Tour Nileau

Lealle Meridar, the teenage heroine of A Talisman Arcane, is the daughter of a High Justice of Pavelle. Her father presides over the most difficult matters of law arising in the river town of Claireau. As High Justice, he lives and works in a medieval castle made available to he who holds that office.

I modeled the Tour Nileau after a real castle in France: Montbrun.

Montbrun has been modernized, so that a family of our twenty-first century could live there in comfort. In my story, I’ve taken liberties with many details, so as to make the building fit the nineteenth century milieu of A Talisman Arcane, and possess the working spaces needed by Lealle’s father.

We first see the Tour Nileau through Lealle’s eyes, when she pauses on a bridge upriver from her home.

Our next view is of its central court, when she passes under the raised portcullis. I wasn’t able to find a photo of the courtyard that I could feature on my blog, but if you are curious, check this link.

Here is a plan of the ground floor.

Lealle goes straight up to her bedchamber via the main spiral stair when she first arrives home. But near the end of my story, she has a very important discussion with her father in his chancery.

I’ll be posting more about the Tour Nileau, so watch this space! 😀

 

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I Think I’ve Got It!

Once more, into the breach!

Yes, I dove into brainstorming the title for Lodestone Tale 5 one. more. time!

I figured the reason I couldn’t settle on any of the titles I’d considered was because none of them were right. It wasn’t that I’d asked too many people for their opinions. (Although maybe I had asked too many.) No. It was because I agreed with all of their objections.

To Thread the Labyrinth

Even though the concept of the labyrinth appears again and again as a motif in the story, it is not the heart of the story. Lodestone Tale 5 is about courage and kindness far more than it is about discerning the reality behind tricky turnings.

A Legacy Arcane

Neither is the story really about a legacy. Yes, two legacies feature in the novel, but that’s not what it is about. Furthermore, the word “legacy” has a weight to it which is all wrong for the story, which filled with hope, victory, and rebirth. “Legacy” does not feel dark to me, but it does feel weighty.

Talisman’s Reach

I have come to really like the word “Talisman” in conjunction with my story. Talisman is right! But “Reach” is not. Even if no one would mistake it as referring to a feature of the landscape, it is still wrong.

Yes, each of the lodestones in the Lodestone Tales has a long reach through time, but that’s a feature of the series. This individual story is not about that long reach; it’s about what happens between Ohtavie and Lealle. The scope of “Reach” is wrong.

Innocent Trespass

My brilliant writer friend Laura came up with Innocent Trespass. (Really, she’s been doing too much of the heavy lifting with regards to the title for this book. I should be ashamed!)

For several days, I thought this was THE ONE. The book starts off with teenage Lealle trespassing. Lealle herself is not so sure that she does so innocently, but I think the reader will be pretty clear on that. Later in the story, we learn that Ohtavie has also trespassed, also innocently, if not so innocently as Lealle.

When I wrote this story, I’d envisioned it as a standalone. But all of my early readers have requested a sequel to it. My first answer was, “No. Sorry.” But by the time the 4th request arrived, I found myself having ideas for an entire series. I grew excited about what I might do in Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, and Book 5.

Because Lealle is the daughter of the High Justice of Claireau, there will be an awareness of the law present all the books. (Yes, I am going to write them.) So titles referencing aspects of law would be a fun way to go. Innocent Trespass would follow that theme nicely.

But. But. But. Lodestone Tales 5 is very much a fantasy novel. It is not a thriller. It is not a legal thriller. It is not a mystery, although there are elements of mystery within it. Innocent Trespass does not say fantasy. Reluctantly, I loosed that choice from my grip.

What Is Central?

I revisited this question. I needed to stop devising titles that were accurate, but misleading in their focus on a tangent. The heart of my story is the idea that we redeem each other. Even within our mistakes, there is opportunity for us to save one another.

Is there some thing or place or person in Lodestone Tales 5 that embodies my theme and that can serve as the anchor point for its title?

Lealle

Lealle is central. She stumbles upon the first person she decides to attempt saving, but then through choice goes on to save another chance encounter plus an entire townful of people.

One salient characteristic about Lealle is that she is her father’s daughter. “Daughter” would be a good word to have in my title.

Talisman or Trespass

Place did not feel specifically important to my theme. Yes, setting is always important in a story. The people would not be who they are, if they lived elsewhere. The events would fall out differently in a different setting. But, for this story, place was not nearly so important as the action of trespass and the complication of the talisman.

I had three words that felt central. Daughter. Talisman. Trespass.

Models of Title Structure

I’ve read essays about title structures. There aren’t really as many possibilities for the bones of a title as one might wish. (Or, at least, as I might wish!)

It occurred to me that C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles include quite a few of the possible structures. What if I used them as guidelines?

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe The Daughter, the Talisman, and the Trespass
Prince Caspian ??
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Trespass of Daughters
The Silver Chair The Iron Talisman Dark Talisman
The Horse and His Boy The Daughter and Her Talisman Talisman and Trespass
The Magician’s Nephew Talisman’s Magic Talisman’s Daughter
The Last Battle The Secret Talisman The Hidden Talisman

Well…maybe. But, no. I tried a few variations.

The Daughter and Her Trespass. Talisman’s Challenge. The Talisman Legacy. The Talisman Secret. A Talisman Unsought.

Wait a minute! That last was definitely not right, but it had the same structure as A Legacy Arcane. What if I pulled “Legacy” out, and replaced it with “Talisman”?

A Talisman Arcane

The talisman is definitely secret, mysterious, and understood by few. It is arcane. But unlike the weighty word “legacy,” talisman has a lightness to it. It breathes of hope and trust. Lucky pennies are talismans. We keep them for luck, for good fortune, in the hope of a bright future.

Yes! That’s it! My title! This is THE ONE! 😀

A Talisman Arcane.

 

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Writing vs. Publishing

I need to be two people!

One me would write my new novel, a sequel to The Tally Master.

The other me would ready the latest book in The Lodestone Tales for publication in March 2019.

Actually I need a third me, who would write blog posts, create cool visuals to appear in BookBub’s newsletter, compose emails to send to those of you subscribed to my newsletter, and do all the other things involved in communicating with the wonderful people who read and enjoy my books.

Since I have only the one me, I’m attempting to strike a balance each day between these three different hats that I wear.

In the past, I’ve not tried to wear all three hats on any one day. I’d spend 3 to 8 months wearing the writer hat and writing a story. Then I’d move into revising. After that came the publishing mode: proofreading, formatting the manuscript as an ebook, creating the cover, uploading the files, etc. And then I’d blog about the book and try to get the word out.

The thing about doing it that way is that it leads to long gaps between the writing of my stories. The gaps are long enough that I start to pine for the writing.

So, over the years, I’ve worked to reduce the gap between writing stints.

Combining the publishing and communicating modes happened pretty readily and easily. They go together, in my brain at least.

I also learned that I need not wait until my first and second readers were done with my previous book in order for me to start on the next book.

But right now I am attempting to write The Sovereign’s Labyrinth in the mornings, while I work on publishing tasks for Lodestone Tales 5 and marketing Fate’s Door in the afternoons.

It’s a wobbly balance, but I’m doing it!

Some days I don’t get the writing in. Other days I don’t manage any publishing tasks. But it feels great to be writing, and I feel confidant that I will get everything done for publishing on time.

So how are things progressing under each of my hats?

I’m so glad you asked! 😉

Lodestone Tales 5

I still have not settled on a title for this book!

But that is not stopping me. I’m progressing steadily in the very last stage of getting the manuscript ready both to format as an ebook and to create the paperback edition.

This last stage involves listening to my computer read the story aloud.

The computer does a pretty good job of reading, so it’s kinda fun listening. But it’s an essential step, because I find the last teeny-tiny glitches that need to be fixed. In this particular manuscript, there were several instances of ‘though’ that needed to be ‘through,’ and two places where ‘through’ needed to be ‘thorough,’ plus two spots missing a ‘the.’ But they are all fixed now.

I’m two-thirds of the way through this audio proofing, and it is going well.

I’ve also been making a list of phrases from the manuscript that might make good titles. Want to see what I’ve got so far? You know I want to share! 😉

Reaching Refuge False Refuge Strangling Thorns
Rife with Hiding Places Held Breath Choose to Open
Choose to Unchain Not Just Fear Fighting Retreat
No More Doubt Other Doors Worse than Dying
Death by Beneficence Say Nothing of Me Word of Silence
Word of Solitude Before They Kill Me Pinching the Pendant
Sundered Radices Sundering Hope Unblessed Solitude
Fortunate Trespass Benevolent Trespass Honorable Trespass
Trespasser’s Surprise Long Secrecy Bequeath Doom
Approach with Courage Alluring Shadows Push Back the Darkness
Hallowed Beast Hallowed Secret Promises Kept
Promises Unwise Venture Beyond Let the Curtain Fall
Let the Curtain Rise Benevolent Illumination Intriguing Legend
Healing Knowledge Prelude to Friendship Magical Gift
Magical Talisman Occupy the Shadows Occupy the Edges
Enigmatic Magic Enigmatic Hunt Without Even a Knock
A Trespass Most Generous

Are any of these serious contenders? Well, no. But I have another third of the book to read. Maybe the perfect phrase is waiting there for me to find it.

The Sovereign’s Labyrinth

I’m super excited about my new work in progress, the sequel to The Tally Master!

I’m thrilled to be hanging out with Gael and Keir again. And I think the adventure facing them is way cool! I’ve got only the first scene written so far, but my plans for what comes next have me jumping metaphorically up and down in excitement.

Gael and Keir have arrived in Hantida, a city-state far to the west and south of Belzetarn. They’ve just witnessed a very peculiar failed arrest, and it is clear that ALL IS NOT WELL here. 😀

Oh! I can’t wait!

I need to do a quickly sketched floor plan of the house where they are headed to treat a badly burned girl, and then I can get on with writing the next scene. (After I finish this blog post, of course. See what I mean about those three hats!)

Fate’s Door Is On Sale

These days, getting the word out about one’s books is key. If you don’t do it, no one knows they exist. Which means no one buys them and reads them.

::J.M. shudders::

The idea of no one reading my books horrifies me!

I had great success last spring when I put Troll-magic on sale and created an image announcing the sale to appear in BookBub’s newsletter. Lots more readers than usual picked up a copy, and that heightened visibility continued for a full 2 months after the BookBub mention.

Naturally I’m trying to replicate that experience with my other books! But it’s tricky, and there is much to learn.

I didn’t get the same results when I tried this for Blood Silver, which did about half as well as Troll-magic. But I’m continuing to experiment, and now Fate’s Door is receiving its turn in the sunshine. I’ll be able to assess the results sometime next week.

In the meantime, the ebook edition of Fate’s Door is available at a discount on Amazon, so do pick up your copy!

*   *   *

That’s what I’ve been up to lately.

I have a bunch of blog posts I want to write about the world of Lodestone Tales 5. Plus I still want to share some of the Whole30 menus that I devised. Watch this space! 😉

(Maybe I need to be four people!)

 

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Stymied for a Title

I’m still stuck! I need a title, and I don’t have one.

To Thread the Labyrinth

To Thread the Labyrinth was the working title, and it seemed perfect all through the writing of the novel. A physical labyrinth fills part of the mansion’s cellar. A metaphysical labyrinth troubles my heroine. And the allusion to Theseus and the Minotaur is simply fun.

I loved it that I had a good title from the very beginning of writing my story.

But, but, but! My first reader didn’t like the title at all (too languid, no punch). My second reader didn’t think it was right either. (Implication of confusion, choosing, and picking one’s way, when the story is really about courage.) Neither was my husband much smitten with it. With so many against me, I caved.

A Legacy Arcane

Two legacies form the twin hearts of the story. One is a curse, afflicting the woman who inherited it. The other is a blessing, a cultural creation forgotten and abandoned amidst the vicissitudes of history. Both are secret and understood by few. Plus…who isn’t intrigued by the arcane and compelled by the promise of a legacy? Good hook!

I was sure I now had my title.

Once again I encountered resistance to my choice. My husband liked this one, but my first reader felt it was too dark for the golden-summer-evening mood of my story. My second reader felt that the essence of the story is not about legacies. And one very intelligent teen didn’t know what the word ‘arcane’ meant.

I could see all the points made by the dissenting opinions.

Talisman’s Reach

The inheritance that plagues my heroine is a talisman of old, forged by a brilliant inventor, and tumbling down through the ages to trouble all who tangle with it. It reaches through time. Thus we have Talisman’s Reach. My first reader generously devised this one and donated it to the cause. My son liked it. My daughter liked it. I liked it!

My husband thought it sounded like a place name: Howard’s End, King’s Cliffe, Skye’s Reach, etc.

Well, that rather tarnished the possibility for me.
 

Brainstorming

I decided to write down every idea I could come up with, censoring nothing, no matter how absurd. Somewhere amongst the dross there might be gold.

Her Labyrinth
Labyrinth Intangible
Labyrinth of Legend
Defy the Labyrinth
A Twist of Trouble and Truth
The Talisman Legacy
Talisman’s Tontine
Labyrinth Within, Labyrinth Without
Talisman’s Tribute
Talisman’s Travail
Talisman’s Trump
Legacy of Legend
Talisman of Ages
Talisman of Old
Magic’s Legend

There were many more than those I’ve listed above, but all of them failed to evoke my enthusiasm.

Poetry as Inspiration

My first reader suggested I visit the poets of the past for ideas. I’d watched her develop some brilliant titles for her own books using this method. Could it work for me?

Strange Charm
Ghost of an Ancient Legend
Child of Silence
Forgotten Mornings
Legends Old
Fear Made Manifest
Mortal Daring
Ascending Jubilant
Hallowed Relic
Grow Her Wings
Adamantine Chains
In Wand’ring Mazes Lost
This Pendant World
Wandering the Labyrinth
In Secret Kept
Won by Courage
Legacy Forgotten
Let Daylight In
Unbidden Guest
Taught to Conceal
Charm’s Wound
Ancient Alchemy

Well…these were better than my brainstorming efforts, but they were not better than any of the three titles I had first considered seriously.

What to do? What to do?

Images as Inspiration

I decided to play to my strengths. I’m good with visuals, practiced with graphics. And a title does not stand alone. It appears on the book cover, and the impression created by the title is heavily influenced by the imagery of the art.

Now, I have booked a spot with Deranged Doctor Design for my cover. They created the cover for The Tally Master, which a sister author was so kind as to call “magnificent.” I feel confident that DDD will create something equally marvelous for this book…once I have a title. 😀

But, I figured that I could try my top three contenders within the milieu of paintings by the Pre-Raphaelites and those influenced by them. Seeing my titles within the context of art might clarify the issue for me.

Where Do I Stand Now?

I’m still undecided. But I have two more resources to consult.

1) I plan to read through the story v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y looking for a phrase in the text that will be perfect.

2) My son is my final reader, the one who gets the story after all the revisons and corrections have been made, so as to give it either a thumb’s up or the reverse. He just bopped into my room to tell me that he’s halfway through and to gush. He’s really, really liking it. And he has an opinion about the title that stems directly and immediately from his experience. That opinion…is carrying weight!

No, I’m not going to share it with you quite yet.

I know, I’m bad! 😉

But I’d love to hear your opinion!

Edited to Add: My son was halfway through when I wrote this post. Now, on the day it is going live, my son has finished his read-through. His verdict? He loved it, and he’s demanding a sequel.

He’ll probably get it, too, since every person who has read the novel thus far pleaded for a sequel. They want more adventures with Lealle and Gaetan. This makes me happy. 😀

 

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Progress on a Work in Progress

It’s rather difficult to report on a book that does not yet have a title. How do I specify the book I mean?

The working title was To Thread the Labyrinth. When I completed my first draft, I thought I might drop the “To” and call it Thread the Labyrinth. (The story does feature a physical labyrinth, as well as a metaphysical one). But my second reader pointed out some cogent reasons why highlighting the labyrinth in the title might not be a good idea.

My next idea for the title was A Legacy Arcane, but my first reader found that overly dark, while my second reader felt that the legacy reference was too oblique.

My first reader then suggested Talisman’s Reach, and I liked it. I liked it a lot! So did my son and my daughter. I thought I had my title! But then it was pointed out to me that the talisman in my story is never once referred to by that word. So now I am cast into confusion again.

Be that as it may, I do have progress to report!

My first revision pass in September was the most extensive, following the excellent feedback I received from my first reader. My second revision pass in October caught some really important details pointed out by my equally excellent second reader.

This week I fixed all of the typos plus a few other telling specifics found by my superb proofreader.

The book is ready to enter the production process that will make it into both an ebook and a paperback!

But I need a title first.

::puts thinking cap back on:: 😀

 

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When the Pendulum Swings…

Back in 2013, one of my mentors told me my writing was sometimes “thin.” (I had requested his assessment.)

What he meant was that I didn’t include enough character opinion when I described a scene’s setting or when I touched on what my character was seeing and hearing and smelling. He urged me to go all out in this respect, explaining that writers at my skill level—able to tell a compelling story, but lacking the expertise of bestsellers—could not include too much.

At the beginning of his career, my mentor had been at that stage himself. His mentor said that if he felt like he’d gone too far with setting and opinion, then he’d probably hit it just right. 😉

I took his point to heart, and worked hard to filter as much as possible of my settings through my protagonists’ opinions.

Given that the reviews for my books now usually mention that the story world is vivid, the characters lifelike and appealing, and the sequence of events compelling, I think I’ve succeeded in including lots of character opinion in my narrative.

But I suspect I may have gone too far!

in 2013, it may not have been possible to include too much setting. Now, in 2018, I’ve written another dozen titles, studying my craft the whole time. I’m a different writer than I was then.

And, for the first time ever, my revision has required significant deleting!

Yep, you heard that right. I’ve been taking things out, and taking out more than I added in. Up to now, the balance has been the other way: I’ve added in far more than I took out.

The total word count on my current WIP was 77,697 for the first draft.

Then I received some truly stellar feedback from my first reader. (Have I said that my first and second readers are marvelous? They are! I’d be sunk without them.) And my response to the feedback was to cut about 4,000 words.

Oh, I added in a few paragraphs here and there. I replaced some entirely—taking out what was there, and writing new for that spot instead. But mostly I pruned and then pruned some more.

I’ve now sent the manuscript off to my second reader, and it clocks in at a mere 73,633 words. I can’t wait to hear what she says about it!

In the meantime, I’m getting ready to start writing my next novel, a sequel to The Tally Master, and I’m hoping to swing the pendulum back from “too much” to “just right,” because I’ve discovered that cutting snippets here and paragraphs there is very challenging for me when there’s a lot to cut. Writing a new scene to insert at the critical moment is much more fun!

For those of you waiting on To Thread the Labyrinth (which might get a different title—I’m thinking about it), take note: Labyrinth is moving through its revision cycles fairly steadily! I hope to get feedback from my second reader in October, make those revisions swiftly, and then send the manuscript to my proofreader in November. I’ll keep you posted as the process moves forward. 😀

 

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Arriving at the Finish

If you’ve been watching the progress indicator in the side bar, you’ll have noticed it creeping upward over the last few weeks. 500 words here, 800 there, and during the last seven days, frequent spurts up into 1,700+ territory.

The novel I’ve been working on is tentatively titled To Thread the Labyrinth, and I’ve been fully immersed in its setting, the characters, and the story.

Indeed, some part of me feels as though I should be able to go to Gate Nine-and-Three-Quarters at the airport and catch a plane to the small “French” country of Pavelle. Once there, I’d hire a carriage to take me from its capital city out into the countryside, where I would find the charming town of Claireau. That’s how real it all seems. 😉

When I first started developing the concept for To Thread the Labyrinth, I’d imagined that it might be a short story that would accompany my coloring book. There would be mention of magic, perhaps a young protagonist learning antiphony, and the intricate designs I’d been drawing for the coloring book would represent the complex patterns required for the antiphonic energy that powers magic in my North-lands.

Naturally, my story grew considerably from there, acquiring an older protagonist in addition to the young one, as well as an annoying little brother, a crowd of bullies, civil disorder, a troll executioner (sort of), and more. By the time I was done brainstorming, I retained no illusions about the supposed shortness of my story. Not only would it not be short, it wouldn’t even squeeze into a novella. This was a full-fledged novel!

Today was my longest sprint of writing in a long time. I wrote fully 3,500 words at my top speed. The scenes were flowing out of mind and through my fingertips on the keyboard as though I were a stream in flood. And when I finally stopped, I’d reached the finish of my story.

I was so excited, I wanted to run to the top of a mountain, yelling, “I did it! I did it!” I suspect that the long hiatus that occurred in the middle of this novel (from October through December I wrote nothing; and from January through May I wrote Blood Silver) made completing To Thread the Labyrinth extra special.

So…how long is the story? I’d estimated it would be 60,000 words. But as I approached the end, I kept having to add a few thousand more to my estimate. 62,000. No, 65,000. No, 70,000. The final count was 77,697.

What happens next?

I clean up a few little odds and ends (like making up a name for that armiger—a policeman—who needs one, but that I skipped over because I was too intent on the scene to stop for him). Then I send the manuscript off to my first reader for her discerning feedback.

You must understand…my revisions usually add words to my stories, because I am far more likely to leave-things-out-that need-to-go-in than I am to put-things-in-that-shouldn’t-be-there. That’s just how I roll. But given that my readers usually say, “Oh! I wish it were longer!” when they finish one of my books, I suspect how I roll is fine.

Did I say I that I’m excited about To Thread the Labyrinth?

I’m excited! 😉

 

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The State of This Writer

So, how am I doing in the wake of my mother’s death? It’s been four months and some days. Has there been any healing in my grief? Any at all?

And what about my writing? That progress bar at the top right of my website has not budged even one pixel since October 7, 2017. When will I begin writing stories again?

Then there are my blog posts. They’ve been nothing but reviews of different stories in bundles punctuated by sad poetry.

What happened to the recipes? My latest discoveries about nutrition? Various health tips? Cool bits of history unearthed in my research for stories inspired by cultures of the past? Publishing tips?

For all those of you who have been wondering, I will attempt to answer some of these questions.

My Journey in Grief

I’ve heard that it commonly takes a year before one finds one’s balance after the death of a loved one, and my emotions continue to be something of a roller coaster.

I have many moments of missing my mother desperately and longing for her presence. I go through intervals of gloom and discouragement. Sometimes I am angry for no particular reason at all.

But I’m also experiencing some intervals of happiness, along with many hours in which I am simply focused on the things that need doing that hour and that day.

My sense is that I am progressing through my grief in a way that is healthy and normal for me.

I’m beginning to change my world view to conform to the way the world is now. Before my mother’s death, my world was one in which my mother was alive. Now my world is one in which she is dead.

That sounds very simple, but making that transition is surprisingly hard. For the longest time, I was afraid that I might call my father on the phone and ask him to put my mom on, because I wanted to talk with her.

My head knew that my mother had died. But my heart . . . just didn’t.

Now my heart is beginning to accept what my head already knows. This world, my world, is one in which my beloved mother no longer lives. I cannot call her on the phone. I cannot visit her and hug her. I can no longer hear her voice in my ears as she speaks. I feel like I am beginning to know that in my heart.

I have more progress to make. It will be some time before her memory will be a blessing, as some express it. Right now her memory brings me only pain, because it reminds me of my grievous loss.

So I am in the middle of grieving, making progress in healing, but with quite a bit more to come.

But there is one other marker of progress that I can speak to.

I can now think with some degree of cogency.

I couldn’t for most of October and a good bit of November. Initially, I couldn’t even hold two thoughts together at once. The only reason I managed to do all the various tasks that needed to be done in the week between her death and her funeral was because my dad kept a list, and we crossed off each one as I did it, added more tasks as we thought of them, and made notes on tasks that ran into complexities.

And even when my memory improved, I still was not thinking straight. Reasoning my way through challenging life puzzles (of which I had a few) was nearly impossible. I simply could not do it. Everything had to go on hold, or else someone other than me had to do it.

Now I can think again. Although I estimate that I’m holding at about 90% of capacity. I still don’t have all of my brain power back yet. But I can work with what I’ve got.

My Blog Posts

That lack of brain power meant I skipped blogging for all of October. When one cannot think, one cannot write blog posts.

I could write poetry expressing my grief and sorrow. In fact, it was therapeutic to do so. I couldn’t manage to cry much, and my sadness seemed to clog within my body like a plug of congealed pork jelly, heavy and aching and painful. Poetry helped moved the agony through me and out.

Once I’d written the poems, I wanted to share them, because even the idea of posting anything else felt disrespectful to both my mom and my own feelings of loss. I just had to do it, so I did.

When the MYTHIC TALES bundle released, I really wanted to at least let you all know about it. That post, written when my brain still mostly was not working, was incredibly hard to pull together. But there were so many good stories in that bundle. I didn’t want to let my fellow authors down by failing to mention it. And I didn’t want to let you down by failing to notify you of its release. So I pushed myself, and managed to get that post written.

That bundle was in its planning stages through the summer, and I’d envisioned myself interspersing my normal blog posts (on Fridays) with bundle posts (on Wednesdays). But following my mom’s death, I could not write my normal sorts of posts. So you received what I had in me, which was bundle posts and poetry.

I don’t intend to go on that way indefinitely. But neither can I put a date on when I’ll be capable of delivering up my usual repertoire.

I can say that I’m developing a strong desire to tell you all about the Whole 30 (which I’ve been doing for more than a year now), to give you part 2 of the vitamin D post I promised so long ago, and to share some new developments on the publishing front.

Those posts will come. But not quite yet. I must beg your patience for a while longer.

My Fiction Writing

Here I have some good news.

I am writing!

Why then, you might ask, has that progress bar remained stationary?

Ah, yes, well . . . I do have an explanation.

By December I was missing writing quite dreadfully. I find that when I don’t write for an extended period of time, I cannot be my best self, whether that’s a grieving best self or a happy best self, any best self is out of reach.

So, when I reached December, I’d not been writing any stories for two months, long enough for me to really feel it.

And, yet, when I even thought about returning to the novel that I’d abandoned so precipitously on October 7, I just felt tired, as though every last drop of energy (of which I didn’t have much—grief is often very enervating) had run out of my body.

I knew I had to be patient with myself. Several other writers with far more experience than I had said that they could not write for six months after the death of a loved one. But I secretly crossed my fingers that in January I might find I could write a little bit.

Then I happened to listen to a music video of a song by Clannad: “The Poison Glen.”

It moved me deeply. I listened to it more than once.

Here it is, so that you can listen to it also!
 

I couldn’t stop thinking about that mythical hero. What was his story? Who was he? What had happened to him?

I wrote in my journal that I wished I could weave a story around him, but I didn’t think it would be possible for me.

And then I found myself doing exactly that as I continued journaling. I asked myself questions. What about this? What about that? Could it be this? Could it be that?

When I stopped journaling, I had the entire concept outlined in a brief three pages. But could I actually write it? I still had that tired weariness when I thought about writing, even though I also longed to write.

I decided to email a writer I regard as a sort of mentor and who had mentioned her own experiences with writing and grief in comments on her own blog. In my email, I told her of my situation and asked her guidance.

She replied with a great deal of sympathy and understanding, and as I read her reply I found clarity growing within me. I realized that even though I missed the writing and longed for it, I had allowed some degree of a spirit of ‘should’ to pervade my desire to write.

Her words of wisdom allowed me to toss out that ‘should.’ And once the ‘should’ was gone, all that remained was ‘want to, want to, want to!’ And that sense of draining energy that went with the thought of writing was gone.

So, on January 2, I dipped my toe into writing. I wrote only 300 words that first day, but it felt really good and really right. I wrote more the next day, and yet more the day following.

I’ve been writing steadily ever since and have accrued 24,000 words (the total as I draft this post).

But not on the novel that I’d been tracking with the progress bar!

The current work is tentatively titled His Poison Tear. I think it will be a novella, although there’s always a chance that it might be longer. I’m excited about the story and feel a growing eagerness to share it with you and the world of readers. All in good time!

I haven’t permanently abandoned the other work, however. Indeed, as I’ve been writing His Poison Tear, I’ve been feeling enthusiasm for To Thread the Labyrinth kindling anew in my soul. I plan to return to it as soon as I finish the first draft of Poison and send said draft off to my first reader for feedback.

What’s Next?

So, going forward, what can you expect from me?

I’m not going to track my progress on His Poison Tear. I need to stay loose and light on my feet for now, as I write fiction in the wake of my mother’s death. I’m writing steadily, and the story will be done when it is done.

Edited to add: I’ve changed the title from His Poison Tear to Blood Silver.

I do want to try tracking my progress when I return to To Thread the Labyrinth. If it does not impede my writing, I’ll update that progress bar as I write. If it does, than I’ll remove the progress bar altogether. But I suspect it will be fine.

Regarding the blog…

Well, there will likely be a bunch more poetry and a few more bundle posts. But I’m hoping to slip in the odd post on other topics here and there. We shall see, but stay tuned. I’ll probably write another update post like this one after I’ve tried various possibilities and want to share how they worked. 😀

For more about Blood Silver, see:
Plate Armor, How It Works
Cross Strike, Squinting Strike, and Scalp Strike
The Book Title
The Crooked Strike
The Joust
Which Cover to Choose?
The Strike of Wrath
Rope Climbing and a Cliff
What If the Sword is Wrong?
A Song of Peace
Wielding a Long Sword

 

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A Story for My Coloring Book

Three weeks ago, when I asked folks to print out a sample page from my upcoming coloring book and give it a try, one commenter made a remark that really interested me.

I like pure abstract, but fairly soon after I settled in with pencils and coloured sharpies I found myself wanting the image to tell a story. Widdershins

Being a teller of tales, I liked the idea of finding a way to blend story with my drawings. But how could I manage it? The drawings I intend to collect in the coloring book are very much abstracts. I think of them as “modern mandalas.” The pairing I wanted between story and image did not immediately present itself to me.

But there was something tickling at my back brain. If I just let it percolate for an unspecified time…maybe I would get an idea.

Well! That idea arrived yesterday, and I’m really excited about it.

If I weren’t in the middle of writing the intense conclusion to my current novel, I’d be writing the start to a new short story. I love my idea, though, and once I send my novel off to my first reader, I know what I’ll be working on while I await her feedback.

I’ll probably publish the envisioned short as a standalone ebook, as well as in the pages of my coloring book. I took a bunch of notes. It’s hard to wait to start! But I’m not a writer who can concentrate on two stories at the same time. And my novel will be complete soon.

In the meantime, I’ll share another design intended for my coloring book. 😀

coloring book, sample page 2

For more about my upcoming coloring book:
Page for a Coloring Book
Drawing for Fun and Relaxation

 

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