lavenderbard: (pic#4042576)

I have finished the first draft of a historical pirate romance set on the same world as Across a Jade Sea. It took me about a year to write. I don’t know exactly how long it is, because I wrote it out by hand, but at 281 pages, with my average page of longhand being somewhere between 150-200 words, it is clearly a full novel in length. That makes it my 13th completed novel.

Unless Lioness ends up getting split into a duology. Which is very possible.

Either way, 13th or 14th, it’s still a milestone, and I still get to celebrate. 🙂

I started working on it because I wasn’t feeling very well, and I was having trouble putting in a regular work day (especially since my computer had been moved out of my bedroom due to family computer-shortage issues). But I really wanted to be writing something, so I said: ‘Why don’t I write longhand? That way I can take it to bed with me, and I can tell myself, ‘it doesn’t matter how good it is, because I can fix it when I type it up later’. Also, I can just work on one of the random shorter things in my head that isn’t in the regular queue, so that if I start feeling better I won’t mind abandoning it for something else.” (I thought it would be ‘shorter’. I don’t always guess right when it comes to length.)

By the time I felt better — several months later — I had at least 50 000 words, and I didn’t want to abandon it. I wanted to get it written.

But now it is written, and I can finally get back to my ‘regularly scheduled’ work. Yay!
Which means: getting the two Bambi books ready to go off to my copy editor; finishing my first pass edits on Lioness, so I can get reader feedback; and then writing Book Four of Song of Asolde, Fencing With Waves.

I’m kind of eager to get to Fencing With Waves, because while in the middle of the rush to the end with the Pirate thingy, I took a week off to get the previous Song of Asolde book into a state where I could send it to my oldest daughter as a birthday present — she has been eagerly awaiting the next installment in that series for a few years now. So now I have that story in my head, but I really need to finish off some of my other projects first. Sigh.

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I guess I’m in a talkative mood, so I’m going to explain the steps I have been using to make a history for my Cultivator Universe.

1) I started by drawing myself a galaxy, and then I gridded it off into squares. (Fortunately for me, spiral galaxies are relatively flat, so it wasn’t too huge of a stretch to use a 2D map for this exercise.)

2) I then mostly randomly created 200 dots representing the worlds on which my civilizations started. (I randomize by rolling dice. I married an avid board-gamer and there are always dice around.)

3) I randomly assigned a Civilization Level to each of those dots. These levels told me which of those planets started developing technology the soonest, and therefore who had a “head start” when it came to spreading out among the stars.

4) I made an arbitrary guestimate of how fast the “reach” civilization would expand once its ships had achieved near light-speed capabilities, and based on how much “coverage” I hoped to achieve, decided how long ago my oldest civilizations started expanding.

5) I created a technological advancement chart that would give me a rough estimate of how long it would take each Civilization Level to achieve various technological benchmarks.

6) I split my total timespan into segments, and created map overlays that showed the “reach” of each civilization at the end of each segment in the form of transparent colored circles.

7) And then, checking each overlay one at a time, I have been figuring out which civilization encountered which other civilization in what order, and writing a quick one sentence explanation of what happened when they did.

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Done!

Nov. 11th, 2015 12:01 pm
lavenderbard: (pic#4042576)

The first draft of Lioness is finished. All ~140 000 words of it. (Long one!)

…It may possibly be the messiest first draft I’ve ever done, but I don’t care. For the first time since I started writing it in — as close as I can figure — March of 2010, it has not only a beginning but also a middle and an end. So I’m heading off to celebrate. :)

Mirrored on My Website.

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Cantata in Coral and Ivory is set on a world named Ialfa, which I had originally intended to be used for fairytale retellings, or fairytale-like stories. But I thought I wanted to do tales that featured a slightly more… er… sophisticated grasp of politics than ones where kings arbitrarily pass the rulership down to whichever of their sons brings back the golden fish, or where princes can get away with marrying kitchen maids just because they happen to have the smallest foot in the kingdom. I wanted the romance and the magic (and the happy endings!) but set against a richer, more realistic cultural backdrop.

Because of that, I had two main interests when I started working on this world: the creation of an elaborate historical background, and a magic system that had an organic feel to it.

I didn’t actually have a specific story in mind yet, just those two goals. So started on a very large scale. I created a solar system, and a world geography. Then I started mapping the rise and fall of nations, and worked out what exactly magic was here, and how it accomplished things. This established the “rules” of the world. But everything I knew was very general and grand and sweeping, and it wasn’t until I decided that I wanted to actually write a story in this world that I started to think on a smaller scale about what it might be like to live there.

The spot I rather arbitrarily decided was the location of my first story, turned out to be on the equator of a continent roughly the size and geographic position of Africa. So I started reading about Africa, as well as other tropical locations and civilizations—feeding the fabulator. The large-scale rules I had already established by creating my geography guided my search for smaller details, which then ballooned back out to large-scale rules again.

If the most common form of agriculture in my target climate is slash and burn, then what sort of civilization would emerge from that base? Would they have money? What would their religion be like? How about their courts and palaces?

One book I checked out of the library commented that Africa was home to the greatest variety of very large mammals still in existence, but that giant mammals used to roam all parts of the world. Africa’s abundance is merely because, for some as yet unknown reason, more large species survived extinction there. “What,” I asked myself, “would my world be like if I reversed that trend? What if this continent I was working with wasn’t the place where the most giants survived extinction, but the place where the fewest did? Then, if I had elephants, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses and giraffes here, what did that mean the rest of the world would look like?”

My world was gradually gaining depth. And although it didn’t look anything at all like what you’d expect from the word “fairytale”, it did have cultural richness, plenty of room for romance, and some nicely understated magic. Most importantly, it had achieved a unique personality all of its own, and was coming to life.

It became so much alive, in fact, that it did what most authors complain that their characters do.

My setting developed a mind of its own, and completely took over the story.

Mirrored on My Website.

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I don’t know exactly when I started writing Cantata in Coral and Ivory, but it was over twelve years ago. At the time I had been writing seriously for publication for several years, and had made a couple pro sales: a short story and an article in an RPG magazine. I had also finished three novels, needed a new project, and was in the mood to write a regency. (I’m a Georgette Heyer fan). But I’d learned enough about the publishing industry by then to realize that if I continued jumping genres like I had been, I was going to make a lot of extra work for myself—particularly in the area of market research. And market research is borrring!

After some thought, I decided that if I was going to specialize in one genre only, it should probably be Fantasy and Science Fiction, because I loved worldbuilding so much. But there was no rule I knew of that said a fantasy book couldn’t have a romantic comedy-of-manners feel to it. And, I had even recently started building a shiny new fantasy world to do fairytale retellings in. Fairytales and comedy-of-manners sounded like a great combination. There was just one little irregularity…

When I made the geography of the world, I had done so by randomly smashing tectonic plates together. And it wasn’t until I had started building a basic “history of civilization” for it that I realized that the continent I had chosen to have my people moving about on and fighting over was approximately the same size and geographic position as Africa.

Comedy-of-manners fairytales in pseudo-Africa?

Why not?

So that became the plan: to write something mannerly, witty, fun and romantic, with a fairytale plot and an exotic African-inspired setting.

Mirrored on My Website.

lavenderbard: (pic#4042576)

Somewhat ironically, given how rarely I post in my own blog, I have just had a guest blog go up on Book View Cafe

It’s about how to make up slang for your invented cultures. :)

There are some other things that happened last week that I probably should have posted about. (And I would have if I didn’t have so many things happening at once!)

Lets see… I’ve been married two dozen years, now. There’s a nice number. I still haven’t had my anniversary dinner with my husband, however — life has been interfering.

My concertina and I went to a folk sing-a-long. They sing out of folk “Hymnals”, so I can usually follow along with the chords on my concertina. It’s fun, and great practice.

The brakes on our car died. Since we had been planning to replace it, we did that rather than having them repaired, and I am now co-owner of a vehicle (mini-van, seats 7) that is about half the age of our previous one. (So just over ten years old, instead of just over twenty.)

I joined an online tatting guild (tatting is my new hobby), posted pictures of stuff I was working on, and was asked to share the pattern for the little tatted dragon pendants I had invented. I did so, and had bunches of people wanting to try make them. So I have not only blogged, and I have been blogged about: here is one tatter’s take on my pattern (I’m linking to the central of three post so far.)

And here is the original:

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lavenderbard: (pic#4042576)

Yesterday I passed the 50% mark on my current WIP.

Of course, that 50% is based on a guesstimated length of 100K words, because I don’t know how many words it will be until I get there. So I may have actually not have gotten to halfway yet, or I might have passed it a while back.

But fifty thousand words is worth celebrating in any case. So, Yay!

Mirrored on My Website.

lavenderbard: (pic#4042576)

I consider myself a one book a year gal.

It took me a while to work up to that. For my first four and a half books I didn’t keep wordcount records, but according to my submission data this is my best guess for when I finished writing them:
1991 The Grand Abduction
1994 Harp & Gyre
1997 Rune & Fire
2003 Cantata in Coral and Ivory

At that point my records become more complete and my output became more consistent. The first draft completed dates for the next batch of books are:
2003-11-13 Talking With Winds
2005-02-14 Eyes of Infistar
2007-01-20 Pavane in Pearl and Emerald
2008-02-13 Dicing With Flames
2009-11-27 Sails of Everwind

Lately I haven’t felt very consistent, though. In 2010 I started writing a book, Lioness, that I got stuck on. I restarted it, but the reboot wasn’t working either. Near the end of the year I started a different book that ended up actually being three books…
2011-05-14 Across a Jade Sea (Serendipity’s Tide, Treachery’s Harbor, Fealty’s Shore)

Then I started Dancing With Stones, which didn’t stall like Lioness did, it just got pushed aside. Instead, I finished a graphic novel that I had been working on since 2006…
2012-01-13 Flag in Flames

Since then I’ve mostly been revising and getting stuff ready for publication rather than writing anything new. :(

But, in the years of 2003-2013, I did apparently finish ten books. And I did start working on Dancing With Stones again yesterday. As long as I do actually finish it this year, I am still on schedule. :)

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lavenderbard: (pic#4042576)

My writing progress bar finally advanced today, after sitting at the same spot for more time than I really like to contemplate. Not that I wasn’t writing, in all that time, you understand. I actually wrote an entire trilogy while my progress bar remained stuck, because I wrote it longhand, and therefore did not track my daily wordage. And after that I was doing revisions, which I don’t track on a progress bar either. (But I would love to figure out how to track revision progress, so if anyone has any brilliant ideas about that, please share them!)

But I finally came back to the story I was working on when the attack trilogy attacked me. Yay! Here’s to hoping that I can keep at it until it’s done and that nothing interrupts it this time. I don’t like leaving partially finished stories lying around all over the place… they nag at me.

Mirrored on My Website.

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