Tag Archives: excerpt

Challenge: 777, Another Excerpt from My WIP


Aimlessly scrolling through old challenges on this blog, I found this one.  I first did this challenge in April 2015.  The challenge is this:

  • Go to your current work in progress
  • Scroll to page 7
  • Count 7 sentences
  • Share the next 7 sentences after that
  • And of course, tag people to do the same. You can even tag 7 people if you want to really get into the number theme.

Since 2015… I don’t know how many more false starts I’ve written (4 or 5 I think).  But I am still doggedly working on the same novel that I begun in 2006.  This hopefully-not-false start I have been working on since November 2017.  Fingers crossed, all.  This draft is currently 59 pages of size 10 Verdana, single space, with a line between paragraphs.

The man grabbed Veil by the shirtfront and pulled him down nearer.

Veil shivered.

“Take it,” the man croaked.  “Tvorec, I need you to take it.  I can’t.”

“You’re—you’re going to be fine.”  Veil was far from sure that the man would be fine, but he knew that he had to—

Looks as though I have shortened the beginning of this novel since 2015.  This is a little later in the plot than that excerpt from 2015.

I like this challenge being my first post of 2019.  (TWENTY NINETEEN, ALL!  We made it this far!)  I feel like I have been spending a lot of time recently with my novel–since this past NaNoWriMo.  I hope that is a good sign.  I am getting into the excitement and frustration of new scenes, new ideas, new backstory, new rules of operation.  I hope this trend will continue into 2019.  I would like 2019 to be a year for writing.  But who knows what curveballs this new year has in store for me–for all of us?

Anyone I know with a blog and a WIP want to take up this challenge?  My followers, do you have WIPs?  I would love to know.  I would love to know who and what books to look out for in the new year or the next or the next or….

I went looking through the pingbacks from Olivia Berrier’s original challenge, and found that Gwen added a further piece to this challenge: the 777th word in my current draft is “Glenys,” a recent name change for an important secondary character.  It only took her 12 years to outgrow her original name.  I’m pretty sure until now she had been using her original name, chosen then because it meant “old.”  Her new name means “pure, clean, holy.”

Just for fun, the 2019th word in this WIP is “nearest.”

Challenge: 777, an Excerpt from my WIP


Olivia has challenged me to a 777.

The challenge is:

  • Go to your current work in progress
  • Scroll to page 7
  • Count 7 sentences
  • Share the next 7 sentences after that
  • And of course, tag people to do the same. You can even tag 7 people if you want to really get into the number theme.

I’m really enjoying this challenge because it gives me a moment to isolate a section of text that I rarely would isolate and to edit that section as if it were all that would ever be publicly visible.  My story, bless it, is in the middle of a rewrite.  There were sections of this story that I knew needed rewriting, and I could not find the motivation or wherewithal to do so, not after all the hard work of the first and second and other go-arounds.  So my catalyst character, a character of 10+ years’ acquaintance, decided to change genders and necessitate the whole thing.  While I curse her a little, I thank her a lot.

Sadly, the section highlighted by the 777 is a bit of an info dump and has not undergone much transformation.  Maybe it should.  I’d appreciate the critique.


She gave him one last smile and set off.

Veil watched her shuffle down the slope of the hill, looking frail beneath the spiderweb of her shawl. As she faded into the growing twilight and the shadow of the mountains, a fire bloomed in the valley below, leaping quickly toward the deep blue eastern sky to replace the sun as it took its last peek at the world.

Against the flickering of the flames, he could see dark figures, silhouettes that he couldn’t recognize, but he knew that he knew—would know if only he could be closer, if he could see their faces.

From this distance, outcast from the ring of firelight, friends were as hazy as the stranger who had brought Veil to Gerizim. Priscilla had described him to Veil, but he was still no more than a ghost, insubstantial, intangible, and incomplete, as much a mystery as were his parents and their deaths.

He let his hand fall, realizing that he had been worrying the chain of twisted silver that hung around his neck. …

Now, of course, I’m supposed to issue the challenge too.  I know fewer people these days actively working on longer WIP.  (If I am misinformed and you are, in fact, working on a WIP, please correct me and accept the challenge.  If you’re one of those people I’m speaking to, I expect you’ll know it.)

Olivia has already challenged Gwen.  I also challenge Emily at More Than One Page, Eileen at Musings, and Katie at Mountain Hart.

Travel: May 17, 2014: Field Day in Shibutami


Hello, my friends and readers. I left you without preamble, but now I can announce that I have been abroad and that Nine Pages is going to take some time to try on travel blogging because there are people who want both stories and pictures and I express myself best in print and cannot spend three days in uninterrupted storytelling nor gather my friends together for such a recounting.

I hope those of you here for book reviews will forgive the brief interlude. Please, share my adventures with me and know that I’ll get back to book blogging soon.

This was, for the most part, not your typical tourist’s trip to Japan. I went to see my friend, Kari, who has been living for the past two years in Koma, a small town in the Iwate prefecture, and teaching in its surrounding towns.

Waking groggily to the boom of the national guard’s cannon fire, my first full day in Japan was spent primarily in Shibutami, a tiny town so small that it isn’t recognized by an easy Google Maps or TripAdvisor search, so for all those curious people following along at home, it is here:


More specifically, here:


Look at all those pretty rivers!

This is farming land—or so it seemed from the windows of the taxi that drove us to the junior high school. As we drove out of town and up towards the foothills of Mt Iwate, the houses became more widespread and side streets were replaced by larger gardens and a smattering of farm equipment. As we pressed towards the mountainside, evergreens climbed up the slopes and overhung the twisting road.

I’m going to assume that the majority of my audience is American and speak to you a moment: Do you all remember in elementary school when we would spend one hot, late spring day on the fields running relay races and having water balloon fights? If you missed out on this, I’m sorry. Suffice it to say, it happened at my elementary school. For Hollins students, the comparison may best be our annual SHARE Olympiad, of which I actually have clearer memories.

Japan has such a tradition. On a weekend—this was a Saturday—the students don headbands and track suits that are their school uniforms and return to school for a sports or field day called undōkai (if Wikipedia is to be a trusted source).

For the Japanese—or at least in Shibutami—this is a community event as it never was at my American elementary school, attended by parents, families, and friends.

Kari probably didn’t realize that as I sat on the low wall that hedged the school, watching the students compete as did the townspeople, I kept remembering a moment in my own WIP (this was supposed partially to be a writer’s vacation) when the protagonist realizes that his best friend has brought him to a community event:

“A celebration, a festival meant for Lochsimites, and Keagan had tried to include Veil, tried to include him in a way that the Gerizimites never had.”

If I wasn’t enjoying myself enough people-watching and learning about Japanese culture and comparing my observations to my those of my own culture, that comparison and its associated warmth would have buoyed me through the cold, windy, gray day.

I particularly enjoyed watching the younger children playing on the sidelines and the parents watching the children. Children at play are unaware that they are being observed.

The elders of the town are allowed to sit in chairs beneath the white pavilion that also housed the student commentator.


Snippets of truth buried in stereotypes had prepared me to expect elders to be more respected in Japan than they are in America. I was hyperaware of signs of that respect. At one point an elderly man with a cane left the tent and a middle-aged man (he had a very dignified streak of white through his black hair and a face more heavily lined for his concern for the older man) hurried to his side to help him along. There is a grain of truth buried in our American stereotype too. I wondered if the elderly gentleman might not feel some spike of American indignation at the middle-aged man’s interference, some sense of stubborn pride that says, “Son, I can make it on my own,” but I did not see this in his face.

For the most part, the games were pretty familiar, though I did notice a stronger emphasis on the team and that there were no games in which an individual could win and few in which an individual could be a true hero, though there were certainly a few boys with the swagger of MVPs. There were three-legged relay races, relay races, and an egg race in which elders were paired with students. There was a game very like the one where we try to eat a donut from a string without using our hands, where students had to get the bagged bread off of the string with their mouths then run back to the start line with it. This they did as a three-legged race and they had to stop midway to complete a first task, such a stacking boxes or blowing up then popping a balloon. The community was asked to join for a game to get the most balls into the raised basket.


There was a challenge to bring the most tires back to your teams’ side, and a game for the boys alone where one boy went on the shoulders of another and the upraised boys tried to steal one another’s hats.


All these were accompanied by music over the loudspeaker (mostly in Japanese but a few Western favorites including “Call Me Maybe” snuck into the repertoire, making me laugh), a taiko drumbeat, and encouraging, choreographed, and practiced cheers from team members. Perhaps because this is a community event and an opportunity to showcase one’s skills for others, students practice for weeks in advance. It seems that the students are given much more opportunity to lead than we were at any of our field days, which were events that we attended not events that we planned or prepared for.

The lunch break was spent at a small mall, an Aeon Supercenter, in walking distance. The road twisted over the river, past this view, and up a hill before depositing us in the town proper.


I noticed as we walked through town that even though there aren’t many foreigners who visit Shibutami, signs for important government type buildings were still in English as well as Japanese.  It was really nice to be able to read something.  (I know I should have studied more Japanese before I left, but I didn’t.)

Malls and shopping centers in Japan have many stores, like ours do, but mostly they seem to favor an open floor plan, which is pretty brilliant, because it not only gives you more space, but it also means that your eyes and feet wander all over. You can see much more of a store’s merchandise when the floor plan is open than you can through the front windows or doors alone.

Lunch was salad with breaded chicken cutlet and my first taste of lotus root, which I grew very fond of in its many preparations.

The evening we spent in Morioka, which will be something of a refrain in the first few of these posts.


Morioka is the nearest city proper to Koma (the marker set farthest north; Shibutami is just below that) so it’s where Kari and I went when we wanted a choice of restaurants, especially restaurants that stayed open past 5 pm. Morioka is built at the confluence of three rivers. I think the one below is the Nakatsu River.


We went to Iwate Park, which houses the ruins of Morioka Castle. What’s left of the castle is mainly the walls that shape the grounds.


The park included a monument erected in honor of a local poet whose biography included the brilliant line: “It was here that the well-known poet Takuboku Ishikawa, having escaped from school by way of a window, would spend hours reading literature and philosophy and daydreaming.” Though I know none of his poetry, that line is enough to make me like him.

Dinner was a hamburger patty at one of Kari’s favorite restaurants but dessert was a parfait of green tea ice cream with sweet bean paste and mochi I think and whipped cream.

All photographs are mine.  Click to see them larger.  All maps are made using Google Maps.

Challenge: PerNoEdMo: Days 24-25: Camera Angles and Viewpoints


Day 24 I gave up on for a sick day.  I spent the day watching movies, television, and YouTube videos and cuddling a puppy.  I did do some thinking about the novel, though.  How could I not?  I’m less certain now that my antagonist would have the protagonist held back during the antagonist’s villainy.  He might just incapacitate him.  Nasty antagonist.  I will have to try to write the story this way and see if it takes.  (Note: he was a little more violent, but my protagonist still get just held back.)   Also, I came up with the villain’s reason to keep the captive that he does.  People (other villains) have asked me this question before.  Now I have an answer, and I hope that it will please these villains.

Day 25, I started on page 363 of 407 again.  My characters gave me a rewrite that I’m pleased with.  I always wondered why only this one magic was visible as anything other than its effects, and though I could rationalize it, I like it better now that it is as invisible as every other magic.  I think readers will too.

I wrote out a fight scene blow by blow only to realize that my protagonist is not in a state to be able to recognize a blow by blow.  I may have to… I don’t know, save that for a weird scene out of character to be put in a paperback release or maybe to give to a movie director so that she knows what’s happening and can accurately depict the fight then put a filter over the footage to wash it all out.  Or wash some of it out.  There’re a lot of close thirds and first novels that have been made into movies.  All of them have cast a protagonist rather than have the camera be the protagonist.  This is just an observation, Hollywood.

I’m ending around page 371 of 407.  139,657 words.  I’m stopping for the night because it looks like I’ll have to remind myself of what got to stay in the story before I can finish up this scene.

(I realized today that I cut a line that I really liked: “I don’t know.  I’m a magician not a physician.”  Then I realized that I potentially enjoyed it so because it was not only a good, musical line but also an accidental Star Trek reference: “Dammit, Jim.  I’m a doctor, not a ___.”)

I think I will also need to go back and rewrite the ending of this scene. Why not?  I’ve rewritten most of it and liked what I’ve done.

Challenge: PerNoEdMo: Day 9: A Day of Rewrites


I’m starting today on page 323 of 410.  I cut a large swath of story.  I am replacing some of it, however, with new material.  This new cultural information might actually merit a great bit of rewriting to accommodate.  But it’s just such a cool idea, and it does so much for the overarching plot!  I want to use it.

I’ve been getting distracted.  It’s past midnight.  I’m at a chapter break.  I’m going to call it for the night.

I’m on page 328 of 408 and have 139,643 words.  Friends, it’s under 140,000!  (120,000 is the golden, unreachable goal.)

Today’s update seems short.  Have one of the excerpts that I sent to the characters’ godmother while I kept her up way too late:

            “Does this mean that you have chosen me over him?”

            “Was it ever a question of choosing between you?”

            “I think so,” Elapsus said, “for you.”

            “I don’t want to hurt—I don’t want to leave either of you.”

Challenge: PerNoEdMo: Days 2-4: Social Life Gets in the Way and Panera Offers Answers


None of the editing happened on day 2 of my PerNoEdMo challenge.  From work I went to my friends’ house, where I spent literally the remainder of the night talking with friends around a fire and enjoying some homemade bread and chili.  I decided this was more important than my PerNoEdMo goal.

Day 3 of PerNoEdMo was lost to work, an attempt to cobble together last minute plans that was really more an exercise in futility, a game night invite, and the fact that 9:57p now feels like 10:57p.  I’m exhausted, and I hate that I am.

Day 4 began as day 1 did with a plan to meet for coffee that didn’t go rightly.  But it meant that I was awake and began my PerNoEdMo battle early.  Today I ponder whether or not or how much my protagonist needs to know about the relationship between his grandfather and his mother.  I have some lines in the conversation that I really love and don’t want to lose:

“Grandfather,” Veil’s voice escaped in a whisper, “did my mother—”

“I loved your mother.”

“I know.  But did she—did she hurt you?”

“All children hurt their parents.  All of them leave.”

but I’m just not sure that the reveal is necessary though it is definitely interesting.  My protagonist is aware already that his grandfather and his mother were separated when the protagonist’s parents were killed.  He is aware that his grandfather loved his mother but that his grandfather had some quarrel with the protagonist’s father.  Veil does learn in this scene that his grandfather didn’t know about Veil, that it took his grandfather some time to learn of his existence and longer to find out where he was.  I’m a little surprised that this has not come up earlier in the novel.  Veil also learns that his father was born without magic.

I am also lamenting the number of world-appropriate euphemisms for having sex, because my antagonist would not be so blunt as to mention it by name, but I don’t really want to invent a new euphemism for fear that it won’t be understood by either my protagonist or the readers.

I also need to review my protagonist’s view of sex and the views of those who have raised him.

In an attempt to resurrect the coffee date of this morning, I have moved for the remainder of the hours before work to Panera.  Sometimes it really is nice to be able to peoplewatch while writing.  I had logged onto the Internet here to look up “towhead in white” to try to determine if white is a good or bad color for most platinum blonds.  And that was when a blonde woman in a white jacket walked through the door.  Fate.  There are actually a surprising number of blondes wearing white here, and some blondes wearing dark colors to offer me both arguments of colors in which to dress my protagonist.

One quick change made the whole of the section that I’ve been working on seem better connected, so that was a win for sure, and I had to stop myself from getting up and doing a happy dance in the aisle between the tables here.

And then I worked.

And then I got home.  And then I rediscovered BBC comedies, and now it’s 12:21a.

Challenge: Camp NaNo: Day 29: The Penultimate


April 29

This morning this applied (or the verse about powering through to 40 did), and I went around singing it.

I seriously think this novel is wrapping itself up around 40000 words….  (I’ve written 46215 words towards this NaNo, but the count on the words I’m keeping is actually 40510.)  This could be problematic for NaNo.  Is it against rules to send in a complete draft and the beginning of a second?

Today’s goal: 48333

Total word count: 46215

Day’s word count: 3515

Average daily word count for April: 1595

Words behind the pace: 2118

Words till 50000: 3785

Death count: 2

Total word count towards other projects (including this project, Facebook messages, cover letters, etc.): 32749

Daily word count towards other projects: 360

Average daily word count for other projects: 1191

Cups of tea: 2 caf, 1 decaf

Sugar: 1 bowl of ice cream

Hours spent at work: 6.5

Hours driving: 1.5

What else distracted me: My Little Pony, meeting with my (potentially, hopefully) new landlady, chores, friends

Other campers: Apprentice, Never MasterMore Than One Page

Challenge: Camp NaNo: Day 27


April 27

““Not again,” Veil muttered” [speaking to the authoress].  My sister had the right response to this line of his and comment of mine: “haha dear Veil, just suck it up and take whatever she’s writing.”

More deaths are forthcoming, I think, but I don’t know whose they will be.  It’s a problem.  My villains are trying to kidnap the plot.

Today’s goal: 45000

Total word count: 42442

Day’s word count: 2228

Average daily word count for April: 1573

Words behind the pace: 2558

Words till 50000: 7558

Death count: 1

Total word count towards other projects (including this project, Facebook messages, cover letters, etc.): 31650

Daily word count towards other projects: 1228

Average daily word count for other projects: 1238

Today’s playlist: The same playlist in need of a title that includes Taylor Swift, Darren Criss singing covers from Glee, The Mountain Goats, Hunter Hayes, and Fleet Foxes.

Songs I’m singing: Fun’s “Carry On,” “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story, “Come to Me (Fantine’s Death)” from Les Mis, Fun’s “I Wanna Be the One.”

Cups of tea: 2 caf, 1 pomegranate oolong

Sugar: 0!

Hours spent at work: 5.5

Hours driving: 1

Visits to the minefields: 1

What else distracted me: I talked to my mother for a little and to coworkers.  Oh, and there was a spider.  He was evil.  My manager killed it (or at least swept it into the trash bin).

Other campers: Apprentice, Never MasterMore Than One Page

Challenge: Camp NaNo: Day 26


April 26

I was skimming through my own work today, and I found this delightful tidbit.  It wanted sharing:

It was nearly done, its skin begin to sizzle, when Keagan stirred.

Veil brightened and hurried to him.  “You mad idiot,” he laughed, leaning over him.  “How do you feel?”

“Tired,” Keagan grumbled.

“Can you ride?” Thir Fowler asked.

Keagan pushed himself up on his elbows and then sat up.  He didn’t grimace, did so smoothly.  He nodded.

“Good.  You are a mad idiot, and I’ll give you a proper telling-off when you’re fully recovered, don’t you worry about that,” Thir Fowler snarled.

Today’s goal: 43333

Total word count: 40214

Day’s word count: 2578

Words behind the pace: 3119

Words till 50000: 9786

Average daily word count for April: 1548

Death count: 1

Total word count towards other projects (including this project, Facebook messages, cover letters, etc.): 30422

Daily word count towards other projects: 819

Average daily word count for other projects: 1239

Today’s playlist: “Poetry” including Children of Eden, The Mountain Goats, The Rocket Summer, Harper Blynn, and Foster the People; an untitled playlist that includes Taylor Swift, Fleet Foxes, Starkid, Sanctus Real, and The All-American Rejects (if you have any suggestions as to why I should have felt these artists need clumping, I’d be interested to know; I’d love to name the playlist by determining its glue)

Songs I’m singing: “Original Musical” from [Title of Show], “Far From the Home I Love” from Fiddler on the Roof, “Lost in the Wilderness” from Children of Eden, Demi Lovato’s “Give Your Heart a Break”

Cups of tea: 1 caf, 1 decaf, 1 passionfruit

Sugar: I was weak.  2 coconut ices

Hours spent at work: 0!

Hours driving: 0!

What else distracted me: Book reviews, Doctor Who, chores

Other campers: Apprentice, Never MasterMore Than One Page