Dreaming Stories

I never used to dream, much.

I can think of maybe two recurring nightmares that I had as a child that I can recall with any amount of clarity; On occasion I have a stress-dream, usually involving having to go onstage to dance and not having any hairpins. (It’s an odd quirk of mine that I never dream of forgetting choreography, just of having no bobby pins).

For the most part, however, my nights are dark and dreamless.

But not always. Continue reading

Westward, Ho?

Whatever you think about genre as a concept (personally, I view it – and indeed any kind of taxonomy – as a necessary evil and a bit of a mess), there’s no denying that it permeates our writing and reading culture. That has some advantages. For example, when I walk into Barnes and Noble, I head immediately for the SFF section. I know where the books I like are shelved.

Venturing Outside the Comfort Zone

Fantasy and Science Fiction are my preferred genres. (Well, just fantasy when I was a youngling. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of children’s SF). Occasionally I venture out into romance or mystery or even literary fiction (rarely), but nearly always when there’s some sort of speculative component. For the most part, though, I stick to what I know.

Does that mean I’m missing out? Continue reading

Pintrest, but with words

I’m forever coming across things – bits of dialogue, story kernels, names, phrases – which I want to keep, thinking that one day they may make it into my writing. They pop into my head unbidden, or I overhear them on the subway/bus, or I read them in a book/newspaper/magazine/whatever and don’t want to let them go.

It’s like Pintrest, but with words instead of pictures.

I’m hardly the only writer who does this. Part of writing is being open to inspiration, and this is one way – a good way – to do it.

So I present to you some bits and pieces I’ve collected semi-recently.

Two lanterns burning and no ship at sea
What if everyone in the world had a fairy godmother except for you?
ASPCA investigator for aliens
Six-toed cats are lucky (like Flanders)
Cathedrals of sound
Dwindle, Peak, and Pine, Esquires
Personal Injury lawyers specializing in prophetic malpractice

And my personal favorite:
“Your shower smells like death.”
“That’s because there’s a vampire roosting in it.”
That one, by the way, comes from real life. My shower currently smells like something died in it, despite the fact that I haven’t used it for 3-4 years, and I am not amused.

In Which I Feel Freaking Amazing

I am totally, completely and utterly IN LOVE with Princess.

I was planning on working through the NaNo prep posts in order, and I still am, but yesterday I was looking ahead to see what was coming up, and I saw a post about antagonists. And sudennly I was off and running, the ideas coming thick and fast and I almost couldn’t keep up!

My evil king is now something other than the placeholder “evil”. He has reasons for being the way he is. Those reasons make sense in the context of the world I’ve invented. They make him infinitely more interesting, cause now he’s not just depraved, but insane, too. And as a bonus I get to hint at the ultimate antagonist of the series and based on an earlier event it MAKES SENSE THAT KEL WOULD SEE IT!

It all fits perfectly, like it is an actual, real, world and story and not something I’m making up in my head.

There will probably come a time when I’m stuck writing a hard scene and I will say to myself, “Why am I doing this?” And hopefully I can recapture the moment when it all came together and I ran around my dorm room (as much as it is possible to run around in a 200 sq ft room filled with dorm furniture) squealing and screaming “yes!” and generally making a fool of myself. I can only wonder at what the other people on my floor thought was happening.

In other news, I finally have a new pair of boots. I’ve been wanting a specific style of boots for a while now, and I finally found them! So that’s good.

Also, my beautiful little doggy is sleeping next to me. Let’s just say I’m in a good mood.

Wonderful things are happening…

I have FINALLY worked out a believable magic system for Princess!! I’d tried a couple of times already and come up with something I thought worked, but then this morning I was sort of daydreaming about it and it all finally came together, and it is SO much better than before.

Now I have magic that is closely tied to blood (because magic is itself the blood of the earth), and a plausible reason for why only one family in this area of the world has it, and why Kel ends up having stronger magic than the rest of her relatives, and why succession is matrilineal. (Blogger is telling me this is not a word. It’s totally a word!) I also have a good overarching problem for the series (oh yes, there will be more than one princess book). So while the problem of the first book is getting the kingdom back, lurking in the back will be the awakening magic and all the problems it could lead to…which will become more of the focus of the second (and third?) books.

Sometimes when I’m trying to come up with an idea, it feels like I’m struggling up a hill. I’m thinking of things, but they don’t make a lot of sense, or they’re too boring, or worst of all, they are perfectly good ideas but just aren’t “right” for the project I have in mind. Those are not fun times. Those are the times in which you have worldbuilding fail.

Other times, I feel like one idea sparks another which sparks another which sparks another, to the point where I can hardly keep up, and they all fit together perfectly with each other and with things that I’ve come up with before. It feels like I’m running full speed down a hill, and it feels fantastic.

This is one of those times 🙂


Worldbuilding fail averted!

I’d been having such a hard time discovering anything about Princess world (that poor project really needs a title) and it was getting extremely frustrating. I kept feeling like I needed some kind of structure or visual to start me off. I was leaning towards making an outline, in the hopes that a plot would give me something to work from.

However, that was not the best idea. I feel that the best stories integrate the world seamlessly into the plot, so starting with the plot has a potential to result in an artificiality. Luckily, I decided to go with a map instead.

I think the nothingness, the incredible potential of a world that hasn’t been made up yet, was too much for my poor mind. It totally shut down. But the map gave me enough limitation to kick start the creative juices again, and Princess and I are back on friendly terms.

It’s that time of year again…

A couple of days ago, I looked at the date and had a heart attack. OHMYGOSHITSALMOSTNOVEMBERAND-I’M-NOT-READY-FOR-NANO!

That is exactly what happened in my head, yes.

I have a list of projects, sure, but nothing was really calling out to me, begging me to write it. I had this one particular idea I thought I wanted to write, but it was really only a snippet of dialogue. It didn’t have a plot. Plots are very difficult for me.

But then, my brain, poking around for ideas, came across several things it found interesting, mushed them together, and said “Here, could this work?” Those things, in case anyone was wondering, being a Holly Lisle plotting exercise I’d done ages upon ages ago, specifically the phrase “slaying of a kinsman unrecognized”, my panic over thinking I’d lost my class ring a few days ago, and my new school mascot, the lion.

This became a gladiator-slave who doesn’t know her family and whose only possession is a lion’s head ring, who one day kills a man only to discover he has the same ring.

Alright, brain, that’s a start. We’ve got a character, the first ticklings of a world, and an inciting incident. Now we need the rest of the plot.

I wish I were a Princess…although probably not in this story

 This little story that’s forming doesn’t have a title as of yet other than “Princess”, and I have absolutely no idea where it’s going.
                Kelisin awoke to the sound of voices.
                “Little brat can’t have gotten far. We’ll have us our nice reward yet.” A man’s voice, rough and unpleasant. He laughed, and Kelisin felt her heart race in response.
                I have to move, she thought. Slowly she began to sit up, moving as quietly as possible. Bits of leaves clung to her dress and her hair, and a twig had left an impression on her left cheek. She didn’t remember falling asleep the night before.
                “Here, princess,” said another voice. It was deep and mellifluous, but just as frightening. “Here, little princess, we won’t hurt you.”
                Maybe not, thought Kelisin, but I know what’s waiting for me in the capital.
                Kel crawled out from the bushes she had been sleeping in and looked around carefully. The forest was old, and the trees large around the trunks. She wouldn’t be able to climb one, and even if she could they would see her before she could reach the leafy branches and hide. She considered crawling back into the bush. It was thick enough to hide her. Would they think to check it?
                “Here’s a nice bush. She hiding in here, the royal whelp?” Kel heard rustling, like he was thrashing the bush with a stick. She would have to find another hiding place.
                Ahead of her was only more forest, but behind her, in the direction of the voices, was a large outcropping of rock. She crawled towards it.
                “What’s that noise?” Kel froze.
                “Probably just a rabbit,” said the man with the deep voice.
                They were almost upon her. Quickly, she got to her feet and ran towards the rocks. Please, please, she thought.
                And there, to her immense relief, she found the perfect spot. A crack in the rock, just wide enough to fit through. The opening was just above the ground, and as such less likely to be noticed. She lay down on her stomach and started backing down.
                The rock scraped her skin and tore her dress, but she ignored it and continued on, shoving her hips through, and then her shoulders, and finally her head, pulling it out of sight just as the two hunters came into view.
                Kel peered through the crack at them. One was skinny, unkempt, and probably unwashed. Something about his pointed face and beady eyes made Kelisin think of a rat. The second man was large, muscular, and clean-shaven, probably a soldier. To Kel’s horror, he had a sword belted at his waist and a crossbow across his back. She shrank back farther into the rock.
                “Go check that bush,” said the soldier.
                There was more rustling, and then the Rat replied. “No princess in here, nope. But there’s a dent here, in the ground, just the size of the brat.”
                The soldier frowned. “It could be a deer. The girl’s not very big.”
                “We keep going then?”
                “You think we’ll find her?”
                “I found the other one, didn’t I? The boy?” His tone was smug.
                Kelisin felt dizzy. They’d caught Richard. She felt her breath coming faster, the rock pressing in on her.
                “That you did.”
                “They don’t call me the Hound for nothing, Rafe. Here. If we find her, I’ll let you have a little…fun…before we take her back.”
                The Rat licked his lips and renewed his search with vigor, and the Hound, with a faint expression of distaste, followed him.
                “Here, little princess, here, little brat…come to Rafe, little princess, he’ll take you home…”
                As they walked away, the sound of the Rat’s taunts and laughter echoing in her head, Kel gave in to unconsciousness.

Marvin / Julno Update #4

I’ve started writing a children’s book. It’s about a caterpillar named Marvin who’s in love with a butterfly named Luna. You see, our RA here at Boston has paper and a sharpie on her door so we can leave her notes, and so I’ve been leaving little pictures. With captions. That are developing into a story.
I’m not sure how it’s going to end, though.

If I find the time and/or the energy, I’ll take pictures and post them.

And of course,

L&O: Vampires

Word count: 4,121
Characters introduced: 0

PS As of this post I’m switching all the numbers to new characters – so new characters introduced, new vampires, etc. – because pretty soon these lists are going to get out of hand. I’m working on a new pages, one for each project I’m working on, with word counts, character lists, plot outlines (when I get that far) excerpts, etc. So look forward to that.