Wednesday, August 31, 2011

writing? oh yeah, writing.

No pics yet, because they're on a camera card and I'll have to do it through my EEE which has a card slot. Instead, a return to the ostensible topic of this blog:  my fabulous writing career.

Okay, my writing. There.

You'll recall that before leaving for Pennsic I was in a mad rush to cut free and mail off the first 'half' of The Cost of Silver for my agent's opinion on how I should proceed. In that narrow window between my return from Pennsylvania and my departure for Fort Rodd Hill,  she emailed her assessment (yes, she is speedy like a speeding thing), having read the mss while on holiday with her family.
While containing phrases like 'spooky and compelling', 'carries absolute historical authenticity', 'raced through it', the gist was that the narrative was headed in the wrong direction and that my research was showing. (what a surprise, right?)
I imagine her reading and reading, with a sinking feeling getting stronger and stronger, and her wondering how to break it to me gently.

Well, I emailed back, and we had a bit of discussion, and I'll be working up a revised--severely revised--synopsis for her after Labour Day. I think I can keep the storyline I care about, of the commoners and fenfolk and their fight for their land and livelihood, by tying it more securely into the revenant story. Which means building up characters and plot for the courtiers, royalty, and fen-drainers, so that they appear on-stage, not just referred to by the commoners. With the revenants being in various ways supporters of the enclosures, because enclosing land for the gentry means driving commoners off, creating a dispossessed, powerless population that's easy prey, in place of tight little villages where everyone knows everyone else.
Maybe the revenants have fond memories of the abolition of the monasteries, too? Some number of them must have been around at the time.
This also means more scenes with revenants, because there's bound to be conflict among them, with some liking the idea of influencing the powerful mortals, and others thinking it dangerously rash and risking discovery.

She's suggested working in a modern-day plotline, with perhaps a Cambridge researcher discovering papers that lead back to the 1600s story. I talked this over with the others at Fort Rodd Hill, and what sparked from it I quite like, involving Wicken Fen (the last untouched fenland in East Anglia) and the discovery of a 'bog body' which perhaps ain't as dead as all that.

So, I am quite excited, not least by her suggestion that 'you have it in you to write a big commercial historical fantasy novel' that could be sold to a mainstream editor. After I had curled up in a corner and twitched for a while, then wandered around the house muttering 'but, but,' that is!
I'd pretty much pinned my future as 'quirky midlist author with small cult following', but the point of having an agent is for advice and guidance, right? So I shall work on reassessing. Then on massive revising.

But first! The 3-Day Novel Contest this weekend. I even have an idea for it, at last. An artists' colony on Saltspring Island, populated by retired gods and heroes, stirred up by the arrival of a young girl who was recently the incarnation of a goddess and has issues therefrom.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

here presently

Back home from our Living History week at Fort Rodd Hill. After a slow start because of being so recently returned from Pennsic, followed by two days work panic, I got myself sorted out and immersed in daily life of the fourteenth century. I didn't go online, turn on my EEE, or read, except for one brief trip to 'the fried bread shop' on the day it rained a lot, when I read a couple of chapters of The Book of Air and Shadow, by Michael Gruber.
Now I am back home, a home strewn with un-unpacked baskets and bags, clothesline heavy with freshly-washed linens and lawn covered with tarps and carpets. My brain appears to be in a remarkably similar state.
So. More later, and pics. I will never catch up with the pics!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

random Pennsic pics

A small selection of the cool stuff at the war. First, labyrinths of various designs appeared by the barn, in the food market, and along the paved pathways. Every morning they were drawn fresh. You can imagine how happy I was to discover them on my early morning walks, and to take the time to walk or run them on my way.

Another new thing: parchment makers in the market. The Meyer family has been making parchment since the 1500s, reportedly, but this is the first time they've come to Pennsic. Next year they hope to have a proper tent, but I suspect no one really noticed anything past the OMG PARCHMENT!!!eleventy.

Another thing that might almost have been chosen to make me personally happy: Alexander, apprentice to Arab Boy, is making Aldrovani-style enamelled beakers. These are the very objects that caused me to fall in love with enamelled glassware in the first place, and to work on faking them up with thriftshop glassware and low-fire enamels. Alexander is doing them for real. When I found out there would be a demo of the process on Saturday, I was all bouncy.

By the food market we met the labyrinth maker, who had just finished a gnomen sundial nearby, and was adding another classic labyrinth to the path.

I wanted to add a video of Dru and Osprey playing cigar-box and cookie-tin banjo, but there isn't room on this post, so it will have to wait.

Monday, August 15, 2011

random trip pics

These are still from the drive to Pennsylvania. Pics from the war itself next post.

More Montana geology. On the return trip we went through Wyoming and Nebraska and Utah, where I took more photos of landscape than of geology.

The rest area at Moorhead. Elisa and I recognised it as one we'd slept at two years ago, and very nice it was, too. Grass, trees, recycling, all good things. Do feel free to make your own Bewitched joke at this point.

In the restaurant (Brigid's Pub) at the hotel in South Bend that was our last night's stop before the war. I'm not sure why there's a callbox in the corner, but there it is.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

briefly present

Am home.
Am tired.
Am driving out to pick Mark up from airport about midnight.
Am working tomorrow.

Friday, August 12, 2011

for you the war is over

Was ritually said to prisoners of war in WWII, to discourage them from escape attempts. In this case, it's simple fact, as I'm on my way home from the Pennsic war. South Bend last night, rolling in about 3 am, Cheyenne tonight just before midnight. Tomorrow is Baker City. Then home.
Typing from Springhill Suites, Marriott hotel in Cheyenne. This little suite is so nice that I harbour thoughts of just staying here for a few days instead of going home. It has not just the usual desk, but a mini sitting room with couch, chair, and coffee tables. Two closets, the microwave & coffee set in a sort of mini kitchenette so they're separate - the layout makes very effective use of space.
And as you know, I don't stay in hotels that often, so it's always a bit special.

Pics of Pennsic when I'm not asleep on my feet (well, on my bum, since I'm sitting down, but you know what I mean).

Saturday, August 6, 2011

promised pics

Just some from the Montana leg of the trip, a rest stop under a hill, with a terrific view from the top. I climbed it because I needed a stretch after a few hours driving. Forgot to photograph or note the informative sign naming which rest stop it was, sigh.
Took a fair number of photos, but I don't want to strain my available upload time.

One side of the rock formation at the top. I do love the geology in Montana. We did North Dakota in the dark, so I don't have any clever observations to make about it.

I took a few more photos of the plants as I walked back down. I don't know the names of any, so I should try to bring a wild plants book and a bird book the next time I make this trip.

And while I forgot to photograph the actual place sign, I couldn't resist this one. If you're wondering, no, I didn't see any snakes of any sort as I walked up the narrow asphalt trail to the top of the hill. Would I have stood about like a nitwit and attempted to photograph a rattlesnake if I saw one? Hm. Hope not.

If I can make this all work again (or rather, if my wonderful husband can make it work, since this is done on his laptop) I'll post some Pennsic War photos next time.

Friday, August 5, 2011

promissory post

I'm in Pennsylvania, at the Pennsic War, very temporarily online with borrowed equipment. I have some cool photos from Montana that I can't post yet because the thumb-drive won't show up on this machine, and I have a pre-written post about the trip that is stuck on my EEE, so much will have to wait for free wifi.
Things have been purchased (books, linen, ink-making supplies, parchment). Classes have been circled in the schedule. Sweat has been sweated. Wine and cider have been drunk. People have been hugged. And so on. I have even gone for a brisk walk in the early cool and done some writing on Not a Fairy Princess (working title). Haven't worked on Maenads at Band Camp yet.
More later.

Monday, August 1, 2011

amoeba book reproduces by fission

A strange and sudden freedom has fallen on me. As you may recall, I've been
struggling along with the ever-expanding expansion of Cost of Silver,
occasionally despairing of it ever being completely filled in, and repeatedly
extending my self-imposed deadlines. Well!
Over the last few weeks, I'd been comparing the almost-completely-filled-in
first 'half' with the much-left-to-go second 'half' and realising that if I did the
English Civil War justice, I was going to have a novel of at least 180k,
probably more.
Also that, although I had tightened the timeline considerably, there was
still a natural break between part one: fen-draining and vampires, and
part two: war and witchfinders.

As part one crept up past 90k, I began to believe that either I had two books
on my hands or I needed to stop expanding and start trimming. Yikes! But this
is what's great about having an agent who started as an editor. I emailed her
and asked 'how about I send you part one and
you can give me an opinion as to which way I should handle this?'
She said 'great, send it to me.'

After some Adventures in Formatting, followed by Adventures in Printing,
The Cost of Silver part one: The Astrologer's Death, 94k,* is on its way to
my agent for her considered advice.

And its author is on her way to Pennsylvania for two weeks of mostly-offline life.
I've brought actual paper notebooks and pens, so I'll still be writing. I'm planning
to mess around with a YA story idea riffing on the YA paranormal romance genre,
most easily summarised as 'Maenads at Band Camp". I think it will be fun.

Posting from Missoula Montana - goodnight!

*part two stands at 55k, which is a little under where the sketched-out first draft
stood when I started expanding it in January. So I must have written about 90k in
7 months. Maybe I really am a 'book a year' writer!