Revision, Writing, and Rewriting

I’m in the process of revising my first novel, Prince of Herongarde. I’ve already written a complete first draft, and then gone through and revised it, at which point, I found a bunch of beta-readers and sent it out.

Now I’m looking at it again, trying to incorporate what my readers suggested and fixing things up because I’ve learned I have some bad writing habits. For example, I suffer from ‘white room’ writing, in which there is absolutely no description of the environment in which the characters are acting. I also am guilty of ‘telling’ and not ‘showing.’ Continue reading

Prince of Herongarde – Another Excerpt

So here’s the thing: I’m working on the Prince of Herongarde manuscript right now. It needs some TLC. Don’t really want to distract myself by writing a regular blog post. So, excerpt it is! Enjoy!

————-

Trey stepped under the awning and paused for a moment, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the shade. The keeper approached him quickly, bowing repeatedly. “My Lord! Your Highness!”

“Please,” said Trey, waving the man off. “Is her Majesty here?”

“Aye, my Lord. She dines with other Ladies within.”

“Good,” said Trey as he entered the small tavern. Patrons looked up, many standing and bowing as he entered. He ignored it, finding it annoying. He needed to speak to his mother. He spotted her sitting with Markus’s wife at a far table.

“Mother,” he said as he approached. “Might I have a word with you?”

Tessa stood. “Trey! So glad to see you! What need you?”

He motioned her toward a more private corner of the room. Tessa eyed him curiously. “What is it, Trey?”

Trey gathered his thoughts. “Mother, does Hanna receive a wage?”

Tessa was surprised by this question. It was not what she expected.

“A wage? I know not. I have not paid her. Have you?”

“No. I thought she would have some pay, I guess. It never occurred to me how that might happen.”

Tessa was silent, watching Trey.

“I told her to purchase fabric. For a gown. I thought not that she would have no money for it. Why would she not tell me?”

Tessa put her hands on her hips and gave him a motherly look. Trey knew that face. “I know, I know.” He looked at his mother. “What can we do?”

Tessa smiled. “You give her some money, obviously.”

“I?”

“Yes, you.”

“Oh. How much?”

Tessa leaned back thoughtfully. “Well, a gown, you say… And she’s served us for three months.” Tessa eyed her son. “And she had her face smashed.”

Trey smirked, and looked away uncomfortably.

“Six crown would buy sufficient fabric. Eight would be finer. For her service, you decide.”

“And I should do this? Are you sure?”

Tessa cocked her head knowingly at him. “T’would mean more from you, aye.”

Trey frowned and nodded. “Aye. Thank you, Mother.” He bowed and left. Tessa smiled. Something was stirring in him, she could tell. It made her happy.

#PitMad and Getting That First Novel Published

Twitter is a wonderful thing. I use it to network with other scientists, other authors, and others who are affected in one way or another by autism. I use it to promote my own work, in research or fiction. I also use it in teaching, as a complement to traditional ‘office hours’ and ‘review sessions.’ I enjoy it as an opportunity to ‘hang out’ with the global community.

As an newbie in the world of fiction writing, I find Twitter to be an amazing resource. There are so many helpful and friendly people out there, authors, agents, and publishers. There’s just a wealth of knowledge out there, all in 140-character bursts!

Once in a while – and I’m not sure how these events get planned – there are ‘Pitch Madness’ events on Twitter. Authors can pitch their novels in single tweets with the hashtag #PitMad, and agents with peruse the pitches and request more information about the ones they like. One such event was yesterday. I spent the day pitching my books Prince of Herongarde and The Masters, neither of which are published.

Pitching a novel in one tweet is hard, but somehow I got two requests from agents, both for the book Prince of Herongarde. There were no takers for The Masters (though I wonder if that’s because I haven’t really identified what the main theme of the story is yet.)

For fun (and because it’s pretty-much all I’ve been thinking about for the last 24 hours), I thought I might list here the various pitches I used for each book.

I’ll point out that each pitch included three hashtags, one indicating it was for Pitch Madness (#PitMad), one for the genre of the book (#SF = science fiction, #SpecFic = speculative fiction), and one for the target age group (#A = adult). There are two reasons to do this. 1) It helps agents target stories that they really want to represent and 2) it give you a way to send the ‘same’ tweet more than once. It seems that Twitter won’t let you keep tweeting the same thing over and over again, but if you re-arrange the hashtags, it’s a new tweet. So I could tweet each pitch at least a dozen times. The downside to this, though, is that your pitches have to be that much shorter, maybe 120 characters.

Here are the pitches for Prince of Herongarde. Pitches one and two are the ones that earned requests. Some of the others got re-tweets and comments.

  1. He had no intention of being King, nor of falling in love again. Her foreign and infuriating manners changed his mind. #SpecFic #A #PitMad
  2. It had to be a dream when her car, phone, and husband were replaced with horses, swords, and a knight. It wasn’t. #SpecFic #A #PitMad
  3. When a 21st century, middle-aged woman finds herself in war-torn Medieval Europe, a nation, and its Prince, are saved. #SpecFic #A #PitMad
  4. She’s a 21st century academic. He’s a 14th century Prince. Together they’ll save a medieval nation. #SpecFic #A #PitMad
  5. The Prince, consumed by pain and rage, finds refuge in war. There, he rediscovers himself with a most unlikely woman. #PitMad #SpecFic #A
  6. It was ridiculous. She should be lecturing, not slaughtering with swords. But the Prince must be protected. #PitMad #SpecFic #A
  7. She was a university scientist. He was a medieval Prince. It was an unlikely romance. With swords. #A #SpecFic #PitMad
  8. She traded science for a longsword. He traded bitterness for love. War brought them together, and revived a weary Prince. #SpecFic #A #PitMad
  9. The Prince, consumed by pain and rage, finds refuge in war. There, he rediscovers himself with a most unlikely woman. #PitMad #SpecFic #A

Here are the pitches for The Masters. There were no comments, favorites, or retweets here. This book needs some work, methinks.

  1. Marshall thought the DUI was bad. The Masters were worse. But somehow, he’d escape, and take Katrine with him. #A #SF #PitMad
  2.  The Clastad looked pleasant, but meant to enslave men. The Zhaat were hideous but friendly. Marshall just wanted to go home. #A #SF #PitMad
  3. His privileged life as a movie star ended with being dragged to the stars by The Masters. Would he ever get back home? #A #SF #PitMad
  4. The Masters meant to break Marshall’s spirit, but his love for Katrine was more powerful than anything they had. #SF #A #PitMad
  5.  When The Masters came, Marshall was stripped of everything. But they couldn’t take his love, and he meant to get her back. #A #SF #PitMad
  6. Marshall’s capture by The Masters put everything in perspective. Only one thing mattered, Katrine. He meant to get her home. #A #SF #PitMad

So that’s the lot of them. Like I said, I got two requests for Prince of Herongarde, but nothing for The Masters. I don’t think I pitched the second book very well. I’ll work on that.

What do you think?

Prince of Herongarde – an excerpt

Because today I’m fresh out of blogging juice, I thought I’d post an excerpt from my novel in progress: Prince of Herongarde. This chapter, for the moment anyway, is called Immediate Care.

—–

Trey felt himself being lifted from Garnog. Familiar voices comforted him and he relaxed. He opened his eyes again and stared at the wood slatted ceiling over his head. They had carried him into the castle, but he didn’t remember the move. The bed was comfortable. He drifted off again.

“Trey?” A rough hand stroked his cheek. “Trey. Please wake.” Trey opened his eyes and met the gaze of his father, King Anthony. “Thank God you yet live,” breathed Anthony.

“Aye, Majesty,” mumbled Trey.

“Gilbert is here. He will care for you,” said Anthony. “And Arin.”

“Aye,” groaned Trey. “Aye!” he said louder. “Aye, your Majesty. Tis Falgarth. Falgarth did this.”

“I know.”

Trey shut his eyes to focus on speaking. “There is… I have in the saddlebags. Garnog.” The effort was exhausting.

“We know, Trey,” came Gilbert’s voice. “Rest yourself, aye?”

“How is it?” asked Anthony.

“It must be cleaned first, your Highness. Then I can tell you,” replied Gilbert.

Anthony patted Trey’s cheek. “Rest you, then.”

A shuffle at the door announced Markus’ entrance, followed closely by Kevin. In his hands were the saddlebags off of Garnog’s saddle. A table was quickly cleared and the contents of the bag were spread out.

Markus immediately picked up piece of fabric which bore the insignia of Falgarth. “There it is,” he muttered.

Anthony took it from Markus and frowned at it. “I have been blind.” His eyes fell upon Kevin, his closest friend since the day he entered training to earn the Mark at the age of six. “Aye, Kevin. I should have listened.”

“None would hear him, your Majesty. How could you know?”

Kevin had returned the previous day with the grim news. He had spent several days patrolling the border with Falgarth and had himself discovered evidence that Falgarth mean to invade Herongarde, validating the claims that Trey had been making for more than a year. Anthony, upon hearing this news, had sent pages to summon the Lords and Mark-bearers of Herongarde to the castle for council and, most likely, to discuss defense.

Anthony looked at Trey lying helpless on the bed. Tessa was bent over him, caressing his face. “I would that I could have known before this happened.” If Trey were to die, there would no longer be an heir from Anthony. The crown would pass to Markus, and then to Balayn, as Trey’s closest relative. Anthony had hoped that Trey would remarry and bear an heir himself. On this day, it did not seem likely.

“Do we know what happened?” asked Kevin.

“Attacked by men of Falgarth,” muttered Markus, “but we know nothing else. He traveled with a woman.”

“Where is she?” asked Anthony.

“I know not, but Balayn—,” started Markus. “Speak of the Devil.”

Balayn walked into the chamber and looked around. He caught Markus’ gaze and approached, wearing a smirk.

“We were just speaking of you, Balayn,” said Anthony. “Know you where the woman is now who traveled with Lord Trey?”

“I put her in the dungeon where she belongs,” Balayn boomed.

“What? This was not my instruction,” said Markus.

“She bore the weapon of a Mark-bearer. She should be put to death.”

“She what?” asked Kevin.

“She had Lord Trey’s sword on her hip,” growled Balayn.

“She also said Trey bid her bear it,” said Markus.

“I think she lies,” muttered Balayn.

Anthony looked back at Trey. Tessa was looking up, listening to the men’s conversation. Anthony walked to Trey’s bedside and leaned close to Trey. “Trey? Remember you a woman with whom you traveled?” Trey moaned in response. “Trey. Do you remember?”

“Aye,” breathed Trey.

“She had you sword, Trey.”

“Aye.”

“You bid her bear it?”

Trey was silent. He couldn’t remember. He didn’t remember much at all. The pain in his leg was a terrible distraction.

“Did you bid her to bear your sword?”

“Aye.” He honestly did not remember, but he did know she had helped him. And she could wield a sword. He might have told her to carry it. “Aye,” he repeated, not sure if he had said anything the first time.

Anthony straightened. “Fetch her to us. I would speak with her.”

“I will go,” volunteered Tessa.

“As will I,” grumbled Balayn, casting Tessa a stern look. They walked together out the door.

Anthony watched them leave. Markus came close and put his hand on Anthony’s shoulder. “Trey is strong, brother,” he said. “And Gilbert is an excellent care-giver. There is little doubt of Trey’s survival.”

A poker was jammed into the fireplace, below the coals. Anthony eyed it sadly. “Aye, he will survive, brother. But with what manner of lasting injury?”

Quotation Inspiration – “Courtship”

Writing.com has little contests, where you write a short story based upon a single quote. Here is this month’s quote:

“Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.”
~Titus Maccius Plautus

And this is what I wrote:

—————————–

All eyes turned to Trey as he stopped and stood in the doorway to the Great Hall. He wore his finest burgundy gown, against which the highly polished steel of his swords stood out brilliantly. His heavy chain of office, which bore the Mark of Herongarde, lay proudly upon his chest. His crown, that he had so seldom worn in recent years, was polished and shown like a halo atop his head.

Trey looked sourly at the courtiers in the Hall as they gasped in awe at him. He had combed his hair and pulled it off his face, showing the angular contour of his jaw, and his jaw muscles working beneath. He was looking for someone. This was the first time in many years, he had presented himself as the heir that he truly was. Most of the time he had looked like nothing more than an ordinary warrior, even concealing the fact that he bore the Mark of Herongarde, placing him in the brotherhood of the most elite of Herongarde’s warriors. But today, he was the Prince of Herongarde, and in a few short months he would be King. This future he now embraced, because of her.

The courtiers stood up respectfully, but were silent, waiting for Trey to say or do something. He had been known for his violent temper and quick steel, and people gazed upon him nervously. Trey looked at the faces, scanning the crowd until he spotted her. Hanna gazed at him warmly, a faint smile on her lips. Trey felt his heart lifting and coyly looked down at his hands. He held a single white flower between his fingers, that no one had noticed until that moment. There were a few more gasps and some whispers.

Trey looked back at Hanna, now smiling broadly. The courtiers were shocked by the transformation. Who was this man who so suddenly seemed happy? He walked slowly into the Great Hall, calmly approaching Hanna who was sitting among the Ladies of the Court. The other Ladies stood and moved away and Hanna rose to her feet to greet Trey. She nervously brushed and straightened the fabric of her new gown, only just completed this afternoon. Trey stopped in front of her and they faced each other, saying nothing, raptly staring into each other’s eyes. He reached up and touched her cheek, tenderly stroking her smooth skin. He frowned as he looked at her other cheek, which remained swollen and stitched from the blow she had taken in battle four days earlier. She smiled, drawing his attention back to her eyes.

He looked down at his hands again, slowly bringing up the flower so she could see it. He offered it to her. She took it and inhaled its scent, smiling at Trey all the while. She stroked the petals. Trey reached out and took her hands. He grinned. Hanna giggled in response. They gazed deeply into each others eyes for what seemed to be an eternity, losing themselves into each other’s soul. They were oblivious to the happenings in the Great Hall, even as gasps and whispers filled the air.

“Beautiful, it is,” said King Anthony, breaking the silence.

Attention turned to Anthony, though Trey and Hanna were reluctant to turn away from each other.

“On this day – and from this war – we have discovered a great many things,” continued Anthony. “We have emerged victorious—.” The courtiers cheered, interrupting Anthony. He smiled and clapped his hands, allowing time for celebration. He held up his hands to quiet the court. Attention turned once again to Anthony. “Not only have we defeated Falgarth as they attempted to rob us of our lands,” he started again, “but in our efforts to maintain our boundaries, our own Prince has found again peace within himself and will within the year take this crown from my head.”

There was a short, uncomfortable silence. “Long live Lord Trey!” shouted Lord Balayn, with a nod to his cousin, Trey. The court erupted again. Trey smiled, enjoying the accolades, nodding occasionally, yet wishing the cheering would stop. His eyes turned back to Hanna’s. She was grinning. A tear rolled from her eye.

“Hold! Hold!” shouted Anthony over the din in the Hall. The crowd continued its celebrations, unaware of his shouts.

“SILENCE!” roared Lord Markus. The room quieted immediately. Markus turned to Anthony, his brother, with a bow. “Your Highness.”

“Thank you, Lord Markus.” Anthony turned to address the court again. “We have many things to celebrate this day. Our victory. Our future King. Our newest Mark-Bearer…” Anthony smiled an held a hand toward Hanna. She curtsied slightly.

“Thank you, your Majesty,” she said.

Shouts and whoops filled the Hall once again, which Anthony silenced with a raise of his hand. “Today we also celebrate what I hope is the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship. For these two here,” Anthony held his hands toward Trey and Hanna, who were still holding hands. “These two this day shall begin a proper and formal courtship, under the Codes of Herongarde.”

For a moment, it seemed all the air in the Hall would be sucked out as the courtiers inhaled in unison. Suddenly, cheering exploded. Trey and Hanna grinned at each other, pressing their foreheads together. They kissed softly and the jubilation grew louder. Trey and Hanna parted and waved to the court in acknowledgment. Trey raised an eyebrow at Anthony.

Anthony smiled, holding his arms up once more for silence. “Let us celebrate this occasion with wine and sweet words,” he said. Boys began to circulate with ewers of wine, filling each person’s cup to capacity.

Trey motioned Hanna to sit. He sat down beside her, watching her arrange her skirt. He was completely captivated by her. A boy approached and bowed. “My Lord, Lady. Wine for you?”

“Aye, Tomas. Wine,” replied Trey, holding up his and Hanna’s cups. Tomas moved on, and Trey turned his attention back to Hanna. She was once more inspecting the flower.

“What does it mean?” she asked.

“Courtship,” replied Trey. “His Majesty acknowledges our love.”

Hanna smiled and sighed. Her lips shook and her brow wrinkled. She put her hand over her mouth and leaned into Trey’s chest. He wrapped his arms around her as she wept quietly. These most recent days had been horrible for her. Neither of them had thought they would be allowed to be together. Anthony had wanted her gone. Somehow, all of that had changed, and there they sat now, finally allowed to openly love each other. Trey squeezed his eyes shut, holding back his own tears. Yes, it had been horrible for them both.

Hanna calmed and straightened up, gazing softly at Trey. “Finally,” she whispered.

“Aye, finally.”

“So what now?”

“We love each other as always.” Trey sighed. “I shall need you. More than ever.”

“I’m right here.”

Trey stroked her cheek again and gave her a gentle kiss. “Aye, my love. Forever and always, I shall need you.”

Character Sketches – Markus of Herongarde

Markus of Herongarde is the younger brother of King Anthony of Herongarde and Uncle of Trey. Markus is ever the diplomat, capable of diffusing volatile situations with a smile, but quick with his sword and among the best swordsmen of Herongarde. Were in not for Markus’ cool temperament, Herongarde would have plunged into war a hundred times due to Anthony’s fiery temper. Markus is a man who would defend the codes of Herongarde to his death, but has a soft spot for those he loves and has been known to look away if codes are breached in the name of love.

Character Sketches – Hanna Tisdale

Hanna Tisdale is a tenured academic (in the physical sciences) in a functional, but dull, marriage, facing mid-life with a sense of apathy. She’s busy nurturing her own and her husbands careers and raising their son, but is losing herself in the middle of it. She’s discouraged by the little paunch she’s developed and yearns for the more active, exciting days of her youth.

Character sketches – Trey of Herongarde

Trey of Herongarde is a disenchanted Prince. His world has been dark to him since the loss of his beloved wife and son in childbirth ten years earlier. It grew still darker when, soon after, his elder brother – the heir to the throne – was killed. For years, Lord Trey has moved through life, disinterested in everything except for a good duel at tournament and the unconscious hope for his own death. Though heir to the throne of Herongarde, Trey has done all possible to avoid the politics of the realm, preferring to ride wide and dangerous patrols. He refuses to be addressed as royalty. He wishes only to be acknowledged as a warrior and a Bearer of the sovereign Mark of Herongarde.

25 Days of Writing – Day 23

Day 23: Write a scene between your character and another character of your choice (whether brought up previously in the other scenes or not) using only dialog. The setting and situation is up to you, but you cannot not use descriptive exposition, only dialog.

——

“You’ve been talking in your sleep, woman,” said Trey.

“Oh dear,” mumbled Hanna.

“You were weeping.”

“Oh. I was having a bad dream, my Lord.”

“You have had a most difficult day, woman.”

“Yeah.” She sniffed.

“I am really quite pleased with your performance this day, woman. You fought well.” He paused briefly. “You should be proud. Not many would have fared so well.”

“I got my face smashed in.”

“Ah, but you were there. And there’s little doubt that Jason would be lost but for your quick action.”

“I killed a man.”

“Aye, a man of Falgarth. Hardly human,” Trey snorted.

Silence.

“You really think that way, my Lord?” Hanna asked. “His life is less that yours because he his from an enemy nation? He probably thought the same of you. Is that fair?”

“It is war, woman.”

“But is it fair?”

“In war, all is fair.”

“So life has no meaning?”

“Now—”

“That guy could have been someone’s father, or brother, or son, or husband, or whatever. He could have been the world to someone, and I killed him.”

“We accept such risks when we raise weapons in war,” retorted Trey.

“Yeah, you do. What about the people who love you? You’re not an evil man, but you kill. He probably wasn’t an evil man either. He might have been your friend, under different circumstances.”

“If he was truly a good man, God will sort him out.”

“Not much comfort for those left behind.”

“They would be together again in the afterlife. We worry not for such things.”

“Yeah? Well what if there isn’t an afterlife? What if this is all we have? What then? The man is dead and gone forever. And because of me. I don’t know if I can live with that.”

“Surely you jest. There must be afterlife. Where would we have come from?”

“I don’t believe that.”

“Don’t believe?”

“I don’t believe in the afterlife. I never have. I’ve hoped for it, but I don’t believe it.”

“So God would just snuff us out? That makes no sense, woman.”

“I don’t believe in God, either,” said Hanna softly.

“How could you… not?” asked Trey.

“I could never explain. I have tried, but I can’t.”

“So you think me mad?”

“No. I’m glad that God offers you comfort. I envy you for it. But that doesn’t make me believe.”

“No God. No afterlife.”

“And I took a man’s life today. And I never want to do that again.”

Silence again.

“If you had not slain him, Jason surely would have died,” Trey said softly.

“I’m glad Jason is alive. I’m glad I could help him.”

“None of us who bear the Mark enter into a battle planning to kill the greatest number. We fight to protect our nation and our King. Men must die to do that. We accept that in fact we ourselves may be the men who die.”

He paused. “I hope you can forgive for the lives taken, and those that will be taken, in the defense of Herongarde.”

Hanna sighed, but said nothing.

“I pray you will forgive yourself for this life you have taken, and others you may have to take later, aye?”

“I hope so too, my Lord.”