feature of the whole affair – and, I suspect, the only thing that has saved my brother from social ignominy thus far.

~

I think the last one is my favourite, although it screams more Regency to me than 1920’s, which is unfortunate as I do feel Regency has rather been done to death. Anyway! I’m going to keep playing, and see where I end up…

Worldbuilding: Research Research Research

So my 1920’s book (and my Tudor book) aren’t going too well with the writing part – this is The Thief and The Seer, and Necromancer’s Charm. It’s both the world and the voice – I’ll do a post on that in a bit!

But my reaction to worldbuilding problems? Research.

I, uh, may have also got myself a library card recently. It’s good for me to have a walk every day, right? And at least with self-service machines the librarians can’t give me disbelieving stares when I return six books I borrowed yesterday and take out another six…

Anyway! I’m researching the 1920’s. I’ve got Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers. The Great Gatsby. Nancy Mitford. R.F. Delderfield. I’ve read Brideshead Revisited, Birdsong and some of the other poets already, but I might go back to them. I’ve also picked up Joe Abercrombie on the recommendation of Adrian to have a look at voice and POV, and a non-fiction by Adrian Tinniswood (The Long Weekend) to have an explore of English country homes. I’ve got Peaky Blinders, Gatsby and Downtown Abbey on the list of possible TV shows to watch, and Adrian (that man is annoyingly knowledgeable) pointed out that I can just watch snatches of things to pick up on the voice and style.

Basically, what I’m not trying to do is learn the history of the period – I have picked up a few history books and they’re mostly useless, because they all focus on WW2. What I’m trying to do is get a feel for the period; the voices, the characters, the people. At the moment I’m focusing on Europe – actually, my main city seems to be forming around Amsterdam – and so I’m not going Prohibition or Roaring 20’s. There will be aspects of that, sure, and I want to look into the dance-hall and flapper scene, but because it’s not an alternate universe I don’t need the history part. I need the sense of a country coming out of a devastating war, where everything turned on its head, and look at the reactions to the new world. I also want to play on the class system; at the moment, I’m playing with the idea of one of the gentry falling for a tradesman. The horror!

This is the part I call book-building; I’m still feeling my way through things. If I were writing on paper, I’d likely have notes scattered everywhere – as it is, I have post-its on my dashboard, odd bits in Word files, and bookmarks all over the place. It’s slowly knitting, but at the moment I’m still choosing the colours. But hey, it means I get to read a lot!

NaNo2017: Temporary (?) Hiatus

Givin’ up. And that’s fine!

A friend commented recently about my laid-back attitude to writing. I was chatting about writing thing, and commented that I’ve got a few things on the go, but for now…I’m not writing. But there’s no angst; I’m not particularly bothered. When I feel like writing again, I’ll write.

It basically comes down to practicality. I could write. I could sit and drag every sentence out of my brain. I could get the words down. But it would, frankly, make for a shit story.  I have ideas, thoughts, bubbles –  but the jigsaw pieces aren’t fitting together. I could make it look ok, ish, but….

I don’t have a problem with stepping back. I’ve got editing work and proofreading work and I’m still thinking about everything – I’m currently pondering names for No Man’s Land, thinking about the Tudor period, storing little autumnal images in my brain for later use, people-watching to see what I can store. Nothing’s going to waste. It’s just that currently, I’m not in a state to output it as I want to. And that’s not oh-my-god-it’s-going-to-be-shit or writer paralysis: it’s just practical for me. I know, after 15 years of writing, how I work best. And working when my brain is depression-fogged and broken is not the best time to get work out of it.

I also don’t see NaNo as a competition. I never have, since I break the rules regularly (novella writer!) and, frankly, competition doesn’t float my boat. I don’t give a crap who’s written more words (and friendly banter on the first day this year gave me a panic attack, thinking that everyone hated me) so honestly, I’m not a good NaNo candidate. I’ll leave the pushing onwards to everyone who does care, and for the time being, just do what I need to.

So I’m shelving the project, and I’m waiting. I don’t currently have a story that I want to tell – and that’s fine. I’ll just keep thinking, and one will come.

NaNoWriMo 2017: Definitely a first draft

NaNoWriMo participant logoDay…what are we on now? 6? I lost track round about day 1…

Anyway, The Thief & The Seer is definitely a first draft. I’ve already had ideas for redoing the beginning; I’m marking bits in H2s to add in later; and I’ve already got some extra ideas for things I want to add. But a first draft is great! I’m exploring the characters. I’d originally thought the seer was quite a gentle a certain character – now, it turns out she’s got an arrogant edge and is definitely capable of holding her own against the thief. The thief’s child is becoming more of a central character – or at least, it seems to work very well to see a lot of the action through her eyes, as she needs explanations that the reader also needs. And the thief himself seems to have mellowed with age, which is quite nice; he almost did something kind a few paragraphs ago. I might have to let him be sweet occasionally.

Having plotted out the novel is working quite well, too. I had quite a rough outline – “go here, meet this person, do this”…but actually, that works brilliantly for my writing style. So far, I’ve followed the outline, but the gaps have given me enough space to add some extras. There’s only one place so far where I may add more, and that’s because I think it would benefit the plot; otherwise, so far at any rate, I’ve got everything I want in there.

I did crash this week; my daily wordcounts haven’t been great! I spent most of yesterday asleep, and I was exhausted for the rest of it. It’s frustrating when everything catches up with me, and it means I’ve been having mind-fog problems – every sentence is a drag to get out, and nothing flows.  However I’m glad that it doesn’t matter too much; again, the first draft feeling is turning into a blessing! Because I’m exploring, it doesn’t matter that I don’t have much description, or have odd, disjointed conversations. It’ll all come out again when I re-plot and re-write, which is fine.

Anyway, still on track at the moment. We’ll see how the next week goes…