Monthly Archives: October 2010

Fiction Break, part 2

You can read the first part here.

The Jamison estate was decorated gorgeously. A gas-lit chandelier filled the ballroom with a warm glow and elegant torches on the walls.


Eva stared at the swirling steam coming from her cup of tea. She listened patiently for the end of the song. It was the third waltz. She knew she shouldn’t associate with Zephediah and his minions, but the mystery drew her in.

With Adair’s false blackmail and the presence of so many people, Eva felt confident there was little danger in spending a few minutes on a balcony by herself. A quick scream would get the entire ballroom’s attention.

“Everything alright, love?” Tiernan asked. Eva hadn’t told her fiancé of her unfortunate encounter with the thief Adair, but her silence gave away her anxiety.

“The fumes from the gas lights are getting to me,” she told him. It wasn’t just the gas; her head swirled with the scents from the ballroom.

“Why not step out for a moment, then?” he brushed his fingers across her cheek.

“Yes, I think I will,” now to keep Tiernan busy, “Have you seen my dear cousin? I believe she wanted to speak with you.”

Tiernan reluctantly agreed, knowing how much Lacey loved to talk. She could keep him busy for hours. Eva would go rescue him once she had received this message. The waltz neared its end, so Eva made her way through the perfumed masses and stepped onto the balcony.

Eva welcomed the cool, fresh air into her lungs. The balcony overlooked a small portion of the well-kept garden. Eva leaned over the railing and followed the garden path east. Tiernan wasn’t far down, caught in a never-ending conversation with cousin Lacey. Eva caught his eye and smiled. He smiled back.

“Lady Beaumont?” a small female voice said from behind Eva. Read the rest of this entry

Fiction Break

One hour left of my final workday of the week. Let’s see how fast I can write something!

The blade at her throat was warm. It smelled of blood, but Evalise Beaumont knew Adair wouldn’t dare threaten her with a bloodied blade. He had no doubt cleaned it just before sneaking into her chamber.

“My Lady,” he whispered in her ear. His voice was hoarse as ever, and even more unwelcome.

“Adair,” Eva’s voice was dry as her mouth.

Adair wrapped his free arm around Eva’s midriff, pulling her body against his. Eva didn’t need to look to know he had used ash as camouflage. She was glad she decided to wear a darker dress to the evening’s ball, but even blood would stain the deep green gown.

“Do you know why I’m here, My lady?” his breath brushed against her neck. Eva held her breath so she wouldn’t have the unfortunate experience of smelling it.

“I can venture a guess,” she responded, “how much of a ransom would you like?”

“Ever the ignorant,” he ran his hand along the ribs of her corset. His blade wasn’t too tight against her throat that a swift jab to his ribs wouldn’t free her from it, but he would surely sense her muscles tense if she tried.

“Do you know for whom I work, my lady?” his lips touched the back of her ear as he spoke, driving chills down Eva’s spine. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing her fidget.

“I know the rumors,” she sidestepped the question. Of course she knew, but he shouldn’t know that she knew. A lady of her stature would have no reason to know such things.

“That’s not what I asked,” his hand at her waist stopped moving. Moving lightning fast, he grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. He pinned her against the wall, hand on her shoulder, knee between her legs, and dagger at her throat. It was a rather unladylike position for poor Eva Beaumont, but staring at Adair face-to-face, his sharp blue eyes looking directly into hers, she didn’t care so much.

“For whom do I work?” he asked, pressing the blade tighter against her throat.

Eva turned her head away from him. She couldn’t sidestep this question. The fact that he would even ask it in such a manner was bad news for her. He knew more than he was supposed to. Read the rest of this entry


Masks protect your fragile sense of self worth. They give you a way to decide how much of yourself, and which parts of yourself, you reveal to the world … The more familiar you are with your own masks and personas, the more you realize how temporary and changeable they are. Every now and again, you remove the masks covering your essence and allow yourself just to be.

The quote comes from an article titled “Unmasking Fear” by Ian Lawton which discusses our tradition of Halloween and our fascination with masks, both figurative and literal. The article offers great insight on who we are and how we show ourselves to others. Ever the writer, I thought about how this applies to my characters.

No matter how lush, lucrative, and complex your plot is, if your characters can’t carry it, your story will wither and die. Your Characters Rule the Story (another great article from a fantastic blog). They need to learn and grow and change. They need to make decisions, have relationships, experience conflict, make mistakes, and do stupid things.

Whether you’re preparing yourself for NaNoWriMo or abstaining from the insanity to work on your own goals, take another look at your characters. What masks do they wear? Does your hero wear a mask of strength and confidence despite his inner turmoil? Does your normally timid heroin put on a mask of extraversion to bring order to a chaotic situation? Read the rest of this entry

How to Use NaNoWriMo to Improve as a Writer

Blair Hurley reposted her thoughts on why she said “no” to NaNoWriMo. I’ve read this article before, but I figured I would post my response to it this year. As I was writing my comment, I realized there are important steps one must take to use NaNoWriMo as a tool to improve one’s craft, instead of as a fun and crazy activity. So instead of leaving Blair a book-length comment, I decided to make a post about it. As always, your input is welcome.

  • Set goals for yourself, beyond word count. Keep your goals in mind when you write. Post-NaNoWriMo, you can look back at your manuscript and see how well you met your goals. These results will help show you your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Add writing to your schedule. During NaNoWriMo, figure out when, where, and how you write best. Maybe it’s curled up in bed with a notebook, or with tea and a laptop in a café. Find that sweet spot, and make it a habit to write. Keep that habit up even after November ends.
  • Try something new. All fiction, regardless of genre, has very similar traits, such as the basics of characters, plots, dialogues, etc. Writing in a different genre will help you improve these basics while bringing you into a new world you may actually like. Read the rest of this entry