Today the dolphins are dancing in the deep blue waters outside our beach house. Somehow the stay at Virginia Beach never seems complete until they appear. While I always expect to see them, that first (and second and third) sighting never ceases to inspire a sense of awe and privilege.
This is my third stay with the Dollbabies, an incredible group of women writers from all genres and walks of life, who come together once a year to dedicate a week to the craft, and to each other. When we aren’t writing, we eat amazing food, drink wine, walk on the beach, converse, read, and rest.
My situation is rather unique this time around. Usually this week falls at the end of a very busy spring semester. After weeks of students and classes and grading and committee meetings, I arrive worn out and starved for quality writing time.
This year I’ve been on sabbatical. I’m well rested, and I’ve dedicated more time than ever to writing in the past few months. When I arrived on Saturday, I had no pending projects, as I’d just wrapped up the final book of the Eolyn trilogy. (As an aside, you might like to know that the last time I was in Virginia Beach two years ago, I was just getting started on the first chapters of Daughter of Aithne.)
My main goal for this week has been to figure out what to do next. Eolyn has been my priority for so long, it’s really a very strange feeling not to have anything pressing left in her world. Not that I won’t ever go back. I have it in my head to write a prequel someday. And wouldn’t it be fun to dive into the world of the Syrnte or the realm of Galia for a new set of epic tales? Plus, there are the generations to come, Eolyn’s children and grandchildren, and all the challenges they will face. But Eolyn’s journey, for the moment, is complete. I must say, it is a great pleasure to savor that sense of completion.
I have for a while now wanted to go back to my short story Creatures of Light and build a larger tale around that world. My anti-heroine Selenia is demanding her own novel. (Demanding because she never begs.) Yet Creatures of Light will be decidedly epic, a new and complex fantasy world set in a post-Renaissance Age of Discovery, probably involving multiple books to complete the series. It will be amazing, but having just finished with Eolyn, I am keenly aware of how much work it’s going to take.
The truth is, I need something lighter for the moment, a project that will keep me writing even as I recharge my batteries for the next epic journey. So this week, I pulled out an old story that I’d started long ago. An urban fantasy romance thing. There aren’t any vampires or werewolves in this contemporary world, but a host of dark (and sexy) angels promise to keep things interesting. My protagonist lives in my beautiful home town of Kansas City, which means I get to include all my favorite hangouts as scenes and settings. Her name is Helen, and she is about to embark upon a journey that will transform her understanding of the afterlife.
I’m envisioning this as about a 70,000 word novel (2/3 the length of my previous works), with a relatively limited cast of characters. Simpler than epic but still steeped in fantasy. I think it will be a fun break from Eolyn’s weightier (and much loved) medieval world. In looking over what I wrote several years ago, I’ve been able to salvage several workable passages. So far, I’ve accumulated about 8,000 words for the opening chapters. Not bad for a few days work. Now all I have to do is follow wherever it leads…