Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday and I'm still obsessed

I've been writing seriously now for about two and a half years. I've churned out several books. Book one is trunked, awaiting major surgery; book two is currently going through the query-go-round. Book three is halfway through revisions, books four and five are awaiting revisions.

As I wrote earlier, I have a shiny new idea, which has steered me away from the revisions. Those revisions wait like a pile of nasty, slimy things but I don't care.

This shiny new idea has possessed me like no other story I've ever written. I'm not sure why. I know that I've fallen completely in love with Evan and Colin. I know that I'm enjoying writing from Evan's POV, in first person (new territory for me). I know that the story has the potential to be very powerful, if I get my research right and get across the fear and uncertainty that poor Evan and Colin are about to endure. I know that, when I'm not writing, I'm thinking constantly about it. Working out the next scene, seeing it my mind's eye. It's an obsession like no other.

I'm churning out words at a NaNo pace - on average, 2k a night. At this rate, I should be done with the first draft in another two or three weeks. Of course, there will be months of revisions and polishing but I have high hopes for this one.

So, my question for other writers is: Does every new story you write take possession of your every waking moment, or is it some stories more than others?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Early Teaser - Boom Boom

So, here it is. My own personal leap in the dark. From third person close POV to first person...oh, and the MC is male.

I'm completely absorbed by this story. I can't stop thinking about it, when I'm not writing it. I'm also anxious to know if I can carry this off. To that end, I've posted this early Teaser, because I really am going to be a shameless comment whore with this one. This is the first 250 words, those golden, attention-grabbing moments.

The usual caveat applies. It's rough and I need feedback on whether it works for you or not.

Dig in.


When the IED went off, none of us expected it. I guess that’s why those Taliban bastards use the buggers. They love their little surprises. This one certainly worked. For a split second everyone in the convoy stopped and gawped at the blossoming cloud of dust and smoke. I grabbed my camera and then stopped. It was bloody hard to maintain good old-fashioned journalistic neutrality when the blast hurled Captain Beaumont through the air.

Holy crap, I thought that only happened in films.

Men shouted at each other up and down the convoy. While the dust and smoke from the explosion faded, the air was now alive with the wasps’ hiss of bullets, pinging against the lorries, spitting in the dust. Guardsman Walker grabbed my arm and wrenched me to the ground.

“For fucks’ sake, man, get the fuck out of here.”

No arguments from me.

I did my best impression of a combat crawl, across the dirt and small stones, under the lorry to the ditch on the other side of the road. I didn’t even swear when scraps of sharp rock bit into my skin. I just wanted to be away from the worst of the gunfire. At least the ground there was open, no place for the gutless little bastards to hide. Nope, they were entrenched on other side, hunkered down behind a crumbling mud wall.

Lucky them.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Venturing into strange places

So, as I mentioned in this blog yesterday, I had a shiny new idea, which great out of a writing exercise I did. Usually, I write close third from a woman MC's POV. The exercise was written in first person from a man's POV... well out of my comfort zone. Well, I thought it would be out of my zone.

The exercise was just under a thousand words, an erotic scene. By the time I'd finished it, fixed it, read it, I'd fallen in love with Evan and Colin. While I was plugging away at revisions on 'Christopher's Medal', they kept nagging at me, wanting to find a permanent place on my lap top. Just for fun I picked up from where that scene ended and ended up with a four-thousand word chapter. For the record, it's rather naughty and I'll have to tone it down a fair bit!

I went to work yesterday, spent a lot of time staring out of the office window and mulling things over. I wanted to find a story for Evan and Colin and, eventually, I did. So, here we go again, a shiny new idea, research and poor Fin and Angharad will have to take a back seat for a while. I have a feeling this may be one of those stories that gets pounded out in a handful of weeks.

While I'm posting about this, I want to give thanks to AW Purgies. I posted a question yesterday about whether it's possible that two seemingly straight men could fall in love with each other. I received some wonderful input and, as a result, I know I can make this work.

So, while I'm sitting on a plane today, I'll be scribbling down some notes. If I get back from LA with my liver and brain intact, I'll be diving right in.

Gotta love these shiny new ideas.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - A spot of bother

Here's another teaser from 'The Man in the Reeds'.
This might be it for a little while. I'm knee-deep in revisions to 'Christopher's Medal' and I want to get that 'out there' in Queryland soon. Plus, I wrote a little scene for an exercise and now those characters are nagging me to tell their story. Should be interesting, given that the scene was written in first person POV, a male character. Go figure.

The fun never stops.

Tomorrow, I'm LA-bound for a couple of days. I suspect my liver may never be the same.


Something inside her lifted at the sound of returning horses. She walked to the door to greet her husband and paused. Something wasn’t right. Elfled rode the pony and led Fin’s mare. It was hard to see in the dusk, the last of the daylight slid over the fence, casting long shadows across the yard. Coppery light shone on the mare’s black coat and glistened on the blood there. Angharad tried to make sense of what she was seeing. Fin should’ve been sitting upright in the saddle. Instead, he was draped, face down across it, his hands dangled limply below the mare’s bloodied stomach. Everything inside her, slid to her feet, weighing her to the ground. She bit her knuckle and stared at the mess. The world was suddenly a lot darker than the twilight.

“What happened?” She didn’t recognize her own voice. “Dear God, Elfled, what happened?”

The shepherd pulled the pony to a halt. Angharad forced herself forward, afraid of what she would find.

“He’s still alive, mistress. Don’t worry. It was the boar. The master’s horse slipped in the mud and he came off, just when the boar charged him. He couldn’t get out of the way quick enough.” Elfled’s face was streaked with mud and blood. “He was hurt bad, mind.”

Angharad brushed Fin’s hair from his cheek and felt his skin. In spite of the chill of the evening, it was warm. His breath was faint against her hand. “Help me get him to our room.” She drew herself together, gathering up all the scattered thoughts and fears. “Hilde, I need water and bandages. Quick as you can.” She helped Elfled ease Fin from the mare’s back and they carried him across the hall to the chamber.

The new stone wall made the chamber warmer and darker. Hilde lit lamps and placed them around the room while Angharad took Fin’s knife and cut his bloodied clothes away. She needed to see where he was hurt but dreaded seeing the damage. Hilde returned with hot water and linen. Angharad eased the torn clothes off and bit her lip. She took a deep breath and tried to assess the damage with a calm head. Her hand shook when she leaned close to look at the wound on his side, almost a mirror image to the wound Athelwulf had given him. It wasn’t as deep, but the edges were ragged and raw. Blood oozed from it, thick and black in the uncertain light. The wound on his thigh was deeper, surrounded by dried blood. Below it, another smaller wound.

“What a mess.” Angharad wanted to weep. She looked at Fin’s face, pale and still beneath the mud.

“Will he be all right, mistress?” Hilde hovered behind her, holding the basin of water.

“I hope so.” She couldn’t imagine him not getting better. She needed him. Angharad cleaned the wounds and poulticed them all, scared that Fin hadn’t stirred. When she bandaged the wounds she took his hand and sat beside him on the bed. Only the steady rise and fall of his chest told her that he was all right.

“Don’t you dare leave me,” she whispered, choking back tears. “Not now. Please, Fin, stay with me.” Angharad stroked his face.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - The Newlyweds receive a caller

Here's a little more of Angharad and Fin, now married. I've been busy tweaking other things and I really need to get back to this.

Rough and ready.


“You’ll have to keep still.” Angharad clutched the scissors. It had been a long time since she’d cut anyone’s hair. Fin had insisted that she cut his.

“I’m trying.” He sat on a stool in the middle of the hall, beside the fire. “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”

Angharad laughed. “Yes, I know. I sheared sheep this summer.”

“That’s a great comfort.”

“Be quiet.” She combed Fin’s hair to his shoulders and started cutting. Reddish brown hair fluttered to the floor. She bit her lips and continued. It was one thing she hated doing for Berthulf who would try and grope her while she worked. It took all of her self control not to stab him with the scissors.

“You’re doing well, you haven’t cut me yet.”

“You haven’t seen your hair.” Another lock dropped to her feet. After a week of marriage, Angharad felt easier in Fin’s company. It helped that he left her alone at night. He always kissed her forehead before he extinguished the lamp and rolled over to sleep. The nightly gesture made her feel safe and protected and comfortable in his presence during the day.

He laughed softly. “It doesn’t matter. It’s nearly winter. No one outside this hall will see what a mess you’ve made of it.”

“Do you have so little faith, husband?”

“By your own admission, you’ve done nothing but shear sheep these past few years.”

Another snip. “Without drawing blood.” Angharad kept cutting, watching his hair fall on the floor. When she finished she brushed the stray hair from his shoulders. “There. It’s done and it’s neat, too.”

“I’ll have to take your word for it.” He caught her hand and kissed it. “Thank you.” His eyes were bright.

Angharad froze at the scrape of the gate and the splash of hooves through the mud. Fin’s fingers threaded through hers when he stood up. Angharad’s heart hammered against her chest. She edged close to Fin and watched Athelwulf walk into the hall. She saw her husband’s hand stray to the hilt of his sword.

“Don’t,” she hissed, squeezing his hand. “Remember, you have what he wanted.”

“Mistress.” Athelwulf’s progress into the hall came to an abrupt halt. His pale eyes were round glass beads.

“Athelwulf.” Angharad raised her chin a notch. “This is a surprise.”

“Lady, have you taken leave of your senses?” His cheeks were an angry, mottled red.

“This is my husband, Fin Olaffson.”


“Dane?” Fin asked.

“The man you left for dead.” Angharad leaned against Fin when his arm slid around her waist.

Athelwulf’s jaw worked soundlessly.

“I think you should leave,” Angharad said. “You don’t look very well.”


“I found him when you left him for dead.”

“Angharad took me in and looked after me. She knows what really happened.” Fin’s voice was cold.

Angharad wanted him gone. She hated that he stood in her house, enraged because she’d married Fin. “You should leave. You aren’t welcome here. You’ve never been welcome here.”

“Oh, I’m leaving. Do you think I want to stay in this hovel with a British whore and her Danish husband?” Athelwulf spat. “You will regret this, lady. You’ll both regret it.”

“We’ll see about that.” Fin’s arm tightened around her.

“You’ve made a big mistake, Angharad. This bastard will bleed you dry. He’ll destroy you.”

“And Berthulf didn’t?” Angharad curled her hands into fists. “Didn’t you want the same thing of me?”

“I would’ve cared for you.”

“The way her husband ‘cared’ for her?” A muscle twitched in Fin’s cheek. “Get out of here. You insult my wife, you insult me. If it wasn’t for my wife’s wish not to have blood spilled in this house, I’d run you through with my sword.”

“May you both burn in hell.” Athelwulf spun on his heels and stormed out of the hall.

“Are you all right?” Fin asked.

Angharad trembled against him, fighting anger and old fears. “I’ll be fine.” She flinched when Athelwulf’s pony squealed. Hooves scrabbled for purchase in the mud, clumps slammed against the side of the house. She felt sorry for the animal.

“He’s not done with us, is he?”

“No.” Angharad mourned the loss of the easy domesticity of the morning. She shivered when Fin’s arm fell away. He returned to the fireplace, sank onto the stool and stared into the flames. Angharad found a brush and swept his hair up and wondered how to retrieve all that had been good about the day.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A visit. - Teaser Tuesday

Poor Fin and Angharad, they're in limbo at the moment because I've been in AW's Query Letter Hell, trying to revive interest in Kestrel. Between drafting carefully worded revisions of The Letter, I started going back through the manuscript and, to my horror, have found a host of dodgy dialogue tags and far too many 'as'. So I'm going back through. I managed 60 pages last night and stopped only when my eyes started bleeding.

Still, I couldn't not post a Teaser, so here's another one from 'The Man in the Reeds' (Working title only)


“Mistress, can you come here, please?”

Angharad, seeking refuge from the rainy September day in her chamber, glanced up from her sewing. “What’s wrong now?”

“Just come.”

“If I must.” She set the sewing down with a sigh. She didn’t want to leave her refuge. It was a foul day. The west wind hurled the rain against the house and the hall was alive with draughts, which sent the smoke from the fire all over the place.

Angharad followed Hilde to the door. Rain drummed on the soil, turning it to a sea of mud. A cart, piled high and covered with hides, rolled through the gate, pulled by an ox. A man on a horse stood beside it and dozen sheep milled absently around the horse’s legs. Angharad wasn’t looking at the cart, the horse or the sheep, she looked at the man, his hair plastered to his skin by the relentless rain.


She watched him slide from the saddle. One of the carls ran out and took the horse, sending sheep scattering indignantly in his wake.

“Hilde, put some water on to boil, and put the basin in my chamber.”

“Yes mistress/”

Angharad waited in the doorway and watched Fin walk across the yard. His boots squelched through the mud and his clothes were soaked. She hoped she wasn’t going to have to nurse him through another fever.

“This is unexpected,” she said when he stepped into the hall.

“I’m sorry.” He didn’t sound like he meant it.

She glanced past him at the laden cart and the sheep. “You had best come in out of the rain. I’ll get the carls to put your animals and cart away.”

“Thank you.”

“You need to get out of those wet clothes. I’ll find something for you, somewhere.”

“There’s no need. My clothes are in a chest on that cart.”

“I’ll have one of the carls bring it in.”

“Lady, can we talk in private?” He shivered. His hair was plastered to his face, his cheekbones stood out in stark relief.

“Come to my chamber. Hilde is fetching hot water for you. Would you like a drink?”

“Something hot, please.”

Angharad led him to the chamber. She sorted through the chest while he struggled out of his clothes.

“Here, take this.” She averted her gaze and handed him a woolen blanket. “This will keep you warm until we find your clothes.”

Hilde hurried in with a basin of steaming water.

“Hilde, could you bring our guest a hot drink?”

“Yes, mistress.” There were questions all over her face.

Fin took the cloth and soaked it in the water. Angharad watched him bathe his face and neck. He closed his eyes and inhaled the steam.

Angharad sat in her chair and waited. The rain hammered against the walls and on the roof. When he had finished, Fin wrung out the cloth and set it on the edge of the basin. He wrapped the blanket around his shoulders and looked at her. His eyes were dark and unreadable.

“I have a proposal for you,” he said.

“Yes.” Her mind was a tangle of questions.

“Is that bastard still bothering you?”

She thought of Athelwulf’s last visit. “Not at the moment. His last visit was less than cordial.” She looked up at the ceiling. “He tried…” Angharad inhaled and, then, exhaled slowly. “I kneed him in the groin and threatened him with a knife. He hasn’t been back since.”

“Bastard.” He spat. “Then, perhaps my proposal will meet with your consent.”

“I can’t consent if I don’t know what you want.”

“Marry me.”