Also despite the fact that I somehow took the entire weekend off (if I can spare time for that, why can't I catch up with other things?); besides family events, all I did all weekend was read - no, devour - Stephen King's 11/22/63. A wonderful, absorbing book. King, as always, is a master of characterisation.
Of course one of my first thoughts once I'd finished reading, after my tears had abated, was 'why do I bother???' But that, of course, is not how I should be feeling. I knew that right away, so I tried to focus on what I can do, to make sure my stories evoke similar reactions in my eventual readers. One of the first things I thought of is that I really love my characters, so I've got to make sure the writing shines enough that readers will love them too!
Back to the overwhelmed feeling. Part of the problem is this:
What is that? you ask... It's the pile of STUFF I accumulated last week: books to read, printed books and scenes to read and beta, my own half-edited MS and current notebook of notes, a couple of newspaper clippings of interesting vacation sites, finished books with notes about items to blog or investigate, and I think there's even a knitting project at the very top!
My computer was underneath all that. I had to tidy and re-allocate some items to other piles just to get at it. And this happens every week! (Part of the problem of course is that I have no office or properly organized library...)
All this to say, I have come to the point where I'm changing the much ballyhooed schedule. Here's what the New Save-My-Sanity-and-Reduce-the-TBR-pile Schedule looks like (neverminding the 9-5 job, and knitting at lunch times, and seeing friends and family):
FRI Blog (both Sunday and Wednesday posts, and comments, and the Forum, and all other internet stuff!)
SAT Edit (must get up early!), knit at night
SUN Edit (again getting up early)
The sooner I finish editing Druid's Moon, write the query letter and synopsis, and go out on queries, the sooner I can start drafting something new! Writing comes easily, and every day, while editing takes discipline... Although I'd still like to spend NaNoEdMo month in March editing a couple of short stories.
Has anyone else been feeling overwhelmed? What have you decided to do?
Let's move on to fun stuff!
The first page of Druid's Moon is up for critique at Adam's this week!
Joy Campbell has a new book out! Here's what to do if you'd like to participate and vote on the winners:
"Thanks for helping me celebrate the release of Retribution. Love...The Second Time Around is what the novel is all about, so submit your most interesting stories of people taking another shot at a relationship.
There is no restriction as it pertains to form or genre. Stories can be fact or fiction. Use your imagination, make them attention-grabbing.
Somewhere in there, you must tell the reader why the couple broke up and why they feel compelled to get back together. This can be done from any of your characters' point-of-view.
The word cap is 500.
Indicate on your blog post, by the relevant badge, whether you're in the fact or fiction category."
I'm in the fiction category!
I'm actually submitting it as part of another blogfest as well (no judging in this one): The Indelibles' Indie-Kissing blogfest!
Though my scene doesn't have an actual kiss, it does lead to the possibility of one. It's set in the 17th Century and before I share it, a brief note: I had to Google to find out the opposite of a cuckold; the word is cuckquean, and refers to a woman with an adulterous husband.
Hope everyone has a wonderful love-filled weekend and that you all have fun with these blogfests!
After the Ball by Deniz Bevan
"If you say so." She swept away from him on the landing, and entered her dressing room. The door was open, maids scurrying in and out, and he followed her, of course.
"Why, Catherine, whatever is the matter?"
She did not even toss him a glare, keeping her head bowed as she lifted her arms for Jenny to unhook her side laces. The housemaid finished laying the fire and curtsied her way out.
She could hear Charles, rattling the bottles and combs on her vanity, waiting, and she kept her face averted so Jenny would not see her tears. As if the maids needed more to gossip about, after all she'd overheard tonight.
Cool air rushed across her body as she stepped out of the heavy folds of her gown. "That's fine, Jenny, thank you."
For a moment her maid's eyes widened, but then she schooled her features, and curtsied. "Yes, mum. Will there be anything else, mum?"
"No, not tonight. I wish to be called later tomorrow morning."
"Yes, mum. Certainly, mum."
Another curtsy – tarnation, the world was an endless round of formality! – and then the capped head bobbed out.
Charles whirled on her even as the door closed.
"Catherine!" He stopped then, and his eyes travelled from her head to her feet, and back, taking in her half-dressed, dishevelled state. "Here, let me help you."
He took up a brush from the vanity and pushed her over to the chaise longue. She let him, not trusting her voice. The fire hadn't had time to warm the room yet – curse those dilly dallying, gossiping slatterns! – and the floor boards were cold beneath her silk stockings.
She pulled at her gloves as Charles tugged the ribbons and pins one by one from her hair. The heap of decorations grew beside her on the cushion. Feathers and bows, gloves and scarves – his wig.
She looked up. His hair straggled about his ears; even greyer than when she'd last seen him. "Shall I help you remove some of your trappings, then?"
"Not yet. Turn around."
She did as he said, and he began brushing her hair in long, even strokes, his other hand following the brush with each sweep. The fire crackled, but the only heat came from his body, pressing against her back.
"Has someone upset you, my love?" He asked at last, breaking the silence.
"No one important."
"You overheard something?" He tucked an errant curl behind her ear.
"Yes. They're gossiping again downstairs."
"Oh, I see." The brush stilled. "About –"
"You needn't pay any mind to what the servants say."
"Hmp." She pulled away, and gave him the glare she'd been saving. "As if what they say doesn't travel halfway across the kingdom. And it's not just the servants – the entire court sees fit to speculate on my barrenness."
"Why, Catherine –"
She stood and gave him eye for an eye. "Speculate! If only they'd speculate and have done! Every one of those men believes they have the answer. And every cuckquean of a wife agrees. I'll bet the mistresses are even more vociferous."
"Catherine!" He tossed aside the brush and set his hands on her shoulders. "What has gotten you into this state?"
"You don’t hear it." She pushed at his chest with both hands. "No one tells you to your face that you ought to set aside the Queen. I have to answer to them all."
"That's not true, and you know it." He grabbed her hands in his. "Come, dear, they've gossiped before. You know I will not leave you no matter –"
"No matter that I'm useless? What about the others?" She wrenched out of his clasp and sat down, yanking off her stockings, hiding her face again. There, she'd done what no wife – no Queen – ought ever to do, cuckquean or not.
"Others?" It came out as a croak.
"All the others." She threw the balled up stockings at his feet. "The mistresses, the mothers. What are they like, those children? Do they know? Do they call you Papa? Do you play –" Her throat closed up and she buried her face in her hands.
She heard the air rush out of his lungs. He always puffed out his cheeks like that. She tortured herself, imagining a troupe of faceless women observing him do the same.
The cushions sank beside her and the brush and hand returned to her hair. She wiped her eyes with the heel of her hand, straightening and turning her back on him. He was counting strokes from where he'd stopped his brushing before. Eighty, eighty-one, eighty-two...
"What if we weren't King and Queen?" she whispered. "What if we were commoners?"
"It still would not matter to me," he replied. "I might breed dogs, or horses. I might be a scholar or a playwright. It would be enough that you and I should be together."
"And as King?"
"Don't ask me questions I cannot answer, Catherine. Ninety-seven... ninety-eight... ninety-nine... one hundred. Let's go to bed."