[Editor's Note: I'm having fun in Hannah's Tale using the names of two of my brothers' offspring as characters. Hannah is my real life (RL as the kids are calling these days) niece, a lovely 8 year old girl as smart as the story's Hannah, though to be fair I've never seen the RL Hannah wear a corset.
The excerpt below is of Hannah meeting another character for the first time. CPO Crowmere is named after my newest Nephew (I've got a plethora of them; plenty for future novels) Gaius. Enjoy!]
The line was shorter this morning, and more desperate. Mostly the people waiting were like her, trying again after being turned away the previous day. To Hannah’s delight, the man behind the folding table was not Lieutenant Claven.
In place of the rat-faced Claven, a burly man in the uniform of a Chief Petty Officer stood behind the folding table. He was broad of shoulder and had a barrel of a torso, though these features seemed only to accentuate the magnificence of his side whiskers, two formidable bastions of manly hair that sprouted from his cheeks and made him look like a feral grassboar. Thankfully his lips and chin were shaved clean, giving Hannah somewhere to focus her eyes that would hopefully not be offensive.
For in addition to the extravagant facial hair, the CPO had only one leg. Of course Hannah had seen amputees before. Service in the engine room and mechanical spaces of the grass ships was dangerous, and many a retired naval serviceman was missing a finger or a foot. These injuries were more common amongst the enlisted personnel, who were responsible for the unpleasant jobs aboard ship. Often such maiming injury meant an early retirement. However, Hannah could not imagine this bear of a man sitting amongst the other retirees at the local veterans’ coffee house, idly boasting of past glories and complaining about the failings of today.
He almost seemed proud of his injury. Hannah observed him discreetly as the mother and son couple in front of her addressed him regarding the son’s enlistment. His good leg was covered hip to glossy black boot in uniform pants, as was to be expected. On his missing leg however, the uniform pants had been neatly cut short and hemmed at mid thigh. Below the oddly shortened pant leg extended a marvelously complex leg of brass gears and rods. Even standing still the artificial leg seemed in motion, as whirring gyros nearly hidden behind meshed cogs spun in place. A trickle of steam vented from a narrow gap where a piston waited for some hidden command to push. Hannah wondered what the miraculous leg would look like in motion, and how she could arrange to view it without seeming utterly rude.
“Admiring my mechanical appendage I see,” he said.
Hannah looked up, startled, to see the mother and son had departed the line and she’d been left staring from several paces away. “Well at my age I suppose I ought to be glad of the regard of a young lady, even if it is directed at my golden leg instead of my fair face.” His voice was low and rumbled, though perhaps not as much as one might have expected given the proportions of the man. Hannah’s cheeks flamed with embarrassment. She forced her eyes upwards, met his, and stepped forward to the table.
“Hannah Sabriella Weaver,” she said, with all the self possession she could muster. “I’d like to join up.” She proffered the carefully forged document in which her father gave her permission to join and a recommendations in terms more flowery than she’d ever heard him use. If one was going to forge one’s father’s signature, why not forge some compliments at the same time? She thought. How could it hurt?
The large Chief Petty Officer took the offered parchment and read through it. A sausage-like finger traced down the left hand margin as he read, lips moving slightly with the words his mind perceived. When he had finished some moments later he laid the paper down on the table between them.
“Well Miss Weaver, it seems your father speaks very highly of you.” He stuck out a huge paw, “I’m Chief Petty Officer Gaius Victor Crowmere, but you can call me CPO Crowmere if you like, or simply Chief if you’re in a hurry.” Hannah took his hand with some trepidation, but his grip, while firm and full of authority, was not the crushing thing she’d expected. He continued, “You wish to join the navy then?”
It was a fairly quiet week, writing wise. Monday was the first meeting of the group I’m calling the Puyallup Writer’s Co-op. We had a small turn out, but I’m excited about the potential of the group, and I’m psyched to have a writing community right next door at my local library. It’s an enriching experience to have different kinds of writers around, talking about their experience and learning. Further advertisingments will be forthcoming, and hopefully next month’s event (Monday, May 2nd, 7:15pm) will be better populated.
The Excel tells me I’ve had a fairly productive week. I wrote five of the past seven days, which is pretty good for me and my goal each week. I spent just 3.5 hours writing and got 4442 words out of those hours, which is a higher than usual ratio (should I nerd it out? Figure the ratio? Do the math? OK, 21.2 words per minute. Woo!) I’ve no idea what that means, but it seems like a positive development, so I’m congratulation myself.
In story terms, I started off in chapter three with Hannah. Honestly, I could have spent all week with Hannah. She seems to have more going on in act I than Pol (my male protagonist) does. I’d anticipated alternating chapters between the two protagonists, but now that I’m writing I don’t seem to naturally know where these chapter breaks are. Not a big issue really, as I can just write each character as long as I like then go back in afterwards and fit scene and chapter breaks where the story needs them.
It’s nice being back with Pol, as I was for the second half of the week. I tweeted Friday that having two main characters this time is nice, because it does feel really fresh when you switch from one to the other. It’s almost a built in writer’s block buster; and integral creativity enhancer. Then again, it’s also a bit disorienting after spending a week or two in one character’s head to try and find your way back into the other’s. I started Pol’s chapter thinking, “wait, who are you?”
This week’s forecast for writing looks pretty good. I should be able to get good words in Monday through Thursday, volunteering for the PNWA Friday, and this weekend is actually the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s annual conference, which I signed up for long ago and nearly forgot. I can’t get to Sunday’s sessions, but I’ll probably check it out Friday evening and Saturday.
Have a great and creative week!
This Sunday Writing Update is brought to you by: Monday!
It was a crazy Sunday, as can happen occasionally, and I had zero chance to sit down and reflect on the previous week’s writing. So here it is Monday noon and I’m still a little busier than I frankly prefer, but I’m going to do this anyways.
I had a better week, in terms of procrastination. Got some good writing time in Tuesday through Friday mornings for a total weekly word count of 4,440. It’s not all about the word count, I know, but that and hours spent are the best metrics I know for keeping myself on task.
I spent the week with Hannah again, which has been fun. I’m still trying to get her out of her establish reality and into her adventure. It’s hard to know with a first draft how much of this will end up being useful. The third chapter is really long at this point and there’s more I want to say. Some of this will inevitably end up on the cutting room floor, but that’s actually a good thing, since then I’ll have something to add back in when the 25th anniversary edition comes out after I’m as famous as Stephen King (likelihood factor: 0.02359).
The first meeting of the Puyallup Writer’s Cooperative
is tonight! Come on down if you’re in the area and like to/want to write. I’m looking forward to it, and will report.
Now, back to the rest of my life.