Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Simple pleasures

It’s been a really tiring week so far. Not bad, just tiring. A few disturbed nights. Lots of after-school driving around. Yesterday I had an all-day training course that involved lots of talking and interaction - and you can guess how that feels to an extreme introvert!

Tomorrow at work we have a couple of end-of-summer events on the same day, a coincidence born of the way our organization has been split and reorganized over the past couple of years. A lunchtime barbecue for our physical office, including some of my staff plus colleagues in the same office but now belonging to a different branch, and an after-work round of mini-golf and pub meal for my branch involving staff from three different offices.

This afternoon I sat at my desk looking at my calendar and the very thought left me feeling drained! Not that I don’t enjoy all those things but ... introvert ... it’s tiring at the same time.

This evening I dropped Matthew off at Venture Scouts, a ten minute drive from home, and drove back along the coast road.

The sun was almost set behind the hill to one side. It was nearly dark, but the sky - immaculately clear - still glowed above and the mirror-smooth sea picked up the light in a luminous milky blue.

I thought, “That’s pretty” and drove on. Then I thought, “Dammit, I live in such a beautiful part of the world yet when did I last take just a few minutes to stop and look at it?”

So I did something drastic and daring for me. Instead of driving on home, I pulled in and stopped. Just for five minutes. But it was quiet, introvert, me time. Islands in the distance. The lights of a few boats. Mountains off to one side. A seal sculling lazily near the shore.

Peace.

So simple.

So rare that we take the time to appreciate it.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Have you scene?

My process in drafting The Ashes of Home has been quite different from previous novels.

Up to now, I generally think and write in chapters, and mark the start of new chapters as I go.

This time around I started along the same lines but eventually found it far easier to forget about chapters during the drafting stage. In part, this is because I am tracking three main points of view, and I found it more productive to focus on each one’s story without worrying too much about what was going on elsewhere.

That, of course, meant that I had no idea where chapter breaks would eventually fall.

What I did do, though, was mark where natural scene breaks might fall. Sometimes this was just a natural pause in the action, or a jump in time. Better still I’m always on the lookout for natural pauses that are also cliffhangers - the shock of an unexpected revelation or a sudden twist in events.

Yes, I’m looking for points in the story where, as a reader, I would desperately want to read on. Then *bang* new chapter, or even switch to another point of view and leave things hanging.

Mwahahahaha

*Ahem*

I did weave the separate strands together as I went whenever I had enough of each one to make it worthwhile. Mostly that was done to keep things ticking along roughly the same timeline. So now I’ve got a novel draft that kinda hangs together as a story, but which is a long list of scenes in need of overall structure. And I’ve got lots of notes about things I need to change, make consistent, or incorporate.

To help with this stage of the process I’m trying something I’ve not tried before. I’ve gone through and made a scene list.

This chart shows each scene with point of view, a rough idea of length, and a one-sentence description. Some of these scenes might end up running together, but I’ve also started noting which scenes would make ideal break points.

My hope is that this outline view will help to refine the overall flow (maybe things need swapping around a bit), work out where best to add in new scenes, and eventually work out how best to chunk things out into chapters.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Crystal's Timeless

Today I'm helping Crystal Collier share the news about Timeless, the third book in the Maiden of Time series.

TIMELESS (#3 Maiden of Time) by Crystal Collier #CoverReveal



Book Title: TIMELESS (Maiden of Time #3)
Author: Crystal Collier
Genre: YA Paranormal Historical
Release Date: November 1, 2016



TIME IS THE ENEMY

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her Blog, FacebookGoodreads, or follow her on Twitter.

Want the first chapter free? Sign up HERE.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

And ... we’re done!

A big day for me. After just under seven months of intensive effort I’ve finished the first draft of The Ashes of Home.

Shayla Carver, master assassin (retired) and planetary governor has made more enemies than is good for her. All she wants is to rebuild her home planet, burned to a cinder many years before, but ghosts from her past haunt her. Among the many plots on her life, one especially dangerous enemy is intent not just on revenge but on plunging the galaxy into a devastating civil war.

I started this project all the way back in 2008, while I was revising and querying Ghosts of Innocence first time around. After roughing out a number of scenes and a high level outline (which the finished story bears no resemblance to) I set it aside while I went through more rounds of revising and querying, then self-publishing Ghosts, and writing and publishing Tiamat’s Nest.

This draft has gone really well, but of course it’s nowhere near ready for publication. Eventually I’ll be looking for critiquers and beta readers, but before then I’ve got a lot of editing and revising of my own to do. I normally dislike this stage of the process, but for once I’m actually excited about it. I’ve got a set of notes on things I need to go back and work into the story, and most of all I’m looking forward to reading it through as a whole - something I’ve not yet done.

Time for a celebratory drink...

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labour Day

Hope you all enjoyed Labour Day (or Labor Day south of the border.)

This is the weekend of the local Saanich agricultural fair. For once, Ali and I visited on our own. We gave it a miss last year but have gone every other year since moving here. We like to mooch around looking at the animals, the crafts, and some of the entertainment. The kids used to love doing that also when they were younger. Now, not so much.

This time, we really noticed the dwindling numbers of livestock on show. Here’s a couple of photos from 5 years ago.



This year the shed with the goats in only had about half the number of animals. As for the draft horses, I can count 7 rigs in the arena in that old photo compared with only 3 when we watched this weekend. The same pattern was repeated in many of the animal sections around the fair - pigs, sheep, cattle, geese - all down in numbers.

Other sections thankfully are still going strong - all the arts and crafts, and the farm market, and the place was still buzzing with activity.

Megan invited some school friends over to spend the afternoon and evening on the rides, followed by late night pizza and a sleepover at our house. Thankfully we've had today to recover before back to work and school tomorrow.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Weekend Writing Warriors August 28

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/


I’m still on a blogging break, but I’m taking a couple of days off work to enjoy a long weekend while summer is still here, so I can afford a bit of time for distractions. Drafting The Ashes of Home is going well. I just breezed past 100k and feel like I’m on the home stretch.

Last night I needed to foreshadow a dramatic event I was writing, so backtracked a few chapters to embellish a description earlier on. I kinda liked the description, and thought why not share it. It is far removed from the scenes I’ve posted previously. Here, Shayla has stowed away on a massive battleship and infiltrates an engineering crew...

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Industrial ear muffs barely deadened the noise echoing back and forth in the cathedral space that rose through most of the height of the hull. She’d grown used to near silence in Blazer’s machinery space, but here the quintuplet of hulking, pot-bellied power units was anything but quiet. The curving shells that filled most of the compartment hummed an almost subsonic note that tingled her bones. Accustomed as she was to technology from the microscopic to the gargantuan, she had never been this up close and personal with the living heart of a capital ship. Despite herself, her skin crawled in awe at the unimaginable power contained a few feet away. Behind layers of armor and magnetic containment fields, humans dared to subvert the power of suns.

She shivered, and returned her attention to the job at hand and the instructions in her earpiece fighting to be heard. From her vantage point high above the deck, the shrieking din of ancillary equipment that clustered at floor level was lessened, but only just.

A narrow slice of unencumbered air ran the length of the power plant on either side, giving minimally-adequate working room. Canary yellow gantries spanned the engineering space and hoisted the two ton dead weight of the fuel injector high into the air, but it took sweat and muscle, and a constant stream of commands mingled with coarse invective to line the cylinder up with its housing forty feet above the deck.


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So, how's your summer going? Taken vacations? Ready for school yet?

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Weekend Writing Warriors August 7

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/


This is the last post before I take a blogging break and concentrate on finishing the first draft of The Ashes of Home. I ended the chapter with Randall, who comes across as a religious madman, talking about fire falling from the sky. His words hit Shayla hard when she realized he was describing the literal truth of something he’s seen, something she herself is intimately familiar with ... the systematic burning, thirty years ago, of the planet they are now standing on and trying to coax back to life. This snippet picks up the thread in the next chapter which leads on to new adventures, but I felt it was a tidy point to conclude this series of posts.

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Shayla leaned against the wall, taking in the sounds of the night. Shouts and coarse laughter drifted through the near wall, tinny and distant. Further afield wind rustled leaves, an unaccustomed sound from a lifetime ago.

Her thoughts whirled through her mind, muddy, fragmented. A survivor. From his speech he was obviously educated. What had the years alone on a global tomb done to him?

And how had he survived? She had watched the Cleansing broadcast from remote drones - propaganda to keep the peasants in line. The fleet of Swords systematically slagged large towns and cities, then bathed the remaining landscape in province-wide swathes of plasma, a gentle goodbye kiss after the fierce intensity of those first thrusts.


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