Going Like Gangbusters

Dear Reader,

This was a GOOD week for Round of Words. Not only did I copy over my entire plot for The Rebel’s Hero over from sticky notes into the computer (you can see it on my fan page), but I also wrote character bios for half of my characters, and wrote another 1667 words on top of that initial 750 words, thus completing the first drafts of chapters two and three!

And then yesterday, while working in a coffee shop, I realized something awful. The Rebel’s Hero continues to change and morph away from Catching the Rose. So much so that it feels weird using the same character names. So I changed all of the character names and have finally broken free from Catching the Rose. The Rebel’s Hero is still technically a rewrite, so there might be a similarity here and there, at least between character relationships… Anyway, I think this is for the best.

Oh. And I made the cover for The Rebel’s Hero and unveiled it Friday evening on my fan page. If you’re a subscriber to the newsletter, you got a larger version in your inbox. As a bit of housekeeping, from now on I will be releasing book information first to the newsletter subscribers, then to Facebook fans, and then on the blog. That makes sense, right?

I updated the website home page, so if you haven’t visited in a while because you have an RSS reader, hop on over, if you please.

Now as you might have guessed, I’m exhausted. Because on top of all that, I worked full-time last week where I wrote a 32-page report that had a ton of diagrams (ok I’m cheating, I took two weeks to write that). And last night, I was swing dancing until midnight.

Belinda iz ded nao.

I’ll check in next week with a brushed up excerpt from chapter two, I think. Or maybe not. Not sure. My brain hurts.

All the best,

Belinda

Sneak Peek #1 of THE REBEL’S HERO

Dear Reader,

So far I’ve kept to my goal of writing at least 750 words a week! Huzzah! To celebrate, here is the (first draft) of the first 850 words of the new book, The Rebel’s Hero. I would love your feedback. Are you getting a good feeling of the era, the setting, the situation?

One night, when the dense Virginia farm air buzzed with gnats that spoke of a heavy summer rain, Howard announced he had found Tempest’s husband at long last.

Tempest cocked her head to the side and shook it as though she had gotten water in her ear. Everything was as it had been mere moments ago, yet she had the distinct feeling of the world tilting on end.

Though it was dusk, and the orange sun sank lower still into the farm’s horizon, the dining room was brightly lit by candles perched in silver stands, and in the chandelier that swayed overhead. The combined brightness of the candles burned Tempest’s brown eyes so tears gathered at the corners. She cleared her throat and glanced meaningfully at the old slave Elijah who stood in the corner of the dining in his typical hunched fashion, pretending he hadn’t heard a word.

Howard never spoke of such things before the slaves. Said it was none of their business, his private matters. Which meant Howard felt far too comfortable with where he led the conversation.

“I hadn’t realized my supposed husband was lost,” Tempest quipped, smoothing butter onto her bread before dipping it into her chilled mint soup. She popped the sopping piece of bread into her mouth, focusing on the clarifying mint scent to help her stay alert to Howard’s newest scheme.

Across the table from Tempest sat her mother, Sophronia, just to the left of Howard. Sophronia pulled her lace shawl over her stooped shoulders and smoothed the fabric of her hooped skirt across her lap. Her pale face looked especially wan in the candlelight, and her white-blond hair had all but lost its luster in the ten years since she had married Howard.

Howard glared at Sophronia rather than Tempest for her outburst.

This elicited an apathetic, “Tempest, don’t talk to your step-daddy like that,” from Sophronia in her velvet southern drawl.

“I’ll stop if he does,” Tempest muttered.

It wasn’t funny anymore, the way Howard talked about her lack of a husband when all the other girls her age had married and born a child already. She was eighteen. She had more than enough time. Didn’t she?

Sophronia straightened her shoulders in a half-hearted shrug and sipped soup from her spoon.

“You’ll want to know the unlucky man’s name,” Howard said with a self-satisfied smile. His voice was deep with the relief of a thousand nights spent racking his brain with plans to get Tempest married and off his hands. He laced his fingers together and leaned back in his chair so the wooden legs creaked beneath his paunchy weight.

Tempest flicked her head to the side so one of her blond ringlets flew from where it rested on her shoulder. She did not particularly want to know, but she had just stuffed her mouth full of bread and couldn’t bring herself to say anything to stop him from speaking.

As long as it was not the one man Tempest could not stand to be in the same room with, no, the same house, the same county, to be honest, all would be well. She would find a way out, as always, and continue on her merry, pampered way.

“Walter Leonards’s agreed it would be beneficial to all if you were to marry him.”

Tempest choked on the bread in her mouth, audibly. Throwing her napkin in front of her mouth, she coughed up the bread, wincing at the way Sophronia half-frowned at her. Sophronia did not need to say a word, Tempest knew what she was thinking.

Come now, Tempest, you know better than to do such things. Surely you have outgrown such tomboyish behavior. You are a lady. Act like one.

Or rather, the Sophronia of old might have thought such things. Funny, how Tempest missed the sound of Sophronia scolding her. So many years had passed since Sophronia had cared enough to scold.

“In fact, Walter’s right pleased. I think this will be the match of the decade!”

Tempest glared at Howard, enraged by the way he could speak that sentence as if he and Walter were doing her a favor. Howard had to go and pick the one man she could never marry. Of course he would. Just to see my reaction.

“You’re pulling my leg,” Tempest said, shoving her chair away from the table before Elijah could help her. “You’re making fun of me.”

Howard put his hands behind his head. Damn the man, he enjoyed watching her squirm. “Walter,” he confirmed.

Tempest closed her eyes. She licked her lips and gasped her air. Walter. He used to poke her with lit matches when they were little. He once put a centipede in her shoe when they had been playing by a crick. To this day, she swore Walter had lamed her pony just to have it put down. Did one grow out of such meanness?

“No,” Tempest said, her voice breaking over the word.

Howard half-stood, resting his palms on the table that pressed into his stomach as he leaned over it. “You will marry him, or be thrown from this house. I’m not like your daddy, I don’t tolerate such wildness from females.”

Tempest looked at Sophronia, who kept her gaze on her soup. Sophronia’s hand shook as the spoon it held hovered over the bowl.

“Say something,” Tempest whispered.

It was on this solitary day that a rose petal fell. It was not known whether it happened to be dropped by a hand, or whether it had fallen by the properties of gravity. Suffice it to say, it began this story.

So, what do you think? Don’t forget to check out the other ROW80 peeps.

Plotting with Strangers

Dear Reader,

In March, I wrote the first 14 chapters of The Rebel’s Hero. Within this first week of April I’ve discovered a problem: I don’t know why my characters are doing what they are doing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know their motivations better than when I wrote Catching the Rose, so much so that I was able to write the first 14 chapters without a problem.

Still, after reading the first two books of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, and absolutely loving (as always) his well-developed subplots, twists, and surprises, I looked at my manuscript and sighed. I have work to do.

In a fit of creativity during my lunch break at work on Monday I sketched out a table on a scrap sheet of paper with the column headings: Character, Initial Goal, Roadblock, Recovery, 2nd Roadblock, 2nd Recovery, 3rd Roadblock. The rows of this table are the main characters, whose goals, roadblocks, and recoveries complement and clash.

When I came to one of the supporting characters, I realized I had no idea why he had his initial goal in the first place. To get outside my head, I posted a question on Facebook and got so many wonderful answers and theories that I feel totally inspired.

If you missed out on the conversation, that’s ok. I have a new question for you.

Why do YOU think someone would risk their life to free a slave?

– – –
This post is part of the ROW80 bloghop.

Low-Hanging Fruit

Dear Reader,

When I participated in the first Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80), I had lofty goals which you can reference here. On April 4th, we begin the second round.

I’m still a sponsor for ROW80, meaning I’ll be going around to the participating blogs posting encouragement. This time, I’m keeping my goal simple:

I must write at least 750 words each week.

Seriously. I don’t think I can pick lower hanging fruit than that. I have four projects in progress which count toward this oh-so-low goal (as shown in my sketch below):

  • The Rebel’s Hero (a complete re-write of Catching the Rose)
  • My Unwitting Heiress (the new book I haven’t talked about much yet except to say it’s about estranged twins)
  • Love or Lack Thereof (my short story/poetry anthology)
  • Write more Worderella book reviews

I’m a writer, I must write. I’m using this round of ROW80 is remind me of this simple fact. Each week, I’m going to post a sample of what I wrote the week before. Should be fun. Or terrifying. Or both.

Check out the goals other participants have put in place for the second round of ROW80!

Roundup for Round of Words

Dear Reader,

I can’t believe that today is the last day of Kait Nolan’s first Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80). She has asked us to focus on what we did accomplish, rather than bewail what we did not.

For posterity reasons, I should note that my goals for ROW80 were lofty. I was supposed to write 750 words a day for the rewrite of Catching the Rose, and release an anthology of contemporary fiction short stories.

I did not do that. Not exactly.

I never released the short story anthology. My winter was full of ups and downs that killed my passion for the project, sadly. It really wasn’t until I was struck with a super bad cold/sinus infection that laid me out for a week (I telecommuted from my bed for three days) that I finally got inspiration to work on the Catching the Rose rewrite.

As I was getting better, work got more stressful… making my stomach more sensitive… meaning I’ve been dealing with a food poisoning-esque experience the last three days.

In the last 24 hours, I’ve written over 2,000 words. Baller. When I was sick with the cold/sinus infection, I wrote a couple thousand. Double baller. I also re-titled the work from Catching the Rose to The Rebel’s Hero and am within spitting distance of introducing the hero to the heroine. Triple baller and a half.

I have to say I’m surprised I lasted. When I started ROW80, I kind of thought I wouldn’t make it. That it would be a way to get things started, but who knew if I’d really finish? But I made it to the end, with different results than I expected, but results all the same.

Feels pretty good. Thanks Kait for putting this together! Check out what the other ROW80 survivors are saying…

Best,

Belinda

When Your Title Doesn’t Fit, You Must Acquit

Dear Reader,

A funny thing happened last week while rewriting Catching the Rose.

I realized I wasn’t writing Catching the Rose anymore.

Now, the funny thing is the characters are the same from Catching the Rose, and the plot is the same. But my writing style has changed so much in the eight years since I wrote the original Catching the Rose that I feel weird about continuing to call it Catching the Rose.

I mean, the book that’s out there now, known as Catching the Rose: Second Edition, is still the book I wrote in high school, but with grammatical fixes, etc.

I laid in bed late at night staring at my ceiling wondering what I was going to do. The fact is I don’t write that way anymore. I’ve learned a lot in the past eight years.

I couldn’t call it Catching the Rose: Third Edition. That just felt clunky.

I thought about calling it Catching the Rose: Redux. That felt good for about twenty minutes.

Then I thought, you know, people who really enjoy Catching the Rose as it is might feel betrayed. So I decided I won’t call this rewrite Catching the Rose at all.

Which meant I had to come up with a new title.

Well… crap.

I suck at writing titles.

But ok, if I can write an entire novel, I can write a title. Right?

I started thinking about titles I like. For whatever reason, I like three-word titles. Everything feels better in threes. It flows off the tongue better, don’t ask me why. So I knew the title would be three words long.

I began thinking about themes of the story. This is about Veronica, a rebellious young woman who is proud to be a Confederate (known a a Johnny Reb to the Yankees). She’s on the hunt for her Prince Charming. She has no idea where her Prince Charming is, but at this point in the story, there’s suspicion he may not exist anymore.

You know what Veronica needs? Veronica needs a hero. She needs a hero until the morning light. He’s gotta be sure and it’s gotta be soon and he’s gotta be larger than life.
Bonnie Tyler – Holding Out for a Hero

So now the book I’m writing is called The Rebel’s Hero. It’s a working title; I’m only seven chapters into the rewrite so I have time to live with it.

The Rebel’s Hero.

Thoughts?

P.S. Check on the other ROW80 writers this week…

Two Thousand Words

Dear Reader,

I wrote two thousand words last week. Pretty pumped about that. It’s for the Catching the Rose rewrite. I also wrote out a preliminary outline for the new book which has yet to have a real title. The working title is Secondhand Sister.

It pays to sleep all the time from being super sick. Yeah? Yeah? Not really, but at least I got some writing done.

I dropped the prices of my novels to $1.99 in celebration of eBook week. You have until the end of Friday to get your 50% discount code RAE50: Haunting Miss Trentwood and Catching the Rose.

That’s a deal if I ever heard of one. I decided to make the change across all my distributors, so that includes Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance Ebooks, and Smashwords. We’ll see what this does with sales.

How are the other ROW80 writers doing? We’re winding down on the last month and our numbers are dwindling…

Best,

Belinda

Update from the Trenches

Dear Reader,

Have you ever been so sick you can’t even stumble from bed? That’s what I’m going through right at this moment. My manager mentioned it might be strep, which I hope it isn’t because that means I have to leave my apartment to get antibiotics.

Anyway, over the weekend I wrote another 900+ words for Catching the Rose, which is pretty great. Not that what I wrote was fantastic, but it’s progress, anyway. I’m upping the tension in the book much sooner… I’ve cut out pages and pages of description and pitted Amy and Veronica against each other in a way that both surprises me and has me interested. Which I hope my readers will feel the same way. An excerpt to wet your whistle…

As if there wasn’t enough to worry about these days, with the southern states breaking away from the union. Amy pushed her tongue to the side of her mouth and bit it lightly to keep from saying anything. Veronica was a spoiled brat who had no concept of what was going on around her. She wouldn’t know, or care, that this war was chasing Amy south, for a little while, anyway.

“But you know,” Veronica said, leaning back in her seat, “they probably should have. Or they would have, if they had any idea what I’m intending to do here.”

The carriage skidded to a stop. Amy’s stomach landed somewhere between the stamping hooves of the horse that dragged them to the quiet street where Mrs. Beaumont lived.

“And just what might that be, Miss Vernon?” Amy managed, hand on her stomach.

“Ronnie,” Veronica corrected. She rifled through her satchel, which had sat hidden beneath her skirts all this while, and pulled out a careworn journal. She flipped through it expertly until finding a page some three-quarters of the way through. “Find him, and marry him.”

Amy blinked at the handsome sketch of a man Veronica couldn’t possibly know. “What?”

“It’s not the best likeness, I know,” Veronica said. She sighed a little, staring at the portrait of a man with dark hair, sharp eyes, and the hint of a smirk tucked at the corner of his lips. “I haven’t seen him in years. But that won’t stop me, no ma’am.”

“You’re in Richmond to find this man and marry him.” Amy knew she sounded stupid repeating Veronica again. Her lips felt swollen and her tongue heavy. The nausea from the train came back with a vengeance and she swallowed heavily against riotous bile. She had come to Richmond to erase all traces of this man.

It’s a first draft, obviously, but I like it.

How is everyone else doing? Check out the Round of Words in 80 Days list of participants to keep up.

Best,

Belinda

Sporadic Creativity

Dear Reader,

Apologies for going MIA for a bit. Work has been super stressful and winter was getting me down, but no matter. I regrouped over the weekend by working out for three hours (two consecutive, one where the trainer kicked my butt and I’m still hurting four days later).

On Monday at work I took charge on a project that people needed but no one had time to do except for me, because I’m in a holding period for my two projects. It was just the sort of creative project I needed to do at work to make me feel accomplished and useful, because I haven’t felt either lately.

Tuesday was a rush of decision-making, updating the creative project I did on Monday, etc. I tweeted about how work was making my brain hurt but I wanted to write… I haven’t written in a while and rather than feeling down or antsy about it, I was finally starting to feel like doing something about it.

I’m in the middle of organizing the extra papers and books in my home office, one of the last things I have to do in order to truly be moved into my apartment. Rather than continuing with that, I plopped on the floor in the middle of the mess and wrote for an hour.

Reader, I wrote over a thousand words in 44 minutes for the rewrite of Catching the Rose. Which, funny story, is selling better than Haunting Miss Trentwood on Barnes and Noble for reasons unknown. Hoping that the rewrite will make those sales even better.

It might be too early to say, but… I think I’m back.

Check out how the other participants of Round of Words in 80 Days are doing!

All the best,

Belinda

Unexpected Progress

Dear Reader,

I’ve made unexpected progress. Unexpected, because it doesn’t have to do with writing, sadly. Once again not following through with my ROW80 goals. I once again have taken a break from the writing, but instead made progress on some of my web presence issues.

Maybe I should change my ROW80 goal altogether. To something like, “Do it. Whatever it is, if it takes you one measurable step forward this week, do it.”

You see, I have a Facebook Page, but have struggled with what to do with it. Even though I have a computer engineering degree, the FBML app just confused the crap out of me that last time I tried to work with it. I was over-thinking it like CRAZY, which isn’t a surprise. That’s kind of my modus operandi, to be honest.

That said, I finally buckled down yesterday and worked on two graphics for the fan page: a large banner on the left, and a splash image for the welcome tab. AND, I figured out how to get the stupid FBML tabs to work so I can throw in my HTML. So now we have a “welcome” tab and a “buy a copy” tab. The content from “buy a copy” came straight from my Bright Bird Press website. Easy peasy. What took me so long?

No clue. But I credit ROW80 for making me do something about it. Check out how everyone else is doing, will you?

All the best,

Belinda