I finally finished the first draft of the new book. I am tempted to email my publisher to find out if slightly over 100,000 words is OK for a book…I think it is…but it might change the price point, so I go back and forth. I want to write an amazing, non-bloated, perfect book that will make everyone happy, so I’ll just look at it in the second draft and weigh and measure everything carefully.

It’s a good book, though. I feel about it like I felt about The Chocolatier’s Wife…it came out so easily, except the end, which I feel is problematic and does not exactly evoke the feeling I want. There will be a lot of work done there, in the second draft.

I don’t know if I ever talked about the second draft process. It’s going to be slightly different this time. When I usually do the second draft, the first part is to print a copy I can scribble all over, hole punch it and put it in a binder. I accidentally printed this one double sided, (I default to double side because I like to try and be decent to the environment whenever possible) so I will probably keep a stack of lined note paper handy, and insert it next to the page. A (very) long time ago I used to write my books long hand, so I have, hoarder that I am, tons of lined note book paper that I would get on sale. See? Hoarding can be useful.

The reading process will combine two things this time. Usually it’s just comments — I say things like “Need to expand this scene” or “Are his eyes always this color?” “Do we need this?” “Do I deal with this later?” “Need to go back and make sure that we mention this in previous chapter so it makes sense later.” So I’ll mark the copy up, ask a lot of questions. That’s par for the course. Then I will lay the binder open next to my computer, open the file, and start answering those questions.

This time, there will be an added step. I’ve been using Liquid Story Binder to keep track of facts about the characters and the world…when I decided to write a sequel to Chocolatier’s Wife I actually read the book and started a file so that everything would be consistent in the sequel. I wanted to make sure that everything was the same, so I created character dossiers, even for the Wind Sprites, and wrote down every detail of the world that I could, so that there is consistency. I know I am going to write a sequel to The Key to All Things so I need to do this as I go this time, get the data down so I can create dossiers. I also may use Scrivener, and split this book up into chapters as I go.

The dossier for CW will be useful, also, because The Key to All Things takes place in the same world…and the Pandroth Empire plays a very tiny part that will become much more important later. I have this odd little network of books in my head that all take place on the same planet. It’s fun, to create the connections in my head, and I think it makes the world feel more round and real.

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So, according to the writing software I use the most, I have 84,678 words on my newest work in progress. I think I will call it “The Key to All Things” though really, I should google it and see if that’s been used or not. I am not sure what the key I am referring to is – love? Stories? Memory? Because the book, while being a swashybuckly murder mystery with airships and fae creatures and the like is about the power of stories and the complicated nature of love and memory.

Ooh, I sound pretentious, eh? But I think all books have themes, but sometimes they get buried. Maybe we don’t even know that what we’ve written has one, because really we are writing the story that we pull from the well of who we are right now.

One of the things I think is interesting is that all my lovers knew each other before they actually start the love part of the story. Andromeda broke up with Alaister, Libby was rescued by Alex, William wrote Tamsin letters. Avriel married Edward, only to have the world change and that fact forgotten. I find that I am going to have to start fighting these odd coincidences.

I thought this would be the easy part of the book, because I have so many words down and the paths look pretty clear and I pretty much know what happens, but I find myself leaning on the brake a bit, worrying about the story. Is the ending too pat, too easily resolved? But I am forcing myself to just trust the story. When I get to the edits, when I know what I need to do better and have a fuller picture of when and where things are heading I’ll be able to fix it all and make it look like this is what I meant to do all along.

Love edits. I really do, because you get to make everything sensible and polished and worthy.

I might even have this book out before the year is out, which would be nice. And then I can maybe see where I messed up on the Chocolatier’s Sequel.

Right now it’s about the end of things/goal reaching. The end of the book. Five weeks until the end of the semester. I have one more event, and then I will no longer be the Captain of the Queen’s guard in Aethelmearc, and after I finish co-autocratting the Queen’s Rapier Championship I’ll have all my have to do’s for the SCA done – I’ll just be a regional marshal, and going where needed. Sometimes when I write about my life I feel a little surreal. Captain of the Queen’s guard. What an awesome thing to be able to say you were. Until you get that people not in the SCA are a bit “Uh, what?” and then you have to explain it and then it’s a 50-50 shot that it still sounds awesome by the time you are done.

And I will be taking two cadets – those are fencing students – so I will basically be balancing having students (which I am very excited about) with trying to rediscover the simple joy of fencing. I love the SCA – and being Guard Captain has been AMAZING. But now that I’m a White Scarf I want to use this as my big chance to rebalance my life so I am getting the most out of everything. I think having cadets will help me with this.

So, yeah, I’m at the ending of things. And that means I will be at the beginning of things, too.

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In my SCA circles, we’ve been doing an Art Chain Challenge. I was tagged, and I put up this photo that I took, at Crater Lake. Click to see it larger.

Crater Lake Cindy Speer 2013

I will try and post the other things here, too…you have to do it five days in a row. Right now I am already a day behind…oops.

As you may recall (or not…I have no idea what I post here, post on Facebook, post on Live Journal) Mum and I went on a three expedition of awesome (“road trip” is so bland) and crossed the US. One of my favorite places…even more memorable to me than the Grand Canyon or the Oregon Coast, two other things we did that I loved…was Crater Lake, with the super clear water that made for perfect reflections, and the light from the sun on the snow. It was actually a place where, because of the quality of the light, I was lucky enough to capture some really amazing pictures.

I would really love to go back. There is so much beauty in the natural world, and not enough time to see it in.

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I’d been trudging of late. I am so stuck on The Chocolatier’s Ghost – and I think some of it is mental, that weird fear that it’s not going to be quite as good. The second book never is, the Obsequious They like to tell you.

So, last week, there was enough snow on the ground that it was deemed too dangerous to open the University on time, so I slept in. And as I got ready for work, I thought about another work in progress that I’d started and abandoned. I’d stopped writing on it because it was spinning out of control. I knew what I wanted to do with it, what I wanted to say – I do sometimes have themes, but they are quiet things, under the surface of the mystery – but not how to make it work without making the story extremely clunky. But as I brushed my hair and put in my earrings, I realized how the story would work. Just one simple page of text came into my mind, and the story fell open in front of me. It was sort of like a spell had been broken, the characters jumped out of bed and were all ready to roll. I’ve written several hours a night, every night, since then. I even snuck in some writing during lunch and when someone came in to ask me to do something and it was like waking up from a particularly splendid dream.

I had been worrying that maybe I wasn’t really that much of an author, that whatever spark I had was gone.

It’s not.

I had been thinking I might not ever finish a full length book ever again.

Oh, I will.

I have not felt this connected to a story since The Chocolatier’s Wife, I understand and love the people (mostly…some of them are not easy to like, let alone love) and I know mostly what the lay of the land is. There are a few things to be sorted, a few surprises that will shock even me, and decisions on just how happily ever after we will be.

So yeah. That’s what’s going on. I’m so blissfully happy…it’s a little bit like falling in love, you’re all GUH THIS PERSON IS AMAZING AND I WANT TO SPEND EVERY SECOND WITH THEM sort of foolishness.
I wonder if the challenge will be to not let that fire die again? How do you keep that fire fed?

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I offer this a little shyly, because – I don’t know, I worry that it may come across as lame promo junk, but…would you like a holiday card from me?

The idea is that old fashioned writing and cards are fading, and I find that I miss the days when I had a ton of pen-pals – I admit, I love and often prefer email because it’s faster, but sitting down and writing a card, and then getting a real piece of mail in your box that you can put on the mantle or something – that’s pretty awesome.
So, if you would like a holiday card from me message me — I have a gmail account, and my email is clspeer – your address. I will use it only for this card and not keep it in any way. Nor will I use your email, unless I need to ask you a question pertaining to this project. If you like, you can tell me what you celebrate so I can word it appropriately, and if you have a blog or online presence, send me the link so I can think of something vaguely intelligent to say. You can even ask me that burning question you’ve always wanted to, even if you’ve only wanted to ask it since…um…now. *grins*

This won’t be a card advertising a book – I may send a coupon if I think to ask my editors, and I may include a book mark. But then again, I may not. This is just a happiness thing, a thank you thing. If you WANT either of those things, don’t be afraid to let me know. I’ll sign the book mark, with my not at all famous and only slightly legible scrawl. XD

So yeah. Let me send you a card. Let me thank you for being awesome.

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I have been working on The Chocolatier’s Ghost. I am having a hard time settling down to actually write…struggling with being tired, with trying to find time for fencing and helping the practice I run…it is hard to balance everything. I also have troubles with…I read reviews, and see what people like and I am like, “OH! We must make sure that people who liked that get more of what they likes!” sort of thing. And then I get worried that it won’t be good enough, all that nonsense a writer is probably not supposed to confess to. Oops. But I will work hard and take my time and know that all will be perfectly fine in the end.

I think, also, the changing of the seasons is making me a little low. I used to love winter, but that was when I was a hermit/editor, and did not have to go out. All winter I wait for spring and the lovely flowers and the freedom of being able to drive without worry, summer and the sweetness of homegrown fruits and the richness of tomatoes and fresh vegetables. The fall then becomes bittersweet…I love the smell of the air, the impossible blue of the sky, the beautiful color of the leaves…but I know then that the time of easy driving and going out to parks and walking around and seeing things is almost at an end.
Ah, well. More time to read and drink tea and actually…I don’t know…actually get writing done?

And it is time for new telly! In one room I have NBC and its attendant ancient repeat station, Me-TV, in another, sometimes in another room I have ABC and that secondary repeat station. I also sometimes get PBS. But mostly, I end up waiting for the DVD’s and Netflixing. Right now I am watching last season of Bones and Sleepy Hollow…I kind of wish that streaming worked all year for me, streaming usually does not work well for me this time of the year, and by the time streaming is not a huge bunch of frustration the episodes are no longer stream able…legally.
Yeah, I would do pretty much anything for a better internet connection.

OK, enough of my randomness. I hope all is well with you.

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I really am worried about the Net Neutrality issue…Cable Companies could choose not to let you see my books, my site…my voice would be smothered.

Yours would be, too. No one has a right to tell you what to read, (though we can beg charmingly) watch, hear. By controlling this for profit, the try to control what you think, what you buy, where your money goes.

Please join us in telling them this is not something you will allow.

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So, first of all, The Chocolatier’s Wife is on sale for .99 on Kindle.

Wishes and Sorrows, my short story collection, not due out until October, is actually on pre-sale right now, so if you can’t wait until October, snag yourself a copy for Kindle…it will be gone soon, I think.

Right now I am an Amazon best seller, which is always fun. And I am 31 in the best-selling fantasy author category, listed right between Terry Goodkind and Robert Jordan. I know that as a merit system it is rather fake…as soon as the sale is over I will be much lower…but the three year old within me is like, “Hey! I am higher ranked than NEIL GAIMAN. WOOT WOOT!” because I am very much about getting amusement where you can, even when it is momentary. (And especially if it is harmless.) I never really take ranking super seriously, because I don’t see the writing world as a zero-sum game. When you are done reading your marvelous book by Neil Gaiman, you will put it on the shelf, and then need something else to read. There is room for everyone.

But it does make trying to get people to read your book easier when you can say “See? A lot of other people have read it! They even *liked* it.”

Summer fencing prep — I went to Pennsic and actually helped command a large chunk of the rapier army that hit the field — split my focus a bit, but now as we get ready for the students to return to the university, William and Tasmin are poking me once more, saying, “We have been patient while you pursue your hobby, young lady, but now you need to turn your attentions back to us, thank you.” so I am warming myself up and getting ready to work on the second draft of the Chocolatier’s Ghost again.

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So, anyway, Scrivener has won me over. I like Kings Soft Writer a lot, but the files for each chapter are all separate. It didn’t make a difference to me in some ways, because hey, you can call them all up anyway, but I like the compact nature of Scrivener. I have it installed on a USB drive, so I can take it to work and write during lunch and home to write there, too.
I also use Liquid Story Binder, but that’s primarily to collect data from the series into one place. Yeah, lucky I got them discounted from doing Nanowrimo! It also fits on a USB, but I find…I need simplicity. Trying to write in LSB was too much for me somehow, I don’t know why. Maybe I did not try hard enough.

Anyway. I was working slowly on the sequel (Chocolatier’s Ghost) and not getting anywhere, so to amuse myself (hell, I wasn’t getting any writing done) I separated the Word file into Chapters and color coded them. Dark blue is a chapter from William’s POV. Pink is Tasmin’s. Why pink? Because I wanted a watery red, because Tasmin wears red a lot in my head. William, well, he wears Naval blue. This is great because, as you can see, there is a lot of re-arranging of chapters to do so the story flows evenly between William and Tasmin. There are also chapters from other POV’s…and I have to decide how to handle those. I don’t want too many POV’s, it would make the flow less smooth and the story too cluttered. So, ideally it should be Tas, Will, Tas, Will, someone else, Tas, Will…etc. So, there you go. The “chapter titles” running along side are not spoilers, or even set. The titles are so I can find the scene I need quickly, and will be changed.

I am also trying to decide about letters between the chapters. They need to have a purpose if I do them…early in the story I introduce two very separate mysteries, and only one I intend to solve in this book, but it would be clever to run the secondary mystery along the chapter beginnings, through letters. *squints at story thoughtfully* But I don’t know. Probably not.

scrive screen shot

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So, to warm up my writing mind, I’ll post here a bit. Also, I am avoiding Facebook because the football trademark thingy is gonna blow up bad.

Finally, Netflix was able to send me the first Disc of The Hollow Crown. I had watched…bought, actually, the Joss Whedon version of Much Ado About Nothing, because that’s my favorite Shakespeare Comedy and because I thought it would be fun…Whedon reminds me of John Wayne, because my father used to say, “When the Duke works, everybody works!” because the actors would over lap so much.

I…couldn’t watch it. I was bored to death. I couldn’t believe it, this was JOSS WHEDON. I love EVERYTHING he does. Buffy. Dr. Horrible. Firefly. Etc.

So, I thought, maybe my Shakespeare is broken. Both thoughts made me quite unaccountably sad.

When Richard II arrived yesterday, I was both excited (I heard good things) and worried. But I didn’t have to be…Ben Whishaw was amazing as Richard, sometimes mad, sometimes regal, even a little ethereal, though that is balance out by his baseness. The sets were wondrous, the costumes inspiring and James Purefoy was beautiful even if he was only on the screen for all of five minutes.

See? Isn’t he purty?

I am eagerly looking forward to the rest of the cycle…the most important thing for me, about the show was that…some shows come off as people spouting pretty words. In this movie, the pretty words that the Bard composed actually sound like real world dialogue, which made it really a wonderful experience for me. Shakespear’s work should sound like real words people would say. Just really prettily put.

What else, what else? Put together out little outside sitting area. Broke my chain saw cutting on a holly…it just stopped, which is weird, because it had all the gas and oil it needed and etc, and it’s only what? A month or two old?

The big project that I keep putting off is the blacksmith shop. Its now a large, empty space (mostly) and if I replaced the bad wood it would be a nice safe space to store stuff I don’t want to store in the house. And I go, and I look at it, and I think, This might just slightly be beyond me, and I walk out of the building.

And I remind myself, nibble away. Just nibble away. It doesn’t have to look nice…I already know the job is going to look like crap because I just want it done (totally using any old tin I can find for the walls) it just has to be secure enough for me to store stuff.

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