Thursday, January 31, 2013

Test of Freedom - Episode 30

Episode 30 - "Perfectly Capable of Firing"
by Camille LaGuire

"Put that down, young lady," said Clement, as he faced the pistol in Mary's hand.  "I know you won't fire it."

"Oh, won't I?"

Penelope stared, frozen.  The pistol brought back a horrible flash of memory.  She thought for a moment it might the same pistol.  Mary had taken it from her after ... after she shot Roland.  She could see the blood, smell the smoke, and for a moment she felt nauseated.  But no, it couldn't be.  Not after all this time and distance.  Penelope pulled herself together.

"Please, Mary," she said hoarsely and carefully.  "Put it down."

"No, I can't do that," said Mary, and she stepped around the table, to point the gun more clearly at Clement's chest.  Penelope blinked away the memory of the wound in Roland's chest.  Mary spoke again, with a lightness in her voice that sounded mad.  "Look, Mr. Clement, see how my hand is trembling.  The pistol is likely to go off by accident if I get any more upset."

Clement leaned back, definitely nervous.  It was too late to change tactics now.  Penelope braced herself.

"You'd best do as she says, Mr. Clement," said Penelope.  "Mary was in the Acton war, and she's perfectly capable of firing.  And she's very upset about losing Jack."

"It won't help him if you shoot me, ma'am," said Clement.

"And you say there's no help for him if I don't," said Mary.  "So I'll shoot you, and then there will be time to reload to shoot myself."

He stared at her, now truly fearful.  Mary shook the gun--just a small shiver.

"Oh, look, I'm trembling again.  You'd best watch out for an accident, Mr. Clement."

"All right.  All right.  What do you want?"

Mary stepped back and lowered the gun to point at his legs, and gestured with her head to address Penelope.  Penelope sat forward.

"Do you have paper and a pen?  A bill of sale.  I have two hundred crowns with me, will that be sufficient?"

"It won't be legal...," said Clement, pulling some paper across the table and dipping his pen.

"Please don't say that, Mr. Clement," said Penelope.  "We want to be as legal as possible, so as not to upset Mary."

"Yes, of course.  Two hundred."

"And we'll need his court contract, too."

He looked up at her, and looked suddenly unwilling, but he glanced at Mary.

"That isn't here," he said.

"Isn't it?  Well, we'll retrieve it," said Penelope, keeping her voice sweet and calming, which she realized made Clement at least as nervous as Mary's weapon, since it implied that Mary needed calming.

" isn't here.  I keep those with my solicitor."

"Doesn't matter," said Mary.  "Keep writing."

"But...," said Penelope.

"Keep writing!"

Clement finished the bill of sale, and gave it to Penelope.  Then Mary raised the gun to Clement's chest.

"He's lying about the court contract.  It's here.  We can search the place after I shoot him."

"Oh, please, Mary, wait."  Penelope looked around.  She saw only one place for the storage of paper in the room.  "It's probably in that cabinet.  Is it, Mr. Clement?"

Clement looked at the pistol for a long moment, and then sat back.

"Yes," he said.

"Thank you," said Penelope, and she went to the cabinet.  There were quite a lot of papers, but luckily they were either alphabetical, or the recent purchases first. Alwyn was near the top.  "If you'll just sign the transfer, please."

"All right, then," said Mary, when he had signed the papers.  "Is that a closet, my lady?  Take a peek to see if he keeps weapons or anything in it."

"It appears to be full of linen."

"It'll do," said Mary, then she turned to Clement.  "Go, get into the closet, and I won't have to shoot you."

Clement did as he was told, but Penelope could see that his fear was giving way to confusion and anger.  Mary picked up a silver-handled cane as she followed him to the closet.  Once he was inside, she jammed the cane up under the doorknob.

Then she put the pistol back into the bag, and they hurried outside.

"We're not done yet," said Mary.

Available after 8am EST, on Mon

The first book in this series, The Wife of Freedom is at most ebook retailers.
Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Deisel, Kobo, and Smashwords

Also, Amazon International: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Poetess and the Zen Artisan

There is a much ridiculed image of the writer which I call The Poetess.

The Poetess scribbles her precious lines as the Muse strikes her, usually in her lovely garden, between tea parties, or if she's a little more lively, on the beach, between cocktail parties.  She plots in the bathtub, and she writes longhand and freely, rather like she writes in her diary or writes letters to friends.

She's a negative stereotype, oversimplified for the sake of ridicule -- a straw woman designed to get a point across. And frankly, I think she gets a bit of a bad rap.

First of all, the point people try to get across by bringing her up varies widely.  Sometimes she's a way to dismiss literary writing.  Sometimes she's a way to dismiss writers of fluff, or even, originally, women writers altogether. 

But mostly she's a warning that you won't be Taken Seriously if you write for the joy of writing, if you treat writing as a hobby.  If it's a part of your natural life, equal with your garden and your dogs and mixing the perfect cocktail.  There's a puritan work ethic element behind this: a warning that you will not prosper if you are too relaxed about what you do.  Also, people will laugh at you and make condescending remarks and pat you on the head and say "it's fine if you just want to be a Poetess, really."

Here's the thing: I have met many Poetesses who are successful.  That is, they are doing exactly what they want, and doing it diligently.  They may be taking the art to a higher level, and often they are even making money.

I think we sometimes get mixed up between diligence at career and business, and diligence at craft.  We think that if you aren't doing the first you couldn't possibly be doing the second.  But that's wrong.

We now live in the age of the Diligent Amateur.  We live in a time when YouTube and blogging and web comics constitute a huge culture -- not just of consumers, but of producers.  People who are diligent at their craft, but in a very different way than "professionals" are.  They are diligent at their craft the way they are diligent at mixing the perfect cocktail.  They do it because it consumes them.

And that, I think, is really what I mean when I talk about "the Artisan writer" too. 

I have nothing against careerism.  But what I want to do right now is explore this amateurism, or as I like to think of it: The Zen Artisan.

It's a more wholistic approach. It doesn't mean writing without thought to business. It means choosing writing not as if it were a career or livelihood, but as a lifestyle.  It means treating everything, even doing taxes, as you would doing anything else in your life... like mixing that perfect cocktail.

Instead of being about more and better and success and achievement, it's about that magical word: Enough.  In Latin the word for enough is satis, as in satisfaction, which means enough of doing.
Being satisfied doesn't mean being rich, or receiving awards, or getting on a best seller list. It means just doing enough.

It's a peasant lifestyle, or a subsistence lifestyle, or a frontier lifestyle.... (Which when I think about it, is the life a lot of my characters life.)

This is partly a movement for me -- an evolution in what I want to do -- but I think that is a part of the direction I want this blog to take.  I want to speak to the diligent amateur. To the story enthusiast - be they readers or writers or watchers. I think it's  a neglected group, and due to the internet and especially self-publishing, it's a group on the rise.

See you in the funny papers.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Test of Freedom - Episode 29

Episode 29 - "Clement Proves Stubborn"
by Camille LaGuire

It was evening by the time Penelope had got them all organized.  Mary was impatient, but oddly quiet.  Brother William had made it clear they needed to make the appropriate impression.

Sherman had hired an excellent carriage, and some livery for himself and Hingle.  Penelope took extreme care in her own appearance.  A proper lady could be intimidating to men on the rise, like Clement.  She made sure Mary was dressed well but plain, like a companion.  They left Loreen at the inn.  One more male servant would have been useful--a coachman and two footmen makes for a very intimidating entourage.  But perhaps it would have been overdoing it.

It was a long drive, and the place they came to was rustic, to say the least.  Tall solid fencing of sharpened wood, like a fortress.  A man out front with a musket.  He looked like he was lounging when they arrived, but as soon as he saw them, he jumped to his feet, and opened the gate.  The house was large and quite modern, but beyond it, lamplight revealed glimpses of shacks and hovels, and another picketted wall.

Mr. Clement received them with surprise.  He had Penelope's card still in hand when the man from the gate showed them into the parlor, or perhaps it was a study.  The place seemed too rustic to tell the difference.  Though it might merely be a reflection of the fact that the man didn't have a wife, and probably didn't socialize much.

"I am pleased to meet you...Lady Ashton?" he said, clearly full of curiosity.  He took her hand and bowed slightly, then glanced at Mary and decided not to take her hand, perhaps because it wasn't offered.  Mary dipped a slight curtsey.  A cold curtsey.  Penelope didn't like the look on her face, although it was blank enough not to upset Mr. Clement.

They all sat, and went through the ritual of offering and accepting tea.

Then the girl came in with the tea tray.  She had the dark bronze complexion of the Tantalis, and her black hair was cut short.  She moved awkwardly, as if it were difficult to walk, and as she set down the tray, Penelope saw there was something wrong with her hands.

Clement paid no attention to the girl, but she certainly paid close attention to him, as she carefully avoided coming within his reach.

At the sight of the girl's hands, Penelope was struck with a new feeling of fear.  Almost a panic.  She took up her tea, casually, and forced a smile.  The panic was not rational.  It was only that Trent's and Brother William's words seemed suddenly to have real meaning.

This man had a despotic power to control others, and there was no controlling him.

Brother William had said not to be desperate, so she had to be as casual as possible.  Clement did appear to be impressed with her title and presence.  Though Mary was clearly burning behind her, Penelope took her time.  Only after a sip and a taste of her cake did she get down to business.

"I'm afraid I'm in distress, Mr. Clement."

"Oh?"  He looked suprised, and clearly did not think she looked in distress.

"One of my servants got himself into trouble while I was out of the country.  When I returned, I found he had been transported, here to Sabatine.  I'm trying to find him."

"A good long way to come for a servant, ma'am."

Penelope raised an eyebrow in haughty rebuke:  "I came here to visit Governor Halburton before his retirement."

"I beg your pardon," said Clement, properly cowed.

Penelope nodded, and took another sip of tea.

"However, before I return home, I must discharge the family duty.  This man's family has been with us for many many generations.  They're old retainers, very loyal..  And if he has made trouble, it is really our duty to correct him, in any case.  So I would like to buy him and send him to my brother's lemon plantation on Tikhali."

"And you think I have him."

"Yes, my man inquired at the market.  His name is Jack, and he's a broad man, black hair...."

"Jack Alwyn?"


"I'm very sorry, ma'am," said Clement, looking honestly disappointed.  "I can't sell him to you."


"He's trouble, all right.  It doesn't matter how loyal he may have been to you, he tried to start an uprising.  I have to hang him."

Penelope looked in alarm at Mary, but Mary just sat, straight and stiff, staring at Clement, and pale as snow.

"He's been tried and sentenced for this crime?" stammered Penelope.

"I don't have to try him.  He lost his rights when he committed his first crime."

"There is some doubt as to his guilt on that...."

"But no doubt as to his guilt in this.  I am very sorry that I cannot assist you, but I must make an example of him."

"I will pay you an extremely high price."

"I can't take any price.  If I let him go, what does that tell the other prisoners?"

Mary slowly stood up, holding the large bag she had brought.  Penelope flushed, and thought furiously.  It wasn't over.  She could reason with this man.

"Is he imprisoned by himself at the moment?  You could tell the others that he died of a fever, or a zealous guard, or...."

"Oh, no, ma'am.  I have to display the body."

Penelope closed her eyes, but then heard Mary set her bag down on the sideboard.  She made odd sounds with what she was doing, a rip, and a click, and other metalic sounds.

"Here, what are you doing?" said Mr. Clement.  Mary turned around and pointed a pistol straight at Clement.

"You will sell Jack to Lady Ashton, and do it quickly," said Mary. 

The first book in this series, The Wife of Freedom is at most ebook retailers.
Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Deisel, Kobo, and Smashwords

Also, Amazon International: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Update - Moving On

I did stuff this week.  I didn't keep track.

Yeah, it's true, these past two weeks have been kind of tough for various reasons, and that impacted what I did and didn't do.  But there is a bigger reason that I have nothing to report this week:

I'm not interested in tracking or reporting things any more.

It was really important when I had little time, when I was juggling the day job and other things.  I would even go so far as to say it was critical.  Tracking and reporting progress was a way of fighting for the time and energy.  It was a way to keep things from trickling away.

But now, it's just a boring chore that takes time and mindspace. I just want to get on with doing what I do.

So, what's next?  What changes?

I don't know yet.

I'm not sure I'm going to change anything right off the bat.  I'll probably shift from being an ROW80 participant to an ROW80 cheerleader.  I will continue to post on Wednesdays and Sundays, but not doing a progress update: I'll likely be talking about the direction I'm taking, with the blog, with writing.

I don't really expect a big change in what I'm doing with the blog, so much as a continued evolution.  It will be more organic, less striving, more just doing.  But I'll talk about that later.

In the meantime, I'm still aiming to start regular blogging again around Chinese New Year -- which is in two weeks.

See you in the funny papers.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Test of Freedom - Episode 28

Episode 28 - "The Inevitable Trouble"
by Camille LaGuire

Rocken sensed something, but he couldn't put a finger to it.

There'd been some optimism lately, and he didn't like that, but there had been no focus to it.  He might have seen the situation a bit sooner, but they were behind on their work, and Clement was screaming for another field to plant, so his mind was on getting the work done.  It was purely chance that he saw Old Steve kneeling beside a fence post.  And even then he almost overlooked it.

Rocken went to look at the post and saw the dirt disturbed next to it.  He glanced at Steve, who was moving away fast.

"You, hold there!" he said as he scraped at the dirt.

Steve didn't hold. He knew what was under the dirt, so he ran.  And then he saw it was hopeless, so he did what appeared foolish, though Rocken was never certain if perhaps he had thought it through after all: Steve grabbed the bush knife away from one of the other prisoners, and stumbled off, wielding it.  One of the four guards who carried a musket was right there, and he shot him.

Old Steve, who wasn't really old at all, fell where he was and died.  And it was an easier death than he might have had.

The sound of the shot sent all the other prisoners flat to the ground in fear.  It was a good thing too, because Rocken could see the panic in the guards' eyes.  He wasn't sure there wasn't a bit of panic in his own.  He swallowed and surveyed the men, but he didn't see any sign of an uprising.

"Tim!" he shouted to the boy nearest to him.  "Run down to the south field and tell them to keep the men working until I send for them."

"Yes, sir," said the boy, jumping to his feet, but stumbling as he looked at the body of Old Steve.

"And Tim, you just say we had trouble with one of the prisoners.  That's all."


The other prisoners began to stir, but they were too cautious to get up.  The two guards Rocken had with him started moving around, giving a knock to anyone who seemed too active.

"Damnation!" Rocken said through his teeth, and he stabbed at the dirt near his feet to find what was buried there.  It was a knife.

Rocken knelt down and pulled it from the earth.  He dug a bit more, and found a second one, but that was all.  He heard one of the other guards beating at Tom.

"Where did he get that?" shouted the guard.

"I don't know," said Tom.  "He was acting funny...."

It didn't matter.  It was clear enough to Rocken where the weapon came from--crudely forged from scraps in the smithy.  Rocken threw it down and charged on Jack, who was up on his knees and staring by the pile of brush.

"Damn you, Jack," he hissed, as he grabbed onto his shirt and dragged him up.  "Damn you for making me do this."

"It isn't me that's making you."

"And it wasn't me that made you an idiot.  You could have survived your whole ten, you know."

"This would have happened sooner or later."  Even so, Jack looked pale and shaken.  "I'll be dead at the end of this, won't I."

"You can be sure of that."

"Something to look forward to, then," he said, mainly to himself, it seemed.

Available after 8am EST, on Monday

The first book in this series, The Wife of Freedom is at most ebook retailers.
Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Deisel, Kobo, and Smashwords

Also, Amazon International: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

ROW80 Update 6 -- Too Freaking Cold

I am a born Michigander, and the only time I haven't lived in Michigan was when I lived in Québec....

But sub-zero wind chills are just TOO FREAKING COLD!!!

My nose and fingers are cold. The humidifier cannot keep up (causing my sinuses to go nuts and preventing me from sleeping).

The feral cat (see below), who objected to being kidnapped and locked in a bedroom through the frigid night, raced out this morning, chased one squirrel and then came back and said: "Okay, copper, you got me.  Please let me back in jail NOW!"

I am told that, right now, the air over the Great Lakes is colder than the air over the North Pole.

I spent the early part of this week dealing with kerfuffle in a heater-less car.  That and baking bread to warm the kitchen. (Also sloppy joes, cookies, soup, tea... anything to pump more heat and moisture into the house.)

Also installed Windows on my Mac just so I could get files off a recording oximeter -- and was reminded of exactly why I hated supporting Windows machines.  Also had to run downstairs and reboot the router over and over again because it's so cold the internets keep freezing.

But mostly I just hid under blankets and cats and watched the inaugural.

Okay, I guess I can live with warmth and pretend mice. (Especially the rattly ones.)
See you in the funny papers.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Test of Freedom - Episode 27

Episode 27 - "Brother William"
by Camille LaGuire

The man who stood behind them wasn't dressed in the formal gray of the Plain folk back home, but Mary recognized a religious man when she saw him.  And he wasn't the queen's kind of religious man.  He was definitely Plain, in his simple, practical clothes, and to top things off, he was carrying a book of the prophets.

"You, clear out," said the man from the slave market.  The man in the straw hat gestured for them to follow.

"Come, I'll tell you what you want to know."

He led them across the road and into the shade of a warehouse.  There he stopped and looked carefully at them.

"You're looking for Jack Alwyn?"


"And you're looking to buy him back?"


"You can't take him home, you know.  It's a part of the sentence.  He has to stay here."

"We know that, sir...." began Lady Ashton.

"Brother William. You don't have to sir me."

"I beg your pardon, brother.  We're only concerned at the moment with his well-being."

"Where is he?" interrupted Mary.

"He was bought by Clement Farm, which could be worse."  The man sighed.  "Some of the places are purely evil.  Clement likes a profit, so he keeps his men healthier than most, but he also thinks of himself as an arm of justice.  He firmly believes that the men are there to be punished.  He isn't very sympathetic to mercy."

"Have you seen him?" said Mary.

"Aye, but not much of him," said Brother William, nodding.  "Sometimes they let us in to pray over them, as a part of the process of reform.  We were at Clement Farm about three weeks ago.  I didn't speak with him, though.  He doesn't appear to be a man of religion."

"Not your kind of religion, anyway," said Mary.  "How did he look?  Have they been beating him?"

"It's difficult to say, since he didn't come close.  He looked well for his situation.  And he had some scrapes, but that could be from the work."

"So he's healthy."

"Three weeks ago he was."  Brother William lowered his head seriously.  "Listen, we sometimes try to buy these fellows, for mercy.  Some of the owners use us to get rid of those beyond work.  Clement is difficult to deal with.  It's rare he'll sell someone for mercy, and then he strikes a hard bargain."

"I am wealthy," said Lady Ashton.

"Are you?" said Brother William with disapproval, and Lady Ashton blushed and looked away.  "It will help.  And your obvious status will help.  But don't let him know you're out to free the man."

They spoke for a while longer, and he advised them on the location and more particulars of Clement's farm.  As they left, Lady Ashton hesitated, and then, chin tucked in like a penitent schoolgirl, she took money from her reticule and offered it to him.

"For your good works," she said, clearly afraid he'd be insulted.  However, Brother William wasn't so proud, and he took it with thanks.

Mary was ready to start walking to Clement Farm right then, but it would take nearly two hours to get there by carriage.  And by Brother William's words, they needed to take care.  No madwomen showing up at the gate demanding or begging for mercy.

They decided to go back to the inn, and cool themselves, and prepare to visit more formally. They had good hope that Mr. Sherman would be able to join them.  Lady Ashton wanted all the support she could find, and Mary couldn't disagree.

Available after 8am EST, on Thursday

The first book in this series, The Wife of Freedom is at most ebook retailers.
Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Deisel, Kobo, and Smashwords

Also, Amazon International: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

ROW80 Update 5 - Creative Distraction!

I have been diligently working.... just not on what I'm supposed to be working on.

I was sidetracked this segment of the week by inspiration on a quick nonfiction project.  (And, actually, a non-quick nonfiction project too.) I still worked on the outline and did some words.

Day 10 (Wednesday) - Slowed on the outlining, and paused to do a little more typing but I forgot to count the words.  Had the inspiration on these nonfiction projects.

Day 11 (Thursday) - I worked out some story problems, created some new ideas.... and then fell head first into the second nonfiction project which I will describe below.  Also, the cover concept came to me, so I did that. (I had fun with the smudgy tool.)

Day 12 (Friday) - The Secret Nonfiction Project started growing.  It consumed a tremendous amount of energy in the morning and afternoon, so I wore out and had to give it a break.  I then worked on miscellaneous ideas that came to me, and watched some videos.

Day 13 (Saturday) -Errand day. I did more work on the Secret Nonfiction Project.  Also drafted a couple of opinion pieces for later when I start up the blog again.  I am calling it quits a little early tonight, though, and posting writing this post early.  I hope to sit back and look over the outline to get back into that tonight.

When Nonfiction Strikes!

On Wednesday I realized that the way I've been outlining in Scrivener would also work for organizing a nonfiction collection of old blog posts from The Daring Novelist.  (Which isn't actually the project that ended up consuming my time this week.)

I've been trying to create such a book for a while, but it has been an organizational nightmare - finding and assessing and rewriting and organizing the best 200 or so posts from the over a thousand I've written.

However, I realized that Scrivener, with it's drag-and-drop nature for organizing, is just perfect for that sort of project....  And suddenly a lot of nonfiction projects in the back of my mind become possible.

The biggest obstacle I've had in dealing with nonfiction and collections has been organization of small bits.  Now it's easy, and so I ended up doing work on several ideas I had.  The blog book is a major effort and will take time, but I realized one of my minor projects could be done quickly and would be worth throwing myself into to see if I could get it done this week.

Interview Questions for Book Bloggers and Novelists

This started as just a private file I keep for myself.

Someday, sometime, I'm going to want to do a blog tour.  I'm going to want to do interviews, and I'm going to want to do guest posts, where I might interview myself, or I might just want to assemble a kind of "press release" packet of info.

So I've been collecting interview questions.  Sometimes I see a good one in a magazine somewhere. Sometimes I do a little brainstorming session and come up with my own.

One of the reasons I've been doing this is because out there in the blogosphere -- where there are a lot of book bloggers and indie writers who are not professional journalists -- everybody seems to ask the same questions over and over again. And those bloggers who have bothered to come up with more interesting questions generally ask the same question of every author, so that the answers are still pretty similar.

And WAAYYY too many questions focus on things that are only of interest to indie writers. (Why did you indie publish?  How do you promote your indie published book?)

And while that's fine, we do want to attract real readers, those who don't actually care about the business end, and want to hear about characters, and the story of the author as an interesting personality.  Or even just hear different things about the business than the same old subjects that get hashed to death. (And if not real, ordinary readers, then at least I want to see something different.)

So I've been collecting questions, and brainstorming more questions, for a long time.  Finding ways to vary the subject, to make each interaction fresh and unique, for when I get around to doing this.

And I realize that my question list could be a good resource for book bloggers and writers who are preparing for blog tours everywhere.

I thought I'd just throw together the questions I already had into a 99 cent booklet.  All I had to do was throw myself into the production and organizing end.  I figured I'd have about 101 questions, and that would be that.

But I keep getting inspired with more questions.  I sit there and organize what I've got, and cut the duplicates -- and the darned things just multiply as I go.  I shot past 301 last night, so maybe I'll put more time into it and go for a $2.99 booklet instead.

And to do that, I think I'll give it a couple of days off and then throw myself into another session or two to organize it and finish up the intro materials.

In the meantime, I did a cover.  I drew a question mark.  I drew a lightbulb, and then I had lots of fun with Photoshop's smudgy tool.  (I did kind of screw up the look of the question mark however, by changing the color. It ended up too uniform.) 

So, anyway, this week had less fiction and more nonfiction, but it felt very productive. Even though it left me really tired, I do feel kinda refreshed too.  Back to fiction for a little bit....

See you in the funny papers.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Test of Freedom - Episode 26

Episode 26 - "The Other Slave Market"
by Camille LaGuire

Their search in Philipstown didn't turn up anything, and that left only more distant and scattered places to look.

They decided to split up, sending Sherman out to one of the two large plantations.  He wouldn't be able to describe Jackie as well, but the owners had the court contracts of the prisoners they bought--which would have a name on it.

The ladies, in the meantime went to East Harbor, the second largest town on the island, which was also the location of the other market.  It was a long trip by coach, around the north point, and halfway down that to the east.  On horseback, there was a chance that Sherman would catch up with them in the evening.

There was no hotel in East Harbor, but there were a number of inns.  It was, apparently, common for gentry to come to see their properties, only to find that the accommodations on their estates were lonely and not at all amenable to someone of quality.  Thus the inns did good enough business for there to be several that suited Lady Ashton's standards.  She was able to buy up the second floor of one of the smaller inns, which was above town on a small rise, where it was a bit cooler, though not by much.

As soon as they had settled in, Mary insisted: They went to the slave market.  This was a smaller place, less often used, but rougher, and more obvious about its purpose.  Mary tried not to look at the cagelike pens behind the platform inside its yard.  The man here was sneering and surly, but a glimpse of gold got them a look at the books.

Mary looked down the neat listings, ignoring the heat and the stench, and the misery the words in front of her represented.  These records were even less detailed than the previous set.  A number, a note as to whether they were juvenile, adult or aged, the price they went for, and who they were sold to.  She saw an additional note by one, "six feet".  Either the man had highly unusual anatomy, or they noted when they were tall.  Jackie wasn't tall, but they might have noted that he was strong.  Or that he was a smith.  She looked more carefully down the listings again.

"You must keep more detailed records than that," Lady Ashton argued.

"No," said the man, shaking his head and clearly enjoying the exchange.

"They are prisoners.  You must have some record of their presence.  If only for accountability that they are serving their sentence."

"That's with the owner."

"So we trust the owner to remember when to release them?"

"Well, you can't trust the prisoners, can you?"

"And what if some escaped?  You don't have records to account for...."

"None of these have escaped."

"You can't run a successful business without proper accounting and record keeping."

The man just shrugged at her.  Mary looked up from the book.

"And what do these numbers mean?"

"Lot number."

"And do they refer to another record anywhere?"


Mary closed the book, and stepped around to face the man.

"He's about this tall," she said, holding up her hand.  "And broad, with thick black hair, a bit curly, and blue eyes.  He'd have an attitude of rebellion about him."

"Not once they get here."

"Then he'd be showing signs that they'd beat the rebellion out of him."

Lady Ashton suddenly looked up and put a hand on Mary's arm.

"They might have put a gag on him.  They did at the trial."

"Oh, him," said the man.  "Yeah, he fit that description.  He was crying."  The man grinned at Mary, but as much as she hated him for being such a pig, she could have kissed him for giving her the first sign she'd heard that someone had seen him.

"Who bought him?" said Lady Ashton.

"Can't remember."

"You aren't earning your fee."

"You paid me to look at the book.  You looked at it."

"If you wanted more, you should have said so," said Lady Ashton, pulling open her reticule.  The man simply smiled and held out his hand, but then a shadow fell across them.

"You don't need to pay him."

The voice was stern and deep and well modulated, like  preacher. The ladies turned around to see a tall man in a broad straw hat.

Available after 8am EST, on Mon

The first book in this series, The Wife of Freedom is at most ebook retailers.
Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Deisel, Kobo, and Smashwords

Also, Amazon International: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

ROW80 Update 4


Day 7 (Sunday) - A moderately solid day of outlining on Devil in a Blue Bustle.

Day 8 (Monday) - Outlining/Writing (depending on where the outline is)

Day 9 (Tuesday) - Writing Day!


Day 7 (Sunday) - Early part of the day spent on socializing, but late afternoon I got down to it... and scenes for The Man Who Stepped Up popped out (I posted a snippet on Tuesday).  I did not fight it because right now, I just want to keep progressing.

Day 8 (Monday) - Some very good outlining, but most of the day was eaten by a large Kerfuffle Monster, that threatens the rest of the week.

Day 9 (Tuesday) - 2100 not really new words.  The Kerfuffle Monster stole time, but not nearly as much as it could have.  I decided to work my way back into the story by starting it anew, with the old version for reference.  This means that most of the writing really was just cadging from the old, but it helps with recapturing the voice, and also with "reconciling" the old version of the story with the new.

Outline as First Draft

Okay, first of all, let me say, this isn't meant to be an instruction manual on how to outline. (Or whether to outline.) This is about a learning experience which has so far had an outcome I did not expect. 

We always think of outlining as being a left-brained activity: as being logical and structure oriented. 

Furthermore, most of the time, we really don't have the time or the luxury to go after our outlining the way we do the rest of our writing. Some people might put in excessive effort for world-building, but not outlines. None of us, not even the strictest of plotters really need that much outlining.  You can only prep so much.

So the prejudice I had, and I think most people have, is that outlining isn't writing.  It might be a part of the process, but it's really a tool.  So give it the time it needs, but get it over with and on with the writing.  Ditch the outline if inspiration takes hold, and only go back to it when the story gives you trouble.

The second essay in Rachel Aaron's book about revving up your writing productivity gave me a new perspective on that. (I'll be honest, I glossed over a lot of that section, because a lot of it is old hat to me, but it was good stuff.  Gloss what doesn't speak to you, zero in on what does.)

She doesn't actually say this, but what she really was recommending is treating an outline as if it were a first draft.  Deal with subtleties, and voice and timing and all those creative and emotional questions you usually leave for the draft in the outlining process.  Go far beyond what we usually think of as "outline" and get into the deep creative issues.

It sounds like a bad idea, doesn't it?  It sounds like it would burn your creative steps before you get to the story at all.  And I suppose for some people that would be so.  (Especially those who hate to read their own work after they've written it -- who write through a draft and dno't like to look at it again.)

But that's not how it seems to be happening to me.

Sure, there was a moment when I felt a little "over-prep" vibe and wanted to move on to writing, and I did a little.  But then went I needed to work something else out, I went back to outlining just for that.

And then something happened.  I don't know why I did it, but I went beyond the "little something" that needed working out.  I started going at the outline like I was writing the story itself -- that is, I zoned out and went deeper into it than I would even think to do.  It was like a brainstorming session, but also an exploratory writing session.  And the deeper I pushed, the more natural and creative the process seemed to be.

It became exactly like writing a first exploratory draft.  Only faster and better.  I get to dig into all the problems and experiences that make writing fun, but I can get it down as fast as it comes to me -- including the irrational alternatives that crop up.  I don't lose anything while pausing to make a word choice, or trying to remember a small detail. I'm summarizing, so I don't lose the thread. I can always keep up.

And, as Rachel Aaron points out, when a question comes up, I can pull back and rearrange it quickly to see how one choice will work over another.

It's not even like writing... it's like thinking. It's like daydreaming only you have tangible results.  You know that thing where you want a usb cable to plug into your brain and dump the story in your head into the computer?  It's as close to that as I've ever come.

Now let me step back and define "it" again: What I'm doing is completely indulging in the outline as if I were writing the actual story.  It's the rough draft.

I'm not far along enough to know for sure this is actually working.  I just know that I've discovered something that feels like it's working and is extremely satisfying.

Scrivener as Outliner

A part of what makes this work is using Scrivener as an outliner.  No, I don't use it, or like it, as a word processor, and I actually hate its built-in outlining and note taking functions.  However, I just use the word processing part of the program as an outliner, and that works great.

Scrivener breaks down your work into scenes or chapters.  You can use those scenes, though, as if they are 3x5 cards of unlimited capacity.  You can write pages and pages of notes on a scene, if you want.  So, for instance, if I have one idea for how the scene will go, and change my mind, I just put the current version at the top, and leave the old version below for reference. No muss, right where I can always find it but out of the way when I don't.

I do this with text documents anyway.  I usually work by having a folder full of notes.  But it's hard to organize and work with.

What Scrivener has that makes this work as an outliner is "The Binder" -- which is a sidebar which lists all the "scenes" (as well as folders and other things if you choose to use them).  And you can drag and drop them all around: change the order quickly.  If you have an idea for one scene while writing another, you don't have to scroll and hunt for the place to put the note. You just click and jump back and forth quickly between scenes.  And you can make a new scene very quickly too.

You can assign these "scenes" to be things other than scenes, character sketches, and notes on secret motivations that don't appear in the scene but affect the scene.  For instance, because this is a mystery, and the prevailing theory of the crime changes with major events, I created a "scene" (or "card" as I like to think of them) for what the prevailing theory is.  I can then put that scene right in the story flow, in the spot where the characters come to that conclusion.  It's there where I need it, but it's by itself, so it doesn't get in the way of the story flow.

Scrivener's actual notetaking and outlining and "character sketch" features are not flexible enough to be useful.  They're also inadequate, and I'm told some of them have a tendency to just vanish on you.  IMHO, using the main text window and the binder for outlining is a grand way to  make Scrivener work in whatever way you do.

See you in the funny papers.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Snippet of What I'm not Working On

What I'm actually working on is the detailed outline for Devil in a Blue Bustle, the next Mick and Casey mystery. It's going very well.

One thing I've learned is that when outlining feels mechanical, I'm not going deep enough. I'm not taking it far enough.  This form of outline -- more or less what Rachel Aaron described, only taken to my own level -- is kind of a very very sketchy rough draft. And that's working for me for all the reasons she said.

But the other day I felt like taking a step away from the current story and I wrote out some snippets of scenes from my next project, The Man Who Stepped Up.  (Which is a sequel to The Man Who Did Too Much.)

The following is just dialog, and something of a set piece: it could go anywhere. It's just a bit of background on George, the compulsive action hero who has a few issues with boundaries.  Karla, his best friend and Happiness Coach has caught a glimpse of a long wicked scar he has down his side.

"So where did you get that scar?" asked Karla.

"Which one?" said George, his eyebrows coming together.

"The big one down your side."

"Oh, I was riding my bike along the top of a wall.  I didn't notice that the bricks at the end had a pitch to them."

"So it wasn't fighting drug lords or terrorists or anything?"

"Well, my parents were certainly terrorized.  As was the nanny and the gardener."

"How old were you?"

"I don't recall. Seven, I think."

"Were you trying to rescue someone?"

"No, that was pre-rescue-mania.  I just wanted to see if I could do it.  Turned out I could.  Mostly."

"Did you try it again?"

"I would have, but my father took away the bicycle, and had the wall re-topped with a less bike-friendly surface.  And then we had several long discussions about looking before you leap.  Which I assured him I had learned, and promised absolutely that I would look next time...  Which, now that I think about it, is when he had the wall redone."

 It will undoubtedly change shape before I use it (and be plumped up with interior voice and resonance with what's going on around it), but that was my fun for the day.

See you in the funny papers.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Test of Freedom - Episode 25

Episode 25 - "Talk of Esape"
by Camille LaGuire

There'd always been a lot of idle talk about escape.  It was a fantasy.  Like dreaming of being a prince.

But now the prisoners were all talking about the bandits in Acton.  Those from the peninsula added to the stories.  Most of them had been loyalists or fence-sitters during the war, but they knew as much about Cap'n Trent's horse pirates as anyone.  Sweeping across the plains, and striking terror into the king's armies.

"But they had horses!" protested Cooper.

"That's true," said Jack.

"And weapons."

"That's true too."

The fellow who had been telling the story looked at both of them in annoyance.

"They didn't start out with horses and weapons," he said.  "They stole 'em."

Jack shook his head.  "No they had more than we do even to start with.  Cooper's right.  We've got to build ourselves a foundation first."

"There's no point in any of it," said Cooper.  "Because no matter what, there is no place to go.  We're trapped here, and the more of us get free, the more they'll hunt us down."

There was a bit of silence.  Jack considered for a moment, and then looked at Cooper.

"You know, Cooper, if I told you I was going to jump to the top of the pavillion here, right from the ground, you'd say I was a fool.  With these chains on, I couldn't jump a foot in the air."


"But if I studied it up first, and worked out a way to climb up, getting a boost from Tom and Steve, and climbing up that pole there.  I could make it.  A little at a time."

"In a perfect world you might," said Cooper, "but Rocken would pull you down and whip your hide off for acting crazy.  So you'd never make it no matter how well you planned it."

"There's a way around everything, if you take it slow.  I could propose to fix the leak in the roof.  Or do it at night, if I had help from you watching the guard."

"I hope then that you take it slow enough that I'm not around anymore when you do it."

"That could well be how slow it takes.  It could be Tim here who leads a bunch of young fellows out of here.  The thing is, nobody's ever going to have it any better if we don't start getting ready."

"And how do you propose to get ready?"

"Well, we start with thinking about the problems and breaking them down to the things we can do now.  And we figure out what is possible.  I think we could survive in the jungle as a group of bandits, and make them feed us.  And we could help others from that position."

"I told you, they'd hunt us down."

"Then that's the first problem we think about."


The next day, Tom and Steve sat down on either side of Jackie at the morning meal.  Old Steve--who wasn't really old at all, just older than a fellow they had called Young Steve, before he died of a fever--leaned in close.

"Did you get a chisel?"

"I told you, a chisel is difficult," said Jack.  "They count them.  We shouldn't even try until we're ready to go."

"Well, we're ready to go."  Steve pointed to himself and Tom.

"Just the two of you?"

"And you, if you want."

Jackie shook his head.  "We need to get everyone out."

"We can't," said Tom.  "It's like Cooper says, it's too difficult."

Jackie considered for a moment.  "I suppose you're right.  A few at a time will be easier."

"Then you'll come with us?"

"No, but I'll help you.  It'll be easier getting the rest of us out if we have help on the outside."

The two of them exchanged looks.  Jackie sighed.

"It might be difficult, but you've got to promise me you'll try to be of some use to the rest of us."

"I will if I can," said Tom.  Old Steve nodded in agreement.

"I'm making a saw," said Jackie.  "I've got it hidden while I work on it.  But I'll move it to the woodpile when it's done, and Steve can get it when he does his rounds."

"What we need are some blades," said Steve.  "Those bandits up there, they respect someone with a weapon.  They aren't too merciful with someone helpless."

Jack paused for a very long time, and then nodded his head.  There was sense in that.

"I'll see what I can do."

The fact that Tom and Steve would be the first to escape gave Jack doubts. They were not the wisest of men, but they had enough courage, and perhaps that's what was called for.  And it was their choice to take the risk.  He didn't know if anyone wiser ever would.

The first book in this series, The Wife of Freedom is at most ebook retailers.
Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Deisel, Kobo, and Smashwords

Also, Amazon International: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

ROW80 Update 3 - Screw Unemployment

I had a formula in mind for these ROW 80 updates.  As I did on Wednesday, I was going to start each update post with what I expected to happen, and then fill in what actually did happen.  But frankly, after Tuesday, I didn't know what to expect for the rest of this week, so where just going straight to what did happen:

Which is mainly outlining, kerfuffle and an epiphany:

Day 3 (Wednesday) - More kerfuffle from unemployment, but I also had an epiphany.  I ran the numbers again on all my little buffers... and realized that I can actually retire.  Not just "kinda sorta but I should do the diligent unemployment thing first" retire. Which means I can, actually, tell the unemployment office to go take a flying leap. (More below.)

Late that evening after coming down off the frustration fury and relief high, I had to spend time to get my head back into what I was doing.  A little outlining, a lot of reviewing.

Day 4 (Thursday) - Freedom Day.  (Also outlining day.)  A little too excited that I have an actual firm, well set financial plan that doesn't depend on any nebulous guesses, to be as productive as I could be.  But I dove into the outlining late in the day and did good work.

Day 5 (Friday) - Outlining (and vet visits).  Bringing together a feral cat (who has no wrist watch) and a visiting vet (who has an appointment schedule) is a tricky proposition and disrupted much of the day.

Still, got some very good outlining done, and I think I will continue the outlining through tomorrow at least.  I'm going to talk about this outlining experiment on Wednesday.  Now that I have no real distractions, no deadlines or fear that my time will be taken away by employment issues, I'm finding that I can do things with this outlining that will be REALLY good for me. (I think.)

Day 6 (Saturday) - Good Outlining.  I had errands to run, but I got into some good work.  I am pushing myself to Go Deeper with the outlining, and finding that the process stops being like logical outlining, and instead becomes like real writing.  You get in deep enough, and the creative mind is the one in charge, and it becomes like a very rough first draft, rather than an outline.

It's not going to work the same way for every story, but for this, I really like it a lot.

Screw Unemployment

I have a lot I'd like to write here, but I'll cut the bitching and cut to the chase.  My only advice from this experience is this:

Don't even consider trying to build a writing career or freelance business while on unemployment these days.

Not unless you really consider your business/writing to be a pure hobby.  Unemployment, with its uncertainties and requirements and the necessity of always being ready for something unknown, is much worse than a day job in terms of interfering with your writing.

So if you are a writer -- or a budding freelancer of other sorts -- and you find yourself unemployed, you need to move on as fast as possible.  You have to commit to one or the other, at least for the transition period: Either set aside the writing or freelance business and throw all into getting a decent job, OR forego the unemployment benefits and throw all into your writing/freelance career.

It's rare that you can do the latter.  You can only do it if you prepare yourself financially well in advance. And that preparation may include setting aside your writing or freelance career earlier, to concentrate on day jobs and money for a while.  It may involve becoming a money geek and understanding investment and personal finance.  It may include learning to live on very little money.  It may involve having a heroically supportive family.

I've done all of the above in my time.  And in October, I figured could make it on what I had, but I didn't look that closely. I needed to deal with healthcare and look at all my options first. Now, pushed against the wall and forced to commit -- full-time job seeking or no job seeking at all -- I've taken a closer look at the math of retirement.

What I discovered is that I need two things: 1.) very little in terms of income and 2.) a big emergency fund (because when you have very little income, you can't save up or pay things off quickly).

And when I ran the numbers, I saw that my tertiary retirement account has enough in it to pay my minimum income until I can start to collect Social Security. (And yes, I have emergency funds up the wazoo.)

I can say "SCREW IT!  I'm gonna write.  Ça ira!"*

I am now officially (not just kinda sorta) retired.

See you in the funny papers.

*Ça ira! was a rallying cry of the French Revolution, and Wikipedia notwithstanding, when revolutionaries say it, it does NOT mean the wimpy "It'll be fine" or "there is hope." It means "It WILL happen!" and "We're gonna do this thang!"

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Test of Freedom - Episode 24

Episode 24 - "Stirring Trouble"
by Camille LaGuire

There was something different about Jack after the whipping incident.

Cooper wasn't sure; it might have been just that everyone looked on him differently.  It seemed, though, that something had come together in him.  As though before that he had just been biding his time.

Thus it was another warm and tiring evening, not a week later, that Jack sat down next to where Cooper and Tim were talking.  He listened silently for a while, chewing on a bit of lemon grass, which was about the only way a man could clean his teeth in this place.  He'd been in the workshop since the incident -- and not in the fields -- doing smithwork and repairs.

Rocken had just been through for the evening rounds, and Tim watched until he was out of the pit.

"So I wonder, how do they decide which murderers to hang, and which to send here?" said Tim.

"It's luck," said Cooper.  "Rocken had a witness that said it was self-defense."

"Then they should have let him go."

"He murdered a nobleman.  They'd have hung him for that regardless of whether it was self-defense.  But the witness was a nobleman too.  I suppose it was easier to transport than to sort out who was more important."

Jack sat up and tossed away the bit of lemon grass he'd been chewing on.

"So how many murderers do thay have in this camp, then?"

Cooper thought about it.

"The only one I've seen is Rocken."

"So it's a lie, what they say."

"What's a lie?"

"That transportation is a mercy, because it saves us all from hanging."

"It saved you from hanging."

"It was an odd circumstance, though.  They had no intention of transporting me.  It was clear enough they were determined to hang me.  But I was saved ...."

He paused, and a puzzled looked came across his face as he thought about it.

"By what?" prodded Cooper.

"Just like Rocken, I had an important witness who couldn't be ignored."

"And what did he say?"

"She," said Jack, as if the fact still surprised him.

"So you have an important lady friend?"

"No!  I'd never seen her before in my life."

"And still she testified for you?"


"What did she say?"

"That I was a literary light.  And a philosopher for the coming age to boot."

Cooper laughed as Jack shook his head and shrugged.

"And that went over with the court?"

"Not in the least.  It just pointed up why they wanted to hang me, actually.  But she also pointed up that they were breaking the queen's laws all over the place just in charging me.  A lot of faces in that court got red at that."

"I can imagine.  A woman telling them about the law."

"But it was a woman's laws," protested Jack.  "Still they called her a silly woman and shut her up as quick as they could.  I suppose they let her speak because they thought a fine noblewoman would say something against me.  But she did speak, and they couldn't pretend they hadn't heard, so they sentenced me to transportation, in case that other silly woman with the crown ever got to hear of it."

Jack winced as he raised his arms up and put his hands behind his head.  He paused for a long time and glanced calculatingly at Cooper.

"And what do you think they sent you here for?" he asked.  It was a funny way of putting it.

"I don't think," said Cooper.  "I know. They sent me here for burglary."

Jack shook his head and leaned in a little closer.  "What did you steal?"

"Some silver."

"How much do you think that silver was worth?"

"Couple of crowns."

"And did you do damage getting in?"

"Broke a window."

"Worth another crown to repair it, would you say?"

"Probably less."

"And how much did Clement pay for you?"

"Eighty-five crowns," said Cooper.  "I was younger and stronger then."

"And would you say that Clement expects to make a considerable amount more from your labor than what he spent on you?"

"Already has, I'd say."

"So your labor's worth quite a lot."

"I suppose."

"And all that gold that's passed over your head, did any of it go to the people you stole from?"

"I don't believe so," said Cooper, grinning a bit as he realized where Jack was headed.

"You can be sure it didn't," said Jack.

"And even their silver was a bit dented when they got it back."

"So it would have served justice better if they'd given you a good beating and made you work for a bit right at home to pay back the damage you'd done, and maybe a bit more for the expense to the court."

"I suppose."

"So tell me again what they sent you here for?"

"Eighty-five crowns."

"Aye.  And what about young Tim?  What did they send him here for?"

"He's young, so they probably paid more."

"One hundred, even," said Tim.

"They got more than that from you, Tim," said Jack.

Cooper looked at Tim, who looked miserable.

"The house.  My father's house.  They took it to pay my debts."

"And how did you get into those debts?" asked Jack.  "Did you spend and gamble?"

"You know I didn't," said Tim, shortly.

"Sorry, Tim."

The boy swallowed and looked at Cooper.  "My father died in the war, fighting on the free side.  They taxed us for war damages.  I couldn't make enough to pay it."

"They taxed you because they wanted the house," said Jack.  "And they got money from you trying to pay the tax, and money from selling you.  I'm confused.  Who's the criminal again?"

"They're bastards," said Tim.

"No," said Jack.  "They're the enemy in a war.  It's those with power against the rest of us.  They keep winning as long as they have us convinced we're fighting them each alone.  There are a hell of a lot more of us than them."

"I wouldn't say that too loud, Jack," said Cooper.

"No, but it needs to be said all the same."  He lowered his voice and leaned in closer.  "It doesn't matter that you're a theif, and he's a debtor and I'm a traitor.  We're all the same.  Even the slaves."

"They were never free.  They were born to it," said Cooper.  "And they're savages."

"Did they choose to be slaves?"

"No, but...."

"Then they're the same as us, too."

"I wouldn't say that too loud either."

Jack sighed and looked at him sidelong, annoyed.  But he knew what Cooper was telling him.  He chewed his lip.

"They can help us.  They get sent on more errands than you do, and longer ones.  And sometimes the girl spends the night in the house."

"Help us what, Jack?"

Jack simply shrugged.  Cooper had the feeling he wasn't just talking about an escape now.  At least he was smart enough not to say the word rebellion aloud yet.

"This isn't Tantaline," said Cooper.

"No," he said.  "Not yet."

"Not by a long shot."

"I know," said Jack, with another shrug.  "You have to be half free before you can be all free.  But do you know what we started out with in Acton?"

"No, and I don't want to know."

Jack paused and then looked up at the wild jungle where it was said that some had escaped and lived bandit lives. Then he looked back at Cooper, his blue eyes clear and shining.

"We started with bandits."

The first book in this series, The Wife of Freedom is at most ebook retailers.
Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Deisel, Kobo, and Smashwords

Also, Amazon International: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wednesday Update

The Plan:

I'm writing this part on Sunday, just before I start my first writing session of the dare. Here is what I expect to happen before this report is posted on Wednesday:

Sunday, Day 0 -  Get writing! Look over outline for Devil in a Blue Bustle (DBB), start mashing out scenes that are ripe in my head.  Only planning work is the five minutes "get set" time at the start of a writing session.

Monday, Day 1 - No writing. Likely to be a Kerfuffle day, as I have paperwork and phone calls to deal with concerning Unemployment and Insurance.  So today will be outlining and Artwork day. (I gotta polish up Miss Leech anyway....)

Tuesday, Day 2 - More Writing! Continuing to work on DBB.  (Because word count is important, I might work on ManWho2 if something hot comes up.)

The Reality

Sunday, Day 0 - 2563 words.

Got off to a good start, maybe a little late, but as I was leaving the house for my writing session out, I realized I needed some info from from an email. I turned my computer back on.... and it wouldn't boot!  Aggravation!  Distraction! Worry!  Ran a basic repair routine, but didn't have time to do it all, so I ended up shutting it down and going out anyway.  Had a good writing session -- 1119 words -- and then did errands and came home to fix computer.  While computer is fixed, this is not due to any help from the orange cat.

Managed to do the rest of the day's words, but it was a squeaker, because I wasn't as prepared as I wanted to be.

Monday, Day 1 - non-writing day.

Boy was it ever a non-writing day.  More kerfuffle in dealing with my layoff benefits.  And all to naught... I have to do this all again tomorrow.  I did not even get any outlining done.  I did get my Miss Leech episode posted, but I used one that was almost ready, because the one I wanted to use was a long way from ready.

Tuesday, Day 2 - (hysterical laughter)

No seriously, I can't stop the mirthless laughing over the thought that I would get anything done today.  Spent half the day tracking down a promised health insurance benefit only to find that -- even though was told I was certainly eligible -- I wasn't eligible.  Spent the other half of the day wrangling with the wonky form from the unemployment office:

It was a PDF, but it was designed so you could NOT fill it in by hand (they had put zeroes in the spots where you would fill in the numbers).  It was also locked down tight so you couldn't SAVE the information you put into it, so you had to look up all sorts of numbers and type dozens of them in, making sure all were accurate (and me with dyscalcula) -- then print them in the same session.  No saving, no setting aside to do any of it later.  Also, hidden deep in the settings, the was also was locked down to print in "duplex" mode...

Which you'd never notice if you don't have a duplexing printer.  But if you do have a duplexing printer and the duplex unit is malfunctioning?  The form was unprintable. You couldn't turn duplexing off.  Even if you chose to print only one page, it would just try to print a blank back side of the page first, and then jam.  So can't save it, can't print it, can't do it by hand, can't take it somewhere else to print.

Luckily, getting around things like that was a part of the job I had done for 20 years, and I finally just uninstalled the printer driver so that the printer didn't KNOW it had a duplexing unit.  (It's amazing how many things you can fix by lying to the computer.)

So I got it printed, and bundled with all the proper proofs and mailed.

But the cat may never forgive me for yelling at him.

I did do some multitasking, though, in that I had my migraine day today.  Got most of my headaches over with in one day.

That's right.  Most.  Still have some kerfuffle to hunt down and kill tomorrow.

Writing Lessons Learned

There were writing lessons learned?  Yeah, remember Day 0?  I learned stuff that day.  Mainly that my plan of outlining and writing intermittently is a good idea, because the two feed off each other.  When I get blocked in the outlining stage, I have to write it, just as much as I have to do outlining when I get blocked in the writing stage.

The things I worked on for Day 0 pulled out lots of questions that I didn't know when I was outlining.

This is sort of how I have always worked.  I think that's the important thing about using a method like Rachel Aaron proposes: what it's really about is turbo charging  your own methods.  Finding the choke points and finding ways to bypass them.

(UPDATE: did the math, and I think I've figured out how to bypass a lot of the kerfuffle and just plain retire.  This would make an enormous difference.)

See you in the funny papers.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Miss Leech and the Yard 5 - Theories and Hints

The fifth installment of the cozy mystery comic strip about Miss Leech, a little old lady amateur sleuth, and Inspector Stride, the long-suffering policeman whose life she makes miserable.

This strip appears once a month, on the second Tuesday of the month.  Check out earlier episodes:  Miss Leech #1, Miss Leech #2, Miss Leech #3, Miss Leech #4. (And stay tuned for Miss Leech #6 in February.)

See you in the funny papers.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Test of Freedom - Episode 23

Episode 23 - "Hingle's Investigation"
by Camille LaGuire

No one knew where Hingle had gone, but there wasn't much to do about it.  It was still daytime, and Hingle had been through a war, although not as a warrior -- just as a spy.  Still, that required some sense.

They ate a luncheon, and went to the market.  The market man showed them his records, which were not as helpful as they might be.  They didn't have names in it, for instance.  But there were notes, and Mary insisted on going through them herself, because she was the only one who knew Jackie, and could spot some detail that may have to do with him.  The best factor was age, since most of them were young, or quite old.  And they mentioned profession, too, but she didn't see a single smith, or journalist either.  None listed as revolutionists.

But they came away with a list of other places to look.  There was another market on the other side of North Point, and there were several large plantations on the south side of the island that may have purchased men straight from the boat.  There were also a few local buyers they'd culled from the market records.

Hingle was still not back when they returned to the hotel.  They discussed how they would go about the search well into the evening, and still no Hingle.

It was only after dark, when they were about to send Mr. Sherman in search of the young scamp, that Hingle finally came home.  He staggered a bit, and smelled like drink, but he was beaming and happy.

"He isn't dead!" he announced, triumphantly.

"Where have you been?" shouted Loreen.  She was too old for his flirting, but almost old enough to act as a mother.

"I've been all over the docks," he said.  "I found a crewman from the Crown's Mercy."

"What?"  Mary got up and took his arm, bringing him in to sit down.  "Is the ship here?"

"No, he'd been left behind because he was sick."

"And he remembers Jackie?"

"No, but he remembers the ones that died, because it was his job to....  Well, he had to deal with the bodies.  That's how he caught the fever himself, he says.  He said it was a good voyage.  Only five died, which he says was good.  And those that died all started in weak and old."

Mary took a breath, frozen in joy, and yet the words brought a picture to her mind of the men that had died.  Five old men who shouldn't have been on the boat in the first place.

"Are you sure?" she said, bringing her mind back.  There was nothing she could do about those fellows.  Nothing.

"Yes, I'm sure," said Hingle, grinning.  "I gave him all my money, which wasn't much, but he was glad of the drink it bought.  We talked for a long time.  He told me all kinds of things.  Your Jackie wasn't one of those who died on board."

Mary threw her arms around him.

"Thank you, Hingle.  Thank you."

"I didn't want you to be crying," he said.  "Not without cause, anyway."

"Well, too bad, because now I'm crying again."

Then they settled down on the balcony under the flapping banners of the fortress above them.  Music floated down from there, where they seemed to be gearing up for a party--the changing of Governors, they'd heard.

Mary blocked the music from her mind and turned her thoughts back to the work of dividing up the search.  Jackie may have survived the voyage, but there were many other hazards and man could suffer.

Available after 8am EST, on Thursday

The first book in this series, The Wife of Freedom is at most ebook retailers.
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