Category Archives: Story Subscription

July’s installment has gone out!

(or: two things I forget about — updating this blog and paying attention to my public FB page.)

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For those of you who are signed up for the Story Subscription, chapter 7 of A Marriage of Land and Sea has been sent out. I’m roughly two chapters ahead of you in the writing, and I can say that it’s looking to be about 12 chapters long, so it should wrap up in December. I hadn’t planned on that — in fact, I thought it was going to be longer — but I am not a long novel writer, I am a short novel writer *insert short jokes here* and 12 chapters looks like it’s going to be just about right. *cue ominous music?*

I still have getting a Patreon account set up, so that I can move away from Paypal, largely so that you have the option of setting up recurring payments rather than having to remember that this is a thing you want to support. Anything that makes life easier is a good thing! Honestly, the setting up of an account intimidates me and conjures up all sorts of “aack, I’m pulling wool over eyes!” as if your enjoyment of my writing is some great scam I’ve tricked you all into. Silly, silly Jo. I’m hoping to tackle that particular project by August. Fingers crossed!

Chapter Three will be going out in a couple of days! Also, some babble.

Just a reminder on that! Remember, if you’re interested in signing up and getting the previous two chapters, you can! Just leave a note when you’re paying and I’ll send those along, too.

Remember how I said I’d be curtailing my social media presence in February in order to buckle down? Remember how I said I really wanted to meet my (albeit self-imposed) deadlines? Remember how I’ve talked about realistic goals, and knowing thyself, and all that crap?

Yeah.

So, to recap: going in to 2015 I recommitted to Writing All The Things. All the things in this case was: get the Marriage trio (need a serial name!) written (three books, roughly 50k each), using the 1st which is halfway done as the Story Subscription to give myself cushion to finish it, and get going on the next two. I also wanted to get Poseidon: A Narrative print ready. And I wanted to maybe find some time to write some short stories. Full time job, part time job at Fiberwytch, and the Story Subscription alone is a part time job, too. (An AWESOME part time job. My favorite job right now.) To that I wanted to add a second full time job, writing.

And maybe that was do-able. Maybe it still is. I’ve failed at my mini-goals, my deadline to get the first book’s rough draft done by the end of February, but the big goals for the year are still attainable . . .

Except, I’ve opted to participate in the Pagan Experience blog project this year, and I’m enjoying it, and I want to keep doing it. Beth and I have made significant headway into a book we’re writing together which, tragically, has required some research done and extra, unanticipated reading *cough*.

So, on the one hand, I failed at my mini-goal to have A Marriage of Land and Sea completed by tomorrow, but on the other had, I have met my word-count goals. I’ve also remembered something really important:

I hate writing every day on the same project. Deciding I’m going to write at NaNo pacing for the whole of the year on one project is worse than silly — it’s ignoring what I know about myself, my writing habits, what works for me, what doesn’t, and it’s making sure I fail before I’m even out of the gate.

What works for me? While I’m working full time at a day job, having some evenings home when I can veg out, knit, or read works for me, so it’s important that I have two days set aside to get large amounts of writing done. Having a goal of 10k for two days is a tad on the high side. 8-9k seems more sustainable. Part of the joy of working for yourself is making your own schedule, right? Who says you have to spread your work out over a whole week? Writing 1-2k a day on something 4-5 days a week bores me to tears, and by week two I just don’t want to see it anymore. Why set myself up to not want to write? I love writing.

Not over-committing myself works for me, too. This is frustrating, because I want to get more wordage out this year, I want to see a few projects through to completion, and I love fiction writing. I don’t have a huge blog following, and I’m not looking to becoming a blogger-name, but I’m owning up to the fact that writing blog posts count as writing and, more to the point for me right now, I really like writing nonfiction, tooWriting theological, spiritual, or even mundane nonfiction helps me internalize, reflect, and grow. It makes sure that I’m not just sitting and not engaging. It’s important, as important to my well being as writing fiction is. So committing myself to nothing but fiction? Not a good idea. I’m glad I committed to the Pagan Experience. Part of me knew this, because as soon as I said, Fiction Year! I came across the project and jumped in. There was some internal scramble to help me save myself from myself.

So, to re-prioritize these goals. I want to have A Marriage of Land and Sea done by the end of April. If I give myself one day a week to work on that and one day a week to work on the non-fiction book, I’ll be happy. (I suspect). And, obviously, I can tweak that as needed. But deciding at the start of the month that i’m going to write every day, 4-5 days a week, on a project? Psychs me into being tired of that topic before I even start. I suppose I could muddle through it and sacrifice the enjoyment I get in writing, in letting the next chapter or next scene steep in my mind for days until I sit down and let it go like a flood released from a dam, just so I can say I have discipline . . . but why? I don’t want discipline beyond upping my wordage and producing material. How that looks day to day doesn’t matter so much, and I’d rather be disciplined in knowing what my strengths are and then working with them, rather than against.

I have, over the course of last year, thanks to Beth and also to Shauna, admitted that writing nonfiction still counts as writing, even when it’s my own writing.  This year? This year I need to admit that I do know my strengths and it’s time to work with them toward my goals. I’m standing in my own way. Again. MOVE, Jo.

(I also need to stop deciding that easing off FB browsing will mean I can’t interact with people I only interact with on FB, or mostly on FB. Once I said I’d be backing away to focus on the writing. I was all I MISS YOU!!!!! and on even more. Feh.)

 

Story Subscription has gone out!

If you’re signed up for my Story Subscription, chapter two of A Marriage of Land and Sea ought to have landed in your inbox by now. It left late, and my apologies about that. I knew February was coming, I knew the end of January was in sight, and I still . . . just . . . I don’t know what happened.

Now that February is here I’m going to be tucking in to the writing, as I’ve got deadlines looming that i’m not quite ready to face. I hope everyone has a good month, and I’ll see you again in March!

Chapter Two will be hitting inboxes in a couple of weeks!

Just a reminder that the second chapter in A Marriage of Land and Sea will be going live on February 1st! If you signed up and didn’t receive your first chapter, I hope you’ll let me know. I did switch to a different email account for this, and there were a few (operator caused) snafus in the process. (My apologies!)

If you missed chapter one, it’s not too late! Just send along a request as well as your preferred format with your payment choice, and I’ll send that out to you within 24hrs. Also — and this is for chapter one only at this point — if you’re signing up for chapter two and you’ve got a friend who you think might be interested, send their email and preferred format along and I’ll send them out chapter one, at no cost to you or them! My thanks for your contribution already and, yes, a desire to get my work to more people! (I’ll be honest: currently staring yet another big vet bill in the face, and I don’t like the looks its giving me.)

Spread the word, talk my writing up, get to send a sample chapter to a friend! And, of course, have my gratitude, because you already do.

First weekend of 2015 — 9k words!

While it’s true that I still have to go through the earlier chapters of A Marriage of Land and Sea to polish them up, I can say with confidence that as of today I have seven chapters written in this book. My goals, as I’ve talked about elsewhere, is to finish this trilogy up by the end of June, to get back to the edits on Poseidon: A Narrative, and to get a few more stories written. Those of you who’ve signed up to get A Marriage of Land and Sea via the subscription service will receive the second and third books at no charge — because, damn, do I appreciate you.

I’m excited, because this weekend was my first weekend implementing my plotting and chapter mapping, an idea that I came across in 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron. Oh, I’d already sat down and figured out where I needed to go with the whole series — the end goal, the signpost stops along the way, the overarching plot along with the individual, building the story up as we go plots of each book. I even figured out my typical chapter word count range (4k-5k), figured out how many chapters the book would have, and outlined what needed to happen in each one, for the first book, to keep the pace going. Much of Rachel’s advice was stuff I’d heard before, though I’ve been clinging to the idea that I am a Pantser, not a Plotter, all these years. And, yeah, maybe I am, but I’ve said again and again and again that I want to increase my output — so, maybe that had to change.

What really floored me in Aaron’s book — which should really be so obvious — was the idea of sitting down during each writing session and planning what your goals are for that specific session. In any other job, this would be your work list. Your tasks for the day. Why wouldn’t I do that when writing? Why would I sit staring at a blank page without any idea of what I need to accomplish beyond some vague notion? Why would I be willing to write thousands upon thousands of words, only to realize at the end of it all that they were all of them utterly wrong? There’s this idea that there is not such thing as wasted writing — I’ve said this mantra time and again over the years. It’s true, in that sitting and writing hones your skill as a writer, and in that having  the dedication and discipline to park your arse in the chair and write is never wasted, no matter the wordage you end up with. But, it’s also wrong — or, at this point in my life it’s wrong for meI work full time, I write part time, and I have another part time job besides that. I cannot give my time to words that aren’t going stick if I want to increase my output beyond the story subscriptions.

Er. I digress. The point is, this weekend was the first weekend that I was producing new material, rather than getting chapters two and four straightened out. It was the first time that I sat down, spend fifteen minutes jotting down what needed to happen where, and going along that list. It wasn’t perfect — chapter six came out of nowhere once I realized I needed to fix my pacing and give Roern another pov chapter before what I had planned as chapter six could take place. So, yesterday I sat down with a surprise! chapter, and did I take the time to plan that out? Did I take advantage of my new day off home alone to fly through writing?

Ha! HA I tell you!

I managed just over 2k yesterday. Frustrated, I went to bed, then mapped out the rest of surprise!chapter six. I finished it off (it’s awesome!!), mapped out chapter 7, and wrote it. It’s taken me all day, so I’m still slower than I’d like to be (I started around 11:30 today, and it’s 5:10 as I write this, which clocks me at just under 1k an hour. I want faster than that, but not at the quality’s sake) My hands are killing me, so I’m stopping. But, I’m pleased with this week’s work, with the result of taking the time to sit down and figure out before I start where I want the writing to go.

I think I’m going to like plotting out chapters.

Neech the Anti-Muse does not approve of the Plotter method. He will use his powers of Chaotic Neutral to thwart your progress.

Neech the Anti-Muse does not approve of the Plotter method. He will use his powers of Chaotic Neutral to thwart your progress.

 

A Marriage of Land and Sea — Story Subscription excerpt!

Charlie reached down blindly and snatched a bit of driftwood, throwing it with all her might back into the water. As if she could beat it into answering her. As if she could hurt it. “Why?” she cried again, quieter this time, her voice broken by the sobs she couldn’t hold back any longer. It had already been five weeks. Every passing day made their survival less likely. She’d held herself together for so long, but she couldn’t anymore. The breaking of her heart wouldn’t let her.

She seized more wood, more rocks, anything that came to hand, and hurled it back into the water, as if she could trade these things for her parents, as if there was some balance that, if only she found it, they would be given back to her. She threw and screamed and cried until her arms ached from the strain and her head started to pound in time with her grief. She staggered on feet numbed from freezing water as her hands closed around one last piece of wood. Splinters dug into her hand, the first physical discomfort to grab her attention. Pain and blood and the weight of the wood made her stop and look. Charlie sucked in a shuddering breath and squinted in the darkness.

It wasn’t driftwood she was holding. It was debris washed ashore. The wood was flat and, except for where it was torn, smooth. It was newly wrecked. The piece in her hand was small and indistinct, and it could have come from anyone’s boat, but she knew it wasn’t anyone’s boat. She knew.

Her rage evaporated, leaving with a sucking sensation that left no room for anything but shock. Charlie pulled the small piece of flotsam to her chest, letting it bite into her skin, letting wood pierce flesh and her blood mingle with the salt water. She sank to her knees. Water rushed around her, the waves hitting her mid-chest, some water spraying over her head. She clutched the wood as if it were a talisman that could stave off the rest of the world, and allowed her shock to swallow her completely.

“I’m sorry,” someone said. Charlie blinked dazedly, trying to see though the ocean seemed a million miles away. He came up out of the water. No, the water fell back from around him. No, he gathered the water around the two of them like a cloak. No – Charlie’s mind wasn’t working and could not make sense of what she was seeing. However he did it, he was suddenly before her, pulling her to him. He plucked the last piece of her parents’ life from her arms as though it was nothing and pulled her closer until all she could see was him. Arms held tight, wrapping around her back, around her shoulders, around her legs. “I’m sorry,” he said again when she opened her mouth to protest – not for her safety, not for his invasion, but for the piece of wood that was her last connection to her parents. “There isn’t any time.”

He lowered his head to hers, touching his lips against her mouth. She thought he would kiss her, but then water poured through her mouth, into her lungs, through her whole body, cold and icy and painful and wonderful. She had an instant to think, “I’ll die with them,” and then her skin was torn from her body in pain so intense it took her awareness with it.

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(A Marriage of Land and Sea is forming up to be a short novel/long novella. It’s actually shaping up to be a trilogy, and chances are really, really good that those of you subscribed to the story subscription for book one will get free copies of books two and three when they’re ready . . . just sayin’ . . . )

[Marketing Monday — a day late!] Spirit Touched excerpt!

A note: maintaining two separate blogs is becoming too much as more and more of my “free time” is disappearing. I’m trying to remember to get the writing and book and knitting and basically all the non-spiritual posts also posted over here, but apparently I’m not very good at that, so this is a day late, and I’m sorry.

If you’re thinking about signing up for my story subscription for December’s installment, here’s a free sneak peek at what’s in store! (Heck, even if you aren’t, here’s a free sneak peek anyway!)

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I crested the hill while the sun was still three finger-lengths above the horizon and stopped cold. Fear curdled in my stomach and burned in my throat. It wasn’t that the forest had grown in the half-season since I’d last passed this way. Forests often behaved in ways one couldn’t anticipate, advancing over this valley, retreating from that mountainside, devouring villages and villagers alike, or ringing the town with living, growing walls to keep the humans safe from the creatures that roamed the night. There was no predicting what the trees might do, not even the Summoners. To try was to tempt madness. The forest was closer to Midpoint Crest, the spot where I stood locked in dread, by roughly a morning’s hike, and the nearest village was three days back the way I’d come. No one had mentioned it in at the inn, and so no one was overly concerned, but then why would they be? This close to our stronghold, the forest was more likely to be friendly than not. This close to our stronghold, the humans were more likely to be friendly than not, come to that. No, the forest itself did not worry me.

Neither did the moon-wisps roosting in the tall grasses along the side of the road. Their ghostly forms looked like heatwaves that sometimes kicked up on the broad roads during the height of summer to the naked eye, but the day around me was chill enough that knowing them for what they were was no trouble. Nor was I was not dependent upon only my eyes to see them. They drowsed in the fading sunlight, their eyes closed, their red-tipped claws curled around their torsos. I counted less than a dozen on either side, eighteen or twenty all told. This was a new tribe, young and small. It could make them dangerous; young tribes were more likely to attack something that they had no hope of taking down, and while twenty had no hopes of causing me mortal harm, even alone as I was, it would take time I didn’t have to subdue them. I’d rather avoid it, if I could, and I had enough sunlight left to put distance between myself and the moon-wisps before they roused to their hunt.

What gave me pause – what rooted my feet to the road, kicked the bottom out of my stomach, and set the acid burning up my throat – was the blood-sickle brambles growing on either side of the road half a league from where I stood. The tell-tale glint of silver as the sunlight hit their leaves chilled my blood. The faint tinking of those leaves as they sought around them for food caused sweat to break out along my skin. For an instant I was fresh on my first solo journey, untried and nervous, with only my shadow, my eaglyn, and my power to protect me. I had years of experience under my feet since my first run in with the blood-sickle. I had confidence and practical knowledge and, more to the point, a larger network of allies at my disposal. I was close enough to safety that help would reach me before they cut my last breath from my body.

But, I had neither my shadow nor my eaglyn to send to fetch the help. There was less than three fingers left of sunlight. My other allies rarely ventured this close to the Summoner stronghold. None of the patrons at the inn mentioned anything about the blood-sickle being this close to a human settlement. Worse than that, I’d been traveling three days on this road without seeing any other travelers. This was the biggest, safest route running from Hell’s Gate to Riverbend Haven. This close to winter heavy traffic would be surprising, but no traffic at all was just as bad. Two days ago I’d sent Mecklin airborne to see if he could catch wind of any news. Yesterday I’d sent my shadow on to see what she could find out. That neither of them spotted the blood-sickle meant it hadn’t been there as recently as yesterday.

Which meant it was swarming.

Which meant there was not even close to enough daylight left for me to reach safety.

I stood atop the hill and gazed down upon my doom. Uphill and upwind from the blood-sickle, I knew that it was already aware of my presence. For all I knew its runners were already burrowing through the earth, racing to reach me, to seize my feet and hold me still until the long shadows of night freed the rest of the plant to come and devour me. It would follow, even if I ran all the way back to Riverbend Haven. It would head there next, if I didn’t destroy it all now – root and runner, seed and leaf, stem, flower, and fruit.

Blood-sickle was tenacious and deadly but, unlike most of the nightmares that ruled the dark, it was simple. It was fast and it devoured everything in its path. It knew no discernment. Flesh and bone and blood was on its menu, as well as wood and sap and flower. It devoured wherever it went, and the land it left behind huge swaths of barren, cursed land. Nothing could grow, and anything dwelling upon the land for long would sicken and die. Even the beasts of darkness. Because of this, blood-sickle was destroyed where it was found, and in this, like in so many other areas, the nightmares ruled. We still didn’t know how they destroyed the blood-sickle so thoroughly. We used sunlight, lent to us by the Five, celestial fire captured and distilled and injected into the very soul of the plant. Most of the time this worked. Most of the time. But it was always costly, and it always left me vulnerable for days, and I’d never, in all the times I’d done this, managed it alone.

Could I destroy it? On my own, with little sunlight left, and tribe of moon-wisps waiting in the wings to take a bite out of me? Could I eradicate the carnivorous plant from the world before it sliced my life away and took my soul into its gut? Or was this going to be the time and place I died? Was this to be the end of Caleyna Summoner? Lost on the ancient road between Hell’s Gate and Riverbend Haven, picked apart by a plant that’s plagued humankind and nightmares alike since the world’s end?

I eyed the angle of the sun, sinking ever closer to the horizon as I stood and debated. There was nothing to be done for it. I was here. I was alone. If I did nothing, I was sure to die. Time was against me.

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If you want to know more about what happens to Caleyna, be sure to sign up by Dec. 1st! See my story subscription page for more details!