Monday, 18 September 2017

Communal Book Project Part Four


Lord Logenburt Part Four

By Kit Danziger  


Connect with Kit on Twitter!


Here is it! The long-awaited next installment of the adventures of Lord Logenburt. If you missed the other parts, catch up here!

Frederic followed the Baron out of the room.  The manor was very dark and cold.  Surely a man of the baron's stature and privilege could afford to light a few gaslamps, Frederic thought. But it wasn't his place to question a baron. He regretted laying his whiskey, in a moment of indecision, on a side table on his way out of the drawing room. Could he carry his glass into the baron's quarters? Frederic was no longer sure of the proper decorum:  strange young women addressing him by his first name, barons inviting him into their private chambers.  Maybe the rules of polite society had changed since he last visited.  He suddenly longed for his quiet study and a tumbler of his own whiskey in his hand, where just the night before, the clock had struck the hours like a tell tale heart of his dull life. He was no longer a young man, and perhaps pleasant and uneventful were the best he could hope for. It was good enough for the Lords Logenburt before him.

Baron Bleddyn was barely visible in front of him, and Frederic's eyes were watering besides. They walked down a corridor and then down several flights of stairs.  The gloom seemed to muffle their footsteps, and Frederic was glad when the baron appeared not to notice him stumble.

Abruptly, the baron stopped and swung open a great oak door. The baron beckoned to him.  "If it please you, my lord," he said. "Enter."

Lord Logenburt walked into the room.  Fortunately, here were a few lit gaslamps revealing a room that was decidedly not private chambers, but in fact, seemed much more cavernous. Frederic saw where all the duke's other gaslamps had gone.  They illuminated and warmed...a clutch of large, dark eggs.  Each egg sat in a type of large saucer warmed by a gaslamp underneath.  Frederic never thought he'd see this familiar scene again.  He gaped at the baron.  At the sight of the baron's smug smile, he recovered quickly, and looked over at the other, darker and colder, side of the room, where he could make out the vague form of a young woman lying on a stone slab.  A trough led from the slab to a channel in the floor that conveyed a dark liquid to the eggs.  Suddenly, Frederic realized that the eggs were lying in a gruesome sort of tea-warmer.  The blood filled the saucers under the eggs, and the gaslamps kept it hot.

"You're incubating the eggs in blood!" he said, aghast.

"Yes!" the baron replied.  "The iron in the blood will the dragons strong. The nutrients will make them powerful!"

"But you must never use human blood! Only animal blood.  Human blood will create monstrosities, abortions of magic!"




Sunday, 2 July 2017

Communal Book Project Part Three



Lord Logenburt Part Three

By Thomas Roggenbuck 



Connect with Thomas on twitter!


(If you missed the first installments, check out parts one and two here first!)


The carriage bumped along the road, which didn’t help Frederic’s uneasy stomach. Even though it had been a few days since Vivian DuBois had come to talk with him, the conversation was fresh in his mind. He couldn’t believe he had agreed to help look for her. Perhaps he drank too much whiskey and it clouded his judgement; Tubs always said he drank too much. However, he knew the alcohol had no influence, or at least very little, on his decision to help the women. He had wanted an adventure, and it was why he was on his way to Baron Thomas Bleddyn’s manor.
The carriage came to a stop in the courtyard of the manor, a large complex with beautiful stain glass windows, magnificent archways, and stunning gardens. Frederic stood next to his carriage for a moment, taking in the scenery, before moving forward. A servant greeted him at the front entrance.
“How may I assist you, kind visitor?” the servant asked.
“My name is Lord Frederic Logenburt, and I’m seeking an audience with Baron Bleddyn,” Frederic said. He tried to keep his voice steady and his hands from shaking.
“Very well,” the servant said, giving Frederic a deep bow. “I will return soon with a response.” The servant ran off and Frederic reached inside his jacket, tugging out a flask of whiskey. Whiskey relaxed him, helped him think. The servant returned a short while later, beckoning for Frederic to follow him.
The servant knocked on two large oak doors, both with intricate drawings of nature on their faces. Frederic took another swig of whiskey as the servant opened the doors.
“Stay here. The Baron will be here to meet with you momentarily,” the servant said. “You want anything, my lord?”
Frederic shrugged. “I’ll take a glass of whiskey, if you don’t mind.”
The servant bowed again. “As you wish.” The servant returned moments later with a glass of whiskey. Despite the drink, Frederic couldn’t sit still. He stood and walked around the chairs, then the table, then the room. He paused as a piece of artwork caught his eye. A goat, headless and bloody, lay at a man’s feet. The man held the goat’s head high in the air. Frederic stared at it confused, trying to decipher its hidden meaning.
“I got that piece from a merchant from the Jecous Peninsula. Intriguing, right?” a voice said from behind him. Frederic turned around. Baron Thomas Bleddyn stopped next to him, staring at the painting on the wall. “Cost me a little more than I would have liked, but the man gave me a large discount, since he didn’t want to take it back with him. Have we met before?”
“No. No we haven’t.” Frederic forced the words out. He sipped at the whiskey the servant brought him. He stuck a hand towards the Baron. “Lord Frederic Logenburt, sir.”
“Pleasure,” the Baron said, shaking Frederic’s hand. “Why is it you’ve come? Surely not to admire my artwork?”
“A sister of a...friend has disappeared. She approached me the other night. I figured I’d come to you.”
The Baron scratched his chin. “Who is missing? And who’s your friend?”
“Vivian and Lea DuBois. Vivian approached me the other night. Lea is missing.” 
“Yeah, I know Lea. Cute little darling. She’s missing?”
Frederic swallowed. “Vivian told me she ran off with you, hence why I came here.” 
“No. No, Lea hasn’t been here in a while; definitely not in the past week.” The Baron turned and looked directly at Frederic, whose gut clenched. “Are you looking for her?” 
Slowly, Frederic nodded his head. “I promised Vivian that I would do the best I could to find Lea. I just assumed she was here and that I would have to lecture her about running off without anyone knowing, but it appears she isn’t here.” 
There was a silence. Frederic’s hands began to sweat, so he wrapped his hands around the cool glass of whiskey. He took another sip, before the Baron spoke again.
“Come,” he said, striding back the way he came.
Frederic stumbled after him; whiskey never allowed him to move fast. “Where are we going?”
“My quarters. I need to know what you know if we’re to find Lea.”

######

Update!  Part Four has been posted!

If you're interesting in joining the fun and writing for the Communal Book Project, connect with me on twitter or send an email to aj.chasingmytale@gmail.com.


Monday, 26 June 2017

Communal Book Project Part Two

Thank you to all those who have volunteered to contribute to the Communal Book Project. Part Two is brought to you by Billy Owens Jr. Read on to find out what Lord Logenburt found on the other side of his door, or if you missed part One, catch up here!


Lord Logenburt Part Two 

Written by Billy Owens Jr


"Hello!" Frederic warmly greeted the visitor. Before him stood a young woman, fair-skinned, with long, raven tresses, deep emerald eyes, and a distraught demeanor. 

"Oh! H-hello," she stammered, surprised that someone answered the door. "I didn't think anyone would be up at this late hour. My sincerest apologies for disturbing you, it's just that I…" 

"Would you care to come in?" Frederic interrupted, gesturing with his arm for her to enter. Again, the woman was surprised, this time by hospitality. She thanked Frederic and went inside. 

This is it, Frederic thought to himself, as he escorted her to the study. A damsel in distress, danger may be afoot, and I could be the dashing hero to the rescue! Finally, a chance to escape this humdrum life!

As they entered the study, Frederic offered her to sit in his armchair. "Are you sure?" the timid woman asked. 

"Quite alright,” he replied with a reassuring smile. As he went to the wet bar to pour himself another glass of whiskey, it occurred to him how he would be remiss foregoing introductions in lieu of pleasantries, so he decided to kill two birds with one stone. “Would you care for a drink, Miss…?" 

"DuBois, Vivian DuBois, and no, thank you," she politely declined. 

Frederic pulled a stool from the bar and sat across from her. “I’m Frederic Logenburt, pleased to make your acquaintance.” That being said, it was time to address the situation at hand. “So, Miss DuBois, what sort of trouble are you in, and how can I be of assistance?”

Vivian deeply sighed. "It's my sister, Lea. Two nights ago, she left our house with her boyfriend, Thomas, and has yet to return. I’m used to her coming and going as she pleases, being out all hours of the night, but it has been two days, without so much as a random drop-by or a call. Two days!" 

Frederic pondered about what to ask next, as he wanted to choose his words carefully. He didn’t want to upset Vivian more than what she already was, but still, some questions needed asked. “Perhaps, Lea is staying with her boyfriend? What have the authorities said on the matter?“

“I can only assume she is, since I don’t know where he lives,” Vivian sobbed, “and the authorities have refused to help.”   

“Refused? “ Frederic uttered, stroking his mustache. This baffling situation made him thirsty for another glass. 

Vivian continued on as Frederic returned to the wet bar. “They said ‘it would not be in my best interest trifling in the affairs of a Bleddyn.’” 

Frederic stopped in mid-pour and sat the bottle down. “Bleddyn? Thomas Bleddyn?!" Frederic breathed.

“Yes, I guess so. Who is…” Vivian asked, seemingly bewildered.

Baron Thomas Bleddyn, a puckish rogue to say the least,” Frederic remarked.

“He’s a Baron?!” Vivian exclaimed, shaking her head, “Oh, Lea, what did you get yourself into?” She then slowly rose from the armchair, directed her attention to the wet bar. "Frederic, I believe I will have that drink now."

######


It's not too late to join the fun! Email me at aj.chasingmytale@gmail.com, or connect with me on Twitter! 

Stay tuned for Part Three!





Thursday, 15 June 2017

Writing Dialogue for Action Scenes


I'm heading into the last part of Act Two in my WIP, and the action is really cranking up. Enough with the talking, the thinking, the quietly figuring things out. It is time to bring out the big guns. Quite literally.

With this in mind, I found myself facing several hot action scenes, with fights, shootings, and car chases to choreograph. As I'm not overly experienced in any of these domains, I had a ton of research to do, not least because my car chase takes place in the real life setting of an area of London near St Paul's cathedral, and I wanted the setting to be spot-on. (Hello, Google Maps.)

On top of all that, the three characters involved are newly-formed allies, with a ton of stuff to say in order to get everyone on the same page, very fast, whilst escaping bad guys and dealing with a bullet wound.

Writing the dialogue and action for these scenes was hard. The kind of stuff that makes me want to throw in the towel and take up knitting instead. So I did what any self-respecting writer would do. I took the easy route.

First I wrote the car chase, with minimal dialogue (mostly 'ouches' and 'look behind yous' and 'helps') and lots of raging action, then, in the subsequent lull before the next disaster, the three amigos had a good old chin wag with a ton-load of characterisation, and got it all off their chests.

The scene fell flat.

I was sad. I cried a little, moaned a little, grumbled a little, realised nobody was listening to me, and took a break from the scene. Then, when I came back, I had an epiphany.

*insert witty dialogue into action scene*

VoilĂ .

I took most of the dialogue (with some exceptions) and weaved it into the action scene, alternating between full-on car chase and vibrant (I hope) conversation, pumping life into this scene until it pulsated with energy. Now the characters are having a real great time, bonding fast as they race through the streets of London, popping tyres and dodging bullets.

Also, I was able to cut out most of the action beats and dialogue tags from the original conversation, hence reducing word count. Since my WIP is comparable to an oversized heifer, this is good.

I plan to use this technique again. When I face a scene that requires heavy action and sharp dialogue, I'll write them separately, then blend them as one. A bit like a smoothie. Minus the lumps.







Saturday, 10 June 2017

Communal Book Project aka Write a Book With Me!

Hello peeps and peepettes!

If, like me, you love summer and feel full of the joys of the sun, you might like to undertake a new project with me, just for fun. (Disclaimer: for those of you in the southern hemisphere, I'm sorry. Good luck with your descent into winter. And yes, you can still play!)

So, calling all writers, young or less young, experienced or less experienced, published or less published!

I'd like to launch a game on my blog to write a story with YOUR contribution. The rules are thus:

1. Read Part One below and let me know if you want in!

2. Each participant will contribute a section to the story, anything from 300 to 1000 words.

3. You will have to wait until the person before you completes and posts their section, so each contribution runs on from the previous in a way that makes at least a little bit of sense.

4. Other than that, no rules! Write however you like, develop the story in whatever way you see fit, and let's see where this goes! Oh, and keep it clean please. This is a PG blog. Thanks for understanding.

DON'T LEAVE ME HANGING!


Lord Logenburt and the Knock at the Door
Part One by AJ Watt

Midnight. 

The grandfather’s clock chimed the first stroke of the hour in the elegant hallway. Lord Frederic Logenburt sat in his study in a high-backed leather armchair and listened to time. As always, it passed with the same deliberate slowness, taunting the lonely. Each chime seemed to last minutes, each intermittent silence even longer. He lifted the tumbler to his mouth, and tipped back the last of his whiskey. The half-melted ice wet his thick moustache and the liquor slipped down his throat. 

On the fourth chime, Frederic placed his glass on the spindly side table. On the fifth, he eased himself out of his chair with a telltale stiffness that betrayed long-term idleness. On the sixth, he glanced at the array of photographs on the recently polished sideboard. On the seventh, he walked the length of the spacious room, and, on the eighth, opened the door. The ninth saw him cross the hallway, the clock now chiming only a foot from his right ear. On the tenth, he placed a large hand on the staircase banister, and set his foot on the first step. By the eleventh, he was five steps up the wide staircase, painfully aware that tomorrow would herald just as much excitement as the today, namely, none. 

The twelfth chime rang out, and Frederic paused for a second on the staircase. The clock fell silent, like the rest of the house. He supposed there was noise in the kitchen. Even his dull and dutiful servants couldn’t clean up in complete silence. But it was so far away, with three closed doors between them, that he wouldn’t know if they were in there dancing the can-can. Frederic sighed.

Then, at the exact moment that the thirteenth stroke would have chimed, had there been a thirteenth stroke, a loud knock sounded on the door below him. Frederic froze. It had been years since a knock had sounded at any time of the night, and he suspected it never had at midnight. His ancestors had been an even duller bunch than himself. 

As if by magic, his butler Tubs appeared at the foot of the stairs, and headed swiftly for the door. 

‘Tubs,’ Frederic called out sharply. ‘I’ll get it myself tonight.’ 

Tubs swung around and almost lost his balance. His eyes bulged for a moment, before he blinked and restored them to their usual state of placidity. ‘Yes indeed, sir,’ he said with a slight bow. 

Frederic ran down the staircase, and passed Tubs, who waited with his hands behind his back. Frederic stopped. ‘You may go, Tubs,’ he announced, and waved a hand to emphasise the matter. 

‘Go, sir?’ Tubs repeated uncertainly, as if testing it out. 

‘Indeed,’ Frederic said. ‘Go. Retreat. Stand down. Disappear. I’ll see you in the morning.’ 

The knock sounded again. Tubs stared at Frederic and his lower jaw dropped half an inch. ‘Sir,’ he began. 

Frederic straightened up to remind Tubs just who was boss and felt some satisfaction at the embarrassment that crossed his butler’s face. He knew the man trained his staff to never refute a direct order. Tubs’ eyes dropped to the carpet and he bowed again. 

‘Yes, sir,’ he said, and walked stiffly away. 

Frederic waited for him to leave the hallway by means of one of the doorways, and for said door to close behind him. He didn’t know precisely why he was waiting, just that he wanted to do this by himself. Just for once. Something about the midnight hammering convinced him that adventure lay on the other side of his door, and adventure had Lord Logenburt’s name on it, not his aged greying butler’s. 

Once alone, he slid back the metal bolt, turned the key, and opened the door.

######

Update! Part Two has been posted! Read it here


Thursday, 8 June 2017

Why I don't believe in TBR lists...


Joining Twitter was a great writing move. I discovered a whole word of people like me, people who love to read and love to write and love to waste spend a lot of time talking about both. I also discovered the TBR.

To Be Read.

I do get it. Honestly, I do. I'm the first to agree that there are so many great books out there and hundreds that I'd love to read, preferably today. My monthly visit to the bookstore usually results in carrying splitting bags across town back to the car, and I won't even mention the kindle store. I try to slip the credit card bill into the trash before my husband sees it. So yeah, I have a lot of books to read.

But this life throws us constant demands. Every single day we're expected to do a whole host of things, and do them well. Brush your teeth. Get your kids to school on time. Don't get fired. Don't flunk high school. Concentrate on real conversations while running over scenes in your head.

And what about the even bigger worries in life? Am I getting 10k steps in every day? Do I floss enough to avoid horrible gum infections? Why are the recycling bins always overflowing? Did I 'like' every notification on Twitter?

Then you get the lists. Shopping lists. Lists of people to call. Workout lists. Lists of recipes to try. And the TBR list.

No.

I draw the line at a TBR list. Reading is my escape. My peaceful, beautiful, imaginative world of escapism. (Not to be confused with peaceful beautiful stories because most often they are conflict-ridden and dangerous, but that's another topic.)

I will not stress my reading life by creating more pressure for myself. I will read the book I feel like reading, when I want to, and at the speed I want. I will devour it like pizza or savour it like raspberry macaroons or pick at it like overcooked broccoli. If I want to, I'll spew it up and chew it all over again, or maybe just the bits I loved. And while I'm enjoying pizza, I won't be thinking of tacos. When I'm sipping on rum with clinky ice, I won't be worrying that I'm missing out on a milkshake.

There are many cities I will never get to visit. Many cars I'll never get to drive. Many shoes I'll never get to wear. Many, many, people I'll never get to meet, and many books I'll never read. I made my peace with that.

So, yeah, I have a lot of books to read. Will I list them on a piece of paper to make it all the more real? Will I put them in order, as if I could possibly foresee what I feel like reading in seventeen days time? Will I check them off when I've read them, one more thing to be smug about in this world of self-importance? No to all of that. I'll just read the book, live the magic, and reduce the stress. Then I can cross yoga off my to-do list. Win-win.

What about you, readers? Do you swear by TBRs? Let me know. Heck, try to change my mind! I'm nothing if not highly influenceable.

Then go get back to your power reading.







Thursday, 20 April 2017

Saving The Scene 101: Character Motivations

I know, I know, it's been awhile.

I've been slinging words every day for Camp NaNo and blogging has been bottom of my priority list. However, today I had an epiphany, and I just had to share it with the good people of the Kingdom of Creative Writing.

Have you ever written a scene or chapter that just felt flat? Maybe even one that should feel exciting, but no matter how much you kneaded it, you couldn't get it to rise any higher than a crepe?

I have.

That is, I am.

Chapter Twenty-Two (shudder)

I have three of the best critique partners I could wish for, and they are all waiting for chapter twenty-two. Chapters twenty-three through thirty-two are written, revised, edited, and ready to see the light of day, but twenty-two... well, shudder.

Oh, sorry. I mentioned that.

Today's post is brought to you courtesy of a Major Revelation. After weeks of agonising over chapter twenty-two, I finally understood the root of the problem.

See, chapter twenty-two was destined for great things. Chapter twenty-two could be considered the cherry on the top of the sundae of Act Two. Chapter twenty-two is when my protagonist meets her birth father, who gave her up for adoption when she was a baby. (The birth father is also in prison for murder, and the protagonist is trying to discover why she has superhuman strength.) So yeah, chapter twenty-two should be awesome.

Why did it underwhelm me to the point of being physically incapable of sending it out into the wide world?

Problems with character motivation.

The issue with characters is that they are extremely volatile beings. Sometimes they are so strong-willed that they take the decisions right out of our writer hands, and sometimes they are limper than a wet spaghetti. When they aren't shouting from the rooftops what they want and the measures they'll take to get there, they can be found sulking in a corner, without any desires at all.

So back to my scene. The protagonist is sorted. I've been walking, swimming, riding motorbikes in her shoes for far too many months. She's also the POV character so yeah, listen up people. Everyone knows what she wants from this long-overdue encounter.

But the birth dad?

Not so much.

And it all comes down to motivations, people. Not his motivation twenty plus years ago when he gave up his daughter, but his motivation today, going into this reunion. And today, it finally hit me that this was the issue with my scene. Everybody in a scene needs to want something.

Yup, everybody. Not just the main character whose motivations you probably know better than your own. But everybody else.

The problem is, I knew this. I know it. My WIP is riddled with opposing agendas. I knew they all needed motivation. But when it came down to this particular scene, I was counting on the setup to bring all the greatness, when the greatness would only come when I figured out what that character sitting across from my MC really wanted.

Now I know.

And now I'm going to go write it.



What about you, writers? Ever written a scene that felt flat? Was a lack of character motivation the issue, or something entirely different? Leave a comment below!