clarentine: (Default)
You know that Chinese curse about living in interesting times? Well, I just want to know who cursed me. Really, I could take being bored for a week or two. It wouldn't hurt my feelings at all.

(Don't worry; there is no imminent major crisis, just an avalanche of smaller ones. I'm buried.)


I hope everyone has been paying mindful attention to the lengthening daylight. We are less than a month past Midwinter, the shortest day of the year, and already the increase in day length is noticeable. It's not quite pitch black when I arrive home after work. I'll take some small reassurance from that, especially when it's as cold as it has been lately.

The chickens are responding to the increase in different ways. I'm getting a steady five eggs a day, six some days. And one of the hens has decided to go broody. Silly bird. No rooster means no chicks. I've been pushing her off the nest, making her go feed and water herself. I suppose that, if I ever did want to hatch out chicks, I now know which hen would volunteer.


Thanks to the nose-to-the-grindstone habit required to meet [ profile] novel_in_90's daily 750-word quota, I've made really significant progress in the novel going under the working title of Switchback. Better, I'm hitting all the marks the three-act structure would tell you need to be in place: first turning point came at 125 pages, and the midpoint finally wrapped up at page 278. (That was one massive scene, and boy, was it the setpiece the books all talk about.) My drafty outline is standing firm--and no one is more surprised about that than me. I am so very much not an outlining kind of writer.

I guess we'll wait and see where the second turning point comes, but I'm cautiously optimistic.
clarentine: (Default)
My, how time does fly when you’re...well, it’s the run-up to Christmas, so it’s hard to have fun, but there’s certainly enough to get done.

My mother and I have made a pact: only homemade gifts this year. My dad makes awesome fudge. I’ve got the jams I made this fall to distribute. There will be cookies, of course. Probably I should get baking them this weekend....

I mailed one of my gifts already, a packet of seeds of the Cosmos sulphureus I grew in the garden this year to someone who will make good use of them. I notice that the Cosmos seeds on offer in the various catalogs I’ve seen all have the orange and red variants of the plant I’ve grown for years. I’m smugly congratulating myself on having the yellow variant in my plants, as well. This is one I intend to sow in the long meadow for color next year – let’s hope it takes!


One of the things consuming my “free” time is the continuing round of [ profile] novel_in_90. We’re not quite at the halfway point, but I’ve managed to accumulate something over 33K words (by Word’s count, not SMF; I’m at 147 pages SMF, which works out to nearly 37K words). It’s gonna be a drafty draft, with lots of episodes of characters talking to the author, but you can’t edit it if it’s not on the page, right?

So far I’ve managed to be really mean to my characters (where being mean = conflict, which is a good thing). I have a feeling the story is about to become really mean to me, however; there’s an element of magical realism I intend to interject, but I’m not sure why my subconscious, when I was coming up with the idea for the story, decided I had to have this particular element. I still don’t know why. And I’m about to put a character on screen with no idea why she’s there.

I’ve done this novel thing often enough to know not knowing is a really big invitation to lots of rewriting...and I hate rewriting. Under the rules for Nin90, I could just plow ahead and write the parts I do know and worry about this character’s Why later. I am, however and much to my occasional regret, a linear writer, and this will not work.

Maybe it’s a good thing it’s a discovery draft, as well. I’ve got a lot to discover.


For those following along on farm news, the egg production is up far enough that I’ve begun letting my former clientele know that I can now begin selling them eggs again. (One of the people who have gotten eggs have not yet used one of the blue ones because they’re so pretty. Awwww....) (Yes, blue. Ameraucana blue. Like these:

And I sold my first dozen that very same day. >:-)
clarentine: (Default)
If you, like me, can use the boost to your writing productivity that being accountable to a third party can provide, then here's an opportunity with your name on it. On November 1, LiveJournal community [ profile] novel_in_90 will be starting up a new round. If you're interested, spin on over there and sign up!
clarentine: (Yellow Pirate ARR)
Wow, it's been a while since I last posted. Three weeks without a home computer can certain carry part of the blame for that, and the rest probably goes to the plot conundrum that ate my head and the story I was working on, too.

Good news: I found a new icon. Ain't he cool? *g*

Better news: I have a new computer. It's a MacBook, and it's pretty spiffy. Right now I'm test-driving Office for Mac, but I think it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that I'm going to be buying that software; I'll probably be staying in the business workforce for at least the near future, so it's a good idea to keep up with the software used there. Also, I like Word 2004. The places it's different, it's not so different. The writer in me is excited that all I have to do to get a word count is highlight the text I want to count; the number displays at the bottom of the screen. *g* (And, yeah, not SMF word count, but it'll do for [ profile] novel_in_90 purposes.)

Best news: With the help of some good and clever friends, I've got some idea how to bridge the plot problem and am moving forward again. Three days meeting quota on the word count is a grand thing. Of course, at the end of the week I'm going away yet again, and will not even try to be writing during that time, as this trip is to see and spend time with my packmates and that I cannot count as anything but time well spent. The writing will recommence upon my return.
clarentine: (Pirtate!)
You know what the really cool thing is about [ profile] novel_in_90? Realizing that you've come 100 pages since you last thought about how long the book would be when done and not having thought about that progress in all those days. If I'd been focused on getting that 100 pages written, I'd never have gotten here.

There hasn't been any research of late, but I just hit a spot that's going to require some, so I know what I'm doing this evening. Gotta find a market for the barrels of cinchona bark the pirates just acquired. *g*


Aug. 4th, 2007 04:33 pm
clarentine: (Default)
July was a hell of a month. So much so, that it's already into August before I could report on July.

There were two personal vacations in there - the first up into the mountains for some camping and hiking, and the second to the beach to stomp around in strangers' gardens. I've mostly made quota for [ profile] novel_in_90, and when I didn't I've caught up.


I've decided, after a little bit of research, that Mary Read was 24 in 1720 when she was tried for piracy. It's as close as I can come, and close enough for my purposes with this novel. It's known she fought with the British army in Flanders before taking ship (for the second time) and sailing to the West Indies, where she eventually became a member of Jack Rackam's crew. The last campaign in Flanders that I can find record of was in 1711. Assuming she had to be at least 15 to have joined the army at that point, that puts her birth date no later than 1696.


Other things researched lately have included ships which might stand in for Rackam's vessel, which I've christened Revenge. I've settled, for the time being, on a sloop called Swift, which was actually built in 1721 but close enough for my purposes. I don't have a schematic that shows Swift's cabin layout, but that's okay; I do have a layout for Sultana, which is about the same length and built about 50 years later than my time period, and that will do.

Sultana's website is here:

I also did some research on rum punch and the making thereof, which is coming in handy today as my characters are in the process of making some.

And did I mention that friends of a friend were kind enough to give me a blow-by-blow of a sailing vessel dealing with an approaching hurricane? Great details. Thank you both!


I keep having people participating in [ profile] novel_in_90 noting with a smile that they are glad they're not characters in my stories. These sorts of observations thrill me; they mean that the characters have caught their attention and the reader is feeling sorry for them, and that sort of identification is exactly what I want.

I've been using the "How do things get worse here?" question to prompt me to keep my eyes on the plot, and it seems to be working. Where I get off track, I figure it out pretty quickly when there isn't anything bad happening, and I can be certain that the story is staying interesting. Not to mention painful, if you're Josiah Eaden. ::grin::
clarentine: (Pirtate!)
The bad thing about this time of year is that I always end up being pulled in so damned many directions it's hard to really accomplish anything.

The work on Satisfaction is progressing nicely, though I had to bow my head and accept a mocking last week. Last round I missed not a day, but last round was in the winter and I did not have design work and preparing for various and sundry summer vacation things and a dog who insists I go outside and play with her every other hour when I'm home. Nevertheless, I'm something like 76 pages (SMF) ahead of where I was at the start of this round, and that is a hell of a lot of words. Progress is incremental, but it is being made.


Research since I last reported in included such varied topics as species of bamboo native to Central and South America, amongst which is something that is called chusque, out of Colombia and Ecuador; antique bone/amputation saws; ship's lamps; plantains; and the symptoms of the onset of malaria.


Last weekend, [ profile] matociquala broke my heart yet again. If you haven't read New Amsterdam, I recommend you find a copy. Lovely bittersweet collection of separately-published short fiction that, taken together, makes a nice narrative. And yes, damn it, the ending killed me...but, after gnashing my teeth over it, I had to admit that it wasn't as if I didn't see it coming.

Brava, Bear. Keep on slaying me.
clarentine: (Default)
Earlier this week, I was involved in conversations about foreshadowing and setting on a writers' list I frequent. I got to thinking about how I use foreshadowing, and [ profile] corrinalaw and I batted the topic back and forth.

I'm trying to pay attention as I write this draft of Satisfaction, to see when I layer in things that will be foreshadowing (things that I already recognize as foreshadowing, I should say) and to see if there's a pattern to the layering. I guess what I'm doing is that, as I write, I see all sorts of fractal possibilities with each decision made by the characters. I can glance down each and see if any of them hold potential to work with the overall themes of the book as I know them, and if they do then I choose to include those layers.

Who I chose for bosun's mate in Satisfaction is one of those fractal layers that stayed. The new bosun has to have a mate to help with the implementing of discipline. Discipline is, in part, at the end of the lash, so when the new bosun (who's Dutch) turned up with a bigger, more aggressive countryman, I gave him a rope belt with a big, nasty knot at its end. It's just a detail of setting when he's first introduced, but I know that there'll be nastiness with ropes later on, so it's also foreshadowing, depending on how he uses it. Plus there's the verses of the What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor, (at least) one of which involves the lash and many of which have potential to lead to scenes in this story. So, layers equal foreshadowing.

And setting equals foreshadowing, too. There is a significance to every setting; the work is in figuring out what that significance is to the person narrating the scene. If a character is leading a bunch of others escaping down a corridor in a secured compound, the choice of corridors matters, both to the characters and to their interaction. One of them chose this route. The others have a reaction to the choice, and to the route. They are living in your setting.

It's not what the corridors look like, in other words, but what the corridors mean to the characters. If they mean safety, or concealment, you describe how hard it is to see the characters in them, how they can work their way up to corners unobserved, the texture of the floor that enables them to run silently, that sort of thing. If they mean imminent capture, you describe the lighting, the noise the walls and floors are echoing around, the positioning of cameras. All of those things might be there - the lighting, the cameras, the positioning of the corners, the texture of the floor - but what you choose to describe is determined by what you want to convey to the reader.


Research has been limited because my available time has been rather compressed lately. I'm still doing minor readings on the city of Charleston ca. 1720 or so, not so much that I think the story will end up there as for the sense of place and time the information gives me. Port Royal had already experienced the first of its series of horrific earthquakes by the time of this story, and while it still existed as a city it was much reduced from what it had been. There are no existing buildings anymore for me to get this sense of place from.

(And hmm. There's one of those fractal layers I was talking about, above. Port Royal as a city crumbling around its residents' ears. One of the themes of this book is the clash of two societies and their mores (which are not the same as morals, but have things in common with them). So, when I do get to describing Port Royal, I need to describe the elements that will show this crumbling of the old regime.)

I had to do some research on bowsprit rigging, which drove me back to my notes from The Sailing Navy List - All the Ships of the Royal Navy, Built, Purchased and Captured, 1688-1860, by David Lyon. (All hail Interlibrary Loan; this book is in extremely limited circulation, and purchasing an available copy is just not feasible, though I'd love to have one.)

I also did some research into older building techniques in the Caribbean. (Hint: the islands aren't really rock, or at least the Bahamas Islands aren't, and that's where the scene is set.)


Work on Satisfaction is ticking along at a respectable pace; thus far, I've made daily quota for [ profile] novel_in_90, though getting back into the swing of daily word count was not easy. I've put up about 6000 new words in the first week of solid work on it, and the story's becoming fun again, thank whoever. I did not relish the idea of slogging through this story if I couldn't get it to be enjoyable...and while I understand there's something to be said for the discipline of writing even if you don't think the story is exactly enjoyable at the moment--as in, revisions for an editor, which I can hope to be doing at some unknowable point in the future--that isn't a lesson I want to practice right now.
clarentine: (Pirtate!)
Day 5 of [ profile] novel_in_90, and work on Satisfaction proceeds apace. I'm right on the verge of setting a ship alight, and it occurs to me that I do not have a story reason for doing so. I have an author's hand reason, but not a story reason. Bah.

::drops note to self in WIP: "wouldn't it make better sense if Josh had been forced aboard either Indomitable or Capella, such that this burning really makes a difference to him, personally?"::

Earlier, I was pondering the fact that this entire scene was written without dialogue of any sort. Is that a symptom, perhaps, of this disengagement with the protag, or a subconscious choice based on the scope of the action? Because there is action; there are ships getting quickly underway, and people firing guns at one another, and rowing, and ducking to avoid stray bullets. Probably the answer is, It depends. (And may I just say right now how much I hate that answer. And think that it is right.)

I do believe that it's necessary to show events in relationship to the protag who's experiencing them. This means, of course, that my note to myself is not a note but a mandate, and I will have to correct the mis-step in course, and will have to take it into account as I press onward. But now I have a focus from which to do so, and hopefully that will make the words come that much faster.

Which they must do, because I have a concert to go to tonight after work, and there will be no time for computers or novels. And I have not yet met my quota for the day. And lunch hour is, alas, all but done.


Research recently pursued: incendiary devices/Molotov cocktails; images of full-rigged ships so that I can better describe Capella; British history leading up to the period in which I find myself. Old houses in Charleston. Old houses in the Bahamas. And I refreshed my recollection on the naming conventions of masts and rigging, because Josh is going to be sailing again soon and I want to make sure I know what I'm describing, even if Josh doesn't.
clarentine: (Pirtate!)
1,068 new words, and ticking right along. Haven't made it to the fire, yet, which does not upset me; it's coming. Maybe tomorrow.

Bad things inflicted on protag: Jack f#%king Rackam giving him the stink eye; being treated like a kid; just been told he can't go into Nassau with the rest of the crew.

Coming up: Fire!

Research needed: Fire on board wooden ship; calico fabric; men's fashions ca. 1720.
clarentine: (Default)
I can tell I'm getting geared up to work on another story; the need to research has returned.

This story, the one I'm planning to work on for [ profile] novel_in_90's next round, which begins June 1, is about pirates. And botany. (And, unlike a certain other naval series (of which I have only read two books, quite deliberately, so as not to tread on toes), this particular botanical adventure features the botany as an integral portion of the plot, not just a series of character-building interludes.) And the realities of life in the Caribbean in the early 1700s.

Which realities include malaria and a batch of other lovely tropical diseases, but it's the ever-present malarial fevers that I was researching this past week. In keeping with my habit of inflicting nasty things on my characters, I've got one who recently contracted the disease and is now having to deal with the feverish unsteadiness that comes with it. He'll realize he's been afflicted soon enough - though not what he's afflicted with, as that bit of scientific knowledge hadn't yet arrived on the scene. It'll be my secret, mine and the audience's.


The CD I recently commented on purchasing for the express purpose of getting my mind ready to write this book - Rogue's Gallery, a collection of Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys - has been on my playlist a lot lately. There are some very fine renditions on there: Blood Red Roses (Sting), Fire Down Below (Nick Cave), Bully in the Alley (Three Pruned Men, I kid you not). There are also some truly lewd lyrics (Good Ship Venus, by Loudoun Wainwright III, on the second disc) and some very weird things (Dan Dan, by David Thomas) that defy description. I haven't really had a chance to give a thorough listen to the second disc, as a matter of fact, because I've been listening at work and that second disc is by no means work safe. *g*

At any rate, if you or someone you know enjoys honest sea-themed songs, this is a good collection, if uneven to my ear. I think I'd have preferred the lewd stuff safely tucked onto just one of the discs, instead of scattered amongst the other, gentler songs. The effect is sort of like stepping from the front parlor into a whorehouse.
clarentine: (Default)
The next round of [ profile] novel_in_90's traveling word circus begins June 1. If you were looking for that daily kick in the pants to ensure you get words, here's your chance to get in at the start.

The goal of the community is simple: 750 words a day, seven days a week, for 90 days. Post each day to let the community know if you reached that goal, and stand by for mocking if you didn't. Feel free to mock in your own turn; that's the strength of the community, that someone surely will be there to kick your butt if you back away.

This round, my plan is to work on the pirates book. I've done months and months of research and have better than 100 pages already...and a story line that has gone nowhere. Time to regroup, figure out where to pick it up, and move forward.

::edges closer to the ball marked Writing in preparation for adding it to the balls already being juggled::
clarentine: (Default)
This just in: Goya "Jamaican Style" ginger beer cannot compete with the "Jamaican Country Style" ginger beer I usually buy. The Goya stuff's got more bite than flavor, and it makes me cough. Refresco, it is not.

Good thing I have a bottle of the JCS ginger beer in the fridge. And that the grocery store has finally restocked their supply. Must have come all the way on the mail boat. *g*


In other news, it looks like [ profile] novel_in_90 will be starting up another full round on June 1. If you've been considering getting in on the community, or started and dropped out last go 'round, now's your chance to catch a cresting wave. At this point, I believe I'll be able to take part, and this time I hope to get the pirate story moving.


No fun research to report. Alas. My brain is full of design thoughts.


May. 3rd, 2007 04:23 pm
clarentine: (Default)
It's a rainy Thursday, and the Queen is in Richmond, and because they've closed our entire office block for security reasons (and the street between my building and Capitol Square, and my parking garage) I had time to finish up the edits I wanted to make to Cavalier, and then put together those queries I'd intended to send last week. I've posted five new queries and sent the requested partial manuscript off.

I'd forgotten how useful a significantly long stretch of hours could be when one is in a mood to write. *g* The edits were polishing, really, but I'd been dithering over them for a while. Once I sat down to work this morning, with [ profile] corrinalaw's comments, they went quickly.

I'm not sure what comes next. It's still spring, and the design jobs are keeping me hopping in what there is of my spare time. Probably I ought to concentrate on those, since their timeline is finite, and let the two stories I have percolating brew a bit longer. The pirate story is not ready; I went awry somewhere, after a promising start, and haven't yet figured out where. Probably I ought to simply do the [ profile] novel_in_90 thing again and just get it written, and worry about the editing later. The Bells story that I wrote this winter with [ profile] novel_in_90's help has plenty of plot - shock! amaze! - but needs more characterization.

(In fact, I believe the problem with shooting for consistent word count is that I'm going to consistently miss out on the characterization I love so much but that takes a while to develop; I don't know if this dooms this means of generating words, or not. I guess we'll see how hard it turns out to be to flesh Bells out.)
clarentine: (Default)
298 pages in SMF, for a total of 74,500 words. Life, as they say, is good. I have several more plot points to get through and that will be that. Yay! (Right on time, too; my usual spring landscape design business just kicked into gear.)

Thank you, [ profile] novel_in_90. Oh, and [ profile] matociquala; without you, the community wouldn't exist, and I wouldn't have gotten this book started, much less this close to the end. Who'd have thought I could be so disciplined in my writing?


Today's research involved visits to several sites to learn about lost-wax metallurgy. One of the bells has lost its tongue and my protag needs to make another.


Dimo is haunting me these past several days. Not surprising; I left him at a pivotal point in his life. I made the mistake of playing Tommy Emmanuel's album Only this weekend. One of the songs on that album is Dimo's theme song. (I think it's called Stay with Me, though the album sleeve is upstairs and I'm not sure that's the right title; second song on the album if you're one of the few who imported this album - and if you haven't got it, and like acoustic guitar, buy it!)

The Dimo who crept into my head after it occurred to me what I'd done was not a pretty sight. Not to worry, though. I've let him stay with me until he found himself to a happier place. If anyone ever asks me who my favorite is, I'll say Dimo, Prince of Angst. *g* Canum is my longest-lived visitor, but he's more my alter-ego. Dimo is my demon child, the clown who lets very few get close enough to see the tears behind his mask.

I miss having him in my head every day. But it's nice to know he's happy again.


Jan. 21st, 2007 05:56 pm
clarentine: (Default)
A slow words day at the end of a slow (and cold, and icy) weekend. I got my quota early on Saturday and spent the rest of the day reading over here: Sunday it took forever to get words, mostly because I would write a line or a paragraph and have to go do more research. (Great page on the St. Johns river basin here:

And now Monday is staring me in the face, and I want to blink and sit down and stare at the freezing rain accumulating on my deck, sip some tea, and read while my subconscious processes the next disaster to hit Gi and Brazas on their trip across Florida.

I think it's bears next. Or more Indians. Or, you know, maybe something that might drive the plot?
clarentine: (Default)
Better, better. The day job is still sucking my life dry, but I got my feet under me a bit earlier today and managed to get a few more things accomplished. And my other half bought me ice cream after dinner tonight, so I am more content.

Word count today is not as nice as I'd like, but I made quota (995). That'll have to do.
clarentine: (Default)

I got my quota of words, but that is all. I would go over to chat, but there are still things to be done before calling it quits for the night.

It's just one of those damned days.


clarentine: (Default)

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