Thursday, June 23, 2011

Redoing things

I'd like to take a moment to expound on the great value of beta readers. Both readers and listeners. I've been reading the book chapter by chapter aloud to a good friend of mine and it has been immeasurably helpful. Today I had my cousin read the first five chapters to herself. This presented a completely different problem which leads to the title of this journal. I'm rewriting chapter 1. Again.

I know I said I'd never touch it once I was done - but it's my first chapter! I can't just let it be when I know it's flawed!  So I'm rewriting the first chapter again, which is timely since I didn't really know how to progress in the spot I was writing. I'll keep working though.

The goal right now is to have the first chapter rewritten quickly. I've already got a plan for how it's going to go down and I"ve got a lot of other work to do too, so this is necessary.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Off Topic On-Topic musings - Ghosts of Whitehall

Editing is moving along at a snail's pace. My goal of having it done by August seems very far away, but I've got to remind myself that the part I'm editing right now is the oldest stuff. The closer we get to the the end the more recently I've revised it and that's going to make things go faster and easier. In the meantime I'm taking notes and reading chapters aloud to friends and family for spot-checks.

In the meantime though I've been thinking a lot about my next project/projects - Runian, the prequel to Threadcaster and Ghosts of Whitehall, a separate IP I've been wanting to write for a long time.

Whitehall is going to take a while to research and such. I still need to organize the events in my head and nail down the character list. I know the basic gist of it; it's spiritual investigation from the ghosts' pov. That's barely scratching the surface but I'll spare everyone details for now. All I know for certain at the moment is that the main character is a 100 year old 8 year-old ghost named Victoria who must find a way to communicate with the investigators in order to save them from a furious poltergheist hellbent on destroying the Whitehall legacy including all souls both living and dead.

I'm basing the house extremely loosely on the Lemp mansion. Whitehall (the house) is going to be located in the Benton Park area and Whitehall (the original owner) is a brewer with a very successful beer company. I want to name as many of the characters as I can after famous St. Louisians, specifically the present-day people, where their monikers are more obviously homages than the past where they might be confused by the actual people. Plus I've got names already for a lot of my ghost characters that I'm not willing to change - namely Victoria, her century-old companion Lancaster the butler, his wife Moira and Whitehall itself. 

There are a lot of famous people from the St. Louis area I'm discovering. Not just the givens like Mark Twain and Tennessee Williams, but obscure people like Linda Blair from the Exorcist and Lance Robertson, the human and host on Yo Gabba Gabba (a show on PBS I've watched and ironically wondered why our children aren't normal).  In reality I realize that no matter how bad I want to name someone after local comic book artists and internet celebrities, I'm going to have to pick the semi-famous ones like Lindbergh and Shaw... (obviously naming someone Anheuser-Busch is being heavy-handed)

Then another idea could be to name everyone after the streets of St.Louis. I like this... because I finally get to name someone Spoede.

And Jamieson for that matter... boy it's gonna take a lot of work to put an "I" in that.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

First Edition of Graveyard Friday

Hey all. I'm currently engaged in heavy handed editing as you all know. I'm sparing none of the rod either, this thing is getting flogged to near death. Unfortunately this means that sometimes parts of the book I really like are forced to exit the draft; usually because it's rehashing previous events, slowing the pace or (and most often) is just another excuse for me to have fun writing dialog.

I usually like these scenes just fine, sometimes I think they're really fun, and to make the separation easier I cut/paste them into a separate Graveyard file I keep open nearby - which brings us to Friday.

I've decided to start what I'm going to call "Graveyard Friday". A moment for me to share with the world excerpts and blurbs of the book that haven't made it to final draft. Kind of a bonus feature if you would... an easter egg in case this thing ever gets published and people want to find cool behind the scenes content; and a permanent record for me when I want to relive a little of the editing process.

First Friday of June, 2011... I offer you all the first edition of Graveyard Friday: a scene clipped from the beginning of Chapter 3 when Cat and Peter are getting ready to leave Mason Forge, the only town they've ever known.

The cart was an open-air with a steel frame, foam-padded circumferential seats, thick rubber tires, and near zero suspension. It was drawn by a mare named Strawberry; a copper colored draft horse previously employed contour-plowing the terraces above the town. Probably the largest of the sacrifices; Cat wondered what Mason Forge would do without her.

She and Peter filled the cart with personal effects - most the essentials were already present, tucked beneath the seats and they could send back for any missing items once they had a free house and grounds to furnish. That didn't stop Sheila from putting things in boxes.

Peter, honey, I packed everything I can think of,” The curly-haired woman rattled down the front ramp with a stack of boxes in her arms, “I have clothes and plenty of bandages and the books you like...” Cat was sitting in the back of the wagon; Sheila unloaded the boxes onto her, and addressed her son, "Are you sure you have everything?"

He grinned at the new pile, “Pretty sure.”

"I don't want you to go without!" She noticed the greasy spatula in her hand, "Oh! The oven!"

She swept back into the house. Peter shook his head, "That woman..." Cat shoved the pile of boxes aside with distaste. The Earth Curse nodded to her, "You okay?"

Invisible but otherwise fine." She answered, "You?”

I'm staying positive." He reached into the book box to retrieve his well-worn atlas, "I never thought I'd travel for real. It's kind of exciting when you think about it.”

"Exciting, sure," She smirked, "You enjoy the ride. I'll be doing all the work."

"You volunteered," He reminded her, "Complain if you want, I'll just stand here turning to stone."

"You always ruin my pity parties with your extra suffering," She pouted. "I don't know why I hang out with you."

He could hear irony in the joke and replied in kind, "It builds character."

Here!” Mrs. Montgomery charged out of the house carrying a cardboard box between a pair of oven mitts. “I baked cookies for the trip.” She unloaded the box into Cat's arms, tugged her mitts off with her teeth and laid them on top of it. “You can take these for cooking." She reached into her apron pouch, "and here's a ladle and a colander. I don't know what you'll use them for, but you should take them just in case.” She added a couple more random cooking utensils then blew her nose and stuffed the handkerchief in the same pocket. “Mothers always send cookies with their boys leaving home, I didn't want you to feel unloved.”

Peter set the book aside and pulled her close instead, "With a mother like you? Impossible."

The Astons came down with the last of Cat's things. Her father tucked them under the seat and dusted his hands, "That should last you a while, especially if Lord Creven provides utilities.”

I'm sure there's a catch.” Cat said.

"No no!" Her mother assured her, "My sources say it's completely free!"

"Yeah, well," Cat folded her arms, "Your Book Club tends to embellish."

Her mother folded her arms as well, "I never embellish."

The women stared at each other a moment Peter and Raymond exchanged a knowing look over their heads. The Earth Curse sighed, he'd miss the place despite it all, "We should probably get going."

"You should?" Sheila peeped.

He squeezed her with his bandaged arm, "Goodbye Mom."

"Goodbye dear," Mona hugged her daughter tight, "Write often, I want every little detail."

"Try to get a plot far from town," Her father advised.

"We'll take what we can get," Cat said.

"And don't cast any spells." He prompted.

"Yeah we'll see about that." Cat spooled her loop of string around her wrist and gave her travel buddy a nudge, "Shall we?"

He nodded, "I'm driving."

"What!? No you're not!"

I am so.” He climbed the low step into the coachman's seat and pinched the reigns in his stiff hands, giving them a tug to prove he was capable.

Cat shook her head and conceded. "Fine fine." She climbed in behind and gestured dramatically to the road laid before them. “To Castleton!”


That's it for now! I hope you enjoyed!