Monday, December 23, 2013

Angels with Crossbows and Pillows That Hound People

{{otherwise known as Snippets of Story for December, all of which are taken from How It Began With the Rochesters, which will begin to undergo edits on January 1st.  HUZZAH.}}

“That’s so romantic,” Celia sighed, temporarily forgetting her worry.  “She thinks of the most romantic things sometimes.  Almost makes up for all the frightfully unromantic things she and George do together.  The very idea of a bride and groom making butterscotch cookies for their own wedding reception-- in t-shirts and dungarees, no less.  Where is the poetry in that?”
~chapter 22

“We’re not hitchhikers.”  Francie straightened her blouse and dabbed at her hair, just in case the driver of the approaching car-- no, actually, it was a pickup truck-- was of an attractive sort.
“Geoooooooorge is,” said Celia sweetly.
“Hey,” protested George.  “I’m merely rescuing all you helpless peasants from the dragon of spending the night on the picnic table.  Would you prefer to be the one to ride with a stranger into town?”
~chapter 20

“You could make Alice’s wedding cake, too,” Mark suggested, stealthily swiping a drip of frosting hanging off the edge of Francie’s plate.  “Only with white frosting, so they can put angels with crossbows on the top or whatever it is you put on wedding cakes."
~chapter 10

“Now, Daddy, pillows don’t hound people,” said Celia indulgently, “and besides, Alice and George’s guest room is going to be full of books because the living room is too small for a bookcase, remember?”
“Now, Celia,” Uncle Arnold mimicked, “you have never slept in your Great-Aunt Delores’ guest room and do not know the treacherous character of some cross-stitched pillows, and besides, the lack of space in Alice and George’s guest room will be of no consequence to the grammar school teachers and their kind, thoughtful gifts.  Wait and see.”
~chapter 20

“And only one limb lost to the Loch Cedar Monster,” said Mark brightly, stepping aside to reveal Timmy standing with one leg tucked up under him.  “I’d say this was a successful Fourth of July, all around.  Better than last year, anyway.”
Sylvia knew better by now than to encourage him, but she couldn’t help asking through her laughter.  “What happened last year?”
“Ah, yes, last year,” Celia chimed in, shaking her head sorrowfully.  “Poor Cornelius. It’s just not the same without him.  He was such a good, kind brother, unlike some I could mention...”
~chapter 11

"Mark, for heaven's sake wash your neck already.  You just can't look like that out in the public."
~chapter 13

“Francie already told me not to let him within fifteen feet of Alice’s dress.  How’m I supposed to know how far fifteen feet is without a tape measure?”
~chapter 22

"You cry at the end of everything. You cried at the end of Treasure Island, for heaven's sake."
~chapter 19

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Special!

Only a Novel is on sale for Christmas (limited time only and all that jazz)!  If you purchase a copy through the CreateSpace store before January first, you'll receive 20% off the purchase price-- just enter the code 3QH797U5 at checkout.  Merry Christmas!

[Elizabeth] decided that the topic of Christmas gifts was quite safe, and so began on that.
“Mr. and Mrs. Crimp were so kind as to give me some lovely perfume and a comb set for Christmas,” she remarked to Mrs. Leopold.  Mrs. Leopold gave her a rhinoceros-like stare and nodded in an unnecessarily patient manner.  Elizabeth would not be daunted.  “We had a lovely time exchanging gifts this morning,” she continued, “and I know Isabelle was quite pleased to receive her china tea set.  I understand you helped to choose it, Mrs. Leopold?”
Mrs. Leopold chose to ignore this, and Elizabeth realized with horror that it was not proper for a governess to begin a conversation at table, let alone to address unsolicited remarks to the lady of the house.  Her ears felt as though they were being tastefully roasted over a barbecue pit, and she quickly turned to see if Isabelle needed any assistance with her dinner.
This was a merry Christmas, indeed.
She really must stop being so sarcastic, even in thought.  It was most unbecoming.

~Only a Novel, chapter 18

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sometimes you get an idea...

... and you just have to write it and see where it takes you.  Personally I don't know where this idea is going to take me.  I'm kind of curious to know what you think, though.  What does this story opening say to you? (and the boy's name is Norman, just fyi.)


Libby saw the boy through a little gap in the bookshelves and something about his face snatched at her interest right from the start.  It wasn’t his neat brimmed cap pulled low --not too low-- over his eyes, nor was it his straw-like hair that stuck out in rather unruly bits around his eyes and forehead.  No, it was definitely his face, and though there was nothing particularly striking about this face-- it was not handsome, nor ugly, nor sporting any kind of fascinating wart-- it was a nice sort of face.  An open, honest, curious face, and it was the face that made Libby do something very brave.

She came out from behind the stacks, rounded the corner of the bookshelf and sat herself down at the boy’s table, across from him.

“Hello,” she said.

The boy did not seem in the least surprised that a skinny tall girl with bitten-off dark hair should so unceremoniously plunk herself down in front of him and say hello.  In fact, he said hello back.  And smiled, to boot.

“Who are you?” asked Libby, without further preliminaries.

“I’m a writer,” said the boy, and as he said it Libby saw that the book he held was not a storybook at all, but a notebook, and inside it (from what she could see) were a great many scribbled words.

“Well, I’m a reader,” said Libby, and folded her hands on the tabletop.

The boy smiled again.  “Then,” he said, “we ought to get on very nicely.”

Monday, December 2, 2013

That Moment...

Truman Capote once said that finishing a novel you'd been working on is like taking a favorite child out to the back yard and shooting it.  And while I wouldn't quite go that far (or that gruesome), I'll admit that the past few weeks have been a little bit numb, writing-wise, for me.

Because I finished the Rochesters' story on Tuesday, November 12th and now their first draft is complete.  (Two hundred and thirty-one pages, 83,658 words, twenty-three chapters and a doggone lot of tea... that last item being consumed by the author and not actually incorporated into the manuscript itself.)

I spent a year and a half of my life getting that first draft finished (stop looking at me like that, all you eighty-thousand-words-a-month people) and though a Matterhorn of editing looms before me, I still feel as though a part of my life has ended. An epoch, to state it Anneishly.  A bend in the road beckons.  The Rochesters still need a ton of revamping and possibly even an extra chapter (some really good suggestions from my beta-readers have convinced me that at least one plot point needs replacing, plus an epilogue may be in order), so they're definitely not done yet, but I do feel as if a part of them has been finished.

And because of that, I found it hard to get into the groove with another project during November.  My goal was to add 50,000 words to my Jennifer story, but since the Rochesters occupied the first twelve days of November, Jennifer got pushed aside more than I meant her to be.

All in all, I wrote 46,141 words during NaNoWriMo, so I didn't "win" in the end.

Yet I'm completely and totally happy, because, you guys, I finished the first version of a novel.  I've only ever done this one other time in my life, and it's a heady, spin-y, ring-out-the-bells-upon-this-day-of-days-y feeling.  My plans for the month got skewed, but who cares?  I've got my story all in one piece, and I'm really, really stoked about fixing it up and making it presentable for company.  (Also, it needs a real title.  Because The Rochesters just isn't cutting it.)  Editing, here I come!

...Along with work on the first draft on the sequel, of course.  Because there's nothing like finishing a novel to make you want to write another about the same characters.  I can't just leave them all at the end like that, now can I?  Certainly not.  The Rochesters are speeding forward to the next summer and getting set to conquer the wild West-- and I'm making another cup of tea.

P.S.  Oh, and Jennifer hasn't been forgotten, either.  I'm still plugging along with her tale in bits and pieces... the Rochesters kind of have my attention at present but Jennifer's hanging in there.  More on her in a future post, 'kay?  Thanks muchly to all of you for your sweet support and for being so patient with me as I took a month's hiatus!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

What's What in This Neck of the Woods

Mr. Thornton's Guide to Writing

The simple fact of the matter, dear lovely people, is that The Rochesters is still not done.  Blah blah blah, insert poorly written excuse here.  But hope still remains. My goal for November, as I think I may have mentioned before, is to add 50,000 words to the Jennifer story; however, this doesn't mean I can't work on anything else.  So my priority over the next week or so is to finish the doggone Rochesters and get them sent off to beta readers while still maintaining my Jennifer quota.  Since I've sworn off the Internet except for email during November, it shouldn't be quite a Herculean task.

And speaking of beta readers, that's where you folks come in.  If you have not already received an email from me requesting your help (and, of course, if you are interested) please leave a comment expressing your willingness to beta-read and providing me with your email address.  (You can put the email in a separate comment and request that I not publish it if you prefer, and I shall oblige you.)  I'm looking for four more beta readers and will accept the first four generous offers to help that come in-- and of course if four or fewer people comment, everyone will be happy.  :D

So goodbye for now, everyone! (Hound, say goodbye for now!)

“I’m not drawing a bunny,” said Timmy, with a goodly measure of disgust.  “Bunnies are for babies.  I’m drawing a rabbit.”

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Beautiful People: Mark Elijah Rochester

"The public? Ha.  The public.  You sound like a snooty princess or something.  Maybe we had better say Francie’s public, huh?  The unwashed masses, the madding crowd, the populace we scatter coins to..."
~Mark Rochester

Okay, so there's a bit of a story behind the picture of Mark up here at the top... for the longest time the ONLY image I had of Mark was this one, which I'd found on Pinterest, but there was no name with it and so I had no idea who the boy in the picture was and therefore couldn't go looking for any more images of him.  And I really did want some more pictures because a) the more, the better when you're character casting and b) Mark doesn't generally run around in a medieval tunic.  So the other day I was going by while my sister Molly was on the computer, and she was looking for character pictures for one of HER books, and long story short she demonstrated to me how you can search Google with an image by right-clicking on it.  MIND.  BLOWN.  I had no idea you could do that. Go ahead and laugh, but I've got my Mark pictures now and I know who Charlie Rowe is.  YESSSSSS. 

~What kind of music does he like?

Mark isn't especially musical, but he enjoys singing in the car with his family, generally very loudly and not exactly on-key.  Mindless repetition of "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain," each verse varying slightly in Level of Ridiculousness, is a particular favorite.

~Does he like to go outside?

Absolutely.  Mark is definitely an outdoors person.  He's also an indoors person, too, and like all his siblings has an innate love of reading.

~Is he naturally curious?

Is Sir Percy the Scarlet Pimpernel?

~Right, or left handed?


~Favorite color?

Well, his favorite shirt (the one he wears four or five days out of the week in summer until it is forcibly removed by a sister and put in the washing machine) happens to be red (or at least it used to be red) so we'll go with red.

~Where is he from?

Born and bred in Cedar Lake, Michigan and has lived there all his life.

~Any enemies?

Mark doesn't really have enemies, per se, though there are a few people he really doesn't like.  Frank Whittaker currently tops the list.

“Who wants to make a good impression on a humanoid magazine cover like that,” Mark snorted, and Sylvia choked back a snort of her own.  “I bet he spends his whole day practicing how to ask girls out in front of his bathroom mirror.  When he’s not applying an entire bottle of hair oil, that is.  I bet he wears aftershave just so he’ll smell older.”

~What are his quirks?

He's argumentative but good-natured, enjoys doing things he's been expressly told not to do (sisters aren't parents, after all, and Celia isn't the boss of him) but is generally trustworthy, has never broken a bone in any of the times he's taken a plunge off his bike and has memorized all the kings of Judah both in chronological order and in a personal list ranking them from Most Wicked to Least Wicked.

~What kinds of things get on his nerves?

People nagging him or telling him what to do, wearing a tie, wearing a suit, wearing a carnation in his buttonhole and being a groomsman.

~Is he independent, or needs others to help out?

I'm gonna let you decide that one for yourself, based on the other answers. :D

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Beautiful People: Frances Katharine Rochester

"The words ‘beard’ and ‘good-looking’ should never appear in the same sentence unless there is a ‘not’ between them."
~Francie Rochester

~What is her favorite type of shoes?

Oh, high heels, most indubitably.  Preferably sophisticated black ones.

~Does she journal?

She kept one when she was about eleven for about two days.

~What’s her favorite animal?

To eat or to pet?  For the former, fish-- the latter, dogs.

~What does her average day look like?

During the school year Francie's away at nursing school but this story takes place in the summer, so her day often includes... making oatmeal for eight people unless Alice does it first, working on dress orders from her various clients, going to people's houses for fittings (she's the only dressmaker around who still makes house calls, Celia often points out), doing up the lunch dishes, playing kickball in the backyard, folding laundry, going grocery shopping if it's her week (she and Alice take turns), playing Monopoly with her younger siblings and staying up too late reading Pride and Prejudice.

~Night owl or morning person? (Optional: What time does she usually wake up? Go to bed?)

Night owl for all intents and purposes-- she can be a morning person now and then, usually around the twenty-fifth of December or thereabouts.  What time she wakes up and goes to bed is not being disclosed to the general public.

~Does she have a sweet tooth?

Is the Popemobile Catholic?  Chocolate, please.

~What colors are in her bedroom?

Off-white on the walls and pink curtains at the windows (as opposed to Celia and Patsy's--and Sylvia's--room which is pink on three walls and white on one because they ran out of pink paint).

~Can she cook?

Heh.  Heh, heh, heh.  Um... yes.  Some things, she can cook very well.  Some things, she cannot.

Alice took a spatula and gave a dubious poke to a pan of yellow gook on the stove.  “Francie, if you don’t mind my asking, what is this supposed to be?”
“It’s not supposed to be any thing.  It is an omelet.”  Francie whisked the spatula out of Alice’s hand.  “You don’t have to eat it.”

~What is her favorite household chore?

Scrubbing the bathtub, believe it or not.  You get to run the water really loud and sing Que Sera, Sera at the top of your lungs and if other people yell at you to hush up you can blithely ignore them because of course you can't hear them over the sound of your industrious cleaning.

~Favorite kind of tea?

Earl Grey-- it's classy and kind of romantic and very English, which is just the kind of thing Francie likes.

{{I did Sylvia and Celia's Beautiful People tags quite some time ago, but neither has really changed since then so do go check them out when you get a chance.  :D Mark will be up next.}}