Tag: progress

Snippet

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Oh dear. I blame Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, D Franklin, Gareth M Skarka and Mur Lafferty for this snippet. I just. I don’t know where this story is going or even if it’s worth writing. Only that it has unicorns.

They bury you at the bottom of the gardens–what’s left of you, pathetic and small and twisted so out of shape it hardly seems human anymore. The river, dark and oily, licks at the ruin of your flesh–at your broken bones–and sings you to sleep, in a soft, gentle language like a mother’s lullabies; whispering of rest and forgiveness; of a place where it is forever light, forever safe.

You do not rest. You cannot forgive. You are not safe– you never were.

ETA: and I have a first draft at 2600 words. And no idea what to do with a dark unicorn story 0_0

Can haz first draft!

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10.5k words. Like pulling teeth all the way, I swear… Set in the world of the novel, around 60 years before actual novel, and temp title is “The Death of Aiguillon” (which I do not like, but will think of something better afterwards).

Snippet:

In the end, as she had known, Huyen crept back to the House of Aiguillon.

Dawn was barely breaking over Paris–a sick, vague pink tinge to the maelstrom of spells that filled the entire sky like roiling clouds. No sun, no stars; merely the acrid taste of spent magic that settled in the lungs like the beginnings of a cough; and a haze over the cobblestones that could hide anything from explosives to chimeras.

The great gates hung open. Through the haze, Huyen caught a glimpse of bodies, lying like discarded puppets in the gardens; and of what had once been the corridors, now open to the winds with the familiar peony wallpaper singed and torn–Huyen remembered running with one hand following the flowers, drawing a line through the corridor as a way to find her way back to the kitchens–another time, another age. The House had succumbed, and nothing would ever be the same.

Off to bed now, and then to catch up on all the other stuff that was running late…

WIP snippet, because I feel like it

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There was a sound, on the edge of sleep: Suu Nuoc wasn’t sure if it was a bell and a drum calling for enlightenment; or the tactics-master sounding the call to arms; in that breathless instant–hanging like a bead of blood from a sword’s blade–that marked the boundary between the stylised life of the court and the confused, lawless fury of the battlefield.

Aka, “Aliette writes a really ambitious novella that might unexpectedly turn into a novel” (I really hope not. Over 40k but below 70k is really a bad length for fiction). It’s a loose sort of sequel to On a Red Station, Drifting, with some of the same characters making guest appearances (basically set in the Imperial Court eighty years after the ending of the novella).

Since we’re travelling light (hahaha), I’ve left my research books at home, but I thought I’d recommend:

Vietnam History: Stories retold for a new generation, Hien Vo, Chat Dang. Ok, here’s the deal. You emphatically will not get a history from this book–the authors aren’t historians, and it’s not a scholarly dissection of various motives and sources. However, what you will get is the kind of stories my grandma tells me, the “folklore”, or history as it’s perceived by the people who aren’t formally trained. It’s biased, of course; I wouldn’t necessarily agree with everything (particularly in the colonial era); but it’s a nice springboard for learning more about the major figures of folklore. As a bonus, it has a freak amount of the Vietnamese equivalents to Chinese deities and Chinese historical figures, which saves me the trouble of going through Wikipedia armed with a meagre command of the language…
1587, a year of no particular significance: the Ming Dynasty in Decline, Ray Huang: I really like this book for its portrayal of court life in the tail end of the Ming dynasty. Really handy for those court intrigue bits ^^
Monarchy and Colonialism in Vietnam: 1875-1925, The Anh Nguyen: I’m still halfway through it. It’s really hard to stomach, for obvious reasons (the sheer arrogance of the colonialists and the total lack of comprehension of the Nguyễn court of what they’re really up against, for starters; also, the slow encroachment of loss of sovereignty even as the colonial empire starts tightening up is heartbreaking). It turns out to not really pertain to the novella, so I’ll be going through it at a more restrained pace…

My favourite parts of novel writing

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So, actually, it turns out that my favourite part of novel writing (aside from the heady feeling when you’re a few chapters in) is revisions. Aka, the moment when I have finally understood why the novel is not working, have made a checklist of everything I need to fix, and am settling down in front of the computer with a cup of tea, and a determination to tick off those checkboxes one by one. Which is, I guess, another way of saying that I vastly prefer knowing where I’m going ^^

I am done with revisions, and have sent novel off to agent (also, the H rocks as a first reader, but we all knew that. We had a bit of a narrow brush when the snakelet attempted to chew the printed manuscript, but we’re good now). Also, I learnt entirely too many things about Belle Epoque etiquette from Baronne de Staffe (my favourite bit: men give way to women because women are vastly superior), and about servant hierarchy in big French households (I was only familiar with that time period through novels written during the era, so I hadn’t quite realised the ubiquitousness of the servant class. It was quite impressive to read up on who did what, and also quite fun to imagine how this would have changed a few decades after that, if WWI hadn’t quite happened the same way).

Anyway. In honour of the sending off of the manuscript, here’s a snippet of later on in the book:

He remembered a cold, cold Hall much like this one; a lieutenant in the red-and-gold of House Draken, telling bewildered boys about the glory of dying for one’s House, for one’s country; and him, standing in the riot of colours streaming from a tall stained-glass window, and struggling to remember the power that had sustained him in Indochina. 

Meanwhile, I’ll go off and grab my missing sleep…

First draft!

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First draft!

105 000 words. Sekrit project aka the sort-of-urban fantasy set in Paris. Of course, it’s a first draft and more full of holes than a colander, and my next task will be to fix those before lobbing the draft to my kind crit group so they can deservedly savage constructively criticise it.

But for now I will bask in the knowledge of a job well done.

Here, have a snippet:

It was Ninon who first saw her. Philippe, though, felt her presence first, but hadn’t said anything. It wasn’t a wish to protect the young Fallen so much as to protect himself–his status in the Red Mamba gang was precarious as it was, and he had no desire to remind them of how much of a commodity he could become, given enough cruelty on their part. And Heaven knew, of course, that those days it didn’t take much for cruelty or despair to get the better of them all, when life hung on a razor’s edge, even for a former Immortal.
They’d been scavenging in the Grands Magasins–desperate and hungry, as Ninon had put it, because no one was foolish enough to go down there among the ruins of the Magicians’ War, with spells that no one had had time to clean up primed and ready to explode in your face, with the ghosts and the hauntings and the odour of death that still hung like fog over the wrecks of counters and the faded posters advertising garments and perfumes from another, more innocent age.

(picture via Patron of the Arts)

Can haz first draft

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Aka, yipee, the snakelet let me write! Still no headspace for a novel, though I’m slowly getting back into my research and wrote a whole new scene in my chapter 5 (aka, all Hell breaks loose for one particular character, who really has no luck whatsoever).

Temp title “What the Sea Holds no Sway”. Snippet:

 In Bao Lan’s dreams, bots danced: they banked and dipped and turned over the red soil of Mars, moulding the clouds of dust they raised into ephemeral figures–the boy Cuoi and his banyan, the strategist Khong Minh and his crane-feather fan–they whirled and reared, tracing words in the flowing writing of calligraphy masters, poems like the ones hung on doorways for New Year’s Eve, bringing up memories of bygone feasts in a vanished land, in the days before the evacuation…

Sent it off to a couple readers, and meanwhile will go see what the %%% is wrong with our hot water supply…

Can haz first draft!

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6000 words, which I count a great victory (the snakelet being a major force for distraction). Temp title: “Days of the War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile” (just until I find something slightly less unwieldy).

Snippet:

In the old days, the phoenix, the vermillion bird, was a sign of peace and prosperity to come; a sign of a just ruler under whom the land would thrive.

But those are the days of the war; of a weak child-Empress, successor to a weak Emperor; the days of burning planets and last-ditch defences; of moons as red as blood and stars as dark as bile.

#

When Thien Bao was thirteen years old, Second Aunt came to live with them.

She was a small, spry woman with little tolerance for children; and even less for Thien Bao, whom she grudgingly watched over while Mother worked in the factories, churning out the designs for new kinds of sharp-kites and advance needle ships.

(am aware Thien Bao is a man’s name in Vietnamese–there’s an in-story reason for it, but am struggling to manage the related exposition. Might just give up and go for a more traditional woman’s name)

Hoping to level up into progress on the novel after that (but not wholly optimistic).

WIP snippet

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Because that sentence came fully formed into my brain yesterday afternoon. No idea where it’s all going, though…

In the old days, the phoenix, the phuong hoang, was a sign of peace and prosperity to come; a sign of a just ruler under whom the land would thrive.

But those are the days of the War; of a weak child-Empress, successor to a weak Emperor; the days of burning planets and last-ditch defenses; of moons as red as blood and stars as dark as bile.

 

(for those who are wondering: I am indeed slowly working on the novel, but right now my brain is a bit frazzled and it’s hard to muster the energy for something long…)

Snippet from the WIP

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As you might remember, I’m taking part in the Clarion West Write-a-thon, and people actually went and sponsored me (!). So, accordingly, here’s a snippet from the novel-in-progress as a thanks to them (the first scene, in fact). Usual disclaimers apply–this is my alpha draft (aka I’ve revised it minimally so it looks good on the page but I’ve not taken a hatchet to it), it’s very much a work in progress and I’m not sure how much I’ll keep, etc.

Enjoy! (and if you want to sponsor me, it’s over there)

It is almost pleasant, at first, to be Falling.
The harsh, unwavering light of the City recedes, leaving you in shadow–leaving only memories of relief, of a blessed coolness seizing your limbs–nothing has turned yet into longing, into bitterness, into the cold that will never cease, not even in the heat of summer.
The wind, at first, is pleasant too–softly whistling past you, so that you almost don’t notice when its cold fingers tear away at your wings–feathers drift off, blinking like forgotten jewels, catching fire and burning like a thousand falling stars in the atmosphere. Some part of you knows you should be experiencing pain–that the flow of crimson blood, the lancing pain in your back, the burning sensation that seems to have got hold of your whole body–they’re all yours, they’re all irreversible and deadly. But you feel nothing–no exhilaration, no relief; not the burning agony of your wounds. Nothing; but that sense of unnamed relief–that knowledge you won’t have to face the judges in the City again.
Nothing, until the ground comes up to meet you, and you land in a jumble of pain and shattered bones–and the scream you didn’t think you had in you scrapes your throat raw as you let it out–like the first, shocked breath of a baby newborn into a universe of suffering.

Meanwhile, I’ll be off researching the history of Ile de la Cité, and renewing my subscription to the Paris Library network…

Clarion West Write-a-thon

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So, in the interest of actually being held accountable for stuff…

I’ve joined the Clarion West write-a-thon: my goal is to have 50,000 words of my (untitled) novel set in a post-apocalyptic, colonial Paris completed by August 2 (ok, maybe by end of August). Can’t say much about it (I *hate* talking about what I’m writing while I’m writing it), but it’s got fallen angels, Vietnamese dragons and immortals, and plenty of magical fireworks.

You can see a snippet from the WIP on my write-a-thon page–as well as information for donating, and links to all the pages by fabulous other writers such as Rochita Loenen Ruiz, Stephanie Burgis and Floris M Kleijne.