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We’ve Moved!

For new content from Joan Albright, including the all-new Steampunk serial Silas Merryweather and the Bottomless Sky, please visit joanalbright.net. See you there!

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

WIP Check-In – Mid-August 2014

Felt like doing this a little early given that school starts next week and my productivity is likely to drop after that. I also feel like I’ve just been cruising through these edits this month, so let’s take a look.

WIP Title: Pegasus Chained

Last Check-in:
137K words.
52K archived.
Total words added (in 30 days): 26K.
63 chapters.
3rd draft: Ch. 43.
4th draft: Ch. 17.
5th draft: Ch. 3.

Current Wordcount/Chapter Count:
143K words.
61K archived.
Total words added (in 11 days): 15K.
64 chapters.
3rd draft: Ch. 47.
4th draft: Ch. 17.
5th draft: Ch. 5.

WIP Issues since last check-in:
It’s all pretty much fresh rewrites here. I glance at the old draft occasionally, steal bits of dialogue here and there, but so much has changed continuity wise, there’s a whole slew of extra characters, so much more depth of characterization, that almost none of the actual prose is relevant. Once I near the end I might be able to use more of the previous draft again, but I fully expect to have as much in the archives as I do in the final draft.

What I learned in writing:
As I mentioned last time, sometimes I’ve had to throw out a lot of junk before I find a character’s true personality. I did that with another minor character (who becomes major in the sequel, so it was important to get him right) in this last round of rewrites. Fixing most of it is a job for the 4th draft, but I’ll get there eventually.

What distracted me while writing:
School might not have started yet, but all my children’s school books arrived. They’re pretty much ready to dive right in, and I’ve indulged them a little bit. It takes away from my writing time, but more importantly it saps my creative energy, leaving me with less to spend on writing.

Last 200 words:

Wes jogged back up the trail, scuffed and sore, until Victor came to get him. The Krasiviian’s hover set down precariously on a wide part of the trail and Wes hopped in. Shipley was already inside.

“What happened?” Victor demanded, taking them up but holding position. “Aaron said he heard gunfire.”

Wes avoided meeting Victor’s gaze. “I missed,” he said. “She got away.” He didn’t know what was wrong with him, letting his aim slip like that. He’d head-shotted Tesaad in his combat sim from farther away than that.

Victor breathed a sigh of relief and turned them back toward the mountain.

“Aren’t we going after her?” Wes asked. “She’ll give away our position!”

“It is too late for that,” Victor told him. “Word just came in from Raven; Olympus has been compromised. These mountains will be crawling with soldiers by morning.”

Wes chewed his cheek and turned his gaze westward, though he couldn’t see anything through the back wall of the hover. The ominous feeling was related to the NDF’s approach; of that he was sure. But why did he feel nothing at letting Walker escape?

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

WIP Check-In #6

WIP Title: Pegasus Chained

Last Check-in:
131K words.
32K archived.
64 chapters.
3rd draft: Ch. 39.
4th draft: Ch. 19.

Current Wordcount/Chapter Count:
137K words.
52K archived.
Total words written this month: 26K. (That’s half of NaNoWriMo!)
63 chapters. (Lost 2, added 1, need to split another.)
3rd draft: Ch. 43.
4th draft: Ch. 17. (Merged some early chapters, and my critique partner is on hiatus.)
5th draft: Ch. 3.

WIP Issues this month:
Deletions, deletions, deletions. I archived that entire section of text I posted last month. Replaced it with a high-paced action scene from someone else’s perspective, so lots of win.

What I learned this month in writing:
I finally got a handle on Major Daniels’ personality. I’ve been kind of struggling with this character this month, which is a good thing. Up until now I’d been afraid to do much with him because my husband wrote the original version, but I finally had to quit relying upon that foundation and make him my own. I made a lot of mistakes with his chapters, and those are all in the archive now, but now that I’m through that I know who he is again.

My main character also did some … growing is the wrong word. In the sample words below, we see Daniels kind of opening up again after spending years closed off. Unfortunately for Rosa, she did a bit of the opposite. By far the hardest part of characterization for her and for Wes, her counterpart, is how they deal with the trauma of war. Post-traumatic stress disorder something I’ve never personally experienced, but getting into character for some of those scenes can take me to the very edge of a panic attack. If I don’t make sure to exercise and eat properly, I can end the day pretty bad off.

What distracted me this month while writing:
Not exercising properly. I had a few off days and a couple lazy days, and they all ended up being part of the same bad week. Also a bit of depression which I cleared up by confronting the source head on.

Good things, too. I participated in the very first FantasyCon ever, as part of the live entertainment (the Belegarth MCS battle games). If I ever need to write about being a gladiator, I now have some firsthand experience.

Last 200 words:

“A sparrow?” Daniels asked. For Reynolds to launch and control a sparrow while bathed in the sensory backwash of a malfunctioning TAG must have required tremendous mental fortitude. “What did you see?”

“Not much, sir, but the hover parked right next to her. She’s alive, and the rebels mean to keep her that way, if they can. They loaded her onto that hover and launched it, straight as an arrow, east by twenty-two degrees north.”

“You’re sure she was alive?” A tiny flame of hope kindled inside of Daniels. The rebels didn’t take prisoners. But they’d made an exception for Walker. She was the first person in a very long time to surprise him. Could she do it again?

“I swear it on my life, sir.”

There was a crack in Daniels’ armor. In the wall he’d built to keep out the pain of loss, of death and ruin, that he’d suffered in the long war against the Tesaad. Somehow Walker had planted a seed in that crack, and it was growing, widening the gap. Daniels couldn’t bring himself to pull it out and let it die.

“I’ll find her,” he said roughly, gripping Reynolds’ bicep tightly enough that the stalwart captain would feel it even through the layer of dead nerve endings. “And I’ll give them hell for you.”

Reynolds fumbled to place a hand over his, gripping weakly. “Thank you, sir.”

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

WIP Check-In #5

Last Check-in Wordcount + ChapterCount (+ scene count if you’re revising):
120K words. 61 Chapters. 3rd draft chapter 30, 4th draft chapter 15.

Current WC + CC (or SC):
131K words with 32K+ in the archives. 64 chapters. 3rd draft is on chapter 39, 4th draft chapter 19. The 4th draft will continue to fall behind since I’m not pushing to keep it equal anymore.

WIP Issues this month:
Few and far between. Mostly trying to decide which perspective to write scenes from. Got through some very intense action scenes, killed off 3 named characters in 3 chapters, nearly killed my MC. Fun stuff.

What I learned this month in writing:
I learned that by the time I finish this novel, I’ll have actually written about twice as many words on it as the final word count. Not including the drafts I aborted prior to last year’s NaNoWriMo.

What distracted me this month while writing:

Not what I expected to distract me.

Mostly equipment failures. My chair busted, or anyway came very close to busting, so I retired it. Fortunately my neighbor had a nice loveseat at her garage sale for only $10, and it seems to be working out so far. My laptop broke just a little bit more, the hinge losing all resistance. I rigged a fix with duct tape, but it’s very ghetto. Also the baby can now pull himself to a standing position and is tall enough to reach my keyboard when I sit at my chair.

What I expected to distract me was my husband doing JuNoWriMo. He didn’t win, but his best wordcount days were usually when I sat and did word sprints with him. So rather than his being busy preventing me from writing, I got more writing done myself.

Last 200 words:

The load on her was partly Daniels’ fault, he knew. He had set the precedent by suggesting that Walker assist with the programming. It had seemed like the perfect solution at the time. And it was–she was brilliant. But if he’d been able to foresee any of what happened since, he really would have left her in Decryption. Out of harm’s way.

Too late for that now. For any of it. Too late to spare her the pain of betrayal. Too late to spare her the blood on her hands. Too late to pretend it didn’t hurt to see her suffering.

Rago finally realized Daniels wasn’t going to answer him and let Sergeant Hammond harry him back through the partition. Daniels completed his circuit of the hangar and paced out past the gathering line of trainees in contact suits. It was chilly, despite the highly-insulated fabric the suits were made of, but they bore it. They had to, if they ever expected to be honored as Daniels had been, with their own custom TAGs. When Dobbs wanted to dangle a carrot, he didn’t do it by halves.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

WIPMarathon Check-In #4

Last Check-in Wordcount + ChapterCount (+ scene count if you’re revising):
112K. 59 chapters. 3rd draft was at ch. 25, 4th draft at ch. 10.

Current WC + CC (or SC):
120K. 61 Chapters. 3rd draft I’m rewriting chapter 30, 4th draft chapter 15.

WIP Issues this month:
Major continuity revisions. I added a whole bunch of stuff, and it was just completely throwing off the pacing. I finally figured out that if I rearranged some of the scenes (and deleted a large section of one), things started working again. I lost a lot of time to rewrites because of everything though.

What I learned this month in writing:
That I can’t keep up a pace of 4 chapters revised per week. Not with a new critique partner and a blog post (on my other blog) each Wednesday. I appear to have done an average of 2/week since I started tracking, so I’ll keep that pace as a goal and count anything on top of that as bonus.

What distracted me this month while writing:
Lots of stuff. Mostly the kids’ schoolwork, and the baby getting some teeth, but the really fun one was being a zombie on a movie set. I volunteered to do some stunts that landed me in the snow though, and caught a chill again. I need to remember to bring a spare outfit when I work as an extra.

Oh yes, and we mustn’t forget the completely new story concepts that have jumped into my head this month. There was a steampocalypse idea, and a short story, and I figured out the ending for book 3 of the Quetzalcoatl storyline that interweaves with the Pegasus Wars, and also I figured out how I want to rewrite Noise, the short story I wrote in February. All of these required me to do some writing on them before they’d get out of my head and leave me be.

Last 200 words:
Did he know it was me in Sandstorm? Rosa wondered for the hundredth time. Or was he as surprised as everyone else to find out I was the pilot?

Rosa shut the book with a sigh. There was no evidence that Caleb Dobbs was even remotely interested in her. He hadn’t contacted her, or left her his number, or anything. And why should he? He was fourteen years older than she was, and two grades higher in rank besides.

He could have any woman he wanted, Rosa reminded herself. Like Stephanie Carlisle–just as rich, twice as famous, and much better endowed.

General Dobbs approved of her. That in itself seemed to be miraculous. Rosa’s grandfather would resist the match, of course, but he couldn’t stop her. And he might find the political ties useful in the long run.

“You’re doing it wrong.”

“I know!” she shouted at no-one, starting to pace.

She needed to get out, go for a walk, do something. But what? She’d been ordered not to help Forsberg. Lieutenant Fielding wouldn’t get off shift for hours, and even she didn’t spend every night on the town.

“Lunch. I’ll go eat lunch.” She would go to the officer’s mess–that would at least get her out of the apartment. And then … she’d figure out something.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

WIPMarathon Check-In #3

Last Check-in Wordcount + ChapterCount (+ scene count if you’re revising):
105K. 50 chapters.

Current WC + CC (or SC):
112K. That makes me feel all depressed. :P But a lot has been rewriting, and that’s just how it goes. Up to 59 chapters somehow; I didn’t think I had split that many of them. Right now the third draft is done through chapter 25, and the 4th draft has hit chapter 10. An explanation of this later.

WIP Issues this week:
Had a really big one. I was working on a chapter that really needed a second perspective character for the last half. The problem was, the character I had slated to give that perspective was no longer in the same time zone. I had 3 named characters in the scene and struggled to decide which one to write the scene from (hint: the one with the greatest emotional investment is the only right answer). Finally I settled on one, and started writing.

I spent the whole evening writing, but in the morning I got stuck. I tried doing the end of it 2 different ways, and hated both of them so much that I actually deleted the scene and decided not to split the perspective after all.

Fortunately I had time to ruminate on the scene before I had to do the rewrite, thanks in part to the need to redraft an earlier chapter in a major way. By the time I finished with that, my head was back on straight and I came up with a third scenario that let me keep everything I’d already written after all. (Hooray for Scrivener!)

What I learned this week in writing:
Um, there was a big one. What was it? …Ahh, yes, pacing the backstory. A lot of books start with a great big infodump. This is generally seen as a bad thing, but I’ve rarely seen any suggestions for fixing it. I managed to axe my prologue and original first chapter, allowing me to start right with the good stuff, but in order to pull it off I had to rework a major storyline.

Anyway … basically what I discovered is that you DO need your prologue, but not to sit at the beginning of the novel. DO write that infodumpy prologue. Get it off your chest. Then move it somewhere and use it as a checklist for everything that MUST be told in the narrative before you get to the point in your novel where the reader absolutely has to know it.

I think this method can also be used when you feel your scene is slowed down too much by internal monologue. Axe the passages and put them on the checklist too, then work the important points in beforehand.

What distracted me this week while writing:
A new critique partner. :D Actually gained two of them this month. Aside from spending time reading and writing feedback, I’ve discovered that it’s been long enough since I started the 3rd draft here that as I shell out chapters to my partners I’ve been doing proper 4th draft edits first. So I have to make sure to keep my pacing even, and not get behind on the 3rd pass.

Last 200 words:
They were in a cavern. The ground was black asphalt, running out to the sides of the irregular space, but the ceiling arced and curved unevenly, as did two of the walls. A third was mostly natural, but large pieces of corrugated steel had been formed into a wall across the remaining section. There was a door in that part, incongruously marked ‘EXIT’. The last wall was grey concrete with steel pillars and lights at intervals. Along it were more TAGs like those which had rescued them in the woods, and farther out were parked several transports of various sizes.

A wide double door opened through the fourth wall, and through this people came. Pam ran to the arms of a lanky man in his forties, who embraced her so vigorously that Wes made himself look away. Not even the dog had ever greeted him that warmly. Well, maybe the dog.

To either side, similar reunions were occurring. And then there were those whose anxious voices went unanswered. Wes shut his ears to them and hurried through the double doors.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

WIPMarathon Check-In #2

I’m pretty sure it’s been longer than a week since I last posted, and most people are way past done with this, but here’s my #WiPMarathon post for the … month? ;P

Last Check-in Wordcount + ChapterCount (+ scene count if you’re revising):
85K. 50? chapters, 1/3 of which I’d finished revising.

Current WC + CC (or SC):
105K. 59 chapters, though two I’m going to axe on the next pass and two more are just outlines at the moment. Still only 1/3 through the revisions because I keep adding new chapters.

WIP Issues this week:
I was writing a scene and kept revealing way too much of the plot to the main character in dialogue. I had to back up 3 or 4 chapters to tweak her conversations in order to not give away so much in that scene.

What I learned this week in writing:
Something about dialogue pacing. It was explained really well in an article I read, but I didn’t pay much attention after I realized that I was already doing fine, so I’m afraid I can’t quantify it like I should.

I also learned that conversations which go the way they should are boring. Much more fun when characters are so caught up in their own lives that they miss opportunities to ask all the right questions.

What distracted me this week while writing:
A cold. I’ve got it, my husband has it, the kids have all got it. The baby has it the worst off; normally they sleep when they’re sick, but he’s only managed an hour or two of nap total each day since he got it. So kind of distracting.

Last 200 words:
The words sent a chill down her back. They jarred with the white marble tiles, the finely decorated hall, the sounds of glasses and platters being cleared away by the service staff. Like his assertion that the Tesaad threat was a fabrication, they just didn’t seem real.

“Promise me one thing,” Governor Wirthlin said while Rosa was still sorting out her thoughts. “If you care about me, or about your father’s wishes, promise me you’ll stay away from Doctor Andrews.”

Rosa shook her head; that was the one thing that she wouldn’t promise. “I can’t do that. This project means too much to me, and I’ll see it through to the end with or without your help.” The bitterness of her grandfather’s disappointment was so deep that Rosa almost took back the words. Instead, she pressed on. “And if you’re right, and we really are headed to war … understand now that I won’t be able to stand aside.”

She came to attention before curtsying, as she had done with Major Dobbs, and Governor Wirthlin gathered himself, straightening his shoulders and taking a deep breath.

“I know you won’t,” Rosa heard him say as she walked away. “You’re too much like him.”

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2014 in Uncategorized