Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll

Mid-year PicoWriMo Week Two

After burning out a little in June I decided to take advantage of July's picowrimo to pace myself a little better. So far it's working, and I've written another 3,000 or so words on Hawks and Dragon, this week, as well as making a good start on a new scene to bridge two chapters in Searching for Julia.

I've been posting excerpts over at the LJ community, but thought I'd put them together here for completeness' sake.

Day Nine

Annie has been thinking over what to do with her day, when Rose turns up:

"Where are my manners? Come in. Do you want a cup of tea? Or a coffee? The kitchen's a bit cramped, but we could drink it in my room, if that's all right with you."

Annie led Rose up to the kitchen, where someone hadn't bothered to put their dishes away from the night before, and where someone else hadn't even bothered to leave their things soaking – never mind washed them up – after making what looked like two mugs of hot chocolate. In the good milk pan, as well. She filled the kettle right up, so she'd have enough water to at least scald the pan and mugs, although she drew the line at washing them for whoever had left them there.

Day Ten

Annie is making more new discoveries:

Annie concentrated on the feel of Rose's hand, and on Rose's shallow breathing. She tried to match the rhythm of her breaths to Rose's, and found herself floating up, out of her body. Just a few centimetres at first, then a few more, and then she found she could direct the direction and the speed at which she moved away from her body.

She floated straight up towards the ceiling, slowing to a stop just below the lampshade, then she pushed herself away from it, towards the corner of the room, where she turned herself around until she was looking down on the two bodies, still breathing in time with each other, lying on the floor.

I also wrote some 320-ish new words in my extra scene for Searching for Julia, in which Linda has obtained the key to the Muniment Room:

The key turned easily in the lock, and the door swung smoothly inwards at Linda's touch. Stepping inside after flicking down the light switch, she had to close the door again before she was able to take any further steps within the room, which was lit by a single, dusty and be-cobwebbed light bulb bobbing on the end of a long flex from the ceiling.

At first glance the room appeared to be full of junk, although a closer study revealed that the junk was arranged in some sort of order – presumably one which made sense to Edward at any rate. The walls were hidden from the floor right up to the ceiling by grids of small drawers, each labelled with a pasted on paper that gave a few details of what was inside. There was a safe, two desks – one sturdy and workmanlike, the other decorative to the extent that Linda thought it might have come out of a disused bedroom – three antique filing cabinets, and numerous cardboard boxes. There was also a painting, propped up against some of the stacked boxes, that Linda suspected was the work of young Lionel.

(Lionel the not very good painter was a son of one of the Victorian Dukes, who tried to imitate the works of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood)

Day Eleven

I managed a little over 500 words each on Hawks and Dragon and Searching for Julia.


Let's fly. Really fly. Rose swooped down towards the window and out of the room.

Annie followed, pausing briefly after her dive to line herself up with the gap. It suddenly seemed much narrowed now she had to get through it at speed.

Rose was waiting for her on the ledge, but before Annie could land next to her she was off again. They swooped down between the buildings then up, up over the roofs and chimneys.

It was the world Annie could see from her room, and yet it wasn't. Not only were the colours different and the shapes of objects clearer, but she started noticing other differences. The cars had vanished. People walked on the roads as well as on the pavements. Dogs bounded unrestrained by collars and leads. Horses and donkeys ambled along between the people, some with packs, others pulling small carts. Grey smoke drifted from more than half of the chimneys.

Birds perched on gutters, rooftops and chimney stacks, huddling closer together as Rose and Annie passed them by. Swooping down again, Annie saw smaller birds hopping in the street, picking up crumbs and ants from between cracks in the cobbles. She hovered, dropping slowly for a closer look, and the birds took off in a great chattering, complaining cloud. Of course they would be terrified of a predator like her, even if she had no desire to hunt them. Searching for Rose, Annie soared upwards again, until she found her companion beyond the next rooftop.

And secondly:

The desk's main drawer was locked. Linda searched through the others, hoping to find a key, but only unearthed postcards – some from Julia that matched those Kate had shown to Linda – pens and pencils, and various scraps of paper, on some of which Edward had scrawled obscure notes and telephone numbers.

Needs must: Linda dug in her handbag, and pulled out the set of lockpicks she rarely used these days. Her Dad had advised she familiarise herself with them, and in her early years of employment she'd found them more use than waiting for a warrant or getting a larger – usually male – colleague to kick in the offending door. Times had changed, but she hadn't lost her skills.

The lock yielded remarkably easily, although the drawer required a surprisingly rough tug before it opened. Pulling it completely out of its slot required both hands, and Linda set it down on a clear area of the other desk, before turning her attention briefly back to the space the drawer had left behind.

No secret compartment, no hidden papers – deliberately or accidentally slipped under the drawer – no other clues at all. Linda abandoned that stage of her search, and started to work her way through the contents of the drawer itself.

Day Twelve

Another 549 words of Hawks and Dragon today, although that was on the train journey out as the return train was too crowded to do the same again as I'd planned originally. Annie and Rose have flown down to the coast:

Scattering seagulls, Rose landed on top of a tall wooden crane.

Annie perched next to her, and surveyed their surroundings.

Tall wooden-hulled ships were being loaded and unloaded; small boats were being rowed or sailed out to even larger ships, some with metal-clad hulls; out in the very centre of the estuary a three-masted ship fired its guns at one with two masts. The smaller ship returned fire, and the centre mast cracked. A flurry of activity on both ships, and the guns of each fired at almost the same moment. A white flag was raised on the one undamaged mast out of three, and the two-masted ship drew alongside. Figures jumped from the conqueror to the conquered and began running across the decks and down the hatches with a great deal of shouting.

A movement out at the mouth of the estuary caught Annie's attention. A great beast rose from the water, splashed down below the waves, and then rose up again further along the coast. Was it a whale, or something more mysterious? She couldn't be sure.

I also wrote another 600 words of the extra scene in Searching for Julia. Skipping the spoilery part where Linda searches through the drawer, we have:

Where now? Linda looked over at the painting; it must have been left out for a reason, given that she could see other frames stacked neatly in a corner, and covered up with dust-sheets.

Squatting down in front of it, she recognised the watermill in the background, less ruined than it was now, although apparently not working even at the time of the painting. Or had that just been Lionel's fancy? His signature was in the corner, and Linda knew he had been prone to making up more romantic versions to suit his art.

In the foreground a weeping woman, draped in a long white dress, appeared to contemplate throwing herself into the fast-flowing stream, presumably to be battered to pieces by the paddles of the waterwheel. That at least was still turning in Lionel's vision, even though the walls of the buildings were crumbling and strewn with ivy.

Day Thirteen

650 new words (plus a couple of tweaks to the last paragraph from yesterday) on Hawks and Dragon, and Rose has taken Annie to a castle just along the coast from where they were in yesterday's entry:

In the far corner, nestling between two walls, a small squat church sat surrounded by graves, some overgrown with grass, others well-tended, a few only recently filled in. A gardener tended to the yew tree that overhung the gateway into the churchyard, and someone had climbed a ladder to attend to a loose roof slate. Just outside the walls of the churchyard, knights were sparring, or mock-jousting, while two ladies on horseback and a tumble of small children looked on.

In the centre of the grassy space red and white tents were being erected in front of a number of gypsy caravans, their horses tethered and grazing nearby. A large, red-faced man was overseeing the construction of a vast metal and rope structure by a dozen or so of his companions. Annie thought it looked like a trap or snare, but what animal – what land animal – was so big as to need such a monstrous device to capture it?

I do have an actual castle in mind for this one, unlike in Searching for Julia where the stately home is totally made up. 665 words on that today, and here's the last sentence I wrote yesterday along with some from today:

The picture wasn't the clue, Linda realised, though Edward had wanted her to go to it. She moved the frame carefully to one side, and examined the boxes it had leaned against. They were unlabelled; lifting the lid of the top one, Linda found that it contained a set of leather-bound journals. The contents of the others were similar, and flicking through a random selection elicited the discovery that these were the diaries of Lady Georgina Hamilton, nee Reedham: Kate's mother.

Linda wasn't sure she'd want her own mother's diaries on display in the library either, not that Mum kept a diary as such, nor that she was ever likely to have a library in which to display such volumes. Wondering if Kate had read them, or if she found the idea too uncomfortable, too personal, Linda flicked though the journal for 1958: the first that had come to hand.

The entries were the same jumble of domestic life, family matters and society gossip as those in Kate's diaries, but Georgina had been less circumspect in stating her opinion than her daughter. Julia had visited regularly, although as the year wore on she had stayed at the Hamilton's London home less often, preferring to stay with Edward and spend afternoons with her grandmother-in-law with or without her husband's brother.

Day Fourteen

A day of disturbances, but I managed 476 words of Hawks and Dragon. Annie has been doing some investigating:

Outside the station she found a sign for the Docks, and set off in the direction that it pointed. The streets were not as busy as those in the centre of London, but there were more people on the pavements and cars on the roads than in the area where Annie lived. Unlike Saturday there was no pattern to where the people wandered, and no general movement towards the docks. All around her people veered from side to side as they chattered on their mobile phones; they slowed suddenly when they saw something of interest in a shop window; they jogged a few places, elbowing others out of their way as they saw a gap in the crowd between where they were and where they wanted to be.

The buildings bore little resemblance to those Annie had seen before. All those around her were modern, built of bricks or from blocks of concrete, some overhanging the streets to make them even narrower than they already were. The crowd carrying Annie along came to a halt at a pedestrian crossing, and she tried to catch her breath.

And I managed 492 words of Searching for Julia. Linda is still in the Muniment Room:

...all the evidence pointed indeed to Charles de Peverel having been acquainted with Sir John Hawkwood at the very least. Certainly de Peverel might have fought at Crécy, and there was no reason to suppose that he hadn't conveyed the message that allowed the Black Prince his great success at Carcasonne. Equally however, there was no evidence that he had. It was a charming family legend, and if Lionel thought there was scope for a painting or a series of paintings depicting his ancestor then the enclosed might be of interest.

Linda read through the rest of the letter, and then set it aside to study the other papers. The first few were pages torn from old books, depicting rather fanciful versions of ancient suits of armour and knights on horseback. Below those – and this was quite exciting – were Lionel's scribbled notes about Charles de Peverel and his family. Mostly, as the letter had implied, these concerned Peveril family legends rather than actual historical facts. Next came a series of sketches, showing the paintings that Lionel had planned. Had he ever completed any of them? Or had he died before turning these rather fanciful representations of a man in tarnished and rusting armour, seemingly mounted on a carthorse, into another painting?

I can't take all the credit for this one, I have someone who knows far more history than me passing on ideas.

Days Fifteen and Sixteen

Writing failed to happen due to a variety of distractions.

I've been trying to keep up with everyone else's progress on the various writing challenges this month, but feel free to tell me more about how you're doing in the comments.
Tags: picowrimo, posting elsewhere, story extract
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