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work in progress

Shake the Light

Origin book for Millicent now has a title and a blurb! \0/

Internet, I am EXCITE, as the young people say!

I’ve been saying for a while now that I was going to do Millicent Merriweather’s origin story. At first the plan was going to be to do a novella as part of the last remaining Kickstarter things I need to do–but I was also pretty damn sure that Millicent might demand a full novel.

Couple this with how I recently had a conversation with the agent to catch her up on what I was doing and to gauge her level of interest in what I’ve got on the queue for current projects. I told her about wanting to do Millie’s story–and how this would essentially be historical urban fantasy, set in Seattle in 1953. She perked up quite notably.

What was keeping me from really getting anywhere is that I needed to know what or who the primary antagonists would be. I knew I wanted to do a scenario where Millicent at age 16 had a nasty falling out with her family, and spent a lot of time wandering in search of her own city to Ward. She arrives in Seattle in 1953. Seattle is supposed to be a Warded city–but the Wards are down, and nobody in the lineage has heard from Seattle’s Warder. When Millicent gets there, she discovers why: that Warder has contracted polio and is now no longer able to defend the city.

I also knew that Millie would meet her future husband at this point: Jonathan Merriweather, who came home wounded from the Korean War, and has been considered unbalanced by his family because he’s been seeing things. Only he’s now able to see the fey, and he finds out that what he’s been seeing is real once he meets Millicent. And I knew that I wanted whatever was going on to be connected to his family as well.

Lastly, I knew that I wanted to somehow involved the submerged forests in Lake Washington, which I learned about when I read Full Rip 9.0 last year. I thought the idea of a submerged forest was creepy as hell and really wanted to use it.

But I didn’t know what the Big Antagonist would be. And I needed to figure that out before I could really try to get the agent on board.

So I started ramping up some research and trying to get a sense of what was going on in Seattle, in the US, and in the world at the time. I spent a lot of Saturday night and yesterday reading up, gathering links, and trying to get enough data to see if I could build a plot. And now I have. BEHOLD:

The first daughter in two generations of her family to carry the full strength of the Warder magic, Millicent Wray is determined to find a city of her own to protect and defend. Seattle, Washington seems like just the place, for its Wards are down, its Warder gravely ill. But as she takes on the burden of restoring Seattle’s magical protections, Millie soon discovers that malevolent forces are rising from the depths of Lake Washington, bent on claiming the ailing Warder Catherine Heino’s power for their own—and Catherine, her strength shattered by polio, is desperate enough to bargain with them. Now Millie, with her Texas-born tenacity and her trusty shotgun Butch, is all that stands between the vulnerable city and the hungry spirits from the lake. Can she lay the kodama to rest before they claim all of Seattle—and Catherine’s life—with their vengeance?

The working title for this: Shake the Light, to reference Tennyson, because the aforementioned Jonathan Merriweather loves his poetry. I WILL be working this in somewhere.

I also have a longer version of this blurb, which I’m using to build a proper synopsis. But y’all don’t get to see that, yet. That needs to stay on my side of the spoiler wall.

Here, though, are some things I figured out about Millie in the course of researching this story:

  1. Millie’s major heroes as a young woman are Calamity Jane and Annie Oakley.
  2. She left home at 16 after having a massive falling-out with her family, and spent a lot of time wandering the western states.
  3. Because of item #1, she spent a few summers working carnivals as a sharpshooter act. Girl needs to eat in between looking for her own city to defend, after all!
  4. She is TOTALLY a fan of outer space movies. Why? Because Warders can’t leave their pledged lands, and if she can’t leave the earth, she can at least eat up sci-fi movies with ALL THE SPOONS. She’s going to love War of the Worlds, and she and Jonathan are totally going to see that movie several times on dates!

This is going to be FUN. 😀

Short Pieces

Because Shawna Reppert tagged me, have an excerpt

I was tagged on Facebook by Shawna Reppert to post seven lines from page seven of a work in progress, so here y’all go. I am taking the liberty of interpreting “lines” as “paragraphs”, otherwise you barely get a taste of what this is about.

Here are seven paragraphs from most of page seven and a little of page eight of the still-untitled story about a psychic who must help a man solve the murder of his Warder sister.


“And I need more. I need to know what killed Edie, and where it is. You’re the only person I’ve found who can tell me that, Ms. Breckenridge. Will you help me?”

Much as I hated it, I felt myself start to tremble. The vision, brief as it had been, had hit me worse than any I could remember in the last five years; my knees were shaky, and my vision had hazed around its edges. Nor did it help that Taggart was still broadcasting emotions right into my skull, as if those deep blue eyes of his had locked onto me, like lasers. “No,” I croaked. “No. You’re going to go all vigilante, I’m not having any part of it!” His hands started to snap towards me, and I added, jerking back from his reach, “And if you lay a finger on me, I swear to God I will kick you right in the balls!”

He froze in place, and I didn’t even need the torrent out of his mind to read his desperation and regret. “I’m sorry! Okay, okay, I’ll go to the police. Promise! But I need something to take to them. Help me, Ms. Breckenridge. Please.”

“Mr. Taggart, I’m very sorry about your sister.” My voice was rising, growing shriller, but I didn’t care. Long experience was already warning me I had a devil of a headache on the way, and I wanted this man gone before it struck. “But you can’t know what you’re asking. Another vision like that will be a railroad spike right through my goddamn head, and I cannot afford to be unconscious when I have a shop to run!”

“After hours, then. Let me hire you. I’ll pay you triple whatever you usually charge your clients!”

Now it was my turn to freeze. No matter what beating my entire nervous system might take from seeking out the vision he was begging for, no matter how much I wanted to pick him bodily up and throw him right out the door, I couldn’t afford to turn him away. Not if he was bringing money into it. I was making more than you’d expect in an economic downturn—even when they couldn’t afford it, especially when they couldn’t afford it, people still sought me out for the comfort they thought I could provide. But all that really meant was that I barely kept ahead of my bills. Never mind perks like health insurance, or fixing the faulty plumbing in my tiny apartment above the shop, or eating regular, healthy meals more than once or twice a week.

Triple my usual rate wasn’t much, in the grand scheme of things. But it was enough to pay next month’s rent.


And there you have it. I don’t tag people on these things, but if you’re a fellow writer and you want to play, join in! And drop a comment on this post so anyone who reads me can come over and see your excerpt too!

Victory of the Hawk

Victory of the Hawk excerpt, just because I can

I feel an urge to share an excerpt from Victory of the Hawk with y’all tonight, just to show how yeaaaah, I can’t write a damn thing without having music sneak in. My characters DO tend to be musicians. Like Kestar Vaarsen, being shown a picture of his elven great-grandfather:

It was a sketchbook. One part of Kestar’s mind stumbled over the seeming incongruity of so prosaic an object in an elf’s hands. That wisp of thought vanished utterly, however, as he stared at the page that Gerren had chosen—and found, rendered in black ink that still stood out on paper yellowing with age, himself.

Once the shock of recognition faded, though, he began to find the differences. Larger eyes. Longer hair, with some pulled back from the face in two intricate braids bound in what Kestar was willing to bet was either silver or gold. Sharper cheekbones, giving the subject of the picture a more lupine look than he’d ever seen in his own mirror, accentuated by the pointed ears. All of those details rained down upon Kestar’s awareness like a hail of arrows. But what stopped his breath in his throat was the instrument in the figure’s hands, larger than Kestar’s lost mandolin, with five pairs of strings instead of four. His great-grandfather’s hands, lean-fingered and nimble, were poised in mid-flight along those strings. His head was tossed back, as if bobbing to unheard rhythm. He wasn’t smiling, and in fact looked almost angry. But that meant nothing, for Kestar knew that look; it was the fierce joy of being caught up in the act of making music, of being swept away by song.

It was exactly, Celoren had told him once, how he himself looked when he played. And the sight of it, all at once, made Kestar’s hands ache for the mandolin he’d had to abandon when the Order had arrested him. No, he added to himself. I want what he’s playing. He had no name for the instrument in the sketch, but that didn’t matter. If he could hold it in his hands, if he could feel its living voice resonating against him as he played, it’d make Riniel Radmynn real.

The alert among you may be thinking, “Anna, are you trying to sneak another bouzouki player into a story?” This would be a reasonable and justifiable conclusion! But the really alert among you may also be noting that bouzoukis have eight strings, not ten. I am in fact thinking cittern here, not bouzouki.