Research for a WIP

For the first time in my writing, I am doing serious research for a work in progress. I’m writing a short story for a project for my writing group, and I am writing a historical fiction.

Up to now, I have either written fantasy or contemporary. As fantasy is my preferred genre to read, that is what I like to write. Air Fay is set in a fantasy world – so all my rules.

My other WIP is an urban fantasy – so it’s set in modern times with magic, again my rules. And my other two WIP ideas are contemporary, although when I get around to one of these it will need research.

For Air Fay, the only real research that I did was in developing the names. I spent a lot of time – and a big spreadsheet later – coming up with names that are significant to the book.

Back to my short story WIP, I am currently reading a book that was written in the 1970s about the 1800s.

And more fun, I have been exploring the place where my story is set and linking the historical account to the modern buildings.

I’m torn between doing the research to be accurate, and just writing the story and only mentioning the surroundings briefly.

Setting vs plot.

Writing Prompt

Castle Wanderings

From Writers Write Facebook page

Link
https://bit.ly/2lyTcv5?fbclid=IwAR2HrsCKmp_4yifWVrIBZozT2uwA014zhmSV3u5SGD1a7vPhri4joN2rdB8

I look out of the Tower window. A new day dawns. It’s early, the birds have only just woken up and the sun is only just peaking over the horizon. It’s quiet. Peaceful. All I ever wanted for my afterlife.

Alas, that is not what I get.

I take advantage of this time before… Before all hell breaks loose.

That’s what it feels like, every single day.

I don’t understand it.

In my day, a castle was private unless otherwise arranged. Unless the monarch requested someone’s presence, they wouldn’t step foot anywhere near the perimeter.

Now they come in their droves. And queue. And talk. And point.

I drift down to the castle wall and peer over the rampart at the commoners standing far too close.

I drift along the halls and view them as they view their surroundings.

They poke and prod at all the belongings of royalty. They gawk at the priceless artefacts. All which have a value that exceed their wildest dreams. Them in their cheap clothing, and absurd headwear. Holding flat boxes, and oddly shaped boxes around their necks.

I wish I could poke them back. If I could, I would grab a musket off the wall and force them out. I’d brandish the swords and bar entrance. I’d throw the knives near the appendages and scare them off.

It’s unrelenting. They don’t stop coming. Even if the rain is hammering down, or ice covers the paths.

To think that this is what my ancient and noble house has been reduced to: a circus attraction for the common masses.

Windsor Castle

Rejections

I received another rejection today. I’ve lost count of how many that is now. 

This time the rejection was particularly disheartening because of the way they phrased it. I know it’s a standard reply – or at least I’m hoping it is – but it just sounded worse. They wrote that they don’t think they’d be able to find a publisher for my book. It’s just so negative!

One step closer to self-publishing I guess.

I just don’t know how to go about it. It sounds complicated! I’d like to have a hard copy as well as an ebook. I think ebooks are great and make my life easier in terms of travelling around and shelf space, but I still like having a physical book. 

Marketing my book is probably the most scary thing about self-publishing. 

Aaah this is so complicated! 

Word count

Lately word counts are all I’ve been thinking about.
Of course, as writers who hope to publish we think about it a lot especially in the editing stages. Too much or too little?
Generally with any type of writing, including academic writing, I’ve struggled to get very large word counts. I guess in a way it’s good: I write succinctly? But on the other hand it’s bad: I don’t have enough description.
Description is always a tricky topic though, how much is too much?

When I reread my work I do always manage to find parts that I can tweak and add more. But at what point do you stop? Every time I’ve finished something I think that is it, I’m done. But then I find more things to add.
One of my favourite authors, Trudi Canavan, was tweeting about the last book in a trilogy as she was writing. She had decided to go back and reread all her previous books in the series, and even though they had long been published, she had wanted to add and change things.
(On a side note, that has made me want to read the series again, hmm maybe I’ll put my too read pile on hold for a while).

Lately all my free time has been consumed with writing an academic paper for uni, as I mentioned in my previous post. I think I’ve finished but I had to employ the 10% word count leeway because I’m 200 word under my 2000 word essay. The last 200 words I wrote, I really struggled, it was like drawing blood from a rock. And I have no idea why.

Anyway, so I think I’m done with my academic writing, and I can now go focus on my creative writing for the next month before hopefully the academic writing starts up again (please please let my essay be enough to get me through to next year!)

Serious question about titles

Please help me decide? Which sounds better for a YA fantasy series about magical, elemental, fairies who fight against the imbalance in the world:

1. Fairies in the Wind

2. Aer Faydom

3. Aer Auri

Part of the Auri Series.

Aer can be replaced by ‘air’. Auri are the big non ruling rulers who keep things in balance.

Yes there is a reason for the use of air!

I think I’ve got a basic cover idea.

I’m slowly giving up on the idea of ever getting an agent, and leaning towards self publishing.

Which title is most striking? Which would you most be likely pick up to read?

Extract

This is an extract from my book. It’s a bit of a spoiler, but nothing major! I felt this piece was very appropriate of my life right now – I’ve started a summer course in prep for going back to uni! Anyway enjoy:

I was so focused on achieving my end goals that I had lost all enjoyment in life. It all flies passed me in a monotonous string. 

Then one day stands out differently from the rest:

I’m sitting in class. The book in front of me says ‘Neuropsychology’. We are learning about the brain this semester. I turn to look around the lecture hall. It was one of the smaller halls on campus. Medicine was such a difficult and specialised course that the amount of students was not large. I focus back on the professor and take notes.

After class, my friends want to go for lunch, but I say that I have too much studying to do. They smile and wave goodbye.

I get into my car and drive home. I make myself a sandwich and take it back to my room. Sitting at my desk, I look around my room. I still live at home with my parents. All of my friends had lived in dorms and then moved into apartments together. I had decided to stay at home a little while longer. My room, like the rest of the house, was old. Everything had been renovated except the structure. I was just about to swing back to my desk and start working, when something catches my eye.

In the corner of the room, along the skirting board, there is a drawing of some kind that had not been there before. I crouch down and took a closer look. It is a fairy etched into the wood. I feel around the edges to see if I can take it off to look at it better. It comes out quite easily. But instead of the wall behind it, there is a hole. I look inside and see a leather-bound notebook about the size of my hand.

I pull it out. The pages are thick and look very old. I get up and sit at my desk. I open it carefully. There is a loose page at the beginning; it’s a letter, written in very elegant, old fashioned writing.

Distractions

I was typing away happily when I found myself distracted by the strangest thing.
I was writing a key discovery scene between two characters. I got to a sentence which I finished by saying “he mumbled.” The word mumbled triggered a thought of, ‘someone was called mumble, who was it?’
Some animated character was called Mumble. I was pretty sure it was an animal also.
Now this has absolutely nothing at all to do with my story. But I was still thinking about it. It was something that was bound to keep bugging me until I had solved the mystery.
So a quick google search later and I discover it was the main penguin in Happy Feet.
I don’t know what that says about me that I get distracted so easily, and make these random connections.
Back to writing now.

The forest house

Deep in the forest there is a house. This house is lovely and quaint. It is surrounded by flowers and animals. This house is untouched by humans. It gleams in the sunlight and the windows sparkle. Even though it has never had any human inhabitants, it is perfect. It stands tall and strong, and doesn’t have a single chip in its walls. The tiny ducklings float by on the stream next to the house. And squirrels scuttle to and fro gathering nuts.
Inside the house there is the gentle flapping of wings. The soft patter of little feet. And merry giggles fill the air. Soft glowing orbs hang in the rooms filling them with rainbows. They dance around, and spring from corner to corner, they somersault through the air and soar to the ceilings. They swim with the ducklings, and jump from branch to branch with the squirrels. They ride with the bigger animals and fly with the birds. 
This house is home to the fairies of the forest. The house shelters them while they protect the forest. Their light feeds the plants. Their laughter encourages the birds. And their magic protects everything from harm. 
The tiny quaint house, deep in the forest, is home to the guardians. They look after their friends and the animals keep them company. 

Halloween Nightmare

I know it isn’t Halloween yet, but I wanted to share this short piece. It’s the other story that has been nagging at me, that I was talking about in my last post. 

Every year on halloween, Rachel had a vision. She had been having them since she was a child, but only ever on that one night of the year. It had taken some research but she had figured out that it was because of the lowered veil to the other side. 

It always involved someone Rachel was around. Occasionally it was about someone’s future but often it was about their past: intimate details about their childhood they didn’t want anyone to know; shameful secrets they had buried away; or even trivial events that no longer seemed relevant.

This year, Rachel decided she would try something different. She wouldn’t dress up in a costume and go to a party as she had done in previous years in the hope of drowning out the visions, nor would she stay home and attend to visiting trick or treaters, praying that the minimal contact would prevent the vision.

This year, she was going to turn off all the lights and draw the curtains shut, and take refuge in her lounge with the tv for company.

And so it was that she found herself bundled in a blanket with a hot cup of chocolate watching a lighthearted chick flick. 

Rachel could hear the kids laughing outside going house to house begging for sweets. Thankfully the darkness of her house seemed to have warded them off. 

With half an hour to go before midnight, Rachel was feeling very pleased with herself. She had managed to avoid the terrible experience that were here her visions. She got up and started getting ready for bed.

She was in the bathroom when she made the ultimate mistake: she looked at herself in the mirror. As she looked at herself in the eyes, she felt the wooziness that came just before a vision.

The bathroom faded from view and she was transported to another place.

It was worse than anything she had ever experienced before. 

Rachel found herself actually living the vision, not the casual bystander she usually was.

Her hands were bound behind her back and she was on a ledge of some kind. There was a group of people all around her who were all wearing matching expressions: anger. They were wearing old fashioned clothing: the women wore long skirts which was the telltale sigh. Rachel was no expert but she guessed it was probably around the eighteen hundreds. 

Still looking at the crowd, she noticed their anger turn to triumph as a man carrying a flaming torch approached. They all started jeering and pointing at Rachel. 

With a sinking feeling she noticed the man was coming towards her. She started to panic a pull at the rope binding her. It was no use however, it was too tightly fastened.

Rachel was screaming as the man lowered the torch onto the platform underneath her. It was all made of dry branches and caught alight instantly. Within minutes there was smoke billowing up into the sky. Rachel started coughing as she breathed in the acrid air. She was chocking and there was nothing she could do about it.

Gasping for air she woke up lying on the cold hard tiles of her twenty first century bathroom. She threw the window open and gulped in the cold crisp clean air.

Split focus

Lately I’ve had so many ideas bouncing around my mind it’s been hard to focus. 

I’ve technically got two projects on the go. I had been writing another story with a friend – but due to busy schedules, I was the main one writing. In general the story was my idea but my friend came up with some really good details. But then I put that on hold while I got pulled in deeper into my second fairy book. I’ve regretted putting the other one on hold because I really liked where it was going and the characters. But I felt that my own needed more priority. 

I’ve of course written some short pieces that I’ve put up here, which haven’t distracted me too much. 

But there are two short pieces that keep nagging at my mind. One is the dystopia that I published here a while back. The other is a short story that I wrote for my writing group and the theme was Halloween. 

The latter story has been on my mind lately. It was originally a spin-off of a short story that I had written for English class back in high school. The theme had really interested me, and still does apparently. 

The other night – while trying to sleep, which is apparently my favourite inspirational time – I formulated the character properly, and the detail of her gift/curse/whatever. So the next morning I wrote down something. It was only about five lines, but it’s a pretty good opening in my opinion. But now I’d have to think up the rest of it which is slightly daunting! 

I just don’t know what to do! I can’t focus on so many stories, especially not now as I’m going to be going back to uni soon. I won’t have time to write on my second book never mind three other stories that keep running through my mind. But if I don’t write it down the ideas won’t stop. Or worse I’ll lose the ideas. 

Real dilemma.