In Which Our Heroine Discusses Her Current Work in Progress

If I get the 4,000 words between today and tomorrow that I want then I will not only hit the 60,000 mark but that will leave me with about 10,000 words left until my goal. I’m really excited about this, and I’m especially excited about the prospect of pulling my RWA resources and getting into a critique group. I need to take a hiatus from Death by Dragon for a bit to come at it with a clear mind. I have a couple of other thoughts on how to spend that time.

One, my first Work in Progress for the year, a YA Romantic Urban Fantasy, The Blackstone Heir could use some looking at. I really want to have more than one project going because I feel like the more things you put out there, the more likely someone is to bite. Then if you do get a publisher to bite, when you finish writing your first series it’s easy to say, by the way, I have this other thing that’s already written, are you interested?

Two, my brain keeps batting around an idea that’s superhero based. I’m not sure if I should go back to work one or start outlining this one. Decisions, decisions…

In the meantime, as I finish up on my first draft. I’m considering posting up my “Back Cover Blurb” for Death by Dragon up on the site.

The Next Big Thing

I was very kindly nominated by for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop by Dreampunk Geek. Thanks for the shout out!

What is the working title of your book?

The Case Involving the Death by Dragon

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’m a member of the Romance Writers of America and I was searching through the upcoming class listings when I ran across a class being offered in Western Steampunk by Beth Daniels. By the time I finished reading the class description, the voices inside my head that become characters had already gone off plotting antics and shenanigans. I signed up for the class and quickly decided this work in progress was stronger than my previous.

What genre does your book fall under?

YA Romantic Western Steampunk

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

High society witch Viviene Kingston seeks to discover the truth behind her brother’s suspicious death with the help of the handsome Matt Sawyer whose mysterious past stands to jeopardize the investigation.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ooo, that is a tricky one. Given the ages of the characters involved, I suspect I would be most likely forced to use the CW line-up to begin my casting search. I do have a personal rule that if you’re closer to thirty than twenty, you should not be playing a teenager though.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m a firm believer that if you want your book to end up in a bookstore, you should go the traditional route even though it’s quite time consuming.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I reached the halfway point yesterday. The first draft will have been about 2-3 months total.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Part of what attracted me to Western Steampunk is it hasn’t been done so much in YA. In my current writing class, the instructor looked at the outline and called it Wild, Wild west meets Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel. I haven’t actually read Cassandra Clare’s Steampunk series so I can’t tesify to that.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It has fisticuffs, magic, snogging and pretty bustle skirts. Also at least one character with some background as an outlaw. Really, you can’t go wrong with that. Literary boys of questionable and mysterious backgrounds for the win.

For the Next Big Thing Blog Hop, I nominate:

Kirsty Stanley and Melananie D Sokol

In Which Our Heroine Discusses More Victorian Things…

An engagement ring, circa 1880s.

I get to look up really fun things when I write historical fiction.

I’m writing Western Steampunk so I get to do research into the American Victorian era and the Wild West. For anyone out there who might be interested in such things, I highly recommend these books for everyday life information (food, clothing, hobbies, slang, furnishings, courtship, mourning, etc): Everyday Life in the Wild West and Everyday Life in the 1800s. They are out of print but you can still find used copies through the Amazon Marketplace or Half.com.

Sometimes, I end up poking around the internet for things the book can’t cover. I was curious as to what engagement rings of the period looked like as my recollection of the whole “Diamonds Are Forever” marketing campaign being later. For the records, diamonds were used but not as the default gem like today. I found a gorgeous ring poking around for 1880s engagement rings and thought it was rather pretty. I also found references to engagement rings coming in silver boxes upon purchases which I thought was a neat detail. Apparently some people collect those boxes.

Tabor Grand Opera House was first opened in 1881 in Denver.

I also had cause to look up opera houses of the time. I was lucky that the time period I had picked including the building of a lot of things I can fit into my story. While Steampunk lets me make the setting a little alternate, I do like to drop in those real historical tidbits for flavor. It does help make the world building easier when I can play with what already existed.

The interior of the Tabor Grand Opera House. So pretty!

The opera house that matched my time period is the Tabor Grand Opera House, which was funded by a very prominent member of the city. The Tabor Grand Opera House no longer exists (it was taken down for good in the 1960s), but the surviving pictures show that it was a stunning building and I think it’s a shame it’s no longer standing. The interiors were just gorgeous and no expense was spared when it was created.  Thank heavens the Denver Public Library has an online photo archive for historical purposes. Makes my research easier. Note to writers, sometimes it’s really nice when your period of choice includes photograph as painting are not as greatly available and could be manipulated a bit more.

In Which Our Heroine Struggles on Titling Her Book

Titles are tricky, tricky things. there was a time I was better at this. Back in high school. Even in college. You know, when I was writing things that I have since shelved as earlier attempts to write where I learned a lot but those things should sit and simmer for much longer if I ever do anything with them.

For my current work in progress, my YA Romantic Steampunk, I am struggling with not only a series but a book title. I want it to feel very steampunky which means I’m very much looking at the diction end of things. Part of my struggle is also that I learned that marketing departments often get the final call on your title. You go through all that trouble so someone else can name your book. While it makes sense to me, and I do tend to think marketing departments likely know more than I do, it still makes me grumble a little. Especially since I also hear that agents and editors look for titles that catch their attention.

Sigh.

Grumble. Grumble.

In Which Our Heroine Reflects on Writing Time

I keep track of my writing goals by the week and Monday is my start the clock day. I got home from the day job and got an amazing session in. I was so excited. Then the week got stolen away from me because my allergies were bad enough that they kicked my butt and took my name. I was exhausted and spent a lot of time groggy or sleeping. Especially, like most aspiring authors, I have a day job that pays the bills and you never know when you will or won’t get a book accepted for publication.

For the record, I probably should confess that I have no intention to self-publish any novel at this point in my writing career. The information that guided me to this decision came from several sources including conclusions I have made based on observation, number crunching, and questions I have heard answered by authors who have started their careers as traditionally published writers.

One of the best bits of advice I received was from writer Kevin Hearne at Phoenix Comic Con. When he was an aspiring author he had the same day job as I did as well as kidlet and family obligations (I have a husband and toddler). The day I met him was the day after he had finished his last day at his non-writing job. He was now going to be a full time writer.

Mr. Hearne told me that if you can do 2-4 pages a day (that’s 500 to 1,000 words), you will have a 300 page story in about three months. I try to do a minimum of four a day. This week I don’t know if it will happen. Perhaps I need to forgive myself and the plants that caused my allergies and move on. I have a chunk of the story done and I suspect it will be done in time for me to begin revisions for the writing contest I’m looking at.

Remember, 2-4 pages a day and you too will have a novel.

Oh, and if you like quirky urban fantasy, Mr Hearne is quite the talented writer. His Iron Druid Chronicles make me giggle. A lot. Maybe if we ever get that dog we discussed adding to the family, we must name him Oberon out of tribute.

In Which Our Heroine Reflects on Historical Fashion

A 1880s bustle dress. Please click the image for more shots of this dress and others in the 1880s section.

I have a confession to make.

Bustle skirts determined the setting of my story.

I love the Victorian period for fashion and even though my Western Steampunk takes place in Denver, Colorado, the year corresponds with the British Victorian Period and many fashions traveled to America. Once I realized this meant my story was taking place during the 1880s, I checked out the other details I had at my disposal about those years in Denver. Luckily most of the events that occurred at this time really worked for my story – Huzzah!

Bustle skirts are sort of fabulous, but I sometimes wonder how one didn’t knock things around. Although I found pictures of walking dresses without such things, I figure I can get in at least one of two bustle jokes if I’m really lucky.

One of the other things I looked up was embroidery of the time period. A lot of bolder female characters in books reject pastimes like embroidery. I have a lot of tomboy tendencies myself, but I actually really like embroidery so I thought it would be fun to rebel against the stereotype and let the heroine master one “feminine art” that she was insanely proud of because I like quirks. Why shouldn’t a heroine be tough, capable and wickedly creative with a needle and thread? By golly, this is Steampunk and one can do it all

This embroidery could be found on clothing (OMG, so detailed and pretty!) or household items like linens, table clothes, handkerchiefs and so forth. In fact, I am so in love with this 1880s White Cotton Polonaise with Black Embroidery dress, it isn’t even funny. If you think some of that is gorgeous, take Google for a spin and check out the beadwork. Drool…

In Which Our Heroine Discusses the Ever Popular Bad Boy

When I told my husband that my current Work in Progress (WIP) was going to feature a outlaw character, he laughed. Why? Because he is very much aware of my weakness for bad boy/outlaw characters (I make exceptions fior Captain America and Lee “Apollo” Adama). It’s kind of a thing. Characters who are rebellious, flawed, far too good looking for anyone’s good, and in possession of the best one-liners are kind of irresistable. Let me break down some of my favorite bad boys.

The original was quite possibly George Cooper from Tamora Pierce’s Tortal series. Charming, clever, clearly rebellious. I was Team George before relationship favorites were described as being teams. Why have Prince Jonathan when you could have George? Honestly, I’d love more about his adventures as the King of Thieves.

Now the fanged choices. First, the Buffy offering. I was always a Spike girl rather than an Angel girl. The one-liners, the cheeky snark,  the charming when he wanted to be, and let’s not forget the accent. Bonus points for getting  to watch James Marsters sing. Spike clearly had his flaws, but I’m still convinced that he stole large sections of season four. Add in the fact he one fought for his soul and had been the Victorian version of a bullied geek and he won a lot of fans. Now, onto the Vampire Diaries bad boy. While I may believe that Elena is wise to stick with Stefan, I am a total Damon girl. Once again, the one-liners, the rebellious streak, add in some killer good looks. Damon steals scenes for a reason. However, he does have feeling for Elena and as my BFF puts in, he too loved Katherine.

The space cowboy edition. Most girls were May Reynolds girls. Nathan Fillion is as charming as good looking and Mal got a dash of power brood and lawbreaking too boot. His bad boy was softened by his brotherly love for Kaylee, angst regarding the loss of the war and his home planet and his always messed up attempts too woo Inara. However, I was a Jayne girl. The one-liners and love for his gun, Vera. Not too mention a very cunning hat. Jayne’s softer spots came through his care about his family (he wore his Mom’s hat after all) and the scene where he begged Mal not to tell the crew what he did when Mal almost threw him out of the airlock – in space. 

The modern offerings are last but not least. John Ross Ewing of Dallas, Neal Caffery of White Collar, and Logan Echolls of Veroinca Mars. Good looking John Ross of the daddy issues larger than the size of Texas literally created the phrase “John Ross feels” for my best friend and I this past summer. I enjoyed his character far more than that of Christopher Ewing. Charming and criminally good looking Neal Caffery with his little boy grins made me forgive him for those years he tried to take Sarah Walker from Chuck Bartowski. But Neal’s attempts at reforms and troubled past make him even more lovable. Logan Echolls of the epic one-liners (I can’t say anthropomorphic without thinkong of him) but who clearly loved Veronica and had a horrific homelife won so man hearts that Rob Thomas had Veronica’s other suitor Duncan Kane written off because it was very clear who had won. Speaking of epic, his definition of his and Veronica’s epic romance is still one of my favorite lines ever.

I clearly love those bad boy characters. Some are more bad than others but they all seem to have that redeeming quality, that sympathetic quirk that can win an audience over. Some are more reformed bad boys than others, some attempt their reform during a story. I very much look forward to developing my own outlaw for my story, luckily the Wild West has lots of possibilities for such things.