I guess it's been a whole week since my last Camp NaNo report; been busy with author profiles and book reviews and of course the reveal of the amazing cover art for Beneath the Canyons, Book 1 of Daughter of the Wildings. Anyway, progress is being made; I'm working steadily through the last major revision of The Lost Book of Anggird, still hoping for an October release date, and the first major revision of Sarya's Song. Hoping to get that out to the test readers in, hmm, October or November? Sooner would be nice, but don't know if that's doable.
Here's the report on this week's Camp NaNoWriMo production (I'm writing Book 4 of Daughter of the Wildings):
7/6 - 1369 words; 8609/30,000
7/7 - day off
7/8 - 1475 words; 10,084/30,000
7/9 - 1523 words; 11,604/30,000
7/10 - 1741 words; 13,321/30,000
7/11 - 1712 words; 15,033/30,000
7/12 - 1888 words; 16,921/30,000
7/13 - 1328 words; 18,249/30,000
Silas quote of the week (being taunted by some very offensive people who accuse him of cowardice because he says he isn't big on killing people):
"I don't like killing people, because I've usually got better things to do," Silas said. "But it happens I'm bored right now."
And now, time to get back to work.
Taking a break from the character interviews and author spotlights and book reviews just to do a quick update on what's going on in Kyra-land.
I'm doing Camp NaNoWriMo again this month, writing Book 4 of Daughter of the Wildings. Having tons of fun with it; I just love Silas and Lainie, it's always fun to dive into a new book with them. (In fact, once the series is ended, I don't think I'm going to be able to let them go!) The rest of the series story arc is developing nicely, and I can mostly see my way through to the end. This book involves a cattle drive, which is something I previously knew nothing about, so it's been fun researching it. Two of the resources I'm using are The Log of a Cowboy, by Andy Adams, who was a real working trail cowboy in the 1880s, and the blog Wild West History, particularly the linked post on daily life on an old west cattle drive.
Here's my daily progress so far:
Day 1: 1266 words, 1266/30,000
Day 2: 1563 words, 2829/30,000
Day 3: 1347 words, 4176/30,000
Day 4: 1459 words, 5635/30,000
Day 5: 1606 words, 7240/30,000
The novels in this series have been fairly short so far, novella-length, but I tend to "write short" in my first drafts and expect they'll get considerably longer in revision.
The Lost Book of Anggird is undergoing its final big revision, with line-editing and proofreading to follow. I'm hopefully looking at an October release. Sarya's Song is in the initial revision phase. So far I'm very encouraged; it really isn't as bad as I was afraid it would be. Looking at, hmm, early next year for that to come out.
I'm also working on proofreading the proof copy of the paperback version of Chosen of Azara, and will put up buy links once I approve it and it becomes available for purchase. Just a reminder, for a limited time you can read Chosen of Azara for free, serial-style, right here on the site!
And finally, July 1-31 is the Summer/Winter Sale at Smashwords! During this month, you can get Urdaisunia and Chosen of Azara for 50% off! Just follow the links and use coupon code SSW50 at checkout.
Chosen of Azara is on the next-to-last proofreading pass. Hoping to finish that today - I'm starting on p. 120 of 197 pages (of my computer printout). It's going to be kind of a push, which means I need to get off the Interwebs real quick here and get to work. When this is done, I'll load it onto my Kindle for one more quick proofread, and then it's format time! Urdaisunia took me two weeks to format, but I learned a lot in the process about what not to do and what to do to make it go faster. This time I'm hoping it'll only take me a week (or even less, hopefully). At this time, I'm aiming for a June 27 release date.
After that, I'll start the final revision rounds on The Lost Book of Anggird. I got some great feedback from my test readers, lots of love for the book plus some great suggestions on what I can do to make it even better. And I've thought of one or two cool things to put it, too.
At the same time, I'll also be starting the initial major revision of Sarya's Song. (I've got Design by Katt, who did the cover image for Chosen of Azara, on tap to do a luciously dark and romantic cover for that book too. Yay!)
And, since that's not enough to keep me out of trouble, I'll be writing Book 4 of Daughter of the Wildings during July Camp NaNo. We're going on a cattle drive!
Finally, I want to give a shout-out to this week's Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia, and Romance Writers and Reviewers featured author, R. Rose! And to last week's (I know I got him on the front page, but don't remember if I mentioned him in the blog), W.H. Cann!
Had a strong finish for Camp NaNo:
4/27 1013 words
4/29 3615 words
I passed my word count goal, and finished the draft of Book 3 of Daughter of the Wildings! There were some very interesting developments in this book, lots to play off of for Book 4. Not sure when I'll start writing that one; I may wait for Camp NaNo in July, so I can spend May and June concentrating on getting Chosen of Azara out and doing the next round of work on The Lost Book of Anggird.
In other news, I'm very excited to have been chosen as this week's Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia, and Romance Writers and Reviewers group featured author! I'll have the opportunity to get some more reviews for Urdaisunia, and to be featured on other authors' blogs as well as being mentioned on Facebook pages and Twitters. Every week, those who help out the week's featured author are placed into a drawing, and the next week's featured author is chosen. It's been fun getting to know and help out some fellow independent authors, and I'm so excited to be getting a turn. Watch my blog and the front page of my site for news about where I'm being featured! For starters, W.H. Cann has been kind enough to feature my book and bio on his blog. Go check it out, and while you're at it, take a look at his "Guardians" series.
Good writing days yesterday and today. Here's the numbers:
4/25 1568 words
4/26 2010 words
So close! Will meet my word count goal tomorrow; may or may not finish the story. I thought It was finished a couple thousand words ago and I was just winding down (with three thousand words still to go! yikes!) but so far I've added two serious life complications for Silas and Lainie and a Wait, what? Keeping things interesting!
The revision of Chosen of Azara continues, with major surgery to give one of the primary supporting characters a personality transplant. Probably looking at a June release for that one. The next stage of revision of The Lost Book of Anggird will begin as soon as I'm done writing my Camp NaNo novel. Projected release date for that is probably Octoberish. And Sarya and Adan from Sarya's Song (seriously need to think of a better title for that) have started knocking on my brain, asking if it's their turn yet. As soon as Chosen of Azara is out, major revision on the (very rough) first draft of Sarya's Song will begin. I'd love a 2013 release for that one, but it might not happen until early 2014.
One of the short-short stories I wrote in March is now edited and posted. Paint It Black is about an artist who is paralyzed by her fear of the dark. It's maybe a little strange. And yes, I know that's the title of a Rolling Stones song. You can't copyright titles, and it's also the name of a band and a novel. This story originally had a different title that came from the prompt I used to write it, but as I wrote and edited, I kept thinking that Paint It Black would be the perfect title. So I changed it. Also, that song would make great background music while you read the story. It's free to read on the site until I have enough other stories for another collection (with these short-shorts, I'll probably put five in a collection), at which time it'll come down and go up for sale on Amazon in the KDP Select program.
Today my Camp NaNo Cabin held a word war, so I did extra writing, 2,532 words, to bring my total to 25,879/30,000. Poor Silas is having a very very bad day, but it might start to get better soon.
According to my online banking stuff, my first payout from Amazon, for February sales, is pending. It isn't a lot - we're talking a large (not extra-large) pizza with pepperoni, green peppers, and extra cheese. Maybe black olives. (Although everything I make for the time being is going straight into the cover art fund for the Daughter of the Wildings series, not for pizza.) But it's money that I earned with my writing! Which is seriously cool. It's something that for a long time I thought would never happen. I knew that conventional publishing just wasn't something I wanted to deal with, so I figured I would just never be a professional writer. But now, thanks to Amazon and Kindle and ebooks and print-on-demand and serious (not vanity) self-publishing, I am a pro :-D
I won't be getting another payout for a few months, at least - you have to accumulate a minimum amount in your account both at Amazon and at Smashwords. But that's ok. I know I'm just a little baby self-pubbing author just starting out, and I'm in it for the long term, with a two-year starter plan.
But I'm still getting a real kick out of this first payday :-D
Camp NaNo report, Day 23:
My word counter was being wonky, and I'm taking my total from the Camp NaNo Official Word Counter today, so I'm not sure exactly how many words I wrote yesterday and today. But right now I'm at 23,347/30,000 words.
Finally, here's a shoutout to this week's featured author at the Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia, and Romance Writers and Reviewers group, Jennifer Howard!
The CFS (another post for another time) has really been dragging me down the last few days, so it's been slow and painful. But progress is still happening.
4/17 1016 words
4/18 tough day, lost cause
4/19 1533 words
4/20 1411 words
total: 20,789/30,000 words
The revision of Chosen of Azara is coming right along too. It's been tough this week, then I finally realized what was messing everything up: the main secondary character in the Lucie story arc needs a complete personality transplant. The tense relationships between this character and the two main characters is one of the primary conflicts in that section of the book, and it just wasn't happening. I've had a hard time pinning down this character, but I think I've finally got it figured out. I'm also rearranging some of the major scenes at the very end of the book, so once that's done I'll print out the Lucie section and go to work on fixing up that character. I don't want to rush things; I want to get it right, so this most likely isn't going to be a May release; I'm hoping for June, if all goes well once this major surgery is done.
Finally, I want to announce that a friend of mine who's a very talented artist has opened an etsy shop: Motley Apricot Paintworks. Check it out for fabulous artwork, home decor, hand-painted wooden jewelry, and other wonderfully decorative and useful items.
Last time on the Breakfast Challenge, we looked at Professor Roric Rossony from The Lost Book of Anggird. Today we'll see what breakfast is like for the characters in Urdaisunia.
In short, not nearly as luxurious. At one time, the land of Urdaisunia was an agricultural oasis, the Urdaisunians having developed various advanced agricultural techniques including an extensive irrigation system. But now drought and war have put an end to that, and food is in perilously short supply.
The staple foods in the villages along the riverbanks, including Rashali's home village Moon Bend, are lentils and barley (mostly from stores from previous years' crops, since the harvests have been getting worse every year), root vegetables and greens that are native to the desert (because of the water shortage, vegetable gardens can no longer be grown), goat's milk, and chicken eggs. The river villagers' main source of animal protein was always fish, but with the drying up of the rivers, that major component of their diet has disappeared. Every once in a while, the village will butcher a spare goat and eat a small portion of the meat spit-roasted or stewed, but most of it is cured and dried. Goat jerky, basically. The same with chickens: they're more valuable for their eggs than for their meat, but every once in a while a hen too old to lay or a spare rooster will be killed and eaten.
With food in such short supply, the river villagers generally only eat one meal a day. They postpone that one meal as late in the day as they can, so they won't be too hungry to sleep at bedtime. Food supplies are commonly-shared, so food preparation and eating are generally communal activities. In spite of the shortages, the villagers are generous with those who have even less, such as travelers who have eaten their own provisions. They believe it's an offense to the gods to withold even what little they have been given by the favor of the gods.
When Rashali finds herself in unexpectedly comfortable circumstances in the capital city Zir, she is served a meal consisting of grilled fish (the two rivers have been dammed up at Zir, so fish is still available), soft cheese, cold cooked barley dressed with olive oil and herbs, fresh greens, figs, and almond cakes. This is more food than she sees in a week, and she feels guilty at the abundance, thinking of how hungry the people back home in Moon Bend are, but she eats as much of it as she can so as not to offend the gods and the person who provided the meal by wasting it. This is a supper; a breakfast in this situation would consist of cooked barley and/or lentils topped with goat-milk yogurt, barley bread, soft cheese, and figs or grapes. Two large meals a day are served here, one in late morning and the other late in the afternoon. Meals are eaten privately or in a formal family setting.
In another part of the book, Rashali is in an exceptionally well-run rebel camp with good supply lines, including water supplies. Three meals a day are served here, because the days start early and end late and include a lot of military training and other hard work. A typical meal is lentil stew topped with goat-milk yogurt, and the camp also stores hard-baked cakes of barley and lentils.
In Kubiz, the great harbor city, fish is a lot more abundant, of course. Fish stew or grilled fish are eaten at nearly every meal, and Kubiz still has enough food supplies that anyone who can afford it can eat three meals a day. Kubiz is also a very cosmopolitan city, so the food has a lot of international influences, including stir-fry and kebabs. Candy is popular, with makers of almond-paste and honey sweets being common.
I used food in Urdaisunia as a close reflection of the different circumstances and settings the characters find themselves in. In some ways, Urdaisunia is a story of survival, both of individuals and of nations, and food is essential to survival. It was also interesting to do some research into what kinds of food would have been available to the ancient Sumerians. In an earlier version of the book I had the Urdaisunians eating lots of rice, until it occurred to me (duh) that rice cultivation takes a lot of water. Way more water than was ever available. So, goodbye rice, hello barley. I like barley, as it happens, and I also like lentils. I don't think I'd like them as much if that was most of what I had to eat, though.
Camp NaNo report:
4/15 1801 words
4/16 1680 words
Finally, here's a shout-out to Sharon Stevenson, this week's featured writer at the Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia and Romance Writers and Reviewers group on Goodreads!
So, here's a fun thing. Camille LaGuire issued a challenge on her blog: write about your characters at breakfast. (Or, for readers, your favorite characters at breakfast.) She starts off with a post about her young gunslinger couple, Mick and Casey, and what breakfast is like for them. I imagine that breakfast for Silas and Lainie, from Daughter of the Wildings, is probably pretty much the same.
The main character that came to my mind when I read this challenge is Professor Roric Rossony from The Lost Book of Anggird. The Professor has some interesting eating habits, and breakfast plays an important part in the first section of the book. Here's one of my favorite scenes (please remember that this is not the final version; all mistakes and bad writing will be corrected by the time this is ready for release):
(The setup: Professor Rossony and his newly-hired assistant, Perarre, have been at Morning Lecture, a quasi-worship service, and have just arrived at his office/apartment to begin the day's work.)
When they reached the Professor’s third-floor apartment, the Professor asked, “Will you join me for breakfast, Miss Tabrano?”
Professors in this land (the Vorunne Dominion) are a privileged class, and Professor Rossony is one of the elite of the elite. As part of his compensation for his work, he is provided with the best of everything in living quarters and food. This is entirely different from what Perarre is used to, as an Assistant at the University. Her position is roughly equivalent to a post-grad assistantship or research position, which doesn't quite come with the same status and compensation as that of a full and widely-renowned professor. So she's glad to join him for breakfast even if it does mean getting grilled at the same time over what was said during Lecture!
Tea, pastries, and fruit appear in this meal; later on, when Perarre has been consistently in the habit of eating breakfast with the Professor for some time, the meal expands to include bacon and eggs, bread rolls, and even oranges. The Vorunne Dominion includes areas that have the right climate for growing citrus, but because of the limited growing season and the costs in shipping them, oranges are still something of a luxury item. However, nothing is too good or too expensive for one of the Dominion's most renowed Professors.
Professor Rossony is also notable for his extremely fastidious habits (notice the eating the apple with a knife and fork; he eats bacon the same way, too). He has good reasons for having such habits; they're his way of coping with what is later revealed to be a difficult and chaotic childhood and adolescence along with other challenges that he faces. He seeks to maintain absolute control in whatever areas of his life he can to compensate for devastating things that were/are out of his control.
I like the opportunities this scene provided for some interplay between the Professor and Perarre as they get to know each other a little better, how she's chagrined to notice the difference between his fastidious manners and her own more careless style of eating (this contrast carries over to many other areas besides eating), and the fact that the Professor feels no hesitancy to push her, a female, to stretch herself intellectually, and that he offers her the respect of telling her she doesn't have to agree with him. Later on, breakfast becomes an opportunity for Perarre to show her displeasure with some of the Professor's behavior, by declining to join him at the table, and for him to offer an apology (buttering a hard roll for another person can be an act of contrition).
This is just in the first part of the book. Then the Professor delves too deeply into things he shouldn't, and everything goes kablooey (literally?), and then breakfast becomes an entirely different matter, when you're on the run for your life. But it was fun to use the morning meals in the first part of the book as a chance to develop the characters, show what their lives are like at the University, and start to develop their relationship. Maybe it's just me, but I can see just a little bit of the chemistry between Perarre and the Professor starting to bubble up in the scene I quoted here.
Camp NaNo update:
On Friday and Saturday, various issues, including trying to fix a broken printer, dealing with wonky writing software, and the need to do a massive grocery shopping trip, kept my numbers down. Here's the report for the last few days:
4/11 - 1518 words
4/12 - 343 words
4/13 - 753 words
Total word count so far: 13,348/30,000
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