This photo is from deviantart. Sadly, I don’t remember the artist’s name. I love this guy’s tats – the one on his shoulder and the one on his belly button. I think just looking at them and him is enough make me want to turn those tats into stories. In fact, I think this guy may be what my main character’s step brother looks like.
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I have gone for weeks and weeks and weeks. I have not been twittering or commenting or posting anywhere online. Haven’t even been reading or writing, either! Which is more surprising (to me anyway). I don’t want to list the reasons (which involve a very familiar list of life and work and school) but lets just say I had difficulties making myself do much of anything. No, I am not depressed.
Anyway, I am writing again (but not reading yet). I think I will move to a different schedule, where Tuesday is day 1 and Monday is day 7. I might be able to post new chapters for teaser Tuesdays this way (starting next week).
Among other things, I read online today that amazon is selling more ebooks than hardcovers. I am utterly stunned.
Yes, the whole week so far has resulted in no work done on this story. I am desperately behind this week. God only knows if I will catch up. This past weekend, as expected, was a writing wash. Chores, actual washing, running errands and a bit of fun all conspired to leave with no writing time. So neither this story, nor the science fiction short is any further along and the short is due on the 30th. In my head it is done, but on paper (or rather my computer screen!) it remains unfinished.
I shall write tomorrow about how much I managed to do today. I need to type lots and very fast.
I wrote 168 words today. But that is deceptive, because I also got rid of 165 words I wrote last time. So I am ahead by only 3 words. It was a scene where she got a new dress and I realized that not did I not care about the new dress, it wasn’t necessary and only kept me from getting to the good parts that much sooner. The only good thing that came out of was that I finally met her mother. So far, her mother is as non-existent as a character can be and still be deeply embedded in the MC’s mind and heart. Makes me wonder about her.
Just in case I am wrong about how necessary this scene is, I cut and pasted it into another file. I call this new file “Princess Trash.” Princess because that’s part of the working title; Trash because it will hold stuff I don’t need. I have found over the years that instead of deleting scenes I don’t like, I should save them in a different file. Sometimes these deleted scenes come in useful. Sometimes I find I wrote them too early, and really, they make a lot more sense later on. Sometimes, with a few changes, I can use them. But mostly they just sit there.
Week 4 already. It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing this for so long. But no words today. I am going to see if I can’t at least get the beginning of the science fiction short done today. I need names for him, his car and his boss. Oh and a name for the story too.
I wrote the first page of my science fiction short. My main character is misbehaving. He’s decided he likes his boss. More, he has decided his boss is worth risking his life for. Why, I ask you? I don’t want him to like anyone. I want him to be a peevish and competent man with issues with people who try to give him orders (don’t ask me why he has issues with taking orders, I don’t know). Instead, he insists on singing his boss’ praises. I even think he might have a thing for his boss, which makes no sense at all. At least, I don’t want it to make sense. I never envisioned this as a romance!!!!!
My MC is out of control! I need to reign him back in! How do I take back control? I don’t know, but I do know I don’t have the space – or the time 0r the inclination – to give him his head.
“The Outain commander Ustain. Do you know him?” asked Adept Belay.
Kam nodded. “I have worked with him before.”
“Good,” said Father. He glanced at me and said, “He is here for a visit.”
What did that have to do me? “I don’t understand.”
“You and Kam will be his escort while he is here,” Father announced.
Escort? I frowned at him. “What do you mean?”
“Show him the city. Be a friend. Keep him out of trouble.” He paused. “Kam, you will be his military guide while he is here.”
I stared at Father. “I don’t understand what is so special about him.”
“Sir . . . Sire. May I?” said Adept Belay.
Father nodded permission to the Adept.
“He may be a rogue magician,” said Adept Belay.
I choked on my egg pastry.
Kam pounded on my back until it came flying out my mouth.
“What? What?” I burst out. “You can’t expect me too – I am not going to – I am not a magician!” For the first time in my life, I was glad I wasn’t.
“Sir, she is just a girl. She can’t be expected to deal with -”
“Her mother dealt with magicians at a younger age,” Father said mildly.
“She was raised to it,” I snapped. “I am not.”
Mama’s family was one the premier magician families in the whole country. They had produced more natural magicians than anyone else, so mama had told me, and nearly all the rest were wand magicians. I wasn’t sure what the differences were, but mama had wanted to tread the boards and for that they had disowned her.
“That will be your best defense,” the adept said.
“I don’t understand,” I repeated.
He leaned forward. I tensed, leaning back, sensing the tight whiplash of magic rising from him. Not rising more than a few inches from his skin, but I wanted to keep at least an arms-length between us.
“He will know your ancestry and he will understand your enmity for all magicians.”
He would not; I had made no secret of how badly I wanted to be a magician.
“Your rejection from acceptance into the ranks of magician apprentices will only make that more believable. He will be open to trusting you,” the adept concluded. He stared at me expectantly.
“That doesn’t make me feel any safer,” I said.
“You are my daughter,” said Father gently. “Even if he is a rogue magician, he will not harm you. At least not in my city. Kam will make certain of it.”
“Yes, sir,” said Kam.
Why did he have to be so agreeable?
“He isn’t a magician either,” I protested. “He can’t-”
“No, he is not. He never will be because he, too, is related to his Majesty. However, he has had pre-apprentice schooling,” said Adept Belay.
Pre-apprentice schooling? Only children of nobility got to do that and only families who were willing to disinherit their children if they were accepted. It was a point of prestige for them and conveniently got rid of third and forth sons. Which, I realized, Kam was. He had three older brothers.
“He was expelled from apprentice rank when his mother married his Majesty,” continued Adept Belay. “But he learned enough to recognize a natural mage when he sees one.”
“But his family -”
“I adopted him formally,” said Father. “His mother did not.”
Oh. I supposed that would work. Father hadn’t disowned him and it was illegal to adopt a child you had disowned.
I glanced sideways at him. He looked stern and controlled. He’d wanted to be a magician, too. I wondered if he resented Father for that. I couldn’t tell. He was as magician like as most soldiers. How far had he gotten in his training?
“You can recognize other magicians?” I asked him.
“I know when someone is performing magic,” he said.
That wasn’t quite the same thing. But maybe it was good enough.
“Why me?” I asked Father. “There have to be others that can do this.”
“No one I trust as much I trust you. No one else has a reason to be unhappy with the Magicians’ Guild.”
Meaning no one else in the family had created such a public row about not being a magician apprentice.
I slumped in my chair. “How will I meet him?”
Father smiled. “In two days there is a soiree. Kam will be your escort.”
Perfect. I might get out of this yet. “I don’t have a dress and no seamstress will finish one so soon.”
“Madam Tari is waiting in your room. She will manage, I am sure.”
Hell. Who had thought of having Madam Tari waiting? Father couldn’t have. I am not sure he ever noticed clothes.
“Your mother is waiting with her,” he added. “She’s thinks you need more clothes for this season’s activities and I’ve decided to indulge her.”
“I’ve no space to put more clothes!” Not to mention Asa would tease me mercilessly if I showed up with ball gowns.
“They will stay in your room here,” Father said.
The room that mama used for storage now.
Father laughed. “Smile, Isi. I’ve yet to see a daughter so displeased with the prospect of new clothes. Go on, now. And, mind, don’t discuss this with anyone else.”
“I’m always smiling, Father.” I forced a smile, rising. “Good day, Father. Adept Belay.”
Kam rose, bowed to them both, rose again, walking backward to the door.
The door shut softly behind us and I found myself relaxing.
Kam glowered down at me. “Where is your room?”
“The Round Wing.” It was named for the large round tower and off to the side. It was really only connected to cellars; you had to go underground to get anywhere else. I’d loved playing games down there when I was younger. But it was not near the front public wing, not in the west servant wing, not close to the east diplomatic wing and nowhere near the rear family wing. I suppose that was part of why Father had installed us there. He didn’t want his Queen and mama to be too close.
“Of course you are. Where else would you be?” He held out his arm, like he had before, looking at me expectantly.
What? Did he think he was going to come into my rooms with me? “Good day, my lord.”
I tucked my hands behind my back and walked down the hall to Father’s library. The cellars were easy to get to from there.
His footsteps were loud behind me, than his fingers closed on my right wrist and jerked me around. I stumbled back and glared at him. “Let go! You have no -”
He loosened his grip, but didn’t let go. “You,” he said slowly, “will not keep me from doing my duty.”
“I am not! I don’t want to!” I jerked my wrists, but he held them tight. “You are hurting me.”
“No, I am not. Did you hear what his Majesty said?”
I scowled at him. Clearly, I wasn’t going to get free until he was good and ready. “That I am to get new clothes. Now.”
“He ordered me to be your bodyguard.”
I shook my head. “No, he didn’t, he just said that -”
“That’s what he meant,” said Kam.
“No, he -” I cut myself off. Obviously, he wouldn’t believe me. “I will go ask him. Right now.”
He studied me, than nodded and let me go. I marched back into Father’s little study. The adept was just getting up and he sat back down when he saw me.
Father looked quizzically at me. “Yes, Isi?”
“Kam thinks you ordered him to be my bodyguard,” I burst out.
After a moment, Father said, “I did.”
I took a deep breath and tried to sound reasonable. “You told him to watch over me, but that’s not the same thing as being a bodyguard. And I don’t anyone hovering over me when I am in class or rehearsing. It’s not necessary and he’ll be in the way and I will be safe enough. This rogue magician isn’t going to do anything and I’ll be safe enough.”
“You’re going to be contending with a rogue magician. Yes, contending. Isi, make no mistake, this will not be easy, and Kam will assist you as much as he can. Won’t you?” Father looked behind me to Kam.
Kam had closed the door and was leaning against it. “Yes, sir, I will. Though I wish you would reconsider. She is just a girl.”
“Another reason why he is likely to trust her,” Father said. “Go on, now.”
Kam was a large, imposing presence. He looked very out of place in mama’s living room, covered as it was by fabric and lace and bowls of shiny beads. He had insisted on being here and now looked deeply uncomfortable. I hoped he rotted in his discomfort.
Mama had roped Kam into pushing the table to the side so there would be room for me. I stood, barefoot on the slightly dusty floor and dressed only in new linen shift. My stone was safely hidden in mama’s bedroom, under a pile of clothes. The windows were open to the kitchen gardens and the scent of fresh herbs relaxed me enough to ignore Kam. Yards of bright blue lacy cotton and the lighter silk lining lay crumpled at my feet. More fabric was draped and pined about my body. Madam Tari bustled about me, making marks and sometimes snipping with a pair of small scissors. Her assistants sat in the corner, preparing lengths of silk ribbon with beads.
183 words. Below what I should have done for today. I don’t feel like doing anymore today, but I am over my weekly goal, so it’s all good. Weekly word count is 1610. It is not a good place to end a chapter, so I think I will just continue with chapter 3 tomorrow.
I haven’t really started the science fiction short yet. The little bit of snippet I wrote the other day helped me with voice, but I don’t think the character reflecting on himself is a good place to begin. I’ve a kernel of an idea, though, and I think I am going to start with him in the garage. The thing I am worried about is whether or not I will be done by the 30th. Even if I am, I likely will not have time to rewrite or submit it for critiques. So whatever I submit will probably be a first draft and all I’ll really have time for is check spelling and make sure there are no missing words.
On the other hand, even if the story is not done in time for contest, I can still finish it, edit, rewrite and submit to other magazines.
So, 321 words. Word count sounds good and I am on track.
Except today’s stuff had a lot of dialog and I am not really good at dialog. I am afraid it may sound stilted. I feel like I am forcing words in my characters’ mouth and I don’t like this feeling. Come edit time, I think this may be one of the places that will require a full overhaul.
How do I make them sound real? I wish I knew.
I try to leave out the parts that people skip.
Elmore Leonard is another writer I have never read (there have to be millions of writers I’ve never read!). It seems to me this quote captures the essence of writing. Be brief and always keep a firm hold on your reader’s attention.
I need to keep get rid of all the excessive words in my writing. I am quite sure there are a lot of them. I know, for example, I am guilty of using words such as “that”, “then”, “the” when I probably shouldn’t.
Elmore Leonard is supposed to be a virtuoso with dialog, an area I know I need help with. I think I will go to my library and see if I can find something by him.