Friday, June 30, 2006

Oh, dear.

In our house we have a strong rule against Child turning around and sitting sideways or backwards in her chair at creates grubby chairs, not to mention distraction from food.

However, Child is a slow eater like most preschoolers, and there are many times when I go and clean up the kitchen (behind her) while she's still finishing up. She has trouble "remembering" this rule.

Last night I had to tell her (again) to turn around and finish up. "You know the rule," I said in my best Mommy-voice.

"But Mommy," she responded, without a beat. "I just had to turn and look at you. You look so nice in that shirt." {blink, blink}

OMG, I am SO in trouble. She's 4. If she already knows how to distract with compliments....

Medieval Word of the Day: forstraught: Distracted.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Follow the Bouncing Paragraph

Poking around in my old files yesterday made me think of a post on editing, and how one task--the introduction and description of a character--can change from version to version. Come along as I Follow the Paragraph (okay, sometimes paragraphs) introducing Thomas, the love interest at the beginning of the story...

From TMT January 15, 2003 (as far back as I have here). The mss was then called TRUST.
(oh, should say that all excerpts, as ghastly as some of them are, are copyright Susan Adrian, 2006, All Rights Reserved)

--I studied him, trying to be objective. He was a big man, long of leg and tall in stature, with a wide chest. I thought he looked a bit like a fox, with dark red hair curling back from a high forehead, and a red beard surrounding a soft mouth. His nose was long and narrow, but any sharpness this brought to his face was tempered by deep brown eyes with thick eyelashes. Those eyes locked on mine again now, and he nodded almost imperceptibly.--

Ack. This sounds awfully cliched now, especially the sharpness "tempered by deep brown eyes". Yuck. It also wasn't quite what I wanted, anyway...the wide chest was wrong. And looking at it now, that's a boring paragraph, with just description and no action other than studying and eyes locking {gag}.

From TMT November 2003, so 10 months later:

--"Katherine!" Thomas looked up and smiled, his teeth white through the russet beard. I fumbled with the ties of my cloak, my cold, numb fingers slipping against the knot. Finally it broke free and I pulled off the cloak, hung the dripping mess on a peg, and tripped my way over to Thomas. He folded his arm around my shoulder. "God's blood, but you're wet!" he exclaimed, pulling back.

"I know! It is truly the flood, I think." I ran a hand through my damp, tangled hair, looking at him. Even in the weak gray light from the window his hair and beard were a fire of red, his dark eyes gleaming. "Next we shall look out the window and see a line of animals, two by two."--

I took it out! This is now the only description I have in the whole scene. Now all we know is that he has white teeth and a red beard and hair. Hmmm. Action is better, though I now have an overtly self-aware line (running a hand through my damp, tangled hair) that's out of place. I think I need to put more description back.

From TMT February 2004 (3 months later):

--"Katherine!" He smiled, his teeth white through the russet beard. I always thought he looked a bit like a fox, with his long, narrow nose, dark red hair curling back from a high forehead, and short red beard. I fumbled with the ties of my cloak, my cold, numb fingers slipping against the knot. Finally it broke free and I pulled off the cloak, hung the dripping mess on a peg by the door, and tripped my way to Thomas. He draped an arm over my shoulder. "God's blood, but you're wet!" he exclaimed, pulling back and brushing a bit at his sleeve.

"I know! It is truly the flood, I think." I ran a hand through my damp, tangled hair, just looking at him. Even in the weak gray light from the window his hair and beard were a fire of red, his dark eyes gleaming. "Next we shall look out the window and see a line of animals, two by two."--

Interesting. I added the fox part back in--this actually becomes a recurring metaphor in the book. I've added in the "brushing a bit at his sleeve" to begin to show his fussiness about his appearance. Kept all that last paragraph, though.

By July 2004 I'd taken out the self-aware line (made it "I ran a hand over my damp skirt", which is better) but left the rest the same.

Fast-forward to October 2005:

--"Katherine!" He smiled, his teeth white through the russet beard. I always thought he looked a bit like a fox, with a long, narrow nose, dark red hair curling back from a high forehead, and short red beard. I fumbled with the ties of my cloak, my cold, numb fingers slipping against the knot. Finally it broke free and I hung the dripping mess on a peg by the door, tripping my way to Thomas. He draped an arm over my shoulder.

"God's blood, but you're wet!" He pulled back and brushed at his sleeve.

"Aye, it is truly the flood, I think. Next we shall look out the window and see a line of animals, two by two." I tugged on the veil and ran a hand over my damp skirt, just looking at him. Even in the weak light from the window his hair and beard were a fire of red, his dark eyes gleaming.--

Tired of it yet? Welcome to editing. I wonder how many times I've read this paragraph. Anyway, here I broke out his speech and movement, took out the "bit" from him brushing his sleeve, and changed Katherine's "I know" to "Aye", which she consistently uses. Oh, and finally went back and researched head coverings, and added a veil.

One more. Here's the "final" version. I finally realized it would be better to move that fox line to the part where she's looking at him. You'll see some of the dialogue has changed too, and the actions are a bit different.

--Thomas stood alone by the window, leaning over a table covered with sheets of parchment. He set down his quill and smiled, his teeth white through the russet beard.

"Katherine, my pet!"

I fumbled with the ties of my cloak, my cold, numb fingers slipping against the knot until it broke free. I hung the dripping mess on a peg by the door, and tripped my way to Thomas. He draped an arm over my shoulder.

"God's blood, but you're wet!" He pulled back, nose crinkling, and brushed at his sleeve.

"Aye, it is truly the flood," I answered, with a smile. "I expect if you look out the window you shall see a line of animals, two by two."

I tugged the veil into place and ran a hand over my damp skirt, just looking at him. Even in the weak light from the window his hair and beard were a fire of red, his dark eyes gleaming. I always thought he looked like a fox, with his long, narrow nose, dark red hair curling back from a high forehead, and clipped red beard.--

That's just one description. Multiply that times...oh, 75,000 (there are 95,000 words) and you'll understand, if you didn't already, exactly why it takes so long to write a book.

Medieval Word of the Day: pythonissa:
Often treated as proper name of the witch of Endor. (yeah, baby. I've got to get the witch of Endor in Book 2.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Begin at the Beginning

Let's see, where to begin?

That's the question all novelists face. The struggle with the beginning is so common as to be universal. Where does the story start? How do you make it gripping, unique, and yet reveal character?

Agents and readers tell us over and over that there has to be a hook, that you have to grab the reader by the throat and hold them there (Agent Kristin is blogging about it again today). Oftentimes the first 5 pages is the only part of your mss an agent will had better be strong and captivating. But it also has to fit with the rest of your novel. What's the point of having an action-packed opening scene, if the next one drops to gathering flowers?

I had the usual problems with the opening of TMT. The first version, nigh on 6 years ago, started with (God, I can't believe I'm admitting this) my MC looking in the mirror. That's right, the original let-me-look-in-the-mirror-and-describe-myself. {groan} My early critiquers were very kind, but let's just say I learned. I re-worked.

The second major version started with my MC alone in the house, then sneaking out to see her love interest. Some conflict, I thought, but also some chance to establish the medieval setting and character. It was better.

Diana Gabaldon read that version in 2004, and gave me some valuable advice. "It's good," she said, " reads more like a second scene to me. Why don't you start with more immediate, direct conflict? Maybe an argument?" The lightbulb went on over my head. An argument! Better, a real confrontation! The central conflict in the beginning is between my MC and her father, over the man. Why not let them go at it, right away? It would establish the characters' positions and conflicts, throw in some medieval mindset...and it would be interesting. The second scene is where she sneaks out, which suddenly has deeper meaning because the reader understands how much is at stake. (Thank you, Diana!)

I think I've got it now: the tension, the hook, the characters. The "right place". When I brought it to Surrey last year, I showed it to Anne Perry, nervously. Would she say the same thing as Diana? Would it still not be enough? She read the 3 pages in silence, while I fidgeted. Finally she looked up. "What's wrong with this?" she said. "You just need an agent."

Whew. Begin at the beginning.

Medieval Word of the Day: fruiteress: A female seller of fruit.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Status Update

This will just be a quick news update, as I'm spending all my free time today putting together and sending out queries.

That's right, it's out there!

I'm sending queries to several agents, the absolute best I could find. Now it's just going to have to rely on the words.

I'll try to have a craft post tomorrow....

Medieval Word of the Day: jane: A small silver coin of Genoa introduced into England towards the end of the 14th century: cf. GALLEY-HALFPENNY.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Montana's best side

When I demanded a subject for today's blog (hey, sometimes I just come up blank on Mondays), Kreekie said "how about summer in Montana?"

Summer in Montana. Ahhhhh.

Summer in Montana is:

--our payment for living through months of snow and below-zero temperatures.

--green, green, green. Flowers are blooming everywhere. We have fields of wildflowers up in the mountains that look like this:

--filled with delicious smells. It was in summer that we first realized that "mountain-fresh scent" is a REAL smell, and not made up.

--the perfect temperature. High of 82 today, with a light breeze. Tons of sun.

--adventurous. Because we have such a short good-weather period, everyone runs out and does things every weekend. Day trips to waterslides, camping in the forest, barbecues by the river, fishing, you name it.

--in my town, firework season. Firework stands open 10 days before the 4th and stay open for a week after. During that period nearly everyone in town buys fireworks; many set them off EVERY NIGHT. These aren't your garden-variety sparklers, either. Here you can buy professional-style rockets, bursts, everything, for your home. The 3rd of July (our fireworks night) is an amazing experience.

--a little harder to write in than winter. See "adventurous" above and "the perfect temperature". There is definitely a pull to go for a walk during lunch instead of sitting at my desk with the door closed, looking out only my tiny little window. I'll admit I've been going out maybe one more day a week than usual. But then as I'm "between books" while I do the synopses and queries, I'm cutting myself a little slack too...

What is summer like in your part of the world?

Medieval Word of the Day: lainer: A lace, strap, thong, lash.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Question for You!

I'm afraid I'm feeling lazy today, so I'm going to do two easy bloggy things: a question for y'all, and a snippet.

But wait, first I'm going to go get a donut.

There, back with donut in hand. Lazy AND unhealthy...but happy. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Question first. I'm interested in finding out how many of y'all read (or did read) historical fiction...and what you liked. This is both occupational research and a little scrounging for more to add to the (already toppling, am I insane?) TBR pile. So please, even those of you who don't normally post comments, post with 3 historical fiction titles you really enjoyed. Doesn't matter how long ago you read them, either.

Hmmm, and now a snippet. It's getting harder to find something small that I haven't posted before, that's not a spoiler. I'm at least pretty sure I haven't posted this one here:

From The Murderess's Tale, Copyright Susan Adrian, 2006

I was dreaming of dragons. A golden dragon, with red eyes and breath of deadly fire, was chasing me through the countryside, laying waste to all we passed. I ran through a hollow, gasping for breath, searching for a place to hide. But he could see everywhere, everything. I was trapped.

I bolted upright, my hands clenching the silken sheets. It was night; the crackling fire was the only light, except for the cold silver of stars I could just glimpse through the window slits.

He had not come.

I was still alone, still safe. I wrapped the coverlet tighter around me. Still safe, for now.

I rubbed my eyes, wondering what had woken me. It seemed there had been a noise…it came again. Heavy footsteps on the floor above. A bang. Shouts. What was passing up there?

Well, if it kept the Duke from my chamber I was glad of it, whatever it might be. I slipped from the bed, pulled a shawl over my shift, and padded to the little fire. The room was cool, the white stones chill against my bare feet. I knelt next to the fire, breathing in the fragrant wood-smoke and stretching my hands out to the flames.

Fire. It was always the same, no matter my own fortunes. In Eva's kitchen, St. Mary's abbey, Godwina's house, here…fire was ever-present, giving warmth, cooking food. It mattered not to the fire if I was child or woman, captive or wife. I wondered suddenly if God was the same. Constant, unchanging. But was He uncaring too? Or did He really watch over us, care for us, if we lived well? Was Juliana right, that God had already abandoned us? Even the question was heresy. I could add heresy to my list of crimes.

Medieval Word of the Day: hetefast: Firmly, securely, fast.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

More Blogginess

Thanks for the feedback yesterday! Next step is to finish polishing these and then try the 1-pager. With actual plot and resolution.

I was trying to explain to someone the other day why I like reading blogs. This person was very dismissive of blogs: "They're like graffiti on the bathroom wall," he said. "Why would you want to read someone else's ramblings?"

Why indeed? Well, I've discussed this some before. (Blog Freak) It gives me a sense of connection to others like myself. But other than that it gives me information about writing and the industry that I would otherwise have to try to find in some print form. I can learn about the newest, freshest topics in the industry and how people are reacting to them real-time. I can get a sense of how other writers work, and how they handle the challenges we all face.

And besides, at least on writers' blogs (and agents and editors too), entries are hardly EVER ramblings. They're often well-thought-out, well-crafted, and fun to read.

Oh yeah, fun. That's the real reason. They're FUN to read. (And occasionally I get great recipes.)

Medieval Word of the Day: par charite: By or for Christian love, out of charity. Chiefly in adjurations.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Synopsis Project: #1 and #2

Okay, I've done some work on these--many of you will note that #2 is familiar. It's been a successful blurb so far, so I just reworked it a little.

These aren't true synopses so much as blurbs, but I think that's okay at the sentence/paragraph level. The whole shebang will be laid out in the 1-pager and above.

So what do you think? Feedback, please!

The Murderess's Tale, by Susan Adrian

One Sentence

In 1387 England, Katherine Middleton learns too late that she trusted the wrong man—and now she must pull herself, and her family, out of a dangerous tangle.

One Paragraph

When 16-year-old Katherine Middleton catches her father in flagrante delicto in Durham Cathedral, it is not just an embarrassment; in fourteenth-century England it is a sin, and a crime. For Katherine it is both utter betrayal and a spur to do what she has yearned for: marry Thomas Rode, a charming older man. When Thomas takes Katherine to his mother in York she expects a warm welcome, a joyous wedding, and a new family to replace the one she has left behind. Instead she finds a household mired in secrets and fear. Why are the servants so afraid of Thomas’s mother? Why is Thomas so distant, continually putting off the promised wedding? Who informed the authorities of her father’s crime…and where has he gone? In this longed-for new world, she encounters black magic, an unwilling concubine, a royal child, a rogue monk or two, and—possibly—the true nature of trust, and love.

The Dread Pirate Synopsis

I was too busy yesterday to post here--which I hate, but sometimes it happens. Part of the busy-ness was secret spy stuff that I cannot yet reveal. I'll let y'all know how it develops though, if I can!

For the time being I am working rather loosely on my synopses while my readers are doing their thing.

Diana Gabaldon always says she doesn't understand why synopses are so hard for people--"just pretend you're telling the story to a friend." {sigh} It is harder than that. For me it's two things: the POV (third person present) is foreign, and the telling-not-showing is awkward. I keep wanting to put bits of the novel in there as examples, and running over space. Result: I have an awkward, kinda icky 4-page synopsis that does indeed tell the whole plot.

My task now is to write several synopses, in this order (thank you Dee-Ann for the strategy):

1-sentence synopsis
1-paragraph synopsis
1-page synopsis (which most of the agents seem to want)
2-page synopsis (a few want this)
4- to 5-page synopsis, for the rest

The hope here is that by the time I get to the 2-page synopsis I'll feel insanely free after trying to work in 1 paragraph and 1 page. We shall see.

Some of you may expect to be testers. :)

Medieval Word of the Day: keek (Scots and North): To peep; to look privily, as through a narrow aperture, or round a corner; to glance, gaze.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Not just the facts

Finally back, and the last trip was excellent, a lovely, lovely restful time. I haven't had a chance to devour a book like that in ages. (I'm reading Sara Donati's Into the Wilderness, and I can't believe I didn't read it years ago. This book is good. More when I've finished it.)

So while I was gone I asked about research, and the balance between research and imagination. For historical fiction, you have to decide somewhat early on how deep you're going to go into known facts, and how much you're going to be willing to make up.

I know more than one writer who has, IMO, gone too far over into the research realm. You've seen them too, on writer's boards: the ones who have been writing the same book for 10 years, and still aren't finished, who post questions like "How, exactly, would someone in 18th century England peel an onion? Is it the same way we would, or would there be a special tool? If there was a special tool, I'd like to track one down and get it, so I can feel it in my hands and understand how it was REALLY done..."

Hokay. When I read questions like that I have a very strong urge to post back and say "Make. It. UP. Move on to what your character is thinking and talking about while she's peeling the damn onion! What is she worrying over? What did she see that made her slip and cut her thumb with the knife?"

We're not writing treatises here, folks, or theses. We're trying to tell a STORY.

But then again you can't just make everything up, or you'll completely pull readers out of the story. You need to:

--do your basic research
--do more detailed research on things that matter to the story
--avoid anachronisms at all costs
--capture the flavor of the time, and add some special details that make the reader feel the differences (you will run across these in general and detailed research reading)
--find some good experts to read different parts over, to make sure you didn't make any huge gaffes

And (I hope) that's enough. It's all a balance. In those few moments when I've imagined my audience as the professional medieval scholar, I've scared myself silly, and I can't afford to do that.

On point #2, I absolutely adore interlibrary loan. I just a few minutes ago picked up The Premonstratensian Order in Late Medieval England by Joseph Gribben from my on-campus library, kindly loaned from the University of South Alabama. Isn't that the coolest?

Medieval Word of the Day: ribibe: An opprobrious or abusive term for an old woman.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Here I I'm gone again

Sorry for the long absence! I was physically gone, of course, except for yesterday--only mentally gone yesterday--and will be physically gone again tomorrow. Then (praise somebody) I will be back on regular routine on Monday. I looove trips, but after a while I crave that routine. I want to just sit at my desk, do work, write, and not have to think about planning outfits or outings or pit stops.

That said, this weekend should be fun! (I am nothing if not contradictory. Aren't we all, really?)

TMT is out to...counting on fingers like all good English majors...5 readers (okay, one has already finished and one is cool Mr. Archaeologist, who is only reading 5 chapters). Other than that I went back over my agent list, and narrowed the first round down to my top candidates. So depending on what the readers say, after changes are made I just (just) need to revise my synopsis and cover letter and send that puppy out. Depending on what the readers say (that's a sly lil' phrase, isn't it?).

Work is freakin' busy this morning. My dad would say that I'm running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Of course I would not say that, but I can quote it. :P

Starting Monday we should be back to our regular blog schedule. Until then, talk amongst yourselves. Topic: In historical fiction, there is a continuum between accuracy and story. Do you stick to straight historical facts, embellish here and there for story, or make most of it up? Where do you fall? Discuss.

Medieval Word of the Day: feastly: Festive, fond of feasting, jolly.

Friday, June 09, 2006


I finished the TMT revision yesterday! I made my archaeologist-inspired changes, wrapped it up, put a bow on it, and sent it out to my readers for a final read.


The odd thing is that--as when I finished the final "first" draft--there was no elation, or even sense of accomplishment. Just letdown and a queasy sort of panic.

On analyzing it, I think the panic is just normal fear of change/unknown. As long as a writer is fiddling, editing, it's safe. The WIP is not yet done, anything can still be "fixed", so it can't really be judged. And you're on known territory, in your own files. Once you write it off as done you let other people into your work, into your world. You're admitting "I thought this was good, my best." And then you have to send it out to the people who really know.

Anyway, I am ready. We'll see what my readers say, but I plan to work on the synopsis today, then when I get back from my trips, the week of June 19, I'll start sending it out to my hand-picked agents. Time to move on.

Did I say trips? Yep, I'm leaving again tonight. This time I'll be in Billings to work a convention booth; not back until Wednesday. Then I'll be here Wednesday and Thursday before I take off again for 3 days. Craziness I'm not sure I'm ready for--but hey, the book is done! Don't have to worry about that while I'm in another hotel!

Medieval Word of the Day: demerlayk: Magic, practice of occult art, jugglery.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Confession Time

ANNOUNCER (in a hearty voice): Welcome, folks! It's embarrassing fangirl confession time. That's right, the chance for you to hear the most horrifying confessions and laugh at them! Our participant today is Susan Adrian. Susan, come on up to the mic.

ME (with a shy wave): Hello.

ANNOUNCER: Susan, I understand that you have a particularly embarrassing confession today.
ME (quietly): Yes.

ANNOUNCER: Well, let's not keep those folks at home waiting. Tell us, Susan, what were you listening to today? All morning, in fact?

ME: mumble mumble mumble.

ANNOUNCER: What was that? I don't think you were speaking into the mic.

ME (whispering): Phantom of the Opera.

ANNOUNCER (bellows): PHANTOM OF THE OPERA! Ha ha ha! That's right. You were listening to it at work, weren't you?

ME: Um. Yes. With headphones.

ANNOUNCER: With headphones, so no one would know what it was! You are aware that Phantom is by Andrew Lloyd Webber, right? And many consider it trashy? Pop culture? Emotionally manipulative, with all those dramatic organ crashes?

ME (defensively): It was the original London cast recording.

ANNOUNCER (sarcastic): Oh, the original London cast recording. Which you bought. But did you not also buy the movie soundtrack? Did you? For purposes of comparison only, right?

ME: (no response)

ANNOUNCER: But here is the critical, most embarrassing question: while listening on your headphones this morning, did you SING ALONG? Did you in fact sing every word of "Notes" like the complete nerdy fangirl that you are?

So goes the internal critic in my head. But I love PTO, dammit. Something about the whole tortured, maltreated genius/gorgeous hunky savior/confused young girl triangle speaks to me. I still get shivers when the Phantom laughs. But I do wish I could combine the Phantom of the original (Michael Crawford, whom I saw in one of his last performances, TG) with the Christine of the movie (Emmy Rossum). Now that would be perfect. {sigh}

Medieval Word of the Day: culpon: A piece cut off, a cutting; a portion, strip, slice, bit, shred.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Archaeology is my friend

So I mentioned my new archaeologist contact in passing, but I don't think I ever explained. Several critical scenes in TMT take place in Beauchief Abbey, a small, now-ruined Premonstratensian abbey near Sheffield. When I first started writing about it I took lots of notes and stuffed them into a file, but there wasn't much info available. I spoke with my Premonstratensian historian about the order and its rituals, and what the abbey MIGHT have looked like--and he gave me a model floor plan of a "standard" abbey (Shap Abbey). I kinda took off from there with imagination.

While reviewing the final draft, though, I checked my notes again and found a "possible contact" name I'd never followed up on, an archaeologist at the University of Sheffield who was/is the lead of an archaeological project to excavate Beauchief. I figured I might as well contact him to check out some of my imagined details--it wouldn't hurt, right?

Wow. We made initial contact last week, but I emailed him yesterday with specific questions--and got back 17 emails with photos, captions, explanations, and maps. I am stunned with information, and absolutely thrilled. (The only niggling question is why didn't I do this before? But I easily wrestle those thoughts to the ground.)

There are many cool things about this, but here are two of the best:

1. He says the best model for the floor plan is Shap Abbey, which I was already using. Waa-haa! I have most everything pretty close; I only need to tweak a few things here and there.

2. I asked if he'd mind reading the chapters in question after I make my initial tweaks, just to make sure I didn't miss anything. His response? He'd not only be pleased to, but he said he'd take my chapters up to the abbey site and read them there, under the shadow of the tower, to "get in the proper mood." Oooooh. I love this.

Moral: Follow up on those possible connections. Particularly for historical fiction writers, those academic and real-life contacts can be invaluable. (and fun!)

Medieval Word of the Day: Lucina: In Roman mythology, the goddess who presided over childbirth, sometimes identified with Juno or with Diana; hence, a midwife.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Today I'm thinking about animals in fiction.

A long time ago we had a discussion on Books and Writers about dogs, and how every novel seemed to have a dog in it somewhere.

TMT has 2 dogs, look-alikes, which is slightly important for the plot. The second dog reminds the MC of the first, and home, thus allowing for reflection; he supplies a needed distraction to allow a conversation to take place; and he smooths over the introduction of a male MC. And at the end, the reappearance of Dog 1 emphasizes the complete circle.

The dogs also provide one of the usual "pet" effects: a softening of the MC, allowing her to show affection and care for an animal as a precursor of what she'll do for other people later. I think this is a fairly common reason to have an animal in a book, actually. With an animal, particularly a pet, you can show sides of your character that normally might be hidden. You can make them vulnerable, or human--or, with a different kind of "pet", even vicious and vengeful. You can make an extra connection to the reader.

Dog 2 came first in TMT, very very early on. In fact, Dog 2 was the first moment, in my early days of writing, when I did not control the plot. My MC was walking down a medieval street, off on her own (my) business, and suddenly there was a DOG! I had no idea at the time what had happened (Why is there a dog? I didn't plan for a dog!), but it was just the first instance of the characters taking over, for their own reasons. Usually much better than mine.

So let's try for some comments today. Is there a dog in your WIP? Or a cat? (A pet horse? An iguana?) If there is, what purpose does he/she serve?

Medieval Word of the Day: lykewake: The watch kept at night over a dead body.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Play and the Book

Whew. That was a long and busy weekend, what with the play performances and all. "Sarah, Plain and Tall" is wrapped now, and I'm glad--though I'm also very glad I did it. It was great fun for me, it stretched my long-disused acting muscles, and I think it was a good example for Child. She wrote a "play" this weekend that we're all supposed to practice tonight, and "open" tomorrow. Woo-hoo.

Anyhow, I am now back in the office, eating radishes (don't ask) and trying to catch up.

So I didn't get a chance to post this on the blog, but I actually did finish my page-by-page, line-by-line revision last week. SWEET! The next step is to go over the Beauchief Abbey scenes, compare them to the info my new archaeologist contact gave me, and then contact him again where I need more detail. I'm hoping to actually get photos or a supposed layout. Then I just have to read it one more time {sigh} to make sure it hangs together and then send it to my volunteer readers. THEN I can send the bloody thing out again.

I am so, so sick of it at this point. Argh. I want it to be done and to go away and have other people deal with it. I was at first a bit worried about this feeling, but my writer friends tell me it's a normal and healthy sign. Thank goodness it doesn't mean that it just sucks. :)

Medieval Word of the Day: lite (verb): intr. To expect, wait, delay.

(Huh. That one's changed a bit since, hasn't it?)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Fly by

Opening night went perfectly, yay us!

I'm afraid this is just an info post-and-run. I am at home today with Child, as she is off school. We just got back from her school program and potluck...picture 30 small children singing in Italian and Spanish and dancing with big sombreros on. It rocked.

Anyway, now she's taking a nap and I am seriously torn between doing the household chores that desperately need doing and taking a nap. Or having coffee. Hmmm. Laundry, kitchen, nap? Nap and then coffee? Laundry and then nap and then coffee?

You see my dilemma. And tomorrow is the weekend, so there won't be much until Monday. So have a lovely 3 days or so, and I will return, hopefully with something more pithy than laundry and naps.

Medieval Word of the Day: scurn: to shrink, flinch; take fright.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Writers' brains

I realized yet again last night that writers' brains do not work like other people's.

It was our final "preview performance" of the play before opening night, and I was sitting in the green room in full 1900s farmwoman costume, reading "Common Women : Prostitution and Sexuality in Medieval England". (Strange choice for bringing to read at a kids' play, you say? Yes, I suppose so. But they're mostly teenagers, and it's not like I'm letting them READ it.)

But one of the older cast members sits next to me, and says "How's the research coming?" He'd asked about it before, so I'd mentioned my book and all.

"Good," I say cautiously. I don't like to be all pretentious and writer-y.

"Yeah?" he asks. "Did you find any good information?"

Hmm. I look at him, considering. He seems genuinely interested, not just polite. And he did ask a follow-up question.

"Yeah, I did!" I say, allowing some of my excitement to show. "I found a quote I can use! See here?" I flip back a few pages, to a place marked with a sticky note. "It's a real medieval insult recorded in a court case. 'Any man could meddle with her for a half-penny.' Isn't that cool? I can use that somewhere!"

I look up. He's staring at me, with an expression that clearly indicates that I'm somewhere on the outer edges of the lunatic fringe. "Yeeeesss," he says. His gaze flicks up over my head, then away to the other side of the room, clearly distancing himself from crazy medieval girl. "I suppose you could."


"But it's real," I mutter to myself under my breath. "I can use that somewhere."

It was exciting, to me. It always is when I find something new I can add in, or make a connection. But really, I don't know why I bother. They just don't understand.

Medieval Word of the Day: hotfoot:
With eager or rapid pace; in hot haste; hastily.