Weekend Writing Warriors: The whole ball of wax

temperature 062516I’d quote some songs about summer but don’t want to get slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit 🙂 so here’s something almost as good–the current temperature reading as of 9:30 in the evening. My kind of weather!

Never mind that, it’s time for Weekend Writing Warriors! The weekly blog hop for authors and readers! Check out the list on the home page for links to great excerpts from talented writers.

Continuing with the scene from my novel-in-progress, working title Night Shift. You can find previous snippets here. Devorah and Kazimir are visiting Quinn, one of the local demon overseers. Kaz tries to get Quinn to admit he has the important info he and Devorah believe Quinn’s got, knowing he’ll want something in return if he agrees to talk. Eventually, Quinn does admit to knowing something. Quinn has been after Kazimir for years to leave the demon group he belongs to and join Southside, the group Quinn is overseer of. So naturally Kaz thinks that’s what Quinn wants in exchange. (This excerpt has been edited to fit WeWriWa’s guidelines.)

“Details?” Kazimir said, “names, timing, all of that?”

Quinn nodded, “the whole ball of wax—it’s good to know people in high places.”

Kazimir sat forward. “All right, cash, drugs, weapons, what?”

“Oh that’s petty stuff, I said the whole ball of wax.”  

His expression was smug enough for him to be telling the truth. Did he know things Tark didn’t? Was Southside in a better position for whatever was coming?

“I haven’t defected from any group in years,” Kazimir said, “that’s worth more than vague comments.”

“Well, Russian, you’ll be happy to know that’s not what I had in mind.”

Cue the ominous music! What Quinn wants has a major impact on Devorah, causing her to make some not so good choices.

The current draft of Night Shift is almost ready for beta readers; just need to tweak a couple more things. Microsoft Word tells me the draft is just barely shy of 82k words. I’m supposing I’ll add some because I feel the worldbuilding might need to be expanded in places. Goodness knows there’s enough dialog, maybe too much!

I should be thinking about whether I want to go the query route or jump into self-publishing. Either way, I’m not looking forward to spending a bunch of time promoting the book, partly because I don’t really know how to promote anything and partly because if I’m doing that, I can’t be writing. *shrug* Always something, ain’t it?

I should’ve written a few short stories first and worked on selling those. That might make selling a novel easier. Always something 😉 Thanks for visiting today, it’s always appreciated!

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Visualizing characters

I seem to work with character dichotomies. So far in the two novels I’ve worked on, I’ve had two protagonists for each story. One has emerged from my psyche (or wherever these people come from) pretty much whole like the myth of Athena bursting from Zeus’ head. (One protag has been pretty warlike so that’s apropos) The other protag hides their personality and thought process from me. The cliche of pulling teeth being easier is really the truth in that case.

For Night Shift, the character with the hidden personality has been Devorah, which is very awkward because she’s also the POV character. Hard to tell a story through somebody’s eyes when you don’t know much about that somebody!

I’m a visual person so I thought having some kind of picture might help me define her better. I came up with these. They’re not exactly how I think of Devorah but they give me something concrete to work with.

Devorah2 Devorah4

Devorah is a Crosser, one of the humans who work undercover in the ranks of demons; they ultimately answer to the God of Light. Many demons keep their human forms so they can work more effectively in the human realm. Crossers must blend in among full demons so they usually wear a lot of black. Devorah also wears some blue because she’s aligned with the element of water. She puts a steampunk spin on the usual demon attire; I had a hard time finding clothing items I thought fit with that but these work for what I need.

Many Crossers also invent an alternate persona they fall back on when they must engage in the inevitable demon behavior. For example, before Devorah could be admitted to one of the local demon groups, she had to perform an initiation challenge. If she completed the challenge without flinching, she was accepted. Her challenge was murder, a typical demon bit of behavior. The alternate persona is similar to the persona undercops use. Devorah’s demon persona is known as Malicia. It’s common for demons to use names that we think of as a bit corny; they’re not an especially creative bunch!

So this is what I came up with for Malicia. She has a “uniform” that often includes an army jacket and/or army boots, or something camo. She also had blue streaks put in her hair.

Devorah3

I don’t currently have a way to make an avatar for Kazimir, although it’s not really necessary since he was so clear and developed almost from day 1 that I had to stop him from taking over the story!

Characters . . . some you love, some drive you quite insane, some you wouldn’t want to be in the same country with, some just drift into stories then out again when their job is done. But you’ve got to have a clear sense of who they are if they’re going to be effective whether they’re the POV character or a minor player. Seeing pictures helps make them more real for me which, hopefully, translates to the typed page.

How about you? Do you find a picture of your characters helpful whether you can already visualize them or not? Does your idea of their physical appearance change as you write more about them?

Weekend Writing Warriors: Quinn

Moon and Mars 06-17-16

Ready, set, hop! Blog hop, that is. Every Sunday us Weekend Writing Warriors get together to post excerpts from our own works then hop to each other’s blogs for reading, commenting, and general writerly enjoyment. I guarantee you’ll find at least one story that catches your imagination, probably three or four 🙂

Previous excerpts of my novel-in-progress (working title Night Shift) are here. Kazimir has decided Quinn’s silence on Twitter is important so he and Devorah pay him a visit. Devorah’s not exactly pleased about that. Who is Quinn? Here’s an introduction.

Quinn always had some nice vodka—though not imported like Kazimir’s—and his apartment wasn’t as dingy as our own overseer’s but that was as close as I could come to complimenting him. He had the sort of small, shifty eyes mentioned in 1950s detective novels as marking the criminals. He didn’t even have the good manners to turn off the TV when people were visiting, just turned it down. For an overseer, he left a lot to be desired.

Quinn’s was one of the places I didn’t mind Kaz’s pretense of possessiveness. Quinn had plenty of seating but Kazimir pulled me onto his lap without a struggle from me. Quinn’s beady eyes swept up and down my body. I tried to turn away.

Yeah I wouldn’t be happy about being in his apartment either. After writing about him for a while, I started to feel like I needed a shower! Quinn is a full demon, unlike Devorah and Kazimir who are also servants of the Light. Therefore, I didn’t feel bad when — oh don’t want to give anything away! 😀

The photo at top is the moon and Mars, taken from my front porch on June 17, 2016 with my iPad. Mars, you say? It’s there, honest. It’s a pin dot of light about halfway between the tree and the right edge of the photo, and about halfway between the top and bottom edges of the photo. Not exactly material for Astronomy magazine, but not bad for an iPad.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to visit my blog.

Happy Father’s Day to any guy who’s a dad, a father figure, or a mentor — whether your “kids” have two feet, four feet, fur, feathers, or scales 😀

Weekend Writing Warriors: Dancing in the dark

Allentown Art Fest 2016Well folks, this is going to be a short post ’cause I’m plumb tired. However I don’t want to miss this week’s edition of Weekend Writing Warriors, the weekly blog hop where writers share 8 – 10 sentences from one of their own works and the rest of us visit, read, and comment. If you haven’t taken part yet, try it, you’ll like it!

Moving ahead with my novel-in-progress, working title Night Shift. You can find previous excerpts here. I’ve had some excerpts with characterization and world building; this one gets directly to the plot. Devorah and Kazimir have gone to see one of their acquaintances, Anton, who is also a demon. They’re looking for info on the electricity blackout that just hit the city; Devorah and Kaz have reason to suspect demons are responsible. M-North is the demon group Devorah and Kaz belong to, Southside is a rival group. Azura also belongs to M-North and Tark is the group’s overseer.

“What’s up with all these blackouts, dude?” Kazimir asked. “Too much going on to be coincidence. Is Tark playing at something or is this somebody else?”

“Not sure. . .kind of strange ’cause I’m only seeing tweets and texts from Southside and M-North. Josselyn in particular, she keeps tweeting ‘LOL suckers!’ I don’t know who she’s directing that at.”

“Azura seems kind of high on the blackout,” Kazimir said, studying his phone, “with all those repetitions of ‘let’s go dancing in the dark.’ But then it’s Azura, so maybe not weird.”

Anton moved a finger across the phone’s surface, scrolling messages. “You know who’s conspicuously quiet on Twitter tonight — Quinn.”

Ah, now we’re getting into it 🙂 Who’s Quinn? You’ll find out 🙂

I’m plumb tired because I spent all afternoon at the Allentown Art Festival. More than 400 vendors line Delaware Avenue for several blocks and spill over into the side streets. I spent too much money again but got some awesome stuff–I can’t pass up elegant owls! It’s also a perfect occasion for people watching. At Allentown, anything goes. You see people who bring The Illustrated Man to life, street musicians of course, a fellow giving his pet Chihuahua a ride on his shoulders, a couple peeps riding tall unicycles, and my favorite from a few years back, a guy playing guitar with an amp strapped to his back, rolling along on roller skates. Festival attendees are a mix of boho and retro! Temp was 78 (about 25 centigrade) and despite threats of a weather apocalypse, the skies were sunny which made it seem hotter. After five hours, I was glad for an early dinner at the iconic Towne Restaurant complete with baklava for dessert 🙂 then off home.

I hope your weekend has been wonderful, and thanks for visiting my blog. I sure appreciate it!

Weekend Writing Warriors: We require a profession of penitence

angel, stone
Image courtesy Flickr cc: Pawel, “angel”

Happy June, everybody 🙂 I love this time of year! Summer’s flowers are blooming and I’ve finally shed that waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop feeling that the warmth is only temporary because the cold will be back in a day or two. But on to the next excerpt for the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop! Participants share 8 – 10 sentences from one of their own works then visit each other’s blogs to comment and generally support each other. I don’t have to ask people for book recommendations anymore, I find my reading material right there 🙂

You may remember that in my excerpt last week, the angel Nanshi berated Kazimir for some recent mysterious behavior. (You can find previous snippets here.) Continuing with the scene for just a bit, this part hints at how seriously these angels take breaking a vow.

Nanshi drifted toward the hall and called Kazimir. He came into the doorway eating an apple. 

“I will leave you in place as Devorah’s mentor,” she said, “unless there is another breach of trust. Should that occur, you will be sent to Ninti.”

He shrugged and bit into the apple with a resounding crunch. That was no exceptionally crisp fruit; his tense body language told me he swallowed a retort along with the apple.

“Also,” she continued, “we require a profession of penitence. Now–and I remind you that Devorah and I are not your only witnesses.”

There’s no one else in the room so who else is listening? Hint: Nanshi is an angel, Kazimir and Devorah are servants of the God of Light. 😉 And where is Ninti? I think I’ll keep that secret for now–but it’s clear Kazimir is not happy with the prospect of being sent there.

I’m vacillating over whether or not to include a prologue for this story. The piece I have in mind explains why and how Devorah’s dad got involved with the people who eventually killed him, and since solving his death is what propels her throughout the story, it seems like it might be a good fit. But I know a lot of people don’t read prologues. How about you? Always skip, never skip, sometimes? How come?

And thanks for stopping in. I like having visitors to my little blog home!