Friday, April 19, 2013

Until Next Time...

In a few days, I leave for a three-week trip involving a writing conference, where I'll get a on-on-one pitching session with an agent. Be still my stomach! Along the way I will be focusing on editing, writing my synopsis, and the joy of my travel. I won't promise blog posts during this time. Fear not! I will return, and with more pictures.

As some of you know, one of my favorite current authors (along with Terry Pratchett and Brandon Sanderson) is Rachel Aaron. Today she wrote a really great post about the practice of writing. Go check it out!

I can't wait until I'm making money from writing. Not just so I can indulge myself when I want to buy that cute shirt in the mall window (or more likely that awesome-looking book), or just so I can live in a nicer neighborhood.

I can't wait because I want to be able to quit my minimum wage job, put off chores until the weekend, get a babysitter for the kids so I can go sit in a coffee shop, and actually get some writing done outside of NaNoWriMo. Because I know I could, were my circumstances different. And I know some people manage to write while holding down another job and raising young kids. God bless them. It's too stressful a situation for me to concentrate.

What roadblocks do you face writing every day?

For today's fantasy scene, I have the opening pages from my manuscript, the one I'll be asking an agent to represent.


The door Kalara and her attendants stood before was like every other door in the hallway—it had a high-sheen polish, with a brown mahogany stain that went beautifully with the rich cream color of the walls. Like dark chocolate drizzled on cheesecake. The door opened to reveal a tall man, with a long, bulbous nose that jutted from between a curtain of wrinkled skin, his eyes squinted almost shut underneath eyelids that had grown unwieldy with age, like twin giant tortoises. And he was wearing a black bow-tie. Obviously a butler.

“Neva and Tate, plus one,” Neva said rather loudly. Kalara's mouth quirked. Of course, who looking at him wouldn't assume he was deaf? His little wisp of paper-white hair looked ready to blow right off his head.

“Hm, herm,” the butler said, scrolling a finger along the guest list. Kalara's eyes wandered to the ceiling, with the irregular recesses. The motion might have resembled her rolling her eyes. Tate cleared his throat and, when she looked at him, raised his eyebrows. Be polite, those eyebrows said. You're our guest. Your actions reflect on us.

“Ah! Hum.” The butler's finger stabbed a specific line on the page. He stepped to the side—letting them see the sweep of the entry hall fully—and motioned toward Neva. “Hay hi hum hur hm?”

They stepped through the door, Neva whisking off her red fox coat and handing it over. While the butler fiddled with it, trying to match it to a hanger like an uncooperative puzzle piece, Kalara graded the room to herself. There were four mirrors, placed so she could see herself no matter where she stood. A little excessive. There was also a modern painting in the middle of the longest stretch of wall, breaking it up nicely. The art itself was dark, with a few tendrils of white, and a sharp stab of red on the side. The perfect sort of thing to make you seem deep, since there's no actual meaning in it.

The butler got Neva's coat hung up, and Kalara handed her own over. It was white ermine, with three main buttons to fashion it stylishly, and an extra one near her neckline for when it was really cold. The warm-up Neva's outerwear had provided proved useful, for the bulter only required a minute to hang Kalara's. While he was working on it, Tate reached past him and slid his own jacket onto a hanger himself.

When the butler finished Kalara's, he turned to Tate. “Huh?” He looked at each of them in turn, muttering, “Hun, who, hree...” He shook his head and started walking toward an archway. “Hum ahon.”

He led them through a hallway—also with a high mirror count—past two more arches, through with they saw the other party guests chatting in small groups, and into a dining room. It was done in antique cherry wood. There were high-backed chairs with woven, hard, black leather seats, and curved bars which were slightly thicker on one side than the other as the back support. The side that was thicker alternated from chair to chair. The effect seemed really reminiscent of something, but Kalara couldn't quite put her finger on it. And there were two mirrors in here, across the table from one another, so that anyone sitting at the table could discreetly check their reflection for lost lipstick or any food out of place.

The butler gestured to a set of open double doors, through which they could see several chefs working at various sauces, meats, and vegetables. “Here his he hihun.” He gestured to the dining room around them and said, “Here his hair hinnah hill he herve.” He took them back to the last archway they'd passed, where most of the guests were congregated in a group near the windows, around someone who couldn't be seen clearly through them.

“Here his hmser Hiccohm.” The butler bowed his head and went back into the foyer.

“Well,” said Neva. “It seems Whitcomb is quite busy at the moment. No matter, I wanted to see if Lucille Steer has arrived, yet, anyway.” She strode off, peering at each group she passed, and went into the next room.

Kalara looked at Tate, who raised his eyebrows briefly as if to say, Well, that was expected. Do as you like, then made his way to the wood bar in the corner where a few other men stood around sipping whiskey.

A serving man walked through the archway beside her, brandishing two trays of hors d'oeuvres. As she popped one in her mouth—neatly to avoid smearing her makeup—the large group parted, and she got her first look at Brentley Whitcomb. He had a great socializing smile, ice-blue eyes, and a full head of well-trimmed salt-and-pepper hair. As he turned one way and another, it didn't move a centimeter. It was absolutely perfect.

It wouldn't be polite for her to introduce herself. All she knew about him was that he owned a few funeral homes around The City, and he knew nothing of her. Only those originally invited had any connection to the host, and they RSVP'd saying how many extras they would bring, then tried to use the most interesting acquaintances in their repertoire as a way to be the most impressive at the party.

So she moved into the next room over, which was also a living room, to see where Neva had gone. She was in a cloister of thirties-or-so women, all with their noses up and none of their pinkies touching their drinks. Kalara decided to give her a few minutes before going over. Didn't want to seem like a lost kid with nothing of her own to do.

She still could not believe she was here. She sidled over to the big, wide windows with a small smile and gazed down at the Hudson, swirling with life under the bright sun. She'd now eaten in one of the richest condos in Manhattan, she was renting one of the most luxurious apartments herself, and she got to go to see Broadway whenever she wanted. She was certainly living the high life.

Then the feeling welled up in her, and she had to squelch it back down.

© Laura Stephenson

Friday, April 12, 2013

I Built My Desk

My desk is officially finished! Here are the pictures (notice it's already in use, because I was too excited to stop and take pictures before I had my computer all set up).



Ha, it matches all my links.

So, this being the first year I've lived in a place with a snowy winter and a warm spring (at least the first where I hadn't just given birth to my daughter. I lived in CT two years ago at this time), I finally understand spring cleaning. I just spent months feeling lethargic, trying to spend as much time under blankets as possible, letting the house go a bit, and now it's suddenly warm and I'm sick of the mess. Time to tidy up!

Are you doing any spring cleaning? What's the most important project (other than writing) you'd like to get done?

This week's short fantasy scene:

We'd heard legends of other planes. How when our world and theirs touched, angels and demons entered our reality. Now a legend stood before us. He had the shape of a man, but his back sported feathered, pure white wings. His eyes were yellow like the sun, and his hair shone as if it was made of silver. His eyes singled us out, and he said, "Are you the group that arrived yesterday?"

I quivered at his voice, a heavenly voice, and felt unworthy of hearing it. Beside me, one of my companions, Razor, crossed her jet black arms and narrowed her eyes. "Yes. And you are..?" I gulped. Of course a drow would show no reverence toward an angel. I wished I had been the one to answer, so that the first thing he'd heard from us hadn't been insulting. Too late.

He shifted to his other foot, the great sword strapped between his wings tilting as he did. It might have been frightening, but we were all armed as well, and we'd fought a varied assortment of foes in our time together. But his face remained calm, and he answered, "I am General Marcellus. I understand that you are to join our forces, but as a tactical assault group, meant to shore up weak spots and take down specific targets. I am the one who will be giving you orders."

Before Razor could mouth off again, I dipped my head, saying, "We will be honored to follow your lead, sir."

General Marcellus dipped his head in return. "For now, we are gathering strength. We'll be marching to Devat soon, perhaps a week from now. Until then, rest, gather what supplies you'll need, and be ready. That is all."

I saluted, Razor snorted at me, and the angel turned and left.