mmerriam: (Old Lynx)
He leaned into the young woman, gently caressing her cheek with the barest feather-light touch of his fingertips. She closed her eyes and opened her mouth slightly, her tongue darting out to moisten lips parted for his kiss.

"Dear Contessa Moretti," Arkady Bloom whispered, placing his other hand on her hip, the soft fabric of her dinner dress pliable under his embrace. Only the finest for the most favored niece of the Italian ambassador. He ran his hand up her side, stopping mere inches from her breast before stoking back down and over her hip, caressing the top of her outer thigh. "I have so been waiting for this moment."

She swept the top hat from Bloom's head with a pale hand, tossing it to the chaise lounge nearby. As it landed with a soft thud, she reached behind her head and pulled the long silver pin from her hair, allowing the dark brown locks to cascade down. "As have I, Mr. Bloom." She struck like an angry viper, stabbing at Bloom's neck with the sharp pin.

Bloom twisted away, moving with the speed and grace of his sídhe ancestors. He slapped the hand that held the pin, sending the sharp silver ornament flying across the room. It stuck in the back cushion of a chair. The fabric around the pin began to smoke.

"Really, Contessa, I had no idea you felt that way about me."

She backed away from him with an elaborate string of what Bloom thought were probably curses and spat at his feet. "As if I would lie down with a half-blood thing."

He smiled at her, picking up his hat and placing it on his head while keeping a close watch on her. He had taken what he really wanted from her. It was time to leave. "While I admit the idea of partaking of your charms held a certain temptation, it seems your temperament, my dear, renders us incompatible as companions."

Bloom stepped around her, keeping her in his line of sight. He backed toward the door, picking up his cane from where it rested against the frame. He tipped his hat to her. "Good-day to you, Contessa."

Bloom reached behind his back and turned the door knob, pulling it open. He planned to slip out while making sure she did not manage to stab a knife into his back. He came up against something hard as he backed through the doorway. Bloom looked over his shoulder at the thing that had stymied his retreat, his eyes widening in surprise.

It stood over six and half feet tall, a huge, blocky individual that was once a man but now…now it was a mindless man-creature, its eyes grey-white orbs, its skin ashen and bloodless. A ticking clockwork pump strapped to its back hummed as it pushed light blue fluid through a tube into the creature's neck. The man-creature was dressed in the leather apron of a butcher, its shirt and trousers underneath the apron and the boots on its feet all showing the telltale dried splatter of the trade. It raised its hands and took a slow, clumsy step into the room, forcing Bloom to retreat from its grasp.

"Oh my," Bloom muttered.

Contessa Fiorella Moretti laughed, harsh and shrill. "You did not think I would allow you to simply walk out alive once I lured you here, did you, Mr. Bloom?"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
B - AlicornThe Curious Case of the Jeweled Alicorn is available in print from The Sam's Dot Publishing Bookstore and in ebook format from Amazon and Smashwords.>

Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.

6000 Words

Oct. 24th, 2012 08:56 pm
mmerriam: (Finished)
That's the number of words hammered out over a weekend in Hershey, PA, holed up in a hotel room while Beloved Spouse was at a professional conference.

That's the number of words needed to finish the first draft of my new Arkady Bloom novella, A Study in Violet.

That's the number of words I wrote in three days. I hadn't written that many words in the month previous. The last time I wrote anywhere near that pace was when I was hiding in a hotel room in Atlanta while Beloved Spouse was at another professional conference.

I remember when I used to write at that pace without needing to hide away from the world in hotel rooms in strange cities. Granted, I was at the end of the story and the horse was pointed at the barn. I always write faster at the end of the piece, but still…

I need to remember how to do this on a regular basis. I need to figure out why my writing production has slowed so dramatically this year and correct that. I need to find a place or space where I can work for at least three or four hours a day with little or no distraction. I need to find a space (both physical and mental) where I'm comfortable as writer.

That said, A Study in Violet is complete in the first draft. I am intensely pleased by this. Where Horror at Cold Springs was Lovecraftian horror and The Curious Case of the Jeweled Alicorn was a Bondian spy-thriller, this one is (as you might guess from the title) a Holmesian murder-mystery.

Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.

6000 Words

Oct. 24th, 2012 08:56 pm
mmerriam: (Finished)
That's the number of words hammered out over a weekend in Hershey, PA, holed up in a hotel room while Beloved Spouse was at a professional conference.

That's the number of words needed to finish the first draft of my new Arkady Bloom novella, A Study in Violet.

That's the number of words I wrote in three days. I hadn't written that many words in the month previous. The last time I wrote anywhere near that pace was when I was hiding in a hotel room in Atlanta while Beloved Spouse was at another professional conference.

I remember when I used to write at that pace without needing to hide away from the world in hotel rooms in strange cities. Granted, I was at the end of the story and the horse was pointed at the barn. I always write faster at the end of the piece, but still…

I need to remember how to do this on a regular basis. I need to figure out why my writing production has slowed so dramatically this year and correct that. I need to find a place or space where I can work for at least three or four hours a day with little or no distraction. I need to find a space (both physical and mental) where I'm comfortable as writer.

That said, A Study in Violet is complete in the first draft. I am intensely pleased by this. Where Horror at Cold Springs was Lovecraftian horror and The Curious Case of the Jeweled Alicorn was a Bondian spy-thriller, this one is (as you might guess from the title) a Holmesian murder-mystery.

Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Default)
Thursday:
The move in was stupid hot, as the whole day was stupid hot. Luckily we were able to score a bellman’s cart to help with the move in, so it only took two trips instead three. The bad news was, the room (the brand-new just remolded room) had a broken shower, which forced us to clean up in the sink until maintenance was able to come and repaired the damage.

I went to the “Who Mourns the Villains?” panels, which had some pretty good discussion about creating believable and sympathetic villains.

I had dinner in the hotel room, visited the registration desk for attending professionals and picked up my card showing what programming I was scheduled for, and then wandered around the convention until I was on “Escaping the Slush Pile.” This panel had four editors and slush-readers actually read aloud the first few pages of audience member submitted manuscripts, then discuss them. It went really well, actually, and the courageous submitters seemed to appreciate the advice from the panelists.

Cut Because The Report Is Long And I Am Merciful )
mmerriam: (Default)
And not just marketing the Sky-Tinted Waters anthology and my new novella, The Curious Case of the Jeweled Alicorn.

I took a trip to Atlanta recently for a conference of the professional organization that Beloved Spouse is an officer of. I tend to go along with her on these trips, just like she comes to all the conventions I attend. We support each other's careers pretty aggressively. Since I'm not part of her organization, I treat the days she is in conference, committee meetings, and panels as a writing retreat.

I ride the bus for hours every week, back and forth to the Day Job, and anyone who has ever ridden public transit more than a handful of times can verify that public transit is full of colorful, weird, wonderful people in all their messed-up, beautiful glory. By the time we got to Atlanta, I had this idea about two mages fighting a low-keyed magical duel every morning on the 94 Express bus between Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the unfortunate third-party who gets involved.

By the time we got settled into the hotel, I could see the entire shape of the story and even went so far as to (gasp!) write an outline. This made me happy, except I had several scenes sorted out except the opening, so I had no idea how to actually start the story! Deciding not actually knowing how to start was no good reason to not get things rolling, I kind of flung myself at the story, putting words down and not worrying about if they sucked or not. It felt great (though reading back over the beginning, I think it needs to start in medias res). I wrote a couple thousand of words that first day, the prose coming fast and easy, if perhaps a bit clunky and ugly. No worries though, second drafts and rewrites are for clean-up. I loved it so.

But…

There's always the morning after. When I opened the document the next day, I was nervous and fearful. Oh shiny new story! In the sharp light of morning, I feared you would hustle me out the door with a promise to call sometime soon, but instead you showed up with fresh coffee and a warm smile.

Once we returned from Atlanta things slowed down, not because the story had lost the shiny, but because of my own responsibilities (day job, conventions) and because I caught a cold that made writing something akin to pushing my brain through jello. I started to find the flow harder to maintain, but I knew if I just kept pushing forward, things would be fine. This was a rough patch, nothing more.

This week, I was able to get back to it. It's up over 14,000 words and counting. I'm guessing it will hit between 20- 25K before it's all said and done. Novella seems to be my natural storytelling length. Which is weird, because I use to be Mr. Under 4K.

I wrote a nice, quick 800 words on Sunday morning. I've written past all the notes and outlining I had created and am now wondering through uncharted territory. I'm at the end of a scene, so I should probably stop and think about where we are heading before I write myself into a corner.

Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Default)
This is my tentative schedule for Convergence. This is, off course, subject to change.

Thursday, July 5

11:30pm - Escaping the Slush Pile - Bloomington Room - A panel of experienced slush readers will take the first five pages of manuscripts submitted by audience members, and identify the point at which they would stop reading, if any, and why. Panelists: Adam Whitlatch, Michael Merriam, Scott Lynch, Jennie Goloboy, Patrick Tomlinson

Friday, July 6

11:00am - Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Michael Merriam and Dana Baird Signing - Autograph Table - Bryan Thomas Schmidt, author of "The Worker Prince," will be available to sign his work. Dana has just released "Broken Legacy." Michael's newest release is "Sky Tinted Waters." Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Dana Baird, Michael Merriam

3:30pm - Geek Partnership Society Writing Contest Ceremony - Vista Suite - Past winners of the annual GPS Writing Contests read from their winning work. This year’s winners are announced. Panelists: George Richard, Hilary Moon Murphy (I’m not officially on the panel, but I am judging this contest, so I will be there)

5:00pm - Minn-Spec Meeting - Cabana 201 - Come and learn about the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers, a 280+ member-strong organization. Panelists: Michael Merriam (mod), Hilary Moon Murphy, Tyler Tork

8:30pm - Diversity in Steampunk - Atrium 4 - Does all steampunk have to be Victorian England? Certainly not! And it isn’t. Join a discussion of race, gender, class, and religion in this diverse genre. Hosted by the Red Ribbon Society (a.k.a Steam Century). Panelists: Alexandra Howes, Sarah McDole, Michael Merriam, Amy Williams-Scott, Kevin Borchers

10:00pm - So You've Sold a Novel: Now What Happens? - Atrium 7 - Congratulations --you sold your novel. Now comes the hard part: rewrites, editorial comments, cover art, marketing, promotions, and making sense of the royalty statement. Come ask established novelists questions about what happens after the sale. Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Michael Merriam, Doug Hulick, Kelly McCullough, Dana Baird

Saturday, July 7

12:30pm - Is Urban Fantasy just Romance for Geeks? - Atrium 7 - Of course it isn't. Discuss the breadth of work that fits into this popular sub-genre. Panelists: Lyda Morehouse, James Turnbull, Michael Merriam, Paul Cornell, Brandy Snyder

Sunday, July 8
11:00am - Michael Merriam Reading - Cabana 201 - The author of "Last Car to Annwn Station" reads from his newest release, "The Curious Case of the Jeweled Alicorn." Panelists: Michael Merriam
mmerriam: (Default)
The steampunk spy-thriller novella is delivered to the publisher, so there is a big load off my mind. Dark Water Blues, has been rewritten and resubmitted to my editor, so another project down. I've been working on rewrites of Dead Brew and finishing the first draft of my still untitled contemporary coming of age novella (can you tell I've fallen in love with the novella length work?). Plans are still afoot to try my hand a screenwriting.

I've also started finalizing and lining up my programming at various conventions for 2012, and I'm looking at doing a few out-of-state readings and signings later this year. Website updates are in the works.

Over on a message board I frequent, we've been talking about Plot vs. Story vs. Characterization, though it is not the epic battle royale it sounds from that description. No one is being bashed over the head with adverbs and tossed out with a form rejection stapled to their foreheads or anything like that.

I've found it interesting watching the folks who only write short fiction and the folks who are writing novels discuss their different perspectives concerning plot. The general consensus is that in short fiction a single plot is preferable, while longer works such as novels, novellas, feature scripts, and long plays, should (and frankly, these days are expected to) have subplots. Of course I could point out examples of short stories with two or even three plots running, and I can point to successful novels that only have the main plot and nothing else, the general consensus stated about does seem to be the norm.

In genre fiction (SF/F/H/M/W/R/Thr and others) plot tends to be the emphasis, with characters and setting next in importance, while in what critics call contemporary, literary, or mainstream fiction, character and story tends to rule over plot. This is also a generalization, and of course some "genre" writers focus more on characterization or world-building, while I've seen some lovely plots in post-modern contemporary novels.

From a personal perspective as a writer, I like to write deep characterization first, plot and sub-plot second (grown from the character's desires and conflicts), and deal with world-building very little, hence I tend to write contemporary and urban fantasy with a smattering of magical realism and steampunk/supernatural westerns/supernatural Victoriana where I can use a "real world" setting and short hand the world-building.

I think that in short fiction everything, from paragraph to punctuation, has to advance the story in some way, either moving the plot or developing the characters, hopefully while deepening the sense of scene and place. I think you have more room to digress and get away with long descriptions in novels, though it should be used sparingly.

As always, your mileage may vary.
mmerriam: (Default)
The steampunk spy-thriller novella is delivered to the publisher, so there is a big load off my mind. Dark Water Blues, has been rewritten and resubmitted to my editor, so another project down. I've been working on rewrites of Dead Brew and finishing the first draft of my still untitled contemporary coming of age novella (can you tell I've fallen in love with the novella length work?). Plans are still afoot to try my hand a screenwriting.

I've also started finalizing and lining up my programming at various conventions for 2012, and I'm looking at doing a few out-of-state readings and signings later this year. Website updates are in the works.

Over on a message board I frequent, we've been talking about Plot vs. Story vs. Characterization, though it is not the epic battle royale it sounds from that description. No one is being bashed over the head with adverbs and tossed out with a form rejection stapled to their foreheads or anything like that.

I've found it interesting watching the folks who only write short fiction and the folks who are writing novels discuss their different perspectives concerning plot. The general consensus is that in short fiction a single plot is preferable, while longer works such as novels, novellas, feature scripts, and long plays, should (and frankly, these days are expected to) have subplots. Of course I could point out examples of short stories with two or even three plots running, and I can point to successful novels that only have the main plot and nothing less the general consensus stated about does seem to be the norm.

In genre fiction (SF/F/H/M/W/R/Thr and others) plot tends to be the emphasis, with characters and setting next in importance, while in what critics call contemporary, literary, or mainstream fiction, character and story tends to rule over plot. This is also a generalization, and of course some "genre" writers focus more on characterization or world-building, while I've seen some lovely plots in post-modern contemporary novels.

From a personal perspective as a writer, I like to write deep characterization first, plot and sub-plot second (grown from the character's desires and conflicts), and deal with world-building very little, hence I tend to write contemporary and urban fantasy with a smattering of magical realism and steampunk/supernatural westerns/supernatural Victoriana where I can use a "real world" setting and short hand the world-building.

I think that in short fiction everything, from paragraph to punctuation, has to advance the story in some way, either moving the plot or developing the characters, hopefully while deepening the sense of scene and place. I think you have more room to digress and get away with long descriptions in novels, though it should be used sparingly.

As always, your mileage may vary.
mmerriam: (Charge)
The CEM for my steampunk spy-thriller novella with Holmesian overtones, "The Curious Case of the Jeweled Alicorn," has arrived. You all know what that means; crying and wailing as I make corrections, followed by the bliss of finishing the project and handing it to the publisher.
mmerriam: (Charge)
The CEM for my steampunk spy-thriller novella with Holmesian overtones, "The Curious Case of the Jeweled Alicorn," has arrived. You all know what that means; crying and wailing as I make corrections, followed by the bliss of finishing the project and handing it to the publisher.

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