row80 – april update

Daily writing output

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So, my writing really suffered when my computer died mid-month. Bad Eliza. No cookie. But as I’ve been writing one thousand words a day or so since Norwescon, maybe that can make up for it?

In other news, I’ve finally gotten back the reins on my plot, I’ve broken 100k words (which means it’s much too long, but we’ll cut that down later), and I can see my planned climax coming over my metaphorical hill.

Huzzah! Victory!

Anyone interested in beta-reading a rough-draft YA Steampunk Fantasy? The end is in sight.

winning by losing (row80)

Just a quick update on my novel, and ROW80.

My goal: 250 words/day, 5 days/week.

Thus far,
Monday: 742/250
Tuesday: 389/250
Wednesday: 416/250

It’s a tiny goal, yes, but it makes what I actually do look impressive.

I’ve noticed something about one of my characters. He’s perhaps the most brilliant badass character I’ve ever written. Huge, strong, smart, skilled, good coordination, good reflexes. … And he’s never yet won a fight in this story. I’m starting to think that he’s not going to. (For those of you who’ve seen pieces of my book, yes, I’m talking about Uriel.)

And yet, in each case he comes out ahead. I’m not sure why, or how, or what it is he does to manage this. He escapes at opportune times while pulling switches, lets himself get hit where he’s protected… he even lets himself get gunned down once.

How is it that his escapes, his deflections, his clever tricks and his patient ‘play dead’ schemes earn him more– and more reader admiration– than if he simply was a fighter to match his build? Why is this more effective?

We’ve seen this before. This is the story of the clever tailor who sewed ‘seven in one blow’ on his clothes and began ridding the land of giants. It’s purely a traditional protagonist trait… but my character being something of a noble trickster-villain, it’s taking a very odd turn.

the artificer’s angels– chapter fourteen sample

A short sample I thought amusing enough to share. The composition is a bit awkward, but despite its flaws, it still makes me laugh.

Mister Abraham Gennyson sent several letters.

One letter he sent to Mister Pennyrose in Height’s Falls, a rather rich city that two old artificers had retired in (while they still had the chance).

The first of these was Master Artificer Albert Sickle. Mister Sickle was more metal than flesh after being blown apart, melted in acid, gnawed on by his pet goat-wolf, and finally subjected to his own granddaughter’s attempts at poetry. Her mother– his daughter– had watched him with a shark’s smile that forbid him from giving anything but the highest praise.

Despite all this, Mister Sickle had taken less damage than his retired counterpart, who had to cart pieces of his own anatomy behind him in attractive-yet-cumbersome glass jars. His name was Mister Eustace Violet, and though he and Mister Sickle had long been the greatest of enemies, their rivalry had simmered down over the years to grandiose monologues over a weekly chess match, all under the stern gazes of Mister Sickle’s daughter and Mister Violet’s nurse.

Unbeknownst to the other, Mister Violet also had an ambitious scheme to seize control over the surrounding thousand miles, pinning blame on Mister Sickle in the process, and setting all who opposed him on fire, but that is another story entirely and shall be told on another occasion. Mister Gennyson’s letter to Mister Pennyrose, who was only a banker, may have been the catalyst that doomed the region, but it did not help Mister Gennyson find his nephew, and so is of little consequence to this story.

(soon to be) looking to commission artists

I’ve had a crazy idea for a bit now, to hire commissions from a bunch of different artists for some characters for a young adult steampunk adventure novel I’m writing. (Yes, it’s The Artificer’s Angels.)

Here are the details.

  • There are seven major characters in all– five men, two women. They range from the ages of fifteen-ish to mid-fifties. Here’s a quick preview of the lot.
    • The farm girl. Merrily Soarin is cheerful, upright, and has a mean left hook. She’s nineteen years old, black, and her nappy hair’s getting clumpy.
    • The engineer. Paul Soarin is serious, often uncomfortable, and desperate to prove himself to the upper circles. He’s thirty-two, Merrily’s brother, also black, head nearly shaved, thin. He also becomes a bit wild by the end of the book.
    • The hacker. Polly Owens was a promising inventor before she was kicked out of the university. Now she smokes a lot of opium, she wears shocking clothes, gears and tools sewn to her skirts (in case she ever needs one), and does mechanical under-the-table deals. Mid-twenties, brown eyes, straight brown hair, and she dresses in ways specifically designed to make her victorian-esc neighbors uncomfortable (classic steampunk).
    • The mad scientist. Maxwell Gallows is in his mid-fifties, wears lots of black, and would probably have taken over the world had he cared for anything in it. He’s stick-thin, gaunt in the face, and his black hair stands out. Usually accompanied by a black hat and a heavy cane.
    • The boy. Leo Gallows is sweet, gentle, desperately shy, and part machine, though the only real indicator of this on the outside are his glowing, artificial teal eyes. His hair is platinum blond, but it’s the style to dye hair wild colors and saturate it with gel, and his ends are blue-green and stand up in spikes. Every so often, though, he does show signs of his father’s inventor-traits running through him.
    • The intellectual thief. Abraham Gennyson has the nasty habit of stealing invention ideas that don’t belong to him. Getting near sixty– he’s not horribly fat, but he has a gut, his hair is long and brown and silver, he wears nice clothes and looks the part of the overweight Victorian business man.
    • The trickster. Uriel is also a reworked dead man, and he very much intends to keep his life and his freedom, both of which are at risk. He will kill, steal, lie, and con his way out of his bad situation– anything to get himself free. And he’s pretty good at it. Six-five (two full meters) tall, broad shouldered, strong featured, tan, with artificial red eyes and a wild red-and-black haircut. He appears to be in his late-twenties.
  • I would write a more detailed description of each character, then two or three scenes with them in it, to give a better idea of what they’re like. I’ll also write a bit about the novel.
  • The commissions would go to a variety of artists– one character per commission. I’d love to see a range of skills, styles, and takes.
  • When I have a good collection of characters by a variety of people, I’ll make a collage for each character.

That’s the preliminary details. Anyone interested, and if so, in anyone in particular? And does anyone want to point to artists seeking commissions?

the artificer’s angels – chapter thirteen sample

For Write Anything‘s Spoken Sunday exercise.

The Artificer’s Angels, chapter thirteen, part one. Steampunk fantasy.

This is the start of my novel’s chapter thirteen. Miss Merrily Soarin and Miss Polly Owens are traveling in each other’s company aboard a steam tram, continuing their search for young Leo Gallows.

Somehow, their tram ride ends in Merrily protesting loudly that she is not violent, seeking medical attention for a pair of thieves, and getting their snapshot in the newspaper for discovering the body of a murdered lady from a prominent family. But then, that comes in later in the chapter.

The Artificer’s Angels, chapter thirteen sample (audio)

pre-nanowrimo snippet– the barn raising

Still practicing Leo– I wanted to see how he got along with his father, while I was at it.

While the four Soarin brothers danced to fiddle music and neighbors in dirty work clothes helped themselves to the food laid out on the baled hay, Leo had taken refuge in the loft above the barn proper. He could see everything from there– Merrily was laughing and clapping beside her niece, Mathew’s eldest son restrained a small herd of children while his youngest sneaked extra helpings of cherry pie. The barn vibrated with the beat of men and women clapping and stomping their feet in time to the fiddle. Noisy, dirty, enthusiastic farmers, unlike anything Leo had ever grown up with. He found himself partial to them… not their noise, or the hours they kept, or the distance from any real civilization, of course. That wouldn’t do. But there was something there, a common bond between them.

Leo didn’t see his father on the floor. He noticed this a moment before Maxwell marched up the steps, still wearing his immaculate blacks, somehow still free from dust and straw. “I see you’ve found the best place in the barn,” Maxwell said. He’d meant, of course, that the loft was as far away as they could get from the party without leaving.

Leo shrugged and glanced down at Merrily. Maybe now, or when the music died down a little. Or maybe it would be better after. But would she be tired after? She was in a good mood, but she had that niece-friend Nancy with her now, and she got to see him more than most of her extended family. He glanced up at his father. Maxwell raised an eyebrow.

“I can’t talk to her,” Leo blurted out.

“It’s a blessing. She’ll try to make you one of them,” Maxwell said.

“I don’t know if I can do the dances.”

“You, out on the floor with that lot?”

“What if I ask and she says no?”

Maxwell took a look at the girls from over the rail. Merrily with her brown skin and nappy dreadlocks was plainly visible, still in that yellow dress. Did she own any other clothes, Maxwell wondered. All Maxwell could see of Nancy was her long auburn braid, but from what he recalled she was a lot better looking. “Your mother was a pain in the ass, Leo. If you must shackle yourselves to one of them, at least try to pick a handsome girl.”

Leo didn’t even know why he was telling his father this. “Miss Soarin is the most wonderful lady that I have ever met. I don’t care what she looks like.”

As if on cue, the violin’s piece cut off and the boys began whooping. Leo turned and headed down to the ground, as if he’d only sought a quiet word with his father, aware that Maxwell was probably still looking at him with some sort of disgust. It served him right, though, for saying that about mother… but the barn was smaller than Leo had thought, and abruptly he found himself face-to-face with Merrily again. Nancy smiled at him, then cut off mid-conversation. Merrily looked at Leo, waiting, expectant.

Leo opened his mouth. “Er.”

Nancy giggled.

“You’re gonna ask me to dance,” Merrily said.

“I am?” Leo asked. He was? Was that why he came down?

“You are.” She grabbed his wrist and dragged him to the makeshift dance floor. Leo’s feet hardly kept up, stumbling after her. He looked back, most likely from some latent instinct to seek shelter in a moment of terror. He caught sight of his father instead, leaning on the rail above them. The artificer mouthed, ‘I told you so’.

Why did he keep doing this to himself? Why?

the artist

A full week after I promised myself that I would finish the chapter, write a synopsis, and send them to the artist, I’ve finally done it. She’s still interested, but a little busy right now and should send her thoughts and some rough sketch ideas to me in the next month.

*does the happy artist-dance*