In the beginning there was a short story. Yep, that’s how The Stone’s Blade got its start. In some ways the scary part is that I wrote the short story when I was fourteen. In hindsight, the fact the characters of Anyala, Kela and Renloret have never left me alone–for very long at least. My eighth grade English teacher told me I had some talent and I should think about doing more writing. I’m going to have to find my grade reports from back then to find out exactly who that teacher was. I just remember being told I might have a talent for writing.
The characters have visited me off and on over the years. I was introduced to the character of Taryn in college when the short story became a possible novel and General Stubin Dalkey got his name while on a writing retreat in late 1990’s. That was a great conversation with fellow writer Chris Richards in a cabin at my brother’s bed & breakfast lodge (Mount Elbert Lodge, outside of Twin Lakes, Colorado). Perhaps I will explain the origins of some character names in another post.
The characters have often not bothered me for years, particularly when my children were small and needed focused attention. By the mid 1990’s they started appearing in dreams, reminding me of their existence and that I should pay attention to their needs not just my family’s. I took the first chapters to The Southwest Writers Conferences in Albuquerque and was met with positive reactions. I began to think I might be able to get it published.
November is National Novel Writing Month and 2012 was my first NaNoWriMo experience. Since I had just handed off my first novel to an editor/writing coach and my beta readers for that were clamoring for book two, I needed incentive to get started on the requested sequel. While I waited to hear from the editor on what is now book one I thought I should see what the second title might look like. The entire process of NaNoWriMo, just writing at an all out pace, was so different from the very long process book one had taken (check out Beginnings, part two). Fifty thousand words in thrity days seems like a lot. IT IS. The suggested average number of words to write each day was 1,667. While that sounded reasonable there were days when my word count was either zero or less than 500. There were days when I wrote 4,000. However it was through this dash just to get words down that I discovered several things. First, in the effort to meet word counts I settled on writing individual scenes rather than write the story ‘from beginning to end’. This freed up my imagination in unexpected ways. Second, I realized the possibility that The Stone’s Blade was more than just a trilogy, and the storyline solidified the need for an open-ended series(side stories, background stories, etc are all possible – IF I want to do them). More surprising to me was that while madly writing scenes to be used in book two, some minor characters (barely mentioned in book one) popped up again in some very exciting and unexpected ways. I am still amazed that somehow plot hints/twists, characters, etc. were already in book one without my consciously having written them. Each has become vital in book two. A new character actually shocked me when she made her appearance in this draft of book two. By just smashing out scenes with a tight time line, no restraints on whether or not a scene will work or actually be used or really caring about the specifics, I have truly let the characters tell me what to write. It has been a freeing experience. I now have more ‘story’ to work with while I am in a semi-editing phase. There are many more scenes to write to smooth out transitions and develop characters and subplots. Overall, NaNoWriMo was exhilarating and I plan on competing in 2013 – two possibilities offer themselves as starting points – book three of The Stone’s Blade series or a stand alone title which came to me in a dream (no kidding!). I am planning to have book one, The Stone’s Blade: The Blood, published by the end of the year (2013) and book two, thanks to NaNoWriMo, to the editor by October 31st so I can be moving forward when November 1st dawns.