Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Novel Wednesdays

One more passage from Misty Massey's Mad Kestrel.

He hadn't flinched at all during her outburst, but his face had softened, let go of the infuriating smile. His green eyes searched hers, holding her gaze without touching, but a sure grip nonetheless. He tilted his head to the side, in that way he had that made her so uneasy, his golden hair slithering aside like a wave of satin. She was abruptly aware of her own heart beating, hard and painful under the bones of her chest, her breath coming fast and shallow at the nearness of his mouth to hers.

What I like about this passage is that it's one of few moments when two frustrating characters show very human sides, and it's done very neatly, showing rather than telling.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Poetry Mondays

One more Whitman (for now). This is also from Leaves of Grass. The poem is called "To Foreign Lands." It is short, so this is the whole poem.

I heard that you ask'd for something to prove this puzzle the New World,
  And to define America, her athletic Democracy,
  Therefore I send you my poems that you behold in them what you wanted.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rough Draft Fridays

Here we go with another piece of Ebb.

Tides ground her teeth. The old woman in front of her balanced the last sweet-scale in one hand, as though gauging the fish’s worth by its weight. In her other hand, the old woman gripper a small copper trin, as though afraid Tides would snatch the coin away.
“Sunset,” the old woman said. “Not as fresh.”
“Three copper trin for the sweet-scale,” Tides said, the words coming by rote repetition. “Five for the cod.”
“One for the sweet-scale,” the old woman said fiercely, baring a mouth all but empty of teeth. “Sunset. Not as fresh.”

Thursday, October 25, 2012

David Farland on Writing for Inspiration

Just a couple of quick things:

First, I wanted to direct anyone with writerly aspirations to David Farland's most recent 'Daily Kick,' to be found here. It's a great post about how the act of writing actually helps you to write more (and, I believe, to write better). It's short and definitely worth a read.

Second, I wanted to update you on Ebb. It's going very well, but two things have happened that mean it's going to be coming out later than I had intended. The first thing is not necessarily bad: I've realized that it's going to be a longer book than either of the first two, probably on the scale of the Flesh and Fell books. That means it will take longer to write and longer to revise. Second, I lost almost a week of productivity, maybe closer to two weeks, because of life things. It's a sad fact that sometimes other things pick up and the writing has to take a back seat. I think that I'm back on track, and I should be working at my regular pace from here on out.

I'll let you know more about an expected release date as I get a better sense of how the book is shaping up.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Novel Wednesdays

Today's passage comes from Misty Massey's Mad Kestrel.

Cold waves splashed across the railings, nearly knocking Kestrel over. She gripped the wet wood tighter, squinting into the rain-whipped darkness. Lightning split the sky, and Kestrel began counting under her breath. One . . . two . . . three . . . four . . . Thunder rumbled suddenly, loud and gut-shaking, but one second farther away than it had been moments ago. She breathed out in relief. Whether they were outrunning the storm or it them, they were finally on the safe side.

This is the opening paragraph of the book, and one that I particularly like for how it sets a very vivid scene with something exciting already in progress (although we quickly learn that the danger has mostly passed).

Monday, October 22, 2012

Poetry Mondays

More Whitman. This is still from Leaves of Grass, from a poem titled "Starting from Paumanok." The poem is very long, so I'll only quote two sections that I love.


As I have walk'd in Alabama my morning walk,
  I have seen where the she-bird the mocking-bird sat on her nest in
      the briers hatching her brood.

  I have seen the he-bird also,
  I have paus'd to hear him near at hand inflating his throat and
      joyfully singing.

  And while I paus'd it came to me that what he really sang for was
      not there only,
  Nor for his mate nor himself only, nor all sent back by the echoes,
  But subtle, clandestine, away beyond,
  A charge transmitted and gift occult for those being born.

  Democracy! near at hand to you a throat is now inflating itself and
      joyfully singing.

  Ma femme! for the brood beyond us and of us,
  For those who belong here and those to come,
  I exultant to be ready for them will now shake out carols stronger
      and haughtier than have ever yet been heard upon earth.

  I will make the songs of passion to give them their way,
  And your songs outlaw'd offenders, for I scan you with kindred eyes,
      and carry you with me the same as any.

  I will make the true poem of riches,
  To earn for the body and the mind whatever adheres and goes forward
      and is not dropt by death;
  I will effuse egotism and show it underlying all, and I will be the
      bard of personality,
  And I will show of male and female that either is but the equal of
      the other,
  And sexual organs and acts! do you concentrate in me, for I am determin'd
      to tell you with courageous clear voice to prove you illustrious,
  And I will show that there is no imperfection in the present, and
      can be none in the future,
  And I will show that whatever happens to anybody it may be turn'd to
      beautiful results,
  And I will show that nothing can happen more beautiful than death,
  And I will thread a thread through my poems that time and events are
  And that all the things of the universe are perfect miracles, each
      as profound as any.

  I will not make poems with reference to parts,
  But I will make poems, songs, thoughts, with reference to ensemble,
  And I will not sing with reference to a day, but with reference to
      all days,
  And I will not make a poem nor the least part of a poem but has
      reference to the soul,
  Because having look'd at the objects of the universe, I find there
      is no one nor any particle of one but has reference to the soul.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Rough Draft Fridays

Here we go with another excerpt from Ebb, the third book in the Rim and the Shore series. These are the opening paragraphs for Adence (at least, in the rough draft).

War came with summer and plague. That was something Adence was certain of. He remembered it the way he remembered his wife’s name.
And that was exactly the problem. What did the word wife mean when it brought two faces into his memory? Two names, two faces, two lives lived. There was Naea, whose hair had gone to silver before their second child was born, and she had kept it short forever after. Adence had bought her combs to hold that short hair in place, combs of ivory, with the coins he had scraped together over long months. That was Naea, who came into his mind with the word wife.
And Tise. She came just as easily when he thought the word wife. It was like drawing breath, thinking wife and seeing Tise. Blue eyes, those silly blue eyes that he had prized so much when he had first come to Apsia, because he had heard that Apsian women had eyes like coal and skin like dry sand. And then he had met Tise, and they had never had children, and she had died so young, and the place where she should have been was a great darkness folding in. And that was Tise, who came into his mind with the word wife.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Novel Wednesdays

Here's an excerpt from a book I talked about a while ago. This is the opening from Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora, a fabulously entertaining book.

At the height of the long wet summer of the Seventy-seventh Year of Sendovani, the Thiefmaker of Camorr paid a sudden and unannounced visit to the Eyeless Priest at the Temple of Perelandro, desperately hoping to sell him the Lamora boy.

What I love about this paragraph is how many questions it sets up in just one sentence.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Poetry Mondays

Now a change of pace from Hopkins. We move on to Walt Whitman. These are the last two sections of "Song of Myself," one of Whitman's best known poems. It was printed in his volume Leaves of Grass, and the title of the book is connected in part to this poem. I'm only including the last two sections because this is such a long poem, but it is so remarkable that I think you should go ahead and read all of it.

Here is a link to the Project Gutenberg edition of Leaves of Grass.

  The past and present wilt—I have fill'd them, emptied them.
  And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.

  Listener up there! what have you to confide to me?
  Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
  (Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.)

  Do I contradict myself?
  Very well then I contradict myself,
  (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

  I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab.

  Who has done his day's work? who will soonest be through with his supper?
  Who wishes to walk with me?

  Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late?

  The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab
      and my loitering.

  I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
  I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

  The last scud of day holds back for me,
  It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow'd wilds,
  It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

  I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
  I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

  I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
  If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

  You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
  But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
  And filter and fibre your blood.

  Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
  Missing me one place search another,
  I stop somewhere waiting for you.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Rough Draft Fridays

Continuing with another excerpt from Ebb, the third book in the Rim and the Shore trilogy. This is the opening scene for Tides, the third POV character.

As the cleaver came down, Tides decided there was something particularly satisfying about being a fishwife. It had something to do with the chopping-off-heads part.
With a practiced twist of her wrist, she knocked the fish-head into a waiting basket. Tides was, unfortunately, not quite a fishwife. Not technically. Fish-spinster, however, didn’t have quite the same ring.
Neither did fish-former-crew-boss, which would have been more accurate. She opened the fish with a slim-bladed fish knife—her favorite—reached in, and pulled out a tangle of guts.
Fish-former-crew-boss would have been more accurate, but it had two downsides. First, it was a mouthful. Second, she would have to kill anyone who heard her use it. There were, after all, certain formalities to be observed when playing dead.
And playing dead, as Tides had discovered, was worse than salt water in an open wound. So she pulled another fish from the basket her old fisherman had brought her—a fly-fin, this time—and dropped it on the plank she used for a cutting board. Cleaver. The rough jolt up her arm as the blade cut through scale and bone and lodged in wood. A shiver of satisfaction. And then the fish knife, the guts, the wash of fish-smell that she scarcely even noticed.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Novel Wednesdays

Here's another excerpt I enjoyed from Lindsay Buroker's The Emperor's Edge.

"If you can get a team together, I'll work with you."

Amaranthe just managed to curtail a triumphant fist pump. "That'll be acceptable. Any other concerns? Any questions?"

"One," he said. "During what phase of this plan will you start wearing clothes?"

She looked down. It wasn't exactly that she had forgotten she was standing in icy water, stark naked; she'd just forgotten to care. Reminder of her state, she blushed and grabbed the towel.

"Truly, Sicarius, if it weren't for your sinister reputation, I'd suspect you of a sense of humor."

"Huh," was all he said as he walked out the door.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Poetry Mondays

One more Hopkins poem--the last one for now, I promise. This is a personal favorite of mine.

PATIENCE, hard thing! the hard thing but to pray,
But bid for, Patience is! Patience who asks
Wants war, wants wounds; weary his times, his tasks;
To do without, take tosses, and obey.
   Rare patience roots in these, and, these away,
Nowhere. Natural heart's ivy, Patience masks
Our ruins of wrecked past purpose. There she basks
Purple eyes and seas of liquid leaves all day.
   We hear our hearts grate on themselves: it kills
To bruise them dearer. Yet the rebellious wills
Of us we do bid God bend to him even so.
   And where is he who more and more distils
Delicious kindness?—He is patient. Patience fills
His crisp combs, and that comes those ways we know.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ebb status

I just wanted to let you know that Ebb is moving along nicely. I'm having a blast writing this story; Tides, in particular, has been fun to write, but I'm really loving these characters. I know that Joaquim is not everyone's favorite, but I think he has grown remarkably across the course of these books, and I think you'll like how much he has changed.

At this point, I'm estimating that I'm about halfway done with the rough draft. Now, that's only an estimate, and I'm basing it on how long the other two books in this series have been. But I think it's a fairly good estimate, so I'm going to go with it. That means I still have about half left to write, but progress has been good and steady.

Rough Draft Fridays

Here's a passage from Ebb, the next (and final) book in the Rim and the Shore series. Be prepared for a number of these passages from Ebb, since that's currently what I'm working on. And remember, it's still a rough draft.

There were three reasons people came to Apsia: women, wealth, and wine. Arm wrapped around Bri’s waist, his heart beating with the steady, perpetual excitement of the sea, Joaquim watched as the ship crested the increasingly choppy water toward the harbor. The winter sun bleached the cliffs and sent lances of light through the sea’s white spray. And Apsia, Apsia itself—the mother of cities, the whore of Amala’s Heart, home—rose from the sea ahead of them, its copper roofs glaring back at him.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Novel Wednesdays

Here's a passage from a novel I just read and enjoyed: Lindsay Buroker's The Emperor's Edge.

Darkness was gathering in the streets when Amaranthe and Sicarius arrived at the gymnasium. The sprawling complex covered a city block and included a running track buried under a white field of snow, steam rooms, heated baths, and the area they approached: the rings.

"Remember," Amaranthe said, "the goal is to recruit this fellow to work for us. We don't want him killed or maimed."

Sicarius slanted her a cool look.

"Of course, you know this already. I'm just concerned that your--" she groped to express her concern diplomatically, "--admirably honed assassin's instincts might forget."

Silence was her answer.

She tried not to feel nervous. It didn't work.

I love the humor here, which I think works wonderfully, and the interaction between the characters.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Poetry Mondays

Here we go with another Hopkins poem. I've heard that this is one of Hopkins's favorite of his own poems, but I don't have anything to back that up.

The Windhover:

To Christ our Lord

I CAUGHT this morning morning's minion, king-
     dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Fal-
          con, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstacy! then off, off forth on swing,
     As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend:
          the hurl and gliding
     Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of, the mastery of the
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
    Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
     No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
   Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

I think my favorite lines are "My heart in hiding / Stirred for a bird" and then (of course) "O my chevalier!"

What are yours?