Friday, July 30, 2010

Not Flash Fiction

...and then a woman abandons her car in the middle of the Arizona desert and starts walking along the road in heels and a tight sleeveless blue dress and big sunglasses and she smokes a cigarette and in her handbag with the cigarettes and lighter there's something else, something dangerous, though not necessarily a gun, and there's someone waiting for her to show up with the car somewhere, maybe in Phoenix or maybe elsewhere, but she's not ever going to show up even though there's nothing wrong with the car, she just didn't want to drive anymore and she didn't want to meet whoever is waiting for her (it's some man, of course); she's just going to walk and she doesn't want anyone to stop and offer her a ride though men will, of course, because she's pretty and she's wearing that blue dress which is silvery gray when the sun hits it just right and she has good legs and is wearing those heels and all...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Film Review: "Inception"

If you disbelieve your own premise so much that you spend the first hour of the film explaining it to the audience, please just don't make the damned movie.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chapter Fourteen Finished!

It ends on a cliffhanger, too: "What have you done, my lord?" Well, you'll have to wait until Chapter Fifteen to find out.

wordcountometer = 50,127!

I'm calling this chapter "Every Man Hath Business and Desire."

There are four--maybe five--more big scenes and then the middle of the book is over, and I'll be writing the final act. I figure each big scene will get its own chapter, so that means the rest of the midsection of the novel will be about 14,000 words. If the last act is about 15,000 words long, I'll roll in at right about 80K, which is a fine length for a first draft though not quite as long as I was expecting it to be. Whatevs. I expect that, as usual, the book will grow longer during revisions. Somehow that always happens. Anyway, I am suddenly looking toward the end of the book and somehow that surprises me. Though the next four or five big scenes are going to be hard to write. There's a pair of executions, talk of an accidental death, a murder, an argument with accusations of treason, a dark night of the soul and oh! so much more. I can't wait.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chapter 14 Excerpt: Horatio is Shivering

“Shall we go inside? There is a fire in the coal stove.”

“Are you cold, astrologer?” Bernardo looked around as if only just noticing that it was winter. “We will go to your fireside in a moment. I have something to give you first.”

Bernardo took from beneath his cloak a simple dagger in a black leather sheath and handed it to me.

“When you return to Kronberg and kill Old Hamlet, you will use this knife instead of your clumsy potions and frozen serpents.”

“I am no soldier,” I said. “I do not know how to stab a man.”

“You will find that it is easily done,” Bernardo said. “Put the bare point to one side of the king’s spine between his shoulder blades and lean hard on the hilt. The blade will do the rest. You need merely wait until you are alone with the king.”

“I do not think—”

“King Hamlet is a man. He deserves a man’s death. You must be a man to give him that death.”

“How he dies can be of no matter to you, as long as he is dead.”

“It matters. Do not cross me on this, little astrologer.”

Had Bernardo’s gaze been a dagger, he’d have flayed me on the spot. I recalled the ease and amusement in Marcellus’ bearing when he had beaten me before sending me to the island and I nodded to Bernardo and took the dagger. I hid it in my doublet, the cold steel hilts hard against my ribs.

“Shall we go inside?” I said.

“The king gave you a commission here, did he not?” Bernardo looked over the collapsed towers and tumbling bricks of Tycho’s palace.

“Aye. There is a lit stove upstairs, in a warm room. You see the window with closed shutters?’

“Have you taken your inventory of all Brahe’s toys yet?”

“Nay. There is yet work for me. And it is cold work, and slow. My notes of the excavations thus far are inside. Shall we look at them?”

“I have little interest. Polonius asked that I inquire, that is all. I should speak to the prince now.”

At last, I thought. My fingertips and toes ached madly with cold.

“Then we go inside?”

“Nay, for look where the prince comes down to see us.”

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Vacation: A Photo Post!

Mighty Reader and I spent a week in glorious Yachats, Oregon, USA and I am ever so disappointed that our week is over. Yes, we're back home with our loving cat who missed us very much, but as the Poetess of the Plains said, "Well, now it's back to everything else." Ain't that the truth? Still, it was a swell time and I promised photos so here are a handful of them. My crappy digital is nowhere near so fine as is Mighty Reader's expensive digital SLR beast, so you'll only really see the full glory that is the Oregon coast if I can remember to fetch some of her image files (or if, of course, you go yourself).

One place we visited was the wetland near the beach:

It's a cool and creepy place that provided excellent inspiration last year for a couple chapters of a WIP that take place in a swamp.

Here Mighty Reader poses to give some scale to this photo of the wetland. Tall trees, deep shade, bear sign, spider webs and lots of birds:

There was also beach! This is the only decent photo I can find (that I took) of the beach. Oregon's beaches are equally rocky and sandy. Here's the borderland between a rocky beach and a sandy beach:

On the rocky part of the beach you could stand and watch the waves pound against the rocks. There are also blowholes, where deep caves that have eroded into the rock have opened up on the surface and the surf comes crashing out like a geyser.

There were also cocktails! Lots of cocktails! This is the First Cocktail of the Trip, just before it's shaken and poured:

There is also a video of the waves crashing into the rocks at high tide, but blogger refuses to cooperate and let me post it. Damn you, blogger.

I suprised myself and did some writing during this trip (mostly we walked on the beach, ate in restaurants, drank cocktails, played pingpong, played Careers, drank cocktails, watched "Jaws," celebrated Mighty Reader's birthday, drank cocktails, and read books). I am still in Chapter 14, but my wordcount is almost 50,000. The current adjusted estimate for completing this draft is October. Which seems a long time from now. I may need to take another vacation before then.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Next Week: Nothing From Me!

Next week Mighty Reader and I will be off on vacation at the central Oregon coast! I will be incommunicado the whole time. The prospect is beyond exciting. Also there will be seals and whales and pelicans and drinking on the beach. I am going to bring my paper and pen and a printout of the MS thus far just in case I sober up long enough while I'm there to scratch out a few words, but mostly I think I'll just frolic and keep an eye out for bears. But you never know.

I tell myself that even if I slack off all next week at the beach, I'll be finished with this draft by the end of August, but a more realistic projection would be sometime in October. Which is okay.

Also: I am pretty sure I'm going to call the book "Killing Hamlet." It works on several levels, at least to my mind. We'll see what my agent says about that.

Anyway, this post is mostly filler but I wanted to put here my progress thus far in the form of a table:

Chapter Words Date Cumulative
3/9/2010 0
1 3,261 3/14/2010 3,261
2 3,858 3/25/2010 7,119
3 3,044 4/6/2010 10,163
4 2,987 4/14/2010 13,150
5 2,419 4/20/2010 15,569
6 5,431 5/6/2010 21,000
7 3,084 5/19/2010 24,084
8 4,606 5/28/2010 28,690
9 4,001 6/6/2010 32,691
10 2,993 6/18/2010 35,684
11 3,621 6/26/2010 39,305
12 3,235 7/5/2010 42,540
13 3,888 7/13/2010 46,428

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chapter Thirteen Finished!

At least, I'm pretty sure it's finished. I have reached the point in the chapter's narrative arc (yes, every chapter has a narrative arc) that I was aiming for when I began writing (yes, I have an idea for how the chapter ends when I begin writing the chapter), so I figure I'm done. I fussed about for the longest time trying to get the last sentence of the chapter to end with the word "home," but it just wasn't coming together so I found a better solution. All of this, I see, is a bit cryptic but that's okay.

wordcountometer ~= 46,300! I haven't yet typed up the end of the chapter, so I don't have a firm word count but I'm sure it's over 46K. Which is nice.

In the next chapter, the prince of Denmark speaks nonsense, not to himself. A Swiss general brandishes a dagger. A library is broken into, maybe. Et cetera.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chapter Thirteen in Progress

Wordcountometer = 45,122!

I continue to plow ahead through the middle of the book. I have one scene to finish in this chapter that should take about 1,000 words. Chapter Thirteen, titled The Sinful Life In Copenhagen, has been a series of revelations about Horatio's hero. One last one is coming.

The next chapter will reveal interesting things about three main characters (possibly four!) and will end with a corpse! Hurrah! The chapter after that, which will bring Act Three of my Four-Act structure to a close, will include threats, paranoia on the parts of several characters, and a dagger. Eeee!

After that, things begin to get really weird. And we'll finally learn how Horatio's father died.

Anyway, excerpt:

“My lord, you honor me with this. I am yours to command. Hven is ever grateful to his majesty your father for the repairs to our church, which was so long neglected in such sinful and illegal fashion by that conjurer Brahe.”

Father Maltar’s eye twitched briefly in my direction but I did not rise to his bait. He sighed and then lifted his face to look at Hamlet.

“I will hear your confession now, my lord.”

“Excellent, good Father.” Hamlet stood and helped Maltar to his feet. “And after I have said my prayers you will perhaps share your dinner with us.”

“The honor is mine, my lord. My assistant, Father Stepan, is even now in the kitchen.”

“Is he preparing eels, perchance?”

“Eels? Nay, my lord. Steamed herring with cream and bread. I believe there is enough to feed your servant here as well.”

Hamlet frowned, scuffed the heel of his right boot across the edge of an uneven flagstone and shrugged.

“Well, Horatio, we must have eels when we return to Kronberg.”

“Aye, my lord. I have patience enough to wait.”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Woolf at the Door

"My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery - always buzzing, humming, soaring roaring diving, and then buried in mud. And why? What's this passion for?"

Monday, July 5, 2010

Chapter Twelve Finished

Chapter Twelve, titled "A World of Wonders," is behind me at last. Best part of it, aside from the appearance of a ghost? The eels scene has been put back into the book. I am quite pleased with that. I think it actually works, too. Yay, me.

wordcountometer = 42,540!

Here's a brief excerpt:

Hamlet stood, put his back to the oven wall for warmth and faced Cornelius, Voltemont and me. He rubbed his hands together and looked beyond us.

“You know how I rode forth at my father’s side, down the road to Copenhagen.”

“Aye, my lord. Four days ago.”

“Has it been four days? Well, the army rode south and we made good time, getting to the hunting lands north of Copenhagen by evening. We made camp there under the great firs. A family of foxes was seen making its way along the western edge of our camp. It was all very picturesque and the army was in a jolly mood. I slept quite well that night.

“The next morning our scouts found Baron Jaaperson’s troops and we assembled our forces to meet them near the lake at Westfold. You know the place, Horatio. We waited in the trees atop the hills as Jaaperson and his men crossed the field below us through deep snow. We were at a great advantage, and when the Baron’s troops made the foot of the hills they were all exhausted, man and horse alike. General Bernardo gave a shout and led his Swiss lancers down the slope just as the clouds parted above us and the brave eye of Heaven shone down upon the ensuing battle.

“My father and I then rode forth with the main force of men and like some great many-headed hawk we fell upon our prey. My father with his generals pursued Jaaperson and his knights while the rest of us hewed our way across the enemy ranks until arms and heads and bloody gore lay all about. My father was in his fullest glory, and I saw what it is to be king of Denmark.”

Hamlet paused and closed his eyes, his left hand raised to touch the bruise on his face.

“How were you injured, my lord?”

He opened his eyes and smiled, looking down at our feet.

“I am ashamed to admit it,” he said. “It was no part of the battle. After we cut down our enemy I rode up the hillside to see if Copenhagen was visible to the east. My horse stumbled and I was thrown. I landed badly, though I dare say my injury is but skin deep. I am wholly unbroken. Even so, my father sent me back to Kronberg and so my esquire and I rode north where I found that my old friend Horatio had been shipped off to Hven. I commanded a boat to bring me here and last night you did discover me. That’s the end.”

Cornelius and Voltemont congratulated the prince on his valiant showing in his first battle and demanded to hear more.

“Tell us of the men you slew,” Cornelius said.

“Did you battle with knights, or men-at-arms?” Voltemont asked.

Hamlet answered them, using much florid language that invoked blood and honor and bravery but left out anything in the way of detail.

A bit rough, et cetera, caveat lector.