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Posts Tagged ‘Prisoners of the Wailing Tower’

I’ve been working away on the second draft of Prisoners of the Wailing Tower, and I think I have the plot more in order. Thanks to those of you who commented on my question last time. I really appreciate it. Lorrah’s act of courage does have more impact. However, I’ll probably work that twist in there somehow, for pacing purposes.

I now have a better arrangement of plot events, especially on Lorrah’s arc. Alemin’s still may need work. While I fiddle with those ideas, I’m also making a list of all the other prisoners in the Larder and giving each one a few quirks. Same with the prison guards. There really needs to be more than one guard with a name.

By the end of the week, I expect to actually be re-arranging my printed plot sections so I can start on the second draft. Because so much extensive work needs to be done, I will not be editing the existing text. Instead, I’ll start a whole new document. More typos may creep in this way, but I find the text has a fresh flow when I do it this way.

Meanwhile, I’ll be working on each of the two POV characters separately. This should allow me to focus on making their arcs stronger. In the end, I’ll be able to weave them back together in a single manuscript.

I hope you’re all keeping safe and able to rally some concentration on your writing.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Thank goodness! My new/old computer is back in business. There are just one or two sites that I’m still trying to recover the login info for. That lets me get on with the book map for Prisoners of the Wailing Tower.

And I’ve already discovered an issue! I forgot that I gave the bad gal, Ar-Lizelle, some minor mental powers at the start of the book. In fact, these crop up throughout the plot. But, at the end of the book, her sister Lorrah uses a very similar mental power to knock her out and escape. So I’ll either have to take Ar-Lizelle’s mental powers away, or think of a new way for Lorrah to escape.

Actually, this connects with a plot issue that I’d love to get advice from all you writers. Through much of the novella, Lorrah is afraid of her sister and refuses to go into an area where she might have to confront her. But, by the end, Lorrah voluntarily goes into that area to draw Ar-Lizelle away from something else that’s going on.

Here’s my question: is it better to keep it this way, or should I allow Lorrah to think she’s avoiding the situation and then have Ar-Lizelle figure out where she is and come after her? In the first option, Lorrah makes a courageous decision. In the second, the plot gets a major twist.

What do you guys think? Should I go for the plot twist or the character growth? Not that I promise to follow a majority vote or anything — it’s still my story — but I’m genuinely interested in your thoughts.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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It kind of came as a surprise, but I have pretty much found my way to the end of Prisoners of the Wailing Tower! Lorrah distracted her mean big sister, and managed to show off her magical chops. That allowed Alemin to escape from the Larder with all his fellow prisoners. I just have a couple of wrap-up sections where the characters reflect on what they achieved. And I need a great final scene, of course.

Once that’s blocked out, I’ll get to work on revisions. Most of what I have is good, but some things need to be discovered a lot sooner. I also want to trim length; the other novellas are 30-40 thousand words, and Prisoners is nearly 50 thousand. To get a handle on that, my first step will be to make a book map.

What is that? So glad you asked.

Book maps are a way to analyze the plot and figure out where the weak points are. There are lots of methods. Some people use index cards and move them around until they like the flow. Others use storyboard software.

My method is to make a chart using my word processor, WordPerfect. For each section of the manuscript, I’ll briefly describe the action and note a few details like new characters being introduced. I’ll also color-code them to show which POV the sections are in.

With two points of view, Lorrah and Alemin, it’s important that both of them have a satisfying plot arc. So after mapping the book, I can read their sections separately. Once I have a good arc for both of them, it will be pretty easy to weave them back together and polish the sections that I just slammed out to finish the draft.

Yes, revisions are a pain. But I know what I need to do, and I’m actually excited to get this manuscript in shape. So instead of being mad at it, I can be proud to publish it.

Meanwhile, I hope you’re all having a safe and relaxing Fourth of July.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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I’m relieved to tell you that I’m no longer plodding through Prisoners of the Wailing Tower. At last, the story has begun to drag me along with it, instead of the other way around!

My typical writing week is Sunday to Thursday. On Friday evenings we have a regular gaming group. Saturdays I keep free to run around with my husband, and we usually watch anime or a movie on Saturday nights.

So far this week, I’ve got almost 4,000 words in on Prisoners. I finished a long sequence of Alemin coming face to face with the revenant of the Larder. Now I need to switch gears and do a sequence with Lorrah, who is on her way to try and rescue Alemin.

Lorrah just found out that her mean older sister is in charge of the Larder. I got about 450 words for her yesterday (Thursday), but she was all distraught about facing her sister. It was going slowly, and after I called it for that day I realized her response was simply too juvenile. Three quarters of the way in, Lorrah needs to be more forceful and ready to defend herself.

So while I’m on my writing weekend, I’ll consider alternative approaches. Most likely I’ll use much of the same dialogue that I have, but express it with different actions. If it continues going slowly, I can spend more time thinking about their past relationship. Parts of my time need to be focused on setting up blog posts for Queen Titania’s Court, anyway.

I hope you’re all keeping safe, and that you’re able to get some writing done, too.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Happy May, everybody. I must confess that spring is my favorite time of year. Everything is getting green and seeds are sprouting in the garden. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen pictures of my flowers. I’m even making inroads on the dandelions in my lawn. That’s thanks to the way I’m reshaping my schedule. It’s been a month and a half since I was ordered to stay home, so there’s no more excuse to act like I’m still confused.

Basically, I try to alternate my activities and keep myself alert. First thing in the morning, I take care of dishes and other chores. Then I get online, check work e-mail and sign into Teams. If my supervisor has any tasks for me, that’s where I’ll find them. Between 10 and 11, I go outside and do yard work. (The aforementioned dandelion patrol.) Around noon, I stop for lunch and play video games. Then at 1 pm it’s back online for a Zoom meeting. After the meeting, I do my first batch of writing for the day. That ends between 3 and 4, when I have more time for video games. If it’s my turn to cook, I get dinner handled. Then back upstairs for more writing until about 9.

Currently, I’m back to work on Prisoners of the Wailing Tower. Part of the reason I stopped was because I felt like I was on the wrong track. This is normal, since I don’t work with outlines. While I focused on the self-publishing part for Ice Witch, I kept mulling that over. I figured out where I went wrong and things are re-arranged. My normal goal has been to write 1 page a day (500 words, since I draft my stories single-spaced). With 2 sessions, that pushes me to 1,000 words a day.

Other ongoing projects are the pre-publicity for Ice Witch and inviting more people to join in on Queen Titania’s Court. The response has been fairly lack-luster, I must sadly admit. Maybe I’ll fill the extra spots with characters from my other books. Why not! Another project is Writers Read Writers, spear-headed by author Alma Alexander. A group of us are reading each other’s stories, and Alma is putting it out as a podcast. It should be fun, and of course I’ll let you know when my own story goes up.

At the moment, my video games are Animal Crossing and Control. Animal Crossing has saved my sanity during the pandemic, let me tell you. Control is a new one to me. It’s a fairly tense game with weird sound effects and alien monsters lurking in an apparently-abandoned office building. So far I’m really enjoying it, but I am glad I waited. I needed to be less tense before I started playing a tense game.

So that’s it! I hope you’re all holding your ground and staying safe.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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As with many of you, the adjustment to our at-least-temporary, new normal continues. I’m slowly getting my schedule worked around from the typical rush — morning rush to work, afternoon rush home and get a few chores done, evening rush to get some writing and/or marketing done — to a more leisurely pace. I do this every year, at the transition from school to summer break, but the unexpected nature of it still boggles.

There are many financial concerns, of course. Of the four adults in our family, only my husband is still working. My daughter works retail and my son works in a restaurant, and both of those are now shuttered. Even my husband’s work has started “casually” inquiring about his resources to work from home. The big question is how long this goes on. Should the three of us look for work, or wait/hope for our employers to re-open?

For the moment, we’re okay. My kids got the new Animal Crossing game before the pandemic closed in, and we’re enjoying that together. (Although there’s only one TV, so we have to take turns.) I’m able to get started on my garden much earlier than I normally would. Pruning the cherry tree and rose bushes, plus some spring cleaning, will keep me from becoming too sedentary.

And I’m making progress on Prisoners of the Wailing Tower. Alemin, my juggling jokester, has informed me that he’s carried the plot far enough. It’s time for the second POV, Lorah, to tell me who she is and what she wants. Lorah has been obliging, and I’ve started to braid her tale in with Alemin’s.

So it’s all going… somewhere. I’m not sure where, either in the story or real life. Hope you’re all able to make the necessary adjustments. too.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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After all these signal-boosting posts, it’s time for my regular recap of what I’ve been writing on recently.

Short stories: I mentioned here that I completed a very short story that straddles the boundary between children’s and adult fiction. Just yesterday, I received the first rejection for “Call me King.” There was no actionable feedback, so I’ll be submitting that again shortly.

Novellas: Prisoners of the Wailing Tower is just over 12,000 words and going slowly, but that’s what happens when your writing style is very exploratory. I still hope to finish it by the end of this month, when I’m taking a week’s vacation. With the Coronavirus thing going on, I’m starting to worry about whether we’ll be able to take that vacation as planned. Here’s hoping!

Video Games: I’ve finished up with Fallout ’76. I enjoyed many things about it, but I’m trying to follow the main quest and it keeps leading me to opponents that are 20 levels above my character’s reach. That gets frustrating. At the moment, I’m doing a run-through of Awakening, which I’ve played several times before, so it won’t distract me too much from Prisoners.

Coming Up: One reason I need to finish the first draft of Prisoners is that my intention is to publish the third Minstrels of Skaythe novella, The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh, around May 1st. I need time for one last revision, putting the cover together, and so forth.

But wait! There’s more! During the months of April and May, I will be putting together The Fairy Queen’s Court, a month-long celebration of fantasy that will coincide with Midsummer Eve (June 23rd). For those of you familiar with Teri Polen’s horror feature, Bad Moon Rising, the idea is very similar. All sorts of Indy fantasy writers will have a day on the blog to talk about their books. Those of you who write fantasy can look for those details in early April.

Yikes, that’s just a month away! Between writing, publishing and blogging, the months of April, May and June are going to be pretty intense around here.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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The last thing I want to say about my work-in-progress, Prisoners of the Wailing Tower, is not so much a discovery to me, but I hope it will be to my readers. That has to do with the Larder itself — the actual building where the story events take place.

The Larder is a subject of many fearful rumors. It’s said that the most violent and insane mages are imprisoned there. It’s also said that after being imprisoned there, everyone becomes violent and insane. It’s said no mage ever escapes the Larder, because Dar-Gothull feeds off the souls of those imprisoned within it.

The Larder is one of many tower-like structures scattered around Skaythe. Most of the towers are abandoned and swallowed by forest or swamp. They are connected by bands of an unknown, silvery paving that resists every corruption of time. They are commonly referred to as highways, because people use them as such. However, no one now living understands their true purpose.

Two things set the Larder is set apart from other towers. First, that it’s occupied as a prison. Second, and more remarkable, the Larder has actually been damaged somehow. Pristine silvery paving is warped and blackened. The elegant tower leans slightly to one side. This ought to be impossible, yet so it is.

The Larder is no longer just a building. A wounded and ravaged structure, filled with generation after generation of mad mages, it has taken on its own life. When the wind moves around the Larder, most people hear simple echoes. Others hear screams and sobs.

I’m excited by this setting, you can probably tell. But I don’t want to spoil the story for future readers, so I’ll stop there. If you want to get more background on the world of Skaythe, please do check out my novellas, The Tower in the Mist and Dancer in the Grove of Ghosts.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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One of my favorite techniques in my novels and novellas is to have two or more POV characters. Usually they are on opposite sides of the key question, or one of them is in a position to have information that the other character doesn’t have. In my current novella, Prisoners of the Wailing Tower, I’ve mentioned my main character, Alemin. The next thing I have to discover is who the other POV character will be.

One possibility is Ar-Lizelle, prison warden at the Larder. Behind her back, people call her The Lizard. Ar-Lizelle is an evil mage, as any who serve Dar-Gothull’s regime would have to be. She is in the same location as Alemin, and certainly is adversarial. I’m not sure she would be able to find out things he doesn’t know, though. At least, not in a way that would drive the plot.

I also could bring in another of the Minstrels who might try to rescue Alemin from the Larder. So far, two members of the original troupe haven’t featured in a novella yet. They are Berisan, Alemin’s brother and partner in their juggling act, and Lorah, who had unresolved feelings for Alemin. Berisan seems like the obvious rescuer. However, Lorah is related to Ar-Lizelle, and there’s some great potential for drama if Lorah unknowingly sneaks onto her sister’s ground.

When I’m feeling my way through these writing conundrums, I often make a list for myself of all the ideas that could be combined. The first few ideas will be really obvious ones, and therefore predictable. But if I keep pushing myself, the ideas will become more interesting and useful.

So as I bring Alemin into the Larder and introduce the people who live there, I have some pondering to do. It’s going to be fun!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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One thing about writing without a firm outline is that I discover a lot. Most discovery is good, fun, and keeps my stories fresh. I mentioned some of that last time with Alemin wanting to laugh in dire circumstances.

But sometimes, I discover things that just need a lot of work to be successful. That’s where I am with Prisoners of the Wailing Tower. I have a few character names, but I still have to working out everyone’s appearance, from facial features to their clothing. Their personalities are vaguely coming into focus.

The prison itself needs a lot of “construction,” as well. It’s called The Larder, as most people believe the tyrant Dar-Gothull will eventually devour the souls of the prisoners. In this setting many rules about what the prisoners can and (mostly) can’t do, and punishments if those rules are challenged. Or maybe just random punishments to keep them scared.

I’ve never been in prison myself, but I have an idea of what that must be like. I need to do some research, though, so I’m not relying on tired stereotypes.

You know what, though? Since I have you all here, maybe I’ll outline the rules for The Larder. Maybe some of you have had the unfortunate experience of prison yourselves. So these are the restrictions the warden, Ar-Lizelle, lays out out when Alemin arrives:

  1. No magic. These are dangerous and insane wizards, so that’s obvious.
  2. No talking. They don’t want the renegades plotting together.
  3. When spoken to, answer with the full truth. Playing clever word games will get you a beating at least.
  4. No fraternizing with the guards. Some mages can be incredibly persuasive and there have been escapes in the past.
  5. Remain in your cell unless ordered out for work. Again, this cuts down on opportunities for scheming.
  6. Keep your cell scrupulously clean. There should be nowhere to hide forbidden items, like books.
  7. Work if you want to eat. Work will be menial chores such as washing dishes, scrubbing floors, pitching out the stables.

Well, what do you think? Am I forgetting anything important?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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