Tag: process

WIP snippet


Because that sentence came fully formed into my brain yesterday afternoon. No idea where it’s all going, though…

In the old days, the phoenix, the phuong hoang, was a sign of peace and prosperity to come; a sign of a just ruler under whom the land would thrive.

But those are the days of the War; of a weak child-Empress, successor to a weak Emperor; the days of burning planets and last-ditch defenses; of moons as red as blood and stars as dark as bile.


(for those who are wondering: I am indeed slowly working on the novel, but right now my brain is a bit frazzled and it’s hard to muster the energy for something long…)



From last week’s wordage, for all my write-a-thon supporters:

“Come on,” Isabelle said, pushing a small stone door in an unremarkable corridor; and Philippe, with a sigh, followed her. 

To stop, awestruck, at what lay inside.

It had been a church, once. You could still see the columns and the beginning of the vaulted ceiling, a first row of arches gracefully bending towards each other; and the remnants of wooden benches, burnt where they had stood. The stained-glass windows were broken, or absent; but the gaze was still drawn, unerringly, down the nave and to the altar at the other end–or where the altar would have been, if it hadn’t been turned to rubble long ago, and the only things remaining were the wrecks of three statues–the centre one was least damaged, and had probably been a Virgin Mary carrying the corpse of Jesus.

No, not a church. A cathedral, like the pink-hued edifice the French had built in Saigon–he could still feel the fervour of its builders, of its worshippers, swirling in the air: a bare shadow of what it had once been, but so potent, so strong, so huge.

“Notre-Dame,” Philippe whispered. 



Snippet:  He was tall and thin, with horned-rimmed, rectangular glasses–his particular affectation, since all Fallen had perfect eyesight–his hair dark, save for a touch of grey at the temple; his hands with the thin, long fingers of a pianist, even though the instruments he played on did not make music–unless one counted cries of pain and ecstasy as music (Madeleine knew he did). 

Things researched: not much. Wrote 1.3k words in snatches between appointments.

Plot direction of the day: wondering how best to order three scenes.



Snippet: The Great Market had used to be held in the same place week after week–Les Halles, the belly of the city, the exuberant display of abundance of an empire that had believed itself immortal–against all the evidence of history. But Les Halles had been destroyed in the War; and the fragile magical balance that had followed led to an arrangement where the Great Market rotated between the major Houses. 

Things researched: geography of Ile de La Cite. Zola’s life, of all things.

Plot direction of the day: drastic alterations to outline for chapter. Wondering how to cram in extra body count.

Snippet from the WIP


As you might remember, I’m taking part in the Clarion West Write-a-thon, and people actually went and sponsored me (!). So, accordingly, here’s a snippet from the novel-in-progress as a thanks to them (the first scene, in fact). Usual disclaimers apply–this is my alpha draft (aka I’ve revised it minimally so it looks good on the page but I’ve not taken a hatchet to it), it’s very much a work in progress and I’m not sure how much I’ll keep, etc.

Enjoy! (and if you want to sponsor me, it’s over there)

It is almost pleasant, at first, to be Falling.
The harsh, unwavering light of the City recedes, leaving you in shadow–leaving only memories of relief, of a blessed coolness seizing your limbs–nothing has turned yet into longing, into bitterness, into the cold that will never cease, not even in the heat of summer.
The wind, at first, is pleasant too–softly whistling past you, so that you almost don’t notice when its cold fingers tear away at your wings–feathers drift off, blinking like forgotten jewels, catching fire and burning like a thousand falling stars in the atmosphere. Some part of you knows you should be experiencing pain–that the flow of crimson blood, the lancing pain in your back, the burning sensation that seems to have got hold of your whole body–they’re all yours, they’re all irreversible and deadly. But you feel nothing–no exhilaration, no relief; not the burning agony of your wounds. Nothing; but that sense of unnamed relief–that knowledge you won’t have to face the judges in the City again.
Nothing, until the ground comes up to meet you, and you land in a jumble of pain and shattered bones–and the scream you didn’t think you had in you scrapes your throat raw as you let it out–like the first, shocked breath of a baby newborn into a universe of suffering.

Meanwhile, I’ll be off researching the history of Ile de la Cité, and renewing my subscription to the Paris Library network…

Clarion West Write-a-thon


So, in the interest of actually being held accountable for stuff…

I’ve joined the Clarion West write-a-thon: my goal is to have 50,000 words of my (untitled) novel set in a post-apocalyptic, colonial Paris completed by August 2 (ok, maybe by end of August). Can’t say much about it (I *hate* talking about what I’m writing while I’m writing it), but it’s got fallen angels, Vietnamese dragons and immortals, and plenty of magical fireworks.

You can see a snippet from the WIP on my write-a-thon page–as well as information for donating, and links to all the pages by fabulous other writers such as Rochita Loenen Ruiz, Stephanie Burgis and Floris M Kleijne.

Can has first draft


3000 words, tentatively titled “The Moon over Red Trees”. Major cleanup needed, but I have draft!

Night over The Red Trees. Clarisse rises from the bed, casting a glance at the moon that slowly seeps into the room. Raoul, asleep in his bed with his arms outstretched towards her, groans and shifts, looking for her, but he does not wake up. He used to, when she first came here months ago; but he soon got used to her wandering through the house every night–and tonight of all nights, he knows she won’t be able to sleep.

Within her, the magic pulses–a steady beat like the waves of the sea, like the call of a drum–but she’s been listening to it for months, and she knows this night is its last night. After all, nothing lasts forever, not even the spirits’ gifts.

Tonight is a time for endings. 


The field guide to my annotations in a draft


I tend not to stop when I’m writing a draft, unless it’s for something really vital (for instance, the precise headdress that someone is wearing is something I can always work out later; the layout of the rooms where the nobleman was murdered and that my characters are searching is rather more vital to the way the scene plays out, and requires me to have actually done the research/invention/work). Accordingly, my first (and subsequent) drafts are peppered with little notes to myself, that I generally smooth out in the next revision.

I stole a leaf from a friend’s book, who marks such places in his manuscripts with @; except I upgraded to square brackets because 1. there’s less risk of me accidentally using them in anything, and 2. Square brackets enable me to see the beginning and the end of my own annotations.

(cut for length) Continue reading →

Snippet from WIP


… because I need to be held accountable for actual word count…

“What is it?” Xavier asked.
Selene raised a hand to silence him–seeking the origin of the magic. Young, and desperate; she’d almost forgotten how that tasted, how bittersweet it all was, that mixture of bewilderment and pain that came just after the Fall.
West–in the ruined blocks that had been the Great Department Stores and the Great Hotels before the war, their names like a litany of what had been lost, the Printemps, the Galeries Lafayette, the Hotel Scribe, the Grand Hotel… West–where still stood the House of Lazarus. And, if she could feel it, so could every other Fallen in the vicinity; and perhaps their pet mages, too, if they had the right artefacts or were pumped-up on dust.
Needless to say, Selene did not approve of dust.
“We don’t have much time,” she told Xavier. “He’s in trouble.”

List of articles hosted in other places


Articles on Language and Culture:
“On Worldbuilding, Patchwork and Filing Off Serial Numbers”, at Khaalidah’s blog
“Drawing Inspiration from Further Afield: fantasy set in non-Western Cultures”, at Aidan Moher’s blog
“Narrative, Resonance and Genre” at SFnovelists
“Traduttore, Traditore: translations, languages and cultures” at SFnovelists

Articles on Science, Religion and Plausibility
“Scientific plausibility”, guest post at Gareth L. Powell’s blog
“Atheism, Proselytism and other Isms”, guest post at Futurismic

Articles on Writing
“On the Persistence of Rules”, guest post at The Parking Lot Confessional
“Plotting your Short Stories”, guest post at Janice Hardy’s The Other Side of the Story