Character Profile: Janna

JannaThis character has given me the most trouble, which might be why I’ve saved her for last. Not that she’s the last character I’ll ever profile, but she’s the last of those with a pov from Book one. OMG I need a title so bad!

All the trouble I’ve had really isn’t poor Janna’s fault. She’s by far the sweetest of my characters and very easy to get along with. It’s figuring out exactly what to do with her that’s the problem.

From the beginnings of this story’s conception, it was always very important to me to have the commonfolk represented in some way. This turned out to be easier said than done. It’s relatively easy to write characters that have a measure of control over their own destinies. People like Kendryk and Teodora control not only their own lives, but the lives of thousands besides. Even Braeden and Arian are to a great extent in charge of their own destinies. This was not true of the vast majority of people during the Thirty Yeas War, or throughout history, for that matter. And while the war did wreak havoc among the aristocracy and soldiers were sacrificed by the thousands without a second thought, it was the average person who paid the heaviest price. Something like a half to three-quarters of the population of Central Europe died of starvation, exposure, plague and war-related violence in that thirty-year period.

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New and Improved NaNoWriMo Plans!

Obviously, I couldn’t go more than a few days without making at least some slight changes to my plans. That just wouldn’t match my new flibberty-gibberty internet persona. The other morning, I was sitting in a loading dock in Chicago (well, the truck was in dock, and I was in the truck), just writing away, when I realized I really didn’t know how much book I have left to write. At some point, “a lot” just wasn’t a satisfying answer.

Fortunately, I’m all organized and stuff, so I pulled up Scrivener and counted the scenes I still had marked “to do.” Then I multiplied that by 1500 because that seems to be a rough average length for my scenes. Then I had a brief heart attack. According to this calculation, I still had 95,000 words left to write. OMGWTFHELPPPP!!

My usual writing space, complete with kitty paws
My usual writing space, complete with kitty paws

And here I’d been so worried that I’d run out of book to write in the middle of November. Ha! When I finally stopped hyperventilating, I calculated some more. (former banker here, sorry). At the time, there were 37 days left to the end of November, which meant I had to write a mere 2600 words a day to finish by then. That’s really not so bad. I’ve already been working on getting in the habit of writing 2000 words daily, and it’s been going pretty well so far. What’s a measly 600 words more?

So far, it hasn’t been too bad. On the day that I figured all of this out, I had several huge bursts of energy and ended up writing in the neighborhood of 5000 words before finally collapsing. I think it helped that the weather was simply gorgeous and I got a few chances to get out of the truck and skip through the leaves on the south side of Chicago. This is my favorite time of year. I think it energizes me. Everything is coming together right now. Characters are being cooperative, though Kendryk has been picking fights, which is so not like him, but hey, fights add to the word count, so why not? If he wants more conflict in his life, who am I to deprive him?

So anyway, all of this leads me, in typically roundabout fashion, to the realization that I can easily set a goal of 75K for NaNoWriMo, and maybe even reach it, while at the same time getting to the very end of this monstrous tome. Wouldn’t that be something? My only concern is Thanksgiving. In previous years, I’ve only succeeded because I managed to get to 50k right before the big turkey day, and then wrote a few thousand more afterwards. With such a big goal, I probably can’t slack off like that.

We’ll be in Oregon, at my brother’s and the whole clan is coming. This means nine nieces and nephews all at the same time, which is awesome. I’m so looking forward to it. I should still be able to write if I make myself do it by getting up a bit early (ha!), or staying up a bit later (more likely). I think we’ll stay in the truck, which might help, since I’ll have my usual space to write, rather than maneuvering around a spare room.  I can do this! I can!

Weekend Writing Warriors- Snippet 11: Braeden


It’s time for Weekend Writing Warriors! Every Sunday, a bunch of writers post 8-sentence snippets from their WIPs on their blogs. There’s a lot of reading, commenting and great writing. Click on the link to see the full list.

Even though I don’t like to spend more than two weeks with any one character- I feel like a guilty neglectful mother toward the others right now- I decided not to be cruel and leave you hanging. Last week, Braeden was standing toe-to-toe with Daciana Tomescu, a rather unpleasant piece of work. He’s pretty upset about the burning town and dead civilians, so he takes a rash step.

“Since you can’t produce any written orders, I will have to arrest you for engaging in illegal activities on Her Majesty’s lands. I’m going to Atlona, so I will take you there and  the Empress can vouch for you, if she likes.”

“You’re a brave man Braeden Terris,” Tomescu laughed, her eyes turning dark again. “The Empress won’t be happy that you interfered with me and killed some of my people. Though I suppose that shaggy head of yours will look well enough on a spike above the market gate,” she added with a shrug.

Braeden wondered how she knew his name, but didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of asking. “Lieutenant, please secure the lady,” he said to Miro, hoping his tone made it clear she was no such thing. “And Captain, please see that all the other raiders are tied together and taken back to camp.”

All previous snippets can be found here.

Why This War Was So Awful

Whenever I think I’m not quite depressed enough to do this story justice, I look at something like this.I came across this map on a German Thirty Years War reenactment group website. The site is pretty interesting if you can read German, and if you can’t there are a lot of cool pictures of reenactors in amazing costumes.  This map shows population losses by region for the years 1618-48. The ones with dark shading are obviously the worst, but even within categories, there was considerable variation. Wurttemberg for instance lost over 75 percent of it’s population, while after the Siege of Nuremberg there was nothing left alive in a thirty-mile radius around the city.In light of that, it’s probably not too surprising that many Germans still considered this war the most devastating in their history, even after World War II.


Nanowrimo Spotlight: Christina Ochs

My NaNoWriMo interview over at the Kelworth Files!

The Kelworth Files

Good evening! It’s spotlight time again, and tonight the spotlight falls on Christina, who is christnick over on the Nanowrimo site, and blogs at The Rolling Writer. Here’s Christina introducing her history with Nano:

This will be my third official Nano and my fourth Nano experience, since I participated in camp in July.

I’d heard about Nano for years, and always had a few friends participate, but I never felt like I had anything ready to work on. In 2012, I got an idea for a romance novel, which was very strange, because that’s probably the one genre I never read. I managed 50k, and had a pretty good time doing it, but realized it was not the right book for me.

I was better prepared in 2013 and did some planning for a series I’ve been thinking about writing for at least a decade. I reached 53k words…

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Changing Things Up. Again.

He looks how I feel
He looks how I feel

I swear, I’m not normally this flaky. People who know me in real life consider me stern and serious. I only say this because I’m pretty sure that no one who knows me in real life reads this blog unless I’m forcing them to. Anyway, I keep changing my mind about how I’m doing what.

My original plan had been to work on editing the 80K or so words I’ve kept until November, at which time I would write the remaining 50-70K. It was a good plan in theory, but in reality, I hated it. I hated the whole piecemeal editing thing, and just felt anxious to write the rest of it. But what if I run out of words, OMG? Well, that’s never been a problem for me. Ever. I always write far more than I need to and then spend ages trying to cut back. Besides, I have at least three more books to write besides this one. The idea of running out of words anytime in the next decade is frankly, a joke.

So, this is the new plan. I’ve already started writing new scenes, and it feels wonderful. I even wrote one of the last ones in response to a prompt, but that’s totally okay, because it’s in my outline. When I’m not writing new words, I’ll be planning the next book. I don’t know if I’ll get it outlined to the end, but I’ll have enough prepared so that in the unlikely event I finish book one during NaNoWriMo, I’ll have more to write. It’s foolproof!

Now I have to do some quick research to make sure I have my ducks in a row for book two. I already have the main plot in my head, so I’d better write it down before it falls out. You know that uneasy feeling you get like something is kind of teetering on the verge of your brain? Well, that’s how I feel about the book two story. I have it all arranged and it makes perfect sense, but I fear I’ll wake up one morning and it will be Poof! gone. NaNo or no, it makes sense to get at least the bare bones of it written down.

Now that I’ve fixed my plot, the writing part is going very well, I’m excited about the story, and I’m even starting to get a feel for Gwynneth, the pov character who still eludes me. I think I just have to write a few more scenes for her, put her through a bit of hell, and I’ll be fine.

Since I’m barreling to the end, I’m starting to angst about the title. I don’t have one, and I don’t feel close to getting one. I’ve made endless lists of ideas and none of them are working for me. I keep hoping inspiration will strike, but nothing yet. I will be very happy when it does.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet 10- Braeden


It’s time for Weekend Writing Warriors! Every Sunday, a bunch of writers post 8-sentence snippets from their WIPs on their blogs. There’s a lot of reading, commenting and great writing. Click on the link to see the full list.

Last week, we left Braeden with a mysterious woman unconscious at his feet. This was not because she swooned over his burly manliness, though I would hardly blame anyone for doing so. She in fact sustained a smack to the head with a war hammer- a blow that would have killed a mere mortal. In the meantime, Braeden is reading the riot act to one of her henchmen, telling him he had no authority to operate in the area.

“We had every authority.” She suddenly stood toe-to-toe with him, something no one had dared since he was fourteen.

Braeden looked straight into eyes which at first appeared black, but pulsed yellow every few seconds. Torresia was right. It had to be Daciana Tomescu, and Braeden was no longer sure if the stories about her were mere superstition.

“Hand over your orders,” Braeden somehow kept his voice calm and finally dragged his gaze away from her eyes, which he quickly regretted when she  grinned widely, revealing sharp incisors, long as a wolf’s fangs.

“I will not,” she said, her awful eyes turning very black.  “I receive my orders directly from Teodora Inferrara and she is never foolish enough to put them in writing.”

Previous snippets can be read here, and I’ve also gone public with the first part of the prologue.

Character Profile: Braeden

I recently realized that I’ve written character profiles for characters that don’t have a POV. Or at least they don’t right now. I’m having serious second thoughts about Teodora as usual, the troublesome bitch. But anyway, I thought I’d get back to the main people. Kendryk and Gwynneth represent one side of this conflict, while Braeden represents the other. He’s a mercenary currently fighting for Empress Teodora. He’d not a big fan, but soldiers for hire don’t have to like their employers; they just have to get paid.

Bhussarraeden has had a difficult and somewhat unusual background that I can’t really give away right now, but suffice it to say, he had some good luck making friends and is currently a high-ranking officer and the right-hand man of Prince Novitny, the commander of the Sanova Hussars. I was forced to create the Sanova Hussars when my research reminded me of the famous Winged Hussars of Poland and Hungary, some of the most effective heavy cavalry of the early modern period.

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First Page Review Blog-hop

This post is for the October First Page Review Blog-hop, though anyone who shows up here is more than welcome to comment.  This is how it works: post the first 1,000 pages of something you’ve written or are currently working on, then sign up on this page, linking to the post. Then visit others on the list, letting them know what you think. Would you keep reading? What worked? Didn’t work? Any feedback is welcome. I’ve rewritten this so many times I don’t know if it makes any sense at all. Thanks!

Here’s the first 2/3 of of the prologue of my as yet untitled historical fantasy:

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My novel soundtrack

musicI’m always inspired by music, though I usually prefer silence while writing. Over time, I’ve developed a “soundtrack” that represents various events or characters. At one point, I even had a soundtrack for each POV character, but that’s changed so much I had to drop it for the time being. The songs on this playlist represent about half of everything that’s inspired me, but only when it comes to popular music. I have a whole other list of classical/orchestral things that I use as well. One day I might even post it, if I can get it organized.

A few characters have theme songs. Kendryk for instance, gets The Killers’ “Carry Me Home,” and Arian (who sadly, no longer has a POV, at least for now) is Linkin Park’s “A Light that Never Comes.” Some characters share songs, while others are just general to the story. And that always changes, too.

Do you listen to music for inspiration and/or while writing? If so, what do you listen to?