Friday, July 29, 2011

writing updates #5

I have been writing about my writing, avoiding spoilers, but trying to paint a portrait of the day-to-day oddness that is the core of writing any novel.
I want to thank the kind people who have been waiting for this book for far too long (there are reasons, not interesting ones, for the delay).  

Welcome!!  readers from the Philippines, Germany, Poland, France, Canada, Russia, United Kingdom, USA, Georgia, India, Australia, South Korea,
Latvia,Czech Republic, South Africa,
Hungary, Macedonia, Malaysia, Ukraine, New Zealand, !!  

Hello and thank you!!   I love it when you find me on FB, here, my website:, and twitter @kdueykduey

If you want to read the writing updates in order here are the links:

......Or you can start here and fly on

Olive trees, those ancient, patient trees that watched Rome rise and fall. 
Today's writing will take me back to a place I don't want to go. The characters are real to me, especially now, in the third book of the trilogy...

I wrote most of the chapter yesterday, was amazed at the turn it took, stopped writing and answered fan messages for an hour or two instead of facing what I knew was coming.  Today, NOW, I have to go back.  

The City of Limori has been destroyed by war so many times over the centuries. Wizards and kings, back and forth, the people  swept up into a battle they become convinced is their own.
But it isn't.  It never was.

7 30 2011

This is a Euphorbia. The thorns keep it safe. And if that isn't enough, the milky white sap can burn your skin or blind you. 
I was awake much of last night and slept in until 7:30am-- unusual for me.  I have been sitting at the desk, writing notes from last night's insomnia-blast of revelations. I am just about to start writing for the day, a chapter with Hahp and Gerrard. They have learned to survive the pressure and disorientation of the dark passages they live in, the strange tests they are given. But now, the wizards are gone and everything has stopped. Why?  


The moon and one star. Taken with a shaky handheld camera, the lens madly searching for light. I held my breath and counted to sixteen before the shutter finally snapped.  
I spent a lot of yesterday rereading what I have written so far. I also read first person accounts of coal miners and documents from early American mines that describe the effects of working and living underground--and being trapped there. So now I know that what Hahp said yesterday is true, that what he is feeling is not unusual and what he intends to do is a typical human reaction. And I know now what will happen to him if he manages it... 

8. 5. 2011

I do critiques sometimes and yesterday was full of talking to people about their work.  It's always interesting and always makes me see my own work more clearly. So today I am going back into the dark stone corridors with no idea what will happen, just that I need to be there to record it when it does. 

Silk floss trees would rather be in  South America, but they tolerate California. The thorns are huge, and store water in dry seasons.  They can grow to 60 feet. mine is about 20 feet tall now.

The blooms always surprise me, like they were meant for some other more delicate, more poetic, less thorny tree. I am hoping for unexpected blooms today, for Sadima and Hahp. And Gerrard. Maybe especially for Gerrard.
A bio-green-building in Paris....the windows are  reflecting the trees across the street. Do they talk? The wall-plants and the ground plants--do they discuss flat ground and roots pointing down vs. roots clinging to wire frames filled with soil three stories up and having roots parallel to the ground?
  The grand plan for a foggy Sunday:  Three writing sessions today. First 90 minutes on A Resurrection of Magic #3. Thanks to everyone writing to ask when it will come out. I KNOW it is taking too long, but it is a complicated book and I am writing as fast as I can. It is intensely emotional for me to write--if you have read the books, you know why.  Second session will be two projects I am not talking about yet, still exploring what will come next. Third session back to Limori and book #3. Now, off to DO all that....

8.9 2011
An amazing thing is happening in Limori. Last night, the people in Market Square were stunned into silence, and so was I.  This morning, I will go back and see if I imagined it, if it was an illusion, or real. If it is, I have no idea what will happen to Sadima now, or the boys inside the cliffs. 

This is the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the picture was taken on an night walk.  When the tower was built, it amazed the world, a triumph of art and  steel, built to awe anyone who saw it. 


Did more critiques yesterday, two by Skype.  Critiques in LA: twenty minutes (they have to, the volume of writers is massive) When I do them from home, average time about an hour.  Two more today, later in the day. For now, I am about to sneak onto the green of Limori's Market Square in the middle of the night and see if I can find out who is building this thing. (see below)  And why.

This ceiling is in the United Emirates,  in a hotel that was built to accommodate royal visitors. The gold is really gold. The "opera balconies" are about 40 feet overhead.  Sunlight pours through the high windows.  Somehow, nothing echos, all sounds are hushed. So I was standing in a hotel lobby feeling like a transfixed, rural pilgrim,  staring up at a cathedral/shrine/temple roof in 1429.  Strange and lovely.


This is in Fez Morocco, a family business of leather tanners and dyers. It was amazing to watch them work, moving sheep skins from one basin to anther. . In Sacred Scars it is the tannery where Sadima sometimes goes to sit beneath the nearby trees, protected from interruption by the piercing stench, knowing that both Grrur and Charlie are close, as close as they can be now. 

I thought I knew what Somiss wanted, what he has searched for all this time. And I was wrong. I have three writing sessions planned today interspersed with my usual critiquing, tree trimming, planting, gardening, etc. The deepest insights come when I am outside doing something physical.  This one did, yesterday. I dropped the shovel and ran for my office.



I sort of auto-wrote something last night, right before I shut down to go to bed. I was in that tired, defenseless, fluid/creative state that disconnects writer-support from the character--and they begin to breathe on their own. I think it is the protagonist of the next book talking to me. I hope so. If it isn't, whoever she is, she will get a book out of me
someday.  (or the reverse?)

**added two days later***....below the photo is a short excerpt of what she said to me last night: 

This is an old butter churn.  I used it for years...then stopped spending every second of every day  to  grow and make I could write books. It sits on my kitchen counter, a reminder and an old friend.  The voice that came to me has a butter churn just like this one. But she doesn't use it to make butter--or anything like butter.

The Mystery Voice

“It’s not what you think, this ain’t any thimblerig. I’ve never been afraid of my mother. She’s no help, not ever, but she never hurt me nor Kerf, not once.  It’s just that no one has seen her, not even Grabbat and she wouldn’t dare buy from no one else.  I’ve wished for that. For her going missing, staying gone. I’ve hoped for the day of never again having to help her come up with enough for one of Grabbat’s little blue bags. But Kerf is sick. He needs food and I can’t leave him alone to go work the station crowd. The hat boxes are all empty. I don’t have one single thing left to sell.”


8. 24. 2011

This is Heather Brewer, me, and Ellen Hopkins, in Rochester NY, at a book festival (an AMAZING one) a few months ago. I am including it here because sometimes the weirdness of writing (like any other weirdness) can only be honestly discussed with friends who share it.  So, Yeah. We talked writing!!! And when any of us mentioned hearing voices, the other two just nodded.  

Last night, just a few minutes before I closed up shop, Hahp started talking to me on the screen. And now I understand something in Skin Hunger that had never made sense to me before. I am about to start today's work. Hahp is near the lake, searching that huge dark chamber...he is hoping.  And so am I. 


8. 26. 2011
About to start writing for the day. I kind of dread it this morning because I have come to love Limori and some of the things happening in the city of Limori are happening in my country, right now, too. So I guess even in books people are...people...wary and unfair. 

This is a South American ice cream bean blossom. It's a pretty, rangy, tree with weirdly shaped leaves. New leaves are a deep blood red that changes to vivid green as they grow...Inga edulis is the Latin name. The fruit, which is not really a fruit, is amazing. It took me a long time to try it, I think because the tree itself is so...unfamiliar. 

8.30. 2011
The thing I am wrestling with now is that I have come to love the characters or pity and understand them, or I wish I could help the hard scenes are REALLY hard to write.  I have to write with hope, but I have to record what happens without making it up.  And, yes, I know that sounds silly, but that is how it feels to me. If *I* write this story, it is going to be untrue--probably at least a little sappy with almost everyone surviving and finding some kind of life. And I know that isn't what really happens. It couldn't. 

There are too many isolated, protected, powerful people involved. There are too many descendants of massive wealth in the city of Limori, most of whom harbor old hatreds, old rivalries.  There is so much decadence, extravagant entertainments,exotic foods and a life-long feeling that they deserve to live this way as the step around the beggar children, annoyed at unpleasant smells.  But there is no one with the means to stop it because they also
 pay guards and buy their loyalty. 

I woke up this morning knowing this: There are a lot of desperate poor people in Limori, too, many more poor than rich, as is always and ever the truth.  

This is a teapot, decorated with a bracelet. It sits on a table in South End, in a quiet room waiting for children to arrive. The woman who owns the tea pot is named Theodora Nerak. You haven't met her yet, but you will. 


Friday, July 08, 2011

Writing updates #4

If you want to read all the recent  updates you can find them here:

Or you can just start with this one and fly on....

July  8 2011

Book #3 of A Resurrection of Magic, in progress:

Late last night I finally understood the difference between  the acceptance of  love and the call of duty for three of the characters. I don't like what this means in terms of where I have to start today, but I don't have a choice. And it is after ten o'clock am here in CA and I need to stop procrastinating NOW.  Sigh.  Sometimes writing is painful.
The first two of the trilogy:
art copyright David Ho

It is astounding what people can build from stone and mud: from hope and courage: from despair and longing.  
July 10 2011
Before I start to write my current work today:
Free Rat: a story that has been incubating inside me for almost 15 years. It might be the next YA  book, or maybe next to next. It took over my fingers and my brain last night again. Sometimes all I can do is listen and type.  I am thinking about it more and more because even though I began weaving it a long time ago, it seems to be weaving itself now.Maybe because every time I read the news, I realize how close to my own world it really is. Mine and yours.

And now, back to the city of Limori, and everything it is hiding...


July 13th, 2011
Trees have even more moods than people do-- This one matches mine this morning, perfectly, as I stare down the barrel of the chapter I am about to start... 

In Limori Sadima is isolated and facing a decision so huge that I keep starting the scene over and over, because it hurts to write it and the last part will be the worst if it goes the way I think it might. Hahp and Gerrard are still both alive, both angry, and scared.  I am hoping for some kind of happy ending but I can't see it from here. Yet. I am about 3/4s done. I think. I hope. It is getting longer and longer..


I wrote a scene last night that I am almost sure will be "questioned" once the book is out. Sigh. I will read it again this morning and see if I was right about it being inevitable, necessary. I am almost sure it is. No actual sex involved...but there are other things.  Fantasy seems to slip past the censorship fans. We'll see.

7 20 2011

This is me, typing.  And typing.

I am getting into the part of the book where things tighten and slowly begin to fall into place. I  find there is almost nothing I can say that isn't a spoiler. Market Square is a dangerous place now.  The poor people hold their children close and the rich are hiring guards.



First, I want to thank the people from all over the world who are reading this blog--about 500 of you this week so far!

Thanks to everyone on Face Book and Twitter who stay in touch and read these updates!!

In Limori, there is a rising chaos. This is the first time in the city's history that powerful merchants and City Magistrates (most descended from the old royal houses) are dealing with Magicians who have prolonged their lives in order to perfect magic. This is the first time Eridians have had both wealth and influence. There will be no easy victory this time, fought only by guards hired by each faction. There will be no behind-closed-doors compromises made.

Sadima, Hahp and Gerrard are still alive... and that's all I can say without spoilers. (trust me, I just tried four or five times to be vague enough and couldn't.)

Thanks for all the messages here and FB and Twitter and my website
Every kind word about my books is wonderful and appreciated.

Taken from a train window on the way to San Luis Obispo....marshes are lovely to me.  There are marshes north of Limori's South End. Sistra's mother is buried there. I had no idea how important that would become in the third
 book. .....where and how she was buried. 


7 22 2011

Sometimes it is music that shows me how to write a scene.  This morning, thanks to Elvis Costello and Fiona Apple for a lesson in immersion, conflict and  pain.  (and thanks to Richard for sending this to me weeks ago. I have watched it many times since)

San Luis Obispo train ride...The tracks come so close the the edge of the close .....