120,450 and Strigler's Succubus is done. Finished at 8:45pm with the rough. It's great. It's the size it ought to be, if anything trims the expansion of added description and other changes should balance it out.

Next stage in a day or so - organize it ruthlessly and do the scene by scene synopsis to see how it hangs together at that level and mark up any problem areas. I've got a good feeling about the overall structure, it's paced well. But some scenes might be able to be punched up while others may shift in emphasis, and now the ending's in a lot of little things need to be blended in back at the beginning.

Cast list made and finalized. Series bible *that* series.

With that organizational level done, take Sheila's suggestion from the Friday Night Think Tank and just start making all the changes thoroughly, chapter by chapter, beginning to end without stopping. This should not take as long as writing it did - because it's staying the same size. I start with 120,000 words, I wind up in the ballpark range of 120,000 words give or take, say, 10,000. I won't know till it's marked up if I'm a little fat on descriptions or if there are too many talking heads dialogues that'll expand when action and gesture and description come in.

Because this is a series pilot (set in my big vast setting that's expandable) I'll want to have character sheets set up even for minor characters that get no more than one or two cameos, make their cameos interesting enough to keep them and have them handy to shuffle which minors gain prominence in sequels when POV may change and plot demands a different focus.

If I'm very lucky I won't really have to eliminate any major scenes, just shift their balance and punch them up a bit. I've been applying Breakout Novel while writing - and I prefer not to make that level of changes, there's a side of me that wants to get it right the first time. Especially at the major level. I need to be prepared to do it if necessary (and possibly shrink the cast by character recombination - a Maass trick for more complex characters is to combine two minors and keep all of their quirks and details). Someone in chat also suggested letting the minors come and go out of the series if I'm doing series. I realized the whole thing might be punched up if I kill some of them. Trouble with that is the lengths to which they go to retrieve any downed character, they sort of did in this one. So much of what I do to them when there's good medical care that much better than present is To The Pain and mutilation ... the nastier side of said really sophisticated medical technique is equally sophisticated torture.

It's also an experiment in 'stand alone, can it really stand alone?' It's floating on so much backstory. I only used what was needed in the book - and might be able to tighten what I've got significantly while giving more detail on the new location, Niljeira.

I can see the changes I want to make and most of them are in the little details. They will flow easily in the rewrite now that I know what happened and how it ended.

It's an easier rewrite than ReRites and might curiously prepare me for that. And for the big day splash of Something Completely Different: triaging and rewriting short stories to throw a batch at the markets and get more hooks in the water, I want a batch of print submissions in the mail next Thursday.

And somewhere in there, a day or two of organizing my stuff, getting rid of stuff, booting the sewing machine and rewarding myself with something that's pure hobby silliness! I need a new costume. I even did a character in this that I could costume. Ilyaran of House Dzur - all right, so I'd need a blond wig to dress up as the small feisty human member of the House of Heroes, but, I could have fun swaggering a bit at a con in that outfit and if my hair's short I've been known to do Clairol for the sake of a costume. I don't look that bad blond actually! Did it when my hair was about an inch short and just shaved my head when I got tired of it. Advantage of short hair is it's mutable for costuming.

And he had unlikely dark eyes with his blond hair, so I do not have to overcome my phobia of contact lenses for the costume! Check that in continuity though, I think they were typical blue at the end and that's not good, it was an odd thing about him that they were dark.

I'm not modest! I love a good gloat! This is a great feeling!

Robert and Ari >^..^< (The cat who personally inspected every page as it came off the printer, crumpling the ones he liked best and chewing on the paper to sign it)


115,646 and Chapter 19 is finished, printed out and bound in the great blood red ring binder holding the novel. The villainess is finally revealed, betrayed by the ex-succubus. Bryce just invoked the magical human power of denial and he's about two heartbeats away from going off like an Ahab about it. The good guys are wrangling in all different directions and a bitter point is becoming clear.

AIDS activists wear tee shirts that say Silence = Death. People who intervene on abuse situations talk about toxic secrecy. There might have been a bit too much of that among the good guys and MC did bend over a little too far earlier and his buddies were right to tell him so, just before that final revelation.

It's a dark book psychologically but they can win through to one thing - a recognition that they did all pull together and the gang is worth keeping together for its own sake and if Bryce was tragically mistaken, they don't all have to go down in flames on their leader's broken heart. That would be the good guys win - a quiet one, an important one. I suspect it's what's needed to block Ms. Invisible Villain's main scheme, maybe the only thing that would block her main scheme. She almost had them. She will be mad about that...

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Chapter break after Chapter 17: 103,494 so far and it's rolling.

Getting to the end, when I know the end, is like falling down a hill. Everything points that direction. Every chapter more of the pieces fall into place, but every chapter I've had some good surprises too. I'm happy with the book.

To my surprise, it's also doing what I started it for. It's energizing me for everything else I have to do. I hit a break and look around and think about taking time off to do "Son of Organizational Clean Sweep" and go through all my stuff. Or booting the sewing machine to make some of the projects - part of OCS is to actually use up some scrounged crafts materials and make some large simple usable projects I can use as trade goods or sell on ebay or in the free auction site on http://hollylisle.com - in Shops there's a classifieds that members can post things for sale or trade. And if I post there, then friends will get first crack at the stuff. Silly of me, when I do handmade stuff I'd rather friends got the first crack at it.

There's a lot of rewriting ahead of me, but it looks easier now that I'm coming closer to the end of this massive book. I did it to rebuild my confidence and it's doing that - it's very readable, it's a lot of fun, I like the characters and their setting and it has a lot of elbow room for sequels if I take it that direction. Jumping into the rewrites on the short stories isn't going to be that hard if I concentrate the way I have on this book. A couple of days at this pace - of doing something completely different - and I should have at least a smallish trotline sitting out there. Especially if I triage them and do the easiest rewrites first.

Then there's Launchpad. I need to focus on that again and that could dovetail with the crafts projects if I raffle some crafts items or sell them - I've got a burning urge to do some fund raising and finish that up and send it off, just have that done and relax about it - and then skip a year before doing one again. Good thing I've got an alternating other editor. But if I take a while away from it after sending that up in final form, I can focus more on my own writing again, maybe a spate of short stories - and maybe sweep up some of the ones I've got and finally do the Horror E-Book. I need another title in print pretty badly, whatever happens on the Pro in 2002 front. I'd like the income from it. I've got enough stories - and I've heard from a few sources that it's very hard to sell short story collections to pro publishers, so, story collections could be the thing to pick up Raven Dance sales again and get some more trickle income from writing going while I shoot for the pros.

It's nice to think that I'm only three chapters or so before the end. Depending on how those go, they might turn into four chapters and it might go over by what, about 5,000 words? I wouldn't be upset. I'll know the final chord when I strike it. I know what the end is - but the last line is going to be something that echoes as I type it and says "No more on this one."

It's a good feeling and it's not all that far from runner's high.

Robert and Ari >^..^< (Something fascinating is in that box! Why won't Robert let me play with it?)


Bloggity blog, taking a short break on Bryce's Wife to just, take a short break at the 96,850 mark and recognize I cranked out 19,500 words in two days, which ain't bad. It isn't the greatest speed I've hit but it's a good fast gallop, compared to what I've been doing on the other stuff. Best day since I've been online was about 21,000 so this isn't a 'win the race' pace, but it ain't bad for a distance marathon. Best day I had all time, I still wish I could remember which five chapters they were in which of the novels I did at the shelter. I know my chapters run over 5,000 so that was 25,000 and up, I think it was about 30,000 in one day - and I didn't sleep in that day, which did have something to do with it.

So that is past three quarters mark. The plot is cascading down into place. The major arcs are all setting up for the final climax and the last chapter I did both foreshadowed the end and set up for it at the same time, with some major internal chapter conflicts that culminated previous arcs, it's structurally so beautiful. I feel like I'm working in a cathedral when I look at the structures. That arch held. Gods but it's tall. Wow but it's got such a neat feeling and all that light coming in the windows.

I had a couple of hairy points where it moved slowly, and one chapter a few chapters back, one scene had to be rewritten three or four times for it to make sense and get it moving in the right direction. But I got it moving in the right direction and now it's racing away toward the end.

With a possible really neat sequel, Strigler's Succubus. This is a cast that could go for a while, they're good interesting characters with each their own singular problems and interests, the number of dangling potential future plots is a big satisfying fan of 'pick it up in any direction.' Themes are starting to emerge. I like all the themes that are emerging too, they're powerful and sometimes subtle.

It's going to be a good one - and it will feel so good to have another book done, not just fiddle with short stuff and rewrites and all the things that aren't ripping into a big fat novel. This is my favorite size of work. This is what I do best, and it still comes easier than the smaller projects.

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Two thirds of the way through the Aggravation Novel, roughly. It's up to 84,388 - comfortably a bit over the estimated two-thirds point. I wanted it to sit at about 120,000. I finally, finally managed to finish off MC's assorted magical initiations, he's about as initiated as he's going to get and that's fine. Insert cool spellwork here. It's consistent with the series and after much searching, I did find the one I'd come up with for the other novel I did a couple of years ago that had the initiation for the same magical order in it, copy-pasted that guy's initiation chapter, sorted through it and managed to disentangle that older MC's personal cosmic mystical experiences (which did come out sorta neat) from the completely different conflicts this MC had during his initiation but snip out precisely the generic initiation script - the ritual words and actions that would stay the same no matter who was initiating whereverr. It worked. It's clean and tight and his had some other magic tucked in the middle in a nice little spot that I'm sure the initiatic spellbook has "Do any personal spellwork here" but instead of throwing it together in the middle of a large public revel without anyone noticing a magical initiation was going on, this guy actually got initiated formally with lots of gorgeous fancy-robed adepts silently doing personal silent adept ritual personal growth things in it. It worked. Pretty chapter. Familiar if this comes out after the other one but a small payoff for anyone who saw the cocktail party version as to what the formal version would look like. Glimpse into alien masonlike rite.

And if they read the formal one first, the way it's buried in the cocktail party will be that much screamingly funnier. That's a difficult balance but I think I pulled it off. Secret societies are fun. I have this silly fantasy image of walking into the game room at a con to find a bunch of fans wearing gold foil pyramid hats and waving around silk flowers while reciting my novels backward at me and testing whether I remember all of the trivia from them. But if they do that I get my secret decoder ring.

And that concludes one arc of the story and sets up another conflict - the one foreshadowed in chapter one, a big What If that MC asked... because he is now stuck working for that bunch of misfit mages, he's vowed to it. He knows it. He knows that he got some high magic that might make him drop dead if he breaks a vow, not real easy to live with. And he's managed to solve much if not all of his family problems. He has no idea what he leaped into. Neither do most of them.

The next step: the attempted honest rescue of Bryce's wife. Because the poor sod still thinks she was perfect, better than life, even her bad habits are endearing and he knows that he could rescue her! This is not like dragging someone back from the dead violating all the sacredness of whatever that means, not from what he knows, what she's led him to believe.

No, this is more comparable to some guy that thinks his wife just drowned and CPR and mouth to mouth and rapid emergency procedures would stand a chance of getting her back without brain damage and he would do anything to make that happen. Something's got to give. Because he's going to the wrong place and time with his time travel and he's not picking up his dead wife... he's picking up her faked corpse and you can't revive what was never alive. Only spring the trap she left in it. Everything's all happy and gay at the moment as they're getting ready to finally move along and do the mission. They put up with some rough stuff along the way to getting the means.

He hasn't given up hope because from what he knows, what any of them know, there's no reason to.

If that's all it was the book would neatly end in about one more chapter with her rescue. Only it won't. I want to find out who that barmaid works for. Sorry, in my books flashy barmaids with big boom-booms are up to something, at the very least she's another Bess and her real interest is to get a good gang of decent misfit mages settling in her town helping defend a nice little crossroads and serve beer at the local little Guild Arcane meeting and specialize in (va voom voom) her Mae West specialties, the way she does. Because it's fun, because she signed up for Wench and liked the outfit, because she's proud of her beer and she likes to let her hair down a little. The guy from the culture with the most paranoid conspiracies per capita, he respects her. Now I'd really like to know if the beery sorceress did something fairly simple and obvious and sent a little magic bird to attend that nice secret private initiation - it would mean she was a member, their wards are that good. That and they had home team advantage in their main chapterhouse.

And that offstage villainess is making a titanic entrance. She's sitting back planning paths of retreat too, she's not an idiot.

We have the failed mission with its devastating consequences, most of them already set up and foreshadowed in all the foregoing. Then she gets the point she's been waiting for - cascading discoveries and just personally, just sadistically, the point Bryce realizes how deeply he's been played.

And that can't be cliche. She'll want to see it and she'll want to squish him like a bug shortly thereafter, too dangerous to leave a stalker laying around. Unless she has a use for a stalker laying around. Think. Think like that villain. She set all that up to snap Bryce in a particular direction and maybe get him going after her again - why, it occurs to me that someone that good at disguise and all might just be doing it to set up someone completely uninvolved, so that Bryce is going off in the direction she wants with all that motivation and that fairly deadly a little band of misfit mages and take down someone she wants handled. Get your enemies shooting each other, in this case turn the victim into your assassin so that when he's caught he's truly an expendable and no one looks past his immediate motive.

I'm beginning to think this isn't some personal vindictiveness on her part, even though a few friends suggested that in chat. That she didn't care one thing about Bryce one way or the other except that he fit her profile and that to her, they're just expendable. Preferably neatly expended to tie up all the loose ends.

Cold, that woman. She works as a good lasting villain...

Robert and Ari >^..^<