Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Siege: The First Chapter, Revised

Over a month ago, on January 1, I hammered out 5000 words and three chapters in one day. It was the beginning of the book I tentatively called "Siege". Since then, I solidified the title, came up with a cover, finished writing the first draft, and started on the sequel.

Here, for your enjoyment, is the revised first chapter. It's very interesting to see how the first chapter has evolved.



Vetch loved the crisp mornings of Seventh Day. It was the beginning of a day of free time. This was his time to enjoy time away from the constant training he faced as he got older.
Being a younger son his career had been chosen: he was to train as a squire. That meant his days were filled with hour after hour of grueling physical drills and tedious instruction. It was a hard life, but since he had begun as a squire five years ago on his eleventh birthday, the bullying he had endured had gone away.
He looked forward to his eighteenth birthday, when he would be eligible for knighthood. If he proved himself after that point, he would be knighted. But that was still nearly two years away.
Today he and the five other young squires of Sir Donal had passed through the Upper Valley Wall and into the higher reaches of the Lower Valley.
In their company had come three maids, the teenage daughters of noble families. Vetch admired them from afar, admiring their figures and the way they sat sidesaddle on their horses. Dunn, one of Vetch's best friends, had convinced the girls to join them. He had even gone so far as to dare the maids to come without a chaperone, which they had done.
They reached the blackberry brambles that grew alongside a portion of the Raven River. The squires dismounted and spread out to pick berries. The light armor they wore even during their free time would shield them from the thorns that protected the berries. Even better, the beginning of autumn meant that the scorching heat of summer didn't bake the young men in their gear.
Having filled his pouch with sweet, tart berries, Vetch moved slowly out of the brambles. He had to be careful, the sharp thorns were quite talented at finding hands or hair to catch on. He walked over to the baskets and dumped his pickings.
Vetch heard sweet, feminine laughter. From the brambles, the maids were looking his way and sharing a private joke. Amongst them was Lina, a lovely black-haired girl of the same age as Vetch. He thought her the most beautiful girl in the world. She caught his eye and smiled, and he shyly turned away.
"If you sit next to her, she isn't going to mind," Gilder said as he walked up with his own load of berries. "If you talk to her, she's even going to talk back."
Vetch glared at his one of his two best friends. "I'm not afraid of her," he said.
Gilder chuckled as he dumped his berries into the basket. "I'm not going to argue courage with you, but if you aren't afraid, why don't you talk to her?"
Vetch frowned as he tried to think of a retort. Before he could say anything, Gilder continued, "Listen, I'm not insulting you. I'm your friend. I'm encouraging you."
Vetch hung his head.
Before Vetch and Gilder could continue, they heard the sound of a horn. Both boys looked downslope towards the rest of the Lower Valley. There lay the town of Ravenna, and beyond that the final wall of the mountain domain of Ravenholt. As they gazed downwards, the horn sounded again. This time, the Ravenna town bell followed, ringing constantly.
"It's not on the hour. And there is no pattern in horn or bell..." Vetch said in a whisper.
"The town's under attack!" Gilder shouted.
From other brambles emerged the other squires, Dunn, Rok, Cauley, and Lench.
"To horse! We'll go help them," Dunn said.
Besides Rok, Dunn was the tallest of the squires. Naturally athletic, he was the one that Vetch worried most about taking Lina out from under him. On the other hand, Dunn was Vetch's other best friend. Just two years ago Vetch and Dunn had pledged to always stand by each other's side in battle.
"No. We must get back, protect these young ladies, and attend our master," Cauley ordered. He was the oldest and by custom, the others had to defer to him.
"I don't think so," Gilder said. He brushed past Cauley and vaulted onto his horse. "The town's in a panic. People need our help."
"I agree," Dunn said as he too vaulted onto his horse.
"Duty dictates that we return to our masters," Lench said as he grabbed the bridles of Gilder and Dunn's horses "Sir Donal will be expecting us".
Vetch wasn't surprised by Lench's behavior. These days he always followed Cauley's lead.
"Let go of my horse," Gilder said with a snarl. "People could be dying."
"We're going back to the Upper Valley," Cauley said as he put his hand on his sword hilt.
The air became tense with the threat of violence. To Vetch the world had turned surreal. For the first time in a hundred years, the town was under attack. Yet his friends were arguing, nearly to blows. Frozen in indecision, he looked at Lina. Her lovely brown eyes filled with emotion, she mouthed the words, "Do something."
Courage filled Vetch's heart. For once he was the one to speak up while his friends debated. "Stop fighting!" he projected with the commanding voice all of them had been taught. "Those who want to go up the mountain with Cauley can do so. We'll split up! Anyone who thinks going to town is the right thing to do, go!"
Lench released the bridles. Dunn and Gilder wheeled their mounts and began their descent toward the town. The other young men and women began to mount up.
"If you go to the town, you'll be reneging in your duty," Cauley shouted as he began the ride toward the Upper Valley.
Reminded of his duty, Vetch thought of their liege and master, Sir Donal. What would he say if they abandoned duty and went to the defense of Ravenna instead?
The maids and the other squires, Rok and Lench followed Cauley. Lina turned back and caught Vetch's eye. She smiled at him before riding away.
Her smile made Vetch heart beat with pride. He had done the right thing, had kept friends from blows. Now it was time for yet more courage. Instead of following Cauley, Vetch went the other way towards Ravenna, following Dunn and Gilder.
Vetch knew Sir Donal would punish him later, but he also knew he was doing the right thing.

Monday, January 30, 2017

8000 Words!

It's Monday morning, the beginning of the work week. Don't be sad, because I bring two awesome things to you:

1. On Saturday I wrote over EIGHT THOUSAND WORDS. That's a record for me. 

2. All those words allowed me to FINISH the storyline of Siege! It tops off at thirty-four chapters plus a glossary section I use to track people, places, and things. Yes, it still needs proofing, editing, and cleanup, but the hardest part is done! HOORAY!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

No Person Is an Island

I always try to get write at least 1500 words a day. Sometimes I manage to achieve more, like this past Sunday when I managed to hit the amazing number of 6000 words!

Yet so far today I've held off from writing. Why?

Yesterday I wrote Chapter 27 of Siege. When it was done, I wasn't happy. Something was missing and figuring it out took most of today.

It boils down to the idea that no person is an island. While Vetch might be self-absorbed at times, he's part of a greater community of friends and family. Together, they are greater than the sum of their parts.

There are times to separate him from that community (like chapter 24), but that was part of the drama there. The scenes I had in mind for chapter 27, on the other hand, should continue to include him in his community.

The end result is that when Vetch must be separated from friends and family, it carries more weight.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Power went out, but the writing went on!

Thanks to torrential Los Angeles rains, last night the electricity was out for most of the evening. So my wife and I went to a dark cocktail bar until 1 AM in the morning. We brought laptops and while I pounded out two more chapters she did a bunch of photo editing.

When you gotta write, you gotta write!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Midnight Posting on Wednesday Night

Here on the west coast of the United States, It's just after midnight on Wednesday. That means I can publish chapter 12 of Siege!

You might wonder how I keep up this pace of three chapters a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). Well, I can do that because I'm anywhere from six to eight chapters ahead. So far Siege has been a blast to write, and the words just keep pouring out. 

Thank you, everyone, who has read it so far, especially those of you who have given such excellent commentary.  Your input is greatly appreciated. :-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Siege has 8 chapters!

At the rate I'm writing chapters for Siege, the book will have over 50,000 words by the end of this month. That's like Nanowrimo, but for January. Perhaps this is Januwrimo?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Siege has five chapters!

Siege (https://www.wattpad.com/story/95032418-siege) is up to five chapters now, and has a new cover to boot. Tomorrow I'll release the sixth chapter. Editing is a work in progress, so expect the text in earlier chapters to evolve into cleaner prose as time goes by.