Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chapter Seventeen Excerpt

The boat took them and their horses downriver, past the town of Fairfax, past Fredericksburg, past Tappahannock and to the shores of the Bay where they found a different vessel to carry them farther south. It was a sloop carting live hogs bound for the West Indies and the noise and smell made sleep all but impossible during the overnight voyage to Norfolk, where Hope declared herself done with boats.

They led their horses down the sloop’s gangplank and onto the wharf on the east side of town. The sun had not been up long and it burned crimson, surrounded by swaths of heavy clouds that reflected the color and turned the whole of the sky to flame.

“Gonna be bad weather for sailing,” the shipmaster said as the hogs were run from his sloop to an English brigantine moored down the wharf. “Hate to be out on the Atlantic right now. Big storms coming; you can smell it.”

Bull sniffed the air but only smelled hog and sweat and brackish water. He thanked the master, handed him some coins and then mounted his horse to follow Cocke and Hope over the docks to Market Square. Bull looked once over his shoulder at the score of brigantines and sloops riding the wharves and he wondered if any of them were bound for England or Ireland.

“Bull, let’s find an ordinary,” Cocke called to him, and Bull turned his back on the tall ships and urged his horse forward.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chapter 17

This chapter (which will either be called "Slaves" or "The Dismal Swamp") is going to be another long one, my estimate being about 6,000 words. I can't really imagine it coming in any shorter than that. I've already got over 2,000 words down for it and I feel like I'm at about the 1/3rd mark (I can tell this because my chapters each have a three-part structure to them). Anyway, by now I've passed the 50,000 word mark, which means I'm certainly heading toward the last big stretch. There are three chapters after this one to complete the Second Act, and then four more chapters and I'll be--wonder of wonders--done with the first draft of the novel. So, yay.

No excerpts to post, as it's all scribbled into my notebook. When I actually type the new stuff into Word(tm), I might throw a paragraph or three up here. We'll see. There never seems to be time for anything these days.

wordcountometer ~= 50,000!

Also: I have heard back from my agent regarding my previous novel! I'll post an update about that once I've actually written/phoned the abovementioned agent. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Free Story Idea

So I had this idea for a story that's the sort of book I'll never write. I think it would be perfect for someone like Jasper Fforde, but as I don't know him and he seems to have plenty enough ideas on his own, I'll offer it up here. Anyway: a sleep shortage, with some evil corporation siphoning it off and selling it or making something evil out of it, or putting it into the water supply so we're all sort of half-asleep all the time and more prone to buy evil corporation's products on the Shopping Network. Sounds allegorical if you ask me. Anyway. Something. Anyway.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chapter Sixteen, random excerpt

Cocke stood by Hope at the counter, where Hope looked over the store's selection of bonnets. A woman, the shopkeeper's wife, stood behind the counter and held up a small mirror in which Hope judged the suitability and charm of each bonnet. Bull came up to them and stood next to Cocke. He looked from Hope to the other woman and saw that the shopkeeper's wife was, by any objective standard, a prettier woman than Hope. Bull also saw that Cocke only had eyes for Hope, and he saw that the shopkeeper, who pretended to be sorting buttons or some other notions a few paces down the counter, was also watching Hope, with a look he was sure to have never given his wife. Hope pulled off a bonnet and tossed it aside, reaching for another one. She laughed, more loudly than most other women would laugh, her mouth open just a little wider, her head a little farther forward, her shoulders and bosom shaking with her laughter and there was nothing in her manner that told a man to stay away, that she was anything like a closed door, and she blinked her big bird eyes at Cocke and laughed at her own reflection in the small mirror and smiled at the shopkeeper's wife and glanced at the shopkeeper who blushed and turned his face away and Hope caught sight of Bull and laughed again.

wordcountometer = 45,205!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chapter Sixteen, In Progess

So I finished Bull & The Farmer and have written about 600 words of the next chapter, Crimes. What sort of crimes? Well you may wonder, though to the best of my knowledge nobody gets killed in Chapter Sixteen (though I toy with the idea of a couple of bodies being discovered; I'll decide when I decide).

wordcountometer = 41,032! I so rule.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Chapter Fifteen excerpt

"I seen you coming through the forest. I seen you walking around my corn field. I seen your face, mister, and I never seen it before so I don't know you and I want to hear why you're on my land."

"I've come to see you."

"You see that sign by the road? Sign says you keep out. Sign says no trespass."

"I saw it." Bull watched the smoke rise from the vent in the bower's roof and wondered where the farmer's young man was hidden. He wondered if the farmer was pointing a loaded musket at him and he watched with a confusing ache in his breast as a flight of ducks took wing. They came from northward along the river, hidden beyond the farm. The ducks' heads and bellies shone lavender against the pale bluegray sky and their wings worked madly as the birds stretched forward to strain into flight toward their destination. The birds rose, turned and they were suddenly black against silver and then they angled down into the trees and were gone from sight.

"You saw my sign but here you stand?"


"I could kill you."

"I believe it. I hope you don't."

"Where you from?"


"Where's that? Pennsylvania?"


"Oh. You come a long way to see a man who don't know you."

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Chapter Fifteen, Halfway Point?

I'm about halfway through Chapter Fifteen, Bull & The Farmer. I think. It feels like about halfway through. This chapter, I realize, doesn't contain any really brilliant language. Alas. But there's plenty of time for that sort of inspiration during the revisions. Anyway, it seems to be moving along in a fine enough manner and Matthew Barley is a good new character and he'll be a welcome addition to this chapter and the next. I imagine him played by a young Hugh Laurie (without the bad American accent).


Speaking of bad accents, Mighty Reader and I saw "Sherlock Holmes" last night at the Majestic Bay theater in beautiful Ballard. Aside from Robert Downey Jr's accent, which came and went, it was fine. Some plot manipulation over which Mighty Reader and I have argued to no point, but it's a rollicking good time and, yes, I'll go see the sequel if they make one. Guy Ritchie, the director, also made "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch," which are both fine movies.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Behind the Story's Back

I took yesterday off from writing, because I needed to outfox the story. Instead of spending my lunch hour scribbling frantically in my notebook (now on Notebook #2 as I've filled Notebook #1), I had a nice leisurely hour eating fish and chips and reading (not for the first time) Hemingway's The Old Man And The Sea. I know there are people who are bored by Hemingway, and all I can say about that is that those folks need to get out more. Ernest was the real deal, as they say.

Anyway, I deliberately ignored my novel-in-progress yesterday, because I was outfoxing it. By which I mean that I wasn't quite sure what was going to happen next so I didn't know what to write down. I had the first line for Chapter 15, "Wherever they were, at least it was a town." But that line didn't lead to a next sentence, because I didn't know where my characters were. I didn't know what the first scene in the chapter was, and since I write in scenes, I was a bit stuck. So I told my story that I wasn't going to think about it. "That'll show you," I said to it. "You'll wish you'd been a little bit nicer next time."

After work, Mighty Reader and I made dinner and then she read her book and I went off to practice violin (Ab major scale and arpeggios, some Bach, some Seitz, some more Bach) and when I was putting the violin back into its case I realized that at some point while ignoring the story, the first scene of Chapter 15 had come to me, as well as the last scene in the chapter (being a sort of bookend to the first scene and entailing the same characters and setting), and now I know how to write what comes next. All hail the power of willful ignorance. I shake my fist at my story and proclaim my superiority.

Anyway, I have some notes about setting and place and I have my notes about character arc and plot points and I have my first sentence which means that, I think, I will be writing that first scene of Chapter 15 today during lunch. Unless I decide to let it stew another day and finish up the Hemingway. We'll see.

Edit to add: 500ish words written to begin the chapter! The actual first sentence appears to be "Welcome to Helltown," the man said, and put out his hand to Bull, who shifted his armload of saddlebag and blanket and then shook the man's hand. Runs good, needs work.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Still In Chapter 14


Jean-Yves stepped quietly away from the fallen log, moving into the deep shade beneath the trees. Bull moved with him, a few steps to the Frenchman’s right. Bull had heard nothing but birds calling and trees moving in the light wind but he was no woodsman and he walked deeper into the forest, obeying Jean-Yves’ gestures to widen the distance between them and go first to their left and then to their right until Bull was sure he didn’t know from what direction they had come nor how far into the woods they were.

Bull moved forward through the trees and a wall of thick brush and brambles hid the Frenchman from view for a few minutes. When Bull came past the thicket, Jean-Yves was not to be seen and Bull reversed his steps and found himself alone on the other side of the brush. He walked to his left, to where Jean-Yves should be and saw no one. Bull whispered the Frenchman’s name and cocked his head to listen and heard nothing but the forest sounds. It was dark beneath the ageless trees and Bull whispered louder and then spoke Jean-Yves’ name and after a moment he called out heedless of any danger from Indians. The birds fell silent and there was nothing, nothing in the forest and Bull was alone and did not know where he was or how to get back to the river.