First chapter of new book

So the sequel and the novella are in the process of being merged into a book. I promised I would post the first chapter here (when I was happy with it) and so I shall. This is original work. Enjoy responsibly.

Chapter one – The Trip

I was in a dark room lit by a single thick beam of light from above. Standing in that illumination was a tall, somewhat light-complected woman with sparkling skin and very long, braided blue hair. She was dressed in a black sports bra and dark jeans with boots. Her arms were toned and strong, and her visible stomach muscles flexed as they moved a bit, giving her a graceful, dangerous feel. Her upper face was mostly covered by a black mask but her blue eyes, surrounded by sparkling blue eye shadow, were clearly visible through two large holes. As I studied her, those blue eyes began to change and glow until it seemed they were lit from within by bright candle flames. She wore an enigmatic smile on her pale cold lips, with no teeth showing. I stepped toward her and the gold light glowing behind her eyes brightened considerably. Since eyes are not normal if they glow like candle flames, I realized I was asleep and shook myself awake.

The scenery passing by my side of the small car hadn’t changed much. It was still a beautiful view of the stark winter landscapes prevalent in this part of the country. Today was Saturday, December 20. Next week I would celebrate my fourth Christmas in these parts and I still had not tired of it as it was so unlike the state where I was born. I enjoyed seeing the seasons in all their glory, from leafless and cold to brilliantly clothed in green and back again.

I glanced at the woman behind the wheel of the vehicle and grinned ruefully as I adjusted my tired slouch to a more comfortable upright position.

“Sorry about that. Hope I didn’t drool on your car.”

Vishi laughed merrily. “Considering I fell asleep not once, not twice, but three times while you were driving, I think I can understand a little drool. I didn’t understand what you said, though. Something about a tutor? Don’t tell me you need a tutor in one of your classes. You’re the one making the perfect grades, Sara, not me.”

“I said what? Tutor?”

“Yes, in your sleep.”

“Huh.” I rubbed my jaw and twisted my long braid of brown hair around in my fingers while I considered. “I don’t remember saying anything. You were talking to me and then I saw something strange that made me believe I was dreaming, so I woke up.”

My roommate, Vishi, is a sharp-eyed, sharp-tempered little thing. Half Italian and half Mexican heritage, her feisty side is hard to reckon with at times, but she more than makes up for it by being one of the kindest and sweetest people I have ever had the pleasure to know. Her only true downside is her cooking ability, which doesn’t really exist, but I’m happy to do all the cooking with her pitching in for half the groceries and the cleaning duties. We live in a little house in a little city where she goes to a university full time while I work pretty much full time and go to a community college two days a week. It’s a good situation; we get along pretty well, having met in high school where we became friends. If she said I was talking about a tutor in my sleep, then I was, as she is also one of the most honest souls I know. Funny thing is, I hadn’t realized I was worried about my grades. I have other things to be concerned with, though I wasn’t going to let her know that.

The strange dream was one of them, and it wasn’t the first time I had experienced it.

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Rough drafts, basic storytelling and visual writing

A friend posted several very helpful links this morning and I thought I would share.

Voice and Pitch (great blog on basic communication and genre identification)

tips for finishing a draft (lovely advice – title is self explanatory)

importance of writing ugly (this is the first part of a series on getting through that rough draft by letting the story come first)

These were great references on rough drafts and even just basic storytelling (for the point of any writing is to get the story across, and the first step to that is finding the story and pinning it down).

While most of these references appealed to me, I couldn’t help but wonder if there is anyone else out there that works like I do: visually. If I could draw the story frame-by-frame or even storyboard it, I would. Longhand scribbles flow faster though, and my real fear is I will lose the visual before I get it down on paper.

Take the sequel I’m writing, every time I finish a chapter (or scene), I go back in a day or three and check the gate to make sure it’s a rough approximation of what I saw initially in my head. If not, I tweak the camera angle and dialogue until it’s close. The more good gate scenes I get, the further and faster I progress. (And the closer I get to playing in the editing room to find that final product.)

If you are willing to share, let me know if you have any writing quirks, habits, or rules that get you through the first draft of your story.

P.S. Forgot to link to Jana’s blog where her guest poster Grace Duncan gave some terrific (and simple) advice on writing. Sorry about that!

Update on sequel

The sequel took a hit when last month’s work schedule went into overdrive, but I am back on track and making rapid progress. I should merge the two parts into a fully fledged novel by August. Then I’ll make final editing tweaks, finish the illustrations, and hand it off for final formatting.

So when will it be published? This year, definitely. After reading back over Sudarium, I realize there were technical and spelling errors near the end that I missed. Thank goodness only two of you bought it. This book should be far better.

I will post the first chapter here soon for anyone actually reading this site. I mentioned I would post the short story of the moment Sara and Vishi became friends, but I believe I will hold that for a bonus chapter at the end of the book.

You never know…

You never know when you’re going to come across an example of great storytelling.

Take this gem from A List Apart. It’s smart, funny, gives you characters, has a conflict to solve, and even teaches a lesson. The fun part? It tells stories within the story.

Most people respond to stories. They are terrific tools for teaching and venues to escape through. I just hadn’t expected to read a great story while doing research for content strategies. I’m glad it was there to find.

Now that I’ve read it, you can be sure I will look at the emails in my inbox a little differently from now on.

Once upon a time indeed.

Analytics, queries, and anti-heroes

Here’s a few links I’ve gathered from friends and other bloggers that might be of interest.

A friend of mine handed me an article from the New York Times regarding the possibility that the same game changing analytical methods/data accumulation used in baseball (and online viewing) could be applied to future book publishing. I found it very cool and somewhat creepy. I hope the publishing industry gets bigger or more varied test audiences before it starts formulating procedure changes, but this does illustrate the fact that a tale well told needs to have the teeth needed to keep a readers’s interest or no one will finish (or remember) it.

This was a startling 180 degree take on query efforts. I believe if I ever query publishers again, this information and attitude adjustment will come in handy.

I read this shared link about anti-heroes and found it interesting. I also found a related article on heroines interesting, too, especially when applied to villains. I’m not sure I would take everything little thing said in the articles to heart, but it is always wise to be open to new suggestions and ideas. Always.