WIP Wednesday

Once a month, I will share a piece of my current Work in Progress, and I arbitrarily decided that it will be the third Wednesday of every month. Because logic is over rated.

This is a scene from a Fantasy Romance that I’m planning to start publishing on Wattpad in July (if things go according to plan). The main characters are the King (Arain) and Queen (Shae) who have a marriage of convenience, but have been thrown together due to circumstance and are getting to know each other.


Shae lay deadly still, trying not to move, lest she brush up against Arain who was lying on the other side of the bed. It wasn’t overly large, and it was difficult to lie comfortable without touching one another. Especially since her husband was not only a fairly large man, but also liked to sprawl. Which left her lying as far out on her side as she could without falling off the edge, and keeping her arms and legs perfectly straight.

Even with several inches separating them, she could feel the heat radiating off Arain’s body, and it was nothing if not distracting. He was breathing deeply, obviously having no issues falling asleep with her in the bed, while she was wide awake, unable to let sleep claim her. It wasn’t fair.

“For the love of the Gods, Shae!” Arain suddenly growled, making her jump. Turning her head she saw that he was lying on his stomach, facing her, his eyes drowsy, but definitely awake. “Relax, please. It’s impossible to sleep with you lying like a log in the bed.”

“You’re welcome to sleep on the floor if you prefer,” Shae replied stiffly, which only made him chuckle.

“No, but thank you for the kind offer. Why don’t you just relax? I promise I won’t bite.”

“I’m not used to having someone in the bed with me,” Shae muttered.

“Well, whose fault is that?” Arain asked as he turned around and nestled into his pillow.

Shae stared at the back of his head for a moment, anger burning hotly inside her. The person who had originally requested a marriage of convenience was he, so he had no right to complain now. How dare he?! Unable to quite control her anger, she kicked out with both feet and pushed as hard as she could.

Arain went careening off the edge of the bed and landed on the floor with a yelp. Sitting up, he ran a hand through his tousled hair and stared at her. “What was that about?”

“I’m sorry,” Shae said, her voice deadpan. “Leg spasm.”

She turned her back to her husband, suddenly feeling much better. Maybe she’d be able to sleep after all.

A Red Rose (part 1)

Sequel to A White Rose.


A dark shadow bent over the sleeping form of a young girl in bed, stroking away an errant lock of hair from her delicate brow. The girl was beautiful, looking restful in her sleep, unaware of the visitor in her simple room. Her skin was fair, with only a slight hint of a tan, a mass of tangled walnut brown hair spread out around her head on the bed. High cheekbones, a small, straight nose and arched eyebrows gave her an almost divine look, all perfect in its innocence. Slightly slanted eyes and pointed ears bore sign of her elfin heritage. A soft smile curled her lips as she dreamed of something undoubtedly pleasant.

The dark shadow carefully pulled the blanket down, revealing a pair of slender shoulders, and then put a hand inside its large cloak. The girl in the bed sighed in her sleep, causing the dark shadow to still for a moment, waiting to see if she would wake, but the girl remained asleep. Slowly the shadow withdrew a thin dagger from its robe and moved it toward the girl’s slender throat. The tip of the dagger came to rest against her neck, moving along her throat, almost caressing, without piercing the delicate skin.

Dark eyelashes fluttered over the girl’s cheek, and slowly she started to wake. Light green eyes, so pale they seemed yellow, widened as she spotted the intruder. Her mouth opened to scream, but was cut short as the lethal tip of the dagger struck down to draw blood.

With a start Ereptus jerked awake. The small room he’d taken at a local inn seemed to close in on him for a moment, until he was entirely awake. Shaking, he sat up and looked around. The room looked just as it had when he had gone to sleep; simple with a sturdy bed and a little cupboard with a washbowl on top. It was only a dream, yet it had seemed so real.

He ran a hand through his dark hair, vaguely registering that he’d been sweating, and stood to pace the small space of the room. There wasn’t an ounce of magic in his entire being. He was a simple soul living a rogue’s life. Yet he couldn’t shake the feeling that he had just had a premonition. He had been away too long. It was time for him to go back and face his inner demons. If for no other reason than to see her and make sure that she was still alive and well.

Although the sun had not yet shown its golden face Ereptus got dressed, packed his few belongings and left the inn. He stole a horse on a small farm outside the city and started his journey towards the city of Messina where he had once left the girl. He could only hope that she was still there. After all, it had been three years since he had last seen her.

*****

The street in the city of Messina was bustling with citizens walking to and from little shops running their errands. A few Peacekeepers were standing at a street corner looking over the street making sure there was no trouble arising. The many guards of the city made it one of the safest in all the kingdoms, allowing a lonely girl to grow up without fearing for her life.
Ereptus was standing in the shadows of a narrow alley, keeping away from the busy street, not wanting to be seen. From where he was standing he had a good view of the small bar on the opposite side, where he knew the girl now lived.

It had been four years since he had first met her. He had been called back to the city of his past by an old friend to repay a favour. The favour had turned out to involve bringing a dirty brat to Messina, taking the girl away from the violent streets of the city. She was an elfin girl with some magical powers, and the old city was not a good place for her to grow up, being almost ruled by crime. As young as she was, she had already shown potential and sooner or later she would be killed if she stayed there, or worse.

At first he had been angry, not wanting the responsibility of an elfin girl, but during their trip to Messina, he had involuntarily started to like her, more than he wanted to admit to himself even to this day. The girl had been suspicious of him at first, as she seemed to be towards most people, but had soon grown fond of him, and he had a nagging feeling that she had had a small crush on him, in the way teenage girls did. She had started to see him as some kind of idol, wanting to share his life, stealing what was needed and living from day to day.

That was the reason he had left her. Or at least he told himself so. Once they had arrived in Messina, the capital of Erya, he had gotten them a room at an inn, and the next morning, while the girl was still asleep, he had left. Leaving her with only a small pouch of money and a rose.

Ereptus moved out of the way as a couple came walking through the alley, disturbing his thoughts. Casting a quick look at the entrance to the bar across the road to ensure himself that she had still not come out, he settled back into the shadows.

He had stayed in Messina for a year after leaving her, staying in the shadows, watching over her. She had never known; as far as she was aware, he had left her that morning to never return. Once he had been convinced that she was doing all right, by that time she had gotten a job as a bar maid during the late afternoons and evenings, he had left the city. Being that close to her without speaking to her had been difficult, and putting distance between them would take the temptation away.

It had now been three years since he’d left the city behind. She would be older now.

Ereptus frowned. Where had that come from? Before he could delve deeper into his own thoughts the door to the bar on the opposite side of the road opened and she emerged. Seeing her again was like a punch in the gut. She had been promisingly beautiful as the young girl he had met, a girl that was too old to be a child, and too young to be a woman. The young, elfin woman coming out from the bar was astonishing.

With a scowl he saw that he wasn’t the only one who noticed. Several of the men on the street slowed their pace to get a good glance at her. She seemed unaware of their attentions as she walked down the street. Slowly Ereptus emerged out of the alley, keeping his distance from her as to not be seen, while following her.

His eyes took her in as they were walking through the streets of the city. It was obvious that she was now a grown-up. Although her body was slender she had the distinct forms of a young woman. She was wearing a simple skirt of soft leather, and a leather bodice that stuck to her like a second skin. Her long, walnut brown hair was tied back in the neck cascading down her back all the way to her waist.

Ereptus quickly slipped into a dark alley as the young woman stopped in the middle of the street and turned around, a small frown creasing her brow. She scanned the street, but didn’t see him, although he was standing quite close. From where he was standing he could clearly see her face with her unusual eyes. Framed with thick, dark lashes they stood out in their light green colour, a shade so light that they seemed yellow most of the time.

As the girl turned back and continued down the street Ereptus slipped out of the alley again following her yet again.

*****

Rain wiped off the last of the wooden tables with a damp cloth and then straightened her aching back and looked around in the little bar where she worked in the afternoons and evenings. It was a small, but cosy, little bar in the centre of the city where the citizens gathered in the evenings for a chat and a couple of beers. Messina was a peaceful town, and she had not had much trouble since she first arrived four years ago.

The job was hard on her back and sometimes a customer who had had a little too much to drink might try and grab her, but on the whole, it was a good job. It paid enough to let her rent a little room above the bar and pay for her lessons in magic. It was definitely better than living on the streets as she had done as a child.

The bar was empty at the moment, Rain being the only one left after closing time to wipe off the tables and blow out the candles. She finished her tasks swiftly, hung her little apron on a rusty spike behind the counter and started up the stairs to where her little room was located.

Once there, she lit a small candle by her bed and started getting ready for bed. As she was about to take off her leather bodice she felt a prickling feeling in the back of her neck. She turned slowly to the small window overlooking the street, but as far as she could see it was empty. All day she had had the feeling that she was being watched, ever since she had gone for her magic lesson in the morning. Frowning slightly, she turned away from the window, but she couldn’t shake off the feeling of unease that had settled in the back of her mind.

Knowing that she would be unable to sleep if she didn’t check, she went downstairs and unlocked the door to the bar. She peeked outside, but couldn’t see anyone, so she opened the door wide and stepped outside on the empty street. The crisp night air caressed her skin as a light breeze swept through the city. She stood for a moment enjoying the silence of the city at night time, then smiled at her own foolishness, there were no people anywhere close, and turned to walk back inside.

As she reached for the doorknob someone caught hold of her from behind, a heavy hand clamped over her mouth preventing her from screaming. She tried to get loose, but whoever was holding her was big and strong, and she wasn’t even able to budge the hold he had on her. He turned her around, and she saw another man, a wide grin on his face displaying uneven, yellowish teeth. He was thin and unwashed with tangled hair and patched clothes.

“Well, hello there”, he said in an unpleasant voice. “We’ve been waiting for you. Very kind of you to walk straight into our arms like this.”

Rain made another attempt at getting away from the man who was holding her in an iron grip, but it only made him strengthen his hold, making it difficult for her to breathe, which in turn made it difficult to focus on any of the spells she knew. The other man chuckled at her futile attempt. “My friend is too strong for you, girl. You better just give up.”

“Do we have te bring ‘er te the boss right away?” the man who held her said gruffly next to her ear. “I think we deserve te have some fun with ‘er first.”

The other man stepped closer, touching Rain’s cheek with a dirty hand, grinning widely. “You’re right”, he said. “She’s quite something this one.”

As he was starting to touch Rain’s hair he caught sight of something and his eyes widened, but before he got the chance to say anything Rain felt something hard hit her captor in the back, causing him to drop her. While she was scrambling to her feet she heard some muffled noises and then a couple of thumps.

Brushing some dirt off her skirt she looked at the two men who had attacked her. They were now both lying unconscious on the ground. She stroked back an errant lock of hair, fastening it behind her ear and looked down the street. Where had her rescuer gone off to? Frowning, she kneeled by the two bodies, searching them for personal possessions that might tell her who they were. As one of them moaned loudly she almost tripped over her own feet in the haste of getting away from the man before he woke up.

“You little fool”, a soft voice said behind her, helping her up. “Are you deliberately trying to get caught again? I didn’t bring them down for you to wake them up again the first thing you do.”

Rain pulled her arm back as soon as she was standing and turned around to glare at her rescuer.

“Look!” she snapped. “I was just going to..” she trailed off, staring at the man standing in front of her.

He looked just like in her memories, if not better. He was dressed in black, as she remembered he always used to be, tall and slim with dark hair falling to his shoulders, curling slightly at the collar. He had a square jaw which was currently covered with a day’s stubble and dark, almost black, eyes that were watching her intently.

“Ereptus!” she gasped, overcome with the shock of seeing him again after such a long time. “What are you doing here?”

Ereptus shrugged, an amused smile playing on his lips. “Saving your hide, obviously.”

Rain grumbled. “I was doing fine on my own.”

“I saw that.” Ereptus replied dryly.

“I don’t need your comments.” Rain snapped at him, annoyed that he had come back only to save her again.

“Let’s continue the conversation inside,” Ereptus suggested as one of the men on the ground started making noises and seemed to be coming around. Without waiting for an answer, he ushered Rain inside the bar, closed and locked the door.

“What are you doing? You’re not coming in here!” Rain glared at him, hands on her hips.

“Would you rather I went out there and met those two brutes again?” Ereptus asked.

She was sorely tempted to say yes, but held her tongue. “Fine. Stay then,” she sighed.

Ereptus moved around in the bar and found a candle which he lit with the help of some embers in the fireplace. Then he put it on a table and sat down, watching her silently until she relented and joined him at the table.

They sat quietly for a moment, watching each other and the changes that had happened since they had last seen. Rain was well aware that she had changed the most, going from a teenager to a young woman. Not that Ereptus seemed to notice, she thought glumly. He hadn’t changed much himself the past few years. He was still a handsome rogue.

Ereptus was the first to start speaking. “You seem to be doing all right here”, he said.

Rain nodded. “I am. I’ve been able to take care of myself quite well without you.”

An amused smile touched Ereptus’ lips, but he didn’t say anything.

“I’m learning my magic, and making my own money.” Rain continued, annoyed that he wasn’t giving her any indication of his thoughts.

“No stealing.” Ereptus stated.

“No stealing,” Rain repeated, and added tonelessly. “You got your wish.”

Ereptus said nothing, just looked at her with his dark eyes, unnerving her.

She nervously stroked away a lock of hair from her brow. “So… Where have you been all this time?”

“Travelling around,” Ereptus answered vaguely.

Rain looked up, meeting his eyes. “What made you come back?”

“I was in the area.” He looked away, seemingly very interested in the interior of the bar.

“I’m surprised you dare to come this close to me,” Rain said, a note of bitterness creeping into her voice.

Ereptus jerked his head back to look at her. “Why wouldn’t I?”

“You seemed to be in quite a rush to get away from me last time,” Rain said, trying not to sound as hurt as she was. “You didn’t even bother to say good bye.”

To her satisfaction, Ereptus looked guilty. “It was easier not to.”

She stared at him. “Easier?” she asked, her voice raising an octave. “Well, I’m glad it was easier for you to break my heart while I was sleeping!”

“Did I then?” Ereptus asked quietly, his eyes searching hers.

“Did what?” Rain muttered angrily.

“Break your heart?”

She looked down at her hands, her answer coming softly, hardly more than a whisper. “Yes. You were my only friend.”

He leaned forward over the table and caressed her cheek with his knuckles. “I never wanted to hurt you, Rain,” he said silently, locking his eyes with hers. “I left because I thought it was the best thing for you.”

A silent tear trailed down Rain’s cheek as she looked at him, and Ereptus caught it on his finger, watching it for a moment, a wistful expression on his face.

“How could it be the best for me?” she asked. “I was young and alone in a new city. You abandoned me.”

Ereptus wiped the tear off his finger, breaking eye contact. “I was afraid that I would be a bad influence on you,” he admitted.

“How noble of you.” Rain said bitterly. “The least you could have done was to leave while I was awake.”

“I had my reasons,” Ereptus mumbled, so quietly that she almost didn’t hear it.

“Well.” She stood. “I don’t think I’m interested in hearing them anymore. You left me, and that’s fine with me. I can take care of myself now. And I’m going to bed. Good bye, Ereptus.”

Ereptus stood as well. “I’m not leaving.”

She looked at him, hands on her hips. “You’re not staying here with me!”

“I’m not going anywhere until we’ve figured out what’s going on and what those men wanted with you,” Ereptus replied calmly.

“The same they always do, most likely,” Rain said, exasperated.

“I don’t think so. They were talking about bringing you to someone. I think those two were more than just your regular street thugs,” Ereptus said, and then his eyes narrowed. “What do you mean the same they always do?”

Rain sighed. “Good night, Ereptus.”

She hurried up the stairs to her room, locking the door behind her, before Ereptus could reply. He could sleep downstairs on the floor, she thought stubbornly. She quickly got ready for bed and lay down to get some sleep. It was difficult, her mind still occupied with the fact that Ereptus was back. She wasn’t sure whether she was angry or happy about the fact. She would never forget the morning she had woken up to find that her only friend had abandoned her. A lot of hopes and dreams had been crushed the instant she had realised he would not be coming back.

Monthly Update (May)

It’s that time of the month again, so let’s have a look at what I’ve accomplished (or not) in May.

Writing

I will be honest, May has been a terrible month for me in regards to writing. Which is a shame, because I had such great plans. I’ve not revised more than a chapter or two, instead I’ve been plotting and planning for a couple of other books. There’s also some prep work that I’ve been doing in preparation for a more long term thing, but there’s nothing to show for it yet – so it doesn’t necessarily count. It took a lot longer than I had thought, and so May has been a bad month for writing.

Blog

The blog has had a face-lift, in that I have a new design with a new colour scheme and new icons etc. Tags is something that a lot of people use, but I haven’t – so I’ve also added a Tag cloud and I’m slowly (very slowly) going to go through all of the old posts and add tags to them. At least anything new will have tags on them.

Personal

We got a kitten! I’ve been missing having a cat since I left my precious girl back in Sweden when I moved. As much as I would have loved to bring her with me, it just wouldn’t have been fair to do that to her. She’s an outdoor cat used to the countryside, and I now live in a city with busy roads.

We adopted a little British Shorthair silver blue tabby a couple of weeks ago, and his name is Macallan. He’s very cuddly and has a lovely temperament. We’re very happy with him, and Bailey (the dog) loves him too!

Little Mac.

In fairness, the dog may love him a little too much at times. Macallan is no longer wary of the dog, as he was the first few days, but Bailey can still be a little too overzealous with his wanting to love him. This gif pretty much sums up their relationship…

This. So much this.

Oh, and something I did get done during May was step one in Project Flat Overhaul. When I moved to England we bought a flat, and while it was in a good enough condition to just move in and start living, I’m now at the point where I want to start making it ours. For now, all I can do due to money and time restraints is paint all the rooms (and even that will take a bit of time). So this month, I painted our second bedroom.

Like the dummy I am, of course I forgot to take a proper “before” photo, so here’s an old, crappy one when we still had moving boxes everywhere. The walls were a beige-ish colour.

Taking a photo of a wall for colour is not something I’m good at (as apparent above). The new colour is called Mint Macaroon and turned out really well, albeit not as we first thought. The paint sample was quite green, but the end result is actually a lot more blue than it might appear. Still, we really love the colour, so it’s still a win! And the room feels so much brighter!

This is Mint Macaroon. I swear the sample was green!

WIP Wednesday

Once a month, I will share a piece of my current Work in Progress, and I arbitrarily decided that it will be the third Wednesday of every month. Because logic is over rated.

This is a scene from the Regency Romance I’m currently writing, tentatively titled As He Likes It. The scene takes place at a ball between our hero Nathaniel, the Marquess of Pensington and our heroine Angelique (Angel) Grafton.

It’s unedited as I’m in the middle of revisions.


Finally, he gave up and walked across the room to where Angel seemed to be trying to hide behind a potted tree while sipping some punch. Apparently Chettisham had seen fit to give her something to drink, but didn’t bother to stick around. She looked up as he came to stand beside her.

“Are you enjoying your evening so far, Miss Grafton?” he asked politely.

“Very much, thank you,” she answered just as polite.

“Is that why you’re hiding behind a tree?”

Angel choked on the punch she’d just been about to swallow and started to cough. “I beg your pardon?” she sputtered.

Her eyes were watery from the coughing, making them appear greener than before. Framed with thick, dark eyelashes they were one of her most attractive features. Her pink lips were slightly parted, as if she could not quite believe what he’d just said. Nathaniel was shocked by the sudden urge he had to kiss those lips.

“Lord Pensington?” Angel queried softly.

“It seemed to me as if you were hiding,” Nathaniel said, pulling himself together. “Lurking behind plants usually isn’t an activity of those who enjoy a ball.”

A faint blush crept up Angel’s cheeks, making her look even more adorable. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she mumbled, facing the ball room and refusing to look at him.

“It was not my meaning to embarrass you. Please accept my most sincere apologies.”

Angel gave him a quick look. “Are you making sport of me, Lord Pensington?”

“I would never dream of it,” Nathaniel said with a look of mock horror, causing Angel to laugh and finally relax.

“I fear I really am hiding,” she admitted with a sigh. “I’m terribly shy and all these people make me nervous.”

“Where is your Chettisham?” Nathaniel asked, looking out over the crowd trying to locate him.

“He’s not my Chettisham,” Angel muttered, only to add, “At least not yet.”

“Well, he should be by your side if he hopes to win your hand in marriage.”

That caused Angel to laugh again, though it had a hollow quality to it. “There is no winning involved. It is simply how it is meant to be. I’m to be his wife, and that’s the end of it.”

Nathaniel knew he shouldn’t ask, it was none of his business, but he couldn’t help himself. “Do you wish to be his wife?”

She fell silent, looking out over the people on the dance floor until she found Chettisham, dancing with a beautiful, buxom lady.

“That is an awfully personal question, Lord Pensington,” she said quietly. “Do you really think that we are acquainted enough to speak of such private matters?”

“I did sleep in your bed,” Nathaniel said with a straight face.

Angel gasped and turned abruptly towards him, her cheeks turning beet red. “That is an awful thing to say to a young lady, my lord!”

“It was merely an observation.” Nathaniel tried to look innocent, but failed miserably.

“You, my lord, are a rogue,” Angel said, but she was smiling now.

“I believe that considering that you have seen me in a state of undress that few can claim to, you can call me Nathaniel.”

She blushed prettily. “Then you may call me Angel. But I thought you told me we should never mention that incident again.”

“So I did,” Nathaniel agreed. “But that was before I realized I could not stop thinking about it.”

They fell silent, Nathaniel felt as surprised by his admission as Angel looked. His dark eyes locked on to Angel’s light green ones, and neither of them were able to break the contact. Unable to stop himself Nathaniel leaned a little closer.

 

Character Names

One of the more enjoyable parts in writing is finding the perfect character names. Or if not perfect, at least names that you feel fit and you like. There are lots of ways to do this. Sometimes a name might just come to you, or you’ve read it in another book, seen it on TV, maybe you even know someone with that name.

Other times, you’re struggling and you can’t come up with a name no matter how hard you try. These are the times when you might need some help, and I will share some of the places where I go to look with you.

Contemporary Names

These are probably the easiest, because pretty much any name goes. You’ve seen some of the names celebrities name their babies, right? I usually go to any baby name website to look for names that I like for a contemporary story.

Babynames.com

NameBerry

Babynames.co.uk

BabyCentre

Historical Names

When it comes to writing historical fiction, it helps if the names are at least plausibly from that era. If your Regency hero is called Maddox for example, people might call you out on it. For my historical fiction I tend to look at the above databases for names, and then double check their etymology to see if there was any chance they existed back in the early 19th century.

For me, in reality, Regency names were quite limited in which names were actually popular at the time – so to avoid writing books where a lot of people have the same name – I’m allowing myself some leniency on the names. As long as it’s not too far from the realm of possibility.

You can also find some places online where you can look at registers of people who actually lived at the time. Or steal a name from an author that you know lived back then. We all know Jane, Emily and Charlotte were names used in that time period!

For my four book series, I named the four siblings after characters in Shakespeare’s plays (their mother loved all things Shakespeare). So something like that is also possible. Choosing names that appeared in works published in, or before, the time period that you’re writing about.

Name Etymology

Fantasy Names

For fantasy names you can go either way, all depending on what kind of book you’re writing. You can make names up from scratch, you can use a name generator, you can use common names with slight variations.

In the few fantasy stories I’ve written I tend to do a mixture. Some names are made up, some are old gaelic or roman names, sometimes with a slight variation. Some are more common names with some variation. The advantage in fantasy is that it’s your fantasy, and the world you build will adhere to your imagination and your rules. If you want common names like John to be what people are called in your story, then that’s what you do.

An example of someone who used common names with a slight deviation, combined with some made up names: George RR Martin.
Jon Snow (John)
Eddard Stark (Edward)
Joffrey Barathian (Geoffrey)
All obviously based on real names. But then you have names like Sansa, which didn’t seem to exist before Game of Thrones.

Fantasy Name Generator

Surnames

I use a surname website for the last name of my characters, combined with just making things up. Sometimes I will look at maps of the UK when I need surnames and/or titles to get ideas. There are a lot of great names in street names and areas!

Surname Database

How do you name your characters, and do you have any tips on where to find names?

Monthly Update (April)

We’re going to start doing monthly updates. Yay! Mainly for me to feel accountable for how much writing/revising I’ve done during the month, but also to see what I’ve been up to in general. Honestly, I think I forget myself if I don’t write it down.

Writing

Currently revised chapters: 14

I didn’t get as much done this month as I had hoped, but I have great excuses reasons. I spent just over a week on holiday, during which I didn’t do a single thing related to writing. Also, while it might look like a measly number, I stopped after chapter 14 when I realised that after ten years this novel needed a lot more work than just editing. Meaning that I’ve gone back to chapter one and started heavily revising.

Since then I’ve been revising, spending sometimes upwards of four hours per chapter, rewriting and trying to make it better. I’m nearly back up to where I finished (14), so if I can keep up a steady pace, I should be done revising before June rolls around. Then commences editing and proofreads.

My biggest problem, which I’m sure I’m not alone in, is lack of time. Every other week I have a few days off, but the other week I have several days in a row where my spare time is all of two hours between waking up after a night shift and then having to be back at work. During those two hours I generally have to shower, walk the dog and eat some dinner. Some of those days I’ve managed to revise half a chapter, but that’s rare.

I sometimes worry that I’m spending all my time revising rather than starting to write something new, but I think it’s best to focus on getting this novel ready first. I’ll worry about the next one later. The positive thing with all this revising is that I’m suddenly finding myself with lots of story inspiration again, something I’ve been lacking for a long time. So hooray!

Other stuff

I spent just over a week back in Sweden over Easter, and it was great. I loved seeing my family again. Below will be a spam of photos from the holiday, so feel free to ignore. The holiday was great, even if I got no writing or revising done.

Mom made a cheesecake decorated with Malteaster bunnies. Yummy!

When the egg is nearly as big as the kid, we might need to think about this…

The favourite thing the nephew received.

Mom made Easter egg cakes. It’s actually a cream and half a peach.

It snowed… SNOWED! Come on Sweden!

The one scenery photo I took, and it’s not even good!

A wild sprite appears!

Nephew happy out on a walk.

Niece rocking the tutu and sunglasses look.

 

Editing

Whenever I read articles about self-publishing your books, whether it be in paperback or e-book, everyone is always pointing out how important it is with editing. I agree, editing is very important, and I can get quite frustrated when reading books if I find an inordinate amount of mistakes (especially if it’s in the first few pages!).

However, they often tell you to use a freelance editor to do your editing. I don’t expect to make a lot of money on my books. An e-book, on average, sells a total of 250 copies in its lifetime. That’s on average, which means that you could very well be below that number.

If you then spend around £1000 on a professional editor for your novel, you’re most likely going to make a loss on your book. While I would like to think that I write mainly for myself (and this is true), I can’t really afford to lose money on my writing. So, I’m sorry my friends – but I have to do my own editing, revising and proofreading.

If I somehow get lucky and sell a lot more than expected – then I’ll spend that money. When I might stand a chance to earn it back. Until then, I’m on my own.

Do you do your own editing, or do you pay someone else to do it?

Keep or Discard?

As I’m editing my novel I’m finding myself questioning how many changes I want to make. There are things that I think maybe I should change, while at the same time I’m not sure if it would make the story better or worse.

It’s my first novel that I’m going to publish, and the people that have read it so far are basically a couple of friends and a sister. They’re not the most likely to give me negative feedback, and they also are not massive romance readers, so it’s difficult to ask them if they think this or that thing should or should not be included.

This means I’m left on my own, and as a writer I find that it can be difficult to be objective about your own story. You wrote it, and cutting parts out or changing them massively can be difficult, even if it’s for the better. That said, if I knew that it was for the better, I imagine that it would be easier.

Needless to say, I can see where editors come into the picture in the publishing world. A freelance editor is not something I can afford though, so I’m going to just have to make the decisions myself and hope for the best.

A few examples where I’m wavering (it’s a Regency romance):

  • The hero gets angry and leaves, going back to London. I enjoy the scene because it’s a funny exchange between him and his best mate, but it might be a bit over the top. Or does it show how impulsive he can be with his hot temper? I don’t know!
  • The male villain tries to sexually assault the heroine, in an attempt to ruin her. This might be too much, maybe it would be enough to just have her alone in a room with the intent of getting caught? Back in Regency times that might have had the same effect?
  • The female villain is very secure in herself, which I want to keep – but I feel like it sometimes veers towards slut-shaming from the other characters. Definitely do want to change this since I don’t like slut-shaming. When I wrote it ten years ago I was younger and didn’t really think about it, but seems very obvious now that I’m reading it again.

These are all decisions I’m just going to have to make on my own, and I am definitely struggling. Maybe I’ll end up doing a coin toss…

How do you deal with editing?

Have I lost it?

A big worry of mine is if I’ve simply lost the touch when it comes to writing. I used to love it – I still do, I just never really seem to get around to doing it any more! Did life come in the way? A lot has happened in the ten years since I finished my two novels, but it shouldn’t be an excuse. Other writers have to deal with life and things happening as well, and they still manage to write.

So have I lost it?

Am I no longer a writer? Can I no longer sit down and get those words down on paper the way that I used to?

I’ve tried writing the next book in the planned series that I started with those first two novels, but I can’t seem to get the words out. Everything sound wrong. At this point, I don’t know how many versions I’ve written of the first chapter. (Well, there are currently 25 items in the discarded folder, which includes some old plot lines and other things that have changed.)

It’s why I have considered not going back to the series for now (other than to proofread and revise the first two), since I seem to be completely stuck. But when I look at all of my other ideas, nothing appeals to me. The ideas seem fairly static, at the point where I left them, with nothing new coming to me.

So have I lost it?

No more inspiration? No more story ideas?

All I have are partly fleshed-out ideas, some are even less. Maybe I should just pick one and start writing. Maybe it will come to me as I go. Perhaps to get inspiration I must force myself to writewhether I have any idea of where I’m going or not. For the sake of writing.

Or have I lost it?

A White Rose (part 3)

You can read Part 2 here.


They rode out of town early the next morning. The sun had only just started to show its face, and Rain was so tired that she couldn’t be bothered to keep her distance from Ereptus, but shamelessly used his back as a pillow, and almost fell asleep leaning against it. For once they rode in companionable silence, and Rain felt more at ease than she had during her whole life. She wasn’t sure when it had happened, but for some reason she trusted Ereptus.

“Tell me about your life,” she suddenly blurted out.

“What?” Ereptus seemed surprised.

“Tell me about your life,” she repeated. “Why did you become a thief?”

Ereptus seemed uncomfortable with the subject. “It wasn’t a choice really, it was the only way to survive.”

That surprised her. “Why?” she asked.

“Like you I once lived on the streets,” he told her. “Well, I still do in a way. Only now I steal enough to rent a room for the night most of the time.”

“And to buy fancy clothes,” Rain pointed out, tugging lightly on his fine tunic. “I never would have guessed from the way you dress that you don’t have a home.”

“That’s the point,” Ereptus confessed. “Dressed like I am, I can easily get into the nicer inns and talk to the wealthy people. That’s the way to make easy money. I don’t steal enough to save up, just to live a comfortable life.”

“That sounds nice,” Rain sighed.

“You’re not going to end up like me!” Ereptus snapped, which made her almost jump right off the horse. Peeves peeked out of her tunic, hissing and growling at Ereptus.

“Why not?” Rain asked, calming the little dragon by patting him tenderly. “It seems like an easy way of living.”

“You can make a life for yourself when you learn to control your magic,” Ereptus said. “Gaylen is making sure that you get the help that you need. I don’t want you to waste his effort by living on the streets and stealing what you need.”

“I don’t have any money,” Rain pointed out. “How else am I supposed to pay for food a place to live?”

“Get an honest job.”

“Who would hire a lonely girl?”

Ereptus thought of this for a moment. “Some would. Just don’t give up.”

Rain nodded, but inside she knew that she would have to steal to get food. Like she always had, except for the few years she’d lived with Gaylen. She had still stolen a little now and then to help Gaylen out, but it hadn’t been a matter of stealing or dying of hunger.

They spent the next couple of days getting to know each other better, and in Rain’s opinion, they were becoming good friends. Ereptus told her more about his life as a young boy on the streets, and she told him what she remembered of her first years when she’d been living with an abusive, unloving father. Rain quickly started to admire Ereptus, he was a charming rogue who stole only what he needed to live a decent life, and the way he stole it was almost like an art form.

One evening she watched, with fascination, as Ereptus started a companionable conversation with an innkeeper and in the meanwhile stealing the man’s pouch, to later pay their room with the same money. It was hard for Rain to keep a straight face when Ereptus even gave the innkeeper a tip.

*****

When they were only a couple of days away from the city of Messina, Rain finally gained the courage to tell Ereptus something that she’d been thinking about.

“Ereptus?” she said hesitantly.

“Yes?”

“I’ve been thinking, and I don’t care about finding a Sorcerer or learning more about my magic. I want to stay with you.”

Ereptus stopped the horse and turned around to face her. “Are you out of your mind?” he said brusquely. “You can’t stay with me. My life isn’t a life for a young girl like you.”

“I think it’s just fine,” Rain said stubbornly. “It beats being alone.” She pouted. “I thought you liked spending time with me just as much as I like to be with you.”

Ereptus ran a hand through his dark hair, mussing it up. “Granted, I do enjoy being with you.” He sounded rather reluctant to admit it, then shook his head. “But you still can’t stay with me. It would be a crime. You’re like a gentle, white rose that somehow could grow despite the darkness around. If you stayed with me, all that would be for nothing. My life isn’t the life for you. I want you to learn to control your magic, and make something of your life.”

“But…” Rain started to object, but Ereptus cut her off.

“No arguing.” He turned back and nudged the horse to continue. Rain kept silent, wiping away an errant tear.

Neither of them spoke for a long time, and she could feel the tension in Ereptus, he hadn’t been happy about her request. The sun was at its highest when they heard hoof beats behind them. Ereptus took a quick look, and started cursing under his breath.

“I was hoping they hadn’t seen me.”

“Who?” Rain asked, turning her head to see who was following them. It was three men on horses. They were all dressed in black, and they didn’t look like they were very nice people.

Ereptus set a higher pace, hoping to reach a small forest before the men caught up with them, but there was no such luck. The men passed them and stopped them from going further.

“So, we meet again, Ereptus,” one of the men grinned.

“Unfortunately,” Ereptus said grimly.

“Get off your horse!”

They did as they were told, and the three men did the same.

“I want my money back,” the man who’d first spoken said. “Where is it?”

“I told you, I didn’t take it,” Ereptus sighed. “I don’t know who did, but it sure wasn’t me.”

“Why should I believe you?” the man snarled.

“Because it’s the truth?” Ereptus remarked dryly. “I freely admit to being a thief, but this time it wasn’t me.”

“Hold him!” the man growled at the other two, who quickly took hold of Ereptus’ arms, while the man rolled up his sleeves. “Maybe I can beat it out of you,” he said.

Rain stared at the men, frantically trying to decide what to do. When the man raised his arm for the first punch, she closed her eyes, but still flinched at the sound of bone hitting bone and Ereptus’ grunt. Afraid that the men might beat Ereptus to death, and then start on her, she started to concentrate on one of the few things she knew how to do relatively well.

The fireball she conjured flew right at the men, missed Ereptus’ head with less than an inch, and hit a rock behind him. Rain stared with horror at the rock that was black of soot from the flame.

“Is that your magic?” Ereptus yelled. “It’s no wonder Gaylen wants you to learn to control it, he probably fears for his life!”

Rain flinched at the angry glare he gave her. But even if the fireball had completely missed its target, and almost hit Ereptus in the process, it had stunned the men enough so that they had let go of him. Quickly taking advantage of their surprise, he knocked one of them out. While he was fighting the second man who had held him, the leader grabbed hold of Rain and pressed a dagger to her side.

Ereptus didn’t see what was happening until the second man was down. His face paled when he caught sight of Rain in man’s grip. The dagger was pressed so hard against her ribs that it had already gone through her tunic and drawn blood. She was trying not to cry, but the pain made tears spring to her eyes.

“Let her go, Tylen,” Ereptus pleaded, while slowly inching closer. “It’s me you want.”

“I think I’ve changed my mind,” the man grinned and hardened his grip around Rain’s waist, making her gasp. “I think I will keep this pretty little thing as payment for the money you stole from me.”

Rain closed her eyes, trying to collect her thoughts. She could feel the dagger cutting further into her side as Ereptus took a step closer.

“Stay away!” Tylen hissed. “Or the girl dies!”

While he was concentrating on Ereptus, Rain concentrated hard, and let out a large burst of energy, knocking Tylen away from her. Out of strength she fell to the ground the same moment Ereptus jumped the other man. Too tired to turn her head, she could hear the two men fighting behind her. Then it was silent. Rain wanted to see who had won, fearing the worst, but her body wouldn’t obey her.

Then she was suddenly lifted, and she was looking at Ereptus’ face. He had some bruises, and he was likely to have a black eye in the morning, but he was alive. Relieved, she rested her head on his shoulder, too tired to speak. He lifted her on the horse, and mounted behind her, keeping her across his legs, which allowed her to cuddle up and rest against him like a small child.

“We need to get your wound cleaned and bound,” Ereptus muttered in her ear. Peeves finally dared to come out of Rain’s tunic where he’d been hiding, climbing up to sit on Ereptus’ shoulder.

They rode into the nearby forest, and Ereptus soon found a little stream where he stopped. He quickly cleaned the blood from her tunic and skin, then tore a strip from his own tunic and bound it around her to stop the bleeding.

“The wound isn’t too deep,” he remarked. “Did you lose a lot of blood? Is that why you’re so weak?”

Rain shook her head. “It’s because of my magic that I’m weak. It drains me when I use it.”

Ereptus nodded grimly. He lifted her once again, and let her sit in front of him on the horse, enabling her to lie against him. Rain closed her eyes and rested, she could feel Peeves moving in under her tunic again, nestling himself against her ribs. Soon they were both asleep. Rain didn’t wake up again until the sun was almost setting. Most of her energy was regained by then, but the wound in her side was still aching slightly. They were riding inside a small town.

“Where are we?” she asked Ereptus.

“In a small town, close to Messina. We should reach the city tomorrow.”

Rain nodded.

They took a room at a small inn. Rain was brushing her hair when Ereptus sat down and looked at her.

“Rain. Seeing you use that magic, I really think you should learn to control it.”

“I’m usually better,” she argued, feeling guilty about nearly burning him with a fireball. “I was very upset, so my aim was a bit off.”

Ereptus shook his head. “That’s not what I mean. Your magic is powerful, with the right help you can learn to channel it. It would be a waste for you to go with me. Imagine the things you could learn!”

“But I want to be with you!” Rain protested.

Ereptus sighed. “Look kid…”

“I’m not a child!” Rain snapped at him.

“You are to me!” he snapped back at her. “And I will continue to see you as a child, or…” he went silent and shook his head as if to clear it.

“Look, Rain..” he started again. “You can’t stay with me. Just look at what happened today. If you stay with me, you could get hurt again, or even killed.”

“I’m not that vulnerable. I can take care of myself.”

“You’re still only a ki…” Ereptus stopped himself before he said the word. “You’re still young. If you learn to use your magic, you might be able to protect yourself better. Right now, you’re too unreliable, and dare I say, even dangerous.”

Rain couldn’t argue with that. Had she known how to channel her powers better she might not have nearly beheaded Ereptus with a fireball.

“I would be too worried that someone would hurt you to get back at me,” Ereptus said to conclude his argument.

“Let’s not talk about it,” Rain mumbled and crawled down in bed next to Peeves who was already asleep on her pillow. Ereptus looked like he was going to say something more, then seemingly changed his mind and went to bed.

*****

They reached Messina early the next day. Ereptus showed Rain around, pointing her to where she might find the Sorcerers, where to find food and possibly a job. It was a beautiful city of white stone, seated on an island in the middle of a large lake. Larger than any city Rain had ever been to, and she felt a combination of awe and trepidation of being there. At least she had Ereptus with her. In the evening, they took a room at an inn and by the time they were inside Rain was yawning, exhausted after all the impressions from the big city.

“I think I might like it here.” She smiled at Ereptus.

“Good. I think you will do well here, and there’s a lot to learn from the Sorcerers.”

Rain nodded, hardly able to keep her eyes open. She was lying in bed, already thinking about all the wonderful things she would get to see tomorrow with Ereptus.

“Can we go to see the royal castle tomorrow?” she asked.

“Mmm…” Ereptus answered absentmindedly. He sat down on the bed next to her and stroked her cheek. She smiled sleepily up at him. It looked as if he wanted to say something, but he didn’t and she soon fell asleep.

*****

Rain awoke the next morning to find the room empty, except for her and Peeves. All of Ereptus’ belongings were gone. Next to her on the pillow lay a single, white rose and a leather pouch filled with money. Rain carefully picked up the rose, and she knew that Ereptus had left her. He thought she was as fragile as the rose, and that she couldn’t live a life like his.

Pressing the rose to her chest, she started crying. Except for Gaylen, Ereptus had been the first person she ever trusted, and a very good friend. The thought of being abandoned in a new city scared her. She flinched and looked down at her hands. She was bleeding from where a thorn from the rose had stung her.

Wiping her tears away she stood up, resolute now. She was going to learn to control her magic, and she was going to be all right. She was no fragile little girl, but knew how to take care of herself. A rose may be beautiful, but a rose has thorns.