nanowrimo novel 2011


In the Devil’s Shadow

Uriel Collins knows that he is a resurrected man. He knows that he was once a villain by the name of Isaac, though he does not remember anything prior to his violent death. He’s going to Mileston anyway, to seek out whatever remnants of the life he may have inherited from Isaac. It’s so hard, not having a past. Everyone needs to start somewhere.

There are some sins so black that even a monster couldn’t possibly ignore them. When Uriel decides to dig up the crimes of Isaac Collins, both the living and the murdered have plenty they want to say. Some speak in riddles. Some speak with guns.


If you’re doing NaNoWriMo 2011, you can find me here!

Happy writing!

one thing to another

So, how is NaNo going for everyone?

I’m behind– probably as far behind as I’ve ever been at 14k/18.3k par– but I’m also taking some time off of work to rest and not get sick. I’m hoping that I can catch up.

Also, while I love this book, sometimes it takes me to very strange places. Has this ever happened to anyone?

My paladin and my amateur inventor (both young ladies) need to get to a city down south. They took a train, so I began my scene in the train. To show them heading off.

The weapon that they brought wasn’t hidden well enough. It was confiscated. The paladin worried for the train worker’s safety, as that weapon is dangerous in a wholly unusual way (an electric spear). She decided that they needed to break into the luggage car and reclaim it. So now I’m not writing a travel scene. It’s now a steampunk train robbery.

Then the attendant who’d taken the spear in the first place showed up with a buddy in the back and started going through the passengers’ bags, looking for things to take. I hear so many stories of people losing things on airlines that I have it in my head that everyone in the luggage rooms must be a thief. The sliding luggage with the momentum of the train pressed against the paladin’s injury, she got caught by the fellow who lingered… he had a pistol…

Long story short, she has a pair of thieves to turn in, an embalmed body she found stuffed into a trunk (being smuggled to the remote country), and all they really want is that spear.

How on earth did I get here?

I love it when the middle writes itself, but… I’m bewildered.

it’s begining to feel a lot like nanowrimo

Because I’m a hopeless addict, I’ll again be participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo. If you don’t know what that is, and you want to write a book, go check it out. If you are participating, buddy me!

Since I’m only halfway through The Artificer’s Angels, I’ll be finishing that this year. I have a badass ending in mind, and a fuzzy idea about the middle, and too many main characters. I hope I can juggle them all.

nano excerpt

My latest NaNo excerpt:

The Crooked Cabaret.

Three establishments, all sharing the same space and name, none of the lot respectable.

Entertainment! Singing women wore too little behind guarded doors, windows blacked out with board and paper to keep High Hope’s decency laws. There the girls wore too much makeup, and during the shows in the middle of the night they would remove their stockings and put legs up on chairs, showing glimpses of their thighs to titillate and delight a male audience. Back stages doubled as brothels– a portion of the girls sold themselves on the sides. Muscled bouncers stood guard over the doors, exterior and dressing rooms both. They were paid extra for the latter.

Alcohol! While not illegal in High Hope, the bar in the second subdivision of The Crooked Cabaret could make a man go blind, and moonshine was illegal. Not that they called it that. Not that they bought it, or had it tested– the bathtub and a second-hand water extractor was the beating heart of the establishment. Sticky floors and sticky bar stools, grubby coins and the smells of urine and vomit lingered at the edges. A few drinks of the house special, though, and none of that shone through.

Miss Polly Owens was in the last portion, nestled in the back between the two others. Near enough to hear the drunks shouting nonsense, near enough to hear the singers in their backstage rooms. Red fabric pinned to the walls, old pillows in piles– nothing more to the furniture but a few candles. Polly leaned up against her cushion and blew opium smoke from her mouth, eyes shut and peaceful. Others about did the same, all in silence. Someone sang one room over. Polly didn’t care to open her eyes, nor discern whether it was a drunk carousing or one of the ‘real’ singers. It all sounded the same after a while.

… I wonder where this story is trying to take me. It’s already ramping up to look far longer than I’d intended.

the villain who took over my plot

Imagine, if you will, a party of heroes trapped with Whirling Blades of Doom! ™ coming down on them slowly from above. Stone sides, no secret doors, no weapons or ‘I forgot I had these’ moments.

Suddenly, the door is kicked open! Maxwell has arrived!

Maxwell grabs his son, turns, and slams the door on the rest of the heroes’ faces, leaving them to their fate. Hey he never said he’d save them, after all.

This isn’t something that happened in my story. Yet, this is somewhat typical of Maxwell’s behavior. The greatest jerk you’d ever meet– an animated man in his late forties, armed with his black clothes, top hat and cane. A mad scientist in every way.

Since making his appearance on camera, he’s enslaved a dead man, drove through the countryside in a giant mechanical crab (terrifying more than a few farmers in the process), left my heroine to die, broken into a water factory, pulled his gun on more than a few people… only stopped short of killing because of the nice people he had to team up with.

He was supposed to be a villain. So why isn’t it working?

I can’t tear my eyes off of this guy.

nano excerpt

Maxwell’s goal was the very back of his laboratory, next to the drafting table. Uriel’s hibernation put him standing against the wall. For extra safety, Maxwell had had him strap himself into a set of electro-magnetic cuffs at the wrists, the waist, the neck. “This is Uriel.”

Samin looked the man up and down, more than a little disturbed.

Uriel looked human.

He was a big man, just about the same age as Samin if looks were to be any judge. His skin was tan, and because Uriel wore a worker’s undershirt Samin could see that Uriel was heavily muscled. His hair was black, pulled back into a knot behind him, his nose and jaw very strong. He looked like a beast of a fellow, someone Samin would want his axe nearby should he prove unfriendly. Samin turned back to Maxwell. “What is this?”

“He’s… we’ll call him my servant.” Maxwell reached around the back of Uriel’s head and tapped a button he’d installed there– a ‘kill’ switch, should Uriel ever become dangerous. Now Maxwell mostly used it as a way to shock him out of hibernation.

Uriel’s eyes opened. They were red, and they glowed slightly.

“So… is he human?” Samin asked. “I can’t tell.”

“He used to be,” Maxwell said. “I needed a prototype to resurrect after Leo died. I couldn’t try blind on my son.”

“He’s a dead man?”

“I didn’t kill him, if that’s what you’re asking. Filched him out of a hospital morgue. There were some problems, of course, with doing it that way. He’d been dead for at least an hour, and he’s never remembered anything about his life.” Maxwell gestured with his cane brandishing it up and down Uriel’s chest. “This man can carry over a literal ton, and yet delicate enough to reassemble eggshells. Mind like a calculator, memory like a written book. A few extra toys built in here and there. I think this is the pinnacle of my life’s work.”

Maxwell walked to a control booth well away from Uriel and flipped a lever. Uriel’s cuffs were released.

“Why do you keep him locked up?” Samin asked.

“Because he’s dangerous,” Maxwell replied. “Most great artificers are killed by their own creations, you know. I mean to see that that does not become me. Uriel…” Maxwell handed him the list he had written. “I need these things. Load up the crab and ready the hatch doors.” Uriel nodded and left to start collecting things. Maxwell frowned and turned back. “Except for Leo’s personal effects on the bottom… I’ll get those.”

Maxwell seemed to have forgotten about Samin– he left him in his laboratory alone with Uriel.

Samin was fascinated and horrified at the same time. “But…” he finally said, “What is the difference, then, between what Maxwell has done to you, and what Gennyson has done to Leo?”

He hadn’t expected an answer.

“I’ll need a detailed description of what Gennyson did to the younger Gallows before I can answer that,” Uriel said without breaking his work. “But given context and the evidence of grave robbery combined with Gennyson’s history with Maxwell Gallows, I suspect Gennyson had stolen the boy’s body?”

Samin blinked. “Stole, stored, deconstructed, cobbled together badly.”

“Then the difference is that Maxwell is better at his art than Gennyson. In matters of freedom, I have more– the difference between slavery and prison, retrospectively. In situation, his was the better, as Leo continues to have allies after his remaking.” Uriel mounted the ladder at the far side and began to pull it back and forth, taking parts and pieces from selected shelves, packing them into bags for transportation.

“You’re a slave?”

“Yes and no.” Uriel hopped down from the ladder, slammed the stone floor with both feet on landing. “The technical definition of slavery is, ‘a person that is owned by another’. Now, if that definition was expanded, all machines and devices of civilization are the slaves of men, as are all beasts, pets, livestock. The question you must ask is, ‘am I human, or not?’. What is a person? Is it a mind, or a will? Can a dead man yet retain a soul? What is the elusive quality that defines humanity?”

Samin’s mouth was dry. “Do you want out?”

For a brief moment, Uriel stopped working. His voice had such intensity that Samin stepped back. “Yes.”

Samin did not interrupt Uriel again.

I love my villains.