Tag Archives: WIP

Writer’s Desk, 1 September 2014

Dictionary, Survival Guides, & the AlphaSmart

Dictionary, Survival Guides, & the AlphaSmart

Very short writing session (just a teeny-tiny hour) in the morning, followed by grading. Here’s a snippet of the scene I was working on today. Marcus & his optio clash, and Marcus loses his temper. 🙂

For a moment Marcus was seriously tempted to club the big oaf to death right then and there. “Are you mad? Why would I risk my own life if I wanted you dead?”

The other man just shrugged, wincing as he did so.

“I assume that with me being Roman and all that, I must take great enjoyment in perverted pleasures, is that it?” Marcus asked sarcastically. “By Mithras, just for that I will let you do guard duty with your damned tunic unbelted for the rest of your damned service! — Gods!” he added, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I will kill Titus! F*cking kill the bloody bastard!”

From the corner of his eye, he saw the optio’s lips twitch.

“What?” Marcus snapped.

The other man’s mouth stretched into a broad grin. “Why, centurion, I didn’t think you had it in you to lose your cool like this.”

Today’s Deadline Desk

Today’s research involves medieval costumes. And my PhD thesis (the published version is just visible in the upper left corner of the picture). And a long article from Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine.

The eagle-eyed among you might be just able to make out the three lines shown on the AlphaSmart. They’re from a scene between my hero, Robbie Beaton, and his (grumpy) friend William MacNeil:

They were surrounded on all sides by people in costumes, a motely crew indeed, and the colourful procession extended along the shaded avenue leading to the castle.

“I’m already quite overcome by the chivalric atmosphere,” Robbie said cheerfully, knowing full well his remark would needle Mac to no end. To heighten the effect, he closed his eyes and inhaled noisily. “Oh yes, I can feel it penetrating my whole body… It’s most wonderful!” He chanced a glance at his friend.

Mac, looking up from the guide to the tournament he had purchased at the gate, stared at him for a few moments, his copper brows drawn together. “I think,” he finally said, “I’m going to be sick.”

Today I’m also blogging on Risky Regencies about carnival in Mainz. Helau! 🙂

Some Thoughts on Railway Journeys

Yesterday I spent a lot (and I mean A LOT!) of time researching train timetables of 1839. I could have invented a village, right? But no, I had to take a real village. And for some reason only known to my Muse, I picked a village with such a strange name that everybody will think it a fictional village anyway: Milton-Malzor (sometimes also known as Middleton-Malzor).

So here’s our hero, about to undertake a journey to the aforementioned village:

Robbie dashed off to the station and caught the first train that called at Blisworth. The gentleman at the booking office eyed him with some misgivings when Robbie cut short his explanations on luggage allowances and precautions.

“Thanks a lot, but I don’t have any luggage.”

“No luggage?”

“None,” Robbie replied cheerfully.

“Not even a carpet bag?”

“Not even a carpet bag. Just a sketchbook.” He held up the proof of this statement.

“That is most unusual,” the man said sternly.

“”I’m sure it is, but can I get my ticket now or is it against the regulations to travel without any luggage?”

The man muttered something unintelligible before he handed over the third-class ticket Robbie had bought.

Writer Interrupted, or, Duh

Writing didn’t go all that well today: I got stuck shortly after that snippet I posted below. Which is not good because, well, I need to finish this story. (At this point you may imagine me running screaming through my flat. Very much like the guy in Munch’s The Scream, only with more hair and less green.)

So I spent the afternoon refreshing my knowledge about the historical background to the story. Then I switched on my AlphaSmart, stared at the blinking cursor, and despaired some more. Finally, I caved in and dug out a new notebook and tried working on a different scene.

And lo and behold! — the words flowed onto the page.


Will I be able to catch up and finish the story in time????

Stay tuned for more updates from Deadline Hell!

My heart’s in the highlands…

Returning to the first story of my trio of novellas, which I need to finish this weekend. So who’s coming with me to bonnie Scotland? There won’t be any men in kilts, I’m afraid, but plenty of people in medieval costume. And knights.

Did I mention knights? 😉

And then there’s what must be the sweetest hero I’ve ever written. Meet Robbie Beaton, whose kind, round face nearly always wears a good-humored smile. In the following snippet, he and his friend MacNeil have just arrived at their destination in Scotland (MacNeil didn’t want to come, so he’s a bit grumpy…)

“I do not believe this,” Mac said, standing in the middle of the street of a small Scottish town. “You must be joking!”

Robbie bit his lip and surveyed the crowds milling around them. People in what might be taken for medieval dress mingled with people in modern attire, dragging boxes and cases, or pushing wheelbarrows piled high with travel trunks.

“It’s…uh…picturesque,” Robbie offered.

“It’s not picturesque,” Mac growled. “It’s a bloody farce!”

“Ah, but it makes for good illustrations.” Shooting his friend a grin, Robbie dug out his sketchbook, and soon his pencil flew across the page to capture those fascinating, unusual scenes and sights in a few quick sketches.

Story No. 2 Finished!!!!!

Finished “A Tangled Web” (WOOOHOO!!!!). Now I just need to type it all up (= three slim Moleskine notebooks) and then finish the third story (which is actually the first of the series) over the weekend.

Insights I gained during the last few days:

  • I write faster by hand. Though why this should come as a surprise to me, I don’t know – after all during my late teens and early twenties I used to write these monstrously long fantasy novels (all by hand!), and one of them I wrote within six weeks.
  • While first-kiss scenes are really awkward to write, second-kiss scenes are much better.
  • The more you know about social conventions in the 19th century, the more difficult it is to write about love and courtship during that time, especially when your characters don’t belong to the aristocracy. Hmph. I try not to bend the rules too much, though I had to bend them a little for “A Tangled Web”
  • I love the heroes of this series. They’re all rather sweet, especially Robbie and Lawrence from the first two stories. Alex is a bit more intense, but then he is a tough adventurer, who travelled around the Wild, Wild West AND the Far East.

I’ll leave you with a bit of hero-sweetness from “A Tangled Web”:

He dragged her into the hallway, where they found his coat and her shawl — the beautiful shawl he had given her. As he had done before, he draped it around her shoulders, then kissed the tip of her nose.

“Leave the bonnet,” he whispered. “I love seeing your hair.”

“It’s not seemly.”

His eyes twinkled with mischief when he leaned down to murmur against her ear, “I dare you to leave the bonnet.”

How could she resist him?

First Kiss

Freshly written scene from the WIP:

“Sarah,” she whispered, her gaze dropping to his mouth. “Call me Sarah.” She glanced back up at him, her expression a curious mixture of nervousness and anticipation.

“Sarah,” he repeated, desire deepening his voice. He searched her eyes, and then slowly, ever so slowly, leaving her plenty of time to protest or turn her head, he leaned forward. “Sarah,” he murmured against her lips.


His mouth covered hers, tentative at first, but as he felt her hand glide up to his shoulder, he became more demanding. He slid from his chair until he knelt in front of her, until he could slide one arm around her, until she moaned softly into his mouth.

He took the chance to deepen the kiss, to taste her, devour her.

Oh God, he couldn’t get enough of her!

Now her hand was in his hair, the other one clutching at his shoulder, kneading his flesh as if to spurn him on.

His heart thundered in his ears, and his chest expanded with all that he felt for this woman until he thought he would burst with the joy of it. Half gasping, half laughing, he broke the kiss to look at her.

Her eyes opened slowly, languid with pleasure.

“Sarah,” he whispered.

She blinked. A smile spread over her face, and all at once she glowed.

Evil Author

Today, I wanted to write a few happy scenes. You know, the kind where the hero and heroine fall deeper and deeper in love and everything’s just SO NICE. The kind of scene that makes readers say “Awww!” and sigh happily and all that.

But because I’m an evil author, I ended up writing a scene in which I make my hero and heroine really, really, REALLY unhappy (which is a nice euphemism for “I demolished them”) and which will probably make readers cry because it’s all really, really sad.

Yup. I’m short and evil.