Sunday, November 25, 2012

Synopsis and Excerpt from this year's NaNo


Perdita is a Half, neither lowly human, nor powerful Per, with few good choices for her fate.

Edward is a human, with little future ahead of him.

They have one opportunity for escape--working for the spymaster Lord Vortex, whose theater is a front for his work on behalf of all of Gloriana. But in order to do so, first they need to solve the mystery of Perdita's origin and why it matters so much.


“You were my favorite pet.”

Lady Sovereign sighed quietly as she watched the eyes of her human, Thomas, dim. Lovely eyes, they had been. Green. Green like Ivy, soft and round.

That was good. If she survived, perhaps she would write a poem in his honor.

She had saved him for last, and for her ritual blade. The least she could do for him. She laid out Thomas’s limbs slightly next to the altar; his throat still gushed blood. It was possible they would treat him better if they knew he’d been a favorite, and only a favorite would be placed next to the soft carved wooden altar to the Knowing and the Unknowing. Perhaps they would treat him worse. She wished she'd been able to have his child, some small legacy, even if the child would likely end up nothing more than a whore.

Her stupid husband and fool son had botched the reign terribly. Not even fifty years had gone by—the standard election—and yet still here she was, watching her sweet pets destroyed humanely rather than leaving them for savagery, knowing her garden would inevitably be ruined by those tasteless rubes of House Justice, who should have stayed in the law courts as far as she was concerned. House Jubilant by birth; House Jubilant by marriage, The Lady Sovereign had little to show for it. All her true-children dead in the past year by intrigue or in battle, not even a Half as legacy.

She’d been a fool to care for this creature enough to consider a Half with him, but Thomas had asked so nicely and he had been her favorite pet. Still, The Lord Sovereign had laughed when she had requested it.

“There are more important human families.” He smiled down at her. She hated when he smiled down at her, he was a fool.

“There are no important human families.” She scoffed. “There is only us.”

He had liked that, her scoffing at the foolish humans who thought they could flatter him. He disliked her even coming to him with the smell of the humans on her. Sometimes they would offer up a daughter even for the long death in hopes it would appeal to him. Idiots. The Lord Sovereign was a fastidious man with a keen sense of smell and had no interest in something that repulsive.

She liked repulsive. She liked their dirt smell, like plants. She liked their rough unfinishedness. The Lord Sovereign disliked taking lovers amongst the Halfs.

Which she supposed had been his downfall. It was, after all, Not Done. That's why Halfs were made. Lord Day, whose daughter he had seduced, had instigated the overthrow. Lord Justice would never be so intelligent… so creative as to instigate it himself.

She could hear noise far down the polished marble and painted corridor that led to the terraced garden, despite the elegant draperies and carpets that minimized sound. She thought she saw smoke, off in the city. An orange haze. A pungent smell.

“My lady.” The serving maid, human. Stinking of fear, she stumbled over a fallen pet.
“Careful, Lower Maid..” The Lady Sovereign wandered over to the pet and righted him. Ah, a new one. She’d never even sampled him; couldn’t quite remember his name. Sad—she thought she remembered he’d been some sort of musician. “What is it?” she asked the serving girl.
The girl had trouble speaking for a moment. She wished more of the higher servants had been able to stay. The Halfs. The human smell, on top of the blood of the pets, was a bit much for her. Perhaps this one knew her fate? She hadn’t quite thought humans capable of that kind of fear or forethought. Interesting.

“Your carriage is ready.”

The Lady Sovereign took one last look around her artfully fallen columns, her sacred ympre trees, the grafted fruit trees so favored of the Knowing and the UnKnowing, and sighed, pulling a small piece of Ivy the color of Thomas’s eyes from the nearest perfectly disheveled bed. She hoped the Knowing and UnKnowing would appreciate and protect these precious offerings. Especially Thomas.

Odd she thought she’d almost detected surprise when she slid the knife across his throat. As though his fate had not become as evident as hers was now. Slowly she followed the shaking servant girl past the corridors. She heard metal… not iron? She shuddered. The human Iron Corps frightened her. How could they be controlled? If they had returned to be used against that fool husband of hers, well, perhaps it only served him right.

The carriage was at the end of the pebbled back drive. Her dear sweet Half-Jubilants were there waiting for her—Araminta, her body maid; and Locasio, her footman. Quickly, she dispatched the human maid and the carriage drove off before the human girl managed to crumple to the ground.

“I am grateful.” She sighed. She knew Locasio at least wished to speak, and would not until she did.

“Safety awaits” her Half-Jubilant footman intoned in that portentous voice that usually made her smile. But not today. Not even that.

“Indeed.” The Lady Sovereign nodded. “If safety exists.” Araminta held her hand, and they rattled off into the night as The Lady Sovereign mused that it was always best that the Halves be reminded they were not Whole.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Editing Update - late october.

I had forgotten to publish this it seems. This is from late October.

The 1950 book finally has a working title: Goodnight, Irene.

Research over the past week has included:

  • Locating the FBI offices in NYC in 1949-1950
  • Pictures of Foley Square and the walk from there towards the old Radio Row
  • Two books on the FBI to be written up
  • Multiple downloads from the FBI website of forms and agent dossiers
  • Start of research on Chinatown
  • Start of research on Newark

Issues stemming from research:

Originally, I had thought of the protagonist as living in Newark. This would make the FBI's presence more feasible as well, as it would mean the crime crossed state lines (NY-NJ).

However, the problem is that… well, what do I know from Newark? Is it really worth it for the story to force this, and the six additional months of research it would require for me to understand the area enough to write about it intelligently? Most importantly, would it even make sense for the story?

I feel like the venues need to be tighter. This is NOT a sprawling story like the others. The locations are small and well-defined. Hopping between Newark, Manhattan and New Jersey doesn't quite make sense.

Perhaps I could consolidate to northern NJ (Newark? Add Montclair?) and lower Manhattan? May make sense to add NJ what with Free Acres in the other book and all.

Edited to add: found out there was an FBI branch office in Newark so it would not have made sense for agents to come from NYC anyway. Scene stays set in Manhattan. Part of me is saddened by this. I like them being ordinary people--and NY has such an aura of fantasy around it. I prefer in many ways thinking of them as outside that orbit. Close, but not touching. It's a strange dynamic that people outside--people that come to NY from outside the suburban area--don't understand. You feel as though you are a part of it, you feel the pull of it's gravity, but you are not part of New York. Not really, no matter how much you think you are. Being there is different. And I'm not quite sure that's what I want to reveal--being in NY.

Nanowrimo 21650 and catching up.

I have to admit, this year's NaNo has really suffered from my lack of bandwidth. Going to the writein was far more helpful than I would have expected--not only did I write over 2k words at the write-in, it reminded me that if i just time myself and focus on spelling later, well, i can get a lot done. In the end it is important to remember (at least for me) that... well I'm going to agonize over word choice at some point. Because that's what I do. I didn't write poetry for years for no reason at all. But I don't have to agonize over word choice at the beginning. This is a story. Tell their story. Agonize later.

Monday, November 12, 2012

NaNo 13k.

Been enjoying writing but struggling to fit time in. A couple new things this year:

- scenes are set up at five per chapter, each scene at 1000 word goal.
- as it's a fantasy novella, I've added a section where I can write short (about 500 words) myths legends and fairy tales. These will not only be helpful for the story itself, but as they're outside the narrative flow I can write them when I don't have access to my scrivener files.

Monday, November 5, 2012

It's started.

As one of about sixteen people in all of Montclair who did not lose power... well, I'm lucky. Also, I do wish I could have started oh say a week early? But NaNo has started, and even though I was out much of the weekend I did manage to not get too far behind (even if i'm not ahead). Managed to figure out a way to approach the fantasy series without boring myself. Problem: this is set up as a novella series. Which means that 50k is on the high side. Still I feel like doing two at 25k is a bit slow. I'll have to see how it goes. Heck if I do 35k of story and 15k of world building to be excised later I think I'll be doing good. This one even has a working title!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012

I am doing my setup for this year's NaNo and am wondering if it would be better this year to just write for a certain amount of time. How far behind would I get, were I to do it time based rather than word based?

Friday, September 14, 2012


After months of researching, reading, and futile revision attempts, I have finally figured out a method of story structure that is working for me.

At least, for this manuscript.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Foyle's War

Been watching Foyle's War, cause, you know, umm... research? What I find interesting about it is that it truly highlights the contemporary subtext of detective-as-priest; moreover, I find it interesting that the driver character's actual father is an actual vicar, and her surrogate father is a surrogate priest. At one point there is even a moment where he talks to a woman who believes her brother is wrongly accused and there are many discussions of him possibly helping her cope with it should her brother be guilty. He speaks of doing what is right; his morality is unimpeachable; people are driven to confess to him. No one, not even doctors, face chaos in modern life (or is it just pop culture?) as do detectives. But often this is coupled with isolation. More than a priest, a detective may be closer to a shaman: appeasing the capricious spirit of justice, descending into the depths, completely alone. Also, chain lightning. Ok, maybe tasers? So they're enhance maybe, dual wield something something. I also admit I like all the Spitfires. I'd kvell for some Lysander footage. I would.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sound Technology of the 19th Century

Interesting to think about the interior soundscape of the time. I do talk about this a bit in the story--moving through interior spaces, contrasting the noise if the mill with the silence of upper middle class/middle class rooms.

Sound Technology of the 19th Century, via @Brainpicker

Friday, July 27, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Funny. When I was young I thought everything was talent and creativity and I felt helpless, no matter how many times I was told I was talented and creative.

Being told to just keep working--well. At least it's something I can do, something I can control.

The Guns of August/Tuchman

I'm not going to try to seem cool and say I didn't like the movie--I did--but I never got the fascination with the Titanic. As a tragic marker of the end of an era it never worked for me, possibly because I was too familiar with the names Ypres, Marne, Somme.

The first chapter of this book does. Called "A funeral", it is one of the most heartbreakingly lyrical pieces of historical writing I've ever experienced. The lists of royalty and leaders march in words like they had in the funeral procession of Edward VII in May of 1910.

The war never seemed so pointless or so inevitable than in those fourteen pages.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Structure and subplot

Listed all the subplots within the 1950 manuscript. Interesting -- they are all about the collapse and loss of family. Inspired me for a couple more concrete details to add to the book in general. However, it does not expose gaps as well as I had hoped.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Editing and Research

Recent research has included:

  • The Street with No Name (for the 1950 story);
  • Guns of August/Tuchman (for the adventure story);
  • The Crimean War/Figes (for the adventure story);
  • Wish Me Luck (BBC series) (for the 1939 story);
  • Carve Her Name With Pride (film about Violette Szabo) (for the 1939 story).

I really could use some working titles here!

Current editing:

Still trying to understand the structure process. Getting lost in midsection (story-world). Next step: peel out individual subplots and character arcs to help see where they have holes.

Eventually, I really hope to get a story structure process together. It feels so mysterious.


Need more work and thought around either fantasy or sf story lines. Both are currently too thin and the character voices are not strong enough to talk me through.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The German

Wonderful short film, by way of @brainpicker on Twitter.

The German

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Go here

For information on the Internet blackout Google's SOPA-PIPA page.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Editing update

I have been continuing to work on the 1950 project but I'm still on chapter five sadly.