The 7-7-7 Challenge

I was nominated for this by @out_ofthe_fog on twitter. The 7-7-7 challenge is a fun little chain letter thingy encouraging writers to share a little bit of their work in progress. Once you’ve done the challenge you nominate 7 others. I chose 7 folks from twitter that I’m either stalking or find engaging in some way. I didn’t pick anyone that I’ve already bought books from and intend to buy more. I focused of folks who I’d like to see what they’re up to or how their progress is coming (provided any of them / you choose to take that challenge).
One of the motivators in finishing my work or just writing in general is getting out on social media and actually talking about writing and issues. Not only that, reading what others are up to has been helpful for me as well. That said, one of the biggest motivators / tools of encouragement is sharing my work. Even if I don’t get feedback, I still know that a couple people might take a look at what I’ve written and so I look at my own work with a much more critical eye. So, that there was a long-winded explanation as to why I decided to do the challenge.
The challenge works like this: You do this by going to page 7 of your manuscript, counting down to line 7 and then sharing the next 7 sentences in a blog post.
I’ve got two works in a state that I could give this a go. I chose a section of the first chapter of Wine Bottles and Broomsticks. The whole chapter is available over on and the second installment is coming this Friday!

“Not completely. We get her to a place we can corner her and see if we can out her. Once we’ve done that, we bring her in, and work out whether or not we can tie her to anything.”
“This doesn’t sound legal. Shouldn’t we have probable cause? What is it that this woman is suspecting of having done?”
“Being a witch is probable cause.”
“But what if that witch hasn’t done anything -not that I’m saying there are witches.”
“You can’t be a witch, unless you’re a witch.”

So, there it is. Now, I’ve stalled my run long enough. Now, for another challenge: Time to get out there and raise awareness for usher syndrome.

Progress report


The summer is moving by so quickly, I think I might have missed it. Temperatures have been hanging out in the low 60s and cracking into the mid-40s at night giving a very distinct late summer vibe. I mean, except for the 21 hours of daylight.

I’ve been doing a bit of work on my current project, and last week I even tore through a rewrite of a few chapters that I’d been putting off. These chapters are a distinct sub-plot with a different lead character (in cliché fantasy tradition). They make up something like 1/4th of the book.

As I was going through these particular chapters, I noticed two major things. The first is that they needed (probably still need) quite a bit of editorial massaging. The second is that these particular chapters are, even with final polishing necessary, arguably the best chapters of the book. On one hand this is cool. I’ve got a few chapters that generally work. Unless a beta reader notes a major problem, these are good to go until editing! On the other hand, this is ¼ of the book. That means the other 3/4s still need a tremendous amount of work to be up to scratch. I think I’m making major progress on that score, but it’s hard to tell until I sit down and attempt another full re-write.

One theory of why this sub-plot is working better is that I don’t really care about the characters as much, and so as things start going to hell for them, I really don’t mind and just sort of let it happen. My main characters (the heroes, if you will), however, I care too much about. As a writer I’m not effectively putting their backs against the wall (more clearly stated: The MC should have a simple goal ‘right now’, simple goal right now is being blocked by a clear and present antagonist). I can’t say that this is THE problem I’m working through, but it’s definitely a contributing factor. The characters aren’t being driven from place to place so much as they are going from place to place. It seems to me that this isn’t doing any favors on the overall conflict and rising action.

So then what am I going to do about that?

I’ve already started tackling some of the problem bits. The first four or five chapters actually weren’t awful as far as this is concerned. The eleventh chapter, however, is a different story. The night before last, I completely rewrote it. It took the immediate conflict in a different direction that still managed to land the main character in almost the right situation to start chapter 12. The change also did good things for the conflict in chapter 12, which becomes something of a pivotal chapter (it always has been, but it just doesn’t have that feel or flavor yet). In any case, chapter 11 feels vastly improved from what it was, but I won’t know how much better this strategy is until I get to the end and look at the story as a whole.

So, anyhow, that’s where I am. The wife is out on the town tonight, so I’ll probably get a full chapter re-write in and if I’m lucky, tomorrow will be mostly a writing day and I’ll see if I can hammer out a few more chapter rewrites.

Photo credit: Me (don’t judge)


Flash-in-the-pan fiction; Eight donated words

As I was perusing twitter today, and looking for new ways to procrastinate, I came across a gem of a tweet from @EmilyFRussell (, the author of Aurian and Jin: A love story. She donated to the twitterverse the following eight words: Kerfuffle, shibboleth, axiom, seraglio, hexerei, sanguine, and squeen. I have taken up the totally unnecessary challenge of using all of these in a sentence (not really possible). The further challenge was to do it in fewer than 800 words. Well, my distinguished challenger (of sorts), I have done this in fewer than 800 characters, with some bonus vocab. Enjoy.


Amoleqi tugged nervously at the sleeve of his thawb and squeaned at the door to the seraglio of the prince’s women. Just striding past caused a shortness of breath and light-headedness. He firmly believed in the old axiom that seraglios were dens of hexerei. A whiff of pungent incense from under the door put a vision of the lurid hangings of sanguine, incarnadine, and puce that must furnish such a place. More than anything, he wished to petition the king to eliminate such places, where the minds of men were molded like soft clay, but he was among the shibboleths of the court. No man, no matter how noble, from a different district could bring up such a topic without starting another contentious kerfuffle.


Definitions, from the OED where possible, and yes I’m taking some liberties, but I think I was true to the intent and general meaning.

Incarnadine – Properly, Flesh-colored, carnation, pale red or pink; but also used for various shades of crimson or blood red. (OED)

kerfuffle – commotion / disturbance, particularly involving conflicting viewpoints. (This word not in the version of the OED I have)

shibboleth – This one seems to have no easy translation, I’ve checked a couple of sources. Basically it’s a manner of speaking or habit that sets a class apart or distinguishes foreigners. (My version of the OED doesn’t give a particularly good definition of this)

axiom – self evidently true.

seraglio – The part of a Mohammedan dwelling-house (esp. of the palace of a sovereign or great noble) in which the women are secluded; the apartments reserved for wives and concubines; a harem. (From the OED)

hexerei – witchcraft (I hella like this word BTW. IMF use it at some point, the sound of it evokes some really great imagery.)

sanguine – Using definition 1 in my version of the OED – Blood red

squean – to look askance (Squeen appears in the Urban dictionary. I opted for the OED version)


thawb – The robe traditionally worn in middle-eastern cultures

puce – Purple/brown color