Writing Update: Two of Swords (and a snippet!)

This is the first of my weekly writing updates, and I’m happy to report that Two of Swords is moving along pretty well! I struggled with it a bit and came to realize that the problem was my outline. I was trying to force Moira and company into a script that was starting to feel unnatural, and it was showing.

I’m a huge proponent of outlining. I love my outlines and character sketches and charts and all that fun stuff. But with this book I’ve once again learned that the outline is supposed to serve me, not the other way around. So once I realized where the problem was, I tossed the outline and wrote what felt natural for these characters at this particular time in their story arc. And it’s been much easier since I allowed myself to do that.

My goal is to have Two of Swords available on Amazon before the end of the month. It’ll probably be sometime during the last week of February, fingers crossed that the revision and editing all goes well.

One of my Two of Swords mood/inspiration boards.

What Else Am I Working On?

Aside from Two of Swords, I have been trying to figure out a serial for my Patreon supporters. For a while I was planning on writing and releasing Haunted that way, but it’s just too hard for me at this point to write part of an ongoing series that way and release it a week at a time. I’d rather release Haunted when it’s all finished, because I know where I want to go with that.

It struck me that secondary characters work really well for serials. I get to tell the story of characters that you guys love but maybe don’t know as much about as you’d like. So I polled my Crusaders group and it looks like I’m going to be telling a Jenson (from StrikeForce) prequel story for the Patreon serial. The first episode will be up on Patreon on Friday, and supporters who pledge $1 or more per month get to read it as it comes out. Once Jenson’s story is told, I’ll release it as a novella, much as I did with the Hidden side story novellas.

That Snippet I Promised You…

He smiled at me as he started the truck, and within moments we were driving out of town, the highway taking us out to the countryside. The windows were open, and I breathed deeply, taking in the scent of sun-drenched pine forest, the late strong afternoon sunlight warming my arm as I rested it on the passenger side door. We pulled up at the last stop light at the edge of town, and I turned my head to see Michael watching me, warmth like honey in his dark eyes.

“What?” I asked, feeling a blush rise to my face.

He shook his head and smiled. “I wish you could see yourself at moments like that. You looked so peaceful, so whole. Powerful, really,” he added quietly, hitting the gas as the light changed.

“Yes, my pies and I are very powerful,” I quipped, and he smirked and shook his head.

“It’s this place. And you. My grandma always said the Chase witches were the lifeblood of this place. But maybe this place is your lifeblood, too.”

I didn’t answer. There was no need to. I felt the truth of it deep in my bones. And he saw it. Saw me. Not all of me, of course. Not the parts I worked so hard to hide. But he saw the me I most wanted to be, and there were no words for the magic in that one simple fact.

I reached over and rested my hand on his thigh, and he immediately let go of the wheel and placed his hand over mine, twining our fingers together as if this, us, was the most natural thing in the world.

“How was your thing yesterday that you had to deal with?” I asked. He gave my hand a light squeeze and sighed.

“Not as good as I could have hoped.”

I waited for him to go on, but he didn’t.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

The corner of his mouth quirked up and he glanced at me. “Do you want to talk about what you were doing for Director Jones yesterday?” he asked in response.

I smiled. And then, to my surprise, I started talking. Because damn, yes I did want to talk about it, and talk about it with him. This, he could be a part of. This, I didn’t have to keep from him the way I kept my dhampira hidden.

So I talked. I told him about all of the ghosts at the resort, and about Ethan Edwards, and about feeling like he knew more than he was telling me. I told him I’d have to go back.

“You don’t sound happy about it.”

I shook my head. “I’m not. If I go back, I’m probably going to have to talk to the ghosts. Which isn’t usually a problem, now that I have the amulet, but the amulet has its limits. It broke up on me when I was there yesterday. It’s not meant to handle more than a ghost or maybe a few at a time. The amount of spirit energy is just too much.”

He was quiet for a moment. “So you’ll have to use your necromancy,” he said quietly, and I nodded. “Which you don’t really want to do.”

“Yeah. I had to use it a little yesterday when the amulet started fritzing on me. My kitchen magic hasn’t been right since that thing a couple months back, and it feels even weaker now.” I didn’t have to tell him what “thing” I meant. We both knew, and we both still knew he had questions about it all.

He didn’t respond for a few moments. “What is that like, though? I mean you can clearly still cook,” he said, nodding toward the tray of pies on my lap.

“I guess.. The only description I can give is a kinda weird one.”

“Hit me. You’ve met my family.”

I chuckled. “It’s like being blocked. All you want is to use that magic, and you know it’s there and it wants to be used so bad it hurts. But you can’t, and the longer it goes on, the more it hurts, and you start thinking, ‘damn, what is wrong with me? Why can’t I do something so basic?’” I glanced up. “I’m bad at analogies.”

He shook his head. “Nah. I get it.”

“You do?”

A nod. “That’s how it feels when my wolf wants to run, and I can’t let him. Usually when I’m working or something. And then if I go too long before I’m finally able to shift, sometimes the shift comes hard and it hurts so bad I can hardly breathe.”

“It does sound similar.”

“Except that I don’t have something else wanting to rush in and take the place of my wolf. That’s what it sounds like the issue is with your necromancy, that it wants to be used.”

“Exactly. And the more I use it, the more I feel my kitchen magic slipping away.”

“Then don’t.”

I turned to look at him. “It’s not that simple.”

“Sure it is.”

“It’s really not.”

“You’ve been blessed, or cursed, if you want to look at it that way, with talents in two very different types of magic. It sounds like you have to choose one, whether you want to or not.”

“Right.”

“So choose the one that makes you happy. If it’s kitchen magic, then do that.”

“Believe me, that’s all I want.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“Kitchen magic isn’t saving anyone, you know? Necromancy… I’ve saved lives with it. Moira the Great is always on me about how I’m spitting in the face of what the Universe has given me, that someone as strong as I am in necromancy has a duty to use it… and I mean, she’s not wrong. Necromancy comes to me like breathing. Kitchen magic, I have to work at. I have to finesse it, focus on it. And Jamie seems to agree with Moira the Great. I’m good at necromancy and I’ve done good things with it. No one’s life is being saved by eating a scone imbued with calming magic.”

He turned and pulled into the driveway in front of the white clapboard farmhouse his family lived in. I could hear the shouts of children playing in the yard, smell the scent of meat roasting over the large grills the family used frequently on warmer evenings. Michael turned the engine off and looked into my eyes.

“What do you want, though?” he asked.

I looked down at our hands on his lap, shivered as he lightly brushed his thumb over mine. This. This was what I wanted. But I was too much of a coward to tell him that.

“What I want and what I should do aren’t always the same thing,” I finally said. “You can’t tell me you don’t deal with that sometimes too. You’re the alpha. I’d imagine that your own wants and needs get put on the back burner from time to time for the good of the pack.” I shrugged. “Not that I’m anything like that. Just… I don’t think they’re wrong, when they say that it might be selfish of me to pick my happy magic over the life-saving magic I’m good at.”

He nodded, still grazing my hand with his thumb.

“So when do you get to be happy, Moira?”

*****

That’s it for today! Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed that little tease of Moira and Michael. I love writing them so much!

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