Monday, December 31, 2007

Chapter One Updated

I've been tweaking the opening chapters of Forging in anticipation of entering a local fiction contest at the end of January. If you care to read it, it is here. As always, feedback is welcome, both publicly on this blog, and privately at tia dot nevitt at gmail dot com. Thanks!

Friday, December 28, 2007

I Love Revising

My favorite part of writing is revising. Whenever I write my first draft, I'm just in such a hurry to get it down that I don't enjoy it properly. But revising . . . I love revising. I think of it like shaping a rough chunk of sculpture.

When I revise, I add description where it is needed. I hone dialog and prune large chunks of needless passages. I take threads of the plot from deep in the story and weave it back into the beginning. I smooth over those unexpected things, like when my heroine falls for the wrong guy, and make it seem like it was what I planned all along.

During the revision phase, my creativity truly comes out.

Which is your favorite part of writing, drafting or revising?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Thirteen Characters -- TT #3

Thirteen Characters in Forging a Legend
in no particular order

  1. The god's god - a mysterious entity who sets into motion a game among the gods.
  2. Abriel - Divorced woman of antiquity who seems to be the perfect candidate for the divine contest. Has a stature of heroic proportions, but might have become an artist if she had not been challenged to become a warrior.
  3. Verit - Abriel's patron deity. He is determined to make Abriel a winner in the divine contest -- the forger of the legend, so to speak.
  4. Illian - Abriel's former husband. He gets tangled up in the contest as well.
  5. Danor - The man Abriel loves. He wants nothing to do with any of the gods, and his and Abriel's religious differences provides some major conflict.
  6. Naria - Abriel's first sword mentor. A cranky thirtysomething spinster with secret desires in her heart.
  7. Rendell - Abriel's protogee, a young boy of about eighteen.
  8. Leordis - The current favorite as winner in the divine contest. Self-made king of Hull. A combination of Alexander the Great, Hercules and Adonis. Larger-than-life. Seems unbeatable.
  9. Thesk - A god with a fanatical following who takes an interest in Abriel.
  10. Ysande - Abriel's closest friend. She has an unusual skin condition.
  11. Loqui - Abriel's second sword mentor.
  12. Yevin - A man who comes into Abriel's life and makes an unexpected impact.
  13. Eddis - A cringing priest of Thesk who will do anything for him - or so Thesk thinks.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Calligraphy Projects

Now that my calligraphy projects are safely given away to their intended recipients, I'll post them here. You should be able to click on them to see them in a higher resolution.

These two were meant to be one large project, but I decided I liked it better on two pages. One page appears to be darker than the other, but that was just a scanning flaw. I wrote the quote.

This one is a mixture of photography and calligraphy. The quilt in the border is a photograph of an actual quilt that another friend of mine did for my daughter. She has a quilting workshop that you would not believe. I took a digital photograph of the quilt at a 45 degree angle, loaded it in Word, blocked out the center with an opaque textbox and printed it on calligraphy parchment. I then did my lettering on the printout.

For all of these, I did at least five drafts. The first three I do with a marker and a cheap piece of paper. I call these my "layout drafts." I do them to figure out what font I want and how I want everything spaced. For example, I was planning to do the Quilt project in Gothic Blackletter, but when I did my layout drafts I decided that a simple Foundational font would work better.

Once I have everything laid out the way I want it, I measure everything, rule a calligraphy parchment and do another draft. I don't plan on this one being perfect, but so much the better if it is.

Once I'm done with the basic lettering, I go back and add flourishes. For example, I added the stem on the Q in the Quilt project, and I blended together the ascender and descender for the Y and the D on the Friend project. Once I add the flourishes, I get out my Japanese gold and silver paint and illuminate the letters.

It's a lot of fun, and now my husband is learning. It really does not take any artistic ability; just skill that comes with time. I first learned this in 9th grade art in 1980, but didn't get serious about it until 1985.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Blank Page Syndrome--For a Calligraphist

Writing as both a writer and a calligraphist, I've got to say that a writer ain't got nothing on a calligraphist when it comes to blank page syndrome. I just finished lettering a two-page piece for a friend. I tackled the first page on Saturday and the second page just now. Here's the thought process of a calligraphist when starting a new work:

Ok, I've got the rough draft done and propped before me, the fresh page all neatly ruled and I'm ready to go. I'll be using a number 1 pen followed immediately by a number 2 pen, so I may as well get them both filled with ink. There. I'm ready.

The blank page stares at me, pristine. As a writer, I can use the backspace key or even 20 years ago, I could have used correction tape to erase any mistake. I have no such luxury here. Any false stroke will doom me to starting over.

The first marks on the page are ellipsis marks, because I'm continuing the quote from a previous page. Those are easy, but I still manage to mess up one due to not enough ink. However, "not enough ink" can be touched up, so I continue. I write the first capital L and all goes well.

For the second line, I switch to a number 0 pen--the largest that I have--for the word Diamond. I dip for every letter with a size 0 pen. All goes brilliantly. Then, in a moment of inattention, I make the downstroke of the last d before making the curve stroke--and I didn't leave myself enough room. I try to finish the letter, but I already know that I have to start over.

I set it aside, close the ink, clean my pens, take out a fresh piece of paper, rule it, open the ink, ink my pens and try again. . . .

The finished result actually turned out quite well. I was considering redoing the first page because two of the lines are a tad too close together. However, I don't have a lot of room on that page and I managed to blend a clashing descender and ascender together rather artfully. (Descenders/ascenders are the part of the text that sticks up or down, like the top of a d or the bottom of a g.) So I think I'll just go with it.

My friend does not follow this blog (as far as I know) so I'll post it when I finished painting it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Killing a Character

I'm about to kill a character in Forging a Legend. A major character. And I don't have very many characters that I consider "major". I've been thinking about it for several days, but I have not started writing yet. I don't think it's a good idea to force writing and the idea does not seem ripe yet.

I tried to pick up Starcaster while I wait for the idea to percolate, but I'm in a Forging mode now, and I find that I cannot work on both ideas in tandem. Too much of a mood change.

In the meantime, I'm beta-reading Kristin's rather excellent novel. Speaking of which, I think I've figured out how I'm going to spend my evening.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I was one of the 52 . . .

Forging a Legend was one of the novels rejected here. Here's the comment I posted:

I, on the other hand, was one of the 52 who Kristin didn't take on! I still have not gotten any takers, but I have been heavy into revisions since about April, so that's hardly surprising.

Even though I'm still agentless, I find endless encouragement in the fact that my novel was among the 52 out of what was probably well over 20,000 manuscripts, if Kristin's stats from 2006 hold true for 2007.

Since then, I've written another novel (or most of one), and I think is an even stronger novel. In fact, part of the reason I tore back into the one Kristin rejected is because I wanted to apply all that newfound writing polish to it. I am very excited about the results.

Please wish me luck for the new year!

And of course, I forgot to click the thingy that sends me emails about future responses, so I'll have to remember to check back later in the day to see if anyone wished me luck.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Blogroll Link-o-Matic!

If you'd like to do a blogroll link exchange, please leave a comment here. I'll leave this post on my sidebar. Thanks in advance!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #2 - Starcaster

Thirteen Reasons Why I Wrote Starcaster

  1. When my daughter was a toddler, one of the baby words she came out with sounded something like "star-cas-ter". I looked at her and said "What a wonderful idea!" Within 24 hours, I had worked out all the rules of starcasting, and I've only made a few refinements since. I named my protagonist after my daughter because it was her idea.
  2. I wanted to write about spies.
  3. I wanted to set the story in a time period that is unusual for fantasy. I love Jane Austen, so I thought, why not set it in a similar timeframe to her novels? (Of course, Naomi Novik has written her series in the same timeframe, but I don't think her books have the same mood as Starcaster.)
  4. Then I thought, why not make it a blend of Jane Austen and James Bond? Empire-waist dresses and revolvers! What a combination!
  5. Then I thought, why not bring communists into the mix? After all, when I think spies, I have a rather nostalgic sense of longing for the good old days of Reagan vs. The Evil Empire. I know, that's an absolutely insane thing to be nostalgic for, but there it is. I needed a covert subversive enemy group and communists seemed to be the perfect fit. Besides, I've never encountered communists in fantasy before!
  6. I wanted to draw on my military background and blend it with whimsical practicality. Therefore, we have an odd combination of apron-wearing spies with dog tags, with revolver hidden under said apron.
  7. Oh, and did I mention that I wanted it to have revolvers? The old-fashioned kind. With loose gunpowder, a ball and a big bang.
  8. I wanted to write about an innocuous-looking female that everyone underestimates -- to their later chagrin.
  9. I wanted to have a great blurb ahead-of-time, that fired me up to write the novel. My blurb about Starcaster have always gotten me great feedback.
  10. I wanted to write one of those mysteries where you never quite know which guy the girl is going to go for.
  11. I wanted to write about a guy that you grew to love -- someone who doesn't seem very appealing at first.
  12. I wanted something bad to happen to my character, something that would change her looks forever. So I had the villain break her nose. (Don't worry. It gets fixed. Sort of.)
  13. As you probably guessed, I wanted to write something fun!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I've Inspired Myself

I started working on Forging again. I know, I know. I need to stick to something. But Kristin, my beta reader, had some great suggestions and I thought of a way to implement them when I woke up this morning. Since it added about a thousand words, I am now cutting. I think I'll end up with a net 115,000 words.

About midway through my novel, I had a storm that was more-or-less a random event. This always bothered me about the story. Well, this morning, I thought of a great way to make it not-so-random and add a lot of depth to the character of Verit, Abriel's patron deity.

I also thought of a way to give Abriel a bit of competition. One of Verit's subordinate deities will succeed in attracting a much-feared king to his fold, thus increasing the deity's chances of winning the divine contest that is at the center of the novel. I originally envisioned this king for book 2. However, he fits in PERFECTLY here, because he seems so much like the ultimate candidate for the contest. Think Hercules. Blend in a bit of Alexander the Great. Add a huge amount of sheer chutzpah. That's my king.

However, he will only be mentioned in this novel, not actually introduced to the reader. I wish I could introduce him properly in this novel, but I have not found a way to do so yet. I don't think I can. In book two -- if there ever is a book two -- it will be a wonderful surprise for the reader when he shows up the way he does.