Progress Report

Winebottles_Broomsticks

I feel like I should do this more often, but I’m not sure I’d say too much that was useful. As it is, I don’t know that I’ve had anything to say in a while. All that said, it’s been a couple of weeks since I declared Draft #1 of Wine Bottles & Broomsticks fully drafted. What has been amazing to me in the past few weeks has been the response from beta readers to the book. Not only have all of them actually finished the book, they’ve all done so quickly and provided phenomenal feedback. I spent a half an hour on the phone with my sister this evening discussing character motivation and her general reaction to the book.

Where do I stand right now? First off, I want to say that writing this story was exceptionally fast. The bulk of it was actually written during free time on two trips out of state for training. So, basically 40% of the book was written over the course of less than 2 weeks. With that in mind, I’m aiming (probably optimistically) at having a fully expanded, edited draft ready by the end of the month. This is possible largely because virtually all of the readers thus far have provided feedback that hits the same spots – ‘expand this’ ‘what about that’ and so on. So, now I’ve got a plan to expand the manuscript from just shy of 60K to near 80K. In the mean-time, the channillo.com will continue on with the early draft and probably sometime on Sunday, I’ll turn up the crank to release a chapter a week for a while, then maybe up to a chapter a day. Then, I’ll let it sit out there for a few weeks.

My goal is to have this thing ready for a copy editor roll over it sometime early in February. Then, I guess I’ll see if I can drum up any interest from a publisher. If not, well, I’ve got cover art and the book will have been edited, so self-publishing it is.

Progress report

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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 fiction – Lucky 13

I haven’t posted anything in a while. Summer has been busy, with the nice weather I’ve been focused on trying to get outside stuff taken care of. Anyhow, here’s a bit of flash fiction. Needs work, but I’m not likely to do much more with it.


 

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“That’ll be four seventy-five,” Allison said, picking up two white paper cups and a black sharpie. “Can I get a name for the order?”
The moment she said it, she felt stupid. The place was, after all, empty. Except for a smelly, hairy hipster-type clacking away haughtily at his laptop in a corner drinking his stupid soy latte, there wasn’t anyone else in the shop.
The man looked up from counting exact change and squinted at her. He glanced over his shoulder, “You must be new. The name’s Albert,” he said in a raspy voice.
Allison could feel her face go red. She slide the cups over the counter to the barista who took them without looking up.
Albert dropped a couple of quarters into the tip jar and picked his folded newspaper from the counter, tucking it under his arm.
It was her second day at the Lucky 13 coffee shop. So far it hadn’t gone well. Aside from the place having the feel of a funeral parlor, the young woman making the coffee hadn’t so much as introduced herself, the tips had been awful, the A/C was always too high and nobody had been particularly friendly. and she couldn’t imagine why two of them should be there on such a quiet afternoon.
“Here you are Albert,” The barista said, handing the two cups over to the man.
“Thank you miss,” Albert said.
Allison watched him slowly make his way to a small table against a tall plate window overlooking the street.
“He’s a regular?” Allison asked, struggling to remember the name of her coworker.
“Been coming in every Tuesday afternoon since long before my time,” The barista said, picking up a rag.
“Not much for words is he?”
The barista shook her head, staying focused on cleaning up her station. “Not really.”
While she was talking, Albert set one cup on either side of the table for two. He took his seat at one of them, and proceeded to unfold it.
Allison eyed the cup on the other side of the table. “Is he waiting for someone?”
“No. It’s for his wife.”
“Oh,” Allison said. “Does she come in often too?”
The barista ignored Allison’s question. “I’m stepping out for a smoke, ring me if you need anything.”
For most of an hour, Albert sat at his table, sipping his coffee and reading. Every so often he would look over the top of his paper, squint, say a few words, or smile, and return to his reading. Something about it made Allison feel cold. The barista hadn’t returned from her smoke break, but as there weren’t any customers, it hardly mattered. Finally, Albert took a last sip from his cup, folded up his newspaper, and stood up. He looked at Allison, and tipped his hat again before leaving.
Allison sighed as she looked at the two cups he’d left on the table. He’d forgotten his other cup. It hadn’t been touched the entire time he had been there. She ran around the counter to retrieve the cup in the hopes she might be able to catch him before he disappeared. The moment her hand touched the cup, she froze and every hair on her body stood on end. It was empty. On the edge of the lid, right where the drinking hole was, she saw the faint smudge of red lipstick. She thought about how Albert glanced over his newspaper, talking with someone who wasn’t there. With a deep breath, she set the empty paper cup back down.
Trying to convince herself there was a perfectly logical explanation, she looked up at the large plate glass windows. Her faint reflection stared back at her. Her heart thumped hard in her chest and she clinched her fists. Unlike the room she was in, her reflection was in standing in a crowded shop. All manner of people could be seen reflected in that window.
Doing her best to suppress a scream, Allison slowly turned around face the empty room. The sudden rasp of a chair being pulled out echoed off the red-brick walls. It was too much. She let out a clipped scream. With slow, shaking footsteps, she edged her way toward the door. Even if there had been a logical explanation for what she’d seen, she had no interest in hearing it.

photo credit: caution contents hot via photopin (license)