A Bit of Me, Aekhartain, Writing

Secrets of Icarus: Part Three

I love music across many genres, but when it comes to writing I tend to stick to classical orchestrations – mostly because lyrics distract me. Sometimes I don’t really care what I listen to and will happily have the radio on (Classic FM usually), and there are days when I don’t listen to anything at all. However, most of the time I like something faintly inspirational and without interruptions in the background.

This means I listen to a lot of soundtracks as well as classical composers. I love a good soundtrack, be it for film, TV, games or trailers, but I also have a distinct weakness for a nice bit of piano music and strings. I am all about the strings.

Which brings me to…

Secret #3 – Each Book has a Slightly Different Soundtrack

Continue reading “Secrets of Icarus: Part Three”

A Bit of Me, Aekhartain, Writing

Secrets of Icarus: Part Two

Secret #2 – I Keep Plot Charts/Tables For All My Stories

Along with chapter titles that no one ever sees, I also keep plot charts. Except they’re not really charts at all, they’re tables where I keep track of my word count and write one or two lines about what’s going on to help me out when I’m in a hurry to find something.

I also use them for very short brain-storming session during the writing stage, leaving myself short notes about what’s coming up next. I do this for all my books, so this series isn’t particularly special in this regard. Actually, my charts are pretty scanty for most of this series. Probably because I knew roughly where I was going.

Some (edited for spoilers) examples include:

Sisters of Icarus

  • Grief. Nightmare. Chores. Farewell, Icarus.
  • … Cana sees much, but says little.
  • Fox, Fox, Fox!
  • Snowball fight! Love, kisses, promises, hopes. Crossed wires.


The Crying Child

  • Cari is thoughtful. Fox is Fox.
  • Catch a falling star and put him in your pocket, save him on a rainy day…
  • … Cari still sulks – others are content.
  • … Selkie delivery.
  • Fox to the rescue! Well, kind of…
  • OH NOES! I AM THE NEW ICARUS


The Icarus Child

  • There was a boy, a very strange and lonely boy…
  • Storm and goats. The magpie – yay!
  • Family fun. Saekara and Ica and Morvoren. Love.
  • A new face on the island. Hurricane Morvoren!
  • … Selkie panic! Ica itches.
  • … Save us! Save us!

And there you have it, another small insight into my writery habits that you probably were perfectly happy not knowing about.

Next time music! (I’ll give you a hint, it involves lots of soundtracks.)

A Bit of Me, Aekhartain, Writing

Secrets of Icarus*: Part One

*Which actually sounds like a good title for a spin-off collection of short stories based around the Icarus Child books. I might quite enjoy doing that. I could write some more Rudh and Howl, maybe some young Fox adventures, definitely some more cute Fox and Cana moments, perhaps some non-scary Icaria, or some selkie time. I could even delve into why Morvoren and the goats Do Not Get Along. That could be fun. Maybe. Although this is supposed to be my last historical Aekh(ish) tale for a while, so it might be nice not to spend even more time in the Iron Age. Oh well, just a thought, which may or may not grow into something at some point.

Er, anyway, putting all of that to one side. Since it is now one week until the (hopeful) release date of The Icarus Child, the final part of this trilogy, I thought as a way to chivvy me along to actually making the deadline, I’d impart a few secrets along the way.

Not spoilers, secrets. These things are more a behind the scenes look at my writing process, particularly as it pertains to these books.

Secret #1 – All the Chapters Have Their Own Secret Titles

This is something I do quite a lot when writing novels. Way back in the days when I used to share my writing with the Elfwood community, I tended to post a chapter at a time, so I got into the habit of saving them a chapter at a time too, for easy access. Even now, if I know in advance that what I’m writing will become a novel, I use individual files for each chapter. This makes it a whole lot easier to find things when I need to change them, but it’s a bit more of a pain when it comes to the final editing and formatting stages.

I use these chapter titles in part because they make my files look more interesting, but also as shorthand to keep track of the story as I go. I don’t tend to use them in the final books because some of the titles are a bit spoilery, others are kind of boring (a few seem to crop up in every book I write), and also because I don’t know how much attention people pay to such things. (If you have an opinion either way, feel free to share. I’m always curious.)

This secret is particularly relevant to this series because the first title chapter of the original Icarus Child book is the same as in this version – And Then He Fell. This matters to me because that was where the whole story began, ten odd years ago. Back then all I knew about the story was that Icarus had three sisters, he would try to fly and fail, and somehow or other this whole thing would end up back at Shaiel and the Aekhartain. I’m still not entirely sure how I got from there to the end in the original, but I did, and I use those two titles to remind me of that long ago day when I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going but full of hope all the same.

Other titles across the current series include:
Farewell to Sea and Sky, Samhain Storm, A Fox’s Tale, Return of the Fox, Snowfalling, Illusions of Happiness, Catch a Falling Star, He Who Must Ascend, Winter Woes, A Star is Born, Kidnap!, Ghost Plans, The Wings of a Storm, Family Familiarity, Dreams and Screams, My Star and my favourite of the lot which I can’t include for spoiler reasons.


So there you have it. Not so much a secret as just something you might not have known.

Come back soon for the next in this exciting series of things you never knew, were probably happy enough not knowing and could likely have lived your whole life without feeling the lack of, but which I’m going to tell you about anyway!


Cover_3 Icarus Child
Quick IC Update

New additions and character fixes are mostly finished, so now I just have to edit the last five chapters again.

Yay… I think.

Merry Wednesday, everyone!

A Bit of Me, Updates, Writing

Icarus Child Edit Update

\(*O*)/  <– That feeling when you’ve finished the final edit on your new book.

/(~_~)\ <– Until you realise you need to go back and sort out one of the characters.

(@-@) <– And then you realise the character in question defies explanation and sorting it out won’t be easy.

/(-.-)\ <– Think. Think harder. Work it out.

|(*.*)| <– Oh, hey, that stupid idea might just work…

I’ll let you know how I get on. For now, though, I still have hope for a release next week. Please don’t burst my optimistic little bubble.

(And yes, I know, I probably could have found some gifs to explain it all better. But that would take work and my brain is back in lazy mode.)

Merry Tuesday, everyone!

Aekhartain, Updates, Writing

Icarus Child Update: Week Three

Week 3 Total Word Count: 74,000

I spoke way too soon last week. After two 10K writing days, I hit a wall. Hard. It was like pulling teeth trying to drag the story on for a while there. The trouble was I’d hit a point where the story would quite happily have reached an end. Which would have been fine, except nothing would have been resolved, it was way too soon and I still had too much to do. But try convincing my brain to go on when it said everything was done.

This is what happened with The Crying Child, a set of events leapt out of nowhere, twisted things around and suddenly, Ta-Dah! The End! Well, I could get away with it on that book because it was the second of three, but I couldn’t really let that happen here. Unless I wanted to write a fourth book *shudders*

Funnily enough it was sparked by the same character. I suspect if I’d written a completely unnecessary fourth book it would have happened again. With the same one. A born troublemaker that one. Never mind, I pulled through, finished Chapter Twenty Five then gave myself a few days off to think about it all.

Then came yesterday, when I sat down, flexed my fingers and finished the whole lot with a mammoth effort. I’m pretty sure the entire thing is a massive mess, nothing I wrote yesterday will make a lick of sense, but it’s fine because some of it will be salvageable and I now have an iron framework to hang the whole story on.

Phew!

Also, if I’m lucky, it won’t be quite as messy as I think it is. This has happened to me before, and in the best cases I didn’t need to change a thing. Even if it doesn’t happen here, I’m still happy because the hardest of the hard work is done!

Even better, I can finally get out of the Iron Age! And away from the historical stuff altogether (for a bit at least). My next Aekh tale is set in 2002. I cannot wait. Even if it does mean a lot of Shakespeare in my near future. If you’ve read Orion’s Kiss this is the story that will make sense out of just who Beatrice Winters is. Finally. Two years after I finished that one.

*ahem* Oh well, better late than never, right? 

Anyway, back to this book. No snippet this week, since everything is spoilery. Instead I’ll end with the final tally, since the last day was only just in Week 4.

Icarus Child Final Total: 86,700 words.

Woo – and indeed – Hoo! Now all I have to do is edit the thing.

A Bit of Me, Aekhartain, Updates, Writing

I Win!

I broke my brain, but I win! The Icarus Child is done!

I’ve written 13.5K words today. Starting at 8 ish. I broke off to watch Tim Peake rocket up to space, then had to break later on to drive my mum somewhere because of rain, but otherwise I powered through on a diet of Galaxy chocolate, copious amounts of water and Ori and the Blind Forest soundtrack (and a couple of others – I will have to talk music sometime).

It makes no sense. I don’t even care. It is done! Book is finished! I’m not even going to touch it until the new year.

Now I can catch up on my reading, put up decorations, wrap presents, see family and look after the dog who has an ear infection and a lip infection and all kinds of skin infections (apparently, though he seems fine, but the vet says, so *shrug* and he’s a foolish pedigree), and probably sleep a lot. Because it is December and it’s wet and we’re not quite halfway out of the dark yet.

Proper update tomorrow. For now – yay!

(Ow, my head)

Aekhartain, Updates, Writing

Icarus Child Update: Week Two

Week 2 Total Word Count: 46,000

Woo! This book is flying!

Well, sort of. Writing-wise I’m down to three days a week when I have enough free time to make it worth my while to sit down and get stuff done, but when I do I’m making it count. Which is lovely. If I get a chance to focus and have the right music on I can scribble out a chapter in an hour and a half, so I’m trying to get three chapters done a day – depending on how long they are, of course. If they’re short I might manage four.

There’s a reason why I don’t do NaNoWriMo, because once I establish a set routine and give myself a goal of getting the book done by This Day it all tends to snowball and I get very competitive with myself. Last time I did NaNo I started off aiming for two to three thousand words a day, then I realised I wouldn’t be able to write at all for the last week of November and it all went a bit crazy. By the end I think I was writing between ten and fifteen thousand words a day – and the little book that was supposed to be about 75K was heading for 90K and wasn’t anywhere near finished.

And it still isn’t, three years later, because if I try and touch the book my competitive instincts rise up and order to me to finish it now, now, now! Who cares about the pirates? Add in a ghost and some astral projection and everything will be fine! And kill that snooty kid while you’re at, no one will even notice. Then put in a race over the beach – that’ll be so cool. You can literally have rocks falling so everyone dies! 

Except that this is a multi-book series and I need some of those characters to survive. And I like them too much to kill them all.

Rocks fall. Everyone dies. Really cool!

But –

Rocks. Fall. Everyone. Dies. Dead.

Yeah, ‘kay, no… I’ll just put this one away for now then.

So. I don’t do that anymore. (Which is a shame, because there are some parts of that book I adore. I must head back to that world sometime. It’s the one where Tobi and Faron come from. I love that world.)

Anyway, yes, back to this book. Even though I’m only writing three days a week, my competitive instincts are rising (I’m only ever competitive with myself or as part of a team, which is why I was so relieved to break my arm when I was nine so I could quit gymnastics before they made me compete anymore). However, instead of a daily word count race – because I rarely have a completely free day to write in – I seem to be pushing for a weekly thing. The first week I hit 20K, the second I managed 25K. I’m now in week three and my first writing day went over 10K, so looks like it’s all on schedule to make my brain explode. Also, I should get the book finished before Christmas as I must be over halfway now. Seriously, I must, it’s over 50K words now.

Also all the major players seem to have finally arrived. Yay! There’s also a new lesson to be learned from this series – other than Keep Away from Talking Islands, They Will Possess You! The new one is Never Trust a Foundling, or other sundry washed up bodies that appears anywhere near you. Nothing good ever happens. Rocks might not fall (though I’m not ruling that out because there are cliffs everywhere) but someone will die. Or that might just be the island. Maybe I’ll stick with the first one and add They Will Kill You! after the bit about possessing people. I may need to put up signs. Those will totally work.

Ah well, another normal week in Ima-land. Have a completely non-spoilery snippet conversation between two children on a beach, and I’ll get back to wrestling this story into (ha!) submission.

Continue reading “Icarus Child Update: Week Two”

Updates, Writing

Progress Report: The Woe of Words

Why did I ever think making up my own language was cool? I’ve never been good at languages. I’m barely passable with English most days, especially when it comes to correct grammatical terms.

Which might be why I made up my own language, now I think on it.

It was an okay language as far as it went – because it had no rules and I botched it together as and when I needed it. But then I had to try and tidy it up and put in proper rules for verbs and such things.

Which already gives me a headache just thinking about. And that was before a character turned up only speaking in auxiliary verbs! (Okay, he doesn’t only speak in aux verbs, but it felt like it when I was trying to translate it.)

I never even thought to plan for auxiliary verbs! I never thought I’d need to! I’ve been avoiding writing practically anything in Aekh-speak ever since I decided to tidy it up and realised as a purely spoken language that I needed to be able to pronounce it! And then along he came, with his verb baggage trundling behind him.

So now I have a new rule, which is basically don’t bother conjugating the second verb unless it looks prettier that way (I’m kidding. Mostly. About the last six words, anyway). I’m sure this will trip me up spectacularly at some point. Right now, however, I don’t care.

*kicks the Man Who Fell To Earth*

As you can probably tell, I’m really enjoying writing The Crying Child. Although I’m still not sure whether I’d prefer for Icaria to be more or less creepy. Less would probably be better for my health.

Oh well. I hope your summer is treating you well in your part of the world. Unless you are upside down, in which case I hope your winter is passing swiftly.

My summer is now wet, but then I am in England, so I should expect nothing else. I did, however, see a hummingbird hawk-moth in my garden the other day! And a white stag!(!) In the wild. An actual white stag!(!!) (No wardrobes were spotted in the sighting of this stag. Nor any lions (religiously metaphoric or otherwise) or witches either. Alas.) He’s a fallow deer and he had ladies and a baby in tow, but they were mostly hidden in the bushes while he stood out in front like a forgotten Christmas lawn ornament.

I also saw a rainbow at dawn this morning. In the west. I’ve never seen one that early in the day before, but it was very pretty in its half-shining state.

Fun times.

Aekhartain, Updates, Writing

Progress Report: Blame it on Fox

This always happens; I should have expected it. The first time I wrote Icarus Child a certain pair of characters, Cana and Fox, overtook everything and expanded the story way beyond my original plans. I didn’t mind too much because I came to love the pair of them, so I was excited to write about them again in Sisters of Icarus.

As it turned out, while it was nice to write about the again, it wasn’t as much fun as I’d hoped. Part of this was because this book is pretty dark and I tried to remember only the nice bits. Another part was because I was trying to force my characters to fit the old plot and keep to a rough word count. I managed it, just about, but some of the spark had gone – and Fox’s biggest fan didn’t like it.

I kind of agreed, which was why I put the book aside and launched a rebellion with Caligo/Nawaquí instead. (Well, why wouldn’t you?)

Needless to say I wasn’t looking forward to going back to this tale and trying to sort out the mess I’d left it in. I knew it would take some work and I foresaw headaches ahead.

Well, so far it’s grown by 15K, including three whole new chapters – which isn’t ideal – but I’m actually quite enjoying it. Because Fox is back, my Fox, the proper Fox, not the angry, resentful, not particularly enjoyable character who showed up for the rewrite. Oh, he’s still angry in places (he always has been and he has his reasons), but he’s also more fun. And because he’s more light-hearted and cheeky, so is Cana.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still a sad book in which unhappy things happen, often to nice people, and there’s the whole evil island lurking over everything. But now, thanks to Fox and my vastly inflated word count, there are a few happier moments to lighten the atmosphere and a much more enjoyable romance to keep things ticking along.

I hope. It’s working for me, anyway.

Then again, I haven’t actually finished it yet. There are still five chapters to go and a certain plot that needs to be reworked, but overall I’m happier with this version. I just hope my betas will be happy too and I’ll be able to win Fox’s biggest fan back into his club. I’ll need something positive to keep me going for The Crying Child, which is just as happy as its title suggests…


Before I go, one last reminder:

The Rebel Returns is increasing in price from tomorrow.
Rising from $.99/£.99 to 2.99.
Get it cheap while you can!

Updates

What’s Becca Up To Now?

Since I’m currently running around busy with Real Life things at the moment, I thought I should stop by and give a brief update on what’s going on in my writing life right now.

Firstly, the new Freyda and Dóma short story (Sweetness and Shadows) is about to go through some edits, before being posted very soon. I’d love to say this Saturday (9th), but as time is currently messing me about, I’ll say definitely no later than the 13th August. As it turned out a little longer than I anticipated (when don’t my stories do that these days?) I’ll possibly need to split into a couple of entries. Don’t worry, though, I’ll add it all at once so you don’t have to wait.

Secondly, I’m also about to start work on re-editing Orion’s Kiss. I already have a new cover for it, to match Unbound and Free, so all it needs is a quick polish and it’ll go live everywhere. I know Kindle automatically updates (unless you’ve switched off that setting), but I think if you bought it through Smashwords you’ll possibly need to redownload it. As for everywhere else, I’ve no clue. I shall investigate before I post it and get back to you on that.

Thirdly, writing-wise I have this week just started my next story. This’ll be a freebie ebook (like Sing to Me) and it’ll focus on two characters from the Demero tales. It’ll be another romance, but M/F this time, and still set in the way-back-when.

Other than that I’m mostly mulling over ideas. I’ll see how the first of the Freyda/Dóma freebie tales goes, then I might write a couple more. I could probably add some drabbles while I’m about it, and I’d like to write a few “Further Adventures of Shaiel and Demero” at some point too. I’ve also got a photo post I want to make about a couple of the locations that cropped up in Unbound and Free, as well as a new author photo to add somewhere, somewhen. So many ideas, so little time.

As always, got anything to ask, say, add etc, then comment away, my lovelies! (Or if you’re shy, email me instead.)

ETA: New photo on the About page and at Smashwords. I’ve also finally got around to building author pages on Amazon.com and co.uk. Yeah, yeah, I’m so quick at these things…