Weekend Writing Warriors: demons can’t enter holy places

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http://www.gardenwalkbuffalo.com/

Hello friends, hope your summer is going well; or winter, if you’re in the southern hemisphere. I’ve sent my novel-in-progress Night Shift off to one beta reader and hope to find more peeps willing to read the whole thing. Draft 4 comes in, after some changes, at half a hair under 82k words. I’m sure some changes will still need to happen.

For this week’s Weekend Writing Warriors excerpt, I’m continuing with the scene from the last post. Weekend what, you say? We’re the weekly blog hop where authors post 8 – 10 sentences from one of their own works, then we hop around to each other’s blogs for some great reading and commenting. it’s kind of the definition of fun 🙂

Devorah is talking to Father John in one of the confessional booths in St. Benedict’s church. Someone asked last time if Fr. John would be bound by the usual oath of secrecy for this conversation, but I don’t think so because a true confessional was never started. As soon as she was alone in the booth, she identified herself before Fr. John could speak. She’s only being secretive because she doesn’t want any demons to know she’s visiting the priest, not because she’s telling him about anything illegal. In this scene, she’s asked Fr. John about the renovations going on in the church.

“The construction crew is working in the apse now. I don’t know if you remember, but that was one of the areas with water damage from the spring storms a couple years ago. We took out the cabinets in the sacristy the other day and found extensive floor damage.”

Of course I remembered, my dad died not long after those storms came through; it was two years and five weeks ago, in fact. “Wasn’t St. Benedict’s closed for a month to get all the damage repaired?”

“Yes, I don’t know how they pulled the wool over Father Albert’s eyes while I was in the hospital, but that shoddy work is why we’re seeing problems now. We found something a little strange behind one of the cabinets, some sort of artwork. I’m sure it’s stolen, it looks like some kind of icon. It probably fell out of one of those clowns’ toolboxes after working somewhere else.”

At least that had nothing to do with demons since they couldn’t enter holy places.

It’s true that demons can’t enter holy places, but others can. *wink wink*

Saturday I visited some of the more than 400 gardens open to the public during Garden Walk Buffalo. My town has a few things worth bragging about and this is the crown jewel. We have literally the biggest garden walk in the nation. Many of the properties also feature outstanding homes, some dating back nearly a hundred years or more. The event has drawn journalists from Martha Stewart Living and top-level gardening publications. Some gardeners on the Walk sharing clippings of their beautiful plants, in a time-honored tradition among gardeners. If you’re ever in Western New York at the end of July, come on the Walk! You’ll meet some of the friendliest folks you’d ever want to meet, see some extraordinary architecture, and experience a gardener’s paradise. No lie, dozens of magazines and websites have said so!

Image result for buffalo city hallOur city hall has been called one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in the nation.  We had so many millionaires here that when the stock market crashed in 1929, funding for the building was secure and it opened in 1931.

Plus, when production is on in the General Mills plant, downtown really does smell like Cheerios 🙂

Thanks for visiting today, I appreciate it!

Weekend Writing Warriors: Something’s being planned

d8c3b-wewriwa_square_1Happy Canada Day weekend and Happy Independence Day 🙂 Hope you’re having a grand time whichever holiday you celebrate, or if you’re just hanging out at the computer waiting anxiously for all the posts in the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop! In case you just happened to find my blog and don’t know what the excitement is about, this is the blog hop for writers and readers. Every week we post up to 10 sentences from one of our own works then hop all around to other participating blogs, commenting and finding cool new stories to read!

Given that here in the U.S., this is a major summer holiday weekend so some folks will be off celebrating instead of blog hopping, I’ll share an excerpt from a different scene so regular visitors won’t miss anything. Previous excerpts are here. In this scene, Devorah visits Father John, the priest of St. Benedict’s Catholic church, to warn him that something’s being planned by the local demon groups that could affect humans. She can’t tell him everything because he doesn’t know she’s one of the demons; like undercover cops, she has to keep a lot of secrets. He knows she’s into something strange and dangerous, but not much more.

She’s speaking with him in the privacy of a confessional. St. Benedict’s is over 100 years old so there’s a limit to how much modernizing can be done. Devorah is the first speaker.

“I can tell you that something is being planned for the 29th of this month around the Earth Hour events. It’s just a test phase to take advantage of when people turn their lights off, so if a lot of lights don’t come back on right away, don’t be alarmed.”

His cassock rustled as he shifted position. “That’s only three days away. This won’t be people sabotaging power stations, I take  it?”

“It may last an extra fifteen or twenty minutes, or maybe a couple of hours – that’s all I can say. And right about now, I need a dose of normalcy. How’s the church renovation going?”

He gave a light sigh. “Someday I hope you can take me fully into your confidence.” 

The renovation figures into the plot, by the way. Devorah and Father John don’t know that yet! I like Father John, although he doesn’t get much airplay. It’s nice to have a character who doesn’t try to take over.

If you’re reading this on July 3, I’ll return your visit in the evening; that might be July 4 where you are. I’ve got a reservation for a Buffalo River history tour by boat. I’ve never done it before but it sounds interesting and fun. I love water and boats, raise your hand if you do too 🙂 Stay safe, everybody, and thanks so much for visiting me today!

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!

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?