Verdaia (Imaginary History) News

Chopping it into pieces.

Across a Jade Sea, the book I wasn’t supposed to be writing, not only suddenly (just over a year ago) decided that I must write it, it also suddenly (a couple months ago?) decided that I must transcribe it. (It was written longhand.) I have finally finished that effort, and although the resulting draft is still pretty rough, I finally have a wordcount for this thing. As of this draft, it’s just over 230K words. (As a reference point, most publishers prefer to see “first novels” of about 100K words.)

So yesterday, I went into my database, and declared by authorial fiat that I didn’t write and transcribe one (huge) book this past year–I wrote and transcribed three 75-80K books: Serendipity’s Tide, Treachery’s Harbor, and Fealty’s Shore. (Lengthwise, dividing it in two might have been better, but structurally three is the better split.)

That means I’ve written not ten, but a full dozen novels so far.

…and it also makes me so far behind on the revising, polishing, and editing end of things that I don’t even want to think about it. Especially since I was just doing that… Serendipity’s Tide is in pretty decent shape, it’s the other two that still need boatloads of work done to them. And I still haven’t got the second Bambi book revised and polished yet.

What happened to my nice little schedule that served me so well all those many years?


The book that I referred to for months as “the book I am not supposed to be writing”, I am no longer writing. Yay!

The current working title is actually Across a Jade Sea. I don’t know how long it is, because I wrote it out longhand, but it runs over 800 handwritten pages. By my best calculation, it is long enough and then some — possibly the longest first draft I’ve written yet. So I have now written ten novels. A nice round number, wouldn’t you say? 🙂

Next I take a little break to work on my website some more, before starting revisions to the last one I wrote.

Dusty cats, or real work?

Started playing with a “document processor” called Lyx, in my free time, ended up importing and marking up The Raven and The Veil, and then while I was reading through I decided the ending wasn’t as strong as it could be, so I rewrote it. It is now 4000 words longer. Hopefully that’s a good thing.

The cover artwork for Dicing with Flames isn’t done yet. I’m having trouble with the rock textures… and since the scene I’m doing is underground, it’s almost all rock. I put a Black Flag page together today anyway.

Looking up from a stack of papers…

I now have 265 handwritten pages of a book I’m not supposed to be writing, while all the projects I’m supposed to be working on are not going anywhere.

I can’t figure out if I should be happy about having roughly half a book worth of words in hand, most of which have been written in the past two to three weeks, or if I should be upset at what isn’t happening.

And why am I writing by hand anyway? I’m practically going through a pen a day, and the paper pile keeps getting thicker and more awkward, revisions and alterations are much easier in a word-processor, and its not like my computer isn’t right there beside me.

I’m so confused.

There’s some real life thingy that I’m supposed to be paying attention to right now, isn’t there? Seasonal celebration or something?

But I finally got up to the scene that started it all (which was way different in the book than in the dream I had, but that’s a good thing), and I’ve only got a little bit more to go before I change viewpoint characters for part two, and I can’t possibly stop now… can I?

Scent of Spring Rev 2.0

I finished getting the draft of Scent of Spring put together on Tuesday, not Monday. Close enough? My husband then read it through for me, and although most of my fixes appear to be working, the climax apparently still needs tweaking. So that’s what’s on the to-do list next.

My computer will be going into the shop Friday morning, so I will be mostly off-line for an indefinite period of time, starting then.

One chapter left…

… to put together for the Scent of Spring story revisions. Then there will only be the bit that needs new art, which I have already started working on the sketches for. (Yay!) The art changes will probably involve three pages: two that are already there that will need to be redone, and one new page. I’m hoping to be done with this draft on Monday.

Stories Without End

I cleaned up my story database a little, and while I was at it, added a couple more titles to it. Now the to-write queue is a little longer. Inserting the new Black Flag story, Voyage of the Obsidian Star, pushed my theoretical start date on Blood Brothers (currently listed as Black Flag 10) back to when I’m eighty. (There has got to be a way to speed up production on those things!) I also added a novel set in the Black Flag universe, but completely unrelated to space pirates to the queue.

After I was done I looked at the to-write queue and noticed that there are no Ialfa stories listed there anymore. Just the one I’m working on now, and that’s it. I’ve got a bunch of other Ialfa story ideas, but the one I seem to be most interested in at the moment is one I’m very reluctant to add to the list, because it feels like a multiple book story to me. Seeing Song of Asolde and Brotherhood of the Black Flag popping up with such regularity in the queue is making me somewhat reluctant to take on another epic.

The other story I’m somewhat tempted to add to the queue but haven’t yet, is a brand new shiny story that’s only three days old. I’m tempted, not because it’s so brand new and shiny, but because it’s a novel set in Verdaia, and that’s the only world I haven’t got a novel for yet, now that Black Flag has one.

Speaking of Verdaia, I want a longer name for it. Something that indicates what it’s about. The science fictional settings get “Universe” tacked on the end, and then there’s Racciman’s World, Ialfa Fantasy World, and Opera Magique Alternate Earth. Verdaia is not an “Alternate Earth” in the sense I usually think of things as alternate earths… the geography and all the cultures and history are different. But is it a “Fantasy World”? It’s got no magic. Myself, I would class it as fantasy… but then I tend to think of Science Fiction as a sub-set of Fantasy, which is, apparently, an unusual point of view. I know lots of people who say “It can’t be fantasy if it doesn’t have magic!” and whether or not I agree, the whole point of extending the name is to inform, not to confuse. So I haven’t figured out what to call it yet. 🙁

I’ve been working on a comic script.

It’s the story I was calling “Mark of the Beast” but my husband said that was a terrible title because it would make people think “apocalypse” and “satanism”, and my story isn’t about either of those things. It’s an alternate history fantasy with action and romance and magic and musketeers and an uber-powerful main character who looks like Annubis.

(And my husband said, “So why does he like this girl, anyway?” and I explain that he doesn’t get along with people because almost everyone is afraid of him, and he can smell that, and has really bad associations with the smell of fear. But she isn’t afraid of him, and that is what first intrigues him– and my husband interupts to say “So he likes her because she smells nice?” AAAUUGGGH! I’m writing a story with a super-powered guy who likes a girl because she smells nice. Someone shoot me now!)

Anyway, I’ve sort of switched the working title to “Compelled”, but I didn’t tell my database that, so it isn’t showing up in my wordcounts. (I haven’t been recording the wordcounts for it regularly anyway.) But I’ve been writing it very quickly (for me, anyway) and I’ve done nearly 20K words in about two weeks. Just at the moment, however, I’m stuck trying to figure out the next scene, (my internal pace-setter is insisting that it needs another action scene NOW!) so today I set it aside to work on Scent of Spring.

I thought I was done with story revisions for Scent of Spring, and I was just putting a current draft version together before starting in or art tweaks, but it seems that some of my revisions are… well, lets just say that their seams are showing. I didn’t notice while working on it in pieces, but now that I’m trying to put everything together I can tell that some of the joins don’t fit together quite right. One of those I just can’t smooth over without new art, but I’ve got this second one that I think I might be able to get away with the existing art, if I can just come up with the right words to go with it. Only I haven’t yet.

So, now I’m stuck on that too.

Hopefully I’ll be unstuck on one or the other by tomorrow.

Another Yay!

I have finished the storyboards for Black Flag 2: Blood Price.

Blood Price came in at 232 pages, but that’s not counting chapter title pages, which would put it up to about 250. That’s a chunk longer than Black Flag 1, at 222 pages, but I’m expecting Black Flag 1 to grow a bit more, as I finish the last third of the pages (hopefully sometime this year), and then head into revisions.

I still need to finish deciding where the chapter divisions go, name my chapters, and scan everything. I’m very, very tempted to recycle the chapter titles from 1. My husband warned that I might end up finding myself in a bind that way, feeling locked into the same chapter titles for all the Black Flag stories, but I don’t think so. The script to Black Flag 3: Dominion, is twice as long as the one for Blood Price, and the first two books are more strongly tied together than the second and the third.

Anyway, I’m now back to Scent of Spring for my pencil and paper project, and will once again be hauling my pretty art around, instead of a lot of horrible scribbles. That will be nice. I loooooove Blood Price, but confess to feeling a bit abashed when people got curious as to what I was doing. I can draw better than that, really — just when storyboarding something I will be doing in 3D there’s no point. Worrying about getting it to look right just slows me down. It took me a LOT longer than a month and a half to do the Scent of Spring storyboards, and that was for a much shorter story.

Looking for beta-readers

Since nobody actually reads these postings at my home blog, which has progress bars in the sidebar, I assume nobody noticed when, a month ago, the progress bar for Scent of Spring hit 100%. That doesn’t mean I’m done, but it does mean I’ve got a complete set of pencils (I’ve got all the lines drawn) that I would really, really like some feedback on before I start coloring everything.

The reason it took me a month to make this announcement, is that I was doing website alterations that I hoped would make beta-reading Scent of Spring a little easier. So not only does Scent of Spring now have a working website, the site also keeps track of if you are logged in or not, and will only show you the penciled pages if I’ve told it you are one of my beta readers. There is also a page tagging system that will allow you to easily find your place if you have to stop in the middle, and there are comment boxes located directly below each page, so that people can comment as they read.

Keeping in mind that I don’t pretend to be a professional artist, and that I’m very new to this whole Sequential Art storytelling gig, would anyone be willing to look over and comment on a 140 page mannerly romance (sort of Jane Austin-ish, but not set in England) webcomic?

Here’s a bit of sample art:

Author's Note on Verdaia

I kept dreaming up these stories that seemed like fantasy or historical romances. But if they were fantasies, where was the magic? And if they were historicals, why couldn't I recognize any of the settings? I finally decided that all these story ideas were set on the same non-magical world, and named it Verdaia.

Verdaia has different geography than earth, and a different history, but is otherwise very much like earth. For me the fun of this world is in building cultures remincient of earth cultures, and yet not exactly the same.

Quote from Scent of Spring
'A widow with money is always more beautiful than a wife with the same face.'
-- Prince Harchung
Copyright © Michelle Bottorff

Email mbottorff at lshelby period com