Wednesday, April 20, 2011

updates on my writing, all projects 2011

People are asking me to do a writing log again. I am grateful for the suggestion, because these logs help me organize my own days. When I know I have to write it down, I work harder. (really? I am that childish? )

You can scroll to the end of this post and comment or ask me anything. If you are referring to a specific entry, please make it clear which one---including the date is the easiest way to do that. 
The only rule: I won't post spoilers.

Here's the current pile of projects, in order of importance, immediacy, current timesuck and whim:

1. Book Three of A Resurrection of Magic is running my life. It has already taken a full year longer than I thought it would to write. There are reasons for the delay that have nothing to with the book itself, but it is complex, massively detailed and intertwined.  There are two stories that go back and forth, every other chapter. They are two hundred years apart in book #1 and gradually close the gap in the second book. They are now about 1 year apart. The first story causes the second one.  Book #1: Skin Hunger was a National Book Award Finalist.  Excerpts are here:

2. Zeep  A book for 7-10 year olds. I have written it twice and am now, I think, on the right track. and am writing it in little bursts when I can fit it in. It's FUNNY, which is SUCH a relief from the politics and pain in the Resurrection of Magic books.

3. Free Rat:  YA/adult A boy who won't tell me his name living  in a near-future timeframe. I am beginning to think he doesn't have a name. He is in a facility where the nights are sometimes endless.

4. A Virgin's Blood: a medieval medical/political  YA/adult thriller. Probably next up. Or maybe Free Rat.

5. Dickens and Fob an animation project--or maybe a book idea? All hot air and a detailed proposal at this point but I LOVE the premise and the characters and early responses are encouraging.

6. Faerie Creek Ranch, a historical fantasy for 7-10 year old readers. It is set in Estes Park, Colorado, a place I spent a lot of time growing up.  It is with an educational book company now--waiting for judgement. Mainsteam publishers are down on historicals just now.... #cycles

7. Oddlets;  a funny and oddly structured  little story intended as an ebook series, with enhanced reading stuff built in.  It is with someone now who will tell me whether or not I should keep fiddling with it.

8. a free, twitter-format online novel that I haven't added to in well over a  year. But I AM adding to it at home and will post a monster chunk ASAP. Paying work has to come first for now...!!!

9. Limori short stories, for YA/adults, will be listed during the production-wait for Book three.

Daily reports begin tomorrow!!! Or tonight!! Probably tonight!  If you comment (please do!) on anything here, date it so I know which post you are talking about...


I worked late last night, so am just now writing the first new update. It 7:15 am Pacific standard time, California, USA.  

Resurrection of Magic ate up the whole day yesterday. Sadima's story stalled so I reread (and revised) about 20 of Hahp's chapters. Now, today, after a long time in Sadima's story, I am ready to switch back to Hahp's. I will likely write his half of the story until it falters, then switch back to Sadima. This has been the pattern since the first book. It will be interesting to see if it changes as the time lines become concurrent. The stories were about 200 years apart in Skin Hunger. That narrowed to about fifteen years apart in Sacred Scars. Now, the stories are only a few years apart. 

In the fourth chapter of book #1 Skin Hunger, Hahp is being taken to the academy, flying over the city in a carriage, looking down at his father's amazing Malek Park, the copper roof on the Eridian meeting house, etc.  What he saw was the city and the time that Sadima is living in now. 

So today, I come back to Hahp's story. The students' isolation from the city of Limori and all that is happening there is complete. They are not aware of the unrest. They can't even guess the season. They can only estimate how long they have been in the cliffs by gaging their own physical growth. Hahp knows they can't even be sure of that, really, because the wizards can and do distort...everything. 

So, that's where I start today. If I stall out, I will move on to Zeep. It's always a leap, emotionally, to suddenly be attending third grade with a girl who celebrates Grander Mander Dilla Day with her family. And a relief, sometimes. 

 But for now, back into the tunnels where Hahp is shivering, waiting for the sound of a pebble thrown at his chamber door so that he will know it's time....


The morning went to Zeep.  I love her. She says things like this: 

"Ok, ok, I know it isn't polite to stare, but what IS polite, really.  Even if you are talking quietly and nicely, once in a while you will burp in the middle of it. Or worse.  Everyone does. Even our principal. I know that because I heard her once. She pretended it was a cough, but it wasn't. That's kind of like lying, isn't it? " 

From about noon on, I worked on A Resurrection of Magic #3. 

I began the day with Hahp's strand, then, hours later, opened all of the existing 55 files. I make one for each chapter, each with a title summarizing what's inside. This directory and its skeletal reminder of story points saves me a million hours of rereading.

Staring at the directory, thinking about all the things that are upcoming,it seems like the   time line can converge earlier than I thought. So that's where I will begin today, making sure I can do that before I go on.  Skin Hunger was 64 chapters long.  Sacred Scars was 71. All I can say is that the third book is at 55 chapters and there are no endings in sight. 

So, back to Limori where the story keeps getting longer....
Sadima is still standing alone in the dark when she hears the voices. 

10:25 pm PST and I am going to bed after a fabulous, amazing day of writing. 

I began the day with Dickens and Fob and learned a great deal about a Roman building that is buried beneath a theatre in London.  The cast for this story is really interesting to me.  Some are kids, the rest are all kinds of things. 

Then at noon, I hit the Big Book--#3 in A Resurrectuion of Magic. 
went through  20 chapters, condensing them into 17. Yay!  Tomorrow I ought to be able to fly straight ahead again.  Rewriting, I heard the all the voices more clearly,too. I think I have been trying to interfere with them lately, trying harder to add pages than  I am trying to hear the story. This is a revelation I have had, like, a hundred times and will have again. It's always a mistake for me, to actually write the story instead of listening for it. 

I am so ready for tomorrow now, really looking forward to see what happens. The whole city of Limori is uneasy. If you have read the books and remember Thomas Marsham's angry, fiery speeches condemning magic to the Eridians....

...there are other people in Market Square now, speaking to crowds, referring to the magistrates as "The Ferrinidies magistrates" which is true, most of them ARE the descendants of the old kings--but that reminder is stirring up the old hatreds. 

 Sadima and Hahp are both alive. Sadima has lost something that anchored her...and that worries me.  Hahp is trying to recover his hope. 

And I am going to bed! 

April 24 writing update

Good morning everyone! I hope all is well with you and your beloveds.

Yesterday was a formative day. I spent hours following Sadima around and writing scenes that won't make the book--and I knew it when I was writing them. But everything she felt matters and will influence the story going forward. So writing those scenes, then summarizing them so that the reader can jump over important but slow emotional changes in her heart---allows me to begin with her decision.  Today's work starts like this:   

     Sadima spent the bright fall days that followed walking the streets of South End, staring down the crowded alleys, passing the guards as if she carried no secrets, no fear. She looked into every face, every shop window, and tried so hard not to hope--then cried when she stopped hoping. By the time the first snow fell, she had no excuse, no choice. It was time to go back. 

And now I can go on.....
This should be an exciting day of writing. Her decision is not the one I expected, but almost every kind of love scars the heart.

I woke up this morning, like every morning now, to fan mail. I want to thank everyone who writes to me in the comments here, through FB, Twitter, Simon and Schuster, Penguin, my email box, my website and any other way. If I haven't answered you yet, please read this when you have time, it's a letter from me to YOU: 

The writing was slow yesterday. Sadima has made a hard, painful decision ONLY because what her heart wants most is almost certainly impossible.  But only almost....

As I wrote the scenes that followed her decision, I realized it is the same decision we ALL have to make. What matters?  What matters most to you, to the ones you love, and to the ones you will never meet?  

Limori is tense, scary, balancing on a knife edge as powerful people wrestle for more power. The men and women on their way to work, opening their shops, the elderly people stealing food and a blanket for the night, the children who live under the boardwalks in South End, the fortunate sons and daughters of Ferrin Hill, scared that they are not allowed to go into Market Square without hired bodyguards now...everyone is wary, waiting, hoping.  

So. Back to today's work. Sadima can't run away from any of this anymore... and neither can I.  


I spend some of each day rereading sections of the first two books...often at random. I almost never read any of my books once they are published, because I see too many things I would tweak a little, or re-write completely. But there are so many details in A Resurrection of Magic, so many tiny threads to weave, that I have to reread as I write.

This morning I reread Sacred Scars Chapter 25, which is Hahp trying to recover from a surreal test that leaves him unsure of...everything. Because I understand Somiss's intent with every test, I know why it is important for Hahp to lose--and then recover--himself. The physics and the psychology of real magic, the cost of learning how to break all the rules, how to do things that are impossible--fascinates me. 

People do lots of impossible things: 

((Warning: If you aren't an audioslave fan, you might want to turn down your speakers.))

More Parkour, which began in France, but has gone worldwide.
playing tag in the city

And today Hahp begins to learn how to walk through stone. I basically understand what would be necessary  on a molecular's the belief that it would work that will be the hardest part.  Magic (and wingsuits, and roof leaping) require belief, first and foremost. Belief that it can be done.


April 28, 2011

Last night's session ended with this:

Sadima is on her knees in a forest, staring up at the cliffs.  She is crying, but beneath that, in her deepest, heart, she is relieved, glad--and ashamed.

Hahp is standing in a dark tunnel, watching the impossible. Gerrard's hands on his shoulders, pinning him, holding him back.

The timelines are within about 3 years now, and closing fast...really fast...



How did it get to be MAY? I feel like I am living in Limori, staggering out to eat and sleep, then coming back to the cliffs, down into the tunnels...

Late in the day yesterday, I wrote a scene in Sadima's story that rattled the windows. It went entirely differently than I thought it would. So today will begin with her strand of the book again, so that I can see if she meant it, if everything hereafter needs to be painted differently than I have been assuming it would be. I am almost positive she is not going to rethink this


May 3rd, 2011
Today is the second day of condensation...of Sadima's strand. Not cutting content, just saying it in less words...because she needs to catch up, to be in the right place at the right time.  Sometimes just being there...really matters. 

((thanks, readers from Germany, for visiting me here!!) 

May 5th 2011                                                      

I am still condensing, looking at the time lines and checking continuity issues. All of this rereading is generating a lot of character revelations. They are not so much talking to me as screaming at me.  

Sadima is torn between doing what she must and doing what she wants. 

Hahp has passed a tipping point. Fear is so familiar that he no longer recognizes it as fear, really. The wizards are so good at this... 

Late last night, I wrote a pivotal scene, one that made me cry.  The courage, the bonds  between the boys inside the cliffs--the trust they have managed to build in that insane place...just hit me. 

There have been classes of boys in that rat-maze of tunnels off and on over many centuries. The magicians of old often stole children from the streets, and sometimes from their homes. 

Somiss was the first to involve the sons of wealthy families, often families who were once royalty. He is building alliances, of course, and readying for a war he knows will come eventually.  The difference between Somiss and all the magicians who came before him is fundamental. They wanted to protect their knowledge, their libraries, and their influence for the use of those who would follow them--even those with grossly extended lives knew they would die one day.  Somiss has other plans. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hello, Aliscckka Flutura┼či

Yes, I am the writer! I am so thrilled to have my books translated into German!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

South End

 This is a building that was  in San Antonio TX USA. It was being torn down when I photographed it.

It is now in South End, a slum where several people in my Resurrection of Magic books live. It  has also become the setting of some short stories I am writing.

Captive children broke all the windows on the first floor and many of the smallest ones escaped.  

The remainder were marched up steep stairs to the third floor-- and locked in without food for seven days as punishment.

On the first night, they found two stones and began chipping at the walls-- taking turns so that the stones were never idle.

On the fourth night, they tied together all of their clothing and descended safely, scattering like South End rats, then, without discussion or promises, they stopped running and reassembled, shivering in the cold, free, a family of sorts, bonded by misery and hope. The short stories will be built around their lives after that night....

Thursday, April 14, 2011


The hobbit was my favorite part of the Lord of the Rings, so I am VERY excited about this:

                               video here:

First video from the set of The Hobbit

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Resurrection of Magic--the art of centering intent

Borrowing  vids from the amazing Michael Moschen to illustrate how I see what the wizards call  "a still point" held deep inside the body that preserves both some humanity and sanity. Hahp is juggling a lot more than balls, of course. He thinks of his own still point as the quiet place--the only place where he can sometimes believe that he is alive.

Snakes, Games...Sources...

Vintage boardgame from Oxford digital library collection shared online @

I am borrowing the basic concept of this antique snake game for the Limori Academy--the idea is to navigate the course while avoiding the snake and other pitfalls.
But in the dark.
The Somiss version.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Book Signings

I got a note today from a woman thanking me (like, five times) for signing a book for her husband. She wanted me to know how much it meant to him to have my good wishes and signature on his 35th birthday.  

I don't know if most people realize what a joy it is to be asked to sign a book.  That little bit of ink confirms the transcendence the written word. It acknowledges the  bond between writer and reader, the connection of separate generations and complete strangers, the writer's effort and the almost unbelievable power of literacy.  So if you ever want a book signed, I would LOVE to.  I will feel honored and I always have 6-10 fine tip sharpies in the back pack.