Category Archives: Tidbit Tuesday

At Home with the Migraine

Ugh.

Have I ever told you how much I actually enjoy my day job? No? Well, I actually do. It’s a nice job, I’m good at it, and I enjoy the people. Not everyone can say that. Would I rather be at home writing full time? Of course. What artistic person does not want to support themselves with their craft.

Speaking of. I am up to five subscribers on my Channillo page. And I made a whole $3.47 for the month of September. Which just proves to me that I need to get my short story ideas developed so that I can start a second channel for my shorts.

So anyway, I’m here at home today and my head is freaking killing me. But I’m bored out of my mind so I’m browsing some bookmarks and what not.

My current project has a nasty villain in it, one I’m enjoying developing. Perhaps a little too much. I haven’t written anything for him yet, although I’ll share a smidge later that occurs right before his introduction.

Today, I am going a little off topic and sharing some great resources I’ve found lately.

First, let me share the blog I consider a MUST for creating your characters. Perhaps you are already familiar with MJ over at WritingGeekery? If not, acquaint yourself. Post haste. I have linked you to the Four Cornerstones article, which allows you to create the foundation of your character. If you follow her through these cornerstones on to the Four Pillars, it will be hard for your characters to fall flat.

I mean, you still need to get the dialogue right, of course. Sadly, I do not have any advice for writing dialogue. When I started writing a few years ago (I seriously think it’s been 4 years now), I was terrified of dialogue, so I forced myself to write JUST dialogue. And now it is a natural part of my writing.

Back to my villain. I don’t want a flat villain. So I approached him as if he were the protagonist (because the best writing advice regarding the antagonist that I ever read says that he is the hero of his story), and used the above site to create a full character description for him.

And then I found this blog, so that I could add more depth to my understanding of writing villains and using scary settings, etc…

Want to know what I found? Just by going through MJ’s series, I hit all those spots already. No two-dimensional caricature for my villain. Still, go through all of it. Perhaps you might even spend more time on your antagonist than your protagonist.

And now, for that tidbit I promised, since you stuck around this long. This is a spurt that came to me in bed last night. As with all I share, ’tis a rough draft.

Sarah came awake with a start, her heart thundering in her chest. The night carried a warm breeze through the open bank of windows, and with it, the cry of a raven.

Something was not right with the house. Something is *in* the house, she realized. The boards outside her room creaked loudly, and would alert anyone, preventing her from creeping to investigate. And what would she do? Curse at them in all known languages? She had no skills with which to protect herself.

Her attic room was barren; an attempt by Lady Rickings to remind her she was staff. There was not even a handheld mirror through which she could travel the house.

There was nothing she could do except lie in her bed like a useless coward while some stranger waltzed through Rushmore House. Her home, she thought (anger).

Was it a thief, intent upon finding items to sell? They would find little here, for the Rickings had little of value beyond the contents of her office.

Was it the killer so often mentioned in papers? She cowered deep under her thin blanket, fear freezing the rational part of her brain. Would they find her lifeless body when she did not appear to break her fast?

A slight rustle of movement caught her attention. Someone was awake besides her and the intruder. Closing her eyes, Sarah reached out, searching the aether until she found the tendril she sought. Three rooms down, Molly was awake. Was the intruder in her room?

Making the connection was quick, easy. Molly had no shields to keep others out. Before she could hitch in a new breath, Sarah was seeing through Molly’s eyes.

Setting Time & Place

lordy. I said I was going to start posting again, then gave you nothing but radio silence. Rude.

So today, I sat down and planned out posting ideas for 4 days a week. That’s right – new material from Laura 4 days a week. The other three days? I don’t know yet.

Today is, of course, Tidbit Tuesday over in my writing group. But I don’t want to drop some lines on you and run. I want interactions. I crave our interactions. So what I propose, is that I share these beautiful ten (or so) lines that have been cut – and the inspiration/research/resources behind them.

First, the lines:

Well, that didn’t go as planned. I realized, as I am digging through all my links and files, that I never actually wrote the scene I wanted to talk about today. How embarrassing. See, I had this half-decent outline and a BRILLIANT character sketch going, one where I really got to know Sarah and Stratford. Then I sat down to write, and Sarah was like, nope. So, we threw all that out. And started over. I tossed the Little Red Riding Hood theme because she refused to play along. And between you and I, I much prefer the Sarah she revealed herself to be.

Here, by the way, is the outline section I wanted to share:

  1. Open Image: Dooley Cottage, Portsmouth – drawing room – April 3, 1812
  2. Sarah is reading a paper, specifically about an event which will seal time/place
  3. Mention of Lord Byron’s first two Cantos of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, which sold out in 5 days – she looks to her copy, lying atop RHoD
  4. Flippant remark to her companion, a mangy looking cat that she rescued from a hunting trap
  5. Toss a comment to maid about setting up a basket for that nice Mrs. Dickens
  6. Little Charlie must be close to two months now, Mary.
  7. Perhaps I shall drop in, deliver the basket myself.
  8. Mourning attire mentioned casually
  9. Her lavender muslin was not enough to ward off the chill, even with the fire built up
  10. 10. Fingering the small keepsake from Nan

As you can see, I was going to talk about specific events which happened prior to, or around, the time this scene took place – the birth of Charles Dickens and the publication of Lord Byron. And with those two (relatively) minor occurrences, I would have been able to fully ground the reader in the time and place.

If you are familiar with Regency Era mourning clothing, you might have known what the significance of the lavender gown was. Perhaps not.

By the way, please forgive the formatting. I assure you that in Word, it is a properly formatted outline. It just didn’t translate well to WordPress, lol.

So, that is how I prefer to ground readers in time and place – by subtly planted clues. I’ve also been known to just plant a date at the top of a scene, but sometimes, that feels like cheating to me.

(And I even managed 10 lines that have been cut, just not what you were expecting, lol).

How do you ground readers into the time and place of your novel?

My Return

Happy Tuesday. I feel like it is time to get back to the blog – not because of how long I’ve been gone, but rather because it just feels right. I have dearly missed my readers, and our interactions, sporadic though they might be.

So drop me a line – tell me how you’ve been. I’ve been trying my hand at new things. Mostly just writerly things, but I am transitioning to the Low Carb High Fat way of eating. I seem to still be getting too much protein, so that’s what I’m watching carefully. I have a handle on the low carb portion. And I still eat good – tomorrow, I’m taking homemade buffalo wings. Two servings is like 4 carbs. I have to lose weight and bring my blood glucose numbers down so that I’m actually around to bring to fruition the other new thing I’m working on…

I joined Channillo recently, where I journal about my darkest fears and doubts several times a week. Stop by, check it out – subscribe. Support a writer (or ten)… Anyway, I am also developing a story to publish in serial form there. I debuted a bit of it yesterday, if you missed the post. Although, I am also tantalized by the idea of just publishing an introductory short story because he is begging for an entire freaking series. Cheeky wench.

I am mad for her already. As you should be, too.

But neither have I forgotten about my darlings, Sarah and Stratford. Much is afoot in the Circle K… No wait, I don’t work there anymore and (don’t shoot me) I did not actually care for the movie. Also, pretty sure I quoted it wrong. You’re awesome. You shall correct me in due time.

That aside, changes have been made. Maybe they will work, maybe they will not. Enjoy your Tidbit!

Sarah entered Ewan’s office on Beatrice’s heels, but still her sister-in-law turned and scolded her for taking too long. This was followed by a rather nasty insult, though not the nastiest which had been hurled at her. There were times, she acknowledged, when reading lips was wholly unbeneficial. Knowing it would irritate the marchioness to no end, she mumbled an apology, signing the same as she did.

Seated behind the large desk that once held her father’s papers, Ewan did his best to ignore the spat. Prior to his marriage, she would not have called her brother weak – far from it. He was quite the Corinthian still, but he refused to interfere when his wife railed against his sister. To be fair, he also refused to retaliate when she fought back.

His lips quirked upward as he caught the hastily signed insult she directed toward Beatrice’s back, but it quickly disappeared, and he said nothing. She cast a glance to her left. Beatrice reclined regally in the high-backed chair, one hand tracing the knotted pattern of the embroidered posies on the pale blue silk dress she wore. Her own gown, of serviceable sage muslin, did not compare favorably.

All In A Day’s Work

Think you’re busy? Too much packed into your day?

We’ve all been there, right? Especially those of us who write while still managing to work a full time job (or two). I know I have a planner that I stick with, and  I’ve got myself scheduled pretty tightly from 7 am to 10 pm. That’s bedtime for me. 10 pm. Only, not tonight. No, tonight I came home from work, went to the gym, then went to WalMart for the weekly lunch shopping. Didn’t get home until 9. It is now 9:53, and I am still eating this salad. (Srsly, why are these so huge and so cheap??)

But today I had to do some research for my current project, A Lady’s Wager. See, almost all of the book has to take place within a ten day span during the Season of 1816. So what kind of activities would throw this couple together, I wondered. Now, I’ve read my share of Regency’s. But I seriously had no idea. Not a single clue.

So again, I ask you – do you think you’re busy today? Check out the activities available for a woman of the Ton.

Wake up sometime before 10 am because
10:00 am – Riding in Hyde Park
Home for breakfast, which might be a simple affair or a full blown fancy schmancy affair.
Then, pay bills or write letters or shop or call upon very close friends
Then, luncheon – after which the men go to their manly pursuits, leaving the woman to choose from afternoon activities such as:
– cricket matches
– promenading in the Park
– attending scientific lectures
– receptions
– small musicals and concerts
– archery
– bazaars
– dramatic matinees
– polo
– races (presumably horse, but what about rowing?)
– lawn tennis, lawn bowling
– garden parties
– picnics
– a trip to the cafe or to a men’s club (where a woman could be invited to dine prior to an outing)

THEN, another turn about Rotten Row in the late afternoon – walking or riding.

5 pm – Afternoon tea, again either an informal affair or a crush
7 pm – dinner, formal, dozens of guests with footmen and waiters

Then, off to the theatre, opera, or a private soiree

And all of that? Just a warm up for the man balls, routs, and soirees that start anywhere from 10 pm to midnight, and go until 3 am.

The good news is that I do not believe I will have a problem creating ten days worth of varying activities. But seriously. How did they do it? I would die.

Now then, it is Tuesday. Tidbit Tuesday, to be exact. Here is today’s Tidbit. It is one of those pesky scenes that came to me out of order. I’m not sure where it will occur, but I do know it is a Garden Party, so check that off the list!

“Oh, I would not know. I’ve not ever left London.” The words were said so nonchalantly, he almost didn’t pick up what she had actually said.

When he did, he slowed to a halt next to her. A couple moved around them, the willowy brunette stifling a low giggle. The lawn of the large garden tucked away behind the Hatford’s mansion was freshly mown, leaving behind that unmistakeable of cut grass. Perhaps they would have a bit of summer, after all, thought Stratford. Then, Sarah’s words came back to him.

“You mean to tell me that you have never left London? Not even to take the waters or to join some house party?”
Sarah looked away, her gaze fixed upon her hands. “Not even once, Major.”

He knew she had recently lost a fiance, which was bound to be a sensitive subject. “But surely you attended, erm, that is to say…” He broke off before finishing. How to broach the painful subject? Was it not bad enough that she had loved before him? That she still wore the muted colors of half-mourning?
When she looked up, sadness muted her emerald eyes. He cursed himself ten times a fool. One did not – could not – woo a woman by reminding her of a painful, or tragic, loss.

Proper Ladies Do Not Wager

At least, that is the lecture Aunt Margaret gave Sarah when she decided to finally thrust her into the whirl of the Season. I’ve put so much work into creating two flawed people with love to spare but I’m still struggling with planning the actual story. And that’s OK – I figure that just means I need more time to really discover Sarah and Stratford. We shall get there.

It is, of course, Tidbit Tuesday over in my Facebook group. Today, I put the attempted planning to the side and went back to that very beginning, to the hook. See, it all hinges on a wager between Barbara and Sarah. Barbara is a sweet young lady, but she is not cruel. And the original wager really made her seem cruel – if Sarah lost, she wanted Sarah to leave London forever. The wager, at its heart, is still the same. The stakes are the same. I’ve just changed how Barbara phrases it, really. I hope that it isn’t to easily guessed. But perhaps it shall be.

I did not get a lot written today, but there were actually words written. That’s exciting, right? Planning just really isn’t my forte. Every time I start a new project, I swear I’m going to plan it to DEATH, but nope. It just doesn’t happen. Kills the creativity, so to speak.

Now, it’s rather late, and I am rather tired so I give you my Tidbit for Tuesday. I hope you enjoy.

“Ten days, Cissy. ‘Tis all I need, and I wager he shall eat from the palm of an outstretched hand.”

The despised nickname grated over raw nerves, but Sarah Grace Patterson only said, “Hush now. A Proper Lady does not wager.”

At least, that is what Aunt Margaret had told her just the other day. According to that esteemed dragon, she could only hope to emulate the meanest of Proper Ladies, for she would never Measure Up.

Leaning closer, she lowered her voice to a whisper lest Lady Jersey or Countess Lieven hear. “Ten days to have whom eat from the palm, Barbara?”

Barbara shrugged one pale shoulder nonchalantly, as only she could. With an airy gesture to the crowded assembly room, she said, “Any one of them, of course. I believe a duke will do just fine for this wager, however.”

Sarah

An idea popped into my head the other day, and I snatched at the chance to write it. I’ve no plot so far beyond the very basics. Since plotting/planning does not always work for me, I’m going to pants it as far as I can before doing any actual planning. Let’s call this the discovery stage as the characters are still revealing themselves to me.

I did not intend for this to happen, but I have found myself with characters whose names start with S. Who does that? LOL. Me.

First, let me introduce Sarah Grace Patterson. Sarah Grace Patterson  She is 23, and has never been married. She has never even left London. As far as she is concerned, she is firmly on the shelf. But, with her younger cousin having a Come Out this year, she has agreed to act as chaperone.

Now, let me introduce Stratford Clarion, ninth Duke of Westerfell. Montgomery Clift as Inspiration for Stratford Clarion, Ninth Duke of Westerfell Now this fine gentleman here was born to a bookshop owner and the daughter of a duke. He joined the military at 18, and he is now 33. Unfortunately for him, his wastrel cousin died in a duel with no offspring, and he had to leave the military. Before leaving, he was elevated as far as Major. He has scars from his time in the army, both visible and not.

Yeah. That’s what I’m saying. I went old school for that one, and I think it really works.

So, it is Tuesday. Here’s my Tidbit. Do enjoy. Is there something you do not like? Let me know.

Near the entrance to the ballroom, Stratford leaned heavily on an ebony cane, careful to keep the pain from his face. Felton said it was not quite the done thing, and who knew better than the third son of the Duke of Whittenslay? He tuned out the inane chatter of Greymoore and the others – this polite nonsense grated. Had they nothing of substance to offer?

His gaze took in the joviality of the guests and their finery. These were not his people, and well he knew it. He spotted several men in uniform, but not a single familiar face. No, these were the officers whose money ensured their safety. Or, they were men hired to wear the uniform, to gain cachet for the hostess. The majority of his men had not returned from Portugal, after all.

That was the old, however, and this, he realized with a shudder, was the new.

Where did that week go?

I hope you had a good Memorial Day. I spent it with my family, and a good time was had by all. Not a day goes by that I do not think of my dearest friend, Jeremiah Costello, lost in Iraq much too soon. A friend of a friend also posted pictures of our mutual friend Melissa Mudd. She was not lost to the war, but she did serve before cancer cut her life too short. Again, not a day goes by. In boarding school, she was like my best friend.

On a lighter note, I honestly cannot believe the time has gone by so quickly. It feels like just yesterday was Tidbit Tuesday, but here it is again.

I don’t have much going on. I’m adding some structure to my Fairy Tale, revisioning Cinderella to have more oomph. That sort of thing. Here’s some of the more recent material from the tale, which still does not have a name… Ugh. Just seriously. #Ugh.

Do you wish me to have them killed now, my Queen?” Iphigenia pushed up from the ground. The fire of a chastised acolyte ready to prove their worth lit her eyes ablaze.

Adaline dismissed this with the wave of a hand. “It is too late now. Had you done it right away, the families would have accepted it. Now, it would cause…dissent amongst the Nobles.”

“I apologize, my Queen. You have found the defective one?”

Adaline hissed. Her fist clenched at her side, though she did not throw a fireball this time. “The zyviola eludes me. The raven cannot trace her heartbeat in Above.”

“If she is not Above, my Queen, then there is only one place she can be.”

Adaline spun away from the holographic projection. Grabbing an empty bottle from the table next to her, she threw it across the room with a curse. Through gritted teeth, she growled one word, “Below.”

Iphigenia nodded, the spark in her eye shining brighter as she thought of the hunt to come. “Yes, my Queen. The Below.”

A heavy sigh escaped Adaline’s pursed lips. “I cannot go Below, my sabaka. You will have to go in my stead. You will be my eyes, ears, and sword.”

“Yes, my Queen. I live to serve,” Iphigenia said with a small bow.

Adaline snorted indelicately. “Disappoint me again, and you will not.”

Tyranny Falls

It’s Tidbit Thursday over here in Nopelandia. Yeah. That’s a thing now. Thanks forgotten meme from Facebook (which likely originated on Reddit, let’s be honest with each other).

ANYWAY.

It’s Tidbit Tuesday and instead of sharing my own work, I’m totally sharing a tidbit from a wonderful writer I’m blessed to know. OK, it’s not so much a tidbit as a whole poem, but it really resonates with me and I wanted you to love it as much as I do…

So, check it out:
Tyranny Falls.

The Fourth Wall

I guess you’ve heard the news by now that I have put Midnight Garnets to the side – for the time being. We need some space. We aren’t breaking up per se, but we sure as hell aren’t hanging out right now. Like Ross, I found someone new. Oh wait. No, they were on an actual break. I just said we didn’t break up. Well. This is awkward.

Anyway, I am playing around with a Fairy Tale right now. In my usual fashion, I am ignoring all the rules and twisting things around. I believe they call that a Fractured Fairy Tale. I call it Laura being Laura.

Why am I doing this? Because I can?? Oh, still not a good enough reason. OK. Because I am playing with the 3rd Person Omniscient POV. Think I explained that one already. Whatevs.

And let us be honest with each other – Fairy Tales are made for a 3rd Omni POV. They scream for it. But that narrator becomes a new character, takes on a life of their own. They have to – in order to have an authentic voice, that is. So I wondered – how do you get to know the narrator of your story? Do you fill out a character questionnaire?

I recently watched Mirror, Mirror. I am a Snow White junkie, and this was a good fix. I L-O-V-E-D it. For reals. If you’ve seen it, you know that the Evil Stepmother is the Narrator. If you haven’t – oops, spoilers.

Well, I’m not writing Snow White. So, who should narrate this tale? I don’t know, but I like her already. Here’s a tiny tidbit of what I’ve written so far:

The night before her twenty-first birthday, Olivia fell into bed, visions of a different future dancing through her head. She dreamt of soaring through the clouds, high above amber fields and green pastures. She dreamt, as one may do, of a life in which she was free of the shackles of her sightlessness. Of a life in which she did not bump into furniture spitefully moved in the middle of the night. A life where she had purpose. One where she was not just that “poor blind child,” abandoned and unwanted. Unworthy. Unloved.

The dreams were all the same. From the safety of her tiny bed, tucked away under the eaves of the attic, Olivia swept aside the walls of her prison, escaping into the air on iridescent wings. In these dreams, she drank in all the colors reality denied her as her travels took her to the farthest reaches of the Empire.

Her dreams on this night were no different. She was at peace, and hoped the dream would never end. Unfortunately for Olivia, everyone must wake up – even sleepy Aurora broke free of her dreams. But that is another story, is it not?

For Olivia, the illusions built by her slumbering imagination were shattered by the shriek of another great beast roaming the night skies. One moment, she was wafting through a cloud, the next she had bolted upright, a dazzling flash of light obscuring her vision. She rubbed the sleep from the corner of her eyes, expecting the light to fade to the familiar darkness.

It did not. Instead, the light remained, growing brighter with each beat of her heart. Olivia knew she must still be dreaming. Her chest tightened as she fought for control of her frozen mind.

She screwed her eyes shut, just as she had so many times before, pinching at the skin of her forearm. She knew that if she could just wake up, all would be right again. The light faded as darkness crept in, but her mind would not be comforted.

The darkness is gone, it screamed. Olivia pulled her knees to her chest, burying her face in the crevice. A bead of sweat trickled down her back. She knew, in the way one just knows these things, that this brilliant light could mean only one thing: she could see. After twenty long years of darkness, she could finally see.

She gave voice to a small yelp of excitement. She could see – the one thing she wished for more than any other thing had finally come true while she slept. And she knew something else, knew it with a clarity typically reserved for day-after regrets: nothing good would come of this revelation.

Stuck to the feather tick mattress of her cot, Olivia rocked slightly, hands clenched together under bare legs. She cursed, relishing every unladylike word that tumbled from her lips. She gave in to the terror of the moment, mourning the loss of the familiar – exactly as would you or I.

Happy Ever After

Oh boy. I am really out of practice with this whole posting every day thing. I’m tired, and need to get to bed soon and realized, I hadn’t posted yet. Then I realized – I hadn’t even thought about what I would write for the post. #Ugh.

Good news first, right? I wrote today. I’m not stressing if I don’t hit 500 words before I crash for the night because there were WORDS. Do you understand just how exciting that is for me? I feel like you should. We’re all artists here, correct?

So, it’s #TidbitTuesday here. I love this. I cannot copy/paste from my Kindle app so I will share with you something I wrote just today. It is not, as you might have though, a happy ever after. It is, in fact, the beginning of the end. This is a side project, one I have not yet shared from.

Enjoy!

Kicking back the thick covers, Olivia swung bare feet to the stone floor. Her legs trembled as she stumbled to the long wall of windows. She pulled each shut until the room was once again shrouded in darkness.

Olivia sagged against the wall. The stone bit through her thin chemise, into the soft flesh of her back. The pain reinforced the reality of her situation. She was awake, and she could see. The girls of the Blood Court would have to accept her now. Her thoughts spun in a hundred different directions as she envisioned her new life.